Nurturing Creativity

I am reacquainting myself with my recently estranged creative process. The past several months have been emotionally challenging for me. My capacity to read anything but fantasy novels or write anything except necessary emails disappeared. POOF! I didn’t have the energy to navigate this crisis and nurture artistic endeavors. Losing access to my spark was all the more painful as I also lost the fulfilment and pleasure that results when creativity flows.

Keep in mind that when I say “crisis”, I’m talking about first world, white lady problems. Never was my life in danger and I knew the miserable situation was only temporary. It’s too personal to go into detail, but some of my deepest wounds got triggered and I needed to invest all my efforts in maintaining inner harmony despite external circumstances. Certainly not comparable to the depth of crises others are facing around the globe; yet to me it was A Very Big Deal.

I’m not seeking pity or condolences here. It was a rough time, but now it’s over. In fact, the outcome was a huge lifestyle upgrade, and I was always able to see the silver lining. I’m happy to report that I didn’t pile on any needless suffering by judging and blaming myself or fearing that my creativity had been fatally wounded. I have Reiki to thank for this small mercy! I knew deep down that creativity is indestructible. It might go into hiding when the going gets rough, but it’s in there all along, waiting to feel safe enough to reemerge.

Clients and friends alike have told me repeatedly over the past year and a half that they’ve had difficulty accessing their creative, productive, focused selves. It’s been clear to me all along that this is a natural response to the culture of fear that has developed from the pandemic. We’re constantly inundated with messages that the very act of breathing could be deadly, and that mere proximity to other people is extremely hazardous.

Sympathetic nervous systems have been activated like crazy! And when the body is consistently in DANGER Mode, all its efforts are directed to survival. This is a useful mechanism for facing an angry mama bear, but terribly debilitating when the situation endures for months and months. When the alarm bells are constantly ringing, it’s nearly impossible to focus on writing poetry, painting, or reading literature. Obviously, these would be dangerous distractions while climbing a tree to avoid being mauled by a wild animal. The physiological response was only meant to be brief, however, and many people have been suspended in DANGER Mode indefinitely.

I suppose the reason I’m writing this is to let you know that you’re not alone if you’ve been struggling to tap into the well of creativity within yourself. It’s a perfectly natural and normal side-effect of being stuck in chronic fight/flight/freeze mode. There’s no reason to beat yourself up and add self-criticism to your troubles. I have an immense collection of tools, a deep understanding of the effects of trauma, and decades of experience helping people recover from challenges and reconnect with their passions. Despite all of that, I felt pretty helpless as the wonderful habits I’d built over the last decade shriveled up.

It’s incredibly difficult to overcome the hardwiring of the nervous system when plunged into survival mode. Sometimes you just need to ride out the storm and wait for a sunny day. Please trust me when I say, when that day comes, you will also be able to rekindle a friendship with your estranged creativity. It is waiting patiently for you. And it will rise up like a phoenix from the ashes when the time is right.  

Online Reiki 1 Classes

I am delighted to announce the next round of beginners’ Reiki classes. If you’re interested in reducing stress, anxiety, tension or pain; cultivating the greatest wellness available to you; accessing intuition, clarity, focus, and creativity; releasing unwanted habits, stuck emotions, or limiting beliefs; and basically living your best life possible, this could be for you!

Over the past year I’ve really come to appreciate the benefits of hosting classes online. Not only does it make them more accessible, but it allows for shorter, more frequent meetings without sacrificing convenience. This seems to promote retention and assimilation for many students. Plus, no need to forfeit the blissed out feeling by getting in the car to drive home!

Four Tuesday evenings, 6:30-8:30 pm, eastern time

May 25, June 1, 8, & 15, 2021

$225 investment. $25 off early bird discount through May 14.

Contact me to register; space is limited for more personalized approach and greater connection.

Anyone who has taken Reiki 1 with me may sit in free of charge, space permitting.

Now Offering Virtual Reiki!

Over the past year I’ve been repeatedly asked if Long-Distance Reiki is done via Zoom. In fact, I’ve been asked so many times that I’ve decided to offer Virtual Reiki sessions, even though Reiki doesn’t need any assistance from technology. If you’d rather pluck out your own eyeballs and eat them than attend one more video meeting, never fear, old-school long-distance sessions are still available!

