Have different experiences in your own life changed how you interact with touch?
Excerpt from The Touch Crisis:
I had just dropped my rucksack on the bedroom floor and stepped into the bright, open hallway when I heard the ruckus. I peeked over the open stairwell and saw my two nephews pounding up the stairs with excitement, the six-year-old, Geoffrey, a few paces ahead of his younger brother.
“Auntie Dawn! Auntie Dawn!” I knelt down to receive the oncoming barrage of love, and my heart nearly burst with happiness when I saw his sweet face round the corner. His brown hair bounced as he ran toward me, his green eyes sparkling with glee, a giant smile on his face.
He almost knocked me over as he ran into me full-force for a giant hug. I wrapped my arms around his little frame as soon as he crashed into me. His brother joined from the left side, blonde curls framing his sticky face, and snuck in for a group hug. As I gave them both a big squeeze, overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from their big hearts, I wanted to hold onto them forever.
“Auntie Dawn, I missed you! Are you going away again?” Geoffrey’s tiny voice was strained with anxiety.
Oh no, I thought, surprised by the length and ferocity of his hug as I held him close. I was suddenly feeling polarized between the immense amount of love flowing between us and the intruding guilt sinking into my stomach. I didn’t think it mattered to him that I was gone for nine months. They don’t see me that often anyway.
Suddenly, the two large dogs descended on the three of us, tails wagging and tongues flying, trying to get in on the action. As the youngest let go and started asking questions, Geoffrey kept me locked in his arms with an intensity I hadn’t felt from him before.
I don’t want to be another person in his life who comes and goes and makes him feel unstable, unloved, or disconnected. I thought we stayed really connected over FaceTime. I guess that wasn’t enough.
As I held him close, trying to reconcile the overwhelming energy of the dogs, the barrage of questions from the youngest, and the increasing concern about him, images and sounds of a different memory emerged—reminding me of the last time a wonderful hug led to questions about connection and my responsibilities within it.
Every culture we are engaged in, whether personal, professional, or geographical, has different touch rules. Many are unwritten. So how can we approach connecting through touch in a genuine and open way?
Excerpt from The Touch Crisis:
The restaurant had the feel of a small, simple café, complete with a tall Norwegian blonde woman behind a coffee counter and a glass case full of baked goods. Wanting to feel part of the culture, I walked up and grabbed the Norwegian menu. Maybe I can figure this out. I was a little nervous, as I really wanted to connect, but wasn’t sure what was appropriate as far as initiating conversation. Will I talk to people in English? Swedish/Norwegian hybrid?Well, I don’t understand much of this menu, so it’s already looking bad. I traded it for English and skimmed the page. No wonder. Whale steak, some kind of fish I’ve never heard of, and accoutrements I barely understand in English. After ordering, I re-gathered my courage and sauntered upstairs into the near-empty open dining room that included a small stage to my left and a bar to my right. The windows overlooked the ferry, fjord, and small patio, which was packed. Most of the inside chairs had been pulled outside and added to tables crowded with people and drinks. That’s okay. I’ve been outside all day. It won’t hurt me to sit inside near the windows. After claiming a chair by loading it with my stuff, I wandered up to the bar for a glass of wine just as the bartender ran to the back. I waited patiently, and a tall, stocky, obviously-Norwegian gentleman and eventually a shorter brunette woman joined me in the wait.
“Var är han?” the man asked, followed by something I didn’t understand, as he gestured towards the back and then down the stairs I had ascended earlier.
“Du talar för fort. Jag föstar inte. Kan du säga det igen?” I said, telling him in Swedish that he spoke too fast and I needed him to repeat what he’d said. I focused intently on the general words as he asked if the bartender was in back or getting food from the kitchen.
“Is English easier?” he asked.
I nodded. “Yes, but I should have a conversation to learn.”
The woman chimed in and my brain immediately tried to pinpoint her accent, “It’s really a friendly space here. You can just pull up at any table and join the conversation. Are you waiting for the ferry as well?”
When the bartender returned and took their order, I paused. Just pull up and join the conversation? I felt my stomach flip. From what I know, that might not be appropriate. Plus with those full tables, it seems like a lot to manage with a plate full of food.
Dawn, my other voice chided, you would have jumped on that in three seconds at home, plus that’s what you resolved to do. Remember being in Ireland in 2009? You had no compunction about joining conversations, touching people, engaging, and being yourself. Yes, you are more culturally sensitive now, as well as more aware of the impact of unwanted touch on people, but don’t hide out at the perfect moment.
I shook my head at myself. I’m back to being sensitive to people and a bit fearful of overstepping cultural boundaries. Perhaps I can bridge that with more ease this time—after I eat at a proper table.
“Miss, what can I get you?” the bartender asked.
