Exploring the Matrix of Your Brain

As someone who has tested IQs for a living for many years, I know how valuable they can be in terms of helping see patterns of processing strengths and weaknesses, but I’m also the first to acknowledge their limitations in truly understanding the depths of someone’s giftedness. I don’t really believe that there is a number, especially not a full scale number, that defines giftedness. The number also reflects the quantity of correct answers, but not really the quality of answers, especially when it comes to the verbal portion of the test. This is why qualitative information is so crucial when we look at learning and giftedness!

Exploring the Matrix of Your Brain

I was inspired to revisit this post from Jennifer Harvey Sallin on Intergifted on High, Exceptional & Profound Giftedness, which talks about levels of giftedness. While they do give numbers for general reference, it is the qualitative experience that differentiates the levels.

She talks about standard linear thinking that goes from point A to point B.

A->B->C->D->E

Then there’s skip thinking that jumps points and processes things faster.

A->->C->->E

Then there’s what she calls meta-thinking or matrix thinking that takes and makes complicated connections.

This got me thinking of all the complicated ways of thinking I’ve come across and I jotted down a few little notes on a post it about how different brains might work. I showed this to a student recently and he was able to point to one and elaborate on how it works for him. I thought it might be fun to share so we can think of our own matrix brains and how they work. There are infinite possibilities, but here’s a few that came to mind. Interestingly, when I “visualize” these things, I am not actually creating an image in my head - most of my own thoughts come in words, which is why I like to jot down little pictures of what others might see in their mind’s eye.

Mind Map - The closest thing I’ve come up with to explain my own brain is a giant 3 dimensional mind map that is constantly connecting seemingly unconnected things. Someone I talked to recently looked at the different images I’d jotted down on a post it and said, “well this may sound weird, but it’s like that one, only the circles are 3 dimensional.” Doesn’t sound weird at all, but it can be very helpful to articulate and have someone acknowledge it!

Venn Diagram - Another way I find my brain working is in a Venn Diagram, finding the overlap in relationships to everything. I really like the idea of the Venn Diagram, but it’s a little more difficult to imagine in 3D space. There are so many ways to group and categorize things that when it gets too complicated, drawing lines between things on a mind map becomes the easiest way to convey, but at the basic level I really like the way Venn Diagrams represent overlapping categories.

Spiral - I once had a boss who was 2E ADHD and everyone thought he was all over the place when he spoke. I began to realize though that he always got back to the point eventually. It was like he talked in a spiral and would come back to the point every time it came back around.

Puzzle - A friend once described someone as having lots of puzzle pieces but having a challenge putting all the pieces together. Another friend described her job each year as putting the pieces together in a puzzle and then having them all dumped out again. We each have different approaches to putting together the pieces of the puzzle. Some are quick right out the gate, some learn in time how to put them together and others feel like a piece or two is missing.

Tree - When I think of my multi potentiality, I tend to think of a tree. The roots dig deep to form my foundation, but when I get too many things going at once it’s like wild branches that need pruning. When I was working full time in my day job I over pruned and didn’t have any time for the enriching stuff and when I first branched out on my own (see what I did there?) I went in way too many directions at once. This year I am focusing on pruning and strengthening just a few branches at a time.

Spider Web - I see the spider web as sort of a combination of the spiral and the mind map. It’s another way to visualize making constant connections. Like real spider webs, they are never quite as neat and tidy as you might find in a symbol or graphic but can get quite messy.

3D Chess Board - When I brought this idea up to a friend and parent, she shared the idea of a 3d chess board. Not only are you navigating and strategizing on one flat plane/dimension, there are multiple plains to navigate and strategize on all at once.

Maze - One final image that came to mind is a maze where you follow one path and may come to a dead end and have to back track to find your way back.

When I do educational assessment, I don’t just look at numbers but aim to help understand what’s going on in their brains. Often times what I come up with is just confirmation for what they or their parents already knew at an instinctive level, but sometimes the numbers can help explain or justify the pattern. I recently found this imagery really handy to help someone articulate what was going on in their own brain!

I will be continuing to explore how we can befriend our own brains and figure out how to work with our strengths so we can stop working harder and start learning how we work! I believe this can be helpful for adults as well as children and am exploring tools to further explore this domain!

One thing you can explore now is how your own intensity and excitability may play into how you tick through my free Find Your Superpower course. You can access it here! I’ll be working on putting together a list of other self exploration tools soon. If you have one to suggest, let me know!

So how do you best explain your brain?

Exploring the Matrix of Your Brain

Too Close to the Tree

On Sunday my kid, Z, would not get out of the car. At first I thought Z was just distracted by a game Z was playing, so I opened the door so it wouldn’t get too hot. Then I discovered Z was too afraid to get out of the car because they thought they saw a bee!

Now this bee phobia has been around for a while and got worse when we moved out to the country. Right as I thought it was getting under control, the poor kid got attacked when a frisbee hit a wasps nest last summer. Then when we were going to go on a walk, I told Z we’d be fine as long as we stuck to the trail, and a friend went to pick something off a plant and a bee got up his shirt and stung. Now this irrational fear has some not entirely irrational roots.

Too Close to the Tree: Parenting Gifted Kids

I did not think about this as Z wouldn’t get out of the car though, I only thought of my exasperation at the fact that no one has ever been stung on our property and Z was perfectly safe walking from the car to the house. More concerning to me at the time was the fact that it was starting to get warm out and the car was heating up quickly. I snapped a little when I told Z to get out of the car and it didn’t end nicely!

This is the challenge when you are an intense parent raising intense kids. We each blow our own things out of proportion and when they don’t match up, or match up in an anxiety inducing way, it can lead to catastrophic results.

My kid had the misfortune of inheriting my chaotic brain with his dad’s inflexibility. Quite interestingly though, medication and treatment for ADHD has actually helped the inflexibility more than the chaotic brain! Z is finally at a point where they can reflect on the situation and ask me, “how would you feel if…” Yesterday, my kid got back into rational brain mode quicker than I did!

I have worked with significant behavioral challenges in schools and it’s a whole different experience when you are a parent. All those professional skills go out the window when you have personal investment and history involved. I am still working on this myself, but here are some of the things that have helped me:

Know your triggers

Growing up twice-exceptional, I have all kinds of triggers around feeling judged. As a parent, my triggers expanded to when my kid gets overly emotional due to the early years of colicky baby and feeling of helplessness. In later years, it’s been more around the lack of independence that comes with executive functioning challenges. Having EF challenges myself, it is often hard to support my own kid. The bee phobia thing in particular was triggering because it has prevented Z from engaging in active outdoor activities and Z already spends way too much time on devices for indoor entertainment. I had hoped moving out to the country would engage a love of nature but instead it seems to engender even more fear. I was also worried in that moment because Z gets so distracted that I was afraid the heat would make them sleepy and sedentary.

Have calming tools at the ready

When Z finally came inside, they went in their room to calm down. It started with high emotions, but it didn’t take too long to get back calm. I myself could use a refresher on my own calming skills as although I was no longer upset, it took me longer to rationally acknowledge where I had gone wrong.

Don’t be afraid to apologize

As Z pointed out how I might feel under the same conditions, I started with rationalizing my actions but eventually was able to tell Z that I was sorry and my actions were coming out of fear for their safety. Z acknowledged that the fear was irrational, but not entirely under their control. Acknowledging our own humanness goes a long way in getting back on track! It’s when we hold tight to our own perspective without putting ourselves in the other one’s shoes that we get stuck.

I’m excited to be at a point now where we can work together on those things, and know that we need to work on getting supports in place now before the adolescent brain really kicks in!


This has been a part of the May Hoagies Gifted Blog Hop on Parenting Considerations.

Understanding Your Brain

Last week on Embracing Intensity, I talked about my own experience with a Twice-Exceptional Breakdown and this week I got to talk with ADHD coach and ADHD Essentials Podcast Host Brendan Mahan about Finding Balance in Life With ADHD and one theme that’s been coming up again and again in my interviews and solo episodes is how important it is for us to start understanding our brains so that instead of “working harder,” we can learn “how we work.”

Understanding Your Brain

For me, one huge tool that has helped me over the years as a school psychologist is understanding some basics about information processing. Now as I share this information, remember that there are a lot of models of processing out there and this is drastically over simplified, but for the sake of understanding patterns of strengths and weaknesses it has served me well in helping students understand themselves so they can learn how they learn. Even if you aren’t a parent or a student, I find it valuable because it’s never too late to learn about how we tick!

I first created this handout years ago when I first began Psycho-Educational Assessment in 2002. I was inspired by This LD Self Advocacy Manual by Scott Crouse. You can read more in depth about some of the processing areas there, and even do a free self-rating to see what your strengths and weaknesses are! I have since modified it a bit to encompass more of the Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) Theory of Cognitive Abilities, which I will talk about more at a later time.

I wrote it with student’s in mind, but I believe many of us can relate!

What is processing?

Processing is how we take in information, then think about it and use it. There are many ways of processing information, but three important categories of processing are essential to learning: Sensory ProcessingCognitive Processingand Cognitive Efficiency.  Every student has different strengths and weaknesses in their ability to process information.  It is helpful to find out what those are in order to use our strengths and build on our weaknesses.

