Retreat Yourself

In late June 2014, I wrote a note in my phone of three simple “I am” statements to set the tone for my summer.  Pushing aside the millions of things to get done and ways to make two months off from the day job count, I set these “I am” statements at the core of my desires for that time.  At the heart of all of the “stuff” I had to do and wanted to do that summer, my true intentions were in these “I am” statements.  I typed:

I am

-reading.

-practicing yoga.

-mindful.

I didn’t even know what mindful meant or why I typed it— it just appeared there on the screen.  I am mindful… ok.  Let that sit.

I found a yoga studio near to where we were living.  I signed up for a month unlimited and then another month unlimited.  I took classes 3-5 times per week for the entire summer.  I am practicing yoga…  finally.  For months before that, I was thinking about it.  And I was telling myself that I “should” be practicing yoga.  But I never seemed to quite get around to it.  I let everything else jump the line and take up my precious time.  All it took was setting that clear intention: I am practicing yoga.  Like magic, I was.

I found two teachers whose style and energy matched what I was seeking in my practice and made darn sure to show up at their classes.  I dove all in, as I’m prone to do.  One of those teachers offered free guided meditation after classes, as the schedule allowed.  I stayed.  She shared about her practices, her studies through UMass. Medical School in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and her “real life” applications of these simple-yet-complex practices.  She had something here.  I hung on every word.

A friendship blossomed.  At the time, I hadn’t consciously revisited my note in my phone with my summer intentions, my “I am” statements.  But I was learning about mindfulness, that word I typed without knowing why.  My new mediation coach and friend recommended books that she was reading.  We started to hang out.  We shared this glorious spark of brilliance.  I knew I found a soul sister in Debbie.  Toward the end of August 2014, while rolling up my yoga mat after one of Debbie’s last yoga classes for the summer, I opened the notes in my phone… and there it was: I am mindful.  I manifested a practice, a coach and a friend with three words.  Don’t question the process.  Be open to being guided.  Set the intentions that are in your heart and take the action steps as they unfold.

This past Thursday, I had the honor of sitting at a full-day retreat of over 100 educators led by my soul sister Debbie and her colleague in mindfulness Cory.  They led us through the practices and applications of this life-saving, life-expanding gift called Mindfulness.  They are the real-deal.  I, who often cannot exhale without checking my phone 17 times, did not even check the time from 7:30 am until 4:35 pm.  That’s the magic that Debbie and Cory shared.

We learned about our relationship to stress, how to be with what is here, how to develop our mental fitness… I could go on and on.  I took 17 pages of notes.  But, if I can share only one take-away with you, it is this: replace resistance with curiosity.  Approach your day with an element of awe and wonder.

Debbie, I bow to you.  I am mindful.

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It’s been a Year.

This isn’t about rabbits or Reiki.

A year ago, we said goodbye—well, sort of.  I said I would see you later that week.  I said we would talk more then (and I silently promised to turn my damn phone off at our next visit—no pointless distractions).  I walked out of your front door, it was a Saturday, fully intending to be back maybe on Wednesday, silently promising myself that I would not let the week go by without making time for a visit.  Just like this year, last August was zooming by.  About an hour after I left, you died.

I wonder a lot.  You know my brain is always going, barreling perhaps.  We only knew each other for a touch over two years.  Why was I the second-to-last person to see you in your earthly form?  Do you know how much you changed my life in a span of two years?  Can you fathom just how much you taught me?

If you didn’t leave this dimension when you did, would we still be friends?  Or would I have said something, done something, been something that you didn’t want to be around?  Would we be on the phone right now on this super-cloudy day?  Or would I be sitting here, telling myself that I better make time for you before my long vacation ends?

Ours is one of those friendships that didn’t seem likely but just makes so much darn sense.  16 years apart in age, vastly different families and upbringings.  You, tiny in stature, secure in purpose.  Me, average in size, barreling toward my purpose—you helped me find it.  It’s all your fault, that I’m finally living my dreams.