When we all had our drinks, we started introductions. The woman was German and was traveling Norway in an RV with her husband and three large dogs. The man was from Oslo, Norway, and was on a two-week holiday visiting friends. Both returned to their respective groups on the patio. My food arrived and I was grateful for the space while people-watching through the glass. People are sitting very close to each other, and most are laughing and engaging and talking with enthusiasm, but they are not touching casually at all. Even the couples don’t seem to be touching much.
“Come, join us outside.” The German lady peeked her head in the door, her shoulder-length curly hair standing out from under her beanie. “Don’t be in here all by yourself.”
“I was just going to eat first and then come out,” I said, startled and hesitant to leave my quiet nest, “but okay.”
“How can I help? Shall I grab your water and wine?” she asked, as she reached forward to grab them.
“Thank you.” I followed her with my food out to the corner table, where her husband sat.
The couple they were sitting with must have left. I didn’t even notice.
She set my drinks down and introduced her husband. Quickly, we started with casual talk about our trips, and eventually worked our way into other conversations as we ordered another round of wine.
This is what I’ve wanted for so many days. A connection with people, real conversation, and a chance to learn.
“You are more than welcome to come stay with us in Germany,” she offered, her husband nodding as she pulled out her phone. “We are in a really small town, but it is beautiful. Here, I’ll show you.”
Everywhere I travel, I meet good, generous people who want to share where they come from and who are proud and excited to share it with others.
We exchanged Facebook messages so I had the ability to contact them in December, the next time I would be able to enter the Schengen zone again.
“Okay, we have to get our dogs out for a while,” she said, standing up. “We will see you in Germany.”
Okay, this is my opportunity to practice what I preach.
I took a breath and stood, being careful to keep my body open and relaxed. “How do you say goodbye where you come from? Do you just say goodbye and wave? Give handshakes? Hugs? What’s appropriate?” I smiled, watching her reaction to my question.
It feels like a way to imply I am open for all of those things, but without crossing a cultural barrier and asking for something specific. Even though we have been talking for two hours, we are technically strangers. I know Germans have a reputation for being practical and structured, but I have no idea how they touch.
“Hugs are good,” she replied smiling and opened her arms. We exchanged a warm hug, and I stepped back from the table.
Have you ever been curious about reactions you have to touch, whether you are overwhelmed by it or longing for it?
Excerpt from The Touch Crisis:
“There are only a few rules while dancing here,” Kari, the leader addressed the circle of dancers. “One,dance however you want without judgment and without judging others. You can run, skip, jump, make vocalizations, spin, lay down, roll around on the floor, rest on the edges, or whatever you feel called to do that honors your needs and takes care of you. Two, no words may be spoken during dance. All communication should be done using gestures and touch. Three, some people enjoy dancing for a while with others. You can communicate you want to dance with someone, and wait for them to nod or invite you into his or her space. If you do not want to dance with somebody and they attempt to dance with you, it is okay and encouraged to just bow out. Remember, bowing out is an individual taking care of themselves and their body in the moment, and not a reflection upon you in any way. Do not take it personally.”
Those are great rules. I wish it had been that easy in my twenties at the dance clubs! I gazed around the circle at the variety of people sitting in the open wooden-floored meeting space inside the small Texan church. This is going to be a lot of fun.
Kari prompted everyone to declare an intention for the session, and the variety of answers surprised me. They ranged from an intention to be playful to an intention to heal oneself and let go of body stress through movement. The DJ stepped behind the table as the circle broke and people stood up, and then the music started with a steady rhythm that was easy to feel and move to. I stood with my eyes closed, getting a sense of the beat, the energy of the music, and how I wanted to start dancing. Slower at first, allowing myself to get grounded, to feel my breath, and to remind myself to just be playful and explore.
You don’t know this music, but you know how to move and how to dance and how to feel free, I told myself. Just do what you would do in your kitchen or outside.
The music progressed into faster yet more melodic songs, rhythms changing gradually with each one. There were no words—just a variety of tones and instruments—but the energy remained. This music inspired the body to dance.
I remember spinning around the edges of the group, seeing the cacti in the garden outside through the windows, and feeling my hair and my long skirt fly around me as I giggled like a small child. It was pure freedom, and I was high on the knowledge that other people around me were feeling the same. I knew I wanted to connect with people; but as I tried to catch someone’s eye to get permission or make a connection, no one seemed to respond. They all seemed like they were engaging with each other, but leaving me isolated.
Is it because I don’t know anyone? Are people only dancing with those they know? Or maybe I sent a message that I don’t want to dance with anyone else because of what I said?
Dictionary.com defines it as “the act of directing one’s interest inward
or to things within the self.” As
someone who has defined herself as an extrovert since the age of nineteen, the
idea of being defined as an introvert again scares me.
But why do I have to define myself? As a child, my parents and friends knew me as
an overly-talkative, playful, and goofy character. My mom recalls me laughing at “free air”
signs at gas stations. Why on earth
would people charge for air? But
when around strangers or in groups, I was quiet, compliant, and docile. I liked being outside for hours playing with
my Labrador, Ben. I charged myself by
pondering things like love as I wandered the deep forest with him. I loved
reading until the wee hours of the morning. It all changed when I moved to Salt
Lake City, Utah to go to massage school.
