connective elements healing

honoring creativity - restoring balance - embracing wholeness

By observing nature, ancient traditions explained all of existence through five elements.  

Connective Elements Healing aims to restore you to your true nature through five healing offerings -

BodyTalk, Coaching, Meditation, Reiki and Yoga. 

Filtering by Category: Word of the Year

Making Space in 2018

I was brought up to equate being alone with feeling lonely. My recent trip over the holidays dispelled that myth. I spent the last days of 2017 fully living my Word of Year for 2017, present, during my first solo trip of my life. I ushered in opportunities to stretch, exploring my own boundaries, experiencing sights, sounds and tastes here in South Africa and connecting with delightful souls.

I dined alone in a sit-down restaurant for the first time. I spent days gallivanting around Cape Town with strangers who quickly morphed into friends. I carved out time to restore, reset and refresh.

As an only child, I was skilled in the art of entertaining myself. I recall one lengthy session of making faces at myself in my mom’s bedroom mirror. As my mom entered her room, she looked at me, rolled her eyes, laughed and said, “you are weird”. I giggled in response and continued with my merriment. My ability to be self contained at an early age contributed to the resilience I required to brave my adolescence.

As I entered my turbulent teens, I sensed my mother’s light dimming. Awaiting her knight in shining armor to rescue her from her life, my mom’s loneliness increased as I moved to college. At University, I shed layers upon layers of my identity and became the most self-assured I’ve been in my adult life. Slowly, over the last 20 years, as I jumped from relationship to relationship, I lost parts of myself. From one relationship in which I was criticized for being “too damn happy” to the next relationship where I was decried for being too negative, I started to believe that I was not enough. I started to believe that I needed someone to fill my gaps, to complete me. As I furthered my spiritual practices, and discovered silent retreats, I craved more and more time to myself. I peeled back the layers of enmeshment and revealed that I’d subconsciously woven my mom’s rescue fantasy into the fabric of my belief system.

Don’t get me wrong, I dream of great love. I love love. However through my spiritual work, I admitted a need to be present to my life, to myself, first. Though difficult, I had to let go.

I’ve endured a tremendous amount of hurt and trauma throughout these last 38 years. Stories and relationships have seemingly bogged me down. I’ve clung so tightly to the past. I am trying to remain gentle to myself as I continue to let go.

This Peace Corps service is, in part, about letting go, making space, acknowledging my needs and dreams and being very much present to myself and my life.  

Peace Corps outlines three official goals of service to be: 1) helping the people of countries around the world to meet their need for trained men and women; 2) promoting a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served and; 3) promoting a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. Peace Corps Volunteers freely discuss the unofficial “4th goals” to include personal aspirations. From the onset, I identified my fourth goal to be standing confidently on my own two feet in the world. Though firm about my goal, I doubted I could achieve it. However, in the last two weeks, I feel more comfortable in my own skin, confident of my place in the world and excited about upcoming solo adventures.

  Last Present : Cape Town, South Africa

Last Present: Cape Town, South Africa

I started Susannah Conway’s powerful Unravel your Year, using her thoughtful prompts like, “where did you practice bravery in 2017?” and “did anything happen in 2017 that needs to be forgiven?” to examine the preceding year while atop Table Mountain on Christmas Day. Susannah encourages participants to visualize their ideal day in 2018 and ask themselves questions such as, “what would saying YES to your life look at feel like?”

Saying yes to my life in 2018 includes desiring flow, realizing ease, implementing my tools for balance and wellness and utilizing my unique gifts and talents to give back and be of service. I realized that I want to make space for possibility and magic in 2018.

  The Rediscovery -  Atop Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

The Rediscovery - Atop Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

My Word for 2018 is spacious ♥

I want to make space for that little girl inside who knew joy through simple things. I want to make space for that fierce woman in her late teens that spoke with conviction. I want to make space for the brave woman who is slowly rediscovering herself, her value and her place in the world.

 

Susannah Conway’s Unravel your Year and Find your Word 2018 are a gift to us all. I invite you to explore these free and delightfully precious resources to inspire the year ahead.

 

I bow in gratitude to you for joining me as I process the emotional and spiritual 27-month journey of Peace Corps Service here in South Africa.

 

The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the South African Government.

Feeling through the (Festive) Holiday Season

Lately, I’ve felt ungrounded, purposeless, and, at times, angry. I’ve felt beside myself with frustration, questioning my reasons for being here. I’ve spun out so easily. I’ve felt lost.

