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.

Unseen Effects of COVID-19

Note: This appeared as an article in my May 20 newsletter. I have chosen to share it as a blog post as well in the hope of reaching a wider audience.

In Stephen King’s novel The Stand, about a manmade pandemic ravaging the world, he devotes an entire chapter to snippets about the people who die because of the illness but not *from* the illness. People who are injured and can’t find help because everyone around them has died. People who take their lives because they can’t tolerate the situation. People who are murdered by others whose sanity is slipping due to watching the illness take everyone and everything.

The Stand, obviously, is a work of fiction, and unlike “Captain Trips,” COVID-19 is not manmade. However, there are some similarities, among them the fact that COVID is having unseen, indirect effects.

Most people aren’t wired to spend weeks on end not leaving their homes. Being so isolated, even if you’re staying in contact with family and friends by video chat or phone, is not usual for us, and can have a negative impact on mental health. The constant information, true or false, that is being shoved at us by sources from the nightly news to the conspiracy theorists on social media raises our own fears and stress.

Being unable to get a break from the people one lives with can have a negative effect as well, even if we’re with people we love and get along with. For those who are essentially trapped in homes with abusers, it’s even worse.

The virus that’s spreading isn’t only the illness of COVID-19. It’s the side effects. The stress, fear, and panic. The increased abuse of those who are now unable to escape to school or work. The arguments among even couples and families who usually get along well. The arguments and endings of friendships among those who refuse to listen to facts and can’t find a middle ground on beliefs.

As restrictions are lifted in various areas, some of these side effects might lessen. Being able to go outside again might help people feel less isolated and trapped. But some effects will remain, and lifting restrictions will bring more impacts such as increased anxiety about being exposed to the illness, panic from people who are unable to wear masks due to claustrophobia, PTSD, or other issues but are told they have to wear them, etc. And the issue of abuse is certainly not going away, especially with schools still closed at least until the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

As we continue to navigate this time, please take care of your mental health as well as your physical. If you are struggling, please reach out for help; likewise, if you are experiencing abuse, seek help if you can safely do so. Talk to friends or family you can trust, or contact a helpline such as the Crisis Textline (741741) for mental health issues, 1-800-799-7233 or thehotline.org for domestic abuse, or 1-800-422-4453 for help in dealing with child abuse. 

If you have the emotional and mental resources to handle helping others, reach out to your friends and family to make sure they’re managing all right. Some people don’t feel able to reach out for help out of fear of being seen as “weak” or “attention whores.” Sometimes all it takes is someone calling or messaging to say, “Hey, I was thinking of you, do you need anything?” to tip the balance from someone choosing to die to them choosing to live. Even people who aren’t at that low a point are likely to benefit from knowing that someone cares.

Too many people in our society (and in my opinion, even a few are too many) live by the basic philosophy of “I have what I need, why should I care about anyone else?” Now is not the time to live that way. Please consider others. Take care of yourself *first*; you know, that whole oxygen mask thing. But if you are able to do so without stressing yourself, please look out for others as well. Let’s all do what we can to minimize the effects of this virus–both the direct effects and the indirect ones.

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.

When I Quit Channeling

From 2006-2009, I offered channeling sessions at a store in Portland, ME. The store no longer exists; it went out of business in early 2009, if I remember right. I enjoyed doing sessions there, especially the group channelings I did in 2006 and early 2007 with my mentor.

Things tapered off for me in 2008, because I was trying to work and raise my kids as a single parent, and there wasn’t much time left over for channeling or energy healing. But people still occasionally requested channeling sessions with me, and I was happy to provide them.

Until one day in early spring of 2009. I got a call from the store saying someone had booked a session with me. I was excited; I hadn’t done channeling for a while, and the payment would be a benefit. But I was also nervous because I hadn’t done channeling for a while.

It did not go well.

The client was a Shaivite, someone who worships Shiva. He had scheduled the session because the being I channel is named Shiva. That set me a little on edge. I channel a being of light, not necessarily a god, and I was terrified I would screw up somehow and this client would conclude–and tell others–that I was a fraud.

I entered trance and Shiva greeted the client, who responded in Hindi.

Here’s the thing… while Shiva, as a being of light, probably could speak Hindi if he chose, *I* do not. And when a being is channeled by a human, the being is limited by the human’s capabilities. If Shiva was the type to ignore my consent and my well-being, he might have been able to force the language issue, but doing so would have caused harm to me. That isn’t how Shiva operates.