How would I meet people? How
would I survive? I adapted my dad’s
personality, and forced myself to talk to anyone and everyone in my class. I was surprised to make friends quickly and
as I celebrated my twentieth birthday there, I realized I was more than the box
I had been subconsciously relegated to—both by myself and by others that knew
I returned to Minnesota expressing myself differently than many
had seen me before. Suddenly, I would
talk to anyone, I presented myself with confidence and assurance, and I even
stood up to my boss who committed insurance fraud under my name and kept about
five-thousand dollars of my wages as punishment. But it wasn’t the social aspect alone that
had changed. Suddenly I found
rejuvenation by being with people; anyone around me at that time could tell you
I processed my thoughts outside myself, as most extroverts do.
I was extroverted in my travels last year. I met great people, and developed friendships
that continue with a few of them. I
explored and connected through the new and the unexpected. This year has been
startlingly different. Writing a book
about The Touch Crisis in our culture and shining a light on feelings and
patterns I hadn’t exposed to others brought me back inside myself for a deep
level of transformation and preparation. I spent much of my journey at safe
spaces with friends instead of exploring.
I deepened relationships, took advanced trainings in EFT/tapping, homeopathy,
and CranioSacral. My hikes were more
about rejuvenation and connecting with myself and nature than exploration. I recharged being alone, versus with
people. I started thinking inside and
then communicating instead of processing externally (although both happen for
different reasons.) I learned that when
one takes pictures of the Northern Lights, many more colors show than visible
with the naked eye. Isn’t that a great
representation of what others see in us and what we truly are? Who sees all of our colors in purity and
My mind races sometimes with unanswered questions. What will people think? What will I do when people attack me or take
offense over what I have written? How do
I step back into my relationships as my new self? How will this impact my business and my
Tapping and homeopathy have helped me tremendously to overcome
these questions and settle back into myself.
This journey was about finding flexibility. I have concluded: I am all of it. I am an extrovert in some seasons, and an
introvert in others. Overall I have
remembered that health is about flexibility.
About being to express all of ourselves when we want to. I have been stuck in introversion, and have
been stuck in extroversion, but being able to move between the two as I need is
a sign of health. It’s a sign of
breaking free of social programming.
It’s the ultimate freedom. I had
thought freedom was exploring and traveling and not caring what people thought
as I wandered carelessly through the world.
I was wrong.
Freedom is being flexible within myself. Freedom is communicating what I want and need
and not being afraid of the outcome.
Freedom is understanding why I am upset and learning from it; addressing
it with tapping, healers, and talking to friends; struggling and coming through
the other side; breaking free of the fear of being ‘not enough.’ Freedom to me is choosing who I want to be
with—even if that’s just myself. Freedom
is returning home after many journeys a different person and allowing others to
react how they wish, but staying true to who I am now, instead of playing a
role that doesn’t fit me anymore. It will get even more intense when my book is
released in January, and I’m okay with that—finally.
I question you. Where are you in a box that doesn’t fit? What role are you playing that doesn’t suit you? Do you feel you are not as happy as you wish to be? I’ve been there. A few times in my life. I would love to help. If you are ready for something new in your life…to let go of old emotions, habits, and beliefs, or to transform yourself, your life, and your relationships, let’s chat about the possibilities for you. Click HERE to book a 30-minute session, or we can chat at your next appointment.
I look forward to connecting.
With love and gratitude,
P.S. If you are interested in hearing when my book comes out, SUBSCRIBE HERE.
As I write my book and encourage people to communicate more clearly around their own touch boundaries and needs, I find myself observing, even more than usual, the ways individuals communicate and touch in various cultures and situations. I also observe the ways that people create strong and clear connection without using touch, as this is just as important.
I have observed cross-cultural use of many of the ideas that business gurus and communication professionals have been recommending for years, e.g. reflective listening, looking others in the eye, and body language. But I have also noticed, being a non-native speaker, on how people interact with me and with others who are from other countries. In the tourist areas, some English-speaking natives start by asking ‘do you speak English?’ but many will automatically start talking English, and hope the other person knows what they are saying. Many workers are adept at picking up on cues from their patrons and can identify whether to speak a native language or start with English, as English is default to those who know multiple languages but not the language of the country they are in.
I start my conversations with as much of the foreign language I know before I switch to English, ask for clarification, or request slower speech. I find people are more communicative and warm in return than if I just lead in English. My mother is visiting, and she says in Swedish ‘do you speak English.’ It seems to me that people are also more open with this level of communication. Perhaps because it shows a basic attempt to learn and respect where we are?
People I have met are more than willing to help me learn their language. They are willing to speak slowly, use simple words and phrases, and say things in a different way if I don’t understand. They will switch to English if they know it and I cannot understand, but if I ask them (once I understand the words) to say it again in Swedish, not only will they say it, but they will help me pronounce it correctly. It’s amazing and heart-warming and really fun to be able to learn to communicate this way.
