You know what I am looking the most forward to in 2021? It not being 2020.
Because three-fourths of the year was spent in lock-down, I almost feel like 2020 didn’t even happen. Except that I know it did. I don’t know about you, but after a while, it all seemed to just start to blur together. And not always in a good way.
So, I’m excited about 2021 because it means that 2020 is over and we’ve all managed to survive this incredible year.
Who knew that we were going to have to live through a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic that would shut down our society, disrupt the economy and kill thousands of people in our country alone?
For me one of the hardest challenges of 2020, besides not being able to connect in person with my family and friends and trying to stay safe and not spread COVID, was how quietly the process of aging snuck up on me.
It caught up to me this past year in ways that only mid-life can bring.
First it started getting my attention by my worsening eyesight, which I blamed on too much “screen time” now that I was on the computer all day conducting therapy with clients. Several months later and many socially-distanced visits to the eye doctor, turns out that my eyesight is changing, and not just because of additional screen time.
All of a sudden, I find myself talking about “multifocal” contacts and glasses (a kinder way to reference bifocal glasses) and trying to keep track of where my reading glasses are. I have now become one of those people who has glasses available in every room of my house and my car.
Next came the slow down of my metabolism, which at first I thought was simply “pandemic eating” catching up with me. Well, turns out that “pandemic eating” is the perfect condition for exposing a slowed down metabolism that apparently comes with mid-life.
Gone are the days of being able to eat whatever I want and get away with it. And this is despite exercising daily and staying active. When I was younger, staying fit depended 60% on the exercise I was doing and 40% on what I ate; now it’s directly reversed apparently, staying fit requires me to focus 60% of my efforts on food choices and intake and 40% upon the kind of exercise. It’s a true paradigm shift.
What these physical life changes have taught me is how important it is to make movement and activity as much of a priority as everything else in my life. Instead of exercising with a goal in mind, I now approach it as a way to support myself staying healthy and strong as I am moving into the second phase of my life.
I’ve also had my share of hot flashes this past year too. Thankfully, these started happening this past summer, during which I could go out and jump into the swimming pool to cool off. Still, not a fun thing to have to begin to get used to. I’m adjusting though and finding my way through this piece, using nutrition, natural supplements and stress-relieving practices to manage.
I liken this perimenopause life transition that I am going through to being like “adolescence with consciousness”.
If you think about it, adolescence was the other major life transition in which hormones were all over the place and it felt like my body went from one moment making sense to me to the next moment being all over the place. The difference I am finding is that now, in midlife, I have more resources, more supports, more knowledge, wisdom and life experience to understand “that my body is changing again” and to greet myself with compassion and support.
For me, this past year has been all about doubling down on the amount of support that I need to build into my life to stay grounded and connected.. I have learned in a way that I never have before, how much I need it. There’s been so much going on this past year on so many levels.
What I have learned in a deeper, more profound way is how dynamic life is, how much change is a part of being alive and how important it is to find an anchor deep inside to keep coming back to when I start to lose my connection to myself.
2020 has certainly provided me with ample opportunities to learn about this and practice anchoring and reconnection. For these growth opportunities I am grateful.
I used to be one of those people who intentionally sat down at the end of each year and not only reviewed and reflected upon the past year, but also came up with clear and measurable new year’s goals and intentions.
However, several years ago, someone very wise and dear to me said that anytime we add a goal to life, it creates tension. That’s stuck with me. Deeply.
Anytime I create a “goal” for myself, it always creates tension in my structure. Even if the tension is subtle- it’s there.
It’s how I learned to move forward in my life from a place of pressure or fear of failing, rather than moving forward in life as a process of movement towards something that I want, whether or not it happens. Moving forward for the sake of growth and movement and living into the next experience is such a freeing way to be alive.
So, I don’t create any specific “resolutions” or goals any longer at New Year’s. Or really for that matter, for any of my life experiences any more.
Instead, what I hope for and set intentional energy towards, at each new year, is the hope that I continually be given opportunities for deeper growth and healing, whatever that looks like and means in each and every situation. I want to keep growing. That’s my hope for my new year and for my life.
Whatever those experiences bring, they bring. My only job is to keep building support so that I can meet them when they come.