I’ve felt this way for months. Just as I was finally getting used to my former site and community, the wind was knocked out of me and I had to move. Facing a holding period of 5 weeks in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, felt like a relief in some ways. Pretoria’s hot showers, flushing toilets, the company of fellow Peace Corps Volunteers, smoothies, hot yoga classes and physical therapy offering me daily massages bolstered me physically, emotionally and spiritually, lending to feeling the strongest I’d felt since arriving in South Africa 10 months ago due.

Then, I crashed.

All the grief of leaving the place I embraced as home came rushing over me like a tidal wave. It was compounded by the whirlwind transition to a place so different than my home of the last 6 months. I felt resistance to a new site, a new community, a new family. I felt trepidation about establishing a new home. As timelines entered the picture, I realized the holidays were quickly approaching. Spending my first holiday season alone in a decade furthered the swell. I panicked, yet I had no clue what really lied below the surface.

Today, it emerged.

One of the most painful memories of my childhood occurred during the holiday season, or festive season, as its known here in South Africa. As a single parent, my mom deemed my private, Catholic school education to be worthy of great sacrifice. I was on financial assistance and felt the struggle my mom incurred to meet the remainder of my tuition each month. Education in suburban Washington, DC-area private schools means being surrounded by some of the wealthiest kids in the country.

 "Shielded" - KwaZulu Natal Province, South Africa

"Shielded" - KwaZulu Natal Province, South Africa

One year during my adolescence, my mom faced a particularly dark period of her bipolar disorder. She holed up in her room nearly my entire holiday break. I felt so incredibly alone, so isolated, so incredibly scared.

After braving my “vacation,” I endured friends describing the gifts they received and the love from family and friends that they’d spent recent weeks surrounded by. I can’t remember how I responded to their accounts, but this morning, I came face to face with how I felt.

For months, fellow Peace Corps Volunteers have been discussing holiday plans detailing upcoming visits from friends and family or planned returns to the US to spend time with loved ones. I named my feelings upon hearing the first itinerary and scrambled to make plans, which have changed and changed and changed again.

These last couple weeks, amidst attempts to acclimate to a new site, a new community, a new host family and a new home, which have been fraught with difficulty, I have been trying to formulate holiday plans. I’ve experienced flights selling out as they are in my cart, accommodations booking and other logistics seemingly shifting abruptly. This morning, I felt at my absolute breaking point as my New Years plans dissolved. After a rush of emotions and a friend lovingly holding space for me, the truth was revealed.

I have been scrambling to keep loneliness at bay.

I have been pushing, pulling and dragging myself (and, unfortunately, others) through this emotional roller coaster of the impending holiday season.

I sit with the questions, what does it mean to spend New Years alone? What would it mean if I spent the holidays alone?

Tears streaming down my face, I sit with the hurt of that dark season of my youth in which I was so frighteningly alone. I sit with the notion that my family composition has always been different, yet feels so raw right now. I sit with the likely reality that no one will visit me here in South Africa. I sit with the fact that I miss my old host family and my former community.

I sit with the truth that my expectations continue to be dismissed, as the reality of this commitment differs so radically from its reality.

I sit with the discomfort of loneliness. I sit with grief.

I sit with all this and recognize it’s temporary. I sit with all this and recognize it’s all necessary.

I sit with the energy and weight of the holiday season because, for many of us, it is intertwined with extremes of grief, joy, obligation, loneliness, overstimulation, contentment, pain, anticipation, gratitude, expectation, disappointment and confusion.

I choose to sit with it all, filling myself so full I feel I could burst.

And, then, I exhale.

I let it all go.

 "Horizon" - KwaZulu Natal Province, South Africa

"Horizon" - KwaZulu Natal Province, South Africa

In this writing and reflection, my host nieces have knocked on my door twice to relay messages from my host Gogo. Each time, I was drawn back to the present, my Word of the Year for 2017. I’m reminded that there is hope here. There is possibility here. There is a desire for connection here.

I’ve been swept away by emotion these last few months, rudderless and homeless, living out of bags for the last 10 weeks. I was, indeed, at my breaking point this morning. I asked aloud, to myself, to the Universe, to God, “why can’t anything go right?”

Now, in this moment, here in the present, I realize that it’s all right. It is all right in this moment. It will be all right in the future.