However, sometimes I don’t attempt clarity. People speak to me and I just pretend I understand, even when I have no clue. Maybe I think I know what they said, but instead of clarifying, I just respond and then watch them give me an odd look because my reply wasn’t congruent with what they said. Every time I don’t ask for clarification, I reflect on it later, usually with a bit of regret at a missed opportunity to learn and connect. Usually I don’t clarify because I am in the midst of self-judgment or ego. Frequently I am afraid I will be perceived as stupid by the native speaker, other times I just am being lazy. At times I recognize the words and am upset at myself for not remembering them, so I “punish myself” by not engaging. Now and again I default to English, as I can’t even think about how to say a sentence under my own perception of pressure but after the situation is done, I think of three or four ways to express what I needed to, even if I do sound like a 4-year-old. (At least I will learn that way!)
We all have to start somewhere with clarifying communication-at work, in relationships, and in social media. It’s important to speak clearly and gently with others. To take time and trust the other person is doing the best they can in the moment. I encourage you, as I am encouraging myself, to let go of the ego and ask for clarification if you are being triggered by another’s words, or if you don’t understand. Take a few breaths, know that communication is one of the trickiest things we engage in. Give yourself and the other/s time and space to really understand. It’s time to be kinder and gentler with ourselves-and each other. Communicate what you want, what you need, and what you want to understand. Allow engagement, allow for mistakes. I am, and am finding it’s one of the best and most rewarding ways to learn.
I have officially hit the half-way mark with writing my book, and
thank goodness I hired a writing coach to help me. I write in spurts of energy and enthusiasm,
but then hit blocks. I wonder how to
phrase my ideas. Are they too
repetitive? Will they trigger someone or
make them feel uncomfortable? I find
myself getting upset as I poke around at old memories and lay them out for the
world to see in an open and vulnerable way.
Luckily, I also create time to hike to ground myself back to the
earth and breathe. I also do a lot of
tapping/EFT work with myself. I’m even
using my EFT practitioner once a month to help find deeper sources of patterns
I cannot see on my own. It’s been an
invaluable tool of healing and processing emotion so I can neutralize the past
and keep using those stories to help others.
I started reading a book once called The Way you Do Anything is the Way you Do Everything. I got about halfway through it, like I do with most books that are not fiction. But the point was valid, and the video below I took reminds me of that book.
I started hiking a mountain, but hit snow. I wasn’t sure, due to the melt, if I should
walk across it or not. I know a lot of
these mountains have deep crevices and holes that are buried under snow, or
streams that run deep underneath, creating potential pitfalls for the average
hiker wandering alone. I wandered at the
same level for a long time, entertaining myself by building a small snowman,
and taking pictures. Then-I found tracks
in the snow leading up. So, I followed
them. I had planned a 3-4 hour hike
round-trip. The book had said 3.5 hours,
6.9 km (4.29 miles), but I had already deviated from the path and circled the
mountain to a different path— a ninety-degree difference on the map.
I kept going, bit by bit, checking in to see how it felt to go
farther. Was I going higher up because I
wanted to? Because I felt I should get
to the top because I was already halfway?
So, embracing my inner child, I just did what I felt like at the moment. I took a rest on some rocks in the sun. I thought about patterns of pushing myself for others. How often I do things in life because others expect me to, want me to, or because I just want to prove that I can. I forget to tune in sometimes.
As I write this book that asks people to tune into their bodies
as they learn to integrate physical contact into their life in a way that is
both comfortable and consensual for everyone involved, I realized I better
start doing that in all areas of my life.
Tune in. Be present. Make
choices. Say ‘no’ when I want to, even to myself, no excuses needed.
I did make it to the top, after checking out a live bug hanging out on the snow with me, here and thinking about how I want to overcome and make a bigger impact on the world. 17.72 km (11.07 miles) and 6 hours later I was back at the bottom, waiting for the bus.
Perhaps, if I can allow myself to conquer the mountain bit by bit,
using play and exploration to figure it out, I can do that with the book as
well. I can use the support of my coach,
my friends, and my own healing tools and get it done. No rush, no timeline. Of course I’d love to have it done before I
come home in January so I can focus on my business. Yes, it would be amazing to have it done by
November so people could have it for holidays.
It would be even more exquisite to have it done before I leave the
safety of my friend’ s house in Norway in a week so I’m not stirring myself up
and trying to travel at the same time.
But, I am going to remain playful. I am going to heal the world by balancing a wooden spoon on my nose. I’m going to try to be zen, or at least laugh, even when being surrounded by black flies.
I encourage you to do the same. Find something that you do habitually, a pattern that exists in your life, and shift it to something that suits you more. That allows you peace and balance and freedom. That allows you to tune into yourself and your relationships on all levels. Be prepared-bring a carrot along for the snowman you want to build, but upon finding no snow, eat it instead for energy.
