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.

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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 and comes with a diffuser and is 20% off for the month of November! This means that right now you can get 3x the oils for only $70 more than the basic family kit. Definitely worth it if getting a kit ever crossed your mind! I would have jumped on that chance if it had been around when I signed up.

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 this November offer, 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
  • 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 2591980)
  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!

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. 

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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 Tarot at-a-glance printable pdf.

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

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.

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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! 

It's not too late to join us for self-care tools and prizes - you can sign up here

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.

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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.

Each day of the Harness Your Power Challenge, we will go over a different type of tool to add to your toolkit.

Join us today to build your toolkit and win daily prizes! The grand prize for participating and sharing is a free 3 month membership in my 3 month Ignite Your Power Group program! Sign up here!

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: 

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"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? 

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. 

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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 focusin 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? 

 

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. 

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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?

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. 

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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? 

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: 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

On the note of creating community, I'm excited to announce that we are creating our first, hopefully annual, Embracing Intensity Unconference - a community of gifted women coming together to create their own educational learning experience in the PNW (near Portland Oregon). You can learn more and sign up on the event page here!

 

No One Way

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On this week's episode of Embracing Intensity, I got a little personal about my relationship history and how I used to mistake drama for passion. I thought that drama was just a biproduct of two intense people in a relationship, but I have since found otherwise. Not to say that there's no drama in my current relationship, but there is definitely an ease to it that I had not experienced in the past. 

I was going to write a blog post about the key factors that I have found useful in minimizing drama, namely open communication (Nonviolent Communication is a great tool for this), identifying your "hot buttons" or "triggers," managing your expectations and not making assumptions. I go into these on the podcast, and planned to go into it in more detail on the blog when inspiration hit me on my afternoon walk. 

The heart of most drama in relationships is the idea that there is "one right way." 

When we have a need that isn't met, we get an idea in our head about what strategy will best meet that need. Sometimes we confuse the strategy with the need and think that it is the only way to get that need met. 

While this may work when we are flying solo, in relationship if you get stuck on one particular strategy or point of view, your communication can be perceived as a demand rather than a request. 

Strategies are very personal, while needs are universal, so if you can focus on the need, then you can better communicate about how both partners can get their needs met. The Center for Nonviolent Communication has a great Needs Inventory list here. Most of our needs fall under one of these 7 categories: connection, physical well-being, honesty, play, peace, autonomy and meaning. 

So the next time you feel stuck on something that you want but aren't sure you can get - take a look at what need it would meet and explore other possible options to meet that need. You might surprise yourself and find something even better than what you thought was the "right way."

Alone With My Thoughts

This week’s Embracing Intensity Podcast guest, Brittani Nelson, shares a mutual history of being a single mom and starting a business and a relationship around the same time. Unlike me though, she didn’t skip a beat in her business like I did when I took a break from my business as I got to know my now husband.

When I asked how she managed it all, she talked about the importance of self-care and balancing time with family. Another major tool for her has been harnessing the power of reflection and learning from each adventure.

I had a wonderful opportunity for reflection this week. In my group coaching call this weekend, we talked about our tendency to keep busy partly to avoid being alone with our thoughts. I particularly related to this habit when I was a single mom and went out with friends almost every night I didn’t have the boy. I felt very much like this guy:

Nowadays since I got married and moved to the country, I find myself much more of a home body and make a lot more time for self-reflection.

This week, however, I found myself caught in an unproductive thought loop.

I got a message on Twitter from someone who remembered me from college. He was from another dorm and I didn’t remember him at first. His dorm was the more quirky, hippy type dorm in my mind, and I always thought that I might have fit better there than I did in the freshman dorm I was in.

This thought sent me down a rabbit hole of “what if” thoughts – What if I lived in that dorm instead? I probably would not have ended up in the dysfunctional living situation my sophomore year that contributed to my body shutting down that year, which ultimately caused me to drop out of that college.

I realized that dropping out of that college was my single biggest regret in life. I tried to get back in right away but they wouldn’t let me back because my grades had dropped. I felt like I had deprived myself of half of my college experience because I finished off at a commuter school.

