Drawing a Blank

I sat here getting ready to write this blog post and realized I had no idea what to say.

And that’s okay.

I spend a lot of time feeling like I have to know everything that’s going to happen. I have to plan out what I’m going to post on my blog or write in the novel I’m working on. I have to know what my commute will be like, and the weather, and what I’ll be doing that day at work.

Except I don’t really need to know any of that. Except maybe the weather, because if it’s going to rain, it would be good to have an umbrella. And if it’s going to snow, I might have to freak out a little bit, because it’s July. Even in New England, it doesn’t usually snow in July.

So this time, instead of getting anxious and worried because I didn’t know what to type for this blog post, I just started typing about not knowing what I was going to type. Because even if it seems silly, or I feel like I’m just blathering, there is a point to this. And the point is that I don’t actually need to know. Some of my best writing–and, admittedly, worst–has occurred when I just put my fingers on the keyboard and see what comes out.

There are some things in life that it’s probably a good idea to plan in advance. At least have a guideline for. But you don’t have to do that with everything. Some things work out just fine even if you start without knowing where you’re going to end.

Like blog posts.

The Best-Laid Plans…

Sometimes no matter how carefully you plan something, it doesn’t work out that way. I’ve had a few examples of that in the past week.

On Saturday, I was planning to go to an event I’d been looking forward to. That morning, I decided it was time to rearrange a few things, partly so I could put a couple of pieces of furniture up for sale. The rearranging led to more rearranging, and then to cleaning, and then to packing up some books…and the next thing I knew, four hours had passed, the event had already started (and was an hour away, so I had no chance of getting there even to show up late), and I’d missed the opportunity.

One of the reasons for rearranging was that my husband and I had planned to move out of our current apartment but had then realized we would probably be better off staying put. Saturday morning, my husband contacted the landlord to let them know this. A few hours later, he heard back that they had already found a new tenant. We have no choice but to move.

Not so long ago, either of those would have sent me into anxiety mode. The two of them combined would probably have led to me having a full-blown panic attack. But I’ve learned a few things since then.

Sometimes the plans we have in mind aren’t the plans that are meant for us. They aren’t what our heart wants, or what the universe wants us to have. We might *think* they are, but that’s because we’re used to trying to control everything that happens in our lives, and we want to be the ones making the decisions.

We aren’t always right, though. In my case, rearranging and cleaning led to me being able to list one of the pieces of furniture I wanted to sell, and to me finding a couple of books and some papers I’d thought were gone. It also led to a lot less dust and a far less cluttered living room. It’s going to get cluttered again, this time with boxes, but at least right now there isn’t much clutter. And there’s a bit less to pack.

Moving… Until last fall, I wanted to move. We’d talked about it, and had planned to move out of here once my younger child left for college. The upstairs neighbors are often loud, the street outside is busy, and the acoustics here are weird so that sometimes it sounds like someone else is in the apartment when no one is. We had ended up staying because apartment hunting isn’t fun, and because we were still paying the same rent as when we moved here several years ago. And I had moved things around a bit so I wasn’t sitting where I can hear the neighbors most of the time, and wasn’t seeing cars and people going past the window.

But we’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my adult life, and part of me feels restless. This place has been a good home for us, and we’ve had happy times here as a family. But we’ve also had conflict and negative times, and maybe it’s time to leave that energy behind. We can make happy times in a new place, in the new chapter of our lives where the younger child isn’t with us most of the time because of school and seeing other family members, and the older child has moved out entirely and is now a stepparent. Maybe the rent being raised, which is what led to us initially deciding to move this time, and finding out the landlord has someone lined up to take the place, is the universe’s way of telling us it’s time to stir things up.

So I don’t mind having missed Saturday’s event. There will be others. And I don’t mind having to move. The packing and apartment hunting will be a bloody nuisance, especially since we only have a month, but in the long run it’s going to be an adventure that will put us someplace we haven’t been before. And maybe that will lead to even better things.

Sometimes the best plan you can have is to not have a plan, and just trust that you’re going to get where you need to be.

New Program: A Story You Tell Yourself

A Story You Tell Yourself is based heavily on my own experiences of working to overcome my past and start telling myself a new story. This program is designed primarily for those who have dealt with abuse, bullying, and other trauma in their lives, and feel that their experiences and the impact of them are holding them back.

We all tell ourselves stories about our lives and ourselves. “I can’t do that, because I never went to college.” “I don’t dare to talk to her, because she reminds me of one of my abusers.” “I don’t know enough to even try that.” And so on.

Some of these “stories” are our own creations based on our experiences, and some are things that were told to us by abusers, bullies, or others. But we can tell ourselves new stories if we work at finding them, and that’s what A Story You Tell Yourself is designed to help people do.

I’m currently accepting new clients into the program, which is an 8-week program that includes weekly meetings with me in person or by video chat, two Chios Energy Healing sessions (distance or 30-minute “mini-sessions”), and two guided meditations. If you’re interested in enrolling or learning more, comment on this post or visit the A Story You Tell Yourself page on this website.

“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.