Let me know how I can help you tune in. You can email me from my contact page on my website, put a comment below, or give me a call. My work phone works in Norway! I would love to hear from you.
weeks of self-imposed peaceful isolation to write my book on community bonding
and touch has created a bit of loneliness in my heart. This morning, I made the choice to open Facebook and
catch up on my dear friends and family.
As I scrolled down the feed, my heart sank and tears came to my
on earth am I supposed to help us connect with each other when we cannot even
use civil tones with each other on social media? I sighed, as I scanned
faster to avoid the barrage of hatred laid out in front of me.
people lie, people do bad things—not liberals, not conservatives, not
whites, not gays, not the immigrants, not the millennials, not the elderly.
There are hate groups, of course, but in general communities of all styles, individuals make these choices, the same way my individual
friends make the choice to use tones of hatred.
goal seeming suddenly hopeless, I stepped away from my computer and wandered
aimlessly around the small house in the Norwegian valley. The windows offered the same view to the
beautiful mountains, and the sound of the waters rushing down them hadn’t
changed, but it all seemed suddenly worthless.
mind drifted back to an exercise at my Blandin Community Leadership training. If
only people understood how much our beliefs are actually part of our brain
am going to put you into groups based upon your Meyers Briggs results and have
each group figure a way to solve this problem.”
One of the program leaders said, standing in the middle of the U-shaped
table formation near the front of the room.
rural community leaders, a variety of ages, backgrounds, gender and race had
been chosen after a lengthy application process to learn to build and sustain a
healthy community. We were learning
about ourselves, where individual and organizational blind spots may be, how we
interact with others, how to see problems from a higher perspective, how to build positive social structures, and
how to resolve conflict. Quite an undertaking for a five-day retreat.
should be interesting, I thought, as she divided us into three groups. The last
few exercises taught us all a lot about individual roles and reactions, but
this is the first big group problem-solving exercise. I smiled as everyone
stood up and a cheerful buzz filled the room, as people grabbed their materials
and re-organized themselves.
the situation,” she interrupted the chatter as people organized into smaller
circles, “You are on the board of
directors of a nonprofit organization.
Your bookkeeper, a volunteer who has been loyal, accurate, and timely
for 15 years, suddenly starts making mistakes in the financials. The mistakes seem to be growing slowly, and
one day it is brought to your attention that someone smelled alcohol on her
breath while she was at the office. What
do you do?”
stepped back and smiled knowingly. “Does
anyone need me to read that again?”
not quite as challenging as I anticipated, I thought as I turned back to my group
with a thoughtful look on my face, I already know what my plan of action
of course we need to have a conversation with her,” one member piped up right
away. “We don’t know what’s going on or
if it’s true she really had been drinking.”
“She is a volunteer,” another person chimed in. “But we do have a duty to our organization, especially when it comes to finances.”
we definitely cannot sacrifice our organization if she isn’t able to continue
here duties well, but if she needs a bit of time away from the job to deal with
a personal issue, we could find another person to help temporarily,” the next
this is easy, I
sat up straighter and looked around the rest of the conference room to see how
the other two groups seemed to be getting on. Looks like there’s a lot of
agreement in the other two groups as well, I noted, people are smiling and nodding and
seem enthusiastic with their hand gestures—-at least the extroverts.
giggled to myself. Blandin had broken
our 16 types down into sub-types, giving us further insight to each category,
and I could see that playing out in the room. Our group is much smaller than
each of the other two, I noted. We only have about ten, and the other
two are around twenty people each. That
must make it a bit more difficult to come to a resolution.
have three minutes left. Please pick
someone from your group to present your decision to the group.” The leader interrupted loudly over the
hastily picked a leader, had her summarize our final decision to us quickly,
and turned to the front of the room, waiting.
one, please present your results.”
A prominent businesswoman stood up and projected the decision easily and clearly over the group. “As the board of directors, we have no choice but to terminate her volunteer position immediately and find a replacement. We cannot tolerate any financial impropriety in the organization, as it could cause a negative impact on our nonprofit status, our revenue, and the community trust in our organization.”
that is super harsh, I
thought, stunned. No communication?
No making sure that there wasn’t some other error in the system or an
update that wasn’t her fault that was creating the errors? Wow. So much for years of loyalty. I know how much time that stuff can take.
three, go ahead,” the leader interrupted my thoughts as I shook my head and
turned my body the other direction to hear the verdict from the other side of
the executive director of a nonprofit stood and faced the group. “She has had 15 years of loyal service. We thought it was in our best interest to sit
down and have a conversation with her, offer her help, see if the matter was
one in which she wanted to leave the position temporarily or permanently. We will give her support in finding help with
her drinking if that is necessary, and do what we can to get her back on track. She is a volunteer after all, and we don’t
need to jump to harsh conclusions or actions until we understand the totality
of the problem.” She sat back down.
that doesn’t seem to protect the organization fast, and is completely opposite
of the first group’s answer.
