Studying

I love to learn things. Learning has always been something I enjoyed, though only under certain circumstances. Most of the “learning” we were required to do in school didn’t appeal to me, because it seemed arbitrary and I was only learning those things because someone else told me to. But learning things on my own, following my own interests and intuition, always appealed.

Partly for my own benefit and partly because I want to build and grow the skills and knowledge I use in RiverEvolutions, I’m currently starting a time of learning and growth in various areas. Some of my blog posts over the coming weeks and months will be about what I’m learning.

I’m enrolled in the Ph.D. program through the University of Metaphysical Sciences. This course is giving me the opportunity to broaden my knowledge base, as well as to narrow in on skills I can use as a healer, channel, and coach. It’s going to take time; regardless of what degrees one already has, UMS requires you to start with their Bachelor’s program and work up. But I’m excited about gaining this knowledge.

On my own, I’m studying Tarot and oracle cards, because I intend to offer readings of both types through RiverEvolutions over the next few months. But obviously if I’m going to do readings, I need to build my knowledge and skills! I’ve found a number of books and video resources, and if you know of any, I would love to hear about them.

I’m also reading more about trauma and its effects. I know many effects that trauma can have; I’ve lived with them. However, I want to have a more objective understanding of trauma, particularly as it relates to mindfulness practices and meditation. I’ve found for myself that some types of meditation actually have adverse effects; rather than feeling still and calm, I feel angry and revved up, and it can take a full day for me to settle again. At first when this happened, I thought I was doing something wrong, but then I saw friends of mine who also have lived through abuse or trauma say they had similar experiences when attempting to meditate. I’m setting out to study why that happens and find or create mindfulness practices that take those effects into account.

I’m building my knowledge base about Witchcraft. I am a Witch (not a Wiccan, though), but that doesn’t mean I know a lot. Magic and Witchcraft are very, very broad topics with a lot to learn and read, and I’m poking around finding things that call to me to learn more about. 

And I’m taking a course to attain the next level in Chios Energy Healing! I’m so excited about this one, because it will enable me to offer even more effective and beneficial energy healing services to my client, and because I’m learning directly from the developer of Chios, Stephen Barrett. Stay tuned for more about this, because you’d better believe I’ll be celebrating when I attain this degree. This is especially relevant now, as I gear up to resume offering Chios Energy Healing sessions beginning November 2.

Those aren’t all the things I’ll be learning and studying over the coming months. I’m kind of excited about this, because as I said, I love learning new things and refreshing or building on my knowledge of things I’ve learned previously. In some blogs, I’ll share things I’m learning.

“Create Your Best Life”

“Create and evolve into your best life” is the tagline for RiverEvolutions, but some people aren’t clear on what I mean by it. So I wanted to take a moment to explain.

I believe all of us have the innate power to bring things into our lives, change our lives, and create what we want to live. This isn’t some magical thing, though some people might call it magic; it’s a power we have purely by virtue of being alive.

As children, a lot of us play games of “make-believe” or talk about what we want to be when we grow up. We don’t recognize limits on our creative power. We believe in magic, we believe we can be whatever we want to be, and we create those things in our minds. And sometimes, those childhood “imaginings” and creations carry over into adulthood.

But sometimes we lose touch with that creative power. It might happen because adults tell us to stop playing “silly” games and make-believe. Sometimes, it happens because our power is taken away through abuse and trauma. We learn that life is a thing that happens to us, and we have to take what we get.

That’s a mindset I was in for a long time, and the events in my life didn’t do anything to change that mindset. But finally, I started realizing that I do have power in my own life. I can make things happen instead of sitting back and waiting. 

What I want in my life is what I can have, if I am focused and believe I’m deserving of having the things I want. If my life isn’t working out the way I want it to, that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve good things; it means I need to examine where I’m not using my creative power, and make changes in those areas.

When I talk about creating your best life, I’m talking about reclaiming your power and using it to make things happen in your life. And evolving? That means learning to *accept* your creative power, learning how to use it, and pushing beyond the fears and “what ifs” to actually put things into place so you can live the life you truly want to live.

Basically, I believe everyone deserves to live a life where they feel fulfilled and happy. Learning to create that kind of life is a journey, one I’m still on myself. But tools like energy healing and channeling have helped me recognize, reclaim, and use my creative power, and that’s what I love to do for others using those tools. For me, part of creating and evolving into *my* best life means helping other people create and evolve into theirs.

I’ve Been Recovering…

It’s been two weeks since I underwent throat surgery to remove my thyroid due to growths and an autoimmune disorder. 