As so much of my life right now is up in the air with the newness of site, community, family, home and to be confirmed holiday and vacation plans, I am reminded of the advice of my teacher in our last session before I came to South Africa. She invited me to refer to my inner map.

I realize that since my move, I haven’t been taking good care of myself. The chickens and roosters at my new home wake me throughout the night. My routines of nourishment and exercise are awry. I’m pushing and pulling for integration during a season notorious for inactivity here in South Africa.

Our inner maps yield the tools learned through our struggles with light and dark. We hold the wisdom within. It is our choice to speed through the holiday season in overdrive or pause and sink into the present, taking inventory of what is here.

There may be residue of the past gripping us tightly.

There may be expectations of the future clinging, too.

By anchoring in, slowing down, taking breath and taking pause, we may usher in all that is and live awake and aware here and now.

I invite you to take that moment of pause right now.

Carve out at least two minutes of quiet time. Sit comfortably and feel the stability of the ground beneath you. Close your eyes, if you are comfortable.

Take three deep breaths in through your nose, filling your diaphragm, and release the breath through pursed lips. Notice the rise and fall of your belly. Place your hands on your heart and ask yourself these three questions, giving yourself permission to sit with what is:

  •  What is present, right now, in this moment?
  • What is present for me in this holiday season?
  • What might I need to release from the past, present or future holiday seasons to make room for the fulfillment of my highest purpose?

As you are ready, take three cleansing breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth slowly.

Open your eyes and reacclimate yourself to this time and space.

You may choose to sit further with these questions or journal about them.

 

May you be at peace ♥

 

My deepest gratitude for joining me as I process the emotional and spiritual 27-month journey of Peace Corps Service here in South Africa.

 

The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the South African Government.

The Possibility in the Present

When I chose present as my Word of the Year for 2017, I envisioned living the word through mindfulness, through the cultivation of awareness of the present, through joy and being open and simply aware of what is here, right now. This morning, through my regular meditation and Morning Pages sessions, I recognized that present means much more than that.

  Blooming -  Taken September 2017 in KZN Province, South Africa

Blooming - Taken September 2017 in KZN Province, South Africa

In asking myself the question, “can I make space for possibility”? I triggered several epiphanies. I must allow myself to let go of the past to make space for the gifts of the present. I must stop clinging to the stories, to past achievements, hurts, relationships, traumas and histories to truly empty my cup and make room for the present. I must allow the feelings and emotions from the past to dissipate in order to be present for what’s here, in the present.

I asked myself if I’ve told enough of my story to feel as if I’m free of my past. Though I recognize there is rigidity even there, there doesn’t need to be a fixed stop point with regard to my own healing, my own process. Perhaps I am done telling the stories of my past, clinging to the stories of my past. Perhaps I’m not. And it’s all perfect. And it’s all okay. 

I recognized this morning that present is likewise about letting go of the future. I have been conditioned to plan for the future, to know what’s next. As a Social Worker and a Coach, my career has rested on plan-making. My own safety often relied on the generation of solid plans. However, arming myself with the best-laid plans for the future, I realized this morning, robs me of the possibility that exists in the present and perhaps in the future, as well.

It is so much more than mindfulness. It’s so much more than awareness of the present. It is about the ability to be, to truly be in the moment – to truly be present - to surrender to what is without expectation, without stories, without clinging to the past, without obsessively planning for the future. There is ease here, in its purest form.

All these concepts are talked about so commonly in the self help, spiritual, coaching, personal development and helping communities, but until you experience them in real-time, in your own life, you and I fall short of experience and forfeit the present.

Once we empty ourselves of the clinging, of the constant energy of doing, of the gripping, the striving, the proving, we can truly rest, I can truly rest, and be open to the present.

Herein lies the gift, the very rich opportunity for possibility and ease and freedom and breath and space.

  Illumination  - A gifted candle during a power outage from my Host Mama, KZN, South Africa

Illumination - A gifted candle during a power outage from my Host Mama, KZN, South Africa

May you be present.

May you open to possibility.

May you witness the peace that surrounds you.

May you let go.

 

May I be present.

May I open to possibility.

May I witness the peace that surrounds me.

May I let go.

 

Gratitude for joining me as I process the emotional and spiritual 27-month journey of Peace Corps Service in South Africa. ♥

 

The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the South African Government.