Are you okay with Just Being?
I stumbled on a video this week by author Elizabeth Gilbert. She talked a great deal about the pandemic and the status of our world; then, she said something that stuck with me.
She said, “we have to learn to be okay with just being.”
This did not sound so profound on the surface, but as I reflected on this statement, I realized that this is precisely what I have been trying to do. In the last couple of months, I have been very fortunate to spend some time in the mountains where I feel like I have been “nesting,” eliminating clutter and searching around my beautiful property for some meditation spaces.
When I mention meditation, I really mean a short meditation followed by a much longer nap. So, you can see that the proper location is paramount to the success of my meditation practice. While my way may defy meditation logic, it does allow my mind to be still and my body to become quiet.
Interestingly, I have found that my most profound meditation moments have come when I am sharing space with my horse, G.
I realized this summer instead of focusing so much on doing, doing, doing, I would try to focus on being. Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert, for making it okay to just be.
Horses always live in the present moment and are happiest when they are with others who appreciate being and not doing.
Spending time with horses, in the present moment, allows your mind to quiet, your heart rate to slow down, and your ability to detect subtle energetic shifts in the environment becomes more apparent.
When was the last time you felt okay with just being? Do you know what that feels like, or do you remain in constant motion to gloss over any actual body sensations you might experience? My challenge to you as we move into the holiday season is to take some time to rest, restore, and rejuvenate.
For today, try to spend 5 minutes in meditation (or quiet reflection) and ask yourself:
1) What matters most to me today?
2) What energy, thoughts, emotions, or feelings would I like to
let go of today?
3) What core value do I choose to express and live today?
Next, take a few minutes to write down a few thoughts about any or all of these questions. Take time throughout the day to review and reflect on the intention you set for your day.
I find that doing this daily keeps me focused on what is most important to me and helps me select my thoughts for the day.
What can you do right this moment to feel settled?
What a couple of months it has been!!! I am not usually one to overly complain or point out the not so great things that happen because most days, I do feel genuinely grateful for all the good things in my life. However, as most of you might be aware, in Southeastern NC, we experienced our first named storm of the hurricane season just a few short weeks ago.
We were fortunate, actually (compared to the recent Gulf Coast hurricane), because our power returned within about 12 hours (hallelujah). We did not sustain any significant damage or flooding…but the truckloads of yard debris that we cleaned up for days were exhausting. (I now sort of understand why some folks in hurricane-prone regions have prophylactically cut down all their trees, but that is another matter altogether).
Fast forward a few days when I packed up my husband, 2 dogs, 3 cats, and 1 horse (no minor undertaking, I assure you, especially the husband part, LOL), to move to the mountains for a vacation just in time to be a mere 8 miles away from the epicenter of a 5.1 earthquake. The first earthquake of this magnitude to hit NC since 1916!! Yes, and we were here for it. Again, I am happy to report no significant damage, but our world was certainly rocked, literally, and figuratively.
Anyway, between these natural events occurring and the shit show that is our world right now, the only word that I can come up with to describe how I am feeling is “unsettled.”
Yes, I said it. Despite my efforts to stay grounded and roll with the punches, I am feeling very “unsettled.”
According to the dictionary, unsettled is defined as lacking stability, not yet resolved, and not calm or tranquil. Well, if that is not the understatement of the year, I am not sure what might be at this point.
However, upon reflection of recent events and feeling unsettled, I was reminded of a quote that I read years ago by author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the book Flow--
“People who learn to control their inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives.”
So, I decided to look at what I could do in the present moment to help me feel more settled because how we respond to stressors determines the outcome for each of us.
What do you need to do right now to feel settled?
Ask yourself, what can you do to help control your inner experience (aka response to stress and current events) at this moment to change the quality of your experience. I offer a few suggestions that I am working hard to employ.
What limiting beliefs are holding you back?
I hope that you are doing well. I know some of you have been exposed to Covid-19, have been infected with Covid-19, or have family and friends affected in some way. To say this is a challenging time would be an understatement.
