Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

Perfectionism has been a thread in my life for a long time. It resides mostly under the surface, but can put an immediate halt to almost any project I want to complete. You may recognize the voice of perfectionism, saying things like: "I am not qualified enough to do X" "I don't have the right venue for this class" "This project/class has already been done a million times" "I don't really have anything special to offer", etc.

Perfectionism in my life has been a way to keep some parts of myself hidden. Especially those that I find to be scary, paradigm-shifting, or rebellious. I can't dress these parts of myself up neatly, nicely to be presented and maintain the "status quo". I am finding some of my most deep, meaningful parts actually want to be a bit messy. They come out in full force like a pile of unfolded laundry on the bed. My job is then to sort through, begin to fold, and take care of each thing that comes up. 

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Uncovering Joy: it's bubbling right under the surface

I have been reminded this summer that joy is not something to cultivate or to "achieve". Joy is a state that is inherent in all humans, accessible at any moment in time. 

Joy v. Happiness

We live in a culture obsessed with happiness. There are many self-help-y books, courses, etc which aim to increase one's happiness. While I am not opposed to happiness, by any means, it is a state that relies on external circumstances. "If only I had that car/ house/ relationship... I would be happy". Most likely you are familiar with the voice inside your head that tells these stories. Each of these are things that, once gotten, will eventually lose hype. And then, the quest for that thing that brings happiness begins again. 

So joy. Joy is an internal state, something that is not altered by external circumstances and is inherently primal in humans just like anger and fear. Joy is a state of being. So, I have come to understand that we uncover joy.

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Motherwort: a plant for the Lion Hearted

Motherwort is a common plant seen in backyards and along sidewalks here in West Michigan. I first came into contact with her in my backyard about four years ago. The latin name for Motherwort is Leonurus cardiaca - Lion Hearted. Now this is what got me, even though I didn't know it at the time. As I look back over the past few years, I can see the thread that has been illuminated by this plant. 

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Dancing in the Shadows: Healing my Relationship to Pain

The Guest House by Rumi


This being human is a guest house.

Every morning, a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, 
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor. 

Welcome and entertain them all! 
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows, 
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture, 
still, treat each guest honorably. 
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight. 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, 
meet them at the door laughing, 
and invite them in. 

Be grateful for whoever comes, 
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

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Seasonal Support: 4 Simple ways to support your Body this Spring

"Worms will not eat living wood where the vital sap is flowing; rust will not hinder the opening of a gate when the hinges are used each day. Movement gives health and life. Stagnation brings disease and death."

-Proverb in Traditional Chinese Medicine

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The Healing Power of Touch

One of the most important healing aspects of craniosacral therapy comes through relational touch. Sure, there are many ways to explain CST on a physical level, but the magic happens in the space created by healing touch. This is where the body and mind begin to meld, the work deepens and whole person begins to take shape. The body and the mind are intricately connected, although when it comes to integrating trauma or difficult emotions, the body often has a different memory or perspective than the mind does. 

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Navigating Your Emotional Awakening

Over the past few years, I have found myself in the process of learning to feel and observe my emotions. Something that was so natural when I was young, had become obscured as I got older and learned push uncomfortable emotions away. Years of stuffing emotions into the nooks and crannies of my being created a lot of discomfort that eventually called for my attention. I could no longer ignore that all emotions are a normal part of the human experience. And so began my process of awakening to these emotions that had been stored, some of them for years and years.

A common question that comes up with clients when we get to working with emotions in general and particularly with difficult emotions is this:

"Why is it important to feel my emotions?

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Simple Winter Self-Care Practice

Last winter I got into a simple ritual that I have been enjoying again now that winter is here. Winter can bring a lot of dryness to our skin, mucous membranes, and hair, so it is important to supply our bodies with more fats and water than in the summer (damper) months. I have found that putting good fats on my skin is a great way to absorb them and feel nourished in a deep way. The following winter ritual keeps my skin soft and moisturized all winter. 

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Living in Harmony with Nature

I have had an image of a way to work with plant medicine floating around my brain for the past few months. The image is of a plant and human side-by-side. The plant (say a flower) has roots, stems and leaves, and a flowering top. The human looks just like you would imagine. What if we worked with plant medicines in a way that reflected this image? Plant roots to nourish our arms and legs, our root chakra, to ground our energy. Plant leaves to support the internal organs, the fluids like blood and lymph, the bones. Flowers and tops of plants serve to balance the head, the mind, the emotions, the energetic system. 

