The Catalyst

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Domestic violence takes on many forms and endures for various lengths of time. It takes courage to release the heart’s tight grasp on an abuser. My hope and prayer for this post is that it will encourage men and women to be brave, take a stand against abuse and find the love that resides within.

Here is part of my story:

I was being held up by my throat staring into raging eyes. It was like he had left his body and pain took over which he was now transferring to me. I was begging to be let go of with my hands since I could barely breathe. I was scared and felt my head getting lighter and my body becoming limp.

When he let go, I gasped for air. I felt the warmth around my neck where his hands had been. He stood there staring off somewhere that wasn’t the present moment. I scurried away like a scared animal, retreating to another room to contact my sister.

She was the only person I could think of to reach out to. It was late, even later in her time zone, but she was awake and saved me that night. He had taken it too far this time. From far away, she called the cops.

Everything I had known as love was broken. I thought I was strong enough to deal with the emotional tearing down but this was scarier. I was alone, not by choice, but because something happened and he was taken away. The night that love turned into fear was a catalyst for me.

My first instinct was to pray. I had grown up religious but had put that part of me on a shelf for almost a decade at that point. I fumbled with my words trying to communicate with a God that I hoped was there. It felt awkward at first and I stopped several times to cry. But the prayer was lifted and I repeated “Help me” over and over.

He called me to ask for bail, I refused and hung up. I had the urge to find my Bible, another thing that had been put away for a decade. I searched my closet and found it at the bottom of a box. I opened it and the first thing I read was: “A man of great anger will suffer punishment for if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.” Proverbs 19:19

Chills ran up my spine. That passage jumped from a page in a forgotten book and was pertinent to what had just happened. I laid down on my bed and repeated “Please comfort me. I am so sad and lonely.” Almost immediately, I felt a force of comfort come over me. It was heavier than the air and my heart beat calmed down for the first time that night.

“Come back. Return. Love resides within”

I was being called to return to my soul. A place that I tried to mask for years. In order for me to know love, I had to begin with myself at the cellular level and begin to heal. I realized that I had to go within, be alone and find the courage to let go.

This event was a catalyst to my soul. I started a search where I wanted to find what was sparked inside of me that night. I knew it wasn’t the God full of judgement and fear I grew up believing but one that was loving, peaceful and full of grace.

In a moment of fear, I was comforted by something outside of myself. This began my journey to where I am today. It shook me to my core and demanded that I learn to love differently starting with myself.

*If you or someone you know  is a victim of domestic violence, here are some resources to get help:

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

Saturn Return

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It has been known as a quarter life crisis. Around the ages of 27-31 it hits and all of a sudden something must or just changes. For some it is a subtle nudge that doesn’t go away until addressed. For others it seems devastating, like everything that had been worked towards was a sham and the feeling of starting over is too much to bear.

This time is known as Saturn Return; a milestone of reaching adulthood. Saturn takes approximately 28 years to make a full orbit around the sun from the time of birth. With each occurrence, responsibilities change, thoughts mature and a shift in mindset takes place.

Each person experiences it differently. It is a time when life does a course correct. Some learn new skills that propel them in the direction that is now waiting to be explored. Others feel this time as a difficult transition, feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. For some, it can be a period of hard work either physically, mentally or emotionally.

My Saturn Return hit me a month before my 28th birthday. I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. Anxiety flooded my days and I doubted my decisions as everything I had worked for seemed to just not fit any more. I knew I needed a change, but I didn’t know what I needed to do. I wanted answers immediately, but they took their time to arrive.

While I was in what felt like an endless loop of waiting, I learned some hard and valuable lessons. I started recognizing my core values and desired to live a life that aligned with who I wanted to be. This is where the pain set in: I had to give up ideas of what I thought I wanted and where I needed to be to align with what I really wanted. It was scary to think about starting over.

The more I resisted this new path, the harder things seemed to be. But, when I embraced the changes that were occurring, regardless of my attempts to control, a peace set in. I noticed that the amount of anxiety I experienced was in direct proportion to the amount of control I tried to exert. I released my grasp and a new career, friendships, cities and outlook appeared.

I had to make room for what needed to take place.

I noticed 4 phases of a Saturn Return:

  1. Humility: I felt embarrassed thinking that what I swore was my life path was actually wrong. Having to admit to myself and others that I was starting over was recognition that I did not know it all and that I still had some learning to do. OUCH!
  2. Growth: I had to learn new skills to move forward in a new career. I had to learn a lot about myself and grow from mistakes. Embracing my authenticity and bravery catapulted growth and helped me to move on and forgive myself and others.
  3. Emergence: After the inner struggle of control, I was able to emerge onto the new path. There was a new found confidence after I embraced the growth. I felt renewed and excited.
  4. Freedom: Finally accepting the end of where I thought I was heading and embracing the next phase brought a sense of freedom. There is a renewed sense of trust that occurs which feels free and lighthearted.

I have coached many people going through their Saturn Return. There are spiritual shifts, career changes, relationship and life transitions that occur. It can be scary and exciting to navigate. There is something beautiful on the other side of the struggle. It is quite lovely to see the transformations from struggle to freedom. These steps differ in time for each person, but at the end, freedom appears.

Like a caterpillar creating a cocoon, this a time of transformation. Don’t let preconceived notions take over and stunt forward movement and growth. Be open and allow the changes to happen. Celebrate each lesson and be grateful for the path thus far. Soon, the butterfly emerges and spreads its new found wings and soars into freedom.

You have escaped the cage. Your wings are stretched out. Now fly.

