8 Traits of an Empath

Living in the world is not easy for the sensitive souls.  Cruelty, drama, sickness, war and strife are hard enough to bear, but humanity’s inhumanity is untenable.  Many evolved souls are able to channel their frustration and rage into causes and rallies and righteous indignation.  But others are simply too sensitive.  They would prefer to hide in a box, in a closet, in a dark basement, shielding themselves from the horrors that exist in this world.  They feel things too deeply.  They seem to take on the sorrows of the world.  These sensitive souls are known as Empaths.

Empaths are emotionally sensitive people who absorb others’ emotions and physical symptoms.  They are sponges for the physical, emotional and spiritual junk that others carry around.

Do any of the following sound familiar?  You might be an Empath if…

  1.  You just know things.  Someone can walk up to you and start talking and your BS meter will be off the charts.  You know they are lying.  You don’t know how you know, but you know.  Being around anyone who is entrenched in ego becomes like nails on a chalkboard and you avoid them like the plague.  When you are cornered by somebody who is not coming from a place of authenticity, you freeze, like a deer in the headlights.  Can’t. Talk. Must. Flee…..
  2. You feel like the world’s biggest hypochondriac.  Walking through a gathering you will suddenly get a pain in your knee as you walk past someone.  That will pass and then someone will stop you to talk and your head will begin to ache.  They leave, and your head clears, but someone else will walk behind you and you will feel dizzy and off kilter.  Anxiety crawls up the back of your neck and you just want to hide.
  3. Your moods swing like a pendulum, making you wonder if you have perpetual PMS.  You can feel high as a kite, singing and dancing in your mind, when suddenly you will plunge into the abyss of darkness, verging on tears of despair.  Then the rage will pop in for a few minutes.  You circle around to manic panic, but it isn’t until you are safely alone that you will return to calm.
  4. The word “bartender” or “therapist” must be tattooed on your forehead, because no matter where you go, people stop you to tell you their life story, sharing detailed, personal problems and unloading all of their stuff onto you.
  5. While in large (or small) groups of people, you often feel as if you are about to swoon.  Crowds give you claustrophobic and you avoid them at all costs.
  6. You crave alone time.  Especially in nature, or with your pets.  You have fantasies about living on a desert island or moving somewhere remote and living in a cabin in the woods.  If not for indoor plumbing you might already be on your way.
  7. You have the disease to please.  If somebody is ailing, or needs anything, you tend to bend over backwards to make things right for that person, even if it is at the expense of your own well being.  You love to make people happy and avoid confrontation.
  8. Standing up for yourself is very difficult.  You can go to the ends of the earth in defense of anybody else, but when you feel attacked or mistreated, you tend to just silently take it.

Sound familiar?  If so, the chances are good that you are an Empath.

But fear not! No need to run and hide! There are tools and resources to help you Survive and even THRIVE.

Local folks, check this out:  Survival Guide for Sensitives 

Everyone else… stay tuned to this space.  A handy dandy list of survival techniques will be coming your way in the next week.  Don’t touch that dial!

 

Confessions of a Control Freak

I came crashing through 2015, successfully navigating a year of craziness and tumult.  2016 dawned and I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking the mayhem was over and now things might settle down a bit.  I made a plan.  I would simplify.  Slow down.  Focus on what I love.  Maybe even nap once in awhile.

Want to know how to make God laugh?  Tell Her your plans.

Sure enough, the universe had other plans.  Within a week of the new year my life began to move in fast forward.  A new job, more clients,  new partnership opportunities, added volunteer commitments and on and on…. the big wheel keeps on spinning, faster and faster.  It is exhilarating, but when the heck do I get to nap?

And then the other shoe dropped.  My American Husband got laid off.  His job, linked just a bit too closely to the oil industry, is on temporary hiatus.  Or it may be permanent.  We won’t know for a few months.

After regaining our breath from this particular  sucker punch, the voice of reason kicked in.  We talked about what a great opportunity this may turn out to be.  This could be the perfect time to recreate our lives!  We could start a business… write a screenplay… maybe sell everything and become RV nomads, wandering the continental North America in search of adventure, or whatever comes our way.

Or maybe the Great Divine has something else in mind.  The lesson buried in this is one I have been facing over and over in the past several years.  And for a control freak like me, it is a challenging one.