I’m recognizing a growing need for people to be seen and heard. Truly listened to and witnessed. While I don’t need a camera or microphone to do sessions, I have become aware of the value of the additional comfort this can provide. I suspect there is also an issue of accountability involved. People want to know that I’m actually there doing my job and not off somewhere doing Jell-O shots and playing cards. Fair enough!  

This optional adjustment to treatments allows me to add in an extra component of deep listening. For those who’d like to spend a portion of their sessions sharing about what’s up in their lives, I can provide a compassionate ear while simultaneously transmitting Reiki. For those who wish to simply state their intentions and rest quietly, that’s a choice as well.

I recently finished an Mindful Self-Compassion meditation course. During each class we would break into small groups and participants would take turns sharing about how their practices were going and the effects that were extending out into their worlds. The others would simply hold space by listening with compassion, without judgment, and without mentally preparing a reply. I got as much out of this exchange as I did from the techniques we learned! Sadly, quality listening isn’t a skill that’s taught in our culture and it’s pretty rare to have the opportunity to speak freely to a compassionate listener.

Another option is to receive coaching to tailor personalized intentions. These are simple phrases which can be used as mantras for rewriting your inner scripts, becoming aligned with your soul’s purpose, and focusing your attention on that which you wish to create. Clients often tell me how helpful it is when we collaborate and fine-tune their intentions since it’s not always clear what they want until we explore what’s happening beneath the surface. I’ve spent the past two decades crafting my own intentions and have learned a lot along the way. It’s a great joy to share this skill as the results can be so powerful.

So here I am, changing with the changing times, and offering Virtual Reiki, with or without Compassionate Listening or Intention Finessing. I’m excited to be branching out and including services that I enjoy offering and are powerful, beneficial, and complementary to Reiki. For the traditionalists out there, of course it’s possible to communicate your goals by email and receive the healing energy without any gadgets or wifi.

If you’re wondering what long-distance Reiki is and why you might wish to experience it with or without video, you can read more about it here and here. If you’re feeling psyched about scheduling, send me a message and we’ll make an appointment for you.

Efforts Rewarded!

I’m accustomed to strangers telling me their life stories. Dr. Judith Orloff’s book, The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, is helping me to understand that my compassionate presence attracts people needing compassion. As you might imagine, listening to the problems of people, lots of people, some of whom I’ve never met before can be somewhat draining, if not downright exhausting. So I’ve been working with energetic techniques to protect myself (thank you Dr. Orloff!) and to shift this pattern. Guess what? It’s working!

This morning there was a man sitting in front of my home, apparently supervising work on the house across the street. Conversation went from “Hello” to “Beautiful morning, isn’t it?” to “This is great weather, my allergies are practically gone.” At this point, I’m poised to bolt as historically this type of statement was followed by a lengthy description of symptoms and suffering. Really. It happens to me. All. The. Time!

Or, it used to. 😉

But this gentleman, with a sparkling smile, went on to tell me about a plant remedy. A holistic concoction that has helped with his asthma, allergies, arthritis, and various other aches and pains. Something I had never heard of, and sounded completely bizarre. (Normally I’m the one saying such things!) How refreshing!

I suspect he was sent to support my transition by acting as an indicator that I’m on the right track, and that assistance comes in all sorts of unexpected packages. Fascinating! Because of the grounding and shielding practices I’ve been using to protect my energy field, I was able to enjoy a random interaction with a stranger rather than heading for the hills.

I’m sharing this here in case anyone else tends to attract emotional dumpers or drainers and has yet to learn that there is hope beyond moving to a deserted island. I doubt that I’m forever free of hearing about people’s problems and ailments, but it is encouraging to have a different experience after making an effort to attract different experiences! I really can’t say enough about how useful this book is. If it can help me be less vulnerable out in the world, I’m guessing it can help you too.