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Healing Modality Highlight: Flower Essences

Flower essences have quickly become one of my favorite healing modalities both for myself and in my practice. They are a less-well-known botanical medicine than herbs, but are just as effective. They differ in preparation than herbs and work on different levels of the body, which I will touch on briefly here.

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Breathe into Being

Have you ever taken a moment to stop on a busy day only to realize that you weren't breathing?  Or maybe you were breathing so shallow that there was no rise and fall in your chest or abdomen.

When I was a nursing student we had to observe the breathing of our patients as part of an assessment.  A fellow nursing student was observing my breathing and found that she had a very hard time counting my breaths because there was no noticeable movement in my chest.  That was the first time my conscious awareness was ever drawn to my breath.  At the time, I didn't think much of it, other than to notice this phenomenon.  I thought, well breathing is automatic so it doesn't matter much what is going on as long as it is still happening!

Over the past ten years, I have become much more conscious of my breath and the connection that I have with it.  Through mindfulness and learning meditation, it has become an anchor into each present moment for me.

I have come to understand that the breath is one of the most central parts of our being.  It can be one of the fastest ways to drop out of racing thoughts into the belly and Being.
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Forgiveness: the art of letting go

I was walking home the other day, listening to a podcast by Rob Bell called The Forgiving Flow.  He is teaching a five-part series on forgiveness and this was the first episode.  As I was listening, I was also taking in Fall and all her beauty.  The burnt orange leaves slowly turning color, lining the street.  The refreshingly crisp air entering my lungs, clearing out old, stagnant breath.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, fall is the season governed by the Lungs and Large Intestine.  The lungs, large intestine, skin and nose are the organs related to the Metal Element.  As you may imagine simply based on the function of each organ, they govern some important aspects of our lives.  

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Finding Your Roots: everyday grounding practices

“Grounding” is a bit of a buzz-word that has been floating around the natural health community, yoga circles, and other healing spaces over the past few years.  I have personally been working on becoming “more grounded”, as I am sure many of you can relate.  Over the course of my own process, I have come to understand that the concept of grounding or being grounded is very much a fluid part of our ever-changing existence.  It is not a state to be achieved, something to be checked off our list.  Rather, it is a state that we flow in and out of regularly.

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The Healing Process: simplicity

As I learn more about this process of healing, there are a few themes that I am beginning to see repeated back to me.  I talked a bit about cycles last week and it has been my experience that the healing process (or journey) really follows this same pattern of cycles.  One theme that I revisit over and over again is simplicity.  

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A Meditation on Fear

Just sit.

Notice where you feel hard and sit with that.

In the middle of the hardness, you’ll find anger, sit with that.

Go to the center of the anger and you’ll probably come to sadness.

Stay with the sadness until it turns to vulnerability.

Keep sitting with what comes up; the deeper you dig, the more tender you become.

Raw fear can open into a wide expanse of genuineness, compassion, gratitude and acceptance of the present moment.

A tender heart appears naturally when you are able to stay present.

From your heart, you are able to see the true pigment of the sky.

You can see the vibrant yellow of the sunflower and the deep blue of your daughter’s eyes.

A tender heart does not block out rain clouds, or tears, or dying sunflowers.

Allow both beauty and sadness to touch you.

This is LOVE, not fear.

Craniosacral Therapy Part II: The Process**-From Chaos to Wonderment

I had the opportunity to attend an intensive craniosacral therapy program last week in Truth or Consequences, NM.  This intensive is one of many week-long programs hosted by Integrative Intentions, a unique organization that offers therapy programs that combines craniosacral therapy with group dynamics, water therapy, and equine therapy.

One morning, in our daily group meeting, the concept of transitioning from chaos to wonderment came up.  This concept became a theme for the group over the course of the next few days.  As these things often happen, I began to come across this concept in books and conversations.

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Pain and Power: an unexpected relationship

Where there is pain, there is also power.

Sometimes it takes extreme pain for us to begin to pay attention to our bodies and their messages.  However, when the decision is made to engage with pain and the process that unfolds, power emerges.  And it is there, that place where the most pain lies, that the most power also resides.

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