Rest and Reset

As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts lately, I’ve been taking things a little easier since the pandemic started. I’m not out there on social media and the like discussing RiverEvolutions as much, and in fact have pretty much stopped promoting the business.

This was partly due to a drastic reduction in clients and students, but it was also a conscious choice. At first, I fell into the trap that was circulating all over the internet: “Use this time to build your business, learn new skills, do ALL THE THINGS, because now you have the time you kept saying you didn’t have. And if you don’t use this time wisely, you’re lazy.”
Which, to be blunt, is bullshit. Our world has imploded. Pandemic. Protests. Being told not to leave our homes. Being afraid of getting ill every time we do leave. We’re living through a traumatic crisis situation, and those situations are not optimal times to try to do more than we’ve ever done before. 

They’re times to slow down, be kind to ourselves, and realize that it isn’t that we suddenly have time to do all the things. Instead, our time and energy are being diverted to maintaining our homes and our mental health. And that can take a lot more energy and time than going to work every day and leading our “normal” lives.

When I realized that–something I arguably should have realized sooner than I did, because I have a trauma history and I know what trauma feels like for me–I chose to say, “I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to try to attract clients and students right now. I don’t have the bandwidth to be an entrepreneur. And that is okay.”

As if that point hadn’t been driven home enough to me, last week something new cropped up that is taking even more bandwidth from me. What I thought would be a quick doctor’s visit for a COVID test and strep throat test turned into more tests, including an ultrasound, and the revelation that I have a growth on my thyroid. A growth that, statistically, is likely to be benign–but it might not be.

Over the weekend, I ended up in the hospital overnight after going to the emergency room because I was having trouble swallowing anything, even water. More testing showed that the growth is larger than when I had the ultrasound, which might be because they did a scan that is more accurate than ultrasounds, but it’s still a concern.

Yesterday, I had a biopsy. It will be at least a week before I get the results of that.

So, RiverEvolutions is still here and isn’t going away. I’m still available to do channeling sessions. Chios Energy Healing sessions are limited because I get tired when I do them and I’m overly tired anyway, but because I do not use my own energy for Chios sessions (I use universal energy, which flows *through* me but is not affected *by* me), I am still available for these sessions. I’ve also begun making jewelry and art with stones, shells, and sea glass from the beach near my home, and I’m starting to sell some pieces.

But I’m putting my primary focus on myself right now. On my own health and healing. And on my own rest and resetting. Because you don’t have to do all the things, and sometimes the most important person in your life, and the most important focus of your time and energy, is yourself.

Things Are Shifting

I’m realizing that a lot of things have shifted for me. I’m not sure whether depression is playing a role, or the current health situation (which may be leading to depression, honestly), or something else entirely.

I was still working on my business, RiverEvolutions, when all this started, but I hadn’t had a paying client in months, and I had only two Chios Energy Healing students. A few weeks into the shutdowns, one of my students finished her Level 3 studies!! The other one completed Level 1!

So now I have no students or clients… and to be honest, I haven’t felt horrible about that. I like doing Chios healing, and I like doing channeling, but I was starting to feel very burned out on the constant effort to attract clients while not actually attracting any. It’s been a nice breather not stressing about “am I posting the right thing in the right place.”

I haven’t felt any call to start promoting RiverEvolutions again, and that’s the part in which I’m not sure whether depression is playing a role. Am I not interested in building (rebuilding) the business because it’s just not right for me at this point, or because I’m depressed and don’t feel like doing much of anything a lot of the time? Though it may also have something to do with the business seeming to gain traction during the first 6-8 months (I started really working on it in Nov. 2018) and then pretty much falling flat after about August of 2019. Which does feel depressing.

(For clarity: When I say “depression,” I am legitimately diagnosed with depression, as in a mental health/medical condition. When I say “depressing,” I mean both that it feeds my illness and that it causes me to *feel* depressed as in an emotion.)