2?” The leader prompted.
spokeswoman, who worked for a large corporation, stood up and announced our
decision, an exact blend of the other two.
Starting with compassion and curiosity, and if the issue wasn’t fixed,
to take strong disciplinary action.
brain wiring determines how we make these kinds of decisions. Holy crap. And my group’s brain wiring has a blend of
both sides, which is why we are smaller and have a blend of both answers.
understanding hit me as ways to increase communication and synergy to pull two
conflicting sides together became clear.
and nurture both influence how we see and interact with the world as
individuals. The drama in the media of
all sides now shapes the tone and grace, or lack thereof, in which individuals choose to share their
opinions and the stories they hear.
mom told me that if I can’t say anything nice—-don’t say anything at all. I don’t believe that is true. Communication is necessary for a vibrant
community. We need to be able to
disagree, to have respectful conflict, to speak our minds, to share what is
disturbing us and why. However, it can
be done in a curious, educational, and amicable way. Are there people spouting melodrama and
hatred out there? Of course. Does that mean you need to match their
tone? Absolutely not.
something someone says triggers you and makes you extremely angry, is there a
way to pause, take a breath, and reply in a manner or tone that conveys your
disagreement in a way that opens communication? What kind of attitude and tone opens you to
listening to an opposing point of view? Try using that.
my challenge for you this week. Whether
it’s a disagreement with your child, your coworker, your friend, or on social
media, take a breath. Realize that
everyone has a right to their own opinion, no matter what information or lack
thereof informs it. You may not be able
to change someone’s mind, but you won’t for sure if you attack them. Ignore those who haven’t learned these lessons
yet, except to prompt them to please use a different tone.
give ourselves a chance to heal our communities and our relationships. Let’s
say what we need to, nicely.
There is something about hoar frost that I have always loved. It is so delicate yet so beautiful as it sparkles and shines in the beauty of the sun— even as it melts away. I love the fact that most people don’t know what it’s called, and that it is created by a beautiful blend of moisture, temperature, and light. In my memory it comes in late winter or early spring as the earth is coming out of it’s hibernation phase. Some of my favorite winter memories revolve around a ton of snow or a beautiful landscape of hoar frost.
I almost didn’t go hiking. I cut my foot, I had blisters, and I felt a little tired because I didn’t sleep well. Yet, I was restless and disappointed about the thought of staying home, and was feeling cooped up after all the hubbub over the holidays. I REALLY wanted to be in great nature and have a challenging hike instead of one along roads in towns. The previous time I hiked the trail disappeared, including all markings, just as it left town via a housing complex under development. I backtracked my steps because it was too late in the day to wander into the woods without a clear idea of where I was headed—especially since I was on a timeline to catch the last bus home.
I am so amazed that the hoar frost stayed all day. I am on the bus ride home with frost on the ground, some fog in the air, and a fantastic lengthened sunset (at 3:18 pm.) I also feel empowered, because the movement and peace helped my mind to clarify how to combine all of my skills into a lovely and beautiful healing process for everyone. I also worked through some beliefs I held about what is possible in my life (and what others expect from me) using EFT (tapping) as I was walking. Peaceful fields, hoar frost, and calming my mind by tapping easily moved me out of a place of feeling stuck and fearful back into a place of power and strength.
I am excited to come back to Minnesota to visit. I have two job offers in Sweden, so will be returning to Minnesota March 23rd to do massage, homeopathy, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT/tapping) in Red Wing and in Mahtomedi. I am finalizing dates and times currently, and will be in touch with anyone who has mentioned they are interested. I will also be holding a few free classes on EFT for those who want to learn it and use it for their own growth. It can help with many things, but the focus of these classes will be around daily use for stress, cravings, and fear.
Now that spring is coming fast, I encourage you to use the energy of growth and extended sunlight to challenge yourself in some way. What is it you want to do this year? How can you be a bit happier, a bit more peaceful, a bit more “you?” I have challenged you in previous newsletters and blogs to search within yourself and see clearly what beliefs you hold that drives you in life that do not suit you anymore. What do you do that has become pattern or habit or expectation, but does not really make you happy? Let’s work together in 2019 and get rid of that so you can be peaceful as you move through your days. With age comes wisdom and the power to dump all social expectations and step into our true selves. I wish this for you!
To continue the playfulness of last blog, and my friend who asked me to take a picture of something odd every day, I have not been finding anything odd, beyond myself, and the pronunciation of the Swedish language. No new fun toilets or anything!!
Hello everyone! My last few blogs and newsletters have been way too serious or philosophical, so I thought I would lighten it up and share some things that I am finding interesting and/or amusing.
(I apologize in advance for the picture formatting/sizing and placement. WordPress changed how I can work with pictures. They publish different than the back end shows, so I currently cannot get the pictures to do what they are supposed to. It looks great on this end!! I swear!!!)
