Speaking Through Fear

I’ve been working and learning to be better about speaking my truth. Speaking up for what I believe, and expressing who I am and what I stand for.

What I didn’t take into account is how scary that actually can be.

I knew *I* was scared to do it, but chalked up the fear to all the time I spent in environments where speaking up was literally unsafe for me. What I’d forgotten is that in claiming my freedom to speak, I’m also claiming responsibility for the things I say, and sometimes that responsibility includes facing people who respond negatively or who are hurt by my words.

When I am informed that I’ve said something offensive or hurtful, I apologize where warranted and make amends where possible. My right and willingness to speak up doesn’t absolve me of the need to own my shit and take responsibility. But even though I apologize and I respect and validate people’s reactions, that doesn’t mean fear doesn’t raise its head.

In my past, people have harmed, or attempted to harm, me because they didn’t like things I said or just didn’t like me. So when someone approaches me with an issue they have about something I’ve said, while outwardly I try to respond in a respectful and productive way, my inner child is gibbering that the person might hurt me, that they’ll talk behind my back and turn people against me and so on. And anyone who has experienced the gibbering fear of a child can tell you that logic doesn’t always work to quiet the fear.

Then there’s the issue of attracting unwanted attention. Since I’ve begun speaking up more and sharing my messages on Instagram as well as Facebook, I’ve had about half a dozen men respond with propositions and “compliments.” (They might think that “Hey, you’re sexy and I want to be your friend” is a compliment; I do not.) It’s easy enough to block them, but again, my past comes up. I have been preyed on and victimized in the past because I present as female, and so even though I know these men are online (and often in far-away countries) and I can block them, the fear that they’ll stalk me or track me down elsewhere in person or online still looms.

I’m learning. I’m finding the balance between staying quiet out of fear of hurting someone’s feelings or speaking up but in a mindful way. I’m also finding the line between rational fear and irrational, and the more important line between what I am in control of and responsible for, and what is in the control and responsibility of others. I believe I owe people the respect to not hurt them intentionally and to apologize if I cause hurt; I do not believe I owe anyone the choice to keep my mouth shut so they aren’t offended.

(Note that I am referring to individual offense, such as someone not liking it when I state an opinion that is opposed to theirs. I am not referring to things that are offensive, prejudicial, and harmful to entire groups of people, such as racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. speech. I don’t engage in those types of speech knowingly, and if someone calls my attention to something I’ve said that falls under one of those things, I learn from it and am more mindful going forward.)

Saying, “I’m going to use my voice and speak my truth no matter what” is easy. Actually *doing* it is complicated, difficult, and scary. There are a lot of things to weigh, including whether speaking truth is worth the risks. For me, it is, and I hope to learn more over time about how to find the balances I need in order to speak.

In Hiding

NOTE: This is a revised version of a post that originally appeared on this blog in 2017. I am choosing to share it again because it is relevant to a situation I’m living through now, and because I’ve made strides in this area that I wanted to share.

“Living your truth” is a big thing in the coaching field. Every coach I follow has said it at one time or another, and I definitely have used the phrase myself on more than one occasion.

The thing is, it’s easy to say, but less easy to do.

When you’ve been taught that you have to hide certain things about who you are, or who your family is, you learn that living your truth not only isn’t acceptable, it can be dangerous. If you say the wrong thing to the wrong person, someone might hurt you. At the very least, you might be shunned by the people around you.

Even though I advise others to live their truth, I haven’t always been out there showing everything about who I am. I’ve been in hiding about some things, because I’m one of those people who was taught to hide. As a child, I talked about things like communicating with the wind and trees. I told my parents when I “just knew” something was going to happen, and I shared my writing and stories with anyone who would listen.

I wasn’t praised for those things. I was told not to talk about the wind and trees because people would think I was “crazy.” My parents said the same thing about my “just knowing,” and also ranted at me about how little good it did to know those things since I couldn’t do anything to change them. While my parents tried to be supportive of my writing, and so did some of my teachers, my peers and other teachers made fun of me or at least of the stories I wrote.

I learned to hide.

Even as I type this, there are some things about myself that not everyone in my life knows. There are things about which I don’t talk to some people, and other things I don’t talk about at all.

Living your truth and speaking your truth are vital as you build the life you want to live, but sometimes you have to be more cautious than you would like about what you say and how you live around certain people. And that’s okay. If you’re just playing it safe because you don’t believe in yourself, that’s one thing; but sometimes it really is a matter not of *playing* safe but of *being* safe.