This isn’t the first time I’ve lost interest or desire for something. I used to read incessantly. I would read one or two full-length novels in a week. (I remember reading The Stand in under 2 weeks, and that’s a long-ass book!) I also used to write incessantly. But somewhere during my writing career, when I started getting published, I started feeling like I had to spend *all* my time writing. I stopped reading much.

And then my writing career went downhill fast. An incident in my personal life caused me to start feeling panicky about writing the more explicit scenes in my romance novels, and the poor sales started causing me to feel anxious and panicky about writing at all because even if one of my publishers accepted my manuscript, I felt like I would disappoint them by not earning them the money they expected. (I was published by royalty-paying publishers. I sent them a book, and if they chose to publish it, they paid me royalties, i.e. a percentage of the sale price of each book sold. Sometimes they paid me money up front as well. I never paid anyone to publish my books; the publishers took their cut out of the sales of the books just as I got my cut out of it.)

My last published book came out August 2017. Currently, NONE of my novels remain on the market, partly due to publishers closing and partly because I finally gave up and asked for my rights back. I think two or three anthologies, each containing one of my short stories, are still available, but I’m not sure. I haven’t completed anything fictional in at least 2 years. Mostly my writing now is ridiculously long Facebook posts like this one.

Depression definitely played a role in the writing not being a thing. I’m pretty sure it’s playing a role in not doing much with RiverEvolutions right now. It likely plays a role in not reading much, because one effect of depression is that it can cause loss of concentration/focus, so even when I try to read, sometimes I’ll stare at a page for several minutes and not take in a single word. (Though I am rereading The Stand right now. It seemed apropos.) That lack of focus also contributes to my not writing; I’ll start a fictional story but lose interest in it or even forget I started it.

I’m making art and wire-wrapped necklaces with stones, shells, and sea glass I find on the beach near my home. That’s bringing me joy currently, because it’s something that reminds me of summers at my grandparents’ cottage in Nova Scotia, where I could wake up every morning and walk down a flight of wooden steps to the beach. That was one of the few places in my childhood where I felt completely safe and loved, so the connection is wonderful. I’m selling the things I make, but I’m not necessarily *trying* to sell them, lest I end up feeling burned out with these as well.

I think my point in this is partly introspection, but also partly because I know others who are going through a period of “not feeling like it,” or feeling depressed or anxious, or being uninterested in or not having time for things they enjoyed, and I want to say you aren’t alone. It may also be to remind *myself* of all the things I have actually done in my life, because one of the things depression does is try to convince me I haven’t done anything worth noting.

Changing Part of Myself

My entire life, I’ve created stories. When I was too young to know how to write, I told the stories to my stuffed animals and dolls, or to any adults who would listen. Once someone showed me how to make those funny little squiggles on paper, I started writing down my stories.

In 1999, I started writing phonics-based stories and worksheets to use to help my special education students learn to read. The stories and worksheets helped my students so much I sought publication for them. Stories from Somerville and the Say, Read, Spell worksheets were published in early 2002. Until early 2020, those books consistently brought me income.

I kept writing other stories. I joined writers’ groups and websites. I learned to improve my writing skills. In 2009, my first ebook was published by a new digital publisher.

From 2009 until 2017, I had over eighty novels, novellas, and short stories published by various digital publishers and small presses. I self-published two or three things, but most of my work was put out by publishing companies. They paid me for my work; I didn’t pay them. (That’s a misconception a lot of people have about publishing. An author does not have to pay to have their work published. Publishing companies pay the author, usually in royalties, which are a percentage of the cost of each book sold.) Some of my books were erotic romance published under a pen name; some, published under something approximating my real name, were fiction for teenagers.

Beginning in 2012 or so, some of my publishers started going out of business. Others started playing sketchy games with royalty calculations. Many more authors started showing up on the market, and more publishers, along with authors who self-published, started putting out work. Promoting and marketing myself had always been difficult, and now my sales started to show it.

Thanks to a couple of crises in my personal life in 2014 and 2016, I reached a point where just attempting to write anything brought me to panic attacks, especially if I was trying to write any erotic romance. More of my publishers went out of business, until by 2016 only two were left, and I chose to stop working with one of them for various reasons.

