I’ve been working on my new book, Happy Home, Healthy Life: Charting a Course to a life worth living. This book has been marinating in my heart and mind for a long time, and I’m excited to see it come to life. It’s a tool for self-realization, breaking down the elements of life into the four systems of a ship; guidance, logistics, propulsion, and navigation. Each system offers a guiding principle to support your journey.
- You must first know where you are to get where you need to go.
- Take care of the important, and the urgent will take care of itself.
- Pay attention to how you feel while sailing through daily life. Fill your sails by feeding your soul.
- The power to create a better future is contained in the present moment.
For those facing a painful situation or healing from a complicated past, this analogy offers a higher perspective to see yourself through your body, mind, and soul to recognize where you need immediate attention. I’ve been using this idea to heal and grow myself for fourteen years, and while it’s helped me a lot, I’m still a work in progress. (The book is underway, and I hope to finish it by the year’s end. Sign up for the newsletter for updates.)
Sharing my story with you helps me to heal while offering you another perspective to understand what’s going on in your life.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with a harsh inner critic and anxious thoughts, undermining my ability to speak my truth and show up authentically. Although I’ve been writing about self-awareness and soul development for years, I still have much to learn and a long way to go.
At the tender age of 54, I always assumed I would have outgrown anxious thoughts by now. However, the truth is that healing takes much longer than I’d like. The anxiety issues I’ve struggled with stem from early childhood trauma I discovered after talking with my therapist.
You can’t know what you don’t know.
How did I not know going through adoption at five years old would be traumatic? My family and I didn’t talk about the pain, choosing to focus on moving forward instead. In 1975, talking to a counselor wasn’t even an option. I ignored thinking about the pain for decades, pretending everything was normal and “fine” to avoid pity and embarrassment. I had no idea “everything is fine” was a trauma response.
As luck would have it, getting hit by a car two years ago caused just enough trauma that I sought a therapist. My wounds from the car accident are long gone. However, now I realize the accident was an opportunity to focus on healing damage which is much harder to see. Like a long, trapped splinter, you must dig it out and clean the wound to allow healing to start.
I’m accepting myself instead of blocking.
Allowing myself a full range of emotions is both exciting and terrifying. “Doing the work” of facing my shadows* (behaviors picked up in early childhood to get love and protection) and talking about hurt and healing is incredibly uncomfortable. And it takes way more time and energy than I’d like. My Lizard wants me to be done with all this healing stuff already. In reality, hiding and ignoring won’t heal the issues undermining me. I want to feel better, so I must “do the work” to improve and grow.
Speaking of improving, improvisation offers a fun and light-hearted way to go with the flow of things. Since I tend to be hard on myself, I decided to try an improv technique to help me move in the right direction. You might consider using it for whatever you’re dealing with.
The Yes/And exercise is a foundational principle in improvisational theater. It involves accepting and building on the ideas and contributions of the other performers instead of blocking or contradicting them. It encourages collaboration, intuition, building momentum, and creativity. These are also excellent qualities for personal development and spiritual well-being.
As I work with my Captain and therapist to heal and better understand myself, collaboration is the key to getting out of my head. There’s also a ton of research, poetry, and writings about self-realization to build on. And for anyone looking for a second chance, creativity and intuition are tools simply waiting to be used. Instead of blocking the parts that make me feel uncomfortable and awkward, I’m leaning into them because, as my therapist says, “You have to feel it to heal it.”
Practice, practice, practice
It’s a daily practice of recognizing my unconscious habits, which include anxiety-fueled rushing, giving in to the harsh inner critic, hiding shame, second-guessing myself, fixing others, and proving my worth to earn love. I’m still uncovering my shadow traits. They’re hard to see because they’ve protected me my whole life. So far, I’ve identified people pleasing, fitting in to survive, and reaching out to save the world instead of healing myself. Like a blind spot, the only way to see them is by looking at the damage they’ve caused and working your way backward. It’s a long and challenging process, but well worth the effort.
Self-awareness is the first step to healing. I’ve improved at recognizing these traits, which have helped me slow down and be more compassionate with myself and others. Instead of running around desperate to find where I fit in, I feel more comfortable with myself, creating a calmer vibe and a happier existence.