-Rumi

For more on coaching, email emily@soulsadventures.com

Finding Peace through Forgiveness

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Forgiveness begged to be learned the year I quit my job. I had been struggling with my boss, my mother entered rehab and my best friend and I grew apart. I didn’t want to hold on to resentment but I was drowning in my anger and I didn’t know how to forgive. I felt hurt, disregarded and realized that despite my pain, I had to forgive them. I knew the lesson was coming, I just wasn’t ready for it in triplicate.

The lessons began in January when I was called into a meeting with my boss. The goal was to find a middle ground so working together could be amicable and productive. The meeting didn’t seem to resolve anything and I left in tears and frustrated. I realized that my time there was coming to an end.

After the meeting, things continued to get more difficult and strained and then the day came when I was no longer his employee. I felt free. All of a sudden the stress and resentment started to melt away and I was able to begin the process of forgiving him.

I finally understood that we both had different levels of understanding and that was where all of our problems stemmed from. Neither of us was willing to budge, standing our ground firmly. I was grateful for this lesson and vowed to remember it when I disagreed with another person. I released my resentment and sent him thoughts of success and happiness and closed the chapter on that part of my life.

A week later, I was on a plane to Bali. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to write, relax and renew my soul. A few days into the trip, I received a call from my mother telling me she was entering rehab. I was shocked and angry. I felt like a dark cloud immediately covered my trip and it did, literally, in the form of incessant rain during the usual dry season.

The rain did not help me process and I cried just as much as rain poured down. I could barely write and peacefulness was nowhere to be found. I had to deal with a lot of anger, hurt and resentment in one of the most significant relationships of my life and I was on the other side of the planet. I tried my best to overcome my sorrow, but my mind stayed fixed on the issue.

Then one day, she called me and asked for forgiveness. I thought about my mother’s pain and a wave of compassion towards her came over me. I decided that I needed to find a way to forgive her. It wasn’t easy at first but I decided to write about it and allow time to heal. Through compassion and writing, I was able to see a clear path to forgiveness and restoration in our relationship.

With time, I have been able to restore and even strengthen my relationship with my mother and I am so grateful. The bitterness that I had harbored dissipated with the practice of forgiving and letting go. I was amazed at the healing that came after I resolved to surrender to the process.

As one relationship began to be restored, another started to crumble. It happened unexpectedly. My closest friend and I started to grow apart. We had shared everything for years, including world travel. After I left Bali, our relationship began to unravel. I went home to start a new chapter in my life where I went inward and continued to work on things that I had been ignoring for years. She continued to travel and with each destination, our relationship slowly fell apart.

This realization was tough for me. It is hard to realize that someone you have been close to for a long time starts growing apart from you. It was like a branch splitting in two creating two new trees. Each of the trees growing and blossoming, but separately. It hurts. Anger, resentment, confusion and sadness all happened at once. I knew in order to heal, I needed to release the relationship and forgive.

Once I moved forward with the process, I felt an immense sense of peace. I felt a sense of spaciousness, ready to be filled with something lovely. Letting go always creates that beautiful void where what is begging to grow has the space it finally needs to evolve. I learned that to forgive does not always mean to restore. Sometimes forgiving means releasing and letting go completely or for a time to allow healing to occur.

The most important lesson in forgiveness is the peace it provides. There is no peace in holding on to a hurt emotion. Whether letting go completely or restoring a relationship from a healed place, forgiveness offers peace of mind and clarity. There is a lightness that can only be felt once the weight of resentment, hurt and bitterness is lifted. Forgiveness heals and restores the lightness and replaces the weight with immense peace. It is a way to say “Peace be with you, peace be with me.”

Lunar New Year Intentions

lamb

This week brings three events that offer the time to look inward and release: The New Moon coincides with the beginning of Lent tonight and tomorrow begins the Lunar New Year: Year of the Sheep.

As the last month of winter sets in, the New Moon is the perfect time think about the things in your life that need to end. In order for new beginnings to take place, address, clear away and let go of the things which no longer serve you. Are there any areas or chapters that need closure? What do you need to let go of? Be honest and allow the release in order to manifest the awaiting growth. Just like new buds in the spring, the weeds need to be pulled for the best growing environment. This is the time to give birth.

Additionally, Lent is a 40 day period, beginning today, which focuses on the purification of spirit. Preceded by Fat Tuesday, this is a time to purify from something that may be holding you back. It is interesting that it should fall on the same day of the New Moon magnifying the importance of closure and letting go.

Tomorrow, the Year of the Sheep begins marking the end of the fast moving, wild and crazy Year of the Horse. I definitely feel the energy level coming down recently. Last year was a whirlwind of travel, transition, lessons and emotions. Everything moved rapidly. I felt like there wasn’t enough time to process everything. Lately I have been looking inward as the energy started to subside to wrap my mind around it all. It was a beautiful year filled with passion, emotion, growth, movement and strength. As I look back I realize there were so many patterns broken, necessary endings and opportunities for growth. The energy of the year was definitely like a face paced gallop.

Unlike a Horse, a sheep signifies a calmer more caring approach to life. Compassion, generosity, gentleness and intention are themes for this year. It is a time to deepen spiritual connection while becoming clear and intentional with actions. Like a ram that is head strong, make sure to be true to yourself, stay centered and don’t blindly follow the herd. Be passionate and true to your desires to attract like minded spirits that inspire instead of those who sap your energy. Take stock of who is in your life and what you are putting out into the world. Some important questions to ask are…

Who do I want to be?

Where do I want to go?

Are the things/people in my life conducive to my desired path?

What do I need to let go of in order to be my most authentic self?

Whether you are letting go for the purpose of renewal, lent or celebrating the lunar new year, harness the powerful energy available right now to center yourself and identify with your authenticity. May you find peace, love and compassion during this process.