The whole situation was a perfect example of why, when you know something is wrong with your body, you need to push your doctors until they listen to you. I had been saying for two years that something was wrong with my thyroid, but even though I’m fortunate to have doctors who usually agree that I know my body better than they do, they didn’t do the tests that would have revealed the actual issues. They tested my thyroid function, which was in the normal range, but didn’t do the antibody test that would have identified the autoimmune disorder, and didn’t actually touch my neck or throat, which would have shown them the lumps that were developing

I’m thankful that the issues were found when they were, at the beginning of this summer. Actually, in a strange way, I’m thankful for COVID; if COVID didn’t exist, when I developed symptoms at the beginning of June, I might not have gone to the doctor who found the lumps in my neck and finally got the ball rolling for me to have correct diagnoses and the surgery. (I didn’t have COVID; my symptoms were the direct result of the issues with my thyroid.)

So now I’ve been recovering for two weeks, and I’m feeling almost back to “normal.” I’m able to get up and do things. My voice is recovering. And I am ready to start working with clients again.

I have already resumed accepting clients for virtual channeling sessions on Zoom or Facebook video messenger, as well as accepting requests for email channelings. I’ve spent the time leading up to my surgery, and during part of my recovery, honing my channeling skills and my presentation to clients, and I’m looking forward to the relaunch!

If you’re interested in having a channeling session or requesting an email channeling, please visit the Channeling page of this website or feel free to email me at river@riverevolutions.com. I look forward to working with you!

Healing Doesn’t Always Mean Forgiving

Note: This is a slightly revised version of my post which originally appeared on the Wellness Universe blog on August 2, 2020. 

My marriage to my children’s father included a great deal of emotional and verbal abuse from him, along with behavior that can only be labeled toxic. That behavior and abuse continued off and on even after I ended the marriage, until last year when I finally severed all possible means he had of reaching me. He has caused lasting emotional damage for me, with the result that I have been in therapy for over a decade to work on healing from what he did as well as from other abuses I’ve experienced in my life.

In some corners of the spiritual community, I would be told to forgive him. I might even be told that forgiving him is the only way I could “truly” heal.

I disagree.

My spiritual mentor taught me that when it comes to harm caused by others, forgiveness equates to admitting that person has power over you. My mentor’s advice was, instead, to practice acceptance. “I accept that this occurred in my life, and that it was the choice of the person who caused the damage to do so. I accept that it was not about me, but about them. I accept that I am a good person regardless and can move on with my life.”

Forgiveness, as preached and practiced by some, not only involves acknowledging someone’s role and power in your life, but also often includes allowing that person to remain in your life. Again, according to those who espouse this way of thinking, the only way to be genuinely healed is to continue to allow the person who wounded you to be around you, even at the risk of being wounded again.

And again, I disagree.

In my view, someone’s first priority is to take care of themselves. To practice self-care, self-love, and self-acceptance. Sometimes, this means removing other people from your life. I had little choice about allowing my kids’ father to remain in my life; we shared children, and the court refused to believe what I told them about his abuse, so I was legally compelled to coparent with him. That exposure to him and his abuse did an additional near-decade of emotional and mental harm to me, until my children were old enough that I was no longer under that legal obligation. And the moment that became the case, I cut that tie.

Allowing someone toxic or abusive to remain in your life in the name of “forgiveness” doesn’t serve you or bring any benefit to anyone except the toxic/abusive person, who continues to have an unobstructed license to continue their behavior. This is not “true healing.” This is ego speaking, telling you that you have to act in a “more spiritual” way to prove that you’re really healed and enlightened. (An exception might be made for someone who has been toxic or abusive in the past but has demonstrated remorse, willingness and ability to change, and has expressed apology and made amends for their behavior.)

True healing comes when you embrace yourself as the incredible being you were created as, and choose to conduct your life and relationships in a way that honors yourself, your needs, and your health. And sometimes that means forgiveness doesn’t happen, at least not as it’s often preached–and that is okay. You have the right to set boundaries for yourself. You have the right to say, “This person is unhealthy for me.” And you have the right to forgive–or accept–in the way that works best for you.

I work with people who have experienced abuse, bullying, and trauma and are learning to forgive and accept themselves above all, providing Chios Energy Healing, channeling, and mindset coaching to facilitate their healing journey. I would love to talk with anyone who is on that journey about how I might help. Channeling sessions, which have been on hold due to my recent surgery, will resume on Monday; Chios Energy Healing sessions are unavailable until November 2, but I can share some suggestions for ways to rebalance and restore your own energy system. You can learn more on my website, http://www.riverevolutions.com, or my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/riverevolutions.