Information Processing

How is information processed?

Imagine it is your first day of school, and you are getting to know your own class.  

Input- When you first walk into the room, there are all types of input, coming at you.  Your teacher introduces herself.  She uses linguisticinformation, or language, to tell you about herself.  This information is also sequentialbecause it comes at you in a certain order. You look at the people around you to remember their faces, and glance at the posters on the wall.  This information is holistic, because you see it all at once as a complete whole.  Then the teacher gives you some free choice time to look around the room and explore.  You take in the spatiallayout of the room.   

Sensory Processing- This is how we take in the world through our five senses.  In school, we are most affected by our auditoryand visualprocessing skills.  We may hear and see things fine, but have trouble understanding or interpreting them.  While you are exploring the class, you use all five of your senses to perceiveand processthe world around you.  You hear the other kids talking, using your auditoryprocessing. You smelland tasteyour morning snack.  Your eyes take in the visualinformation of what the room looks like, and your tactilesense feels the objects around the room.   

Cognitive Processing– This is how we think about the information we perceive.  The left brain(sequential processing)sequences and organizes details while the right brain(conceptual processing) understands the concepts and big picture.  The leftside of your brain pays close attentionto the details around you, and organizes the information using sequential processing.  If it is working efficiently, it will store the information and make it easy to retrieve later on.  The right side of your brain helps you to understand the big picture and come up with new ideas using conceptual processing. You use your Crystalized Knowledgeto use learned knowledge and experience to connect with your environment and your Fluid Reasoningto solve new problems, use logic in new situations and identify patterns. 

Cognitive Efficiency– This is how efficiently we process and use the information.  Our executive functioningskills help us with mental regulation and attention, while our processing speedaffects how quickly we learn and perform tasks. Our executive functioning skills help us regulate our minds and feelings in order to access and use information. If you have strong executive functioning skills, you pay close attention as your teacher goes over the school rules.  They start out in your short-term memory, and use your working memoryto repeat them to yourself. Your sequential processing then organizes and files the information to help you commit it to long-term memory. Processing speed helps us learn and perform tasks in a timely manner. 

Output – This is how you use the information you’ve processed.  You can either store it in your long term memory, or use it to create output.  Your teacher asks you to share examples of school rules.  Your mind looks through your memory files and recognizessome of the rules the teacher shared. You try to recallsome of the rules you had in your last class.  You express your thoughts using your languageskills and write them down using your fine motorskills.  Then your teacher has you get up and act out some of the rules using your languageand full body movement, or gross motorskills. 

More details on processing areas: http://ldinfo.com/

You can find a pdf version of the handout here!

Information Processing

The Loneliness of "Fitting In"

I haven’t posted here in a while between my podcast and that pesky day-job filling up my time, but this month’s Hoagies Blog Hop is on The Power of Belonging, which is a topic near and dear to my heart! After all, my theme for 2019 is building community! It also brings me full circle to one of my first posts for the Hoagies Gifted Blog Hops in 2014 on Gifted Friendships called Connected Yet Disconnected? Have I really been doing this for almost 5 years?

The Loneliness of "Fitting In" -  The Power of Belonging

You see, I was extremely fortunate to be raised in a family and extended community who really “got me,” and it wasn’t until adulthood that I really realized just how rare that is for an outside-the-box thinker like myself. I come from multiple generations of gifted and likely twice-exceptional family on both sides, and my parents found a spiritual home in the Unitarian Universalist Community where I grew up. My dad even convinced some family friends to attend the same Spanish Immersion school, so I had a solid foundation of friendship even going into school.

Having that sense of true belonging early on, I never felt the need to “fit in.” In fact, I actively resisted fitting in in more conventional spaces like school. Down the road, it was so rare for me to find one existing group where I felt I belonged, I had the tendency to just create my own groups. But, you see, I knew such spaces existed because I had found them and/or created them before.

A common theme I’ve found as I interview gifted and outside-the-box thinkers on the Embracing Intensity Podcast is that most are not so lucky. Many have taken a life time to find that place where they belong, or are still looking for it. It can be difficult to find if you’ve never seen it exist.

So many spent years finding ways to “fit in” instead of belong. Becoming chameleons, as Heather Boorman would say, or creating personas that we think will help us blend in. The problem is that fitting in can leave us feeling empty, while belonging fills us up!

As Brene Brown says, “Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”

So how do we find this belonging?

On our posts on Gifted Friendships, Paula Prober had some great suggestions for where to find gifted connection and belonging in her posts Lonely? Find Your Pips. Part One and Part Two, and I offer suggestions in this post on feeling Connected Yet Disconnected? If you are inclined to create your own community, I wrote a post on Creating Community here.

I’ve spent so much time in my past creating my own community that this year, I decided that I needed to extend this to include the new Embracing Intensity Community. I’ve scheduled 12 course calls, 10 guest speaker calls, 4 PNW Potlucks and a weekend unconference this summer! All of these are either free, or cost of food/materials, but the call recordings and deeper community discussion can be found in the Embracing Intensity Community where you can support our efforts and sustain them into the future!

Whether you have found belonging or are still looking for it, just know that it’s out there and with the wonders of the internet, it’s so much easier to find than it once was!

This has been a part of the Hoagies Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on The Power of Belonging.

22 Journal Prompts for Gifted and Outside the Box Thinkers

My Embracing Intensity Podcast has been a wonderful tool for sharing stories of gifted and outside the box thinkers about how they have used their intensity in a positive way. Starting the solo episodes gave me the opportunity to share my own reflections, but I was missing the opportunity to share community reflections. 

22 Journal Prompts for Gifted and Outside the Box Thinkers

I decided to start sharing Weekly Reflection Questions on Patreon, based on themes from the podcast, in order to get more discussion going. These questions can also be used as journal prompts for private self-reflection. 

In order to access them all together, I have coated the first 22 reflection questions here. You can find new questions each week on Patreon

While the questions are available to anyone, Patrons can access other useful tools for self-exploration such as monthly seasonal Reconnect Retreat guides and my Ignite Your Power course. It is also a great way to support the continued production of the Embracing Intensity Podcast!

If you join us on Patreon by August 6th, you can also get additional bonuses as a part of our pledge drive! 

  1. How do you think gender expectations have affected how you express your intensity? 
  2. When have you changed yourself, or put yourself in draining situations in order to "fit in?"
  3. What things do you find better to do with other people? 
  4. What message do you need to share with the world?
  5. What activities do you find the most energizing?
  6. What helps you connect with your roots? 
  7. When have you had to shift gears to keep doing what you love?
  8. When have you felt like a chameleon? How has it affected you? 
  9. Where in your life have you felt like an imposter? 
  10. What happens when you are fully able to express who you are? What do you think might happen if you had this opportunity more? 
  11. When have you stopped yourself from saying what you thought because you were afraid it wouldn't be "nice"? Would you do things differently if you had another opportunity? 
  12. What do you feel like you HAVE to do, even if you don't have the time? 
  13. What helps you get comfortable being uncomfortable? 
  14. What aspect of your own light have you been dimming?
  15. How do you keep your inner fire burning without burning out? 
  16. How do you give yourself compassion?
  17. How do you let go of other things so you can enjoy the moment?
  18. What rituals do you have for getting into a creative space?
  19. What helps you connect with your own inner knowing?
  20. What keeps you thinking instead of taking action?
  21. Are you more of a reader or a writer? Why?
  22. What are signs for you that a relationship is positively challenging vs. diminishing?

In order to help you create a deeper self-exploration experience, I created this free Retreat Planner

Windows and Mirrors

I must preface this post with the knowledge that anything I post about race, I do so with a beginners mind. I know that as a white person, this is never a topic I can master, yet I also have the responsibility to continue to work on this in myself and speak and share when I see the need. 

Windows and Mirrors: Authentic Representation Matters

I am on our school equity committee, and when talking about addressing equity and diversity in our curriculum the concept of "windows and mirrors" is often used. The goal is that students can both see themselves reflected in mirrors of the materials they are reading, and also see windows into other unfamiliar experiences. 

This concept has come up to me a lot recently as I reflect on my own social media experience. I realized in the last year that my Facebook feed was significantly more of a mirror than it was a window into other people's rich experiences. It was not that I was actively avoiding diversity in my feed, but that I realized I was not trying hard enough to seek it out. 

This became more apparent as I reflected back on my podcast interviews. I knew I needed to reflect a wider range of diverse personal experience, and specifically share more stories of women of color, but I also wanted it to come from a place of authentic connection.

This has gotten me exploring further the idea of "token diversity" vs. true diversity. For me, token diversity is when we ask someone to participate in something soley because they fit a specific category we need to fill. This feels shallow to me, but it can be the start of a deeper self-exploration if we allow ourselves to explore it further. 

It can be especially challenging when the communities around you tend to lack natural diversity. I live in Portland, which is known for it's predominant whiteness and history of anti-blackness. I also connect in spiritual communities, where spiritual bypassing and whitewashed spirituality is all too common. 

