Everything is going to be okay.

I woke up yesterday morning, Wednesday November 9th and immediately broke what had become my daily ritual over the last several months. I did not take my early morning dose of social media with my coffee. I did not look to see the final results of what had been a foregone conclusion when I went to bed the night before. I did not obsessively read article after article confirming my “white elitist” beliefs of the current political landscape. I did not listen to the speeches given by the President elect or the Secretary of State.

I hugged my partner and told him how much I love him and how grateful I am to share this beautiful life with him. I went into my basement and did some laundry. As I transferred the clothes from the washer to the dryer I began to cry. I cried thinking of my thirteen year old son who called me the night before from a friend’s house to deliver the blow I wasn’t ready to hear. He was calling me in utter disbelief– his bubble (even more isolated and perfect than mine) had been completely burst. He wanted to hear from his mom that everything was going to be okay– and that’s exactly what I told him. “Everything is going to be okay.”

And it will be.

There is simply an immense amount of healing that needs to take place.

Our country has just received a massive wake up call. And it is up to us to open our arms and accept it and all the consequences that come along with it. A veil has been lifted– our underbelly laid bare– and it’s teeming with hatred and bigotry. It’s fueled by ignorance and fear. And it’s pleading for our attention. It is begging for acknowledgement and a voice and a way forward. It’s like a small child coming out of a dark closet that it’s been locked in for years– and it’s full of rage.

I work with clients all the time connecting to fear. Fear is a necessary part of our humanity. Often the key to our healing lies in our fear. It is natural, and useful. It gives us powerful information about ourselves if we acknowledge and allow it into the light. But when it is allowed to fester in the darkness and is fed only fear and denial it becomes like a caged beast. It loses all grip with reality. It becomes aggressive and reactive.

We fear what is unfamiliar. When we don’t have context for something– it becomes scary because it is different. Our country is polarized and divided. We are lacking a common ground– and both sides are certain that their perspective is RIGHT. But the reality is there is no such thing as right or wrong. We are each a compilation of our own personal history. We know what has come before us. Hatred and bigotry are passed down and bred by ignorance. Communication is the only way past the great divide that separates us. We must begin to connect to each other as fellow human beings. Regardless of our personal stories, we must find the common humanity between all of us and remember that it is the way forward.

Walking around Portland today was a bit like walking around the site of a natural disaster. Many people were unable to see past a foot in front of them, clearly in shock– trying to make sense of their world that appeared the same but felt intangibly different. Others were ready and eager to make a connection– searching for the humanity in the aftermath. I did my best to meet my fellow human’s eyes with love and understanding. I connected with whoever was open and willing and radiated love and kindness. I smiled. And people smiled back.

It is so important in this historic time to remember our humanity. It is what connects us with every single person in this country and on this planet. We are all human. We are all fallible. And we all deserve LOVE.

We as Americans are at a historical intersection. The road leading here has been long and divisive. It is important that each and every one of us allow ourselves to feel whatever we need to feel to move through the shock of what has just happened. It is necessary to acknowledge our fears. But then we must move forward with love and gratitude. We must find the commonalities between ourselves and our fellow Americans and celebrate them. This is not the time to run away. This is the time to dig in and figure out how we can find our connection to ourselves– and make our way back to the place we believed we were. It is time to actively recreate our reality– because that is all we can do.

I am grateful today for my beautiful family. I am grateful for my business which is the most amazing place to go everyday. I am grateful for all of the people who surround me in my Portland bubble– and help me maintain my reality, as privileged as it may be. I am grateful for that privilege. I am grateful for my education and the opportunities it has provided me that not everyone is provided. And most of all I am grateful to Donald Trump for laying bare just how broken and dilapidated our country has become. I am grateful to him for bursting my bubble and reminding me that there is a larger context to the life that I’m living. And I’m grateful to him for reminding me that I have the ability to affect change on a much larger scale.

To truly rebuild something– it must first be completely broken. We have an opportunity to collectively rebuild what has shattered. We must allow ourselves time to process– but then we must hit the ground running and take this massive opportunity to EXPAND our capacity for love and understanding beyond what we thought we were capable of. We ALL deserve love and understanding.

And everything is going to be okay.

embodying my AMAZING

Three_TouchingOrder

Yesterday evening I fulfilled a challenge my healer put to me several months ago. I stepped out from behind the security of my computer screen and backspace key. I opened my treatment room door and moved out into the bigness of my entire studio space and stepped in front of a group of people to talk, out loud, using my voice. (the one that makes noise).

