“What Do You Want?”

Recently I was talking with my close friend, who often acts as a mentor to me, and the conversation turned to my social life. My social life is an ongoing source of frustration for me, because I’m still building a social circle, and sometimes going to events or getting together with friends is difficult because of transportation issues or scheduling.

I told him I wished I had the social abilities he seems to have. Some days, he’s in contact with probably dozens of people, between face to face interactions, texting, phone calls, and various venues of online messaging. Setting aside the contacts that are related to his business, not his personal life, there are still well over a dozen social interactions in any of his days. I said I’m sometimes hard on myself because I don’t reach out to people, and I don’t take the time to message people online very often.

He said, “Before you worry about messaging, and instead of being hard on yourself, first you need to figure out if that’s really what you want. What do you want?”

Good question. As a holistic mentor, one of my roles in my clients’ lives is to help them figure out what they want, but sometimes I struggle to answer that question for myself. My brain tells me I “should” want to have friends, to keep in touch with people, to act a certain way online and in social situations… but are those things I really want? Or are they just the “shoulds” that people have fed to me in my life?

When you’re sure you want something in your life, but you hold back from going after it or procrastinate, or make excuses about why you aren’t doing it, ask yourself what you want. Because what you *think* you want might not actually be it.

Listen to Yourself

In January 2016, in the wake of David Bowie’s death, I posted the following on Facebook (there was more to it, but this was the most important bit):

“We all need to be unafraid to live our dreams. All of us can at least try. You might not reach your goal, but if you never even try, you’ll never have the chance. Let go of the “can’t” and “shouldn’t” and fear. Start now. Dare to shake the world.”

I hand-copied that in calligraphy and taped it to the wall above my desk. It’s been there ever since.

And yet I haven’t really paid attention to it. I have dreams. River Flow Healing is one of them, though at the time I posted that, River Flow wasn’t even a glimmer of a thought. Singing is another. Continuing to write fiction and having a bigger audience.

I have a lot of dreams, and some of them, if I fulfill them, will shake the world in the sense of making a difference. Having an impact. That’s the main reason behind a lot of the things I do. I want to be out there to help others.

I’m really not helping anyone if I don’t listen to my own advice. Fear and “can’t” and “shouldn’t” have been constant companions for me. And that’s entirely on me. I’ve allowed those things to become my roadblocks, and it really needs to stop.

I might not get as far as I’d like with any of my dreams, but that doesn’t mean being so afraid of failing that I don’t even make the effort.

That post, when I put it on Facebook, started with me quoting the poem “Ode,” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy. If you’ve ever seen the 1970s version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, you’re familiar with one line of that poem, quoted by Willy Wonka: “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.” The first part of the poem ends with “We are the movers and shakers of the world forever, it seems.” (As best I can determine, the poem is not copyrighted. If anyone knows differently, please leave a comment.)

Whoever creates is a “mover and shaker of the world” if they aren’t afraid to be so. That’s where I’m falling flat: I’m afraid. It’s time to listen to myself….

Teaching

At Rites of Spring this year, I did a Level 1 Chios(R) Energy Healing workshop, as I mentioned a week or so ago. It was a great experience. I really enjoyed working with the eight students who attended. I felt confident about my teaching, and liked seeing the students understanding the concepts and feeling the energy flow for themselves.

That reminded me of how much I used to love teaching. I was a certified special education teacher years ago. I worked as a teacher, aide, or substitute over the course of about sixteen years, working in every public school grade level at one time or another. I got out of teaching because bureaucracy and paperwork were interfering with the reason I wanted to teach in the first place: working with students. I also moved from Maine to Massachusetts, and couldn’t get my certification transferred without going back to school to get an advanced degree, something I didn’t feel inclined to do.

I tried substitute teaching after I moved, because I didn’t need certification for that, but it was only about a month after I’d had major surgery. I wasn’t physically or mentally recovered enough to deal with a day of teaching, and the experience ended up being so negative I chose not to try again.

That was the last time I really taught anything. I’ve done informal “teaching” in that sometimes I end up educating people I know in person or online about certain things, but that’s been about it until the Chios workshop.

I loved teaching that. I loved seeing the excitement of my students as they learned and practiced the techniques. I’m already planning to offer the workshop again next year, and I can’t wait.

I want to teach more. And I’m planning to. I’m taking private Chios students now (see the Chios page for more info), and I’ll be offering the workshop through some area community ed programs. I’m also putting together an 8-week class using A Story You Tell Yourself, which I’m planning to do through community ed first and then maybe in other venues, including possibly online.

I’ve known since the River Flow part of my journey began that teaching and speaking were meant to be part of my path. I’m really excited to be figuring out how!

Recalculating…

I’ve been in a state of recalculation lately. You know how sometimes when you’re using your GPS and take a wrong turn, it says it’s recalculating? That’s where I’m at.