1. Toilets. I know…who starts a business newsletter with toilets? I am having a strange fascination with the structure of toilets and flushing buttons, and finally used my first in-floor toilet in Italy. (Is that TMI??)
2. Spelling. Before I flew to the United Kingdom, I was considered great at spelling. But words are very different there than in the US, and I was reminded of that often. Even my computer picked up that I was in the UK and told me I was was misspelling words such as: theater (theatre), color (colour), neighbor (neighbour), license (licence) and so on. They actually use the word “whilst,” yet Americans avoid the word as much as we can. (Like swum… we much prefer to say “went swimming.”)
3. Enunciation. Training one’s ears to a different language can be challenging. My friend Martina, who is Italian, and I were taking turns reading to each other and I read the word “quarrel.” She suddenly stopped me and exclaimed “squirrel?!” while proceeding to take a squirrel pose and make squirrel-like noises. (It still makes us giggle!) We also had a great miscommunication about “leak” versus “lick,” which sound very similar to non-English speaking ears, as well as “hate” and “ate.” In Sweden, I am often corrected when I think I am pronouncing something PERFECTLY and my friends tell me it is completely wrong. I cannot hear the nuances of some words…yet!
4. Knives. Did you know it is illegal to carry around a knife that has a locking blade (think multitool, camping knives, etc) at all in England unless you are going camping? I didn’t. My friend’s 11-year old told me when he saw it lying on my bed. In Sweden, I also found out it is illegal to bring knives out of the house, so one cannot just grab the kitchen knife and go get it sharpened at the local grocery store. It is a good thing I know how to sharpen my knives myself! It does explain all of the extremely dull knives I have dealt with at hostels though.
5a. Bonfire night/ Guy Fawkes night. This holiday in the United Kingdom commemorates a failed plot to assassinate King James I of England back in 1605 (Catholic vs. Protestant.) There are large bonfires (often with an effigy of Guy Fawkes in it), fireworks, and toffee apples. It is cerebrated November 5th, and overshadows Halloween (which is barely celebrated here.) I found it delightful and community-oriented, and I managed to eat just as much junk food as usual.
5b. Armistice (Remembrance) Day. November 11th is Remembrance Day, and, unlike the US, it is taken very seriously over here. Many people start wearing their poppies a month in advance. One town I was in had structures all over town decorated with poppies, some of them handmade by the local artisans.
5c. Sant Lucia. This Italian Saint is also celebrated in Sweden on December 13th, although they have different traditions. In Italy, the kids bring letters to her, asking for what they want as a gift (like we do with Santa.) In Sweden, there are no gifts given, but often kids dress up and wake their parents with singing early in the morning dressed as Saint Lucy. There is a traditional saffron bread made as well. Here are the pictures from a concert and the homemade bread (I helped!!)
6. Strange Things in the Streets. My friend, Trish, asked me to post pictures of odd things I find as I am traveling (travelling??) She showed me her favorite butcher shop, who, for Christmas market, hangs pheasants, ducks, and other animals you can purchase outside. This shop also sells squirrel, which I have never eaten before. Maybe next time!
These water bottles strapped to a post are supposed to prevent dogs and cats from peeing there. I saw many framing doorways as well.
7. Navigating Trails. I am pretty good at navigating, but I find that not all public trails are marked thoroughly. For example, while I was in Italy, I decided to take the long version of this trail around a couple mountains. It is marked very well, just past the blue split to the north. Then, the trail splits about 4 times, none of which are marked. I thought I found the trail later, but it turned out it was someone’s property markings. After bushwhacking for about an hour straight up a beautiful mountain using a compass and Google Maps, I found my way back to the trail.
To be fair….perhaps sometimes I lose a trail because I get sidetracked or I think I’m smarter than Google (just because an unmarked-by-Google hiking trail crosses a road…. it doesn’t mean I can get on that road,) but I have seen a huge difference in the ways trails are marked in different countries and the resources available to find them. Hands-down Scotland had the best preparation information online, including length, bogginess, difficulty, pictures, descriptions, and a variety of ways to download the trail information. Sweden’s big trails are very well marked, but I have to buy a map/book/guide for each one.
8. Silly things that Make Life Easier.
I love these automatic light switches in pantries and closets that turn the light on and off when one opens and closes the door.
I also loved a garbage can, whose lid popped open when you opened the cupboard door under the sink. It’s truly the height of brilliance, as I am easily impressed.
This may not make life easier, but I loved the concept of a bunch of trees growing out of buildings. These buildings in Milano caught my attention, and I have been told I missed some that were better.
9. Seemingly Innocent Yet Dangerous Spots. The Strid, near Bolton Abbey in England, is a stream that goes from being about 6’ wide to about 1’ wide. The water rushing through it looks and seems fairly peaceful, but it is super dangerous, and has a 100% death rate for those who enter it. Cameras, cages, and anything else placed in the water here for research disappear. My friends jokingly call it “the babbling brook of death.”
