Self-Care Expedition Day 2: the betrayal of my body

[Note: this is Day 2 of a 10-Day Self-Care Expedition in which I am examining my relationship with food and movement. You are welcome to join this expedition at any point through committing to your own self-care practice, commenting, and/or silently supporting.]

Today I want to begin to unravel this whole ‘me not trusting my body to know what it needs to feel nourished and strong’ thing.

Let’s start by taking a look at a story I carry.

A story that says my body has betrayed me. Time and time again.

For instance, when I was 22, out of nowhere I experienced being repeatedly stabbed in my chest. This stabbing resulted in an inability to breath and me collapsing for half an hour or more at a time in excruciating pain (and terror).

It turned out to be costochondritis but it took 6 long months to figure it out. During that time I was convinced I was on the edge of dying and lived in constant fear of the next attack.

Then, in my mid-20s, I was hiking down a mountain one lovely summer day when, just like that, BOTH of my legs collapsed out from under me.

With no warning signals (pain, tenderness, weakness), suddenly, both of my knees were incapable of supporting me. I went from being a very active hiker, biker, runner, backpacker, to being unable to walk even a block without being in excruciating pain… for 9 MONTHS.

I still don’t have an explanation for this one – other than perhaps it had something to do with hiking a bunch of steep, dusty, slippery trails resulting eventually in some misalignment??? I don’t know. Perhaps there is some grand cosmic lesson (or joke) here? Again, I don’t know.

What I do know is that it sucked to not be able to walk without pain, to not be able to do any of the activities I loved and that kept me sane.

While my knees still occasionally flare up, with enough time, they did eventually heal. And again, I don’t really know what led to their healing as nothing that I did to try to help them heal (physical therapy, bodywork, acupuncture, pilates…) seemed to really make a difference.

And, of course, there is the other constant in my life:  headaches and migraines.

Although this pattern has and does continue to slowly shift, it is yet another example of my body seemingly attacking me and (often) being completely unwilling to respond to preventative or remedial measures.

Anyway, these are but a few examples.

There are many more that, over time, resulted in this slow separation from and distrust of my body.

Of course, I can’t entirely blame my body. I have also betrayed her time and time again.

I have refused to listen to the signs of an oncoming headache or to signals from my body telling me I was overdoing it, I was pushing too far.

Time and time again, I have remained quiet and just endured pain until whatever was causing the pain was over.

For years and years, I repressed and denied my emotions (which, as it turns out, was a huge part of the headache pattern).

And, like I mentioned yesterday, I’ve imposed various diets, restrictions, programs, etc on my body without her consent or permission.

There is this hardness present in me as I write all of this out.

This hardness that is masking a deep sadness. Grief, actually.

Grief for all the ways that I haven’t been a good friend and partner to my body.

Grief for all the times and ways that I’ve taken her for granted and then hated her and distanced myself from her when she was in pain and needing me the most.

Grief for all the pain and frustration and agony that we’ve put each other through.

For me, today, noticing and acknowledging the pain of these ‘betrayals’ is enough.

For you, today, while I don’t want to assume that you have a similar ‘betrayal’ story, is there any pain that needs to be acknowledged around the way you have cared (or not cared) for yourself or your body in the past?

And, more generally, what are you noticing on Day 2 of your expedition?

xo

Self-Care Expedition Day 1 – initial reflections

[Note: this is Day 1 of a 10-Day Self-Care Expedition. You are welcome to join this expedition at any point through making your own 10-day commitment, commenting and/or silently supporting.]

Man. Have I ever been cranky the past couple of days. Ever since announcing this expedition, actually.

Saying Yes to spending 10 days noticing and reflecting on my relationship with food and movement has most definitely brought the threshold guardians out in full force.

At the same time, all of these insights, stories, and memories related to food and movement have been surfacing.

Today, I want to take a moment and reflect on the nature of my relationship with these two (wily) lovely beasts up to this point.

First, though, it feels important to acknowledge that up until a few years ago, exercise and diet were my primary (only?) self-care practices. It’s only been in the past 5-7 years that they have fallen to the side as I became consumed with exploring the softer aspects of self-care and self-awareness.

Let’s start with exercise.

Like I mentioned in the expedition announcement post, I’ve been really active for most of my life. My body loves to move. And, for most of my life, I’ve loved to move it.

Over the recent years, though, this love of movement has changed. It has shifted from moving because-moving-is-fun-and-feels-good to moving because-that’s-what-I-should-do-in-order-to-be-healthy.

Basically, exercise is now an obligation versus play. And, I do not (nor does my body) respond well to obligation.