In my life, I’ve done a lot of things because other people told me I should, or I had to. Even if those things felt counterintuitive to me, I ignored the intuition and listened to the other people. This has often led to things not quite working out for me. I’ve spent inordinate amounts of time doing social media promotions that didn’t work because I half-assed them. Writing books that aren’t fun to read because my heart wasn’t in them. Taking classes out of which I got virtually nothing because they weren’t on subjects I really wanted to learn.

I’ve taken a lot of wrong turns.

But the cool thing about life is that when you take a wrong turn, you aren’t locked into continuing in that direction. You can recalculate and find a different route. If there’s too much construction on a road you’re driving down, you find an alternate way to get where you’re going. The same is true of life. If a route you’re taking to get to a goal doesn’t work for you, you find a way that *does* work.

I’m working on figuring out what works. I’ve already made some changes to this website to reflect some of the new direction. I’m no longer offering guided readings, other than at special events like psychic fairs (and then only if asked), because my heart wasn’t in them and I don’t feel that’s where my best skills lie. I’m good at them, and the readings I’ve done have helped people, but that isn’t part of the route I want to take for River Flow.

I’ve decided against some of the things I was planning to write, both nonfiction and fiction. I’ve reversed my decision about taking one of my pen names out of existence, and am focusing on promoting the few books still available under that name, as well as promoting the books available under my other name.

I’m trying really, really hard to get a grip on time management, which unfortunately is something about which I have a mental block. I want to push that block out of the way so I can stop rushing through things to make sure I get everything on my list completed, and stop spending time doing nonproductive things when I want to be productive.

It’s a work in progress. Life often is. But I’m thankful for the chance to step back from the wrong route and recalculate to find a better one.

Rites of Spring

I’m late with this post because it took me a bit longer than anticipated to get back into the swing of things after returning from the Rites of Spring retreat in western Massachusetts. I was originally planning to post this on Wednesday, but time really got away from me.

The event was awesome, though. Last year when I attended, I felt left out and disconnected right up until the closing ceremony, when all of a sudden–and too late–everything started to click into place. I had a hard time with that, because I wanted to enjoy it and make new friends, and I felt like I hadn’t.

I had, of course. Maybe not the way I’d wanted, but I did make friends from it, and those friends were there to welcome me when I arrived this year. The moment I walked through the gate, I felt like I was home. When I arrived at the dining hall for my shift checking meal bracelets, a job I had last year as well (everyone is given a color-coded bracelet indicating what meals, if any, they’re supposed to have in the dining hall), I felt as if I’d never left.

It was rainy and cold a lot of the time I was there. That made it considerably less pleasant, and it had a negative effect on my mood some of the time. Especially since the retreat is held at a summer camp, so most of the cabins don’t have heat, and neither do some of the shower houses and bathroom outbuildings. But for two days the sun was out and the temperature was up, and that was nice.

I did a Chios Level 1 workshop which had more attendees than I’d anticipated, and most of them seemed to get a lot out of the workshop. I’m looking forward to hearing more from them, and to doing another Level 1 workshop next year.

I came home tired, but happy and rested. I felt refreshed and recharged, and I’m definitely glad I went.

FEAR!

For the past month, I’ve been going through a lot of changes. There are so many things about me that aren’t horrible, but aren’t helpful. Things I would love to change, because changing them would give me a better life.

The biggest one of those is fear. I’m afraid of almost everything. Today I’m leaving for the Rites of Spring Pagan festival in western Massachusetts, and I’m afraid I won’t get to know anyone there. I’m afraid I’ll feel silly like I did last year. I’m afraid my partner, who is also going, will ignore me the entire time.

Irrational fears. Though the fear of feeling silly isn’t so irrational. I actually did feel that way last year, but that was also tied to fear. I was afraid other people would think I was silly or stupid, so I just didn’t do anything. I didn’t participate in the rituals or the singing (I didn’t even know the songs, though everyone else there seemed to), and I didn’t really talk to many people. Which was unfortunate, because they’re nice people and would have accepted me if I’d been willing to be accepted.

I’m learning to let go of those fears a little more every day. Fear keeps you from truly living. You just exist day to day, doing the things you know are safe and won’t cause problems, and you don’t risk anything. But not risking means not trying, and not trying means you’re stuck where you are. Not necessarily the way someone wants to live, but sometimes fear seems stronger than you, and you don’t know how to fight.

I’m learning to fight. And I’m going to Rites of Spring despite the fear, and keeping an open mind (unlike last year, I admit) that it will be better this year, and that I won’t be as afraid.

Which reminds me… since I’ll be at Rites of Spring, there won’t be a blog post on Saturday. Next Wednesday, hopefully I’ll be able to tell you how Rites was!

Believing What I’m Worth

A while back, I listened to a webinar about running a coaching business. One of the points the leader of the webinar made was that people, especially women, often develop products and a business but then don’t charge what they’re really worth. Because they don’t *believe* what they’re really worth.

I can say that’s definitely true for me. My past has led to me constantly underestimating my own worth, whether it’s as a person in general or as a parent or as a healer and coach. This has been a problem in trying to build River Flow Healing. I second-guess myself and doubt myself quite a bit, which is not an effective way to draw people who trust that I know what I’m doing and want to work with me.

