What Do You Need?

As the changes in our world continue, we see more and more that the “normal” we once knew might not come back anytime soon, if it ever does.

And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Most of us have activities and people in our lives that are currently out of reach for us because of the pandemic that, in some places, still has us confined to our homes. Even in places that have begun to open up, being cautious means not resuming our old way of life right off the bat. Some of those people and things are important and positive parts of our lives, and we look forward to a time when we’re able to go back to them.

Some, however, aren’t so beneficial. Being away from toxic family members or friends has shown us that maybe those people don’t have–or deserve–a place in our lives after all. Some activities might have been unhealthy for us, and we didn’t realize it until we were no longer able to engage in them.

On a larger scale, many aspects of our society were broken, some beyond repair. When we’re immersed in them, we don’t always realize they’re there, especially if they don’t directly affect us. Now, though, that we’re seeing things from a distance, filtered through lenses of reflection and introspection, we can recognize the damage. Some people have begun to see how the damage can be repaired, or how certain concepts and aspects of our society can be torn down to clear the way for something new and better.

While this time of change, deconstruction, and reconstruction goes on, I encourage you to take time to assess *yourself* above all. What do *you* need? What changes have you made that benefit you, and what else could you change to bring yourself to a healthier, more positive life? Who can you reach out to for support and suggestions as you rebuild?

Life is never stagnant. The purpose of living is to grow and change. At the same time, it’s human nature to try to avoid growth and change. This time in our world is a time when we can no longer avoid those things. So take the time to determine what you need to grow and change into the best version of yourself and your life.

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.

It’s Fine Not to Be Fine

How are you doing?

When someone asks you that, do you reply honestly, or do you cover up how you’re really feeling? Do you say, “I’m fine,” when you’re anything but?

Right now, a lot of us are anything but fine. As the pandemic continues, people are fearing loss of income. Some are struggling to survive in homes that were unsafe even when they were able to leave from time to time. Some are wondering if they’ll have homes to survive in by the time this is over.

Marriages and relationships are ending. So are some friendships, either because of inability to stay connected or because people are realizing that their ideals and beliefs are diametrically opposed to those of their friends.

It’s a difficult time, even for those who seem to have everything together.

When you answer the question I asked at the beginning of this post, do you say you’re fine? And if so, is it true?

Many of us are taught to cover up the negatives in our lives. We’re told that it isn’t okay to talk about feeling stressed or afraid or angry. We’re told that no one wants to know if we’re having trouble with our finances or our families.

We’re told no one wants to hear if we’re experiencing abuse or other harm.

It’s time to change that conditioning. Right now, a lot of people are not fine–and that is okay. It is okay to talk about the not-fineness. It is okay to say you’re afraid or stressed or angry.

It is okay to reach out for help, whether to people you trust in your life or to organizations or professionals, if you are experiencing harm or abuse.
Even though there are widely different ways of handling the current crisis, and people are experiencing hugely different impacts, we are all experiencing the same crisis. We aren’t all “in the same boat”; far from it. But our boats are all in the same ocean of fear, uncertainty, and crisis.

So speak your truth when someone asks how you’re doing. Speak it so you can get help or support. So you can know you’re heard. So you can know you aren’t alone. Speak it so others know it’s okay for them to speak their truth.

You don’t have to be “fine” right now. Really. You don’t.

(If you are experiencing abuse, please seek help. In the US, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit their website http://www.thehotline.org. For support and help in dealing with child abuse in the US, visit http://www.childhelp.org or call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). You might also receive help or resources from your local law enforcement agency. If you are concerned that someone you know is experiencing abuse, please don’t remain silent or figure it’s none of your business. Reach out to them, to one of the hotlines named, or to law enforcement.)

How Normal is “Normal”?

One phrase that keeps popping up in news stories and online is “the new normal.” But what does “normal” even mean?

Usually when that phrase is used lately, it’s referring to the current state of restrictions and advisories caused by COVID-19. Those changes have become the way of doing things during the health crisis, and most of them are new to many of us. But are they “normal”?

Normal isn’t a consistent, objective thing. Just as each of us perceives things in our own way, each of us has our own “normal.” For some people with certain health or immune system issues, washing hands constantly and wearing masks any time they leave their home has always been normal. For some introverts, and people with some physical or mental health conditions, not leaving the house for days on end has always been normal.

The “new normal” we’re experiencing now is the same old normal for some of us. To others, it’s anything but normal. It’s difficult, complicated, and, we hope, very temporary.