Yes, it’s not easy to write about this stuff. Exposing my inner self feels vulnerable and awkward as hell. Although, talking about this is much easier in Boundaries class. And I’m writing this post and showing up to speak my truth and shine my light to let others know they’re not alone.
“Courage is telling the story of who you are with your whole heart.” Brene’ Brown
Instead of hiding from pain, I want to talk about healing it to create a ripple of hope and clear the air like the skies after a storm. While I can’t fix the world outside of me (although I’d like to!) I can work on myself and share my learning to support others.
Incorporating the lessons to heal and grow.
Yes, I’m grateful to have ended up in a healthier, more stable home. For my little sister and I to have remained where we were would have been ugly and awful. And yet there were other challenges I faced growing up that I’m still processing. Yes, I’ve been blocking a lot of grief and pain until now. I’ve been numbing those hard feelings and grasping for ways to control life out of habit. And I realize I want to feel more connected, healed, and ready to share the gifts of my stories, book, and art. Yes, I’m grateful for the privilege of going to therapy to harness the healing energy and transform my past into something beautiful, helpful, and relatable. And I want to listen to other’s stories and be a healing source of connection and understanding. We all have beauty and wisdom to share.
Like the Indian monk told Goldie Hawn, “The lotus grows in the mud. The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering.”
Everyone has pain and challenges; it’s simply part of life. How we face that pain and what we do with it defines who we become.
As Pixie Lighthorse describes on page 35 in Goldmining the Shadows, “Diving deeply into your healing process is a way to honor what happened that created you as you are today. Traumatic and hurtful events that shaped you recall pain, but they also reclaim wonder. Their teachings make us aware of what we don’t need to tolerate,and also what we can build more tolerance for. To see in ourselves what we abhor in others strengthens our ego and our relationships and sturdies us for life.”
Working with what we have.
Using the You’re the Boat analogy; I’ve been digging up “buried treasure” and doing the inner work of healing and growth to find the hidden gems of understanding and willingness to be whole. For example,
- My body has gone through menopause, so I’m dealing with hot flashes, dry skin, and mood swings. I have an old injury in my back that flares up when I’m stressed out. I don’t have as much strength and stamina as I did before middle-age set in, so I must pay closer attention to my spoons. I am becoming even more conscious of my time and energy. Doing yoga, working in the garden, and walking help me maintain my strength and flexibility.
- My mind continues to heal from anxiety, and my heart is processing long-buried grief. While working on this, the tools I’m using include talking with my therapist, journaling, reading books,** interpreting cards, and writing in my journal (and this blog) to understand myself better and connect with others. Daily meditation and breathing exercises help me stay grounded and present.
- My soul longs to heal, expand, and be seen, connecting with other healing souls sailing on the seas of uncertainty. This is why I’m sharing this blog post and working on the new book daily. I plan to work with Jen Louden as my book coach to polish my book and get it out to a publisher.
Please know you’re not alone if you’re going through something painful that you don’t talk about. Healing is demanding and rewarding work. The world would be much healthier and happier if more people did it. I sincerely believe the new book will create ripples of opportunities for transformation, leading to possibilities beyond what we can imagine now.
I hope this blog post reminds you that you are more than what you’ve been through. You are immense, valuable, and important. Yes, your troubles have left scars, And your strength, your Captain, and your hope for a better future carried you through with a story to tell. You survived everything you’ve been through. While it wasn’t fun or easy, broken hearts have gravitas. You beautiful badass. 😉
Thanks for your time and attention. Please reach out and let me know how you’re doing. Again, if you want updates about the new book, please sign up for my monthly-ish newsletter.
I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.
*If you seek support and guidance to understand yourself, I highly recommend Goldmining the Shadows by Pixie Lighthorse. I read it every day because the one-page chapters offer relatable advice that is simple and concise.
**I just finished reading Brene’ Brown’s Atlas of the Heart, where she “Maps the necessary skills and actionable framework for meaningful connection. She gives us the language and tools to access a universe of new choices and second chances.” I can’t recommend this book enough if you also need to heal a broken heart or unpack trauma.