So, my resolution / wish / hope / intention for 2021 is that I not only continue to receive opportunities to learn more about my unfinished places inside, but that I also have the supports to live those experiences for my highest good and continue to clear out what gets in the way of my aliveness.
And that’s it.
2020 was about surviving a pandemic and staying safe. Here’s to 2021 being all about a year of profound and continued growth!
There’s something that I need to tell you, your next adventure awaits!!!!!
2021 promises to be a year of accelerated growth and I am here to share something exciting with you that I believe will transform your life in deeply powerful ways!
Starting in February 2021, I will be offering a bimonthly online Enneagram study group, via the video conferencing platform, ZOOM. This is an opportunity to join a learning group of like-minded people deeply committed to cultivating self-awareness, practicing self-observation, and developing transformational habits when it comes to applying the Enneagram in your relationships and life.
We’ll explore topics ranging from themes such as essence versus personality/defensive structure, the triadic self, our energy bodies and the influence of the Enneagram, Hornevian groups emergence (strategies each type employes to get its needs met), instincts, and relationships, typological coping techniques (how each type defends against loss and disappointment), dynamics and variations, along with additional trips into somatics, body and breath practices, spirituality, chakra energy work, etc.
I have found that regular meetings in a small, intimate group provide a unique opportunity for learning, personal sharing and support in applying the Enneagram to personal development and relationships. The Enneagram is most obvious and most present when in community and connection with others. Communal learning often enriches the experience because it allows us to grow in interpersonal awareness as well as self-awareness.
All groups will be limited to 6 participants in order to create the most opportunity for intimate sharing, deep learning and accelerated growth in your understanding and application of the Enneagram system of personality typology.
For more information, CLICK HERE. My goal is to create a safe space to do the powerful and tremendous work of transforming your life.
Oh, and by the way, I’m excited to have you join me on the journey.
Note: This study group is for intermediate and advanced students who are using the Enneagram for personal growth and are interested in exploring within a safe and supportive community. Advanced registration for full series only is required.
*Note next study group series after this will start in August 2021
Ahhh….there’s nothing more enticing than an open span of time and a good book. This past holiday break, I did a lot of reading. For fun mostly. I read what I like to call “brain candy” books, you know...the kind of books that don’t have a lot of substance, but are a fun read, full of silliness, mystery and adventure…?
Right now, I’m reading some sci-fi books that are a nice distraction for the daily grind. I’m having fun!
I’ve always been a reader, even as a little kid. It was rare to not find me with my head buried in a book, whenever I wasn’t outside or roaming around the neighborhood. Books have always been a HUGE support for me both as distractions and escapes but also as teachers and guides.
There have been so many wonderful books in my life, that I’ve decided to start sharing some of my favorites with you each month. I love learning and am constantly doing so, so from time to time, I might throw in a podcast, movie, piece of art or music with you too. Today though, I want to share a little bit with you about one of my earliest formative books that I read when I was an adolescent; a book that was a powerful impetus of change in my life.
The book is Alice Koller’s story, “An Unknown Woman”. This book was so powerful for me that I read it several times in a row because it touched me so deeply at a young and impressionable age.
I remember finding this book around the time that I was an adolescent and not only struggling with the impact of all the life changes hitting me, but also the impact of my parents’ impending divorce.
Being disillusioned about life and its ability to improve (for a variety of reasons), I came across this book and was initially intrigued because of its cover: a woman walking along the beach with her dog. For me, it’s always the first few sentences that either grab me or do not and as I flipped this book open, I found myself drawn in immediately.
I think that what blew my mind the most was that this is a story about Alice’s own grappling with the big life questions of “who am I’, “why am I here”, “how do I live”, “what is motivating me”. It is the story of her courageous journey inward, in which she chooses (chooses!!!!!!) to leave behind everything that she’s ever known, in an attempt to find herself.
I had never come across anyone that lived as honestly and passionately towards themselves as Alice described in her story. There is so much that impacted me from this book, but one of the things that I admired the most was her willingness to put it all on the line.
She shared about the need to give everything up in order to start over with a life defined by herself and what she really needed to be satisfied, not by the prescriptions and dictates from society and other people. Unbelievable.