Another phrase that shows up regularly is “back to normal.” What does that mean? Again, for some people, the current way of doing things *is* normal. If we’re using that phrase as shorthand for “returning to the way we did things before COVID-19,” “normal” will look very different depending on whom you ask. A lot of people consider leaving the house to go to work to be “normal”; those of us who work from home don’t see it that way at all.

When restrictions are lifted and things are reopened, we won’t be returning to exactly the way things were before regardless of what you consider to be “normal.” There will be changes in place to help people stay healthier. Hopefully, people will remember how all this felt, and will be more considerate of their health and of other people. I don’t believe it’s likely at all that things will go “back to the way they were.” Some things will be similar, but I don’t believe much, if anything, will be exactly the same.

Through all of this, people are worrying about whether their reactions are normal. Is it “normal” to be scared, angry, upset? Is it “normal” to have no reaction at all, or to even be thriving during this time?

The answer is… yes. It’s “normal” in that you are not the only one feeling or reacting that way. But more importantly, it’s normal because it is what is happening for you. And normal is subjective.

While we continue through this health crisis, and in any other crisis that comes, try to let go of what is “normal.” Think instead about what is happening for *you* and how that is affecting you. Normal doesn’t matter. What matters is you. If you are concerned about how you’re feeling or reacting, it doesn’t matter if it’s “normal,” it matters that you are concerned. And it’s okay to reach out for help if that’s the case.

“Normal” is a loaded word, and it’s one that you can probably tell I don’t think too highly of in general. Our world has changed, and will continue to change. People have reacted, are reacting, and will react in different ways. And whether it’s “normal” or not, it is okay.

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.

Relax and Breathe

If you’ve been on social media at all, you’ve probably seen the meme that says something along the lines of, “If you don’t come out of this time of quarantine with a new skill, new hobby, or your side hustle launched, it was never a question of time, it was a question of discipline.”

That meme brings up so much frustration and anger in me. Not for myself as much as for the people who see it and believe that they are, in fact, undisciplined failures because of what someone on social media says.

Here’s the thing. This is a time unlike anything any of us have ever lived through. Some of us are worried about losing our jobs; some have already lost them. Some are struggling to take care of children while working from home–and having to become teachers on top of it. We don’t know how long this will last. We don’t know whether we’re going to get sick. We don’t know what the short or long-term effects will be.

And with all of that uncertainty, fear, and struggle, we’re somehow supposed to be able to corral our brains to learn new things and build new businesses? Um… okay, I’ll refrain from profanity here.

Many of us, if not most of us, are living through trauma right now. Trauma causes mental and physical effects, including loss of concentration, memory issues, and exhaustion. Some of us are absolutely able to say, “Oh, yay, free time, let’s do ALL THE THINGS!” But a lot of us are barely able to say, “Okay, I’m going to take a shower and get dressed now.”

And that is OKAY. It is completely okay to not be able to learn new skills and build your side hustle right now. It is okay if you are just managing to get out of bed and put on something resembling clothing in the morning.

Not being able to learn new things and build your business right now does not mean you are undisciplined. It means you are struggling to live in an experience you have never lived in before, surrounded by others who have also never lived through anything like this. It means that you need your time, energy, and stamina to get through the day-to-day pieces of this current “normal,” and you don’t have anything left over for the extras.

It isn’t a question of discipline at all. It’s a question of priorities. Right now, for many of us, the priority is surviving. Everything else can wait.

Take care of yourself, and let go of whether you’re “supposed to be” doing all the things right now. The only thing you need to do is breathe, rest, and trust that this will get better.

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.

Healing Is a Process

In the past, I’ve done Chios Energy Healing sessions with people who, at the end of the session, have said, “I don’t feel any different. I don’t think this works.” And then they’ve walked away, and I’ve never seen or heard from them again.

Based on the results (or lack of) from 30-60 minutes of energy work, these people have decided Chios doesn’t work and they don’t want or need another session.

Healing, like most things that lead to growth, change, and wellness, is not a one-and-done thing. You wouldn’t go to a gym, do a 60-minute workout, and expect to walk out 30 pounds lighter and muscled, would you? Or take a prescribed medication once and expect it to cure whatever you’re taking it for? Would you see a mental health professional to address trauma from your past, and expect one appointment to make all the crap go away so you can instantly handle your life better and shake the aftereffects of the trauma?

Probably not, right? We accept that we see a doctor more than once in our lives, and if that doctor prescribes medication, we accept that we’ll have to take it more than once. We know exercise takes time to show results. We know mental health treatment is ongoing.