Already afraid the client would think I was a fraud, I started panicking. Shiva, who was still the one speaking, informed the client, in English, that he could not communicate in Hindi because it was beyond my abilities. The client seemed to accept this, and the conversation went on.

Or, rather, didn’t, because my panic got the better of me. I broke trance, stammered through an apology to the client, and brought him out to the store’s register to get his money back. He assured me it was fine, that he had been able to tell I–and Shiva–was the real deal and there was no harm done, but I didn’t fully trust that.

I didn’t channel again until 2016, and then it was relayed channeling, in which Shiva told me his responses and I passed them along to the client. Even with that, every time I saw a client, I was anxious about getting something wrong and being called a fraud, to the point that I ended up stopping those sessions as well.

Fear is a powerful thing. Whether it’s rational or not, it can take hold and grow into something that blocks you from doing even things you badly want to do.

I’ve resumed offering channeling in the past several months, because I’ve worked with those fears. I know that what I’m doing is, as the Shaivite client said, the “real deal.” If a client chooses to believe otherwise, that is their choice, but it isn’t a reflection on me, and their belief is not my truth.

I have openings for channeling clients, as well as opportunities for clients to receive channelings via email. For more information, please visit my Channeling page or send me a message at info @ riverflowhealing.com.

I Didn’t Like Channeling

When I started learning channeling, it scared me. My mentor practiced trance channeling, in which he entered a trance state and allowed his guide to speak through him, and that was what he taught me. But I’d been in too many situations in my life where I wasn’t allowed to be in control of my own body, and trance channeling sounded like just one more way of not having control.

I was also afraid that I was making it all up. Maybe I was deluding myself into believing this being of light was speaking to me and through me. I’ve always had a good imagination, and as a child I was often told I was imagining things that to me seemed very real. Including my “invisible” friends, who, as I’d found out by this point, were actually my guides.

I would love to say that I got the hang of trance channeling and learned to love doing it, but I have to be honest. While I did become more fluid with it, and it grew easier to enter trance and allow my guide Shiva to speak through me, I’m still not entirely comfortable with it. Even now, well over a decade after I first started learning.

It isn’t as much fear of giving up control at this point. Shiva doesn’t “take control” of my body when I do trance channeling. It’s very much a consent-only undertaking. I choose to enter trance. If I’m feeling okay about it, I ask Shiva to speak through me. Usually, he does so, but sometimes he refuses, either because he doesn’t feel that I’m really as okay with it as I want to be, or because it isn’t the right thing to do at that moment. If he does begin speaking through me, I’m still aware of what’s going on and have the ability to stop him, or even to break out of trance entirely, at any moment. We’ve worked with my fear of losing control.

Now, it’s more of the “Imposter Syndrome” I mentioned in last week’s post. I know I’m not imagining Shiva, because he knows a lot more than I do, including things I don’t really have any way of knowing. But there’s still that little niggling doubt in the back of my mind, accompanied by my father’s voice saying, “Don’t talk about that kind of thing, they’ll lock you up.”

For a long time, I didn’t offer channeling at all. That was partly because of the issues I just mentioned, and also because of an experience the last time I had a trance channeling session scheduled at a store where I saw clients. (I’ll blog more about that next week.) When I started again, it was relayed channeling, where Shiva gave me information to pass along to the client, rather than my entering trance.

I offer both now, but strongly prefer relayed channeling. That’s something on which I’m working, because there’s a fine line between doing what I’m comfortable with because it’s more effective, and doing what I’m comfortable with because fear’s blocking me from pushing the comfort zone a little. However, I love doing channeling because I’m so thankful for the chance to help others by giving them access to Shiva’s compassion and wisdom.

I have openings for channeling clients now. If you’d like to learn more, please feel free to comment, email me at info @ riverflowhealing.com, or visit the Channeling page here on this site.

Imposter Syndrome Happens

I started learning Chios Energy Healing after the first time I had a Chios healing session, which I blogged about recently. After I’d trained a bit, it was time to start *doing* Chios sessions.

This was not as easy as I’d thought it would be.

I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my skills. I knew I was a good healer; I’d been told things since childhood that indicated it. But actually doing a session with another person, intentionally, with skills I was still learning and didn’t feel I’d mastered, was a different prospect entirely. Especially since the first person who requested a session from me was my mentor.