No Need to Apologize

Over the past 18 years of practicing Reiki and massage, I’ve noted the things that clients, particularly women, apologize for that don’t require an apology. Once somebody head-butted me while turning over and sometimes people don’t show up for appointments. These are apology- worthy events. The way you look or feel is not. It saddens me that we’ve been indoctrinated to be embarrassed or ashamed of our bodies and emotions. 

I’m sorry that my hair is wet or not freshly washed, that my toes are unpainted or just-now-painted, that my legs are unshaven, that I did or didn’t put on makeup. These are all expressions that I used to hear frequently when I worked in a spa. In my private practice, my regular clients have all been informed that none of these things matter to me. They are accepted exactly as they are and have learned to forgo the amends.

My all-time favorite is, “Sorry I fell asleep.” Feeling safe and relaxed enough to drift off during a treatment is the ultimate compliment to me! Likewise, snoring isn’t offensive. It’s amusing and endearing when it gets loud enough to wake the snorer up. 

Having difficulty settling in or getting comfortable is quite common in a treatment room and it’s the therapist’s job to help you do so. There is absolutely no call to apologize for being too hot or too cold or having a leg cramp. Seriously, we want you to be ideally cozy and without sudden, searing pain and will go to great lengths to accommodate your needs. It’s no trouble at all to get an extra blanket or adjust the face cradle. 

It’s not uncommon for tears to come up before, during, or after a session. Sometimes people arrive in vulnerable state and other times old pain is released from its storage place. Either way, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. While clients may not be accustomed to crying in front of another person, any bodyworker or energyworker worth their salt is solidly rooted in compassion and able to stay present without feeling the need to fix or solve anything. You might feel uncomfortable shedding tears, which is perfectly natural, but please know that there is absolutely no reason to apologize for them. 

I’d like to suggest that we save our apologies for when they are truly necessary; when we hurt someone either accidentally or deliberately and condolences. Let’s stop apologizing for things that are beyond our control or that violate ridiculous societal norms, especially for feeling upset and for the shape and condition of our bodies. 

Here’s a trick that might help you. When wondering if I need to say “I’m sorry”, I imagine my adorable six year old niece and whether or not I would expect or demand an apology from her in similar circumstances. Why would I apply higher standards to myself than this sweet, sassy, and innocent being? Choose a cutie you know or even one from a darling YouTube video and give it a try. I think you’ll find it incredibly liberating! I sure did.

That’s so Reiki!

Many of my students have started using the word “Reiki” as an adjective. While technically it’s a noun (commonly translated from Japanese as “spiritually guided life-force energy”), I’ve used it for years as a verb. “Did you Reiki it?”, is my standard reply to each and every complaint or concern uttered by a practitioner. The adjective form was completely new to me, and a brilliant revelation!

One of the greatest rewards of being a Reiki teacher is learning from my students. 🙂 Frequently they have insights and ideas that change my perspective or open doors I never even knew existed. While my supposedly smart phone hasn’t been able to learn the word Reiki despite constant correction (seriously what is Ricci and why does it think it’s a word in my vocabulary?), people who are drawn to study Reiki are much more creative and adaptable.

“That’s so Reiki” developed in response to a discussion about the seemingly bizarre and inexplicable results and synchronicities that appear when we apply this healing energy consistently. When someone notices tingling or pulsing sensations at the time when a practitioner is sending them long-distance Reiki without being aware of the exact time of the transmission, that’s so Reiki! When the universe conspires to bring me the precise set of circumstances that puts me in the right place at the right time to meet the person who has the answers I need, that’s also very Reiki.

In the beginning it’s common to describe these results as “weird” or “impossible”, but as we continue to practice Reiki, we quickly learn that its effects are powerful yet gentle, all encompassing and somewhat miraculous. When we move beyond the ego’s desire to label and analyze these effects, it becomes easy to see that while I may not grasp the big picture, Reiki does. While I may not know what’s best for me, Reiki’s innate intelligence can deliver what I didn’t even know that I needed.

When we begin to trust in the spiritually guided aspect of Reiki, we can allow ourselves to relax into the seemingly mysterious results. Rather than trying to describe the indescribable nature of healing, we can simply accept that it’s just so Reiki.