This is a big deal. It’s a big deal because I’ve spent my entire life afraid to use my voice in front of other people. I was the little girl who hid behind her mother’s skirt. (i have actual memories of doing so). I spent my entire sixteen years of schooling being called Amanda by my teachers and friends at school, because I didn’t even think to open my mouth and let everyone know that my name was Mandy. Graduating from college and no longer having my name being told to someone by a sheet of paper that proceeded me was a massive liberation. Moving into my adult life without a dual identity was thrilling. I was finally Mandy to everyone.

Step number one towards fully inhabiting my power:  acquire singular identity. Check.

When my healer issued the public speaking challenge I came to him with a fairly large knot of fear in my belly– and a terror of moving into the fear. He had me put my feet on the ground, bring my hands to my solar plexus and breathe into the space that felt tangled and knotted with terror. I sat on his couch, closed my eyes and allowed myself to settle into my body. I felt immediately, though I was scared to articulate it, that the fear that was haunting me– the gnawing knot eating away at my insides, was a fear of my own power. I told him that. He asked me what I thought would happen if I let myself inhabit my power, let my power inhabit me. I connected to the feeling of me allowing myself my bigness, and started laughing and crying as the words “I think it would be amazing” tumbled out of my mouth.

“Okay, so fear of being amazing.” He wrote it down.

I laughed. He smiled.

Sometimes the absurdity of our fears keeps us from acknowledging them. When I really allowed myself to connect to my fear, when I listened to it and gave it breath and light– I realized that it was the fear of a little girl whose preschool teacher asked her mother if she spoke. It was the fear of a child who understood that although she was small, there was something big and important inside of her, begging to be given a voice.

Step two towards fully inhabiting my power: Shine a bright light on my fear. Check.

Leaving my healer after that session I felt an immense weight had been lifted. Through the course of the session the terror I initially felt transformed to excitement. I left with the feeling of “what am I going to say FIRST?” I continued to engage in my process, began laying the groundwork for my public speaking debut– but then fell away from it. I wrote copious amounts but published very little. There was something missing. Something that kept me from moving forward.

Enter: The Cleanse.

I heard about it through a friend and immediately felt drawn to it. I did some research on it and decided that I was going to do it after completing a trip to visit my family on the east coast, when my kids were out of town. I moved through the cleanse and had what I would consider to be the most profound healing experience of my life to date. It brought me back to myself– and allowed me access to myself in a way that I’ve never had before. It cracked me open and poured me out– not letting me ignore or deny all my squishy insides. It forced communication, made me deal with my emotions, and biggest of all– it allowed me my VOICE.

It quite literally forced me to acknowledge my power. It took away my mother’s skirt, pushed me out from behind my keyboard, and whooshed my treatment room door WIDE OPEN. The nourishment that it provided my body made me unable to distract myself from myself. My physical structure was fully supported and operating more efficiently than it ever had before. I was unable to push down my feelings– unable to swallow my voice. It transformed the way I inhabited time– making days feel amazingly endless and full of possibility. It allowed me to be productive and unafraid of my forward momentum. And it immediately made me want to TALK about it.

The cleanse gave my voice a platform. It created a context for me to begin to speak. It immediately presented itself as an immense healing tool that I wanted to use to help others move forward along their own paths. It forced me to harness my creative energy towards creating a structure to facilitate transformation.

It has taken a lifetime to get to where I am right now– and I don’t know how many more steps there are in this journey– but I feel confident in taking them. I feel nourished. I feel present. I feel supported. I feel heard. I feel powerful.  And I feel AMAZING. And that’s really all this little girl could possibly ask for.

Step three towards fully inhabiting my own power: Acknowledge my voice and let it be heard. Check.

A Space of My Own

Expansion is not without its scrapes and bruises. And change is a necessary part of the growth process. My job titles vary depending on who I’m talking to and what hat I happen to be wearing on any given day. In addition to being a facilitator of peoples’ healing processes, I am also a facilitator of space. A big part of my work in the world is holding space for people. My studio space is a physical manifestation of that work. It’s a space where people are encouraged to explore themselves– where everyone’s truest self, client and practitioner alike, is invited and welcome.