I hung in there until 2017, but finally reached a point where my sales were too poor, and I had completely burned out by writing too much too fast at the peak of my career. I stopped writing. By that point, only 11 of my books, along with a couple of short stories, remained on the market.

Last weekend, I received a letter from the Stories from Somerville publisher informing me they were closing, and returning to me the rights for the books. I sat with that for a while and mulled things over, and decided it was time to pull my remaining romance and teen fiction as well. I contacted my remaining fiction publisher yesterday and asked them to return the rights to me.

None of this was easy. I’ve loved having the phonics books out there. My two author names, Karenna Colcroft and Jo Ramsey, had become part of my identity, as had “author” in general. But the reality is, while I’ve written things here and there (mostly blogs and short nonfiction articles) since 2017, I haven’t really *been* Karenna Colcroft or Jo Ramsey. I’ve been afraid to be. I’ve been tangled up in the panic and the “I’m a failure” thoughts associated with those names and that career. I’ve tried a few times to get back to writing under those names, and have yet to succeed.

Sometimes destruction is necessary to make way for new creations. In Hinduism, Shiva is the god of destruction, but that isn’t seen as a bad thing. It isn’t destruction as in “let’s get rid of it all,” it’s destruction as in, “Let’s make way for something better.” Like tearing down a dilapidated old house to build a new, sound one.

My past writing career had become a dilapidated old house, full of holes and structurally unsound. And so even though it’s a sad thing, and I admit I’ve been crying about it off and on, it was past time to tear it down and see if I can create anything new once it’s gone.

Breathe

A few months back, I bought a copy of an Astanga Yoga book written by my former mentor. When we were friends, I took Astanga classes from him, and he taught me a lot about the philosophies and the eight limbs that make up the practice. (Tip: The poses, or asana, are only one of the limbs…and not even the first one.)

To be clear, even though back in the day I studied to be an Astanga instructor and had, in fact, passed my final practical exam, I’m *not* an instructor, and not claiming to be. But since breathing is something many of us are thinking about right now, I wanted to talk about this a little.

One of the pieces of yoga that is sometimes overlooked is pranayama, or breathing exercises. When I was working with my mentor, he taught me some pranayama…which, being me, I promptly forgot about when I stopped practicing yoga. But now that I’ve resumed studying, I’m finding the pranayama, particularly one that involves very deep, even breathing, to be vital.

I have a tendency toward shallow breathing. Every once in a while, I take a deep breath that concerns whoever I’m with, or annoys them because they think I’m sighing. The actual issue is that I take such shallow breaths much of the time that I’m not getting enough oxygen, so then my body decides I’m going to take a really, really deep breath to correct that.

But for the past several weeks, every morning (okay, almost every), I do breathing called Sutri Pranayama, in which I breathe so deeply I can literally feel it all the way down through my torso. I take 20 breaths, which takes me over five minutes because I’m inhaling long and slowly, and exhaling equally long and slowly.

And after I do it, I feel better. I feel more focused. Calmer. (Deep breathing is one of the things recommended for people who experience anxiety, which for me is a frequent experience.) I’m in a more positive frame of mind, and my normal breathing has become less shallow.

Especially now, when our world is dealing with a virus that can heavily impact the lungs, I think breathing exercises can be beneficial. (I’m not a doctor, this isn’t medical advice.)

I’m not qualified (anymore) to teach Astanga or any form of yoga, so I’m not going to try to instruct you how to do Sutri Pranayama in case I get it wrong. But if you are looking for a way to help yourself feel calmer and less stressed, and to help your lungs function well, I would definitely recommend looking up how to do it and making it part of your daily routine. Not only for now, but ongoing.

My Body’s Telling Me Something…

I posted this on my Facebook profile a few days ago, but wanted to share it here as well.

Friday night, I realized that every time I turned over in bed, I felt like I was on a sped-up carnival ride. The room spun, my stomach churned, and it was scary as hell.

