Am I Repeating Old Patterns or Engaging in a Healing Crisis?

I’ve been in a bit of healing crisis lately, one that has sent me to bed for several days to recover. As these passages often do, the symptoms showed up as spiritual, emotional, discomfort that then manifested into the physical. During the stress of a transitional period from one season to another, it’s natural to resort to old coping mechanisms. It’s not uncommon to feel restless, disconcerted, and cranky as a result. Symptoms of illness can also surface as we make ready for a new chapter in life.

I’m guilty of possessing a (sometimes) hyperactive inner critic. When I’m not feeling well, either emotionally or physically, often my first response is to wonder what I’ve done wrong. I will ask myself, “Did I eat the wrong thing or stay op too late or forget to take my herbs? Is there something I need to uncover or process or forgive? Maybe I need to meditate or pray or get outdoors more.” More often, however, I’m experiencing the natural response to a life passage. 

This is exactly what happened to me this past week as I welcomed in the new and let go of some wounds of the past. My book is getting ready to go to print and this a HUGE step for me! I am simultaneously planning for a new season of growth and releasing of some old patterns and behaviors. This process has naturally brought up some old fears, self-doubt, and negative thought patterns.

As I battled what felt like a sinus infection and exhaustion, I wrestled–hard–with my harsh Inner Critic. I was overwhelmed by feelings that I could or should be doing something more, something better. Even though I knew  I was undergoing a huge transformation, I’d forgotten to practice what I often teach my clients. I forgot to be gentle and generous with myself, to stop struggling and allow for a changing of the seasons

“Sometimes your last resort is your best resort.” –Marianne Williamson

My resistance to my discomfort was exhausting and it soon showed up in my body. My sinuses were so inflamed even my hair hurt. I retreated to my bed, feeling alone and pitiful. Instead of judging my discomfort to be the result of some personal failure, this time I reminded myself it just might be a signal that a healing crisis is underway. So, instead of letting my unforgiving Inner Critic run the show, I asked, “What do I need right now? What is my body and soul calling for?” The answer was immediate, “Rest, support, and gentle compassion.”

Though I had many details to tend to in getting my book ready for print and an upcoming speaking engagement, I cleared my calendar for a few days. I also took a much needed media break and made an appointment with my healing practitioner. I supported my body by taking herbs and drinking lots of fluids. 

Though asking for help does not come natural for me, I engaged in some loving self-care by texting a few of my close Mamma Bear friends, requesting their love and support. Within the hour I received loving responses back, offering prayers of healing and nourishing words. Another friend brought over some home made soup. Flooded with tears of gratitude, my exhausted spirit drank in the much needed nurturing, providing me with the strength to face old feelings of unworthiness and loss that had surfaced as a result of my commitment to finishing my book and releasing it out into the world. 

Though the release of my grief and self-condemnation was intense, when I stopped resisting, it passed relatively quickly and soon I was feeling more like myself. I can be reassured that, though the process may be uncomfortable, it will pass if I surrender to the season at hand and don’t allow myself to become enmeshed in old behaviors and coping mechanisms.I can gently remind myself to enter into the change of seasons with a generous compassion, one that will welcome in a new period of growth. 

Seasons of Reflection: How do you respond to uncomfortable feelings or situations? How to do engage in gentle self-care? What is your soul asking of you?

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Finding Comfort in the Uncomfortable

St. George Island, Florida

As we navigate life’s passages we are bound to come across interactions with others that turn out, shall we say, less than ideal. Misunderstandings, triggered hurt feelings, and surfacing resentments can all be part of the soup involved in navigating relationships.

Past wounds can cause us to lash out in defensiveness or to withdraw, protecting our tender spots. Often we may do both. We may admonish others (or be admonished) to be more thoughtful, to choose better words, or adjust our tone–to be civil. Sometimes, however, this admonishment is simply a tool used to protect wounds, to keep us safe.

Last week I got my feelings hurt–twice, in two days. Hurt feelings are not a new experience for me, by any means, but the intensity of my upset seemed out of proportion compared to the actual events that triggered them. Over-reaction (or under-reaction) is always a signal to me that something bears a deeper exploration. 

On the surface the two instances seemed very different. The first one was in-person and with someone I have been in relationship with for many years, and the second was with a more casual friend on social media. Stepping back from these two experiences a bit I realized there were some similarities. First, though the event itself was fairly minor, I realized that I had inadvertently triggered a huge amount of defensiveness in both people. Secondly, in both cases I felt that I had been misunderstood and/or misinterpreted. I also noted that in both instances, the other parties had used anger followed by cutting me off verbally as defensive coping mechanisms.

In that past, one of my go-to coping tools when confronted with conflict was making nice. Growing up, I was assigned the role of family peacemaker. It was certainly a needed role as family life during my childhood was rarely peaceful. When you are the peacemaker, however, your emotions and needs are often not part of the equation, So, while I became proficient in speaking up on another’s behalf, I was unaccustomed to speaking up for myself. 