Several months ago, my dear friend and colleague, Tracy Broyles,  moved out of Body Mechanics and into another work space. Tracy worked out of my studio for more than six years, moving with me from my tiny “starter” studio space to the current one.  As healers, the containers we create go far beyond physical structures– although those are important too.  As a healer I create an energetic safety net for my clients the moment we enter into the healing relationship.  The moment a session begins– there is a qualitative shift, and an absolute understanding that the space that we exist in together is one of complete safety and support. I endeavor to create the same safety net for the practitioners who work out of my space.

I watched Tracy’s process as a healer unfold alongside my own. I watched her “teach Pilates” under that auspice, and then held space as she shed that title and began to explore and create her own healing practice. I also held space as she struggled in the working container that held her. She clearly felt connected to Body Mechanics and held by the container i had created to some degree– but there were small battles that occurred for both of us having her exist there. The lights were too bright and she worried about noise and privacy with her clients. Her process was messy and chaotic– sometimes I felt like a parent moving through the space after her, cleaning up messes. She and I occupy space differently– and with as much freedom as my studio offered her– it was still my studio.

I remember the first conversation we had where we acknowledged that there was a space of her own wanting to be created. She felt trepidation in that acknowledgement because she didn’t want it to reflect upon her feelings about me or Body Mechanics. I similarly wanted to make sure she knew that there was a place for her in the studio for as long as she needed it. It was our very first baby step towards the beginning of an entirely new level of expansion.

It was a few months later when she told me she had found a new space to share, and  I immediately felt a massive sense of relief– for her as well as myself. She was getting too large and unwieldy for me to hold space for in the way that I knew how to do it. And I was unable to change my patterns with her– and unaware even that my patterns needed changing.  We two massive, behemoth beings needed some distance between us so that we could both begin to really take up all of the space that we deserved to be inhabiting.

Despite the relief I felt at her news, when it came time for her to leave, the sense of loss I felt was massive. She and I met and did a ceremony to clear her energy out of the studio, which was perfect and sweet. At its conclusion she left the studio and I walked into my treatment room, lay down on my table and sobbed. I sobbed as an acknowledgement of the huge transition that both of us were being asked to move through. I sobbed because my friend and healing companion was no longer going to occupy the same presence in my life and my physical space. And I felt as she closed the front door behind her, a massive amount of space opened up for me that I hadn’t even realized wasn’t previously there. Crying was really the only reaction I could have to the confluence of all of those things.

Two weeks later we met at our respective spaces and traded sessions. I’ve given many sessions to Tracy, and none have been as clear or powerful as the one we experienced when she was no longer a practitioner at Body Mechanics. Similarly, I’ve received work from her many times, and the session we had in her new space blew them all out of the water.

Sometimes we fail to acknowledge the importance of our containers. We fail to realize what a huge role the space that surrounds us plays in our lives. We don’t always acknowledge what a space is for us, or how it functions as support, or how we function to support it. But as soon as we change our patterns with our containers, an entirely new level of presence is available to us.

What I realized about my container after Tracy left was that I hadn’t been allowing it to support me. I was stuck in a pattern of giving without receiving the support that surrounded me. It took Tracy leaving for me to recognize the pattern I had created of holding space without allowing it to hold me. The space I have created is nurturing and grounding. Its roots have grown deep and wide. The soil beneath it is fertile– and so many amazing practitioners have contributed to those massive, supportive roots. I deserve that support as much as everyone else.

With Tracy’s departure I realized that Body Mechanics had grown into something far beyond the seed that I planted eight years ago. I realized that the space I created was ready to support and nurture me in the same way it nurtures others. Growth can be terrifying. It calls into question so many aspects of ourselves that we think of as fixed, unmovable parts. When we begin to acknowledge that change is not only possible, but liberating, the world begins to open up to us in entirely new ways.

I still miss seeing my friend regularly. I miss the ease that exists in a relationship when you share a working environment. I miss the commonality of the space that was ours. But what both of us have gained is far beyond those things. Tracy found the freedom that she was desperately searching for in her space– which directly translates to the incredible healing work she is doing in the world. And I found a new home within my own space– one that always existed for me, I just needed to give myself permission to discover it.

 

the art of nourishment

I’m on day six of a ten day cleanse. And I’m hungry.

My diet for the last six days has consisted of green smoothies, copious amounts of water, amino acid supplements, a lot of avocados, a few apples, coconut water and herbal tea. And as I may have already mentioned, I’m hungry.