Today

Today, I’m undergoing surgery to remove my thyroid, as a result of the health issues I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Obviously, I pre-scheduled this post!

I appreciate good thoughts and healing energy that anyone is able and willing to send. The surgery itself is not major, but there are risks, as there are to any surgeries. More difficult for me, I will be alone in that my family members won’t be allowed into the hospital, so I won’t wake up in the recovery room to see them waiting for me, or be able to have them visit and sit with me while I remain in the hospital overnight.

At the same time, though, I am looking forward to having this taken care of. So many of the physical and even mental health issues I’ve experienced over the past two to three years can be traced to the thyroid problems. Once the thyroid is removed and I’m put on medication (which is simply a version of the hormones my thyroid is supposed to make and hasn’t been), I’ll feel so much healthier and be so much more able to accomplish things!

For the next few weeks, I’ll be somewhat out of commission as I recover. I have some blog posts banked up that I’ll be sharing, and my newsletter will go out on its regular schedule. I’ll be poking around on social media as well. However, channeling sessions and email channelings are on hold until September 28, and Chios sessions are unavailable until November 2, to give me time to tend to my own health and recovery.

 

This is and will be a good thing. This I believe.

Choosing Community

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve chosen to leave some of the Facebook groups for spiritual practitioners to which I belonged.

I won’t get into all the reasons here, because I want to avoid calling out anyone in particular. Let’s just say that members of one group became very judgmental and accusatory about me and my practices due to a message I shared with them (ironically, a message about judging and working on yourself before you judge others), while the other group was specifically designated as a women’s group and has members who are very firm about it being a women’s group, which became uncomfortable for me as a nonbinary (specifically agender) person.

A third group includes members who post conspiracy theories, misinformation, and blatant lies about COVID and other things, and due to my policy of zero tolerance for that kind of thing, I’m likely to leave that group as well. I’ve stuck it out thus far because I have great respect for other members and consider a few of them my friends, so leaving the group would be more painful for me.

Finding community, whether it’s online or in person, isn’t easy. It’s even more difficult when you hold beliefs that others either disagree with or find “crazy” or “ridiculous,” and more difficult still when you are not one of the recognized binary genders. I’ve always struggled to fit in much of anywhere; even as a preschooler, I was “too weird” for the other children to want anything to do with me. And the more people I encounter, the more frequently I feel like I don’t belong.

I have been fortunate with some of the communities I’ve become part of. Shout-outs to Britt Bolnick and Calandra Martin for making their communities welcoming and inclusive; while they specifically state they work with women, and in fact I was still identifying as a woman when I began working with them, when I came out as agender both of them made the effort to make sure I knew I was still included, and both have made attempts to alter their language to be more inclusive. Also to the EarthSpirit community, which is a large, varied, and hugely welcoming and caring spiritual community I’ve been part of for four years now, and to the Polka Dot Powerhouse networking community, which has expanded their mission to explicitly include serving nonbinary people.

Finding community is a very individual thing. Communities which feel supportive and welcoming to one person might feel exactly the opposite to another. Sometimes personalities don’t mesh. And sometimes it’s just another example of “nothing works for everyone.”

I struggled a bit with leaving the Facebook groups, because I felt like I was giving up, and one of the bits of detritus from my past is the tendency to put myself down for not forcing myself to stay in situations that don’t feel healthy or aligned for me. But that’s the thing. Those groups did not feel right *for me*. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the groups or the people in them, just that they weren’t groups in which I fit. And when you are in a situation where you don’t feel like you fit or feel like you have to change yourself in order to fit, it’s okay to leave. 

It’s especially okay to leave when a community or group turns out to be toxic or unhealthy for you, or where you experience bullying or emotional harm. I’m thankful that wasn’t the case with the groups I left; they weren’t toxic, just misaligned with me.

Finding and becoming part of a community can bring you benefits, but there are no benefits to joining a community that isn’t aligned with you, or to forcing yourself to stay in a community that doesn’t feel right. It is okay to make the choice to leave and seek a different group. Doing so doesn’t make you a quitter or weak; it makes you someone who values yourself enough to find a group where you feel like you belong.

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.

Blocking People

On social media, I generally don’t block people unless they’ve either proven themselves to be dangerous in some way (in other words, directly threatening me) or I’ve found them to be detrimental to my mental health (such as an abusive ex).

However, lately I’ve found myself blocking more people for other reasons. I’m not happy about it; some of those people are ones I considered friends, or at least friendly acquaintances. I have respect for some of them in general.