Although I have never been shy about stating my opinion, learning to speak up on my own behalf has been an adventure awash with discomfort. Speaking up meant I would have to invest enough value in who I am to stand up for myself. It meant I would have to believe in me. It also meant I would have to risk being the target for another’s misplaced hurt and pain.

Growth, by its very nature, demands a break from the status quo. An acorn will never become the mighty oak if it refuses to burst out of its shell. Breaking free of the protective shell we’ve constructed around our past wounds is guaranteed recipe for discomfort. It’s messy and comes in fits and starts. It also requires vulnerability and tenacity…and rigorous self-honesty. But it is so worth our effort.

In my case, suppressing my feelings in favor of peace, however, has only led to despair and burning resentment. Long ago I made a commitment to forgo any temporary emotional discomfort I might have in favor of dealing with the hard stuff. To me this felt more honest, more authentic–even at the risk of being misunderstood. This process, of course, is always a work in progress. And I need to remember that bot everyone is ready to take the same step of breaking out of their protective shell, just because I am.

Neither instance from last week turned out the way I would have wished.
Being understood is important to me. In both circumstances I felt misunderstood and rejected. It hurts when others don’t seem to want to take the time or effort to hear me out. One party claimed my “tone” was the cause of their disrespectful response and the other decided to end the conversation abruptly–part of their go-to coping tools, I suspect. And even though, due to old conditioning, my first instinct was to soothe their discomfort and then go to great lengths to be understood, in both instances I spoke up on my own behalf, made several attempts to resolve the issue, and then released the other parties to their own choices. To me, the comfort of choosing behaviors that felt grounded in integrity and honesty far outweighed any discomfort over feeling rejected and misunderstood.

Seasons of Reflection: Emotional discomfort is a signal, an alert to the need for growth. How do you deal with emotional discomfort? What is your go-to when someone pushes your buttons or challenges your favored coping mechanisms? It may be time to reassess your coping tools. How can you welcome the growth you desire?

Betrayal: An Opportunity for Growth

DSCF7799aYou haven’t lived on this earth very long if you haven’t been betrayed by someone you love. Few are exempt from this deepest and cruelest of heart wounds. We have all been betrayed by lovers and parents and children and churches.  Beloved teachers, best friends, or business partners may have lied, cheated, or stolen from us. Perhaps someone in whom we invested trust has carelessly exposed our most private thoughts and behaviors. Communities may have let us down, willingly sacrificing us in order to preserve image, maintain the status quo, or to keep its dark secrets hidden.

Betrayal is the common thread (more like barbed wire) that runs through the recent stories of  the sexual assault of women and children by those in power. Even though we as women have been all too aware of the pernicious nature of this type of abuse, we are still shocked, stunned, saddened, and enraged by its prevalence. The betrayals by those whose position is meant to engender our trust, wounds us anew.

When we are betrayed by someone close to us, we often say we are cut to the heart, that we experience heartache or heart break. We might even feel a palpable pain in our chests during these moments. Because betrayal always involves a breaking of trust, it naturally involves the heart because the heart is the point where we open to others our most intimate selves. It’s where, in a moment of vulnerability, we let our guard down. In essence, we have given the gatekeeper to our most vital Sacred Official the okay to let in those we believed we could trust.

Rape, incest, and sexual abuse are most egregious of wounds because  it represents a heart betrayal of our innocence and sacred intimacy.

In Five Element medicine, Heart is one of the four officials that governs the season of Summer. Summer engenders the core emotion of joy and the fundamental element of Fire. The ancient masters saw Fire as a symbol of warmth and connection, balanced maturation, and the refinement process. Heart, the Sacred Official of Summer infuses all we do with a rich and vibrant sensuality. Heart guides and connects us, through the warmth of community, to our place of belonging, a place where we feel safe to be our most vulnerable self. The balanced states of joy, play, laughter, sensuality, sexuality, and open communication can only be fully experienced in a state of vulnerability and vulnerability requires trust. We cannot close the gates of our heart out of self-protection and enter into love, it simply isn’t possible.

“The ritual sacrifice of its members by their communities through racial and political divisiveness, sexual abuse of children by their own clergy, the criminalization of the homeless and the poverty stricken, and, through government and corporate sanctioned ecological annihilation has left us, its members, splintered, bitter, and disillusioned. Betrayed and lied to by those intended (and often paid) to protect us—those whose job it is to serve our best interest and the best interests of our community—we feel no choice but to withdraw our trust. Our faith in community shatters. We may even come to hate what we once so deeply loved. If we don’t find a way to correct our broken-heartedness, we are in danger of lapsing into bitter cynicism.” –from Soul of the Seasons, by Melody A Scout (c) 2018

One of the first steps we can take to heal our heart wounds is to summon a deep compassion for ourselves. Gently, and without judgement, we must begin to look at our injuries with unvarnished honesty and integrity. We must honor and respect the all the emotions that naturally well up in us as a result of our betrayal. We must own the power and mystery of our anger, joy, empathy, grief, and fear. We must surrender to the Divine our darkest thoughts, as well as our light.

This takes unbelievable courage.