We bought the house I told you about, but you know that already.  We live so close to you now.  We actually have space to have people come inside the house!  I’m getting better every day.  You helped guide me on this path.  I hear your voice in my head.  I see you in yoga classes still—remember the lady whose pants were inside-out?!  I love how the same things annoyed us.

You were supposed to teach me to sew.  But let’s be serious, I wouldn’t do my own sewing anyway.  Did I teach you anything?  Is there anything you didn’t get to tell me?  Well, besides the messages that you are flooding me with now… shout out to my Spirit Junkies and other spiritual running buddies who have helped me further develop my gifts over the past year.  I “hear” so clearly now.

Your babies are doing great.  MM clipped their nails on Saturday.  Your garden is gorgeous.  Your world misses you.  You are screaming in my left ear right now—I hear you, love!!  I will keep living the dream for us both.

Amira

“They” say the energy goes where it needs to go—distance and time are not limitations, unless you treat them that way.  I’ve done my share of Distance Reiki sessions and I often “channel” furbabies from afar, but last weekend was my first official leap around the world: a Reiki session with a doggy in Australia!

I met Amira’s mom through an online spiritual business group.  We scheduled our session (after I was able to wrap my head around the time difference!) a few days in advance and I was ever-so excited to work with this cute pup.  About a half an hour before our session commenced, I sat in meditation to connect with Amira and her mom’s energy.  I anointed myself with Believe essential oil blend, my signature scent.  I connected with three concepts, restlessness, the number 3 and thoughtfulness, which I presented to Amira’s mom at the start of our session.

We joined together via Zoom at the appointed time, breakfast for them, almost bedtime for me and I explained how I “work” and get messages.  We talked about the restlessness I picked up on through my channeling, probably not uncommon for dogs in general, but Amira’s mom connected to my description.  The number 3, a beautifully spiritual number, didn’t particularly stand out to her but we let that be.  Then the thoughtfulness… I got the “message” that Amira is thoughtful, like if she were a person, she would be the type who remembers everyone’s birthdays.  Her mom liked that!  Super sweet.

Amira’s mom asked me to check in on Amira’s anxiety, particularly when she leaves the house, to make sure she’s comfortable and drinking her water.  From there, I started my direct work with Amira, who lied casually across her bed.  Starting with her crown, I felt pressure (but not pain!) and was compelled to send the word “freedom.”  I sensed a favoring of her left side and she “told” me that she likes to have her right ear scratched!

Amira transitioned into her mom’s lap at some point during our session, still comfortable and soaking in the vibes.  When working on her throat chakra, she acknowledged that she knows her mom listens to her—how beautiful!  Moving to her heart, I felt a darkness.  In our post-session conversation, I assured mom that this was NOT something scary or bad, but just something to keep an eye on, be open to… maybe get her a green toy, something to connect with the heart chakra.  On to the solar plexus, Amira feels safe and heard.  She feels a best friend energy with her mom and likes to be reminded of that.

Toward the close of our session, I connected strongly to Amira’s root chakra, checking in on the concerns mom expressed before we got started.  Amira knows she will be with her mom forever and she grips onto their relationship.  She also “showed” me the number 4.  I closed the session, beaming tons of love, light and energy for the greatest good of Amira, her family and their home.  I shared what I “heard” and “got” through the Reiki with Amira’s mom and thanked her for this opportunity to work together.  A beautiful family, a beautiful session.  Much Love.

Perspective

You’ve heard it or read it a thousand times before… “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” -Dr. W. Dyer

That concept has swirled around me the past few days.  (Look at Summer Denise, writing on a Tuesday instead of Sunday… scandalous!).  I’m getting more and more comfortable with change, especially the changes that I didn’t necessarily invite into my life.  I’m shifting my perspective with an intention to see the value in the change for myself and for those with whom I share love.  I’ve always been the type to take words and promises very literally, particularly because I keep my own without question.  Not everyone is like that.  I’ve always assumed their breaking their word, and subsequently our trust, was purposeful.  I’m working to change the way I look at that.  I’m working, because this is wholly MY ISSUE, to see that everyone’s definition of loyalty and friendship is different.  And that’s cool.  Acceptance.

