Darkness Equals Rest

In the pagan Wheel of the Year (or at least the one with which I’m familiar), we’ve just passed Samhain, the end of the old year and beginning of the new. But we’ve also entered a time of year when, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, daylight is short and harder to come by, and it’s only going to grow shorter until Yule, a/k/a the Winter Solstice.

This is a hard time of year for me every year. The lessening of daylight impacts my mental health, and the holidays I grew up celebrating at this time of year (primarily Thanksgiving and Christmas) were sources of trauma and pain for me. Things will start getting better for me after the Solstice and Christmas have passed, though the cold New England winter that will prevent me from being outside as much as I would like will continue to have an impact.

These are things of which I’m always aware, and I do know how to manage myself and keep myself as focused and positive as possible through this time. But in the past years, I’ve also often put self-care behind trying to push through doing things. Running RiverEvolutions, working other jobs, keeping my house (mostly) clean, doing things that other people ask me to do…

This is the time of year when, thanks to having to interact more with blood-and-marriage family, I’ve most often heard that yet another year had gone by without my doing anything that mattered or anything that anyone could be proud of. And so even though most of those people are no longer in my life, and I know I’ve accomplished things people told me I couldn’t, and have accomplishments I can be proud of, it’s the time of year when I get the hardest on myself for not doing “enough,” whatever “enough” is. And so I push too hard, and try to do too much, and don’t honor my own needs.

This year, I’m trying to be different about that. I mean, seriously, who am I trying to impress by pushing through the darkness to do things that sometimes I’m not even sure have a purpose? It’s a time of year when some forms of life enter hibernation, and some just settle in to keep warm until spring, and I think I–at least the business “I”–am going to follow their lead.

I’m not shutting down RiverEvolutions. I believe strongly in this business. I believe people need balance, relaxation, and clarity, and I have seen through working with clients that I can help them achieve those things. I know where I was fourteen years ago before I learned Chios Energy Healing, and I know how far I’ve come–even when voices from the past pop into my brain to tell me I haven’t come any distance at all. They’re wrong.

But I do believe there are times to work and push, and there are times to rest and recharge. There are times to plant seeds, and to harvest them, and to cover the garden with warmth and let the snow fall.

I’m still open to clients on a very limited basis for both Chios Energy Healing and channeling; very limited meaning a maximum of 2 clients per week. I’m still working with my students, and I’m really pleased to watch their progress, and honored they chose me to work with. I’m still poking at tentative plans and ideas for RiverEvolutions for the future.

For the next couple of months, though, I’m turning inward. Looking at my own healing, and seeing where the weak spots are. Relearning what I learned from my mentor 14 years ago that put me on this path in the first place. Relearning what I learned 3 years ago when I was charged with creating this practice and guiding people on their journeys.

Relearning the “me” that exists under the years of sludge and other people’s voices. Because I will be far more effective guiding others to learning who they are when I’m doing a more effective job of remembering who I am, and taking care of myself.

Honoring a Need

Today is the third day I sat down to try to write this blog post. And it’s the third day that I looked at my planned topic and my brain said, “Nope, not doing it. Too tired.”

It wasn’t a hugely involved topic. It was more that I wasn’t as clear as I would have liked on what I wanted to say about it, and trying to put words together was resulting in a lot of mental twisting and turning. I’ve also been fighting off a cold (thanks to working in two elementary schools a couple days a week) and, as often happens at a season change, haven’t been sleeping well, so my creativity is not at its peak.

So instead of sitting here forcing the post I’d intended to write, which would have resulted in some half-assing and inaccurate phrasing, and probably in the energetic vibration of “I don’t wanna do this” coming through, at least to those who are sensitive to energy, I chose to write a post about how I’m not writing the post I’d planned. Because I think sometimes we all need the reminder that it’s okay to give our brains a break. It’s okay to say, “I can’t think about this right now,” or “I can’t complete this project this week,” or whatever.

Obviously if it affects your job or interferes with someone else’s needs, you might need to think about it more and maybe do some negotiation or compromise. But the world isn’t going to end because I wrote this blog post instead of the one I’d planned. It won’t end if my post is under 400 words instead of close to 1000.

It won’t end if I take the time to honor what I need.

Sometimes, I think that especially those of us who were brought up to believe we were responsible for everyone else forget that our needs matter too, and that the world doesn’t actually end if we say no to some things. So this is just a reminder for all of us.

And now I’m going to go honor my need for coffee. Because coffee.

Speak Up, Don’t Shut Up

My mother talks a lot. I mean, a lot. I’m not saying this to be mean; it’s a statement of fact. She will start talking and continue for an hour, repeating herself several times and not stopping even when someone leaves the room. As a child, I sometimes witnessed her talking to empty chairs if she didn’t think anyone else was home, not because she believed anyone was in the chair but because she needed to talk.

The problem was, she didn’t believe other people had any reason or right to talk. If someone was speaking and she had something to say, even something completely unrelated, she would talk right over them. If someone else started speaking and didn’t finish fast enough for her tastes, she would tell them they were finished and go on with whatever she wanted to say.

And heaven help anyone who interrupted her, even unintentionally or with something as innocuous as a deep breath.

Putting words together into a form I can speak that others will understand has always been a bit of a struggle for me. So you can imagine that my need to stop and think for more than half a second to form a sentence didn’t mesh well with my mother’s need to fill any silence–any at all–with her own words. Nor did my anger at being interrupted and disrespected mesh well with her belief that she had the right to interrupt anyone, but they had no similar right.