Another important step in healing from betrayal is to remember we are not alone. Thousands of other gentle souls have walked similar paths. Many are here to support, encourage, and guide us along our way.  A trusted few are here to teach us better ways of walking in the world, how to find our voices, how to forgive, and how to claim our light. They are here because they have traveled the hard road before us and have returned to show us the way out.

sword-forgeThis is why I do what I do. I believe in YOU. I believe in the power and glory of your kindness as well as the sanctity of your rage. I know, from personal experience, that, in spite of your pain, despair, or anger, you can move forward into the light, that you can transform rage into right action and fear into a new vision of the future. I also know that some part of you knows it, too.

  • Reach out to someone today. Whether you are in need encouragement and support or, if you have traveled this path before and you have gained some light to show others the way, connect with others who have similar visions. Loving community is where the heart thrives.
  • In moments of stress, take time to pull inward and ruminate on your options. The greater the challenge, the more time to allot for reflection and contemplation.
  • Find a safe, supportive environment to express yourself. Heart wounds can leave us vulnerable to manipulation and being further wounded by others’ insensitivity. Wait until you have constructed a good foundation before your build your new vision and head out into the world.
  • Remember to temper your anger with kindness, your passion with periods of rest, and your fears with calm reassurance and the knowledge that new visions are on the horizon.

I send you prayers of strength, courage, and heart-centered resilience.

With Love and Grace,

Melody

Intuitive Spiritual Advisor-Coach/Pet Communicator

Valuing Our Loss

IMG_2747          The Season of Fall is upon us. This is the season of letting go, of loss. Encoded within this passage is the core emotion of Grief. As one of the most difficult journeys to confront and traverse, the precious gifts we receive in Fall come at a great cost. To fully integrate the lessons found here we must give our loss its due with honor and respect.
     Currently I am with my mother as she prepares for her last days on this earth. I’m grateful for the wisdom of the seasons during this time. Though Mom has been ill for some time, the grieving is still keen. Together with my family, we are supporting her as best we can through days filled with many unknowns. Though the lovely and precious support from family and friends has buoyed us all, it does not lessen the sharp pain of our loss.
     Loss and letting go are essential hallmarks of Fall. In the natural world, the deep losses at the end of the harvest are necessary to sustain life through the dark, cold winter and into the coming spring. It is a passage that cannot be hurried.
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     Our world often seems awash with loss. Grief, the core emotion of Fall cannot be managed or controlled. It cannot be rushed, pushed, or denied without consequence. It will have its way with us, like it or not. Without a sufficient container for expression for this powerful emotion, we can be plunged into deep despair, overwhelmed by hopelessness. Left unresolved, our grief can eventually erupts as rage and depression.
In a recent newsletter from Wise Woman Toko-pa I found these sage words about loss and grief…
 
“(W)hen I begin to feel despair about the insufficiency of our efforts, I remember that despair is what happens to us when we can’t grieve properly. It’s the grief that has no welcoming container, no place to express itself.
 
“I think we need to have more conversations in our families and communities about this threshold we’re on together.
 
“There is a driving force in us which wants to step in and make something useful of it all, turn it into fuel for transformation! But another, quieter voice says says stop. Don’t commodify this loss. Don’t be so hasty to write a new story, in which the events of heartbreak are made meaningful, before the magnitude of what’s been destroyed can be witnessed in its entirety.
 
“Yes, there will be a new world forming from the rubble. Yes, there is something valuable to take from this, I’m sure. But please, let us not turn this heartbreak into something useful just yet. If we do, we will be tempted to walk in our old ways. We will rely on tired words. We will make memes of ourselves.
 
“Is there a way instead to really bear witness? To let the fog of uncertainty obscure our clarity. To not know where or how we’ll live. To be fumbling and full of grief, because what we always counted on has been struck from our horizon. We may never be so magnificent again….
 
“(L)et us turn towards to the unknown in the hopes that we find there help us to learn how to walk in a new way, for a new world.”
 
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     In the chapter on Fall in my upcoming book, Soul of the Seasons, I write of the arduous journey through this challenging season. Though the sharp sword of grief pierces our hearts, with patience and a willingness to become vulnerable to our losses, we can once again experience new life.
     “Though it may be impossible to comprehend it when our loss is so fresh, encoded within our grief lays an emotional paradox; that to fully honor and respect what we have lost—to confess just how precious our loss has been to us—is to memorialize our bereavement with a grace and dignity that allows us to start anew.” –from Soul of the Seasons.
Contemplation on Fall:
How do you feel about the season of fall?
What is your experience with grief?
What do you resist letting go of?
How do you honor and respect your losses?
Many Blessings,
Melody

Honoring the Mother in Everyone

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The essence of Mother is to nourish and to be nourished. Our Mother Earth also satisfies and supports us as she envelopes us in the sweetness of life.” 

JamesWrapped in the protective womb of her body our Mother provides all the sustenance we need in order to fully form into a human being. Then, at the moment of our birth, we lock eyes with our mother, solidifying our very first relationship. Intertwined in the process of interpreting and meeting our physical needs, Mother, with her coos, ‘oos’, and ‘ahs’ reassures us with a sense of inner security. Our Mother sees to it we were cared for, quickly learning how to interpret our various cries and to satisfy our needs whether through food, attention, or a clean bottom.