But knowing the difference matters too. Are you staying silent because speaking out would genuinely be unsafe, or because you’re afraid? Learn to recognize when fear is the reason you’re hiding, and work toward speaking despite your fear. Hiding doesn’t serve you or anyone else. I realized that, while in the past there were times when sharing my truth would have been genuinely unsafe for me, that ended years ago. It’s been safe for me to speak; I was just too afraid to do so. Realizing that my fears were not reality has made speaking my truth much more possible.

Your voice and your truth are two of the most important tools you have. Come out of hiding and start using those tools, and see how much you can create and grow.

That’s a lesson I’ve worked hard to learn. I’m coming out of hiding. And I look forward to sharing more of my truths with others.

Growing Into a Name

Four years ago, I had what I describe as a dedication ritual. It wasn’t intentional or planned on my part. My partner took me to a place that is very energetically entwined with the elements and with magic in general, and while there, beings spoke to me and guided me through a rebirth of sorts. I consider this the beginning of my study and following the path of witchcraft.

During this process, the beings told me that my purpose is to be a healer, speaker, and teacher, which is something I’ve been trying to live up to ever since. At the end of the ritual, they gave me a new name: River Lightbearer. I was told I could use “River” as part of my name and the name of my business, but that I would have to earn the right to use “Lightbearer” through my growth, healing, and study.

I worked on my own healing as well as on trying to build my practice. It’s definitely been a journey, with plenty of forward-and-backward momentum. I’ve learned a lot, and have faced things about myself that were definitely not easy to face. I’ve gone back and forth with my business as well, and have yet to completely become what I was told I would become. Then again, things take time, and one of the lessons I’ve been trying to learn is patience.

Several months ago, I was told I had earned the right to use the second half of this spiritual name I was given. I’ve been a little shy and reluctant about doing so, because I had to battle imposter syndrome and the fear people would see me as being too proud or arrogant or something. But the time finally feels right to take that step.

When they gave me the name, I wondered why “River.” The symbolism made sense, but most people I knew who’d been given spiritual names had ones that were at least somewhat gendered. Then again, the first spiritual name I was given, which came from my guide Shiva, is Ganatram, also not recognizably female.

Last year when I came to the recognition that I don’t identify as female, but instead as agender (gender-neutral), the names made sense. I had neutral-sounding names because I am neutral.

Now I’m moving toward using River more in my personal life as well as my business life. It isn’t a change I’m making lightly, nor one I’m making rapidly, but it is something that feels right. I’m definitely using the full name, River Lightbearer, as the owner of RiverEvolutions and in any writing I do that relates to my business and message; I don’t anticipate using it in my day-to-day life, but then, I didn’t anticipate this change either. Anything is possible.

I will still answer to Kim Ramsey-Winkler. I know my own memory is like a sieve sometimes, so it makes sense to continue using the name I’ve been used to for years. But I’m also moving toward being River, or River Lightbearer, and that feels good for me.

New Ideas Coming

Over the weekend, I had something like an epiphany about the way I conduct business and what role my truths and beliefs play.

I’ve always had strong opinions and beliefs, but I’m not always good at expressing them. Sometimes it’s due to not having the words I need; other times, it’s out of fear of what other people might think.

I turned 50 years old last week. It’s well past time to stop worrying about what others think and be my best self. After all, that’s what RiverEvolutions is all about, right? Evolving into your best self?

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be developing a new mission statement based on what I believe to be true. That isn’t intended to negate anyone else’s truth, but to give me clearer understanding of what benefits I can bring to my clients, and to give prospective clients a better idea of whether I’m a practitioner they want to work with. I disagree with or differ from some others in the lightworker and spiritual communities in some beliefs, and I want to make sure people who consider working with me know what they’re getting into if they choose me. (For example, if you believe people are at fault for being abused or mistreated, or for becoming ill, because they’re “not vibrating right” or “chose to create it,” I am not someone who would be a good fit for you. Nor, to be honest, would you be a good fit for me.)

I may be tweaking my services as well. I still plan to offer Chios Energy Healing, though for the time being I’m putting a hold on that to tend to my own physical health. I have developed growths on my thyroid (thanks, communication issues… I do believe that problems in the throat are caused in part by energetic imbalances in the throat chakra, which governs communication, and I know I have done myself a massive disservice most of my life by choosing not to communicate things that needed to be spoken), which may be cancer. I will be having surgery soon, likely later this summer. Until I have had and recovered from the surgery, I don’t feel I can put my full focus into providing healing energies for others. Chios Healing does not involve the practitioner using their *own* energy; when I do Chios sessions, I open myself as a conduit for universal energy. So the energy my clients receive is not tainted or affected by anything going on with me. However, using Chios techniques does require mental focus and, to some extent, physical stamina, and right now those are taken up by maintaining my health to the best of my ability and preparing for my surgery and recovery.