Much like shelling along the beach, Alice described stopping at every place in her life, turning it over to understand what that experience was about in order to make an honest, authentic and brave decision to hold on to it or clear it out to make room for something new and more fitting.
What was so compelling for me was that she was willing to do this all alone too. She chose to rent a cottage by the sea, learn to rely on herself and her own supports, along with a new puppy that she adopted for companionship. As she tore back the layers of her life that had helped her survive until then, she shared about having no “old way” to go back to and how frightening and disorienting this was to her. I understood this process in some deep unconscious place inside of me. This practice deeply resonated.
I didn’t know it at the time, but what she was referencing was the process of moving out of role layer and into a place of deeper connection with herself. It’s what growth is all about- being willing to leave behind the comfort of the old and familiar ways in order to deepen one’s experience of being alive.
One of my favorite selections in the book is at the beginning of page 200 in which she says,
“I haven’t really lived this life that’s lasted thirty-seven years.
I’ve only played at living it, pretending I’ve been alive, saying
and doing things to let other people believe that I’m alive.
But the joke’s on me. Because now that I’ve stopped playing
the game, there isn’t anything real to take its place.”
Wow. Incredible. At this point in my life as a pre-teen, I had never considered that there could be more layers to life than what I had experienced so far. This blew my experience WIDE open. And was kind of frightening to consider too.
If there was someone out there, grappling with how to become more ‘real’, then there was a chance that there was another dimension of me that I hadn’t even begun to tap into. I wanted that for myself.
Which is why I read this book over and over and over at that time in my life. It became one of my earliest conscious supports that helped bolster me and move me through life during a tumultuous time.
I am forever grateful to Alice Koller for this book and for sharing her story of going inward and deeply searching for the person she was meant to be in this lifetime. I truly believe that this book had a deep impression upon me choosing to become a psychotherapist for my life’s work.
I believe that the choice to become a therapist was already within me and that upon discovering this courageous story, this book helped me bring it to light.
Definitely one of my top 10 books in this lifetime.
I am in a professional training program that requires me to travel out of town once a month for weekend long training workshops. And because of the pandemic, like most events these days, this in-person experience went virtual back in the fall when it resumed after summer break.
Initially, like many, I questioned whether or not I wanted to get involved in this again this year, or just take a year-long hiatus until it would be possible to meet again in person.
I mulled it over because, like many of you these days, I spend most of my working hours in front of a screen. And then to connect with friends or family in my personal time, it also requires me to be in front of a screen. And I knew that virtual connection with these folks would pale in comparison to the in-person interactions that I had become accustomed to.
On top of all of this were my own personal issues around connection and how easily disappointment can be energized inside of me whenever a connection takes place that doesn’t feel meaningful or fulfilling.
And whew, talk about virtual connection being a poor substitute for real, meaningful, in-depth, face-to-face connection. The opportunities to get triggered through this kind of interaction were vast.
My biggest concern was that by being forced to virtually participate in these experiences that typically have been deeply fulfilling in person, I would stir up the old, deep disappointment and longing inside of me around how much I needed a meaningful and deep connection in childhood and often didn’t get this need met.
I knew this because I’ve done quite a bit of deep emotional healing work around this very issue.
It took me quite a long time in my own personal process to even be able to recognize that this unconscious desire to avoid these kinds of situations that had the potential to be disappointing was really about my childhood, not really about what was happening in the present moment.
Simply said, my desire to avoid the possibility of being disappointed by a present-day virtual event was not really about the here and now.
Avoiding the possibility of stirring up painful feelings from childhood was the real source of my declining present-day events with meaningful people and experiences. It was one of the unconscious ways my spirit had organized to help me manage the deeply painful experiences of needing real connection (as defined by me and my personality type) and not getting it.
Interestingly, even armed with this knowledge, it wasn’t enough to encourage me to sign up for virtual events. Which I found incredibly fascinating, but not surprising.
This is the perfect illustration of how a cognitive understanding of your emotional issues is not enough to heal the issues inside and lead to lasting behavioral change in your outside world.
The healing of these kinds of emotional issues is a deep internal process that transcends time and consciousness. It’s deeper than words. It’s older than time.
Words and affirmations just aren’t going to cut it in terms of changing these ingrained patterns. In fact, they’re likely to keep you stuck.