Following the Breadcrumbs

Some days I feel like I’m living in a modern day fairy tale. Today is one of those days. As per usual, it began with something going wrong. Or so I thought.

I was unable to open a document that needed revisions. An update was required and then my laptop needing restarting. Of course, that took forever. I’m sure you’ve been there!

I finally gave up and decided to go for a walk. Along the way, a cat rushed up to me from out of nowhere and then starting weaving slowly back and forth in front of me on the sidewalk. It felt like I was being herded! I declined to follow as it turned toward a house, assuming the human who lived there wouldn’t welcome my unexpected arrival. Your cat sent me? Nah. I kept going. But my spidey-senses were tingling and I was now hyper-alert.

Once I entered the woods, I could see people on the trail ahead of me. I caught up to them almost immediately as my legs are long and my stride energetic. To avoid lurking behind them or trying to pass, I took a different route than planned. About 10 minutes later, I blundered around a bend to find a buck with impressive antlers eyeing me warily.

Pausing to drink in the beauty of this moment, I saw he had a friend. Friends, actually, and maybe a consort. And, oh, there’s a fawn. Six of them in total. Not a big deal in the woods of Pennsylvania, but keep in mind I’m within the city limits of Philadelphia, the sixth largest city in the US, and about 100 yards away from a very busy road.

I stood there awestruck for many minutes. I’d still be there now, but it’s obvious my presence made them uneasy, so I continued on my journey, causing them to scatter, luckily away from the road. As I resumed my brisk pace, I remembered how a similar series of fortunate events put me on the path of a kindred soul in another part of the vast park system a few weeks ago.

The pure magic of this encounter elevated me out of a snit I had been nursing. Suddenly it was easy for me to let go of a hurt that had been unintentionally delivered and my mood improved greatly. Earlier in the day I had asked Reiki to help me heal this wound. I believe this allowed me to receive divine guidance, which led me to exactly what I needed despite my best efforts to stick to an inferior plan.

I then remembered how just yesterday I was thinking that it had been ages since I’d seen any wild critters bigger than a squirrel, and made a request to Mother Nature to send me some visitors. Those simple intentions for healing and wildlife viewing combined with my willingness to be rerouted by following the breadcrumbs led me to have an uplifting spiritual experience.

What a blessing! The more I pay attention to and allow myself to be guided by mystical nudges and my heart’s longing, I find myself in the right place at the right time. So when the urge to share this joyful episode on my blog arose, I brought myself straight to my now-restarted computer and started typing.

I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Daily Healing Ritual

I’m a huge fan of creating personalized daily rituals for healing. The act of setting aside time each day to do something, anything really, that supports health, happiness, creativity or connection can be extremely transformative. Students and clients often ask me about my morning ritual, so I thought it would be helpful to put it in writing.

For me, morning is a sacred time. I naturally wake up super-early and have worked hard to give myself the luxury of starting my workday later than the norm. I’ve learned to do the things that are most important to me first, while my energy is high and before the demands of the day can interfere. Morning rituals are a perfect match for my constitution and lifestyle. Other people prefer to use their lunch hour or evening, and that’s great too. It’s important to figure out what works best for you, otherwise it just won’t stick.

Twenty years ago I began with a simple mindfulness meditation, gentle yoga, and affirmations a la Louise Hay. That worked well for me for many years, but eventually I was led to experiment with different techniques. I began gathering tools to support my intentions and explored the myriad options available to me. Sometimes I got lost down the rabbit hole, like a kid in the cereal aisle, unsure of which colorful box to choose. Other times I rebelled against the routine and chose to improvise instead. The only thing that really matters is that each and every day I show up for myself in some way.

I still find it challenging to remain devoted to a daily practice while keeping it flexible. My needs are constantly evolving, so my ritual needs to evolve as well. By no means does this need to be a rigid process. Spiritual practices can be designed to bend and flex to fit your uniqueness rather than forcing you to conform to dogmatic tedium. There’s enough of that in our culture already; we needn’t impose any more upon ourselves in the name of healing! If it feels like a chore, you won’t want to do it. If it feels like a blessing, you’ll be eager to engage.