Ok, let’s move on to food.

Oh boy. I don’t even know how to start with this one.

I guess, for simplicity’s sake, I’ll just say that for all of my 20s I was obsessed with food and diet. I was a vegetarian (with times of being vegan) for more than a decade. I’ve cleansed, fasted, cut out sugar, done the body-ecology diet, went gluten-free, stopped eating nightshades, soy, corn… the list goes on and on.

Some of the experimenting was fueled by me attempting to establish some sort of connection between my diet and my headaches. Some was just to experiment with how I might feel if I did this vs that. Some of it (a lot of it) was an attempt to control my body and my cravings and my weight.

In short, I imposed a lot of rather extreme experiments on my body.

And no, I never paused to ask my body what she wanted or if she was on-board with all the experiments. I just did it.

My relationship with food may be even more tangled than my relationship with exercise.

Except, they are actually one and the same. In both cases, it boils down to me not trusting that my body actually knows and can tell me what she wants and needs. It boils down to me trying to control my body and impose my will on her.

And now, there is a lot of history and pain to untangle to get to the point where I can be in a relationship with my body that allows me to hear and to trust what she wants.

That is the point of this expedition. That is why I am here.

 For you.

How is Day 1 of your expedition going? Any threshold guardians making themselves known to you?

Would taking a moment to reflect on what has brought you to this moment in your relationship with yourself and whatever self-care practice you are implementing be beneficial?

Feel free to share (or not share) as feels right to you in the comment section.

And, if you write about your expedition on a personal blog, do please provide a link in the comments so we can follow along.

sending ease and love.

The Return of the Free, Online, Self-Care Expedition

A couple of years ago I hosted a number of Self-Care Expeditions, an opportunity for like-minded adventurers to practice self-care skills together.

I’ve been seriously slacking in a couple of my primary self-care routines. I want to deepen into these core skills once again. I’d love to have your support… and for you to join me!

Here’s how it works.

We commit to a daily practice for the course of the expedition. We check in here for support, to hear how everyone else is doing, and to share our adventures in the comment section.

This Expedition.

This will actually be a mini-expedition. We will be adventuring together for 10 (vs 40) days. The intention of this mini-expedition is to jump-start any self-care practice you wish to embark upon, return to, or deepen into.

My Expedition.

Like I mentioned above, there are a couple of very basic self-care skills I’ve been totally neglecting for, oh… about 5 years.

When I say very basic, I mean VERY basic. Actually, they are so basic that I’m a bit embarrassed to even admit to them.

Ok, here they are:

  • exercise
  • diet

Yes. It seems I’ve spent the last 5+ years focusing so much on the emotional and spiritual side of self-care that I’ve completely neglected the physical aspects of self-care.

For most of my life, I have been super active.

I played varsity sports all throughout high school. I hiked, biked, backpacked, played volleyball, ran, did pilates, xinyi, etc throughout college and my 20s.

And then, around the time I turned 30, I had this breakdown breakthrough where I became aware of all this emotional pain I had been repressing for well, my entire life.

I’ve now spent many years unwinding that, learning how to witness and hold myself, how to be gentle and kind with that kind of pain, how to sit with it, how to ask for help, how to allow it to dissolve, shift, transform. And, this process has been amazing!

And yet, somehow, I completely forgot about and allowed the foundational skills of exercise and diet to fall away.

Not that I didn’t notice… I knew I wasn’t eating well and I hated that I wasn’t able to climb a hill without breathing hard. It’s just… I had other priorities.

Now, however, it’s time to take all the self-care skills I’ve developed and apply them to listening to my body as it relates to food and to getting back into shape.

So, that’s where I’m headed.

My Commitments.

Note: these are the commitments I’m adopting for myself as it pertains to what I’m needing to learn now. Feel free to change, adapt, make up your own, as you see fit.

My overall commitment for this mini-expedition is to listen to my body. More specifically, I commit to

  • setting the intention every morning to eat better and to move more through asking my body what it wants and listening for a response.
  • pausing and checking in with my body throughout the day, especially as it concerns my food and movement decisions.
  • end the day reflecting (either in a journal or just in my head) on how things went.
  • share a bit about how this process is going every day for 10 days here on my blog thus opening the comments for you to share your adventure too.

Permissions.

Basically, I want to challenge myself to change my relationship with food and exercise through listening to my body.

Eventually, I hope to be in a relationship with food and exercise that is healthy, balanced, and, most importantly, sustainable without effort.

To help me get there, I need some permissions so that if/when I do mess up, it doesn’t end with me just abandoning the entire Expedition and hiding away in shame and self-disgust.