I need to learn to trust.

That’s right.  I need to let go and just trust that something better is on its way.  My ego loves to step in and start organizing, managing options, making lists and flow charts, and basically giving the Universe my versions of how things should turn out.  We’ve come upon a blind corner on our life’s journey and I really want to figure out what is around the bend.

But I need to let all of that go.  I need to trust.

Oh shut up, voice-of-reason!  What do you know?

Just let it go.  Let it go….. (you can’t see me right now, but I am humming and swaying, hands in zen meditation mudras)

So I will do my best to let go and trust that things are breaking apart now so that they can come back together bigger, stronger, better than before.  I will trust that we are being guided to the next big thing.  Life is a constant flow of change and growth, and even though I can’t see around the corner, I know that this time of uncertainty holds treasures that I am already grateful for.

Because I can trust.

No you can’t.

Shh.  Yes I can.

This is me.  Letting go.

Ah! I See You Have the Machine that goes ‘ping’.

There is a certain sense, somewhere between terror and exhilaration, that assails me each time I drive up to my brother’s cabin in Montana.  The cabin is nestled on rolling hills overlooking a lake, with an absolutely stunning view of Chief Mountain.  Arguably the nicest view in my world and certainly in my top 3 ‘happy places’.

So why the terror?  The exhilaration?  Quite simply because there is no cell service or wifi at the cabin.  None.  Nada.  The devices we bring with us, connecting us to our network of social goings on, become nothing more than clunky timepieces for the time we are there.

It’s exhilarating!  And it’s terrifying.  And I love it all the more because of that.

What started out as a convenience, being able to keep in contact with my family, has become somewhat of an addiction.  I carry my phone with me everywhere.  Any simple or silly question I have is instantly answered as I open google and thumb type my search.  My social network rarely goes more than a few hours without me jumping in to catch up.  And what is called a ‘phone’ is very rarely used as such.

It isn’t until I am in a place where the device I have grown addicted to is useless that I understand the depth of that dependency.  And I realize, during those blissful weekends at the cabin that the stress of being in constant contact is an underlying anxiety that has become a normal part of my day to day life.

A few days ago I talked about getting back on track, and the 3 C’s that will help me with that.  One of those 3 C’s was Cut the Crap.  The device that has become glued to my hand, drawing my attention away from everything (and everyone) else, has got to go.  Don’t get me wrong… I won’t be chucking it into the river like some scene in a movie, walking away with inspiring music playing in the background as I victoriously raise my fists in the air.  No.  I need to keep the phone, if only to maintain communication with my teenager.  She speaks fluent text, and I don’t want to miss out on that.

But… I will be shutting it off.  A lot.  I realized recently that during the winter months, when the cabin is not accessible, I really miss those technology vacations.  It isn’t so much that the view at Duck Lake is spectacular (which it is).  It is that I am actually looking up and seeing something other than the dancing pixels on my iThing.  I wonder what wonders await if I try looking up in my day to day life.

Please believe me when I tell you in the next few months that I am not ignoring you, my phone is.  The important things in life are not ‘things’.  And my device is a ‘thing’ I intend to close the drawer on as often as possible.

The prospect is terrifying.

…..And exhilarating…

 

Good Morning, Good Night

When I was a young lass, my family moved from sunny southern California to the wilds of northern British Columbia, Canada. The first few months were a bit of a culture shock, as it was the dead of winter when we arrived. Each morning my mom would come and wake me up while it was still dark outside. I would get out of bed, run across the cold floor in bare feet and stand over the heat vent.

My nightgown would billow out like a filled balloon as the forced warm air flowed. I would stand there each day, listening to my Mom off in the kitchen humming “Do you Know the Way to San Jose” plaintively. And my thoughts would just kind of fade away. Staring into the zone, I would experience stillness and peace for those few moments.   Looking back I realize that those were my first meditations.

Nowadays I try to meditate twice a day. I have a very busy life and most days I don’t have too many chances to just relax, so those first 20 minutes of stillness, and those last 20 minutes of stillness… they mean the world to me. They are the bookends to my crazy days.

Wrapped in the luxury of my soft robe, I let go of the tensions and anxieties and allow myself to just be. My thoughts don’t always stop completely, but even if I get a few good solid breaths where I am just in the moment, I feel like I have had a great sit.