I decided to do this cleanse because I’d heard amazing things about it from a friend, and frankly because I felt like I needed it. My eating habits have been sliding down a slippery slope for the last couple of months– too much processed food, and not enough consciousness about what I’ve been putting into my body. I’ve started to feel disconnected from the instrument that orchestrates my life. So I’m cleansing. Hallueluiah.

There are people out there (you may know some of them personally) who I’m going to call “Zen Cleansers.” They write beautiful, uplifting messages on social media about the amazing benefits of the cleanse that they’re doing– how fabulous they feel, how bright their skin is, how they got to day ten and decided to just keep going, how they’ve hardly even been hungry…

I am NOT a Zen Cleanser. I am a HANGRY Cleanser. I am not going to sugar coat what this experience is for me. And that is not to say that it doesn’t have immense value. Because it does. It is working on me, or rather forcing me to work on me at a level that I was not capable of accessing when my body was satiated and groggy from my overloaded, overworked digestive system.

It has brought all of my inner most emotions and placed them right at my surface. I am like a smoking volcano, poised for eruption at any moment. My emotions are volatile. I’m incredibly reactive and I’ve cried more in the last six days than I had in the previous six months. But there is immense value in it.

I feel old patterns of relating to the world coming up to the surface and releasing. It’s as if I’m experiencing in extreme fast forward the last thirty eight years of my life and with each experience of an old emotional pattern, I feel it, identify it (“wow, that feels just like when I was fifteen”) and then I let it go. I am finding myself needing to navigate my emotions and find productive ways to communicate about them– because my body will not allow me to suppress them. (And I was wholly unaware of my emotional suppression before the blessing of this cleanse.)

I also find that my work, while certainly more taxing due to lack of calories, has felt incredibly clear and easy over the past six days. Information has flowed easily. I’ve had precise clarity in knowing how to approach and help to shift energetic patterns within my clients. I’ve also felt more present in each session, and the work we’ve done has been incredibly potent as a result.

What I find myself ruminating over as my belly continuously sends me hunger signals even though it has all of the nutrients it needs, are all the different ways that I am able to nourish myself. I realize that over the last several months in addition to not nourishing my physical body, I have also not been nourishing myself emotionally or energetically. I’ve neglected my writing. I’ve been spending way too much mindless time, watching t.v. or engaged in social media, which leaves me feeling disconnected and numb. One thing my hungry belly is not allowing me right now is to be numb or disconnected.

Last night after my partner beautifully ushered me through emotional breakdown number 47, we went out with friends and heard two amazing bands. Although my belly felt empty, as I listened to the brilliant musicians on stage and felt the joy of all of the people surrounding me, I closed my eyes, allowed my body to move to the music, and for the first time in a LONG time: I felt completely FULL.

I felt nourished.

What I’m beginning to realize is that nourishment comes from being conscious in all aspects of my life. I am able to nourish myself in so many ways beyond making my belly feel sated. I am nourished by allowing myself to feel and express my emotions– positive or negative. I am nourished by doing my work in the world and experiencing the magnitude of the amazing people who allow me to help them. I am nourished by maintaining my space, and reminding myself that it is an extension of myself. I am nourished by sharing time and laughter with the people I love. I am nourished by singing and dancing and writing. I am nourished by putting my needs at the top of my list instead of haphazardly scrawled somewhere near the bottom.

So while I may not offer a glamorous view of cleansing, this self-proclaimed HANGRY Cleanser can honestly say that despite my hunger, I am loads lighter and more nourished today than I was on day one– and I’ve still got four more days to go…

my second wind

I’ve been feeling a little beat up lately. Like the universe is having its way with me– kicking me while I’m down, so to speak, repetitively. In the head. (or some other vital area). Everywhere I turn it feels as though I’m being asked to put up my dukes. It brought me to my breaking point this afternoon. I took a trip downtown with my daughter in hopes of getting insight into a problem with my phone which is mysteriously not receiving a signal. After finding out it has “liquid damage” and erasing everything on the phone, I remembered the meter that i fed for 1/2 an hour– not anticipating the hour and a half of fun awaiting me at the genius bar.