The archetype of Mother is powerful and complex. Ideally, Mother offers us the freedom to explore our own power through the responsibility of making our own choices. She knows that making decisions provides opportunities to create lessons of wisdom through trial and error. Carefully she guides us in navigating the delicate balance between independence and interconnectedness. She does this, all the while enveloping us in her love and her cooking, safe in our contented home.

Mother is our sacred empatica (Italian, feminine singular empath). She understands us in the most intimate of ways, knowing us body, heart, and spirit. Mother, as our holy witness, hears us in a manner that allows us to speak our deepest emotional truths. To be present as a holy witness for another is mothering on a most sacred level.

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Sadly, some of us may have had mothers who have fallen woefully short of these qualities. We may have suffered terribly at the hands of the person we counted on most as a child. Or, perhaps as mothers ourselves, illness or emotional and spiritual malnutrition may have prevented us from giving fully to our children, or giving to them at all.

“We are all mothers and we all need mothering. We are all created out of our mother’s body.”

Our relationships with our mother are complicated. They can be fraught with both admiration and frustration. Men and women alike learn their mothering skills through of their mother’s example. More than likely, we have subconsciously adapted our Mother’s coping skills, we may imitate or completely reject the ways our Mom got her needs met.

But in order to create more balanced Mother relationships we must first determine the terrain of our relationship by holding it up to the divine light of truth. We must be willing to see our mother relationships exactly as they are, not just how we wish them to be or filled with the bitter disappointment of their lack.

The truth is most mothers are neither perfect nor perfectly horrible. Our mothering talents may likely fall somewhere in between June Cleaver, the perfect 1960’s TV mom, and Procne, the Greek goddess who killed her child out of vengeance and served him up for dinner to her husband.

Consider your relationship with your mother. Do you idealize your mother, refusing to admit to any faults to her mothering? Or, do you hold your mother to impossibly high standards, ones that she cannot possibly live up to? Do you expect more from her than she has the capacity to give?

To acknowledge our need for mothering, and then to lovingly tend to that need, creates a grounded sense of home within our bodies. This grounding instills a sense of inner satisfaction where there is little desire to manipulate nurturing from others others.

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We will generously offer our mothering skills, when and where they are needed most. Consequently, with our hearts fully nourished, we can graciously receive the nurturing, support, and understanding offered, not only by our mothers, but by our partners, families, and communities.

Take a few moments this Mother’s Day to honor someone, blood-related or not,  female or male, who has generously given of their time and resources to offer you some much-needed mothering. Also take time to show your gratitude to Mother Earth for all she has given to keep us healthy, happy, and alive.  And finally, extend a little mothering toward those most in need of a tender touch, a nourishing meal, or a listening, compassionate heart. This world will be better for it.

Much Love and Grace,

Melody

Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.

Making Friends with Your Emotions

Anole

The following is excerpted from my upcoming book, Soul of the Seasons…

I have always felt my world intensely—some might even say, theatrically. I’ve even been called a “drama queen” a time or two. Though the reasons for emotional reactivity are varied and complex, I have worked hard to become a master of my emotional responses rather than a hyper-reactive slave to them. Mastery, of course, is always a work in progress.

As a result of my intense emotional expressiveness I have often been labeled “too sensitive,” or over-reactive, that I’m an attention-seeker. One idea I have always resisted, however, is that emotional expression, however intense, is inappropriate. From my perspective, I simply refused to have my feelings ignored, dismissed, or discounted. In the past, if anyone so much as hinted that I was being “too emotional,” that I should “calm down,” I promptly emoted all over everything and everyone. No reactivity there, right?

When we were little and cute we were more graciously allowed to freely emote in response to our world. Adults might have even found our emotional expressions amusing and perfectly normal. We giggled and frowned, we earnestly cried out our sadness and bitterness and grief. We might have pitched fits of anger when our outer world refused to respond to our inner needs.

At some point—for some of us, painfully early in life—in response to our emotional expressions we were likely told to “grow up” or “settle down” or be “good.” We may have been taught that good girls should not express anger but instead smile and look pretty. We may have been told that big boys shouldn’t cry or show vulnerability. “Shake it off!” might have been the prescribed response to pain and hurt, any anything less showed weakness—something to be avoided at all costs.

“Boys must never be weak,” is a message that is still imprinted in our psyche. When expressing strong emotion we might have even been spanked or called names like “crybaby” or “sissy” or “bitch.” My childhood was filled with messages not so different from these.

There is woefully little sacred space for the expression of authentic emotion in our culture. Instead of being initiated into the wonderful world of emotion when we are young, we learned to judge (or discount or dismiss) our feelings. We may have learned to criticize them as bad, wrong, or inappropriate instead of shining the light of truth onto the nature of our emotional responses. Instead of authentically feeling and then releasing emotion, we have trained the mind to analyze difficult situations. We move away from uncomfortable feelings and make more “rational” decisions.