My past impressions about money also play a role. Money has always been a difficult topic for me, and when it comes to my business, I don’t want to charge “too much,” because people might get upset that I cost that much and might think I’m not worth it.

That’s a major fallacy in my thinking. I truly know what I’m doing, and I bring value to my clients. That’s worth a lot!

I’m still working on myself as well as on the business. Improving one’s life and outlook isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing; it’s an ongoing, often life-long process. I’m learning to have more confidence in my worth and value, and that means I’ll get there.

Studying

I’ve been doing a lot of studying over the past few months. So much that some of it kind of leaks out of my brain. It’s a good thing I take notes!

When I was in school, studying was something I tried to avoid at all costs. I didn’t care about the things my teachers were trying to drill into my head, so I sat in class and mostly listened, took notes if I thought I should (or if the teacher required note-taking as part of the grade), and pretty much took tests from that. I often did homework the morning it was due, as I sat in the school cafeteria chatting with my friends.

The traditional school structure didn’t work for me. I didn’t fit in as a student, or as a peer. I wanted to do and learn my own things in my own way.

As an adult, fortunately, I have that option. I’m taking some courses, but they’re online home study courses that move at the pace at which I decide to move. I’m reading a lot of books and taking notes about the things that resonate for me, or things that I believe will be beneficial for me to know.

I wish I’d had the option to learn this way when I was in school. For years, I daydreamed about starting a school where kids could do exactly that: Learn at their own pace in ways that made sense to them.

There are schools like that in existence, and may well have been when I was growing up. Some forms of homeschooling, such as unschooling, operate on exactly that concept.

I hope someday it’s widely recognized that people are not cookies cut from the same cutter. We learn in different ways, and have different interests and needs. One thing we do have in common, though: We can all succeed if we’re given the right tools and opportunities. I wish that happened more often.

Overcoming Doubt

About a week ago, I underwent my witchcraft initiation ritual. Since I’m a solitary practitioner, I wrote the ritual, and enlisted my mentor’s assistance as my witness. This wasn’t necessarily the best idea. Having him there caused me to feel very self-conscious and worried about doing things wrong. Even though I’m a solitary practitioner and I wrote the ritual, which means there *is* no “wrong.”

I find that sort of thinking cropping up in a lot of areas of my life. Even as a very young child, I hesitated to do things unless I was almost one hundred percent certain I could do them right. I usually knew the answers to teachers’ questions in school, but I wouldn’t raise my hand if I wasn’t positive.

A few years ago, a friend who knew I wanted a hobby gave me a bass guitar and told me to figure out how to play it. I’m not the world’s best musician, but I do love music, and I’m a fairly decent singer. But I was afraid to sing in front of him, let alone fumble around with the bass, because he was a musician with decades of experience on his own and playing in bands, and I was afraid I would mess it up and embarrass myself in front of him.

Other things that I’ve wanted to learn or try, I haven’t done, because I doubt whether I would be able to do it right—or, sometimes, at all.

It’s human nature to have some doubts sometimes. But when the doubts interfere with doing things you want to do, things you love or at least love the idea of, it’s time to make some changes in how you think. That’s something I’m working on, and something I’m reasonably certain I can do right.

Relearning What the Child Knew

When I was a child, I believed in magic. Completely and wholeheartedly. I heard voices when no one was around. I had conversations with the wind and with trees. I felt things changing. Sometimes, if I tried hard enough, I felt like I caused change. And I had “imaginary” friends who knew a lot more than I did.

Of course, growing up with very literal, science-minded parents, I was taught that those things weren’t real. I was also, unfortunately, taught not to say anything about those things to others, or I might get locked up. I didn’t have resources then to find out more about witchcraft, or energy healing, or anything along those lines. Though to give my father credit, a few times he surprised me with books about psychic phenomena and other metaphysical topics. But none of those had anything that rang true for me.

I grew up. I forgot a lot of what I knew and did as a child. My imaginary friends never went away, which I couldn’t understand, but since I didn’t have many friends or people to talk to, I was kind of glad they were there.

When I was about 35, I became friends with someone who taught me about channeling and guides—and I realized my imaginary friends might not be so imaginary after all. He taught me about energy healing, and I remembered the times when I was injured and held my hand over the cut, and felt heat and then the pain went away.

He and I weren’t friends long, but he made a pretty big impact on my life.

About a year and a half ago, I became friends with someone who taught me about witchcraft—and I realized I wasn’t the only one who talked to trees. That the voices I heard as a child might not have been my imagination either.

I’ve realized over the past decade or so that all the things I thought made me weird, and my parents thought meant I was crazy, weren’t exclusive to me. Other people believe the same things. I’ve learned things as an adult that I knew instinctively as a child, and I’ve felt like I was coming back home.

I tried to raise my own children with open-mindedness toward things like magic, energy, and guides. Whether or not they talk to guides or trees or anything like that, I wanted them to know they weren’t the only ones, and there wasn’t anything wrong with them for it. I hope I did okay with that.