I am only at the beginning of my journey in this, but I have taken a few steps to expand my windows and find mirrors where I hadn't seen them before. I share my personal journey to help prompt the discussion, I would love to hear what has helped you as well.

Actively follow and financially support the work of people of color. Currently, what little money I have on Patreon is going to the work of women of color who I have learned from in the last year. As my means grow, I intend on growing that support as well. I have also taken steps to see these women's posts at the top of my Facebook feed so that they don't get lost in the hundreds of posts that echo my own personal experience. 

Take responsibility to educate yourself. At the same time, while I make a point to follow people of color, I acknowledge that it is not their job to educate me. It is my job to educate myself. There are people out there who make this their life's work and for that I appreciate and support them. Currently, I would recommend the book So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Olli. I especially appreciate her perspective as a fellow Pacific Northwesterner. I also appreciate that it is available on Audible! Catrice Jackson is another author and educator who does live trainings. Her She Talks We Talk Race Talks for Women is coming to Portland in April and I am planning to attend. If you can't attend a training, she has several books on the topic as well. 

Find reflections within windows. While there are experiences of oppression that I can never attempt to fully grasp, having not experienced them, there is power in connecting with our shared common experience. I experienced this powerfully in last week's interview with Alexandra Loves. Our conversation was both a window into her world, and a reflection of our shared experiences and perspectives. 

Don't turn away from discomfort, examine it. In Bill Sinkford's article, The Dream of White Innocence, he shares how white members of Unitarian Universalist community were ready to jump in and support the civil rights movement - until things got too uncomfortable. We have a tendency to focus on peace and love and can't we all just get along? But as Sinkford says, "resistance is what love looks like in the face of hate." When we see something that makes us uncomfortable or challenges our own sense of who we are, we must face that discomfort and understand where it's coming from. If someone challenges us on our words or actions, we must look at the impact of the actions, not the intent. To help you examine your discomfort, Leesa Renee Hall, who I will be interviewing next month, has put together this list of Expressive Writing Prompts to Overcome White Fragility & Spiritual Bypass, along with weekly writing prompts to question their beliefs. 

This is only the beginning of my own journey, the process is ongoing. I would love to hear from you - what has helped to expand your own windows and mirrors? What has helped you to question your previously unexamined beliefs on this topic?

Slowing Down!

When I hit puberty in 8th grade, I cried most nights for a period in the spring. Since that time, I've had a trend of an annual crash every spring that I'd make up for by my summers off. Working in schools I could push myself to the end of the year and then crash hard to rest and recoup for the new year. 

Free Retreat Planner inside: Slowing Down! Why rest can actually improve productivity.

Since I started my business though, there is no significant "time off." Now I did not push myself too much over the summer, but I still kept up my regular appearances with my podcast and blog posts, which distracted me from the things I had in the back of my head that I wanted to get done.

I have also been undergoing some major shifts in my own work prompted both by bringing it more into alignment for myself and supporting our bed and breakfast, which took a major hit with the political climate this year. 

The last few weeks, I kept thinking I was getting sick - and I realized almost hoping I was getting sick because that would give me an excuse to just crash.

What I forget sometimes is that 5 years ago I just crashed every day. I've come a long way from that point, but I sometimes need to remind myself that juggling multiple jobs/businesses is a lot for anyone to take on, let alone someone with adrenal fatigue and fibromyalgia. My fatigue is much better than it was, but it's not gone. I'm just extremely used to working in a state of fog and eshaustion.

Adding to that, ever since I completed my Reiki Master's certification last spring, I've been flooded with ideas that I'd like to implement, but have not had the chance to step back and systematize my approach because I've been so busy keeping up with the free stuff I've been so consistent with like the podcast, blog and social media presence. I enjoy all of those things, but I need to step back so that I can support them in a sustainable way.

Always "doing" does not always mean being productive, and I've come to realize that when I push myself too much, I don't get the benefits of rest OR productivity.

I've decided to take the month of December off from all of those things so I can reset and regroup. My plan is to come back in the new year inspired and reinvigorated with better systems in place to sustain it! 

With the holiday season upon us, it is so easy to get caught up with busyness. I highly encourage you to take a step back and allow yourself to rest in there as well! Remember that we are all more effective when we take care of ourselves first. 

To help you on your journey to slow down and take care of yourself, I created this free retreat planner!  It includes information on: How to prepare for your retreat in the way that’s best for you; Simple, accessible, and straightforward practices to deepen your experience; A template planner;  A guide to using essential oils to enhance and deepen your healing experience; A recommended reading list; and more!

Essential Oils for Emotional Regulation

A couple of weeks ago, I got to attend a workshop on Emotions & Essential Oils from Amanda Porter, co-author of said book. As I listened to her story, I couldn’t help but think her story fit right in with the stories on my Embracing Intensity Podcast! She spent many years suppressing her emotions and now she helps others use essential oils to help fully process and bring them into balance.

I highly recommend the book and accompanying emotions wheel to help explore the emotional benefits of oils, but I’d like to share a few highlights of doTerra’s top 10 oils from that book and The Essential Life, which gives a ton of information including blending tips.

Essential Oils for Emotional Regulation - Free Retreat Planner Inside

Lavender - There’s a reason that lavender is such a popular oil! It’s super gentle and soothing and I’ve used it to soothe a lot of skin irritations, but it also has amazing calming qualities. It also enhances communication and self-awareness. It can aid with anxiety, focus and sleep issues and balance emotions by moving from feeling unheard to expressed.

Peppermint - I feel like every person who you hear got into essential oils, we think “slap some lavender or peppermint on that.” Peppermint is an energizing oil to complement the calm of lavender. It brings a feeling of optimism and strength to face challenges. It can balance emotions by helping you go from feeling hindered to invigorated!

Frankincense enhances the properties of other oils, and is also used for focus and meditation. It is known as the oil of truth and helps with spiritual connection.  It balances emotions by helping move from a feeling of separation to a feeling of unification.

Melaleuca (Tea Tree) is known as the oil of energetic boundaries. It helps us to build healthy and respectful connections and feel empowered, resilient and safe. It also aids in responding to shock when used under the nose or along the spine. It can balance emotions by moving us from unsure to collected.

Oregano helps us bring humility, flexibility and non attachment. It can help bring us from feeling obstinate, or stuck in our ways, to unattached.

Lemon helps us bring focus and mental clarity. It also brings a feeling of energy, alertness and joy. It can be used aromatically to reduce stress. It can bring us from a place of mindlessness to feeling energized.

On Guard (blend) - This is known as the protective blend. It aids in setting healthy boundaries and helps us to feel capable, independent, strengthened and reinforced.

Breathe (blend) - This blend is good when we are sad, grieving or feeling unloved or constricted. It helps us to gain a feeling of openness and feel loved, supported and embracing of life. It can help bring us solace and healing. It can also aid us in sleep issues.

Deep Blue (blend) - This blend can help us when we are resisting pain or avoiding emotional issues. It helps us to feel strengthened, accepting, soothed, serene and healing.

Digest Zen (blend) - This blend can help us when we feel overstimulated, overwhelmed, apathetic or unenthusiastic. It aids us when we are having difficulty assimilating new information or experience a loss of appetite. It helps us to assimilate and adjust to experiences and to feel nourished and enthusiastic.

Both the doTerra Family Essentials Kit and the Home Essentials Kit have these top 10 oils and blends, but the Home Essentials Kit has three times the quantity.

The great thing about any of the kits is that you then get wholesale prices on doTerra oils with no obligation to purchase anything else.

If you decide to take advantage of an enrollment kit now, I will also include an extra 1:1 Energy Audit Coaching Call to look at where you might have energy leaks and how you can make subtle changes to increase your energy.

This is ON TOP OF what you get whenever you buy a kit from me:

  • Wholesale membership (25% off additional oils and product for one year, $35 Value)
  • A private 1:1 session with me to go over your oil needs
  • Ongoing support and check in’s
  • Access to me via e-mail or Facebook

Here’s how to order:

  1. Go to https://www.mydoterra.com/auroraremember/
  2. Click “Join and Save” at the top”
  3. Click “Join doTerra”
  4. Choose your Language and Country and click CONTINUE
  5. Choose Wholesale Customer and click CONTINUE
  6. Type your personal information (my doTERRA ID should already be in the Sponsor ID field but if not it’s 3157373)
  7. Find your enrollment kit (Home Essentials Kit) and click ADD TO CART
  8. Choose your shipping method and click VIEW TOTALS
  9. Enter your billing address or click the box if your billing address is the same as your shipping address and click PROCESS ORDER NOW AND CONTINUE
  10. Enter your payment information
  11. Email me (aurora@auroraremember.com) to let me know you got your oils!

To help you on your self-care journey, I created this free retreat planner!  It includes information on: How to prepare for your retreat in the way that’s best for you; Simple, accessible, and straightforward practices to deepen your experience; A template planner;  A guide to using essential oils to enhance and deepen your healing experience; A recommended reading list; and more!