In our need to detach from our discomfort we often explain away or “spiritualize” our emotions. (Love is the only answer!) We may come to believe that calm (read emotionless) rationalization is far superior to honestly expressing our emotions as they arise. However, our more challenging emotional states—especially those we label “bad” or “negative”—are really invitations to make choices that are in keeping with our Divine Destiny.

Fire spread2For instance, our anger and frustration with life’s challenges can be transformed into the emotional and physical fuel necessary to carry out our vision. Our deep longing for joy can transform the pain and loneliness of a broken heart into the deep connection that lies within authentic relationship. Indifference or a lack of nurturing can be transformed into a more grounded appreciation for our talents and accomplishments. Our hurt and anger over being disrespected can be transformed into a much-needed time of reflection and the opportunity for rebirth.  Fears over an uncertain future can transform into the birth of new visions. And so it goes with the cycles of life, the energy and wisdom of one season feeds and nourishes the next.

Our core emotions of grief, anger, and fear are not character flaws to be pounded into submission or doggedly eliminated. They are part of our holy human state. Our emotions possess sacred medicine, a medicine that helps us to move with authenticity and integrity through the seasons of life. With a willingness to become vulnerable to our humanity and our emotions, we can learn to live with more grace, kindness, and tenderness for all, and most especially, for ourselves.

Our bodies possess an innate intelligence that is infused into our very cells. Each cell is encoded with the capacity transmit information. Our cells not only have their own awareness they also possess awareness of all other bodily cells, and, of the surrounding environment. This sophisticated system of internal (and external) intelligence through cellular communication provides the capacity to function without continually engaging in active conscious thought—that, would be exhausting. Fortunately, we do not have to continually remind our heart how to beat or our lungs to take a breath.

Our cells also possess emotional memory that can activate visceral responses to certain smells, sounds, or circumstances. These stimuli have the ability to trigger powerful emotional experiences anchored in the past. It’s why, though Grandma may have died five years ago, the smell of cinnamon rolls evokes the same feelings of comfort we experienced while sitting in her kitchen, or how the sound of a train whistle can stir up the loneliness we felt when Dad left us decades ago.

Recognizing the physical resonances unique to each emotion can help us become more responsive to the circumstances at hand, instead of reacting out of impulse. And when we pay close attention to our emotional signals we can more easily identify what we are feeling in the moment—the only place we have the ability to make a choice. With this conscious awareness we can then more artfully navigate the difficult seasons, and appreciate the more inviting ones. We can more effectively meet our unmet needs instead of repressing or self-medicating our feelings away.

Your emotions have much to teach you. Introduce yourself to them. Consider them as living beings with whom you will interact with the utmost love and respect. Be willing to learn how each core emotion moves, motivates, and inspires you. Re-contextualize yourself to your anger, joy, sympathy, grief, and fear. Be willing to see them from a different light. Develop an intimacy with the places where you feel most vulnerable. Let your heart break wide open to your anger—and, to your joy. Learn to dance with both your generosity, and your loss. Make a sacred space for your emotions in your life, a place of belonging that is free of judgment.

Food for Thought:

How do you express yourself emotionally?

Which emotion are you most afraid of?

Which emotion are you most comfortable with?

How do you move with anger? With joy?

With Blessings and Grace,

Melody

Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.

Three Keys to Transformation

May you welcome your own vulnerability as the ground where healing and truth joins.” – from the poem, “A Blessing for the One Who Holds Power” by  John O’Donohue in To Bless the Space Between Us

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I have always been fascinated with the concept of transformation. Recently I performed a search in the amazon.com online books section  for the word “transformation.” (Some might call this sort of activity time-wasting or dawdling, but we writers call it research!)

My search came up with 45,409 results in thirty-eight categories with “Politics and Social Sciences” as the category with the most hits at 5,575. The second highest number of hits was in the category of “Religion and Spirituality” with 5,566. I guess we are looking for transformation a lot in politics and religion these days. The other categories listed under my “transformation” search ranged from “Cookbooks” (82 hits) to “Law” (450 hits) to “Engineering & Transportation” (1,722). The category with the least number of hits was in the fiction category of “Epic Fantasy” with fifty. Transformation is a very popular topic, indeed.

During the course of my research I discovered a lot of books touting the “Ten Secret Keys…” or “Five Essential Steps…” to transformation. They promised the reader everything from financial success to a new love life. I will venture to say that few, if any, list what I have found to be the three essential keys to transformation: Vulnerability. Accountability. Authenticity.

I know, the idea of becoming vulnerable isn’t sexy. A subsequent search for the word “vulnerability” in the book section of amazon.com netted exactly forty-six results. Six of them were books by author and researcher Brené Brown, PhD, a groundbreaking researcher on the subjects of shame and vulnerability, and, whose books I would highly recommend.

Numerous hits from my “transformation” search yielded results that promised to “eliminate negativity” or “prevent you from walking in circles.” Oh my. The whole thrust of my upcoming book Soul of the Seasons is to encourage you to walk in circles! But back to the subject of vulnerability.