That said, I knew logically that if I hadn’t dropped out of that school, I would not have the life I have today. I would not have run into my son’s father at the commuter school. We would not have moved up to the Portland area, and my family would not have followed me up here. I would not have met my husband or my awesome friends here, and I would not be living out in the beautiful wilderness of the PNW.

I could know all of these things at an intellectual level, but I couldn’t help rolling around in my mind the thoughts of “what if.” For me, this looked like knots in my stomach and mind wandering when I should be working.

I stopped for a moment and thought, “I know this is not in anyway logical – what if I just let myself feel grief for a moment about the decisions that I made?” I took some time to just feel sad. Really accept that there doesn’t need to be a logical reason for it to be valid.

Sometimes you just need to stop thinking and let yourself feel.

Once I gave myself permission to feel it, it passed. At lunch I found that this Twitter friend had posted a picture of us from College (at a drag party where I had dressed half the men in my dorm with my thrift store finds), and I remembered exactly who he was. It was fun to reconnect, and I no longer felt that melancholy of “what if”  because I let myself grieve and move on.

Not to say that I will never feel that way again, but now if I feel stuck on a repetitive thought loop I will look at the heart of where it’s coming from and just let myself feel instead of trying to talk myself out of it. 

Excuse Me While I Overthink This Post

For the last few years, I've participated in the Hoagies' Gifted Education Page Blog Hops, but rarely is there a theme so relevant as this month's topic of overthinking. 

The problem is, there's so much to say on the topic I don't know where to begin. This got me thinking about how we think, especially as intense, gifted and/or excitable women. 

Recently in my League of Excitable Women Facebook group we got into a discussion about linear vs. nonlinear thinking. 

For nonlinear thinkers like myself, a description that appealed to me about the way our thinking works is like a spiral or DNA helix. It doesn't stay on one thing, but keeps coming back to it, perhaps at a deeper level the next time. 

Another member described their thinking as "logical non-linear" like reading a map: 

"I feel like my thinking is more like viewing a map and seeing the possibilities - there's the fast efficient way of getting there, there's the scenic route (maybe longer but more fun), the escape route (wtf did I do and how do I get out of it?), and of course the 5 other routes that will get you there but have no real value to add. When I overthink it's like spontaneously adding stops to a road trip, the whole map needs to be reviewed and routes need to change which causes me to rethink every other point on the map."

A more linear thinker described it this way,  "I have a very linear brain. I examine a problem carefully, from all angles, looking at all the possibilities. I plan something from beginning to end and like order and stability (sometimes too much). I can get hung up on the details, figuring out how they all fit together into the whole, and lose track of the whole."

The common thread I see among most of the women I've worked with is the tendency to look at a problem from every possible angle. A more linear thinker might internally work out the most efficient route, but possibly get stuck on the details. A non-linear thinker might need external strucrures and supports in place to contain the inner chaos and move forward because there might not be one obvious beginning, middle and/or end. 

Now I'd love to hear from you - would you describe yourself a a linear or non-linear thinker? What helps you get unstuck when you are caught in an overthinking loop?

This week I was inspired to create a short-term coaching offer called Focus Your Power to help you get clear on where to focus your energy, come up with a concrete plan of action to meet your goal and refine your plan for success. I'm offering the first 8 to sign up a discounted rate of $75. You can find out more here

This post was written as a part of this month's Hoagies' Gifted Education Blog Hop on Overthinking. For more musings on my own overthinking and thoughts on what to do about it, you can listen to this week's podcast - Overthink Much?

Know Thyself

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Do you ever find yourself surprised to find out someone is younger than you, not because they look older but because there is some sense of maturity about them that you admire and respect? This week's interviewee Stella Orange, is one of those people for me.

Now she might not use the word maturity to describe herself because she embraces her silly and playful child side in her work, but I believe that her sense of inner knowing reflects a type of maturity that I find incredibly refreshing. 