Feminism is Not the Problem

I have seen a recent trend of feminism bashing on social media that has me rather perplexed because it's coming from women I've considered strong and independent that had a high level of respect for over the years. The narrative goes a little something like this: the feminist movement has brought us to a point where women are taking on a more "masculine" role, thus causing an imbalance in personal relationships. 

Pinterest-19.png

I strongly disagree with this sentiment. Although I do see an imbalance in what our culture deems "feminine" and "masculine," I don't see feminism as the problem - in fact, I believe we need feminism to keep evolving to bring us closer to a state of balance. 

Before I get into my thoughts on this, I should clarify what I mean by feminism, and what I don't. To put it in it's simplest terms, Merriam Webster defines Feminism as: "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes." I also believe that as feminism has evolved, we must take into account intersectionality, which means "the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups." So as I learn more about feminism, it's from an intersectional feminism lens, including people all across the gender spectrum. 

With that in mind, to me feminism is NOT:

  • A push for women to gain more power by "acting like men."
  • Restricting women from being themselves or doing what they want because it's "not feminist."
  • Putting women first at all costs.
  • Focusing on the needs of white women without taking into account the differing needs of other marginalized individuals or groups.
  • Trans-exclusionary. 

Feminism, at it's core, is about equality across sex and gender.

Seems pretty basic, so what's the problem?

Feminism brought light to the imbalance, it did not cause it.  Just as I have heard people blaming the Obama Presidency for being "divisive" when it really just brought to light the division and inequality that already existed, feminism brings our attention to something that was already out of balance. People seem to think that the civil rights movement and feminism were a one and done kind of thing - "oh we already went through that, now it's not an issue." But both are an ongoing process, and our current political situation has made that clear. 

We have been imbalanced for centuries towards what we consider the "masculine." I might agree that rigid old school feminism that sees men as "the enemy" while at the same time tries to push women to emulate them definitely is an issue. Feminism has evolved quite a bit from that point though and I believe is gradually coming to a place of better balance. I still think though that what "turns us off" about men we see as more sensitive or emotional is still driven by our societies expectation that that's not OK for men to express emotions and for that reason we need still feminism. From my experience, my relationship works best when we can both flow in and out of both energies. It feels good to express both sides.

We confuse cultural conditioning with biological differences. I am not going to say that there are zero biological differences between sexes and genders, but I will say that I believe that the biological differences are vastly overstated. I've heard stories from people transitioning where trans women suddenly felt more connected to others, and trans men suddenly felt more aggressive when they started taking hormones. But our biological wiring is complicated and we do not fall on a strict binary. Culturally, we are given the narrative that men should be "alphas," when in fact there are many cultures where that is not the case. The more we learn about the non binary variance of gender, the more we see that we are not defined by our genitals, or even by our hormones alone. 

I was recently asked why I focus primarily on women in my work, though there are men who relate to it. I expressed that while I know that men deal with similar issues around intensity and excitability, it often manifests itself differently. This led to a great conversation on an upcoming episode of the Fringy Bit Podcast (that I can't wait to share) where we got talking about the different ways men and women process intense feelings in our western culture. We  recognized that men seem to compartmentalize their feelings more - which led to a whole conversation about how they to leak out when feelings are suppressed for too long. We also talked about the differences between American male friendships and those in Europe - both my husband and Jon the cohost being from Europe, we observed that close male friendship in the US seem to be more rare. So I guess my point is that men and women all have the same feelings, and deal with similar issues, but our cultural conditioning tells us how it's OK to process and how it's not. 

Our culture idealizes what we think of as "masculine." I believe our culture still idolizes what we view as "masculine" traits over "feminine" ones and sees the latter as weak. I do believe that as women we should not feel forced to take on a stereotypical "masculine" role that does not feel natural to us. On the other hand, the problem is not that women are taking on this role too much, so much as that we don't accept men who take on the complementary role. The answer is not for women to "submit," but for us to not force ourselves into roles that aren't comfortable for us - although there is certainly room to play with and experiment with those roles. I know I, for example, have always been attracted to men who are more what our culture deems as "feminine." The problem I have often found is that many of those men are so deeply injured because they could not express that side in a healthy way, so it manifests in ways that are not productive for them. I can't speak outside of my own cultural experience but I will say my husband is German born and my last boyfriend's parents were Thai immigrants and I feel like they both were more comfortable with their softer side. Then again, my husband is a breed of his own so I have no idea how much of his differences are cultural and how much is just him being him.  I'd venture to say in some ways that men need feminism even more in our culture than women in this day and age.  At least I, as a woman, could got to my local grocery store in a suit if I wanted without worry of assault, while my husband could not wear a skirt without that worry. It seems that in the beginning of feminism, we started reacting to toxic masculinity in our culture not by bringing balance but by idealizing the masculine to the point where we became even more off balance. I do see that changing though - I think slowly we are starting to accept the "feminine" more in our culture, but it's a slow process.

Some women find peace when they let go a little. I can definitely see how women who have felt forced into a "masculine" role would benefit from letting someone else take the lead. There is definitely an ease to that, and sometimes when we are super in control in one area of our lives, it is nice to let go in another. I just don't think it's as simple as the binary that says all women should be this way and all men should be that. It's not that simple - we are complicated beings. I've also heard a lot of intense women who felt like they had to become "hard" in order to protect themselves, so finding ways to connect with their softer side has been immensely helpful. The problem I find is when people start saying that we have to be "soft," "feminine," or "submissive" in order to keep balance in relationships. The only thing we have to do, is connect with what resonates for us (well we don't have to do that, but it does help us connect with others when we are deeply connected to our selves.)

I see "dating experts" encouraging strong women to "get in touch with their feminine side" and "letting go of control" so they can attract a mate. If these strategies work, it's because in the process they are connecting with more of themselves and not forcing things as much. In my experience, finding a solid relationship is not about taking on a specific gender or stereotypical role, but in embodying yourself fully and not pushing against reality. I fear though, that if  in trying to be more "feminine" we are actually suppressing our wholeness that any relationship we attract will not be balanced after all. 

Some idealize a mythical past that never existed. I feel like by blaming feminism for the existing "masculine/feminine" imbalance, it romanticizes some mythical past before feminism when relationships were great. If such a time existed it was way before our current culture as we know it. Marrying for love is a fairly recent thing, so if we are having more divorces it's because people used to stay in bad marriages because they had to and we are currently still navigating the work it takes to stay "in love" with a partner. I'm not saying it should feel forced, but it does take ongoing conscious action many are not willing to put in.

Additionally, our western history has never really left room for relationships that fall outside of the traditional binary. Only very recently have we even started to accept that this is OK, and we have along way to go on that! "Equality of the sexes" does not truly exist if is limited to the binary. True equality is being able to express ourselves fully without being limited by our sex or gender. 

In this week's Embracing Intensity Podcast episode with Thais Sky we explore intersectional feminism further, and I will be continuing to more deeply explore the way our culture tells us to "tone ourselves down" over future episodes. In order to truly embrace our own intensity, I find it important to look at the broader cultural contexts that tell us that we are "too much." 

Quick Tarot Guide

Quick Tarot Guide with printable pdf. - Free retreat planner inside

This week I am so excited to have my friend Sarah McCarthy-Sitthiket in town from Thailand and doing a Tarot Workshop with me at Quinn Mountain Retreat!

As a part of our collaborative effort, I will be leading the group in an activity to make your own Tarot and/or Oracle cards with collage and I put together this quick at-a-glance Tarot Guide to help get the themes of each card. 

I'll be sharing more about making your own deck down the road and I am adding this as an activity for my upcoming DIY retreat options at Quinn Mountain that I plan to launch in early 2018. Keep your eyes out for that, especially if you live on the West Coast and are looking for an affordable personal retreat!

I'm also adding in other activities such as DIY essential oil blends and bath products, vision boards etc., as well as working in my Reiki and doTerra Aroma Touch technique to provide opportunities for balancing your stress and energy in a world that is often overwhelming. 

You can find a PDF version of the Quick Tarot Guide here

Quick Tarot Guide

A basic Tarot deck is made up of 78 cards – 56 Minor Arcana and 22 Major Arcana cards.

Major Arcana

The Major Arcana represent the phases of a great hero’s journey starting with the Fool and ending with the World. Journey aspects of each card can be found in italics.

The Major Arcana can also be seen as archetypes, which in Jungian psychology is a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image etc., universally present in individual psyches. 

Major Arcana Keywords and Themes

Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana cards are split between 4 suits, which can be related to the elements of fire, water, air and earth. In a standard deck of playing cards, we see the minor arcana minus the Page.

The “pips” are the numbered cards ace through ten. These represent common life experiences.

The court cards include Page, Knight, Queen and King, and represent a bridge between the common experience of the pips and the epic life-changing journey of the Major Arcana. 

Minor Arcana - Key Words and Themes

To help you on your journey to explore your intuition, I created this free retreat planner!  It includes information on: How to prepare for your retreat in the way that’s best for you; Simple, accessible, and straightforward practices to deepen your experience; A template planner;  A guide to using essential oils to enhance and deepen your healing experience; A recommended reading list; and more!