For now, I am still offering channeling services, either trance channeling or relayed, by video chat (Zoom or Facebook) or by email. You can find out more on the Channeling page on this website. After I have recovered from my surgery, I will reopen appointments for Chios Healing clients, and may resume offering instruction as well. (That’s part of the planning I’m doing while I’m on partial hiatus.) I’m also creating and selling jewelry and rock art, made with stones, shells, and sea glass gathered at my local beach, and charged with the energy of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water as well as the energy of my guide Shiva. I’ll be putting up a page for the art and jewelry in the next few weeks; for now, you can view some of the pictures of what’s available on my Facebook page.

I’ve gone back, forth, and around about RiverEvolutions for a while now, and have been on partial or entire hiatus more often than not in the past several months. Being in business isn’t easy, and neither is gaining the confidence and belief to create things, even when I know they’re things I’m meant to create. I’m looking forward to creating, evolving, and working with those who want to work with me.

If I can be of help to you, or if you want to learn more about my services and products, please feel free to email kim @ riverflowhealing.com (no spaces).

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.

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.

What Will People Think?

I used to create stories constantly. Before I even learned how to write, I made up stories to tell to people, on the occasions when I could get people to listen. Then I learned how to make those funny little squiggles people call “letters” and started putting my stories on paper.

Big mistake. Kids at school saw my stories and made fun of them. One of my worst memories–which, given the amount of bullying I experienced, either means it’s really bad or I’ve blocked out the really bad stuff–is of leaving my notebook on the bleachers when I was the manager for my school’s junior varsity girls’ basketball team. The coach had asked me to go get something, so I set down my notebook and left the gym. When I returned, the entire team–including the coach–was gathered around as one of them read out loud from my notebook. All of them were laughing, and when they saw me, they started hurling insults at me.

(Remembering this does not mean I need to heal from it, by the way. Healing doesn’t mean forgetting something from the past, it means choosing not to be affected by it. I admit I still feel angry when I think about it, especially toward the coach, who as an adult should have put a stop to the bullying instead of joining in. But it’s the same anger I would feel toward anyone who bullied any child, and it didn’t cause me to stop writing.)

I used to talk to trees, believe in magic, and play massive games of let’s pretend where I was the only one pretending and the people and things my imagination created seemed more real than “real” life. Sometimes I tried to talk about those things, especially as a young child. Reactions ranged from “That’s nice, leave me alone,” to “Don’t talk about those things or people will think you’re crazy and will lock you up.”

No one ever locked me up, probably because I learned to stop talking about those things.

One of the most difficult things for me in my business has been overcoming the mental blocks against “talking about those things.” I’m a witch who practices energy healing and channeling. None of those are particularly mainstream. All are things that in certain corners can get people “locked up,” or insulted, or called crazy. Being a witch, not as much, because it is a spiritual path that’s become better known over the years, though there are still plenty of misconceptions about it. But energy healing, to a lot of people, is “weird,” and channeling is just plain not something a lot of people understand.

Those are things I do. They’re skills I learned, not just something random that happened or that I made up. It is hard for me, though, to tell people about them. When I signed on with a business coach several months ago, at first I didn’t want to admit to the other women in the coaching group that I channel. Even telling them I do energy healing wasn’t easy, though some of them do other modalities like Reiki or EFT, so it at least wasn’t quite as “out there” as it is to some people. But it was scary to admit anyway.

Even when you’ve healed from specific hurts, sometimes the fears and blocks your mind sets up to “protect” you stay in place, and you might not even realize it until you start trying to figure out why something isn’t working the way you’d like, or why you sit in a corner at a networking meeting and just kind of smile and say hello to people. You don’t understand why you’re hiding, until you intentionally and consciously start connecting the dots. Even healed wounds don’t vanish entirely; they can leave scars. And sometimes those scars are hidden so well you don’t know they’re there.

I’m getting better about talking about what I do, though I admit I’m still hesitant to mention channeling since it’s the easiest for people to misinterpret and the hardest for me to explain. But still, if I feel that someone is open to at least hearing about it, I do bring it up. It’s a learning curve and a healing process, but I’m getting there.

What are you afraid to tell people about yourself? What do you do, or dream of doing, that you believe other people might react poorly to? How would it feel to tell just one person?

Give it a try, if you can. And if you want support around it, email me at kim@riverflowhealing.com and we’ll talk about how I might be able to help.