She describes her experience of moving around the world as a child and how it led her to really trust in her own self. She said, "I really had a lot of trust in myself and in the weird little world that I had built in my own imagination." 

Many of us intense/excitable women start to distrust our own selves because it doesn't quite fit what we believe is expected of us by the culture around us, so we start to tone ourselves down and tune ourselves out. 

Somewhere in the process, many of us got lost along the way and started to loose track of who we really are or were. I definitely found myself in this place at the end of my first marriage.

Some things that have helped me to reconnect with myself include:

Spending time on my own - especially outside when possible. Adaptability is part of my nature, so it's crucial that I spend some time on my own to connect with myself. 

Finding one or two people who "get me" - I am fortunate enough to have many of these wonderful people in my life, but even one or two can make a huge difference in freeing you up to know and be who you are.

Personal development exploration -  For me this has ranged from reading, online classes, in person workshops and coaching. Options are limitless in this arena, I generally take things as they come to me and select where to place my energy depending on my priorities in the moment. 

I would love to hear from you - what tools have helped you get to know yourself better? Please share in the comments. 

Beyond Explanation

When I decided to break out and do some solo shows on my Embracing Intensity Podcast, I asked my League of Excitable Women Facebook group what topics they would like me to address. One of the common themes was on explaining our intensity and/or excitability to other people. 

This has been my on-going dillema with sharing what exactly it is that I do, and part of the reason I started the podcast in the first place. I've come to realize that my best strategy so far has been to surround myself with people who already "get it." It seems that if you relate to intensity/excitability, it doesn't take much for others to click and say "that's me!"

When I describe the women I work with, I use words like gifted, passionate, spirited, powerful, creative, intense. Each of these words may be true, but some relate to different words to different degrees. 

When I start to explain excitability to someone who doesn't understand it, I can see their eyes glaze over and know they are "not my tribe."

Even within my tribe though, I once had a friend describe me as "an enigma wrapped in a riddle." 

But what if you have to interact on a regular basis with people who don't "get" you?

I guess I would start by saying that everyone takes in and reacts to the world differently.

I recently read a post about how some people have a genetic marker that makes cilantro taste like soap. For these people, eating cilantro is a very unpleasant experience. So how might this apply to excitablility? Let's start by looking at the definition of excitable according to Merriam-Webster:

Definition of excitable

1:  capable of being readily roused into action or a state of excitement or irritability

2:  capable of being activated by and reacting to stimuli excitable cells

This may look a little differnt depending on the type of excitability you relate to...

Intellectual - You might say that your brain is constantly going. Everything that comes up connects with another thought and you are constantly either jumping from one thought to another or delving super deep into something that has captured your attention. There's really very little in between. If you are only sort-of interested in something, it will not hold your attention for very long, but if you are deeply captured by something you can get lost in it for hours, or days. 

Sensory - Our sensory sensitivities may vary, but you might say that because your senses pick things up quickly, what is annoying for someone else might be excruciating for you. I once heard it described like the canary in the cole mine - sensory sensitive people notice things before others and can call attention to it. Those same things might bother everyone at some point, but the sensory excitable person will notice it sooner and be more affected by it. 

Emotional - I remember feeling when I was younger like my emotions were a roller coaster. The range of feelings experienced was extreme, so while I was capable of high highs, I was also capable of low lows. In my case, it is not to the degree of a diagnosable condition (except for possibly ADHD), but it does mean that I have to take extra time to ground myself emotionally - especially if I'm dealing with other people's intense emotions, which I pick up as well. 

Psychomotor - For me, this can best be described as a sense of restlessness. I am often fatigued, but it's a kind of "wired but tired" feeling. My body is being constantly overstimulated, which often leaves me feeling drained. 

Imaginational - This would be my lowest area of excitability, but for those I know who are high on this area, they have a very active imagination that is constantly going. In this blog post on being quietly spirited, Carissa Reid, who is highly imaginationally excitable, described herself as feeling like "a universe in a box, waiting for the flap to open."

On this week's Embracing Intensity Podcast, I explore further how myself and others describe our intensity/excitability. I would love to hear from you on how you describe your own!