Spiritual Bypassing is Not Benign

Although I grew up in the spiritual community of the Unitarian Universalist Church, I have often veered away from the word “spiritual” in the past. It hasn’t been until I’ve immersed myself more into the coaching and healing world that I’ve really started to put my finger on the fact that the associations I’ve had about spirituality that I reeled against is not really spirituality, but spiritual bypassing.

I used to think of spirituality as a kind of pedestal - people who have transcended earthly concerns and are somehow on a higher level of consciousness. But the thing is to truly be “conscious” you have to acknowledge the dark, not just the light.

Spiritual bypassing is when we gloss over the darkness and focus only on the light. This viewpoint has become more insidious as things like the law of attraction permeate our healing and spiritual communities.

Spiritual Bypassing is not Benign: The Dangers of "Love & Light"

I used to think of this glossing over of the dark as at best laughable and at worst harmful to the person who is not facing their shadow, but I have come to realize that this trend and the systems that perpetuate it are causing great harm to others.

To be clear, I do believe that our thoughts have a profound influence on our reality and that where we focus our energy we see more opportunities. However, when I see platitudes like “high vibe only” and “follow your bliss” being used as weapons against people who are confronting their shadow, I see the real harm it can do.

I am very new to this whole topic and I will stumble my way through inelegantly, but here are some of the factors that I see that make spiritual bypassing so dangerous:

Victim Blaming - I first noticed this in the energy healing community with comments like, “you can heal if you want to,” or “people with fibromyalgia often don’t really want to heal,” and while I acknowledge that  there are a ton of modalities out there that can help in the healing process, many of the people I’ve known who have had dramatic healing experiences had the time and resources to explore and find the right modalities that worked for them. More recently I’ve observed how this line of thinking also minimizes the pain of people who have been abused and traumatized by quoting things like Eleanor Roosevelt, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent” in response to someone’s expressed pain, which brings me to...

White Supremacy - I will admit that I am at the beginning stages of learning about this topic and have made it a high priority to learn more as I go. In my interview with Leela Sinha, she said “there are ways in which intensiveness - understanding intensiveness, helps us understand systemic racism. Because there are a lot of ways in which, over time, intensiveness has become culturally correlated with being nonwhite.” Where I see this play out in our spiritual communities especially is in tone-policing and asking people to “tone it down” when they express intense emotions. There is also a lot of cultural appropriation and erasure within modern day western spiritual communities. Where I’ve seen white supremacy play out most recently has been through victim blaming as well as lack of social context, capitalizing on the pain of others, self-centering, prioritizing “niceness” over “kindness” and deflection of responsibility. I know the UU church is facing this directly through their work on finding your roadmap to the UU conversation on white supremacy. Until we face our own contributions to this systemic issue, we will continue to perpetuate it. 

Capitalizing on the Pain of Others - Again, my first observation of this trend has been through behavior of healers that use other people’s pain and their promise of relief from that pain for their own personal gain. More recently, I’ve seen the pain of women of color used to gain attention and sympathy from white women in the spiritual community. As a byproduct of this, many well intentioned women, myself included, found themselves learning valuable lessons at the expense of other people’s pain. I am still processing myself how to best approach this and learning more every day.

Lack of Social Context - I have always been an optimist and it has worked out for me for the most part, but I acknowledge that that is in large part due to the fact that I grew up as a white middle class child with loving and supportive community and all of the privileges that came with that. When we judge people’s responses on our own personal bubble of experience, we are missing out on the social context which led to the response. For example, one thing I have taken for granted is my ability to have a calming influence on other people. I usually chose my words carefully when approaching a difference of opinion online and I'm used to being able to reason with people without having my words twisted around on me. What I have witnessed recently is that women of color who put in even more time, effort and emotional labor into crafting their responses in a way that should be heard, get their words twisted around into an attack even when it is obvious to me that it is not an attack, merely a calling attention to a problem that needs to be addressed. They get accused of "playing the victim" and then the white women in question turn it around and actually play victim and make it all about them. When you are experiencing acts of aggression and micro aggression on a daily basis “positive thinking” will not fix it.

Self-Centering - Self care is essential in doing any kind of spiritual, personal development or activist work. Too often though, if we get caught up with “connecting with self,” we get lost in “connecting with others”  - except where it directly benefits us. This was particularly observed by Sadie McCarthy-Sitthiket in my interview with her this week when she talked about how as American’s we are ego driven and individual focused as a culture. This self-centering is also seen a lot when someone points out a way we've injured them and then we make it all about us by over explaining or taking a victim stance. 

Prioritizing “Niceness” over “Kindness” - Kindness is about being helpful and assertive. Niceness is about being “polite.” When we place niceness over kindness, we are negating the very real challenging feelings other people may have. Niceness is a shallow condition that never looks below the surface. If we live in the land of niceness every day, we leave no room for deeper connection at best and do additional injury to the suffering of others at worst. Processing trauma, pain, abuse, oppression, suppression and our own internalized and externalized systems is not always pretty. Spiritual communities need to support that messiness rather than push to repress it.

Deflecting of Responsibility - This to me goes back to the victim blaming. When we quote things like, ““no one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” we deflect any responsibility we may have played in making someone else feel badly. We put it on the person who we offended and accuse them of being “too sensitive,” or “easily offended,” when in fact we should be focusing on what it was that we did or said that made them feel bad in the first place. Good intentions are nice but it is their consequences that tell us if they were kind. When we get too invested in defending our own point of view, we lose sight of the pain we may have caused or perpetuate it defending our case.

Inaction - To me the benefits of positive thinking and law of attraction can be that it brings your awareness to more opportunities in line with where you focus your energy. A vision board, for example, can keep our focus on where we want to go and widen our scope of possibility. These opportunities, however, are useless unless we take thoughtful action. For me, spirituality has always been tied up with social justice, and I feel that I have not taken action enough in this regard. I am committing myself to learning more and exploring more how visionary women have been making a difference in the world on my podcast.

As I wrap up the first year of my podcast, I see that it has been largely introspective in terms of exploring how intensity affects us personally. Moving into the year ahead, I’d like to shift focus on how we can use our intensity in a positive way to change the world, with a strong leaning towards intersectional feminism.

If you are local to the Portland, OR metro area and are invested in exploring intersectionality in our own spiritual communities, feel free to contact me. I don’t feel at all qualified to lead this discussion, but it’s something I would like to explore further.

Your "Power Zone"

Since we are beginning our Harness Your Power Challenge today, I thought I would share the first lesson on my blog. I created a fun little infographic to go along with it! 

Finding Your "Power Zone"

Self-regulation is a fancy word for controlling your own emotions, behaviors and physical state. If you experience the world more intensely than others, chances are you have had challenges with regulating your response to the world.

Your "Power Zone" Tools to get in "the zone" - Free Retreat Planner inside

Vacillating between mental, emotional or physical states that are too high or too low can leave you feeling like you are spinning your wheels. It can be difficult to think clearly in the moment to find strategies to bring you back to your grounded center.

The purpose of the Power Zone Toolkit is to help you develop tools that you can have at the ready when you find yourself thrown off course. The tools can either be printed for your own small binder or easily drawn in a bullet journal or other book. Dot grid paper is ideal for drawing your own diagrams (printable pages included in planner tools).

When you are revved up you might feel restless or even anxious or angry. You lack focus and your fight, flight or freeze mechanism may kick in. When you are in survival mode your rational brain shuts down, so having calming tools at the ready will help you to get back in the zone. These may include things that soothe or distract you from your current state of mind.

When you are in the Power Zone you are harnessing your own power. You feel connected and in flow. Tools to observe and connect with your thoughts and feelings help you to stay in the zone.

When you are feeling down, your energy is low. You might be sad or depressed or just drained. It is hard for you to muster the energy to do the things that you know will pick you back up again. That is why it’s helpful to have simple tools at the ready that can energize you. It is also important to know when and who to reach out to for help.

This toolkit is a part of my Ignite Your Power program, which you can read more about here.

To help you take time out to connect with your inner thoughts, I created this free Retreat Planner!  It includes information on: How to prepare for your retreat in the way that’s best for you; Simple, accessible, and straightforward practices to deepen your experience; A template planner;  A guide to using essential oils to enhance and deepen your healing experience; A recommended reading list; and more!

Snake Oil or Healing Tool?

As the pendulum swings from one extreme to another in the world of healing, we are beginning to move back from a place of a western symptom based medical model to a more holistic view of healing. With this shift comes an opportunity to explore more paths to healing than a one size fits all model. 

It also, however, leaves room for more predatory and/or misguided approaches that prey on our vulnerabilities and may or may not deliver what they promise. 

I knew I was on to something when I got such an engaged response to this post I shared the other day on Facebook: 

Snake Oil or Healing Tool - Free retreat planner inside

"I have lots of amazing healer friends and I haven't seen this among those I know personally, but you know my biggest peeve about self-proclaimed "healers"? When they present that their way of "healing" is the only way and use victim blaming language like 'you have the opportunity to heal on an energetic level if you choose.' Healing is way more complicated than that and saying such things will make those who have tried tons of different things to heal keep searching outside of themselves for the "right" modality at best and feel like it's their own fault they are suffering at worst. Does our energetic and mental condition affect our physical body? Most definitely. Is it a quick fix by just going to the right person with the right modality? Rarely."