The key to transformation, many authors will claim, lies in such nebulous instruction as following your bliss, mastering your ego, or embracing gratitude. Though it’s true that those who are emotionally resilient in life–those more able to express joy and happiness–have created a space of gratitude in their lives,  I have not found gratitude to be the key to transformation so much as a byproduct of it. What I have found, is that within nearly every instance of transformation, lays a willingness to be vulnerable, a commitment to being accountable for one’s actions, and living a life of deep authenticity.

Let’s look the first key to transformation:  Much like the words “submission” or “surrender,” when we hear the word vulnerability, we think: weak, unprotected, disempowered—and who wants to go there? But the willingness to become vulnerable to our emotions and experiences—a willingness to surrender to our experience, is key to transforming our emotional states and, our lives.

In order to fall in love we must first become vulnerable to intimacy with another. In order to empathize with another we must become willing to be vulnerable to our own frailties and neediness. In order to fully acknowledge the precious nature of our loss, we must become vulnerable to our grief. In order to start a new business or project we must become vulnerable to the unknown, to taking a risk.

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In becoming vulnerable to our emotions–both their light and dark sides–we can assess our motivations and unmet needs in the light of divine truth. Illuminated by the this divine truth, we can become accountable for our actions, and then respond with greater authenticity to the matters at hand.

By meeting the seasons of life with these three keys; vulnerability, accountability and authenticity, we can respond to whatever flows our way with grace and resilience, rather than continually reacting to (or recovering from) the inevitable challenges we all face.

For example, when we accurately perceive the roots of our anger issues we can address any boundary violations or injustices before they erupt into full-blown meltdowns. As we become more vulnerable to joy, our hearts strengthen and expand. We will not only love more deeply, we can also receive more love. When we take responsibility for nurturing ourselves on all levels, we are less likely to manipulate others to get our needs met. When we learn to honor and respect our grief, we can then offer compassion to those in the midst of their own grief. When we face our fears and enter the stillness, we can hear the wisdom that calls to us and, we are less likely to spin out of control with anxious, fearful thoughts.

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“Just as the seasons flow in a continuous progression, moving from one season to the next in a regular rhythm, so are our emotions meant to move and transform our lives with fluidity. They reveal our strength and our vulnerability, our courage and our reticence, our generosity and our need to withhold.

“We are created with a full spectrum of emotions for a very good reason. For instance, without the guiding energy of anger we might fail to set or restore boundaries—or to respect the boundaries of others. Without joy we would lose the rich and heart-felt experience of connection. Lacking sympathy, we can fail to understand and attend to the plight of others. Without grief, we become frozen in our loss, unable to truly value what we once loved so dearly. Without fear, we can lose the ability to perceive danger or to respond to our fears from a place of intuitive wisdom.

 “In order to decipher the wisdom embedded within our emotions, however, we must first become intimately acquainted with them—all of them. We must come to experience the depth of our grief as well as we know the expansiveness of joy. We must both illuminate the darkness of our anger and the brilliance of our generosity. We must be willing to explore our deep-seated fears of survival, death, and the unknown. In short, to fully master a higher way of being in the world, we must become familiar with both the light and the dark side of our emotions. Without emotional awareness, it is easier to be buffeted about life’s seasons, rudderless and powerless to affect true change.” –from Soul of the Seasons by Melody A Scout (c) 2015

With Blessings and Grace,

Melody

Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.

I Surrender!

In the small church where I grew up we often sang the old hymn I Surrender All written by Judson W. vanDeventer back in 1896. Back then I didn’t have a clue to what this hymn really meant, the song seemed so slow and out-dated. Now I know the depth of courage it takes to completely surrender everything in your life to God. So often we are completely broken before we reach out and speak these words and mean it from the depths of our soul.

I used to be terrified to pray the prayer of surrender. What if I didn’t like what happened? What if things couldn’t go back to the way they were? What if people left me? What if I left them? What if I failed–again? Full surrender is a quiet place of deep power but path to this quiet place is rocky and filled with the struggle to maintain control. Often we are literally brought to our knees. Sadness, grief, loss, pain, rage, fear, and betrayal all sit heavy upon our hearts, awaiting our submission. But, in my belief that I can handle it all myself, I struggle a little longer. I try to see if I can work it out myself, if I can master this crisis of heart and spirit on my own. My mind wants to triumph, to win, to beat my troubles into submission–to DO SOMETHING!

Often only when I have completely exhausted myself and I am faced with the evidence that all my efforts are futile, do I surrender all. It’s generally in our best interest to surrender or, as author and speaker Marianne Williamson puts it, “Often our last resort is often our best resort.”

Today I pray the prayer of surrender more regularly. I still don’t come to it easily. It’s difficult for me to give up my will and sense of control to The Divine. Often, I’m still brought to my knees in need before I can submit to the vulnerability of asking for help, a state of willingness to release the thing with which I struggle. Sometimes I recognize I’m not so willing to let go, so I pray to become willing. Sometimes the best I can to is to surrender my unwillingness to God. Sometimes the best I can do is pray, ‘I’m willing to be willing.’ But, amazingly this prayer always, always works, usually within 24 hours. The world may not magically tilt on it’s axis for my personal benefit, but something transpires within my soul. It may be only the slightest glimmer of light, a flash so brief that my mind cannot even formulate a meaning, but it’s enough to remind me that all is not lost.