How I Streamlined My Social Media Posting - For Free!

I'm sharing an extra blog post tutorial today because this doesn't fit in my regular blog format, but I'm too excited not to share!

I don't know about you, but I'm one of those people who gets exited about creating and problem solving, but fizzles out when it comes to maintenance. That's why keeping up a consistent social media calendar can be exhausting. I had a good thing going for a while on Twitter sharing 4 posts a day through the Buffer app, but it was getting cumbersome to have to go between feeds and drag the different posts around so they aren't in a big clump of the same type of post. Needless to say, the bored by maintenance part of me was getting tired of this routine. 

The thing I hate about Twitter is that it's like trying to be heard in a loud busy bar, the thing I love about it though is that it gives the chance to share lots of great content from other podcasters and bloggers. 

I got curious about the potential of the social media sharing app Meet Edgar for it's ability to recycle your evergreen content on an ongoing basis. Having several year's worth of blog posts and months worth of podcasts, having to repost them over and over again is a pain. Unfortunately, Meet Edgar was out of my price range, so I continued to look at other options.  I discovered two recurring evergreen post apps that might fit the bill - Recurpost and SmarterQueue. For my purposes, I chose Recurpost because they have a free version that allows for a library of up to 100 recurring posts and up to 3 social profiles. This way, I can upgrade to the $25 a month plan when I need a bigger library and/or my paid version of Buffer runs out. 

In order to meet my needs for both recurring posts and updated shared content of other podcasters and bloggers, I'm using a combination of three apps - Recurpost, Buffer and Feedly. It takes a little bit to set up, but once it's up I can do my social media posts in a few minutes a week! 

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Twitter - I like to alternate my own content with blogs and podcasts of people I follow and people who I've interviewed on my Embracing Intensity Podcast. Doing these in chunks in Buffer was working, but then I had to drag stuff around so you didn't get a whole bunch of the same type of post at once. Also, Buffer limits each RSS feed of other people's content to 15 per  social profile so I was jumping back and forth between feeds. For my recurring posts, I have combination of blog posts, podcasts, quote images from podcasts (originally created in Instagram and formatted for twitter), and silly gif video images from my most popular blog post 25 Things Only a Highly Excitable Person Would Understand

Facebook - For simplicity sake, I was only posting to my Facebook page once a day, but now that sharing other people's posts is so easy with Feedly, I'm trying two posts a day - with extra posts from people I've interviewed on the podcast. I have regular daily themes in my League of Excitable Women Facebook Group, so I put those in Recurpost so all I have to remember is to switch up the Thursday question. 

Instagram - This one is a little more complicated since I need to create new content consistently. Over the last few months I've experimented with an order that allowed me to share podcasts and quotes and took advantage of all the lovely garden photos that my husband and I share on our personal Instagram profiles. Since the grid I came up with that I like moves in a pattern of 4, I post 8 pictures on a good week (and let myself post only 4 when things get a little crazy). I'm starting to sort through my quote images so I can start reworking them into the grid over time. I don't mind a little extra time dedicated to images since the creation part is the part I enjoy. Instagram is weird about letting other apps post to it, so it doesn't automatically post from Buffer, but will give you a reminder at the time of posting and upload the picture and copy the text for you so it's all ready to post and run. 

The Set Up

Buffer - The free Buffer Plan allows you to schedule up to 10 posts per profile for one profile per platform. For $10 a month (or less if you pay annually), you can up that to 100 posts per profile and up to 10 profiles. If I were using the free version, I would have to pop-in mid week to fill in the twitter feed, but it only takes a couple of minutes to do in Feedly. Under the "Schedule" tab, I clicked on the "Try our Optimal Timing Tool," to come up with best times of day to post. I picked two times for Buffer and two times for Recurpost that alternate. Since the free version of Recurpost does not allow for video posts, I also manually scheduled 1-2 video posts for my 25 things gifs in Buffer. Once I upgrade, I can put those in a library for evergreen content.  