What bugs me the most about this approach to healing is that not only does it leave out those people who can't afford whatever modality they might be sharing, it conveniently gives the practitioner an "out" when people don't heal because, "they aren't trying hard enough."

Not to say that healers should not charge a reasonable sum for their time - we all need to make a living and there's something to be said for the "energy exchange" where we are more invested in our own results when we invest in in the first place. 

But to imply that there is a quick fix if only you invest in "their modality," is misguided at best, misleading and shaming at worst. 

Healing is a complicated process.

As Starr Sheppard-Decker of Radical Revelations and Embracing Intensity episode 13 commented, "I dealt with a chronic condition for years and got very tired of healers being condescending to me about my "choice" to still be sick. Yeah, cuz that helps." As a coach who works with other coaches and healers, I've always admired Starr for her holistic view of spirituality and how she demonstrates that there is no one right way. She said, "I am realizing how much this is the heart of my work - stop trying to be someone else and learn how to be YOU."

There are many paths to healing.

Eric Windhorst, counsellor and coach added, "As a trained psychotherapist and believer in the spiritual/energetic side of life and healing, I know that healing (bodily, mental, psychological, spiritual, energetic) usually takes time and is rarely straightforward. Healing is more of a spiral or web that is perhaps, never complete."

This imagery of a spiral has come up more and more in my own view of healing as well in how we handle stress. Depending on where we are in our healing spiral, different approaches might work at different times and some not at all. 

In my ongoing journey of healing, I have found two things that seem to be universally true...

Find the "We" in "Wellness"

As my friend Kat Lilore pointed out, "Moreover, because we are so very complicated (physically, mentally, psychically, spiritually), it's usually a 'group' effort when it comes to righting imbalances - especially when you consider that one effort can tip things else wise."

We do not heal in a vacuum, and no one practitioner alone will "fix us." The answer lies both within ourselves and within the power of community. While no one else can give us "the answer," they can share their own experiences and possibly ignite something in others in the process. Plus, sharing our experience with supportive community is healing in and of itself.  

To progress on your healing journey you must look within.

If you have dealt with any kind of chronic pain or fatigue in your life or even just heightened sensitivity, you probably know the temptation to ignore your body's discomfort. When little things annoy you and annoying things are excruciating - this seems like a very valid response. What I have learned over the last few years though is that the key to healing is to reconnect with your body so you can listen to it's messages. 

Janell Chandler, of Nexus Chiropractic, shared, "That's why in my chiropractic practice I teach people about mental/emotional, physical, and toxic stressors that can be affecting their nervous system. If I find they have stuck patterns that don't change, they need to add in something/someone else to the mix (or delete something from their life...but that's usually more difficult at first)."

And this is why I was drawn to learn more about Janell after a very brief meeting at a MOB NW networking event. We share a similar mission of helping others to balance their stressors and energizing activities so they can find that sweet spot where they can use their excitability, intensity, creativity and other gifts in a positive way without burning themselves out. 

Next week I'm starting a free challenge called Harness Your Power to help do just that - exploring together what tools help to balance our energy so we don't feel out of control or suppressed. I can't promise it will be a "quick fix," but I can say it is a great start towards connecting with an empathetic community and exploring your own healing experience. There's also the bonus of fun prizes for participating, including the grand prize of a free membership into my upcoming Ignite Your Power group program. 

I would love to keep the conversation going about the many paths to healing - what approaches have helped you personally and what approaches have turned you off? 

To help you on your own healing path, I created this free Retreat Planner!  It includes information on: How to prepare for your retreat in the way that’s best for you; Simple, accessible, and straightforward practices to deepen your experience; A template planner;  A guide to using essential oils to enhance and deepen your healing experience; A recommended reading list; and more!

Spirituality for Skeptics

I've always said I tend to straddle the woo woo fence. I'm a bit of a skeptic, but I also have experienced first hand the powers of alternative healing methods. The skeptic in me has hesitated to share too much on the spiritual or alternative healing front, but as I finished my Reiki Master training with Samantha Brown, I realized that since these have been a major aspect of my own healing I would be doing a disservice not to share my own thoughts on this topic. I share a bit more of my own personal healing journey on this week's podcast on Embracing the Woo. 

Spirituality for Skeptics - Free Retreat Planner inside

Last weekend I went to the World Domination Summit and it struck me that while some of the speakers were self-proclaimed skeptics and some were highly spiritual in their approach - they all had more in common than different and that was in their desire to change the world for the better. 

Here are some reasons I personally lean towards spiritual and alternative healing methods:

We are a connected to something bigger than ourselves. One thing that I believe everyone who wants to change the world for the better would likely agree on is that we are connected to something bigger than ourselves. Whether that is an empathetic or humanist connection to other living beings or a connection to a higher power, if we didn't feel a connection outside of the self we would not be moved to help others. For me spirituality is in essence connection. 

We are moving toward a more holistic approach to healing. Once we relied on folk remedies and other holistic forms of healing. The advancement of medical science has saved and extended lives, but the western medical model has become very symptom focused. Recently there has been a trend toward a more holistic approach that looks at more than just the presenting symptom to see how everything connects. 

I have personally experienced the power of human energy. When I was young and in a group of people where we were asked to hold hands, I remember some people had this prickly feeling in their hands. In high school, I met a friend who had had a very tough past and come out of juvenile hall, and holding his hand felt very similar. When I do Reiki, this is how energy imbalance feels to me - a prickly feeling in my hands that almost feels like my hand fell asleep and is waking back up. I am also prone to headaches and other physical issues when I'm around a lot of challenging energy.

Spirituality is not the same as Spiritual Bypassing. I think one of the things that has kept me from using the word "spiritual" in the past has been this idea that somehow spirituality means always being positive and at peace.  Pushing away the negative to focus only on the positive is known as spiritual bypassing. The spiritual leaders that I admire most are in touch with their shadow side and feel very "real" and down to earth to me. 

When we focus our thoughts on something, we tend to see more opportunities for it. Some people swear by the law of attraction and some people scoff at it. The way I see it, science has proven that when we think of something, we are more likely to see it in our environment. It would make sense then that when we bring our awareness to something, we start to see more opportunities to bring it into our life. This does not mean that we make affirmations and wait around for something to happen. Nor does it mean that if something bad happens, we brought it on ourselves. 

The placebo effect proves that our minds have influence on our bodies. One of the biggest arguments I hear from those who are against most alternative healing methods is that anyone who has success with that method is experiencing the placebo effect. Let's think about that for a moment - the fact that there is a placebo effect shows the incredible power our minds have over our bodies. If just the thought that something will heal us make us feel better, imagine what we could do if we harnessed the power of those thoughts? That said, I've had plenty of traditional western treatments I thought would help that never did and had more success with alternative methods, so for me whatever helps me feel better I'll try if it's not potentially harmful or too costly.

Us cerebral folks could use strategies to get us out of our heads. A friend of mine once said, any time you are focusing an entire hour on your own self-healing, you are probably going to feel better no matter what the modality. Those of us who tend to get all up in our heads all the time need tools to get us into our bodies more. I realized that while I talk about connecting with your body and some things that have worked for me, a lot of the tools I've shared thus far are cerebral in nature. One of the things I'm enjoying about Reiki is that I can use visualizations to clear blocks that the other person might not be able to put into words. 

I am currently working on ways to include more reiki and energy practices in my work. Having the space at Quinn Mountain Retreat, this will definitely involve more in-person connection. I will be starting 1:1 sessions when we get the room set up, and am planning some group classes and circles in the fall. I have a lot of ideas brewing, and am currently in prioritiation mode. 

I would love to hear from you, what tools or explorations would be helpful for you in your own healing journey? 

To help you on your own healing journey, I created this free Retreat Planner!  It includes information on: How to prepare for your retreat in the way that’s best for you; Simple, accessible, and straightforward practices to deepen your experience; A template planner;  A guide to using essential oils to enhance and deepen your healing experience; A recommended reading list; and more!

You Have So Much Potential, But...

"You are so smart but..." "You have so much potential, if only..." "you just need to work harder." Are these words triggering for you? I will say they sure are for me. I totally lost my cool this week as I listened to my son get lectured on how he just needed to improve his "work ethic." 

Here's the thing I wish I understood at his age. Sometimes the things that come really easy to the average person come really hard for us. 

I remember as a kid being so proud and excited to get "citizen of the month" that one time when all my other friends got it every year. I remember almost being kicked out of the gifted program because I was not living up to my potential. 

You have so much potential, but... It's not about working harder, but knowing how you work! Free Find Your Superpower Course inside

Did that make me work harder? Heck no, it made me resent the people for whom hard work seemed to come easy. 

It wasn't until much much later in life that I finally caught on that it wasn't about "working harder" for me, but about understanding how I work. Coming up with tools and strategies to use my gifts and work with my weaknesses. 

But this did not happen for me until after I dropped out of the college where I had made my closest friends and immediately regretted it. I tried to get tested for learning disabilities, but the according to the state criteria I did not meet their qualifications (despite the fact that there was a 40 point gap between my auditory processing and working memory weakness and my other areas of strength). 