I learned early to shut up. Whether it was with my mother, or with people who bullied me, or with other family members. If I didn’t like something, I learned, I had no right to say a word. If someone treated me badly, I was expected to just accept it. As an adult, in my marriage to my children’s father before it ended, I learned that not only did I not have the right to speak up if he said or did something hurtful or harmful, but speaking up was a dangerous thing to do. I learned not to speak for the sake of my own safety and, sometimes, my kids’.

That “put up and shut up” tendency still follows me, having become so deeply ingrained that sometimes I don’t even realize when I’m holding in something I need to express. If someone hurts me, I often keep it to myself. If I have an issue with someone or something, I don’t say a word.

Of course, that doesn’t solve anything, and often worsens a problem. If I’m feeling angry or upset about someone’s behavior and I hold it in, eventually the lid is going to blow off the pot of anger and resentment. Usually at a time when something that seems, even to me, quite small happens, so no one, including me, can figure out why I’m “overreacting.” It isn’t an overreaction; it’s a built-up reaction from weeks or months of not expressing those emotions when I needed to. And obviously that isn’t healthy or helpful.

I am better about it, thanks to a husband and a partner who both have a lot of patience and have worked to show me that it is safe for me to speak. Because they have listened when I needed to express anger, even if I didn’t do it in a particularly constructive way, I’ve learned how to express it more constructively. To ask for a moment of quiet so I can put words together. To say, calmly and respectfully, “I’m feeling this way and I need to tell you why,” instead of just going off.

Having had to hold in anger, and having been told that “good girls don’t get angry” and other such bullshit, since early childhood, learning to manage anger in a healthy way has been a difficult but vital part of my journey. And I think it’s one a lot of us struggle with when we’ve been in situations where we weren’t allowed to show anger or other negative emotions. If you’ve had to bury something, sometimes it gets away from you–and sometimes you just continue to bury it because you don’t know what else to do.
You have the right to speak up for yourself when someone has hurt or harmed you. When you feel angry. When someone’s behavior is disrespectful to you. You have the right to speak those things instead of swallowing them and pretending they don’t exist. Obviously you don’t have the right to cause hurt or harm to someone else, but you can speak your feelings without causing harm. And not speaking them may be harming you.

A Container? What’s That?

Recently, Britt Bolnick, a business coach I’ve worked with, shared information about creating a container for one’s clients. I read the transcript of the video, which she sent out to her mailing list, and thought, “I have no idea what that means.”

And then I thought about it, because “I don’t know” or I don’t understand” sometimes becomes a defense mechanism for me. Sometimes, it becomes an excuse for not putting in the work to figure it out. This sounded like something important, so I chose to put in the work.

Basically, Britt’s point is that the service one provides as a practitioner (coach, healer, etc.) is only part of what one gives the client. It’s awesome that I’m able to provide Chios Energy Healing and that my clients find it effective and beneficial, but that isn’t as useful if I’m doing it in a way that doesn’t leave my clients feeling comfortable and confident in the process.

I tend to get nervous before sessions. Not nearly as much as I used to, but still, those “what if I’m a fraud” fears do crop up occasionally. Because of that, sometimes I don’t have the space adequately prepared when my client shows up, or I’m overly focused on remembering paperwork and the questions I want to ask, so I don’t give the client a chance to speak or I plunge right into the businessy stuff without taking the time to be human first.

I’ve been doing some inner searching to try to find what I could do differently in my business. One of the biggest difficulties I have is that even when someone comes to have a Chios session with me, they usually don’t come back. And since they don’t come back, and don’t answer my emails, I can’t find out *why* they don’t come back. It isn’t necessarily, or always, entirely about me. Some people aren’t ready to do the work of healing. For some, I’m not a fit personality-wise, or Chios isn’t a fit as an effective modality.

But since I’m involved, I have responsibility somewhere, and one of the things I’ve realized is that setting a “container” is something I haven’t really been doing. Partly due to not understanding what that meant, but also, it just isn’t a thing I think of.

I grew up with parents who shut me down–or told me to shut up, though usually not quite that bluntly–if I didn’t immediately get to a point when I talked to them. They didn’t give me time to lay groundwork. As the only child of an only child, with two parents who rarely socialized with anyone, I didn’t have a chance to learn the small talk, give-and-take preambles to business work. I learned to just jump in and say what I needed to say, and do what I needed to do, and I’ve continued that pattern my entire life.

Recognizing that has been important, because I’ve realized I’m not serving my clients if all I’m doing is the service. If all I do is say, “Thanks for coming, I’m going to do this, this, and this, any questions, okay great lie down,” I’m not only not putting them at ease with the process, but I’m also not putting them at ease with *me*. I’m not giving them a means to connect with or a reason to trust me. More, I might actually be causing them to feel less comfortable than they would otherwise, because I’m coming across as rushed or abrupt.

I don’t know if that’s the reason some clients haven’t come back; as I said, I can’t ask them, because they don’t respond. But it is something I can control, and something I can work to change.

That’s where those of you reading this can help me. Just as I don’t think to set a container, I don’t always respond well when I’m having some kind of session and the practitioner spends what feels like forever doing small talk, or clearing the space, or whatever. I start feeling uncomfortable or impatient at those times. That’s also a result of how I was raised, but it means that as I try to change my process to better serve my clients, I don’t have a clear idea of what to do. I prefer the “get down to business” model as a client myself, so I’m not sure what to change or include as as practitioner.

So I would love to hear from you: If you’re having a healing session, coaching session, etc., what do you hope or expect in terms of how the practitioner greets you? What would you want to see (hear, smell, feel) in the space? What would set you at ease and give you confidence in the practitioner and the process? Feel free to comment here, or email me at kim @ riverflowhealing.com (no spaces). Thank you!