My daughter and I ran to the car– only to find that it wasn’t where we both swore it was. (She’s clearly picking up on my compromised signals.) We were both baffled for a few minutes, walking around blocks where i knew we wouldn’t find it. (An experience I have NEVER had before “you always know where your car is parked,” was her comment to me.) We doubled back and I regained my senses, and find it we did– with not one, but two little yellow envelopes tucked under the windshield wiper. In the first, a ticket for $39 for exceeding my allotted meter time. And in the second, one for $140 for having an expired registration. (Something I was entirely unaware of and I thought for sure the DMV was supposed to notify me about).

It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten a ticket of any kind. It brings up a strange feeling of helplessness in me– and was definitely the icing on top of the “kick me while I’m down” cake. We drove home. I got to the door and started unlocking it and felt like I was going to crumple. She asked me if I was okay, I told her I was just having a hard time– and she told me “It’s okay to cry, that’s what you always tell me.”

I went out into the backyard and had a little “what in the hell is going on, universe?’ moment. And then the universe said to me with absolute clarity, and lacking any sympathy: “had enough yet? Do you remember who you are? Are you done or are you going to get up now?”

I began crying and said “thank you. Yes. I do remember. I am a fighter, and you can kick me as hard as you want– I’ve got plenty of fight left in me.”

And apparently I needed to be reminded of that. I’ve become complacent lately. I’ve forgotten who I am and what my abilities are. I’ve stopped trusting myself. I’ve allowed myself to be overcome with fear and worry. I’ve let doubt cast a shadow where only light should be shining. I’ve been walking down a long, dark hallway, nearly paralyzed with fear at the magnitude of the growth and expansion that is waiting to pounce on me. Not realizing that, since I already know it’s there, I’ve got the upper hand and have completely negated its element of surprise.

What I’m in need of at the moment is a serious dose of my own medicine. As healers, it can be hard to remember that we need to take our own medicine too. It is of utmost importance. If i were lying on my table, I would remind myself that fear is only powerful when we push it down and deny its existence. That it’s a natural part of being a human being, it’s perfect, and that at the root of my fear is powerful medicine, useful insight. I need to turn on a bright, shiny light in that hallway– and walk down it like I own it (because I do). Because I am powerful beyond imagination. And it’s okay to be scared of that. Inhabiting my power, allowing my power to inhabit me, it’s terrifying. But when has a little bit of terror ever stopped me before?

It hasn’t. Because I’m a fighter. And I am in charge of what happens to me.

See that universe? I do remember. I may be down, but I’m far from out. And as a matter of fact, I’m just getting my second wind. And I’m definitely beginning to inhabit my power– so you might want to take a few steps back– because I don’t think anybody knows what’s going to happen next. I certainly don’t– but I can promise you it’s going to be BIG.

my path less travelled…

My name is Mandy, and I am a healer.

Such a simple statement, and yet it has taken years for me to give voice to those words. And even now, sometimes I still stumble on them– try to quickly find the justification or clarification once they’ve been uttered… Couch them in apology or immediate explanation…

I don’t talk much about my work– not in the outside world. I have a hard time contextualizing for people what it is that I do outside the safety of the four walls of my treatment room. And perhaps a large part of my hard time is the fact that what I do doesn’t have a name (beyond the one I’ve given it). No one taught me how to do what it is that I do. No one except for the hundreds of people who have allowed me to place my hands on their bodies. I wasn’t “certified” or “trained” to do my work, but rather I have honed and developed my sensitivities along with my boundaries.

From the very beginning of my career as a Pilates instructor my clients began referring to my “magic hands.” Initially they were as much a surprise to me as the next person. I found I could listen to and trust my hands. I allowed them to guide me to pain or places of tension in people’s bodies. And then with my hands I helped to alleviate that pain and tension. It felt a lot like magic to me as well. I think the beginning of my acknowledgement process began when the vast majority of my clients upon entering the Pilates studio immediately lay down on the table– themselves no longer seeing the need for the pretense of “working out.”

For years I struggled with finding a label or category to place upon myself. I contemplated Chiropractic School, Naturopathic School, even Western Medical School– something to justify and validate me. Letters behind my name telling the world that I was worthy of respect and consideration. Ultimately I found (and still find) myself taking the path less travelled.

I am allowing myself to define my work in my own time, with my own words, and with the help of the many amazing human beings who give me the privilege of witnessing their own transformation. We all have our own paths. In my work I try to instill courage in others to travel theirs. In my life I’m doing my very best to forge my own.