Impact

NOTE: I have previously posted this on this blog.

In my previous life chapter, prior to moving to Massachusetts, I worked in special education. Teaching (including substituting and working as a teacher’s aide) was my career for the better part of sixteen years, with a year or so detour as I tried to find my footing.

Many of us have a teacher who stands out in our memories as someone who had a profound impact on us. I have more than one: my kindergarten teacher, who realized I loved writing stories and allowed me to do so as part of my reading instruction; the tenth grade English teacher who further encouraged my writing; my college advisor, who recognized my awkwardness with others and tried to help me correct it.

I never thought I was one of those impactful teachers, though. I just did my job, enjoyed my students, and did the best I could to help them get where they needed to go.

One of the memories that stands out most strongly for me was when I left my longest-term position, as special education teacher at a very small rural school in Maine. Some of my students made great gains while I worked with them, and I celebrated those while never really giving myself credit. As far as I was concerned, the kids were the ones who got there. I just helped a little.

(Sometimes we minimize ourselves far too much. It’s definitely one of my flaws…)

Because the school was so small, I was the only special education teacher there, and I had the same students throughout, with some changes as some went on to high school and others entered kindergarten or moved into the district. I became close to some of the students and their families, though “close” is a relative term because professionalism.

But on my last day there, the mother of one boy with whom I’d worked from my first day came to me in tears, put her arms around me, and said, “You have made a difference.”

Those are words we all should remember, whenever we look back at the people we’ve encountered in our lives. No matter what our role was with each other, no matter how much time has passed, we all make a difference in the lives of those with whom we become involved. And we all need to recognize how powerful that difference can be.

Believing In Yourself

Every once in a while, I start to doubt myself. I wonder if I’m going to gain the clients I want, or be able to help people, or write anything people want to read. I wonder why things aren’t seeming to work out the way I’d like.

It’s human nature to have doubts and fears. Finding someone who doesn’t have those is rare, even among life coaches and motivational speakers. Every once in a while, almost everyone has questions go through their minds about the things they’re doing.

The key is to keep doing it anyway. To ignore the questions if they’re holding you back, or answer them if doing so seems like something that might be helpful. Sometimes trying to answer those doubts and questions can lead to a new way of looking at the situation, and that can lead to a new way of doing whatever it is you’re trying to do.

Deep down, I know that I’m an excellent healer and mentor. I know I have the knowledge and skills to help my clients, and I know those clients will find me when I’m ready to work with them. I believe in my skills and abilities, even if sometimes I forget for a little while that I believe in them. And so deep down is where I need to look when those doubts and questions arise.

The brain tells you things are going wrong, or you aren’t doing it right or aren’t going to succeed. But the heart knows the truth. Your energy system knows the truth; when you feel doubt, you might feel your entire energy system contract, but when you believe in yourself, you feel yourself opening up, and that brings more answers and more possibilities.

So when doubts arise, keep working. Keep believing. Even if those doubts seem louder than the belief, keep going anyway. You’ll get there.

Shine Your Light

I recently responded to a post on Facebook from someone close to me, who said they were considering changing a part of how they act because they were so tired of people judging them and putting them down. This is what I said, in part, in response to their post:

“Some people have nothing better to do than tear down others to make themselves feel better. Live YOUR life, not theirs. Smile if you want to smile. Wear what you want to wear. They’re trying to put out a light that scares the f*** out of them. You’ve worked your ass off to overcome things that have happened in your life, and that terrifies the people who aren’t brave enough to do the work. So they have to make you feel like you’re less than them…because the reality is, you’re far, far more. Ignore them as much as you can. Feel compassion for them. *They* are the ones with the problems.”

That can be a hard thing to learn. If you’re constantly bullied and insulted, whether it’s about your physical appearance or your personality or your clothes or whatever, it wears you down. Sometimes it does just seem easier to back down, because at least then maybe they’ll leave you alone.

But I’ve found through personal experience that a lot of times, what I said in that Facebook comment is true. People fear what they don’t understand, and get angry at what they fear. People who look down on themselves can’t understand how someone can choose not to be part of the crowd. They see someone strong, confident, and powerful, and sometimes that frightens them. Sometimes it infuriates them because they don’t believe they can be the same way.

I’ve been approached by people who bullied me in school, or stood by while others bullied me. They’ve told me they were jealous or envious of what they saw as my total lack of fear to be myself. They admired me, but didn’t want to admit it. They were intimidated by me.

I wish they hadn’t been. I’m not all that intimidating, and I would happily have been their friend. Instead, I hid my light under piles and piles of detritus, all the result of bullying and other things I experienced. I didn’t dare show that light at all, because obviously it was a bad thing to have.

Now I dare. Now I know that light is what makes me who I am, and helps me to help other people. I refuse to hide it anymore. The person whose post I commented on has been keeping their light very visible for a long while now, and I hope they don’t choose to start hiding it.

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.

Survey Says…

To help in my development of the A Story You Tell Yourself program, I’ve put together a short survey. If you have a few moments to take it, I would greatly appreciate it!