He was someone who had studied energy and energy healing for years. He was a Reiki master as well as a Certified Chios Master Teacher, and from my perspective in the sewer of low self-esteem, he knew more about everything than I did. How could I dare do a healing session with him?

By this point, he knew me well enough to understand my fears. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to do the healing. I had a massive case of what some people might call Imposter Syndrome. “I don’t know enough, and this person’s going to realize I’m a fraud! Or worse, I’m going to totally screw everything up!”

I didn’t screw anything up. I did the session perfectly competently, though he pointed out afterward that I had been noticeably nervous and I might want to work on that before I did sessions with anyone else. He understood the nerves, but a client who was relying on me to provide healing might not. But, he told me, I brought him a lot of benefit through that one session.

Imposter Syndrome happens, especially for someone from a background like mine. I was taught most of my life that I knew nothing, was worth nothing, and had no business “pretending” otherwise. I also was a perfectionist before I could even pronounce the word; even as a toddler, I refused to do anything unless I was sure I could do it completely right the first time around. Which meant there were an awful lot of things I never did.

I’ll be honest. I still get nervous before healing sessions. Not nearly as much as when I did that first session back in 2006, fortunately, but still, every time there’s that little niggle of “What if I don’t actually know what I’m doing? What if they think I’m a fraud?” It’s normal to have those questions. It doesn’t mean I’m not an effective healing practitioner. It means that as I help others work on their healing, I’m still working on my own, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I was angry the day I did that first healing session, because I was afraid and my mentor refused to let me back out. He was right not to let me. Fear will become an insurmountable obstacle if you let it win even once. So even though fear still follows me around and whispers in my ear, I’m thankful my mentor pushed me through it that one time, so that now, I can push through it on my own.

I Admire…

…people who aren’t afraid to speak their truth and share it with the world.

As a transformational speaker and coach, that’s what I’m trying to do. But I am still on my journey of opening up and allowing myself to believe I know what I know, and that it’s okay to share the things I know.

Growing up, I was a “pleaser.” The one who tried to do what everyone else around me seemed to want or expect. I didn’t usually dare to say what *I* wanted, or what I believed, because doing so wasn’t necessarily safe. Sometimes it was far safer and easier to just stay quiet. Not that I enjoyed staying quiet. I knew I had things to say that others needed to hear. I just didn’t necessarily believe I should be the one to say them.

One of the hardest tasks in my journey has been letting go of what others might think of me, and just being who I am. Accepting oneself can be difficult at the best of times. When one has been taught that they’re unacceptable, it’s an even harder fight. I’ve learned over the years that not everyone is going to like me, and even those who like me as a person might not like what I have to say, and that’s all okay. They don’t have to like me or my truth, just as I don’t have to like them or theirs.

It isn’t about being liked, or about what others find acceptable or true. My truth might not be true for everyone, and that’s okay too. It’s about liking and accepting *myself* and what I have to say, and knowing that even though not everyone will be happy with it, some will be helped by it. And that’s why it’s important for me to allow myself to speak, because there are still others who need to hear what I have to say.

In the Mirror

 

 

One piece of advice I’ve heard a lot, and for that matter give quite a bit, is “Look in the mirror and say you love yourself.” It’s easy to do. You look in the mirror and speak the words. But saying it isn’t the same as *meaning* it, and meaning it is the hard part.

I do this every morning, and have for several years. But until recently, I didn’t mean it. I said the words because someone had told me saying them was a way to make them real. It wasn’t real for me, though. It wasn’t any different from saying “Unicorns exist” or “I know how to fly.” People can *say* just about anything, but that doesn’t mean they believe the words they say.

Loving myself has been a decades-long battle. I learned pretty early on that I didn’t deserve love, and since other people didn’t seem to think I deserved it, how could I give it to myself? Because of bullying and verbal abuse, I developed a sense of myself as an unlovable, unwanted human being who probably had a reason for existing but couldn’t figure out what the reason was.

Over a decade ago, when I met the man who became my mentor in energy healing, affirmations, and other things, he was the first to tell me to look in the mirror and say, “I love myself.” So I began doing so, not because I did love myself but because he told me to. He insisted that if I said it often enough, I would begin to believe it.

Several months ago, I realized I was still just mouthing those words, even after over ten years. I had never started believing them. I was still just saying them because someone who wasn’t even in my life anymore had told me to. And that was the problem. Doing something solely because we’re told to often doesn’t have the effect we want, if it has any effect at all.