Instead of being given tools then, I was asked why I even took the tests - I got into this liberal arts college, I must be doing OK. Obviously not since I dropped out the next year. 

Something started to click in my last years of college and I started to learn tools. I got a job in the school system which provided structure and deadlines that kept me in check. I found a really awesome to-do list that helped me sort tasks in a way that wasn't overwhelming. I wish I could recommend it, but it's no longer being made - one of these days when I'm rich I'll hire an app developer to create one similar combined with my research on executive functioning skills. 

As I embark on this whole entrepreneur journey and move out of the safe structure of the school system, I am in the process of relearning and reexamining my own tools. As I try new things, some of which work and some of which don't, I have to remind myself that my challenges are not about how hard I work - if anything I work too hard while I find the most effective use of my time. 

This has been a good reminder to be kind to myself as I explore this process. It's an ongoing journey and I've come a very long way. I've also been able to help others find their own strengths and be kind to themselves.

On this week's Embracing Intensity Podcast, I dig a little deeper into the idea of "underachievement." 

I would love to hear from you, what strategies have helped you do the "hard stuff" that others seem to find easy?

To help you explore how you work best, I created a free Find Your Superpower Course to help you: Identify your individual areas of excitability with an excitability checklist; Customize the name of your own unique superpower; & Explore how you can harness your own power instead of suppressing it or letting it get out of control.

From Boredom to Burnout

Ironically I almost missed this month's Hoagies' Gifted Blog hop on Balancing Boredom & Burnout because of end of school year burnout. This spring was especially challenging with the perfect storm of end of year fatigue, financial stress, dog dying, new sick puppy...

And then, of course, when I'm not really capable of taking on one more thing, my brain goes into overdrive with ideas of things I can do with my businesses, both this one and our Quinn Mountain Retreat BnB. Needless to say, none of these ideas have come to fruition quite yet. 

From Boredom to Burnout - Free Retreat Planner inside

The last few months I've thought and written a lot about prioritization and self-care and I've been revisiting these the last week as school gets out (I'd say "got" out, but I still have a few reports that need to get wrapped up). 

When I think of the word "boredom" I think "what's that, I never get bored?" But that's because my brain has gotten so adept at keeping itself busy. Watching my son though, I can see how it starts. That active brain has a low tolerance for inactivity. For me, I resorted to watching a lot of TV, which I regret in later years. And now, I admit, I find myself on social media more than is productive. 

For my son, I have to get really creative to help him with ideas to keep himself entertained without an electronic device. He can do it when pushed, but I find we both have a difficult time getting started. 

The thing is though, if we are not careful, the things we do to prevent boredom can lead us to burn out - both mentally and physically. 

As summer is upon us, I'm exploring ways to keep the balance between boredom and not further burning ourselves out. Here are a few things I'm working on as we move through the summer:

  • Record ideas in a journal to inspire us when we are looking for something to do. Including ideas that are productive, creative, interactive etc.
  • Leave space in our days for stillness and quiet. 
  • Be sure to include physical activity along with our mental activity. 
  • Leave space in our days for play.
  • Keep in mind our cycles of energy so we can plan for times we know we'll be tired and not push ourselves too far. 
  • Alternate structured time with creative free time. 

What will you do this summer to balance between boredom and burnout? 

To help you take time out to rest and avoid burnout, I created this free Retreat Planner!  It includes information on: How to prepare for your retreat in the way that’s best for you; Simple, accessible, and straightforward practices to deepen your experience; A template planner;  A guide to using essential oils to enhance and deepen your healing experience; A recommended reading list; and more!

Realistic Paleo Meal Plan - AIP Friendly

This week I hit a wall! As I share in this week's Embracing Intensity podcast, I was in survival mode this week and was so exhausted I threw out all food discernment and ate all the things. I have been feeling out of touch with my food for quite some time and now that it's summer, I'd like to revisit my past journey of healthy eating and reconnect with my food. Did you know I used to be a food blogger? That's actually how I started blogging. As I'm looking through my old blog, Leaving the Food Matrix, I'm rememebering that I have a lot to learn from the me of 4 years ago. I thought I'd share on this blog my very first post! Some things have changed since this post, like I no longer get farmshare meat, so I don't eat red meat or whole chickens nearly as often as I did then, but there are definitely some recipes I'd like to try again.  Also, I found after a while that adding in more starches such as yams and sweet potatoes helped sustain me longer and keep cravings at bay. My plan this summer is to create a no brainer plan that I can implement during my next survival mode phase without having to think about it, because really when you are in that mode the last thing you want to do is think and plan for your health. I will share what I come up with when I'm done, but for now here's my first post from my paleo days: 

The Challenge of Metamorphosis-8.png

And so it begins...

If you told me a year ago I'd be making almost all of my own food from scratch and stop eating grains entirely, I might not have believed you.  After years with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and poor absorption of nutrients, I knew that I should eat better, but as a single working mom who has the time? Well, it turns out when you don't feel the need to nap all the time - you have a lot more time to cook! Plus with a little planning and the right equipment, it doesn't even have to take all that much time.

The problem I find when researching paleo recipes and meal plans is that they often seem way more complicated than they need to be.  Meal plans often expect you to make three meals from scratch in one day, involve multiple course meals and require special ingredients you need to go out of your way for.  Those things can be fun to experiment with when you can, but day to day most people can't sustain that amount of time devoted to eating.

I know a lot of people interested in reducing processed foods and learning more about grain free, paleo or primal eating, but they don't think they have the time or energy needed to start.  I've spent a lot of time learning about it myself, but I think in the end we can make things more complicated than they need to be.  My goal is to give tips to simplify the process of eating well.  For me, that involves cutting out grains and eating whole minimally processed foods. 

The following meal plan is what a typical week might look like for me.  I often eat leftovers for breakfast and lunch and rarely cook more than one involved meal in a day.  They are also mostly one dish meals, since I find that the simplest approach to mid week meals.  I also like to make big batches and freeze portions for future meals on the go.  The recipes aren't always exact because I often play things by ear with what I have on hand and tweak them as I go.  Most of them are fairly flexible with the specific kinds of meat, veggies and seasonings I use.  They are also mostly kid friendly.  I kept them Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) friendly, since it's easier to add in eggs, nuts, seeds and nightshades in than it is to take them out.

Realistic Paleo Meal Plan - Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) Friendly

Prepare snacks for the week including lots of veggies and fruit, trail mix with dried fruit and coconut (add nuts or seeds if not AIP).  If you have a dehydrator, beef jerky (you can find a recipe here) comes in mighty handy for emergency protein.  Also, making your own kale chips (recipe here) can give you a nice crunchy snack without the expense of the store bought kind.

A note on breakfast - eggs are a nice option if you can eat them, but be cautious going overboard.  I believe I did early on so I  had to take a break from them and am still not sure about them for me.  Another great addition to my breakfasts are mini waffles like this one here.  I'm working on an autoimmune friendly one, but I'm still working on the right density combination.  I'll post the recipe when I've gotten it consistently fluffy.  Also, I drink homemade broth every weekday morning since it's supposed to be good for healing and I make a chicken in the crockpot most weeks.

Sunday

Breakfast - Yam or sweet potato hash browns and ground sausage (or other seasoned meat).  Brown 1 lb of meat then take out of the pan.  Melt coconut oil to coat pan and add 3 large shredded yams or sweet potatoes (a food processor saves a lot of time here).  Cook on medium until soft (about 20 min) and turn up a bit to brown.  Add the meat and season with seasoning salt (such as Herbamare) to taste. You can probably get the hash browns crispier by blotting some of the moisture out with towels before cooking, but I don't mind them a little soft.

Lunch - Tuna Salad on Spinach.  Combine tuna with diced pickles and add some avocado and seasoning to taste. I've also used a touch of coconut oil, or mustard if not AIP.

Dinner - Stir Fry.  Slice meat of choice thin and stir fry with veggies.  Broccoli and mushrooms are some of my favorite.  You can also add greens or cabbage.  Season with coconut aminos, garlic, and a touch of powdered ginger.  My son likes when I squeeze mandarin orange juice in and add some mandarin slices toward the end. (For an extra speedy meal, try a pre-cut veggie mix.)

Monday

Breakfast - Hash Browns

Lunch - Stir Fry

Dinner - Crockpot Chicken.  Throw a chicken in the crockpot the night before with chunks of winter squash or root vegetables.  Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder and onion powder or other seasonings of your choice.  Do not add extra water since the juice of the chicken will keep it moist.  Turn it on low in the morning. If frozen to start, check for doneness with a knife.  If it's still pink, turn on high for the last hour or so.  When ready to serve, pull the chicken out into a bowl so it doesn't fall apart in the pot.  Cut off what you need and let it cool to pull off the rest of the shredded chicken.  You can throw the carcass in with water to make broth and cook up to 24 hours with 1 T vinegar and 1 t salt.  If you don't have a crockpot, try roasting, but I recommend a crockpot to save a lot of time! (For an extra speedy meal, try baby carrots and/or a bag of pre-cut butternut squash.)