10. Coming Home. I have two job interviews in Sweden in January. One on the West Coast in Gothenberg, the other on the East Coast in Stockholm. The outcome of those will determine when I will come home and for how long. I may be coming back in February or March for a few weeks when I accept a job. If I do not take one, I will not be home until June or July. Once I have my tickets and have confirmed with the spaces I rent, I will be booking people who are interested in massage and healing appointments. If you are interested, please let me know by replying to the newsletter, Facebook messaging me, or by texting me via my old Red Wing business line/mobile number.
11. New Certification! I am over halfway through my international certification process for Emotional Freedom Techniques a.k.a. tapping. It’s really amazing and I am seeing great results with my online clients. If you are interested in learning more, I am still offering it at a huge discount. **Note: Those who are seeing me for homeopathy and/or EFT also get first pick at massage appointments when I return.**
12.Other updates. if you missed my past blogs, you can find them HERE. One is a story of me thinking my tent was going to blow off a cliff with me in it. Quite exciting??!!
I miss you all and I miss Minnesota, but I am learning valuable and interesting things over here! I look forward to hearing from all of you. (BTW, if your plan is to come to Europe in the next 6 months or so, I might be able to meet you to say hello if you give me notice.)
I work with a lot of people who have dissonance between what they want out of their lifestyle, career, relationship, or health, and what they have become or are expected/pressured to be. I use Emotional Freedom Technique and homeopathy to help each person discharge emotions and have the power to step into the life they want–without feeling judged. I have been observing in different cultures and situations how people subtly judge, and wanted to write a bit about it today.
Hiking up Fairy Hill with the group
I went to an event outside of Dublin called “Hammered Hiking.” It was advertised as a walk to a local pub, a 4-hour challenging hike through the hills, a brief stop at another pub, then a walk back to the meeting location. It sounded like a lovely way to meet some people in a casual atmosphere. What surprised me was the number of people in the group who did not drink. It came up in casual conversation as someone passed around a small flask, and three of the 10 of us did not drink at all. We got into an amazing and eye-opening conversation about judgements and social expectations of others. The question all the “non-drinkers” have been asked/hassled about/judged around: Why don’t you drink?
It’s a question I have heard myself. When I traveled to California and was on a detox, people were astounded I would go there and not have any wine. “What? We are near Napa! You can’t go home without having a glass of wine with me!” I also was asked by a couple of people if I was pregnant. Because WHY would I CHOOSE not to drink? The women I was with were astounded to see that I danced, laughed, and engaged as much or even more than if I had been drinking. I know people who will carry around drinks at parties and pretend they are drinking in order to deflect the social pressure. There can be a strong undercurrent of judgement as well. I.e. If you don’t drink, you must have a Problem with drinking. (If someone is respecting themselves and the others around them by honoring their choice of sobriety, we should be applauding them, not judging them!!) Others look for a Reason beyond just the fact that one doesn’t want to drink that day/week/month/ever. My clients and friends report having to make excuses (I have to drive, I’m not feeling well, I’m on a detox, it interacts with my medication, I’m trying to lose weight, etc.) for it to be socially acceptable not to drink. One friend of mine in Minneapolis quipped, “if I say I’m not drinking alcohol, people wonder why and judge me. If I say I’m straight-edge, I’m a cool part of the culture.”
View over Dublin area
One person in the hiking group said “I feel split from myself when I am drinking. I don’t like that feeling.” Another woman just doesn’t like the taste of alcohol. Both of them reported being pressured to drink over and over. As if the people they were with were not comfortable unless everyone is drinking. One said, “I don’t pressure others not to drink because I’m not. Why do they feel they should pressure me to drink?”
I hear the same thing said about food judgments. I know a woman who has an extremely high metabolism who has a hard time gaining weight. People say things such as: “Really, you are just going to eat a salad?” “You’re so skinny-why don’t you eat a sandwich!” With the increased allergies in our society, the people with serious food allergies versus just intolerances are not always taken seriously. “Oh, you’re one of THOSE gluten-free people.”
Why do we make these negative/judgmental-sounding comments towards people for their choices instead of being supportive? Is it us trying to feel better about our own habits and choices? I know in Minnesota we have a mentality where we have to offer food or drinks of any sort over and over again to feel hospitable. “Are you sure you don’t want anything?” I have friends who don’t like chocolate. They get comments like, “who doesn’t like CHOCOLATE! That’s _(insert word of choice).”
I really think that we don’t realize we are making comments that are negative and tiring to others. Perhaps we think we are being playful. Regardless, the words we say have an impact on others. My challenge for myself and for you this week is to watch how you engage with people about their choices. Are the words you are using implying judgement or support?
Resting after hiking 3 mountains in Connemara, Ireland
If you are ready to make changes in your life and let go of the emotional and social ties around it, send me a message and we will set up a complimentary 30-minute talk to explore how I can help you. I provide a safe, non-judgmental space for you to share and heal. I look forward to our conversation.
P.S. Comment below to share other ways you observe judgement in everyday conversation.