What insights about yourself, your health, or your life have you been able to have during this time whether you have sheltered in place or been an essential worker on the front lines of this pandemic?
Interestingly enough, in the process of some deep self-reflection, I have had time to examine a few limiting beliefs I hold about myself and my abilities. It has not always been fun, nor has it been particularly pretty.
Confession time here—despite writing a doctoral dissertation, publishing several articles in peer-reviewed nursing journals, and writing most of my adult life, I continue to struggle with writing and putting myself out there.
I always have great ideas for children’s stories or works of fiction, but every time I sit down to put my thoughts on paper, I see a big, fat RED “F.” How can that be, you might be wondering? Well, I am sharing something with you that I have not shared before.
When I was in the 7th grade, I had an English composition teacher that made us write a gazillion essays. His grading system was simple—you would receive an “A” for the perfect, grammatically correct piece or you would receive an “F” for the slightest infraction or error. No kidding, that was—an A or an F.
Talk about pressure. As you might have guessed, I saw a considerable number of big, red “Fs” that year. To say this squelched any enthusiasm I had for writing would be a dire understatement.
As a result, I have struggled my entire adult life to write and have felt that my ideas and thoughts might not be good enough to share with others. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe that this newsletter is a gift to the literary community. Still, it represents one thing that I am doing to release myself from the limiting belief that I am not a writer, so thank you for being a part of my self-care community and reading this composition of my thoughts.
What is one limiting belief that you have about yourself that prevents you from putting yourself out there and offering your real gifts to the world?
What belief are you holding onto—I am not smart enough, I am not thin enough, I am not ________ enough—you fill in the blank!
I challenge you to tell someone this not enough story that you have held onto and notice their response. Saying this “thing” out loud, you will move the energy that has been stuck in your body and mind for so long. Most of the time, what limits us from doing what we want or from living the life we desire, is some tired, old rhetoric that can be traced back to the 7th grade or before.
Now is the time to examine this and release it to the universe.
Your time to shine has come.
So, I am meeting my challenge for myself this month and sharing one of my deepest, limiting beliefs with you. I don’t aspire to be a Nobel Prize-winning author like Toni Morrison, but I would like to be able to put pen to paper to project my thoughts and ideas in a manner that is good enough! More importantly, I want to believe that it is good enough.
Yesterday morning, I had an opportunity to spend a couple of hours with my amazing horse, G. This was my first early morning ride this spring (appropriately timed on the first day after the spring equinox).
You see, I am a morning person by nature, but because of winter weather, my work schedule, and other time demands over the past few months, I have been getting to the barn later in the afternoon when my energy level can be less than optimal.
Well, the beautiful morning weather and the need for social distancing created the perfect opportunity to get to the barn bright and early when the dew was still on the grass, G was quietly munching hay, and the air was cool and crisp.
I was in heaven to say the least.
As I was playing with G (we do lots of play and positive reinforcement training), it occurred to me that so much of our interactions involve curiosity and possibility. For example, when he starts playing with something or seeks information through curious behavior, he is rewarded handsomely with treats.
I have worked with other horses who have experienced more fear based training and they may not play or seek out new possibilities.
Their behavior is structured to prevent negative reinforcement or punishment.
These horses operate from a place of fear, whereas horses like G, who have been rewarded for being playful, working from a place of curiosity and possibility, look for ways to interact that will give him the reward that he is seeking.
Sometimes the actual horse behaviors (standing quietly when asked, moving over with slight pressure to their sides, etc.) may appear the same to an observer.
However, the mindset of the horse and the way the horse views the world and his situation is quite different.
So, I ask you as you are dealing with everything surrounding COVID-19,
“Are you responding from a place of fear or one of curiosity and possibility?”
Fear language looks like this (you fill in the blanks for yourself):
If I can’t _______________, then _________________.
If I lose ____________________, then I won’t be able to __________________.