Therefore, my permissions:

  • I give myself permission to forget, to mess up, to mindlessly eat salt/vinegar chips and chocolate late at night. It’s ok! I’m creating a new way of being in relationship with my body.  A relationship based less on what my mind says is right or wrong; more on what my body truly wants.
  • I give myself absolute permission to do nothing if this is what my body asks for during these 10 days. The listening piece is far more important than the type of exercise, how long it lasts, or how often I do it. (I’ll talk more about this aspect of my expedition at some point during the 10 days).

This expedition is about trusting that my body knows exactly what it needs to feel strong, healthy, and nourished. (Yes! This is key! I sense that this is another piece I’ll have a lot to say about as the Expedition progresses.)

For You.

Is there some self-care practice you would like to begin, re-start, or deepen into?

Perhaps your yoga, or meditation, or water-drinking, or journal writing, or __             has been falling to the wayside.

Would you benefit from joining me in making a 10-day commitment to take your ability to nourish and care for yourself to the next level?

The most important thing to keep in mind is that this Self-Care Expedition is not about forcing, or pushing through, or obligation.

Instead, we are here to support each other in deepening into our relationships with ourselves through noticing what comes up when we commit to a specific self-care practice for 10 days.

This is about learning more about ourselves and our patterns as they relate to self-care… together.

Will you join me?

Comments? Thoughts? Want to join? If so, leave a comment (including your twitter handle if you have one). That’s it. You’re in!

Of course, if you’d like to share the practice you are committing to and/or your personal permissions, that’d be great too. :)

We begin Tuesday, April 1, 2014.

Until then,

larisa

Allowing What was Hidden to be Seen

Snowy greetings from Portland!

I’m going to jump right in…

There have been quite a few changes in my work over the past few years… changes that have led to new offerings and services. Most of these new offerings, however, have been by invitation-only to women who were already working with me.

Now these changes are beginning to shoot sprouts up through the soil towards the light of day and are asking for more recognition, more acknowledgement, and to be seen to a greater extent. While I’ve alluded to some of them in my recent (very sporadic) posts, I want to take a moment to highlight them now.

In brief, my approach to healing rests in accessing the natural wisdom of the body, utilizing the healing power of nature and ritual, and teaching the transformative practice of deep self-care.

The common thread in my work is connecting to the wisdom inherent in our body, in nature, and in Spirit.

By accessing these sources of wild wisdom, we can re-align ourselves with who we are meant to be and find the healing we seek.

Perhaps something below will speak to you. Perhaps there is something here that you’ve been looking for (maybe without even knowing it). Perhaps now is the time to embark on a new way of relating to yourself, to your body, to nature, and to Spirit. If so, I’d love to hear from you.

Divination for Women

Divination 1Deeply nourishing, personal divination uses shells, rocks, and other items to take a look at a situation and reveal where the blocks to healing are and what ritual homework needs to be done to shift them. As these blocks shift, more healing, love, vitality and guidance becomes available in your life.

Plus, just being within the space of a divination is healing in itself!

All of our loving and supportive ancestors and spiritual relations show up to support the reading and to bring their healing and medicine. It is a beautiful and highly engaged experience.

In person. For women.

 

Monthly Ritual Circle

red candleThe Monthly Ritual Circle offers in-person rituals to honor and be with our collective Ancestors and the Elements on an on-going basis.

My intention is to bring specific attention to our lineages so that we may discover both the gifts of our ancestry and what healing (if any) needs to happen within us and for them so that all of their wisdom and gifts are available for us, here, now.

Upcoming Dates: February 16 and March 16, 2014.

 

Private Mentoring Sessions (Phone/Skype)

Ireland treeIn mentoring sessions we take a look at patterns running through your life and your family in light of both the strengths (the gifts) and the wounds that are present.

We explore how to be in a relationship with your healthy ancestors that promotes the deepening of the gifts and the healing of the wounds that have been carried from generation to generation.

We talk about the role the Ancestors play in our lives and how to relate with them in a good way.

 

my love to you and all your relations,
larisa

Aligning with Purpose in 2014

Hear ye! Hear ye!  Malidoma Somé, African elder, teacher, and mentor, is returning to Portland! He will be offering personal divinations and a one-day ritual focused on the mineral element and knowing/living your purpose.

To hear a story about how receiving a divination from him resolved one of the burning questions of my life, continue reading…

cairn

In the cosmology of the Dagara people of West Africa, 2014 is a mineral year – a year where purpose, the remembering of who we are and why we are here, is accentuated.