Saturday morning, I got up…same thing, only worse. I could barely stay on my feet, had to hold onto the wall as I walked the few steps from my bed to the bathroom, and then almost fell over getting out of the shower. My husband ended up taking me to urgent care, where they said, “It’s vertigo,” gave me meds, and sent me home with instructions to follow up with my primary care doctor and ask for a neurology referral. (I get migraine headaches; those have become more frequent, longer-lasting, and worse in general over the past couple of months… but the vertigo is new. So I need to be checked out on all of it.)

The thing is, last week, I was pushing myself HARD. Needed to do this. Had to do that. Had to get my ass in my car and drive Lyft to make more money. I wasn’t resting, I was stressing.

While there is an underlying physical cause for the vertigo and migraines (I don’t know what it is yet, but I know my body), there’s also an energetic cause. My body, my energy, and the Universe were–and are–all telling me to chill the hell out, focus on *me* and not my bank account, and take care of myself.

Illnesses have multiple causes. It isn’t *only* about the physical or physiological. It isn’t *only* about the mind. And it isn’t *only* about the energy. It’s a combination. What affects one affects all; what treats one treats all. Which is why I recommend energy healing to people who talk to me about their health…but I also recommend they don’t treat their health issues *only* with energy healing. It’s called “holistic” for a reason.

I Couldn’t Think of Anything

I sat down to write this blog post today, and even though I had some ideas in mind when I planted my butt in my chair, as soon as I looked at the blank document on my computer screen, my mind went equally blank.

Sometimes that happens. Sometimes, I second-guess myself, or the negative thought loop of “I don’t have anything worth writing about” starts playing in my brain.

In the past, I’ve felt angry with myself at times when I couldn’t think of anything to write. I’ve felt like a failure. I am, after all, a writer; I have a number of published works under my belt, though most of them are out of print now and I haven’t had anything published in a couple of years. So not being able to come up with something to write for my blog or newsletter opens the door to the “see, this is why you don’t write anymore, you failed as a writer and this proves it” thoughts.

I’m not angry with myself about it today. I’ve realized that sometimes, I’m just not going to be able to think of something. Sometimes, my past or my fears are going to get in the way. At those times, I can choose to be angry and fall into the pit of those negative thoughts…or I can choose to say, “That’s okay, it happens. Next time will be easier.”

Practicing compassion for yourself when you’ve been taught much of your life that lack of accomplishment equals failure isn’t always easy. But it is important. Going down the rabbit hole of self-hatred and negative thoughts doesn’t improve the situation, and it certainly doesn’t lead to success. It just perpetuates the abuse, bullying, etc. that led to those thoughts and feelings in the first place. Accepting that sometimes things are difficult, and sometimes you aren’t able to complete a task, leads to the recognition that you aren’t the things you do, and it doesn’t mean anything about *you* as a person if you’re having a hard time completing something.

And when I let go of the “I have to write something, why can’t I think of anything, I’m such a failure,” and instead thought, “It’s okay, we’ll think of something,” lo and behold, I thought of something.

How can you show compassion for yourself today?

Treating Myself

I’ve gone through a lot of financial struggles over the years, starting when I was still a kid. Because of that, I’ve developed an unfortunate scarcity mindset around money; that is, when I have it, I’m afraid something will go wrong and it will all be gone. It’s difficult for me to let myself buy things I want even when I have the money available, because part of me convinces myself if I spend that money, I won’t have money when I need it.

That mindset is something I’ve been working on for a long time now. I’m getting better about it. Sometimes allowing myself to spend still isn’t easy, but I’m in a better place financially than I had been. So last weekend, I took myself to a stones and crystals shop I love, and I treated myself.

This aura crystal is here to remind me that abundance is a thing, and as long as I’m open, abundance will continue to find me. It’s also a reminder that sometimes, it’s not only okay to treat myself, but it’s important. After all, I do deserve good things, and if I’m unwilling to give myself those things, how else will they come to me?

Discouragement and Recouragement (Is That a Word?)

When you’re trying to build a business, discouragement comes with the territory. The problem is that the discouragement leads to frustration and resentment, which leads to negative energy, which leads to the business continuing to be discouraging.