Curiosity and Possibility language looks like this (you fill in the blanks):
Since I can’t ________________________, it may give me time to ________________.
Without the burden of _______________, I can explore ways to do ______________.
So, ask yourself how you want to approach the current situation that we find ourselves in today. Right now, everything may hinge on the decisions and choices we make in this moment.
I know that everyone is rushing around to fill the voids made by social distancing, but ask yourself this “Do I really need to fill every minute with something?”
Could this be our opportunity to take stock of what is really important to us?
I challenge you to grab a cup of lemon balm tea (great for calming the nervous system) and take a good hard look at your core values. Spending time on activities that align with your values will help you feel grounded and centered. Letting go of the “I should” thoughts and behaviors will give you time to focus on activities that make your heart happy. If I can support you in any way, please REACH OUT and let me know.
Be Well, Julie & G
Can you find the 'positive' in this moment?
Here in southeastern NC, we are quite familiar with dealing with weather disasters like hurricanes, which can paralyze our area for days or weeks. However, most of the time, other areas of the state or country can provide relief in the way of supplies and support services that help to get things back to normal rather quickly.
The current COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented experience that most of us in this country have fortunately not experienced in the past. As a result, you can’t watch the news, read the paper, or link to the internet without being bombarded with images of maps or government agencies telling us just how critical the situation is worldwide. Travel is stressful, significant events (yes, even sporting events) canceled, and health care organizations are overwhelmed.
I have struggled with balancing my need to reach out to each of you to offer support and information with my concern that you might already be on overload. So, today I would like to suggest that perhaps in these challenging times, we ask ourselves
“What might be positive in this situation that we may not be able to see at this time?”
Please understand, I am not making light of school closings, travel restrictions, deaths related to this virus, or financial struggles affecting everyone. However, if you can’t travel or attend to most of the things on your schedule, what might you do with your ‘spare’ time?
I suggest that you use this time to step up your daily self-care routine.
While diligent handwashing, face touch avoidance, and social distancing are somewhat effective in preventing viral spread, I would like to suggest some other self-care strategies that you can use to boost your immune response. With a little practice, you might even continue these strategies into the future (when the virus is no longer a threat).
First, modulate the stress and fear that seems to be spreading as fast as the virus itself. Anxiety and fear can compromise your immune response leaving you more vulnerable to infection in the long term. Strategies to decrease the cortisol release associated with stress can mitigate the effect.
I would like to suggest that you:
If you need any additional support or information, please reach out to me. At this time, I am continuing to see clients in my office with some restrictions. This pandemic is going to affect everyone on some level, but I know that if we all work together, we can weather this storm. Be well and reach out if you need additional help or support.
LET'S MANIFEST BABY!
I hope that 2020 is off to a healthy start for you. It is hard to believe that we are already edging toward mid-February and alas, another full moon cycle (Snow Moon in Native American Culture) has come and gone.
I recently returned from presenting and coaching at a retreat in Tucson, Arizona, sponsored by the Academy of Coaching with Horses. It was an incredible opportunity to spend time with my co-facilitators and the 24 participants (all women).
What I gleaned from being in the desert with the energy of these amazing women and more than 150 horses around me 24/7 was that 2020 is OUR year to start manifesting all that we desire in this life.
We often keep ourselves small and have been conditioned to believe that to keep things neat and tidy, we must not shine our light too brightly for fear that we might overshadow others.
Well, if we don’t shine our light and play big in this world now (manifesting the life that we want and desire), when will we ever get around to it? The answer is a resounding “never.”
So I challenge you to break out those intentions you set earlier and let's get to manifesting them in 2020!!
However, if those intentions that you set earlier seem a little small and unassuming, let me help you set some new ones to hit the reset button for 2020 with my simple, daily intention-setting meditation (no special equipment required).
Intention Setting Meditation
Let's agree to stop playing small and get on with that amazing life that we desire and deserve.
"YOUR PLAYING SMALL DOES NOT SERVE THE WORLD"