Feedly - I started using Feedly a few months ago when I was experimenting with creating an app and I wanted a feed of posts from people I've interviewed. I only recently realized that it is super easy to post to either Buffer or Hootsuite directly from Feedly! I set up two feeds - one of people I've interviewed and one of other people I follow with helpful content. To view the most at once and quickly share, select the "Title-Only View." Then you can hover over the title and it will give you options of where to share it. When you select the Buffer icon, it will give you the options of which profiles to share it on. If you are sharing on Twitter, you can tag the person who's post you are sharing (Facebook doesn't work for tagging in Buffer yet, but I can edit the post after if I want to go back and tag). 

Recurpost* - Recurpost allows you to create different libraries with different types of content. The free version allows for two RSS feeds, so I follow my blog feed and my podcast feed. All other feeds I follow in Feedly. Using the "Optimal Times" I got from Buffer, I set up a post schedule of evergreen content that alternates with the Buffer post times. For my consistent Facebook Group daily themes, I created a "library" of one post for each day so that the same post goes out each week. I vary the "Thoughtful Thursday" question, so I'll note in my weekly to-do to update the post. You can add to each "library" through your RSS feeds, individually or by copying and pasting in bulk. 

* Note that it takes up to 24 hours for your Recurpost schedule to take effect, so don't be alarmed that it doesn't start posting the moment you set it up. 

My Weekly To-Do

  • Open Feedly and add 14 posts to Twitter and 7 to Facebook Page feed in Buffer (for the free plan, Twitter allows up to 10 posts, so you'd have to go back quickly mid-week, or you could just space out the 10 posts through the week). 
  • Update Facebook Thursday question.
  • Add this week's blog and podcast to Linkedin and Pinterest. 
  • Create 4-8 Instagram images and put in Buffer queue. 
  • Manually add 2 video posts in Twitter and 1 in Facebook for 25 things posts (this can also be done monthly if there's room in queue)
  • Add new posts to Recurpost library.

Whew! It seems like a lot when I look at it here in one place, but trust me, once it's set up it will save a TON of time on the maintenance end. If anything here is difficult to follow, feel free to message me and I can try to clarify. Getting my scattered brain on to paper can be a challenge, so hopefully it is laid out clearly. 

Two Words - Be Yourself!

This week I get to share with you an interview with Jennie Friedman of the See In ADHD Podcast

When asked what was the best advice she was ever given, Jennie said, "Be yourself. My mom and dad used to say that all the time and I still hear the voices saying that. It didn't seem like a good answer when I was younger and I think I spent many years fighting being myself. I wanted to actually be anybody but me for a very long time, and you know now - I mean, you don't have a choice right? You have to be yourself. But to be yourself and be really good with that and really love being yourself - you know, embracing that... I mean, be yourself is two words but the meaning is just a lifetime of that journey of being yourself and hating it and then having no choice but to be yourself and learning to love it. So it's the best advice - just two words, so powerful!"

This seems to be the journey of so many intense and/or gifted women! Even when our parents accept us for who we are, we are told by the world that we just don't quite fit so we often try to shift into a mold that isn't well suited to us. This is why it warms our hearts when we see older women who are unapolagetically free to express themselves as they wish. 

But why wait until you are older to be yourself?

In a previous interview with Leela Sinha, she said, "if you, quote, toned it down and found yourself a place where you sort of fit, as your toned down self - the odds are as you approach 40, you're going to get sick of it and you're going to bust out of that box and everything that you thought you built is going to come crashing down around your ears and your gonna have to start over. So, the less time you spend building yourself into a false reality, the better off you are."

I think some of us get way past 40, but I agree with her sentiment that the sooner you get comfortable in your own skin the better. 

This is not to say that we do whatever we want without empathy or good communication, but that we look at the internal motivation for our choices. Doing things simply for approval or to "fit in," will certainly become draining, while doing things that are motivated by joy and deep interest will energize us. 

So think about what parts of yourself you feel like you might be holding back and how you might express that part of yourself in a way that feels good for you. Who knows, you might find connections with others when they get a glimpse of things they might be holding back in themselves.