Refining Resolutions

Enthusiasm for New Year’s resolutions begins to wane around the second week of January. I’d say that’s pretty normal, especially if the goals you’ve chosen aren’t authentically yours. It’s easy to be swayed by external so-called authority figures who proclaim to know what’s best. Yet I’m here to remind us all, myself included, that we are each our own authorities.

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Perhaps your resolutions could be tweaked slightly, rather than tossed out completely. I find it helps to know my “why”, the underlying motivation that causes me to seek change. Oftentimes resolutions are strategies to achieve a why, but there are likely other avenues that could help you reach your destination. There’s no shame in changing course when you realize you’re on the wrong path!

It’s common for people to choose goals related to health this time of year. In spiritual circles, I hear people talking about going vegan and eating more kale. True confession: I’m a carnivore. Yup. I eat meat. Red meat. My body feels better when I do. I’d prefer to be a vegan, frankly, as the cost of grass-fed beef is outrageous. I’d fit in better, I suppose, if I went along with the crowd, but it wouldn’t actually serve my health. I do want to minimize my impact on the environment, so I’m committing to experiment with the minimum quantity my body needs.

Same with dairy. Holy moly, do I love cheese! Yet I’m not interested in supporting the cruel practices of factory farming, so I’m going with small family farm products, switching to goat cheese more, and replacing half and half with homemade hemp or nut milk. If I began the year pretending to be vegan, I’d be ready to throw in the towel about now. I’m glad I’ve learned to listen to the expert on me: me.

Another confession: I don’t like kale. There, I said it! And I have zero interest in eating salad in the winter. No thank you. So, I can just skip those trendy resolutions and opt to eat a variety of organic, locally grown seasonal vegetables, roasted or made into fabulous stew. I’ve thrown out enough slimy kale and wilty lettuce over the years to know that it’s just not going to happen. That doesn’t mean I can’t improve my eating habits; I just need to do it my own way.

I might not like kale, but I truly loathe the gym. Ugh. Voluntarily immersing myself in an atmosphere of suffering is just not my idea of good health. Plus, I can’t turn off my knowledge of body mechanics and it distresses me to see people doing things that are likely to cause injury. Nope, not for me. I’ve recently sworn off vinyasa yoga, which is the primary style offered in my area. It’s just too fast for me. Teachers always say to go at your own pace, but they don’t mean four times as slow as the tempo they’ve set- it disrupts the flow for the whole class.

So, while I’m aware that I do need to move my body more, the most common tactics are not a good fit for me. Luckily the woods are nearby and full of steep hills. My rebounder is even closer and a great choice for intense exercise that minimizes the jarring of mature joints. I know that the stretches I benefit the most from are those that I resist because they’re uncomfortable. Yet I am grown up enough to fit them into a rotation. I don’t want to avoid things that are truly beneficial (there are LOTS of substitutes for kale, just saying…) just because I don’t enjoy them. It’s been no hardship to stick to my plan because I feel so much better already. Imagine a resolution that isn’t a constant struggle!

Here are some other aspirations I’m working towards that aren’t very popular in our consumer culture as there’s no profit to be made. In fact, these actions are nearly revolutionary as they buck the system that is always driving us to do more, work harder, and buy all the newest gizmos. I do love being a rebel, but want to make sure each decision is truly aligned with my values. Going against authority figures just for the sake of doing so is still a decision based on external factors. Feel free to borrow any of these ideas or share some of your own in the comments.

Rest more

Love and accept myself exactly as I am

Minimize screen time, including the habitual checking of my phone

Minimize multi-tasking

Maximize joy

Listen to my gut

Say no to requests that activate a sense of dread

Waste less/ make less waste

I’m wishing you a very happy 2022, and hope you find your “why”!

Can You Fix Me?

I get this question a lot from clients, often when they are in great pain; either physical, psychological, or spiritual. They come seeking relief, having been sent by a friend or Google search, correctly informed that Reiki and massage are powerful, holistic healing techniques. Recently a young woman jokingly requested that I vacuum out all her anxiety. If only I could! Alas, healing does not work this way.

Human touch and muscle manipulation are potent vehicles of healing, as is the universal life-force energy transferred during a Reiki session. They can provide the nudge that the body or psyche needs to return to alignment with the Spirit. They can also offer the boost in motivation to follow through on lifestyle changes, the release of self-sabotaging beliefs, and the comfort of remembering that we are not merely broken bodies with problems struggling alone in an unfriendly universe. Reiki and massage are some of the most powerful healing tools that I’ve ever come across in my twenty plus years of spiritual awakening.

And yet it is up to each of us individually to decide if we wish to receive the many benefits these tools have to offer. We are ultimately the ones in control of our own healing and well-being. Providers like myself can offer support to our clients, but until emotions have been fully acknowledged, felt, and released there is no shortcut. Our pain is very often an indicator that we have gotten off-track. It serves the function of reminding us of our greater purpose, our true nature, and our mission in this lifetime.

My compassion allows me to dream of taking away the discomfort everyone experiences, but my inner knowing counsels that this would indeed be a disservice to the evolution and ultimate wellness of others. Being human is a difficult job. But we have been blessed with countless systems of support, transformation, and integration. If you’re wondering if a treatment with me might be helpful, please check out my website! I offer a free 15 minute phone consultation for this very reason. If you’re just not into massage or Reiki, that’s cool too. I hope you seek out one of the other alternative options so readily available today.

Don’t Look at Me!

Several times each week, I work with clients who desire the benefits of massage, but are obviously anxious or even terrified about getting undressed. As a recovering shame-aholic, I understand this dilemma completely. When you dislike your body, you want to hide it. You don’t want anyone to know your secrets of imperfection for fear of being rejected or humiliated. I lived most of my adult life like this. It’s debilitating and isolating to experience the world through these lenses. As a compassionate person and professional therapist, I want everybody to be 100% comfortable during each session, so I take the time to explain that I will leave the room while clients undress as much or as little as they wish, and that they will be covered and their privacy protected. Yet I often still recognize that look of panic in their eyes while we are chatting before the session begins.

One day after working with a client like this, I was bicycling home and came across a hawk resting on a fence. I stopped to witness this creature’s majestic presence. I contemplated how regal this bird looked and felt a wave of inspiration. This hawk has never, not once, been ashamed of it’s body or feathers or beak. It has never thought, “Oh, if only I was sleeker or faster or more colorful.” It does not sit around criticizing itself or categorizing its faults. It just simply is. A hawk accepts itself exactly as it is, without a need to compare itself to another. (Or at least, so I imagine!) Can you visualize a beautiful bird like this hiding its head under its wing whimpering, “Don’t look at me! I’m not worthy. I’m just a hawk. I should have been an eagle.”??? NO!

So why do we humans treat ourselves this way? I believe it’s because we’ve forgotten who we truly are; that we are unique individuals with talents and passions that contribute to a better world; that we are worthy of being loved and accepted just the way we are. Not because of what we’ve done to prove this worth, but just simply for being ourselves. What a relief it is to drop the constant stream of self-criticism and to relax into the comfort of self-acceptance. I invite you to try an experiment and invoke the spirit of the magnificent hawk next time you feel doubts about your appearance, performance, or worthiness. It’s impossible to feel ashamed about anything when you’re in the flow of proud hawk energy.