I started being more mindful when I said the words. Instead of just mouthing them, I tried to *feel* them as they came out of my mouth. I started really looking at myself in the mirror, instead of just standing in front of it. On my partner’s suggestion, I began using the “power stance” (feet slightly wider apart than shoulder-width, hands on hips) as I spoke, and I did feel more powerful.

Power gives power. The words I spoke in that stance, when I said them mindfully and with intention, began to work. I started liking what I saw in the mirror. I started loving that woman.

I haven’t mastered it yet. It’s probable that I never will. I still have times when I fall back into the pit of hating myself, or believing I’m a bad person or fat or ugly, or any of the other drivel I was force fed as a child. But more often than not, I do love myself, and I do believe and truly feel the words that I say when I look at myself in the mirror.

When You Want to Change

This has likely been posted on this blog before, but it seemed appropriate to share again.

We all, from time to time, reach points in our lives where something needs to change. A job, a living situation, a relationship, even something as seemingly small as how we style our hair.

A human life is an ongoing process of change, learning, and growth. We aren’t always completely aware of those things happening, but they always are. Change isn’t easy, though. It can seem overwhelming or frightening. Sometimes we hesitate to make a change, and it can be difficult to decide whether a change is really the right thing to do, or if we should just maintain the status quo. But if you feel strongly drawn to change something, it probably needs to be changed.

Deciding whether to make a change isn’t easy. Emotions and “what ifs” can interfere. If you’re facing a change and struggling to decide whether to follow through on it, talking to a friend or loved one might help. They might be able to give you a different, maybe objective, perspective on the situation, and talking might help you see how to make the change and consider the potential results, or the pros and cons.

You might also find benefit in making a written list of pros and cons, or writing or journaling about what your desired results would be if you made the change. You might also write about what you think that change would look like, how you would go about making it, and why you think it’s necessary. If you’re facing a major change, such as a job change or a move to another house or location, breaking the task into small, manageable steps can help lessen the fear or feeling of being overwhelmed.

When you’re considering making a change, or you’re faced with one due to external circumstances, many times changing can bring you a great deal of benefit. But it’s also all right to choose not to make the change. Ultimately, whether you change or maintain your current situation, it’s your choice based on what you feel is best for you.

Life is an ongoing process of growth and learning, and sometimes regression and forgetting.

Upheaval

As I write this, I’m preparing for a move to a new apartment. At the exact moment I’m writing this, I don’t know where that apartment will be.

It’s been a summer of changes and upheaval for me and my husband. I can’t speak for him, but for me, it’s been difficult and, at times, rather scary. We determined at the beginning of summer that we would have to move, and gave our landlord two months’ notice. But finding an apartment has proven more difficult than we’d expected. Staying here isn’t an option, because the landlord found a new tenant almost immediately, so we have to go somewhere. Right at this moment, though, we don’t know where.

This is a situation that in the not-so-distant past would have had me in full-blown panic mode. And, to be honest, I have had times of fear and panic. I am human, and no matter how much work I’ve done on myself or how much I trust the Universe to help me find the right place, I still feel scared sometimes.

Part of the story I tell myself is that I need to know what’s going to happen. Where I’m going to be. Who else is involved. All of those things. Although I can be flexible to some extent, I haven’t been particularly good at going with the flow, or at taking a leap of faith and seeing where it leads. That isn’t necessarily a good thing. Sometimes you need to take those leaps.

I’m reasonably sure that I’ve missed out on quite a bit in my life because of not being willing to take chances unless I have a pretty good idea of what will happen. That includes missing out on building River Flow Healing and A Story You Tell Yourself into amazing things that reach a lot of people. Reaching out and connecting with potential clients or with other practitioners requires a huge leap of faith, and it’s one I haven’t really taken.

If my husband had talked to me before giving notice to the landlord, we wouldn’t have given notice. I would have told him that we couldn’t do that without having another apartment lined up, and we would have ended up staying here. Not that this is a bad apartment, but there have been some unhappy times here as well as happy ones, and we don’t always get along well with our landlord and her family, who lives upstairs. It really is time for us to find someplace fresh, where we can start the next part of our lives.

I’ll admit I’ve felt pretty angry with my husband for giving notice on this apartment without talking to me. I still think he was wrong for not discussing it with me first, but what it’s shown me is that sometimes you really do have to take a leap and just trust that you’ll land in the best place for you.