Another crucial element to building ritual is protecting the time to nurture, nourish and empower yourself. Being on a healing path requires us to become part guard-dog in order to stick with the plan and not get drawn into unnecessary drama. It’s not always easy, but it really is quite simple. All I have to do is ask myself, “Will this decision promote healing?”

I think of my practice as the vehicle that carries me to my destination. Obviously to get there, I need to know where I’m going. Synchronicity along with my intuition, emotions, and dreams can guide me along the way. Meditation and journaling are the tools that I use to get clear about where I’m going. And as my goals change, I can correct my course anytime.

My intended destination is a state of being. I’m aiming for vitality, inner peace, creativity, resilience, and pleasure. You might have a similar destination. Or not. The format remains the same even though this is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. The methods that I’ve chosen are highly personalized to meet me exactly where I am. I’m not wishing to lead anybody along my unique path. I’d rather inspire you to find your own.

Keep in mind that I have no dependents and have chosen an exceedingly simply lifestyle with a low overhead, which enables me to spend a few hours most days tending to my well-being. Not everyone has such privilege. Please don’t compare yourself! Do what you can with what you have. You might need to be hyper-selective in order to find the most efficient techniques. Remember that choosing mindfulness, compassion, and kindness at any moment is a gift to yourself that takes no time and minimal effort.

Alright. Now for the ritual that is currently working for me.

Before I get out of bed, I do some simple breathwork while saturating myself with Reiki. I take a few moments to tune-in to how I wish to feel that day and really let those sensations sink in. I acknowledge any worries or circumstances that could interfere and apply Reiki to them as well as to my desires. This is a short, but powerful exercise that sets me up for a truly beautiful day.

I write down my dreams as soon as I get up. I’ve been using the voice memo function on my phone to record my dreams, which tend to arrive at an inhospitable hour, and then transfer them to a journal when I’m ready to turn the light on. It’s a work in progress, but so fruitful I’m eager to continue working out the kinks (mainly my resistance to taking action when it’s so easy to fall back asleep!).

To support my goal of creativity, next I turn to Morning Pages a la The Artists’ Way. Three hand written pages on no particular topic. I follow up with another 30-60 minutes writing of a productive nature. Believe me, I don’t always feel like doing this, but I know if I put it off, I’ll get distracted and neglect it. Writers write. It’s just that simple, so most days I go straight to my desk before even steeping the tea.

By now my body is clamoring for attention. If at all possible, I head to the woods for a walk. This slot used to be filled by yoga, but I’m finding that I get greater rewards from being in nature right now. It was a struggle for me to accept this since yoga has been a staple for me for decades. I’m sure it will find its way into my daily routine again sometime.

If weather permits, I’ll bring my tea with me and drink it sitting on a log by the creek. This is incredible medicine for me and the peace and joy I experience is well worth the effort and multiple layers of gear it takes to enjoy the outdoors during the winter in Pennsylvania!

Now it’s time for breakfast. I’m all about solid nutrition and nourishment from real food and love to enjoy a simple, yet hearty meal. At the table. Without any screens. Radical, right? But this sets me up to have steady energy and a stable mood, so most days I am able to resist the pull of my smart phone.

I used to think that if I was lucky, I’d get some time in for reading before work. I’m now recognizing that books (whether for inspiration, entertainment, or learning) are a great benefit to my creativity. If I’m unable to carve out time in the morning, I feel somewhat off, so my next upgrade is to secure time every day to indulge my inner bibliophile, especially with material that engages my imagination. Let’s face it, I don’t need any more practice being serious!

Yes, this is generally a four hour process. For me, it is my calling, my healthcare, my hobby, my passion all rolled up into one package that I have the blessing to enjoy each and every day. It’s taken two decades to build the lifestyle that gives me exactly what I need to be joyful and well. Each and every step along the way has been necessary to get me where I am today, and I couldn’t have gotten here if I hadn’t decided I was worth the effort and taken a series of baby steps that got me going.