If you haven’t tried meditating, or think it is hard, please pop over here and read this. I promise you that it is easier than you think. And I promise you that when you commit to taking those moments for yourself, you will reap benefits beyond your imagination.

It is dark midwinter, and yesterday the groundhog promised 6 more weeks of the same. I took the news calmly. I have become accustomed to the four seasons we enjoy in Canada. And it only took me 45 years.

And now if you will excuse me, I have a heat vent I need to go stand over.

Do you know the way to San Jose?

Thank You For Being a Friend

Thank you for being a friend… The first lines of the theme music for Golden Girls. I used to watch the show occasionally, enjoying the sassy banter and cutting edge humor coming from the sweet old ladies. Just the other day I realized something unsettling. When the show premiered, one of the GGs was younger than I am right now.

*gasp*

The others were older of course, by at least 10 years, but not Blanche. When I realized this, I spent some time hyperventilating, but after calming down I did take comfort in the fact that Blanche was a sexy beast.

The show was popular for a lot of reasons, but for me the most important appeal was the relationships between the women. Adult friendship, simple and complex, becomes more and more important as we grow into our golden years (which are still DECADES away, of course, but I like to plan ahead). Our kids grow up and fly the nest, making lives of their own. Our spouse, if we are lucky, can be one of our closest friends. But it is that intricate, beautiful coming together of fabulous women that fills me up and makes my heart sing.

Setting the clear intention last year to find likeminded friends, I realized the other night, as I ate deep fried pickles and drank beer with my “knitting” club, that my wishes had been fulfilled, and beyond my wildest dreams. My life has become rich and abundant with friends. Beautiful women gathering to laugh and talk, cry and hug, love and accept each other unconditionally. It is with our friends that we can drop the roles we play: Mom, Wife, Employee, Daughter… and simply be who we are.

I have been told that it is more difficult to make friends as we get older. A year ago I would have agreed with that statement. Today I would beg to differ. There are so many of us who are hoping to find each other. We just need to know where to look. Here are a few tricks I have learned along the way:

  1. Begin by saying yes. If you are invited anywhere to do anything, instead of caving to the lure of the sweatpants, Netflix and no bra, get dressed and go do the thing that you are invited to do. Put the effort to show up. Proximity is a breeding ground for friendships.
  2. Join stuff. Volunteer, sign up for a painting class, go to yoga, join a book club. There is a lot going on in every community. Put yourself out there and join things. You will meet so many new and interesting people that there are bound to be some kindred souls just waiting to be discovered.
  3. Step out of your comfort zone. Reach out to others. Invite someone for coffee. Go audition for community theatre. By being brave and stepping outside of the comfort zone, we are showing the Universe that we are making a concerted effort to create what we hope to see. The Universe is really great at meeting us more than half way. Taking steps in the direction of what we want always sets things in motion.
  4. Smile. You are beautiful when you smile. People are attracted to your gorgeous energy. By smiling you turn on your inner light so that others can really see you. Know that everything you are imagining is on its way to you now, so you have a very good reason to smile.

I love each circle of friends that I have. My book club, where we drink wine and rarely talk about books. My spiritual gang of fabulous, awakening souls. The Knitters who sometimes even remember to bring something to knit. The theatre types who bond so tightly during productions we feel like family. Old friends who have seen me through so many years of triumphs, tragedies and change. New friends who spend hours discovering each other’s stories. We cherish one another and shine brighter because we are together. Maybe we really are … the Golden Girls.

We’ve travelled down the road and back again. Your heart is true you’re a pal and a confidant.

Thank you for being a friend.

 

Cool feature image created by http://mcillustrator.deviantart.com/art/golden-girls-167641303

Lyrics quoted are from Andrew Gold’s Thank you for Being a Friend

The Three C’s

One year ago yesterday I gave up. It was my birthday and I’d had it. Like pigpen’s ever expanding shroud of dust, I had so many bad habits trailing me through the years that I was ready to let go of all of it. And so I gave up. I gave up the stinking thinking that had kept me stuck. And I gave up the beliefs that I couldn’t re-create my life in such a way that would make me happy, fulfilled and living within my soul’s true purpose.