In this season of late fall, Nature reminds me of the wisdom of surrendering all to God. Trees surrender to the coming season of winter by withdrawing sap from it’s leaves, allowing them to fall to the earth where they become the rich compost that feeds the soil. A good portion of the sap is directed back down into the roots, far below the surface and the harsh elements. If a tree refused to heed the approaching winter, Nature’s call to let go, to surrender, the sap retained in its limbs and branches would split the tree from stem to stern during the frozen months.

Like the tree in fall, it’s not in my best interest to hold onto anything, even what I might think is the “good stuff.” In the past few years it seems I am letting go at an astonishing rate. Dreams. Relationships. Possessions. Thoughts. Beliefs. Ideas and ideals. I’m called to surrender my disappointment in things not turning out the way I’d hoped. To surrender my grief and rage over the desecration of the earth and the injustices in Ferguson and Staten Island and countless other tragedies throughout the world. All are tossed onto my soul’s ever-growing compost heap. I wonder what might be left of me. Will I even recognize myself? I don’t know. Many times my mind is too tired to parse it out. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my spirit, I have an inclination that knows that it will all be OK. And, this is enough to sustain me for today.

Blessings,

Melody Harris

Soul of the Seasons by Melody Harris (c) 2014

I Surrender All

All to Jesus I surrender;

All to Him I freely give;

I will ever love and trust Him,

In His presence daily live.

Refrain: I surrender all,

I surrender all;

All to Thee, my blessed Savior,

I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;

Humbly at His feet I bow,

Worldly pleasures all forsaken;

Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender;

Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;

Let me feel the Holy Spirit,

Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender;

Lord, I give myself to Thee;

Fill me with Thy love and power;

Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender;

Now I feel the sacred flame.

Oh, the joy of full salvation!

Glory, glory, to His Name!

With Love and Grace,

Melody

Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.

Why I Write

Recently, a friend interested in putting down some of their stories asked me to tell her about the writing process. What follows is some guidance I offered on what a writer (or artist) encounters during the process of making their art.
So, you want to be a writer? Easy Peasy.
Writing is easy.jpg     First, Getting started:  Though you’re jazzed about your subject you probably won’t know where to start, and once you get started you won’t know where to end. (I once had a tee shirt that said, “Help! I’m writing and I can’t shut up!”) You might hem and haw for weeks, or a few years, before you actually put down a single sentence.
     If you’re writing non-fiction you can look forward to hours of research and a lot of what you find will be conflicting or misleading or just plain goofy. 
     If you’re writing fiction your characters will amuse, befuddle, infuriate, scare, fascinate, sadden, and delight you. They will keep you up at night, whispering their stories into your ear. You might even start talking about them to others as if they’re troubled friends you can’t puzzle out. You might start to ask random questions of friends and family that will give them pause like, “If you hid a body in a manure pile would anyone notice the stink?” or “How many people do you think you could have affairs with at the same time without getting caught?”
When you finish your story you will likely be both sad and relieved to see your characters go.
Unless you’re committed to a life of clean living, you will likely consume lots of coffee and adult beverages and take up cussing. If you don’t already, you might consider starting. While writing you might forget to eat or shave or get dressed–sometimes for days. Those unfamiliar with the creative process might tell you to get a job or a date or a therapist.
     During the revision process you will probably chuck whole paragraphs or pages or chapters. (I’ve completely rewritten the beginning of my book four times and I once abandoned an entire 350 page novel.) You will face periods wondering if you have anything new or unique to say. If you’re lucky enough to have an good editor he/she will make you want to simultaneously praise, weep, hug, and slap them. 
    Friends or family to whom you have eagerly given your work for feedback might frown or stammer or shrug. They might tell you that you have a nice hobby but not to quit your day job. They might shake their heads and tell you they don’t get it, or worse yet, they might refuse to read it at all. Agents and publishers alike may repeatedly (and sometime cruelly) reject you and/or your work. 
     Frustrated and disillusioned and filled with self-doubt you might throw your manuscript into a drawer (or bury it in the bowels of your computer) for months, maybe even years. Your fears will have you wondering if you have anything of value to offer anyone, ever.
     If you keep at it, however, with the help and support of writer’s groups and trusted friends, you just might discover that you have fallen in love with your craft. You’ll love the magic and the mystery of creating a story that takes you to places you’ve always dreamed of going, and to dark passages you swore you’d never enter. You’ll come to love the uncertainty and the excitement and the grief and the joy. You will find deep satisfaction in telling your own story, in your own words. You might even feel more alive than you’ve ever felt before.
     And, you will know that you’re really, really committed to your craft when you gladly subject yourself to all of this and more, and couldn’t imagine yourself doing anything else. You do it because finding your voice through writing allows (sometimes forces) you to look at the world through different eyes, that it has matured and softened you in the best possible way. 
     