In order to deeply change and heal unconscious emotional issues, you have to get beyond your brain, beyond talk and cognitive understanding, beyond your *story* and back into the experience of what happened.
Only in this way can you heal it at the same level it impacted you: in your body, in your energy and in your spirit. And this the only way to resolve something in your life, once and for all.
One of the fascinating outcomes of this pandemic that we are all living in, is that by being forced to socially distance and engage with others virtually, this arrangement is providing everyone with an incredible opportunity to learn about your own unconscious energetic and bodily experiences of attachment and bonding.
Everyone has an incredible opportunity right now to learn about your deeper emotional world and how your connection / bonding / attachments affect you at a deeper, energetic and physical level.
In case you weren’t aware, connection with others affects us physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, cognitively and so on.
Given that most connections, other than those with folks in your household are virtual, it’s the perfect condition in which to explore how the quality of your connections have the ability to affect you physically and emotionally in a variety of deep ways.
Bear with me for a moment and I’ll explain.
I noticed the other day, after participating in “ZOOM” calls with several different groups of people in my life, a significant difference in how I was feeling physically, emotionally and energetically after each call.
(This observation wasn’t necessarily a conscious or intentional effort, it’s part of living mindfully in each moment and just *what I do* most every moment of my life.)
What was fascinating for me to recognize (not just in my brain, but more importantly in my body) was how different the experience was in my physical body after each of these virtual calls.
In one case, I felt expansive, supported, open, excited, solid, grounded, peaceful, full of life and ready to take on the world. I could feel that experience as the dynamic movement of energy throughout my body. My body felt relaxed and at ease.
In the other case, I felt small, closed down, defended, hardened, insecure and ready to give up my most essential internal body organ if it would just make these unpleasant feelings go away. And yes, I could feel this as the experience of tightness in my muscles and body structure and deadness in the energy of my body.
It was fascinating.
In one case, my body and energy felt alive and bright with high vibration and in the other case, my body and energy felt very dead and blocked, with a very low vibration to it.
And that’s when it dawned on me:
THIS is the body experience of the difference between how deep and meaningful connection impacts me physically, emotionally, spiritually, energetically, and so on and how dissatisfying connection has the capacity to wipe me out in all these ways too!!!!!!
It was the perfect real-life example of how the difference in the kinds of connections I bring into my life can either ground and center me or knock me out of my center.
So what I had was a powerful experiential physical recognition of the difference (energetically and physically) between satisfying bonding and dissatisfying bonding creates.
Powerful. Experience. Indeed.
Like many consciousness-building experiences, I didn’t recognize this happening as it was happening. It wasn’t until a few days later when this deep awareness came together inside of me, around how it physically feels different when on the receiving end of satisfying support and connection and not.
Here’s another interesting part to all this: this deep attunement to your body/mind/spirit is how you were born and designed to operate in the world.
Unfortunately, you live in a world which values logic, objectivity and rationale. In many parts of society, being disconnected from your body is rewarded and seen as a sign of strength and prowess.
No pain, no gain, right?
I’m telling you though, if you truly want to be happy and satisfied in this lifetime, it requires you to connect back to your body in a deep and energetic kind of way.
Your body never lies. It will always guide you towards more satisfaction and away from dissatisfaction. That is if you know how to listen and decode its wisdom.
So, to start working towards that, you might try this little experiment next time you have a virtual call with someone or groups of someones:
Afterwards, take a moment to check in with your body and your energy levels. Write down as many words, phrases or descriptors that you can come up with to describe how you’re feeling after the call. 5-7 minimum.
And then start doing that after these calls or virtual interactions. Begin to notice any patterns or interesting experiences that you have. Take it a step further then and as you get comfortable describing how your body feels, actually close your eyes and let yourself feel these experiences in your body.
It’ll be an interesting way to start learning more deeply how you respond physically, emotionally and energetically to the types of connection you’ve cultivated in your life.
And wouldn’t that be a nice thing to begin to pay attention to?
When meaningful connection of any kind is at a premium right now, wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to more finely-tune your time available to connect with others so that you could be sure to bring in as much support as possible?
I sure think so, but then again, that’s *what I do*. https://youtu.be/Akq0xeu-RHE
Kate is an INFJ-3 on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Enneagram.