Whatever your path, wherever you’re beginning from and going to, you can benefit from taking one small action today to support yourself. It could be as simple as three mindful breaths or turning off the TV. Because you’re totally worth the effort. So why not give yourself the best possible chance to be as healthy and happy as you are able?

Reiki and Bladder Issues

Recently someone asked me how Reiki could help his bladder issues. He didn’t elaborate on exactly what the “issues” are, but it doesn’t particularly matter. Reiki works with bladder issues much the same way it works with anxiety and sprained ankles and pneumonia: holistically. As I’ve heard several other bladder complaints since then, I thought it might be helpful to share my perspective here.

Reiki support is multi-layered: lowering stress (which halts energy from being needlessly diverted to the same physiological response experienced when facing a bear in the woods), bathing the body in life-force energy (which can be used for recharging and healing), and supporting emotional balance (which helps prevent future stress and further accumulation of stuck or stored emotions). I believe the body knows how to heal itself; but injuries, false beliefs, destructive habits, trauma and stress block the innate flow of energy. Reiki helps re-establish that flow.

Louise Hay, who I affectionately refer to as the Queen of Affirmations, writes about bladder problems in her little blue book, Heal Your Body, the Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Way to Overcome Them. She lists probable causes as “Anxiety. Holding on to old ideas. Fear of letting go. Being pissed off.”

She also provides a new thought pattern with a prescription to repeat it frequently until relief emerges. “I comfortably and easily release the old and welcome the new in my life.”

In my personal experience and in working with thousands of clients over the years, it’s clear that affirmations are helpful in reprogramming thought patterns. They help us notice when we slip into a harmful mental loop and bring awareness to our emotional state and our power to intentionally shift it.

However, many of the deeper programs running in the subconscious seem to be immune to such efforts. When the fight-flight-freeze mechanism gets triggered, there are no magical words that will deactivate it. This wouldn’t be a big deal if it only occurred occasionally. However in today’s hectic world, it’s quite common to experience chronic levels of stress that keep the body locked in a state of being constantly on the defense against bears.

This is where Reiki comes in. By stimulating the relaxation response in order to reset the nervous system, it’s possible to move more quickly out of fight-flight-freeze reactions. When we’re able to recognize that in reality we really are safe and that the traffic or deadline (or whatever activated the warning bells) has awakened a primal physiological response that is a huge overreaction.

When the brain is no longer on hyperalert and signaling the body to prepare for imminent danger, calm is once again accessible and from here, it’s possible to resume positive thinking. Combined with compassion and the awareness of the sensations the body provides as indicators of well-being or the lack thereof, we now have a recipe for deep and lasting transformation.

It’s possible to build up resilience against chronic stress by receiving routine Reiki treatments, practicing mindfulness and other stress management techniques, and using affirmations to rewrite the default scripts that play in the mind. If you feel the need for a more powerful intervention, a beginner’s Reiki class will enable you to access this seemingly magical healing energy wherever and whenever you need it. While there are no guarantees when it comes to healing, it never hurts to explore natural and holistic remedies that give you access to the best possible health that is available to you in each moment.

Contact me if you’re interested in receiving a remote treatment from the comfort and safety of your home or to learn how to treat yourself. I’d be delighted to discuss the possibilities with you.

Book Recommendations for Sanity during a Global Crisis

I’ve had a bit of extra time the last several months to indulge in one of my all-time favorite pleasures. Books! I’m dropping the titles of a few that have been significantly meaningful below. Please consider shopping at your local bookstore, perhaps Big Blue Marble if you’re in Mt. Airy. They need your support much more so than the richest man on the planet.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’d rather spend my time reading them than writing about them, but I will say that these gems have provided me with tools that have contributed greatly to my mental and emotional wellness at a time when the world seems very opposed to such things. Taking a break from the news and social media to attend to your inner landscape can be remarkably empowering.

  • Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Rick Hanson, PhD
  • Change Me Prayers: The Hidden Power of Spiritual Surrender, Tosha Silver
  • The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, Michael Singer
  • The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron
  • If Women Rose Rooted: A Journey to Authenticity and Belonging, Sharon Blackie
  • The Three “Only” Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence, and Imagination, Robert Moss
  • Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko- pa Turner