     When you have finally completed your work and released it out into the world, you will likely to never have worked so hard on anything in your life. And, you would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
This is why I write.

Shifting Seasons

DSCF2895One of the most challenging times on our journey can be when we begin to leave one season and enter the next. During these in-between passages our internal and external landscapes are changing. There are periods of adjustment. In the natural world the days are growing longer (or shorter). The plants and trees are changing. The air smells different. Internally we are changing too. It may seem as though we have a foot in two worlds or that we have no solid footing at all.

Currently in the U. S. we are in the season of fall. Here in Northwest Florida, we are just beginning to feel Fall’s effects. The cooler weather has been a welcome relief from the humid, 90 degree days we’ve been having up to now. It feels good to leave our windows open and our air conditioners off. In Northern Wisconsin, where I was born and raised and, where my children and grandchildren still live, they’ve already enjoyed their first snowfall.

DSCF2895

As I work to finish the revisions of my book Soul of the Seasons so I can send it off to my talented editor to do her magic, I too, feel a new season ahead for me. I’m excited with the thoughts of finally seeing my six-year labor of love delivered into the material world, an instrument that I can finally hold in my hands and share with others. I look forward to teaching again, to have book signings and conduct workshops on the valuable wisdom I have gleaned from working deeply with the seasons.

Five Element medicine, the impetus for my book, teaches us that the seasons are not static passage of time. Though the seasonal equinoxes may be marked on our calendars, the seasons themselves are fluid and over-lapping. It may have seemed that a particular season has arrived abruptly and without warning. But if we are paying attention , we can probably admit we have already sensed the coming shifts. It is no different in our inner world.

Leaving Harvest, the season of abundance and gratitude for all we have been given, we enter Fall, the season great letting go. Fall is where we find value, where we respect those things that are precious to us, and, where we let go of anything that no longer serves. It is a time to acknowledge our grief over the loss of something  or something that was dear to us. It is a time to prepare for the quiet rest of Winter.

One of the most challenging times on our journey can be when we begin to leave one season and enter the next. During these in-between passages our internal and external landscapes may seem unstable. There are periods of adjustment. In the natural world the days are grow longer (or shorter). The plants and trees are changing. The air smells different. Internally we are changing too. It may seem for a while as though we have a foot in two worlds, or that we have no solid footing at all. In the natural world, anything that does not serve toward surviving the winter months is released.

During these seasonal transitions it’s more important than ever to maintain balance, to give extra care to our emotional and physical bodies. To look ahead and prepare. This may be one of the reasons many people react to seasonal changes by becoming ill.

We often go along in life as if the next season is not approaching. We might allow ourselves to be lulled by warm weather, unwilling to turn our minds and bodies toward the coming cold and darkness of Winter. We might even become grumpy and morose knowing that the warm days of summer are behind us, that we will have to change our way of moving about in the world, that we will have to drag our our heavy clothes and slow down.

Our ancestors could not afford the luxury of ignoring the coming seasons, often their very existence relied on well-timed readiness.  Many cultures engaged in ceremonies and rituals to celebrate the coming seasons. Meaningful ritual is a conscious action intended to remind us of something we value.

What if instead of ignoring the coming winter we prepared for the coming passages in both our inner and outer worlds through contemplation and preparation? Hygge is one such a tradition. Pronounced “hoo-ga,” hygge is a Danish concept. It cannot be translated to one single word but encompasses a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life. Or, ask your elders what family traditions might have been kept at this time of year.

The following are a few suggestions on how one might celebrate Fall and welcome in the coming season of Winter:

Prepare your body for Winter. Start by including some of your favorite cold weather foods and beverages. Include warming herbs and spices into the mix like ginger, cayenne, and cinnamon.

Begin now to slow your pace. Go for a relaxing walk in nature. Take naps. Go to bed a little earlier. Reserve more time for contemplation. Ask your body what it needs.

Examine your inner and outer landscapes for what is truly of value and, for anything that needs to be released. Whether it is a pair of old socks or a friendship that has run its course, release it with a heartfelt gratitude for all you have received by their presence.

Create a ritual for welcoming in Winter. Share a beer or two with friends at your favorite pub or make a big pot of chili for the family. Whether you hold a ceremony and dance by the moonlight or have a cup of cocoa by the fireplace, honor, respect, and value all you have been given.

Take care of any unfinished business from Fall. We often prepare in our outer world by winterizing our homes and your cars. What need to be attended to in your inner world? Is there any unfinished grieving to be done? Are you honoring and respecting all that you are and all that you will become? Do you have someone to forgive? Make your burdens as light as possible in order that your passage through Winter might be more bearable.

Share your abundance with others. We can help to build strength and resilience in the world, whether it’s through giving our excess winter clothes to the homeless or sharing our heart of compassion with another in need. By giving to others out of our bounty we build strong communities and they, in turn, also strengthen and nourish us.

I wish you a rich and contented Fall and a cozy Winter.

With Love,

Melody

Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.