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.

When to Walk Away

A few years ago, I was part of a group of people I considered friends. I socialized with them. Had online conversations. Told them things about myself. I liked most of them, and I thought it was mutual with at least some.

Then I learned the sad truth. Some of them were not only saying insulting and hurtful things behind my back, they were overtly trying to sabotage my connections with other people. Including my own husband.

I had known that some of the people in the group weren’t my biggest fans, but I hadn’t realized their dislike of me ran that deep until two people, independently, came to me and said, “These people told me this about you and told me not to have anything to do with you.” When I vented to my husband about my pain and anger, he said, “Oh, yeah, they said that stuff to me too.”

Despite knowing there were members of the group who didn’t think so highly of me, and in spite of things a few had said to my face, I’d hung in there. I was determined not to let them “run me off,” so to speak. After all, didn’t thinking highly of *myself* mean not allowing other people to have power over me? Didn’t not caring what others thought of me mean continuing to expose myself to people who didn’t think kindly?

Nope. It didn’t mean any of that. And when I realized how deep the dislike ran, and how much damage some people in the group had tried to cause–and may have succeeded in causing, because I did learn that at least two people I’d tried to form connections with had chosen not to due to what the others said to them–I realized I wasn’t doing myself any favors by staying in that group.

I left. I cut ties even with group members who, to my knowledge, hadn’t said or done anything negative, because I was no longer sure I could trust them. I blocked them on social media. I called it quits.

And I immediately felt lighter, more positive, and more sure of myself than I had in a long time.

We’re often taught that we should keep people in our lives. Especially if we’re “spiritual,” according to some, we’re supposed to keep connections even with people who are toxic to us because otherwise, we aren’t showing compassion or forgiveness. Some of us also come from backgrounds in which we were expected to accept poor treatment without complaint, and even expected to forget it entirely the moment someone said, “Sorry,” even if we knew they didn’t mean it and would only do it again. 

Some of us become conditioned to being treated poorly and blaming ourselves for it, and take that to mean we can’t walk away just because we don’t like how someone is dealing with us.

But that isn’t how it’s meant to be. We are under no obligation to keep people in our lives when we know they’re treating us badly or that they’re toxic to or unhealthy for us. We aren’t somehow more spiritual or evolved because we choose to continue exposing ourselves to people whose actions cause us to doubt and dislike ourselves.

We can walk away from those people. Not caring what others think includes not caring how others view our choices about who to allow in our lives. It includes building a life in which we feel happy, confident, and positive, regardless of what anyone else tells us we “should” do.

No matter who someone is, what their role your life has been, or if they’ve done anything positive for you, if their behavior toward you is hurtful and toxic, you do not owe them any place in your life. You have the right to shut them out for your own sake. That isn’t refusing to show compassion, and it isn’t “unevolved.” You are showing compassion for *yourself*, and evolving beyond a life where you are constantly feeling negatively about yourself due to the actions and words of others.

The time to walk away is when you feel it’s necessary. You don’t need to explain it or justify it to anyone. If you need to have someone out of your life, you have the right to make that choice. 

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).

Rest and Reset

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Above All, Harm None

So much information is circulating right now about COVID-19, medications, vaccines, and the like. You see it on the news and on social media. Maybe you hear it from friends or family members.

Some of it is accurate. Some is not. Some is true, and some is blatantly false.

The problem with the inaccurate or false information is that it has the potential to cause harm. Think about the claims from the so-called leader of the US government about a certain drug that supposedly could treat COVID-19. People took that drug. Trials were conducted. And people died as a result, because the drug was not a good treatment for COVID, and was in fact dangerous to people with certain health conditions.

I’ve seen a number of people lately circulating blatant lies on social media and calling them “facts.” Things like “this vaccine contains pieces of human embryos,” or “this herb will cure that illness, but the medicine your doctor told you to take won’t.”

This isn’t a matter of differing opinions. When something has been scientifically proven, and someone else says, “Nope, that’s wrong, this is true even though I have no proof,” that isn’t opinions. That is falsehoods. Those statements have a high potential to cause harm to people who will listen because they distrust medicines, or because they believe in conspiracies that don’t exist, or because the person spreading the false information is a “lightworker” and that apparently means they must know what they’re talking about.

I respect people’s right to believe what they believe. But when they spread those beliefs as facts and others suffer harm as a result, I lose my respect for them. I lose my respect for people who spread information without proof and directly harm others by doing so.

I don’t bother calling these people out anymore. I don’t have the emotional bandwidth for constant online battles with strangers. There’s zero chance of my convincing them that they are harming others, and there’s zero chance of them convincing me they’re right when I can research and find multiple sources proving them wrong. Instead I choose to block them and post on my own timeline or blog the reasons I believe certain information is harmful.

People can draw their own conclusions. I personally do not have the time or energy to devote to conspiracy theories, false statements, and harmful misinformation.

I urge everyone to do their research before sharing information. To have sources available to back your point–preferably reputable, factual sources. To trust yourself and the knowledge available to you instead of thinking “This doesn’t really feel right, but that person’s a healer so they must know what they’re talking about.” 

I urge everyone, above all else, to consider–honestly and fully–whether their words could cause harm, and if they could, to refrain from sharing those words. Above all, harm none.

Things Are Shifting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Changing Part of Myself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Body’s Telling Me Something…

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Couldn’t Think of Anything

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can you show compassion for yourself today?