One year has passed and yesterday I took some time to contemplate where I am now, compared to where I was then. This time last year I was working at a job I truly disliked. I felt stuck and frustrated. Those feelings shaded all other parts of my existence so that I felt like life was dull and unexciting. I hadn’t shared much of my spiritual stuff with anyone, and knew that I was being asked to do more. But what? I was flummoxed. Confused. Frustrated.

So I gave up. And life has never been better.

One year later: I have left that job behind and began a soul based business offering services that felt in tune with my beliefs and gifts. My friend Erin and I started teaching soul classes on Tuesday nights at the coolest little Indie book store in the western world.  I jumped back into theatre, my first true passion, taking the leap into the Director’s chair and fulfilling a secret dream I’ve held since I was a tiny thespian. I stepped outside of my comfort zone and began reaching out to people, tentatively offering companionship, and now have a growing circle of beautiful souls I am honored to call friends.

Yes things are looking up. I am so happy with what has changed in the past year. The shadows of a half lived life are replaced by the full, technicolor glory of Living with a capital L.

And yet….

There is more to do. Like all organisms on this Earth school, even after times of huge growth and expansion, it is never okay to sit back and say: “Okay. I’m done. Now what’s on Netflix?” Resting is fine. Catching our breath is good. But wallowing, even in the successful stuff is never going to be okay. We are on a path of discovery. If we stop moving forward, we will stop discovering stuff.

Therefore, I am setting more intentions for myself for the coming year. I have 365 days until the next cake day, and I intend to LIVE LIFE. And here’s how… my three C’s for the coming year:

  1. Create.  Like the Universal All  -that-isness that created us, we are at our cores, creators. When we allow ourselves the freedom to be creative, we are truly expanding ourselves and the whole world. We make something from nothing. Our creation, whether it be a painting, a book, a sculpture, a sand castle, a song, an origami unicycle, or anything in between, offers the Universe another spark of who we are.  My creations this year will include several projects. A scarf that looks like a fox. One book finished and another started. A coloring book filled with magical mandalas. Discovered vegetarian cuisine created in my kitchen. A backyard turned into an urban farm. And so much more! As I create, it seems doors open and inspiration walks in, bringing more and more exciting ideas.

2. Cultivate Joy. I have come to understand in this spiritual quest of mine, that our one true purpose in this life is to find our joy. For years I attached a lot of conditions to feeling joy. I thought the accumulation of things (houses, cars, clothes, shoes, BOOKS) would bring joy along with them. And when I realized that wasn’t true, I thought that I could just destroy my pesky little ego and once that was done I would be living in supreme, unending joy.But here’s the thing. We are spiritual beings having a human experience, yes. But when we try to only live in that spiritual realm, we really miss out on the human stuff, which is what we are meant to experience. The duality of the human experience is that there are two sides to everything. Where there is shadow, there must be light. Where there is up there must be down. Where there is happy, there must be sad. And where there is good there has to be bad.

We attach judgment to our each experience. We feel so happy when the good stuff happens, and then so sad when the bad stuff happens. But it is in our perceiving and judgment that the “happy” and “sad” are created. What if we just allow each human experience to flow without attaching so much meaning to it?

Being thankful for the lessons, good, bad and ugly, can be challenging. But once we get the hang of it, the whole world begins to change. Our gratitude is the biggest and most important step in cultivating joy. We begin to understand that external circumstances no longer have the power to control us, and we are able to step off the rollercoaster ride of ups and downs and just bask in the perfection of the present moment.My first step in cultivating joy? Gratitude. I will endeavor to find reasons to be thankful for every moment of this life.

3.  Cut the Crap. Some days I seem to hit the snooze button all day long. Yes I get up and get moving, but really I am still half asleep. I stare at my computer for a few hours, mindlessly scrolling through posts and pictures and stories. I eat. I turn on Netflix. I drool. And then I go back to bed, having never fully awakened.Days, weeks and even months have passed with me barely being aware. Oh sure I have my moments of awareness, but lately I have been coasting along without much purpose.And so, with 365 days ahead of me in my new year, I have pledged to cut the crap and get busy living a full, awakened life. I will turn off the devices and turn on my excitement. And I will fill my moments with simple being-ness, instead of compulsively shoving mind numbing pixels into my brain cells.

Life is for living. This year I intend to step things up a notch. No more sitting on the side lines for me. I will take this ordinary life, and make it as extraordinary as I can.

Who’s with me?