Hi All, How are you? I’m moving through thoughts and feelings a mile a minute. One minute I’m ok, the next I am feeling all my fears and worries. Can you relate? I’m used to spending most of my days alone for the last several years, so this isn’t too much of an adjustment for me. However, my need to stay up to date and be a diligent researcher along with my own health concerns is activated my system left and right. I’m sitting here practicing, failing, and succeeding calming my nervous system. Yesterday a bath and yoga nidra did the trick, today it’s soothing self talk and self massage that is helping me ride the wave that has peaks of panic.Over the years, I have learned this calming isn’t always a solitary act. I used to have a lot of shame around being hyperaware, sensitive, a canary in a coal mine, but the more I have learned about trauma, resilience, and healing, the more I have learned that calm is a co-creative process. Until we are solid in our practice, quieting our systems takes guidance whether that is in recorded form, written material, video, or in person. Practicing feeling safe, secure, and centered requires us so often to “be seen” by someone that can witness us with compassion. As a minister, I consider my primary job to partner with those that are suffering and in crisis – “for though I walk through the valley, I am not alone.”
We are a household of two, and over the years we have tried not to freak out at the same time (maybe in the same hour but not at the same time;). We each have our own strengths and unique needs regarding safety, and it helps to know what those are. But what happens if you find yourself in a crisis and you haven’t really thought of what makes you feel safe and secure? It’s hard to hit the ground running, if you haven’t fostered a trust in your coping toolbox. Be gentle with yourself right now. Tell that screaming inner critic (panicked helper, etc) that you hear it and it’s not being helpful. Often – I raise a hand to it and say “not helpful.” And turn back to the task at hand.
You maybe in crisis right now - concerned about basic needs, your health and the health of your loved ones, and it maybe clear to you that you are triggered. OR you maybe in crisis right now and that is not the word you would use. But, figuring out the new normal, navigating work from a new space, different people in your energy for differing hours, hell – navigating the grocery story is not what it was two weeks ago. You maybe more tired, more wired, more on edge, angry, depressed, sad, irritable, etc. And these are all signs that a nervous system is on alert. Add on being sensitive, in tune, connected and you are feeling all the feels right now. Totally normal.
In crisis, meaning is difficult to find. Yeah I have seen the social media posts inviting me to see this pandemic and physical distancing as an opportunity for growth, meaning, everything happens for a reason, God/Goddess has a plan. BUT I invite you to be patient with your meaning making. Acknowledge that this moment, maybe you have seen a silver lining or maybe there isn’t one for you right now – and that is ok. Life just IS sometimes. Meaning may never come or it could be days, months, and years away. A quickly rushed meaning could cut you off from the deeper learning and curiosity that is required to slurp all the nectar out of less than ideal situation. Meaning often comes with distance – it unfurls as you walk away from the immediate experience. Don’t struggle for something just because so many others are using that to get through this moment. If you haven’t found calm or meaning yet – that is OK. This isn’t a rush to enlightenment. And if you found it and then it left you –say it with me…THAT is ok.
Since calm is a co-creative practice, my ministry at this moment is to practice with you. Want some specialized help with touching into calm? Need someone to share those thoughts and feelings that you think other will judge you for? Want long distance healing? Need prayer and connection? Want me to pull cards and doing a mini-reading? I am here. And before you say, “Valerie, I would love to but I don’t have the money. “ I say to you – this isn’t about money, building my business, or getting clients; this is about doing the work of the Divine, together. And that is more than enough. I will not send anyone an invoice, and I will not initiate a discussion of payment. You can talk with me if you want regarding payment, but it won’t come from me.
Community, I have no doubt we will get through this. It may not be pretty at times, it certainly isn’t easy, but you are not alone. Sincerely, Valerie
I know I have been MIA from your inbox. Maybe you haven’t even noticed with all the info that comes at us daily. So why break radio silence now? Because that bossy Spirit voice in my head told me to ;-). The last several years I have taken a deep dive personally and professionally into the nervous system and how it informs our minds, emotions, bodies, and souls. I have learned several valuables tools for myself when my system becomes immobile, traumatized, and straight up full-blown panicked. I guess some universal force thought these tools might be helpful for many of us given the interesting times we find ourselves living in.