When I go to yoga classes, I rotate where I roll out my mat.  I used to be the type to want the same spot (middle row, side of the room) for every class.  When I switched studios two summers ago, I decided to change that habit.  Now I never get stuck in a rut, as I’m consciously shifting my perspective.  I’m able to be more present because the change in physical space keeps my brain more engaged.  I don’t shift into autopilot, then careen off to what I have to do after class “monkey mind” as easily.  I change the way I look at things every time I step into the studio.  Try it.

It’s not easy to move your spot, to say no, or to walk away from certain people, places or things.  Whether it be habit, pattern or sense of obligation, we sometimes find ourselves going places we don’t want to go, getting into conversations that feel “wrong,” or surrounded by elements that make us feel stifled, fake, even in pain.  Honor yourself.  Walk away.  Drift away.  Run away.  Whatever pace suites you.  I promise, I’m living proof, that when you surround yourself with the people, places and things that match your level, frequency, and power, your happiness, soul and success will soar.

Flip it on its head today.  Change that perspective.  Shed the confines of relationships and situations that no longer serve your highest good.  Hop into something that feels better, that feels right.  Then watch the miracles fly.  Much love.

 

Shoes and Trust

I had a shoe-mergency today.  I finished speaking at our wellness event, was walking back to my seat and I knew my right shoe didn’t feel quite right.  I sat down and investigated—a case of a loose platform.  I’ve had this particular pair of shoes for at least ten, maybe eleven years.  I don’t wear them often and I guess they wanted to show their displeasure with not being taken out more frequently.  You really learn who you can count on when you’re having a shoe-mergency.

Shoe

I turned to my colleague and friend who was sitting at the table.  She immediately offered to get some flipflops from the car (I normally come prepared with back-ups, but I’m rolling in a loaner car for the weekend).  Our other colleague, who also works at the venue, scrambled around for glue or something to repair my busted sole.  No glue on the entire premises… but who needs glue when you have friends to hold you together?

After her speech, which was FANTASTIC, the first colleague/friend I mentioned went out to her car and retrieved two pairs of shoes, one flats and one stilettos, for me.  I went with the heels, of course.  Crisis averted.

I was listening to Brene Brown’s Super Soul Sessions talk called “The Anatomy of Trust” as I was cleaning out my classroom last week, preparing for summer break.  Ms. Brown talks about the little acts that create trust in a relationship, how a small gesture or conversation, sometimes even comment, can form a bond.  And, in the spirit of balance, it takes an equally small gesture, or the lack of a gesture, or comment to annihilate trust that previously existed.

I’ve put up the front of not needing anyone plenty of times, as a way to protect the fragile little Denise inside of the woman filling the 5-inch-high shoes.  I’ve purported in various incarnations over the years that I don’t trust or don’t need anyone.  But, let’s be real—I was running defense.  Today, I wasn’t going to be running anywhere without some darn great ladies whom I trust.  I knew I could depend on them before their gestures today, for sure.  But how these souls stepped up for me when my sole wasn’t supporting me fills me with so much joy and love.  It’s these small, trust-building gestures that save an event, a day, even a life sometimes.  I see it in Rescue—the way our team shows up for each other is outstanding.  And I felt in first hand today with my Oil sisters.  Thank you, my friends.  Much love.

Gimme a Break

I sit here in the closing hours of a week off from the day job.  I’ve shared with you before about the (unnecessary) pressure that I put on myself to make the days off count… Of all the chunks of time off from the day job, I feel like I was better to myself over the past 9 days than I typically am—looks like all that personal development actually works.  I’m mentally beating myself up too much over what did and didn’t get done this week.