But the pandemic and other current events in our world are leading to people showing their beliefs more and more, and there are some beliefs and teachings/preachings that I simply cannot and will not support.

Some statements and beliefs just frustrate me to the point that I need a break from them to manage my emotional reactions, and in that case I’m more likely to unfollow the person or, in Facebook terminology, “snooze” them. However, other statements and beliefs are things I see as having a strong potential to cause harm, and I won’t allow people who espouse beliefs I consider harmful to remain in any type of connection with me. I don’t hold anything against the people, but their statements and, in some cases, vilification of and threats toward those who don’t agree, aren’t acceptable to me.

I’ve learned not to try to debate or reason with these people. I’ve seen some flat out reject reliable, scientific sources as “I don’t consider that reputable.” At most times, I wouldn’t have the emotional bandwidth for a discussion with them; right now, as I’m trying to maintain and manage my health, I definitely don’t have it. So blocking them is to prevent myself from engaging in something that will take more energy than I have available as well as to prevent myself from seeing and appearing to support conspiracy theories and potentially harmful–and false–information.

It’s sad that so much divisiveness has come from the pandemic and the current political and social climate in the US. (It may be similar in other countries; I’m not in another country, so I’m only speaking from what I know and what I’ve seen.) Sometimes I think the real virus and the real threat is humanity being torn into factions and fighting against each other at a time when working together is the surest way to end the struggles.

It saddens me to lose people I considered friends because they’ve chosen to espouse beliefs I can’t support or accept. But that is their choice to make; my only choice is whether to continue a connection with them. Unfortunately, sometimes the choice I need to make is not to.

My Voice

As a child, I was taught not to use my voice, especially when it came to speaking about the things I knew to be true. My mother became easily overwhelmed when I talked “too much” (meaning, talked the way a young child typically would), and my father was horrified and upset if I talked about magic, having invisible friends, trees talking to me, or any of the other things that made up my world at the time. My father and other adults also told me not to talk unless I had something important to say, with the implication–and sometimes explicit statement–that nothing I had to say would ever be important.

Whether it was because of how adults treated me or something I would have experienced anyway, I also have always had a great deal of difficulty with expressive language. The ideas are there, in my brain, but sometimes the words to express them aren’t. And even when the words are there, sometimes I’m too afraid to speak because of what others might say or do. Anxiety about saying the wrong thing, about being accused of lying or having someone misunderstand me and get angry with me because of it, has been a constant in my life.

I also have difficulty comprehending what others say; sounds get into my ears just fine, but the words sometimes get jumbled or translated into gibberish as they reach my brain. This only adds to my difficulties with speaking and my anxiety about conversations.

As an adult, I lived for about fourteen years in a situation where speaking my truth was literally unsafe. I learned to be quiet no matter what was going on. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but self-preservation took over.

Now I’m in a safe situation, but with some people who don’t understand or don’t believe in the magic, energy, and other things I’ve rediscovered from my childhood. My entire business is based around those things, but I can’t talk about them to my husband or some other people in my life. They won’t harm me, but their eye-rolling and disrespect aren’t much better.

For many years, I’ve learned not to speak my truth, not to speak up for my needs, not to express my wants and dreams. Even as I started learning about energy, and knew that choosing to be silent would have negative effects on my throat chakra, which could lead to negative effects on my overall health and wellbeing, I was still too afraid to speak. I did energy work on my throat chakra, but didn’t carry that through to speaking up about what I believe in, my gifts and skills, and even who I truly am.

Now, in a couple of weeks, I will be having surgery to remove my thyroid. My immune system has been attacking a gland that resides in my throat, and on top of that there are growths on the thyroid. I had a biopsy that came back with no results due to an issue with the sample; I’ve since had a second biopsy that revealed abnormal cells, and we’re waiting for additional results to determine whether it’s cancer. These issues, and others I’ve experienced due to the deterioration of my thyroid, should be fully resolved by the surgery. But the surgery itself carries the risk of damaging my vocal cords. I could literally, and permanently, lose my voice.

I’m thinking about the positives. The risks are small and unlikely. However, I’m also thinking of how I got here. The fact that my constant and consistent refusal to use my voice has led me to a point where losing it is a possibility. The fact that this condition has been present for at least two years, worsening all that time as I continued not to speak even when I knew there was something wrong in my throat.

I’m learning to speak up now. It’s too late to correct what I’m facing, but I can correct the energies and the habits.

Speak your truth whenever and wherever it’s safe to do so. Use your voice. Avoid my choices, and make the ones that will most benefit you when it comes to speaking up.

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.