You know what doesn’t help when I am panicked? Someone telling me to calm down and to not be afraid – in all its variations. Right now, there are a lot of don’t be afraid and remain calm messages. But just like if I told you to not think of a polar bear – you can’t help BUT think of polar bear. The same is true of the message – no fear and be calm. It can cause frustration, confusion, shame, and an activated nervous system when we ignore what our system is doing. For those of us that have a sensitive nervous system (a finely tuned instrument if you will) it can be challenging to find stillness and quiet when we are trying to stay informed, and so much is electrifying our systems. So I wanted to pop in one sensitive to another and give some concrete pointers on how to turn down your system. This is not an exhaustive list. Much you might already know, but some maybe new tools for your nervous system. This list isn't a perfection list - it's a practice list. Downshifting your nervous system is a cumulative practice. Some of these tips may give you a big reward and others may give you a tiny shift. Both are valid options for your system. I hope you find this list useful! As always, reach out if you need me!!
Thirty years ago this month I celebrated my Bat Mitzvah. When I was eleven my father asked me what I wanted to do for my bat mitzvah and I said “everything my brothers did.” While I am sure my parents thought this was a typical sass answer from their daughter - and it was - I was also sincere. I had studied Hebrew for years and there was no way that my dad was going to stand up and read prayers that I was fully equipped to read. The answer stemmed from an inner knowing that how women were treated in synagogue with limitations and at times not even counted as a person was not just. My parents took my sass answer, and went about changing the institution. My bat mitzvah on that Saturday morning in October was a place divided. Those that did not want to witness a woman reading from the Torah held a separate service downstairs. And those that were ready for the change and those that were willing to grow - witnessed me leading much of the service, reading from the Torah, and unknowingly observed a powerful change of heart from a congregational Elder. This ceremony is a powerful reminder to me that social justice is at the very heart of my being and that we can be champions of that change, or uphold the institutions that seek to divide.
But lately, when I think of that weekend, another story emerges as significant as changing an institution. It is a story that I have told countless times, but this year has taken on new insights for me. It is a seed planted 30 years ago. During my bat mitzvah weekend, at our house, my great Aunt Henrietta sat me down at my father’s turned leg writing desk, took out a regular deck of cards, and read my fortune. This is the moment something in my soul was given the words for what it knew was possible - the moment when something I had known deep inside me sparked alive, sprouted and started pushing through the darkness of the fertile soil to reach daylight.
I loved everything about that experience with Aunt Henrietta - everything except it ending. She read my cards in the most elegant and fun way. I can’t recall details about the cards that emerged, but I do remember her talking to me about life and her mother reading cards. Here was my initiation into another part of my tradition.
During my reading, I remember being seen and connected, and feeling that I belonged. I also had hope - hope that good things were to come and that there was a tool out there to guide me when life got turbulent. This reading was a tremendous gift to me. It started me on a path that still unfolds today.
I think about that moment and I wish I could go back in time and sit with Aunt Henrietta again at that desk with a note pad and a tape recorder. And I would thank her for inviting me into her world, our world. I miss that naturalness and innocence of reading cards as ordinary and belonging – the seamlessness of it intertwined with my Jewish rite of passage.
Over the years I have had the great privilege to read for people. What started as fun and entertaining has become an offering of compassion and responsibility. The cards can be scary to people, the unknowing of what will turn up - the poignant truths that require actions of courage and grace as well as the signposts to joy and freedom. To me the table, the cards, the people sitting, are sacred space – sincerity and reverence with a hearty dose of laughter and meeting people where they are the foundation to an empowering outcome. This reflection of thirty years ago was met with a request from a friend to do readings in her shop. I couldn’t think of a better signpost to follow.