I’m a quantifier by nature.  I’m the one who keeps score, who keeps copious notes, who has the memory and the records of it all.  So here’s a run-down of what I made happen over the past week-plus:

  • babysat our friends’ daughter for 3 days
  • completed the last course for my +75 (75 graduate credits above my Master’s degree)
  • co-hosted a LuLa Roe and Young Living party
  • various doctor and spa appointments (self-care is super important!)
  • volunteer time and community outreach daily for Rescue
  • hosted a business dinner (and ate everything on the menu from 3 Brothers)
  • went to my favorite yoga class
  • reconnected with a friend (Love you S)
  • spent time with the uncles
  • hosted a wellness talk
  • had a private reading with the amazing Calise Simone (I highly recommend her!)
  • finished reading 2 books
  • watched 2 seasons of “Schitt’s Creek”

And yet I sit here with the anxiety of “going back” tomorrow.  And before I sat down to write this, all I was thinking about was the messes I didn’t clean up (this desk!) and the things left undone… but holy carrots!  Look how much I did do in the span of one week plus the bookends of weekends!  I’m not sharing this with you to brag about how much I did but as a reminder for you to shift your focus (if you need to) and recognize the good.  Celebrate the tasks accomplished.  Luxuriate in the moments, hours and days (if you’re lucky) of relaxation.  Appreciate what you can do rather than bombard yourself with what’s left undone.  Yes, I might be talking to myself more today than I’m talking to you but writing this is often as cathartic as it is instructive.

I need to recognize the breadth and depth of the list above.  I’m in awe—I legitimately felt like maybe I didn’t do enough to make it count this past week.  So, when you’re beating yourself up, grab your notebook and engage in a retrospective.  Make an I Did It list, rather than a Things To Do list.  Celebrate.  Recognize.  Give yourself a break or a pat on the back or both.  Reality is, there will always be “things” left undone.  When we are “done,” then there’s really nothing left.  So, while I’d love to get this desk cleaned off today, I promise to give myself a break and appreciate all the accomplishments, in and out, of the past few days.  The days will tick by, regardless of my action or inaction.  Like Calise told me yesterday, I must “create space, calm and structure.”

Much Love.

 

Mallory

Hoppy New Year, Bunnies and Bunny Friends!

My final Reiki session of 2016 was shared with Mallory, a darling Dutch girl whom I helped rescue in 2015 and was adopted by one of our volunteers, my friend Lauren.  Mallory recently lost her husbun Benjamin, so Lauren asked for me to come over and check in on Mal.  Prior to losing Benjamin, Lauren and Mallory went through numerous changes in 2016—a volatile year for many, but hey, if we don’t change, we don’t grow.

I settled in to Mallory’s pen, anointed my third eye chakra with Magnify Your Purpose essential oil and my palms with a few drops of lavender.  Lauren had the diffuser going with a relaxing blend to support our energy work.  As I flowed through my meditation, calling on my guides, Mallory’s guides and angels and all workers of light and energy to join us, Mallory tossed a cardboard tube at me— her way of acknowledging that she was ready to communicate!  Through our hands-on work, Mallory shared with me that she feels in good health.  She has a cautious spirit, which complements Lauren’s adventurous spirit quite well.  Both Mallory and Lauren share an energy, a bond through the adventure of life and bring balance and care to each other.

Mallory tossed her wood and rope toy 5 times.  She also “showed” me the numbers 6 and 4 in combination to create 10 a few times during her session (check out Doreen Virtue’s book on angel numbers to translate Mal’s message!).  When I asked Mallory about her past, she hopped away and turned her back.  She remembers the horrible life she lived before rescue and wants it completely behind her, so I focused the Reiki energy to send healing, forgiveness and forward movement.  Mallory confirmed with me that she loves to snuggle, loves to be wrapped in a blanket as a tangible sense of connection and security.  Who doesn’t love a good snuggle?!

She “showed” me oranges, specifically the fruit and not just the color orange.  When I asked Lauren about this in our chat after the Reiki session, she burst out laughing.  Lauren and a friend were eating oranges in that room just the night before!  Messages like this are confirmation to me that Mallory was receiving the energy and communicating with me.  I don’t question the gift—I just embrace it and share it.

Our Reiki session closed with the theme of surrender and riding out the changes in life, as more are to come (soon!) to this adora-bun family.  Mallory is a protectorate and a symbol of strength for Lauren as much as Lauren is for Mallory— they are truly bonded souls with such a wonderful and needed balance for each other.  I am honored to share Reiki with Mallory and Lauren.  Thank you, my friend.