So why expect a single energy healing session to be able to address all the energetic damage that’s been caused in your life? To bring to light all the things holding you back? To bring immediate, lasting change?

Energy healing, like other forms of healing, takes time and repetition to show true results. I generally recommend clients who are just beginning this type of work have at least one session a month. Those who have been working on their healing on an ongoing basis for a while will benefit from sessions at least 3-4 times a year, though I believe more often is still preferable. It’s important to remember that in addition to more than one session being necessary to address issues, the energy system experiences wear and tear through daily life, just as our physical bodies do, and so “maintenance” is needed.

For the past year or so, I’ve been offering Chios sessions on an one-by-one basis. I’ve realized that doesn’t serve my clients well, especially when I’m a firm believer in the need for repeated, ongoing energy work. So I’ve put together a program, currently called the Best Life Jumpstart. (The name may change. I’m not great at naming things.)
The Best Life Jumpstart is a 12-week program that includes 6 biweekly Chios sessions along with 12 mindset coaching sessions, six included in the Chios sessions and six occurring on the non-Chios weeks. The intention is to guide my clients to identifying the thoughts and patterns holding them back, along with the roots of those patterns, and help them find ways to change, release, or reset the way they look at themselves and approach their healing journey. People who enroll in the program will have email access to me between sessions, and there will be a Facebook group where clients can interact with each other for additional support.

I plan to launch the first round of the program February 24, and I’ll be opening enrollment for it on January 27. This first round will be sort of a beta test, to help me improve my skills and make sure the program is the best benefit for my clients, and so will be offered at a much lower investment than future rounds.

I’ll be sharing more information about it over the next couple of weeks, but if this sounds like something you’d like to learn more about or be part of, just reach out to me at kim @ riverflowhealing.com (no spaces) and we’ll talk!

Welcome to 2020

2019 felt like a long year. I’ve talked with a number of people who have said they felt like 2019 put them through the wringer. A lot of pain, a lot of struggle. That was true for me as well.

In 2019, I started off excited about my business, then called River Flow Healing…and then things started going downhill both business-wise and, more importantly, in my personal life. The personal life struggles impacted my ability to be effective as a healing practitioner and coach, and at times impacted my ability to do much of anything at all. Those difficulties led to my choice a couple of months ago to go on hiatus and focus on myself and my own healing journey for a while. But now it’s 2020, and it’s time to start fresh.

My journey isn’t over, of course. Life itself is a journey; there isn’t any point where someone can say, “There, I’ve made it, I’m healed and everything’s perfect now.” Life isn’t intended to be something to master. It’s something to experience, and to learn and grow from.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past couple of months, though. Things that lurked in the dark places in the back of my mind that I hadn’t really wanted to deal with because we’re taught that “dark” equals “bad,” and that we have to either eliminate the bad things or pretend they don’t exist.

The thing is, dark isn’t automatically bad. It’s just dark. Just as we have to have both night and day, we have to have a balance of darkness and light in our lives and ourselves. The key is to learn to accept the darkness within us and work with it to change the negative results of it being there. 

When a toddler misbehaves, we don’t try to eliminate the toddler; we accept them, love them, and try to teach them more productive and positive ways to act. It’s the same with the dark aspects of ourselves. The goal doesn’t need to be eliminating them. It’s much healthier for us, and more effective in our healing, to accept and acknowledge–and LOVE–those aspects of ourselves, and learn more positive ways of managing them.

As a child, I experienced neglect, emotional and verbal abuse, and bullying. Those things were a constant in my life, day to day, even into adulthood. Because of that, the “dark” aspects of myself manifest, in my mind, as young children. It isn’t my job to get rid of them, but to give them the love, attention, and respect I didn’t receive. That means when one of my child aspects starts throwing a tantrum about how everyone hates her and that’s why I don’t have clients for RiverEvolutions, instead of ignoring her or telling her to shut up, I’m learning to embrace her and say, “I know it feels that way, and it’s okay to feel that way right now, but that isn’t reality. Let’s take a break and come back to this later.”

Taking a break is another key. When emotions escalate, sometimes we feel like we have to “push through” and get the thing done no matter what. But forcing ourselves to keep pushing at something that is causing us pain doesn’t serve us. It is okay to take a few steps back. It’s okay to leave a task temporarily unfinished so you can take care of yourself and let yourself feel your emotions. And when you’ve allowed that, you can go back and finish the task.

There’s a lot I’ve been learning over the past couple of months, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you as I continue my work on myself as well as my work as a healing practitioner and coach.