I love the divine timing of this invitation to read. In spiritual life, patience is certainly a virtue – and one that many of us have a difficult time cultivating. But have hope. Seeds planted 30 years ago may just be the answer to your deep longing. And as the moon is new and the season turns to Spirit, I invite you to examine your own stories for new meaning and seeds that are ready to harvest. With gratitude, Valerie
P.S. As I go to publish this, I got a flash remembering followed by a huge chuckle…I wrote my dissertation with Tarot cards framing my analysis. How could I forget that?! Why did I ever lose the thread of this powerful tool that has been with me since my childhood? ❤
Welcome to Fall (In the Northern Hemisphere)! Today we find the natural world balancing light and dark. And tomorrow the light will begin to wane. This time of year, this darkness, calls us to move inward. Inward to ourselves ,our communities, our homes, and loved ones. This is the time of calling home - the energy that we sent out but was never fully received, the parts of ourselves that we pushed away and are now longing for welcoming, the seeds that were planted that manifested into a bountiful harvest. All of it - this is the time to take stock and call the energy home so that it can nourish you through the fertile winter season that is coming. I invite you to spend some time over the next few days exploring the energy of change, welcoming the call inward, and honoring the waning light. These moments of honoring are what help us come into harmony with the world around us. The equinox is one moment of perfect balance in a sea of continual motion and yet we spend so much of our time in grasping for balance to be static, unchanged, immobile. But my dear ones, you were not made to be static and unchanged - you were made like the trees and the wind.
So what change can you begin to hold sacred today? If change is scary, spend some time in nature - calling on the trees, the sky, the wind to gently help you know kind and compassionate change. The lesson of change doesn’t need to be painful. Change can be welcomed like the rising of the sun or the cycles of the moon.
What small inner voice is calling you to grow quiet and listen? What have you turned away from that you are afraid to hear? We don’t ask a question because we are afraid to hear the answer. Turn back to your question with compassion - turn back to the voice that wants to be heard but speaks in a whisper.
What fertile darkness is calling you to grow in ways still unseen? Invite even the smallest glimpse of this calling in - invite it to land in the ground of your life and to take root. Suspend knowing - invite in the darkness - and then wait and see.
What garden in your field of life needs to be turned and put to rest? Now is the time, take stock, and put to bed all that no longer feeds you.
The reward for moving inward? Experiencing the mist between the worlds thinning which helps us move closer to Spirit and our Soul. And once we are closer to ourselves and our true nature, we can embrace welcoming our whole being back home. And then we may be source of welcoming for others. You will be hand in the darkness reaching out for others to know that they are not alone - never alone.
With blessings of change and renewal, Valerie
We are gearing up for the New Moon and Solar Eclipse. I am writing to invite you to think about how you want to spend this sacred and powerful time. New Moons are wonderful moments to reflect on what the new possibilities are ahead and what the last month has held for you. This month's moon is in the sign of Leo, which is associated with the Sun. Leo calls us to be brave, courageous, heartfelt, action oriented, and generous. Coupled with a Solar eclipse - these qualities are amplified. Have you had experiences that are calling you to be brave, lead from the heart, and generous of spirit and elegance? If so, you have heard the Lion's roar.
The Solar Eclipse ties us to our ancestors that looked to the heavens for signs, the marking of time, and maps for travel. What does it mean when the sun's light ceases to shine during the day? Have there been times in your own life when the light appears to be sucked away? When you long for light but instead find yourself in the fertile darkness? In our culture, the absence of light is talked about as bad and evil. But that is just not so. Much grows in the dark. We need nighttime to rest and renew. And the solar eclipse gives us the experience of meditating on this cycle during the day.
So how will you spend your time during the eclipse? I invited you to choose what your soul wants. For some of you, it maybe going out and witnessing (depending on location) the light, dark, light cycle. And as you stand in that energy - may you feel your own internal blockages to light be removed. May you feel the planets and stars mirroring for you the human experience of renewal after hardship and loss. Or maybe you feel called to stay inside - turning inward. A time to reflect on your changing self and the world around you. Reflecting on what you would like to let go of and where you hope your next steps and opportunities take you. You may want to reflect on what you keep hidden and why? Not everything that is tucked away for safe keeping is bad. Sacred ceremonies are often not spoken in public - what is your sacredness that you can uncover and witness as the Sun takes a rest?
Whatever you decide and wherever you are - your desk, your yard, with friends, alone, or standing on a mountaintop, I invite you to feel into the energy of the day. Feel into the energy of our society looking up to the sky. Feel how you are part of this larger whole. Feel into it, reflect, and then emerge ready to take your next steps.
My prayer is that we all take care of ourselves and each other during this time of changing energy. May you love your neighbor as yourself and that you love yourself as well as you love your neighbor. That you have the courage and compassion to follow the Lion's call. And that we find the goodness of our hearts mirrored back to us through every person we encounter.