And, a year where the creative expression of our purpose is particularly supported.

For much of my life, I’ve felt as if I’ve been walking parallel to my purpose.

Close enough to it that I would catch glimpses of it every now and then, and yet in some fundamental way, not truly on my path.

This led to much anxiety, confusion, self-doubt and this gnawing feeling that nothing that I did was really quite ‘right.’ There was always this sense of something being a little off or misaligned.

Much of what I did and how I presented myself to the world was authentic and aligned… at least to the greatest extent possible at the time.

But still, it seemed that most of the time, I was simply kind of flailing in the dark, only taking the next step as it was revealed to me, without any real understanding or overarching vision to guide me.

Steps along the way.

For instance, I found Ortho-Bionomy and felt this deep alignment with the principles and techniques of this healing modality. I dove whole-heartedly into it and discovered layers and layers of healing both for myself and my clients.

Still, there was something missing.

I started down the path to become a naturalist and began weaving the principles of nature connection and deep listening into my work with students and clients. More layers and avenues of healing began to open.

Getting closer.

I had this sense that I was slowly moving closer and closer to knowing and claiming my unique gifts and how I could best serve through them. And yet, it was clear to me that I was still missing some crucial element.

Then, 3-4 years ago, I began the process of learning how to relate with my ancestors and the elements of fire, earth, water, mineral and nature.

Something clicked into place and everything changed.

The bigger pieces of who I am and why I’m here started to come together. I began to understand how my various skills and the obsessions interests of my life weave together to create meaning.

I was no longer flailing in the dark. Celebrations!

I credit this coming out of the darkness in large part to the love and guidance of my ancestors.

As I have deepened into relationship with my ancestors, continuing on this path of healing and reconnection – to the earth, the plants, the animals, and to my lineage – more and more of the pieces of this puzzle (of why I am here and how I am to serve) have been revealed to me.

These revelations have taken many forms including insights in meditation or while in nature or ritual, having unexpected opportunities arise or paths open, and, especially, through receiving divinations where I’ve asked for specific information to be revealed.

In which I receive a life-changing divination.

Last April, during a divination with Malidoma Somé, my most burning, unanswered question around purpose was resolved.

[Interlude]

For YEARS now, I’ve been on the fence about having children. I just couldn’t decide whether it was right for me; if being a mother was part of my path.

So many doubts and so much terror surfaced anytime the subject was mentioned that I simply couldn’t feel what was right for me.

Everything would become very mental and very un-embodied and my floating head would say ‘this is not a logical thing to do considering your current circumstances’ every time.

But, I couldn’t even feel whether or not that was true in my body.

For me, it is crucial to have that sense of deep inner knowing that comes from my heart, my bones, my body especially when making such a potentially life-changing decision.

In short, I was very aware that this was not a decision I could make from my head. And yet, I couldn’t even come close to getting through all the terror and doubt in order to feel what was right for me on my own.

As years passed, I started feeling more and more pressure to hurry up and make a decision – before the decision was made for me through me simply being too old to have children.

[Which leads us back to the divination...]

In the divination, it was revealed in no uncertain terms that children are a part of my purpose.

Miraculously, I could feel the truth of it deep within my body and heart.

For the first time, I was able to sense beneath all of the terror the the idea of being a parent invoked in me and feel what was real for me.

“I do want to have children, I do want to be a mother!”

It was nothing short of a miracle.

From there, an entire different adventure began… which I will share some other time.

For now, let’s return to an aspect of my purpose that might be more relevant to you. :)

It is with deep gratitude for all that has transpired over the past years that I invite you to join me in ritual.

Over this next year, we will be celebrating the solstices and equinoxes, learning more about the practice of deep listening, and allowing the waters to cleanse us in the 4th Annual Ritual of Letting Go.

Perhaps most importantly, we will be diving into the various branches of our ancestry, discovering the gifts of our lineages, and learning how to heal the stuck generational patterns that keep us from living our lives to the fullest.

Comment Magic:

Being in relationship with my ancestors has brought more love, support, and guidance into my life than I ever would have thought possible.

As I continue to grow and deepen in relationship with my ancestors and with the earth, more and more of the pieces of my purpose continue to be revealed to me.

And, all that is not aligned with this purpose continues to come up for healing and to be released. It is often a messy, painful process and yet I know that throughout it all, I am held.

Where do you turn when you are faced with a question or decision you aren’t able to resolve on your own?

What fills you with a sense of purpose and gives your life meaning?

Wishing you a 2014 filled with deep inner knowing, love, and purpose.