Tuesday

Breakfast - Hash Browns

Lunch - Crockpot Chicken

Dinner - Shepherd's Pie.  Brown ground meat of choice.  Add veggies of choice. I like green beans, peas, mushrooms, carrots and other shredded root veggies.  Season with garlic powder, onion powder and season salt, such as Trocomare, to taste.  Steam a head of cauliflower or three peeled and cut up sweet potatoes per lb of meat.  Mash with 1 T coconut oil and add garlic powder and season salt.  Top the meat veggie mix with mashed cauliflower or sweet potato and bake for 20-25 min at 350.  For a browner top you can brush with egg and/or broil for 5 min at the end, but make sure your dish is broiler proof.  (For an extra speedy meal, try a frozen veggie mix with peas).

Wednesday

Breakfast - Shepherd's Pie

Lunch - Chicken Salad - Mix shredded chicken with avocado and season to taste.  Eat over a bed of spinach or other green.  Garnish with other veggies such as carrots or bell peppers. 

Dinner - Crockpot Roast - Same process as chicken - try different seasonings and veggies.  I'm still looking for my favorite roast recipe.

Thursday

Breakfast - Shepherd's Pie

Lunch - Crockpot Roast

Dinner - Taco Salad.  Brown ground meat.  Season with garlic powder, onion powder and salt.  Add to spinach or salad greens with olives, avocado and lime.  You can season with a little red pepper and add salsa if eating night shades.  This is a great option for group gatherings, since others can opt to add cheese, sour cream, tortillas etc. if they choose.  It's a game night favorite for me!

Friday

Breakfast - Crockpot Roast

Lunch - Taco Salad

Dinner - Ham & Pineapple Stir Fry. Heat about a half cup of chopped pineapple with juice then add 1-1.5 lb chopped ham.  Season with 1-2 T coconut aminos and 1 T maple syrup  When I made it, the boy thought it was too salty with 2 T coconut aminos, so I will only add 1 T next time. Add veggie of choice.

Saturday

Breakfast - Bacon and Sauteed Kale or Spinach (you can include egg if not AIP).  Season to taste.

Lunch - Sushi Salad - Chop cucumbers, bell peppers and mangoes and place on a bed of kelp noodles.  Add cooked shrimp and smoked salmon.  Season with coconut aminos and sushi vinegar or flavored vinegar (I use Navidi's Honey Ginger White Balsamic).  Top with ginger and sprinkle pieces of nori when ready to eat. 

Dinner - Burgers, Broccoli Salad and Sweet Potato fries (or you can try parsnip fries).  I make the Big-O Burgers with bacon and mushrooms inside found in the Nom Nom Paleo app (burgers pictured here), but you can use any recipe with quality grass fed beef or ground turkey.  Combine broccoli with lemon juice or vinaigrette and raisins.  Cut sweet potatoes (or parsnips) in fry sized pieces, coat with olive oil and bake at 415 for 20 min, flipping half way.  Season with mustard or sugar free ketchup if not AIP. 

Realistic Paleo Meal Plan - Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) Friendly

My Furry Companion

This week I unexpectedly lost my long time furry companion Dusty Bottoms. I decided today's blog should be dedicated to honoring his life. 

Ten years ago we were walking my nephew around the park while my sister and her husband celebrated their aniversary. We approached a corner and saw the cutest little dog.

We'd been trying for about a year to have a kid and I also wanted a dog, but my then husband wasn't too sure. When we found out they were looking for a new home for him, to my surprise my partner agreed. His previous owner said that he had a knack for getting uder foot, and sure enough he would follow me around everywhere, but didn't mind too much if I accidentally bumped into him. 

Pinterest.png

Shortly after that, I got pregnant and also was assigned to a job 45 minutes away. My son's father went off to boot camp for the army band for an extended time leaving me home tired and alone with only Dusty for company many a night. He was patient all day and never left a mess, but would occasionally send me a message when I got home that he did not like being alone that long. 

Every night before bed he would play with me through the blankets and he was always careful never to attack my bare skin. When my son was born, he intuitively sensed that this little new member of the family needed quiet at night so he toned it down at night, but when the boy got old enough to play they had lovely games of tug-o-war and fetch. 

He was there for me through my divorce and late nights with a colicky infant. He was a perfect example of unconditional love.

He had a history of seizures and bad teeth, but what I didn't realize is that the seizures had injured his back and his teeth issues had damaged his heart. The vet I had gone to randomly shut down and it was hard for me to find a new vet - especially with everything else on my plate as a single parent. 

The last couple of years he's been in a lot of pain and he lost almost all of his teeth.  My husband has been great with taking him to the vet and caring for his needs. I know I gave him a good life, but there is a part of me that feels guilty that I didn't bring him in more regularly to the vet.

He was always there for me, unconditionally, and my attention was so divided. 

Last week we saw a cyst on his neck that had gotten quite large without us noticing because it was covered by his ear most of the time. My husband brought him in, and we were releaved that the vet figured it was a bug bite that got infected from all of his scratching. They drained it and gave him antibiotics and a cone.  This weekend we noticed it was getting worse not better.

When I got home from my Reiki master class on Saturday, I decided to try some Reiki on him to see if it would help him heal, but instead I believe it helped him to let go. 

Sunday morning he woke with a seizure that caused lots of pain with the cone against his cyst. I removed the cone and we really saw how much worse it had gotten so my husband brought him in right away. It turned out there probably was a tumor under there and his tiny little body and heart were not able to fight the infection. We decided it would be kindest to him to not make him suffer any longer. 

My husband invited some family and friends over to celebrate his life and we buried him in a nice sunny spot in the new bamboo grove. 

He was there for me through the toughest phase of my life, and now I honor his memory as I move through the next phase. 

Creating Community

On this week's Embracing Intensity Podcast, I talk about the Power of Community. I believe that growing up with supportive and accepting community is what gave me the foundation of support I needed to find or build my own community wherever I go. 

Unfortunately, a lot of intense, gifted and creative people don't always have that foundation of people who "get" them, so it can be hard to even know where to begin the process of connecting with and/or creating community - at least community where you feel comfortable and at-ease. 

Creating Community: 5 ways to build deeper connections - Free Find Your Superpower Course inside

I share a bit of my own journey and challenges making friends as an adult on the podcast, but I'd like to share here a few steps that I've found have consistently yielded bbetter connections for me. 

Find an existing community. I assure you, there are people out there, the trick is figuring out where to find them. I talk a little bit about where I've found connection in the past in this post here, and since then I've also found networking groups for women to be an additional place to find connection since entrepreneurs tend to attract an intense crowd. I also frequently refer to this post from Paula Prober on where to "find your pips."

Invite people to connect 1:1. If you really want to connect, you can't just stop at attending events, you have to reach out beyond the event. Believe me, I know this can feel like asking someone out on a date, but once you break that barrier, the connections you make can get much more deep and rich. Nowadays, social media can help - as you interact with them more online it can make reaching out in person more comfortable. In fact, I connected with an amazing family through Facebook based on a page like and a gut feeling and all three of them got along fabulously with all three of us (the trifecta of family friendships!). I never would have known though if I hadn't reached out and asked. Remember that if you are feeling a need for deeper connections, there are people out there who are feeling that as well and are just as scared to reach out. 

Don't take things personally. This is single handedly the most important part of making new connections without losing sanity. Not everyone is at the same place at the same time. Perhaps this person you feel you could deeply connect with has one too many things on their plate to add one more. Trust your gut in who to reach out to, but remember that if they say no, or don't have the time, it is not about you. I repeat this quote all of the time, but it especially rings true here - "You never know what someone else's motivation is, so you might as well assume the one that is best for you." (Paraphrased from The Charisma Myth) This pretty much sums up the way I try to live my life, and when I am successful I can truly see the power of assuming the best in others!

Manage your expectations. This goes back to seeing the best in others. As intense people, we hold ourselves to high expectations and can expect the same from others. This can be a recipe for dissapointment when no one person can meet our expectations. You may have different friends who meet different needs. One person can't always be everything to you, especially if you have complicated needs. Take time for gratitude and appreciate what the people in your life already have to offer. Express that gratitude often and your connection will grow. 

Invite larger groups if you'd like. If you are an introvert and/or prefer only 1:1 interactions, this step might not be relevant. If you are like me, however, and thrive in a community that you had a hand in creating, this can go a long way. Once I had a couple of close friends in the area, I could start inviting people to events where I knew at least one other person would join. Having that solid foundation, I could reach out to more people and feel the sting less when they didn't respond. If they came on occasion, or continued to reply (even if they were too busy to join), I would keep inviting them. If they didn't respond at all, I would eventually stop reaching out. When I first started with my closest group of friends, I would send individual texts. Now that group is so tight-knit a group message usually will do, though there are those that I know prefer an individual reach-out. 

To help you explore your own unique gifts so you can connect with others who "get" you, I created a free Find Your Superpower Course to help you: Identify your individual areas of excitability with an excitability checklist; Customize the name of your own unique superpower; & Explore how you can harness your own power instead of suppressing it or letting it get out of control.