One of the things I’ve found as I’ve been working on RiverEvolutions/River Flow Healing for the past 4 years is that I get discouraged easily…which brings me further discouragement. Things don’t go the way I hope, so I decide I don’t feel like dealing with it. (To be fair, there have also been personal life things and health things that have contributed.)
But also, sometimes… well, okay, most of the time, I haven’t been clear on what I’m trying to create and build. I want a healing business. So what does that mean? What does it look like? Why do I want it?

I’ve been doing some pondering lately, because I reached another point where I couldn’t continue the way I was going and had to decide whether to continue at all. And I’ve realized a few things.

I’ve become unhappy with teaching Chios Energy Healing. I love the modality, and I think it’s highly beneficial, but *teaching* it has become problematic for me. Maybe it’s the way I’ve structured the instruction piece, or maybe I’m not as effective as I could be at reaching the students who would benefit from working with me–and with whom I would benefit from working. Whatever the reason, I’m finding that teaching Chios is not where my heart is, and not where my energy wants to go. I am eliminating offering Chios instruction effective immediately, other than for the students with whom I’m currently working.

I love doing Chios healing sessions. I want to do more of them. I would love to connect with more people who are interested in and would benefit from sessions. I need to create means of finding them.

Channeling scares me… but not because of the actual channeling. I have worked with my guide, a being of light called Shiva, for lifetimes. I feel safer with him than I do with most humans I know, and I know his wisdom and compassion. My fear comes from the worries that I’ll mess up somehow, such as by blocking what Shiva’s trying to say, or that people will think I’m a fake, a liar, or insane. Those are fears I’m working on overcoming, because I really love offering channeling to my clients. I like hearing what Shiva has to say, too. So I need to create/find more opportunities for offering this.

My Best Life Jumpstart program, a 12-week “create your best life” program combining 12 sessions of mindset coaching and 6 sessions of Chios, is available for those interested in beta-ing for me. (That just means you’re among the first to experience the program, and part of your investment will be committing to provide me with feedback and, if warranted, a testimonial.) I’m eager to see if this program is as effective as it feels to me from the planning side.

The cool thing about running a business–and, for that matter, living a life–is there’s always room for reinvention, refinement, and change. And that’s where I’m at right now. I hope you’ll be with me on the next part of my journey.

Change Hurts

In yoga teachings, there’s an affliction called parinamadukha, which translates essentially to “the pain that comes from change.” (I have to admit one of the reasons I remember this is that it’s a fun word to say, though the feeling/affliction is definitely NOT fun!)

It’s human nature to resist change in our lives, even when we know it’s for the best. Leaving a relationship is painful even when the relationship itself also hurts. Taking a new job can be terrifying. Moving to a new location is complicated, stressful, and painful, especially if we’re leaving a place and friends we’ve been around for a long time.

At the same time, though, change is part of life. It’s impossible to be alive and never go through any changes at all. Just for starters, we grow physically. We can’t decide as infants that our bodies are going to remain exactly the same for the rest of our lives. Many people’s brains also go through growth and change as they learn new things and have new experiences. Some growth and development happens whether we want it to or not.

Many of us also reach crossroads in our lives, where we have to make some kind of choice, which necessitates some kind of change. Even if we choose not to choose, we have chosen; and that choice causes a change in us. We then have to live with the choice we’ve made and how we feel about it, and whatever choice we’ve made will have an impact on us somehow. If we do make a choice, that choice might lead to things like ending a relationship, moving to a new place, changing jobs, etc.

I’ve spent the past several days dealing with a painful choice that is leading to painful changes. I’m not comfortable sharing what those are, but I will say that one change is the ending of some people’s presence in my life. People I would really rather keep around, except that doing so is becoming as painful as the thought of not having them around.

Most of us reach points in our lives where change has to happen. It’s completely human to feel fear and pain at those changes, to resist them and even deny them, and to need help getting through them. Ultimately, many of those changes end up being for the better. Even when they don’t, we can learn and grow from them.