On The Necessary Dying of Change

I received this email last week from a client I worked with a week before.
Hi Ingrid,
I appreciate that you took the time to make this list for me.
I truly believe you are highly intended and that you have helped many people in very positive and profound ways. I am sorry to report that my experience has not gone well at all.  I have suffered much physical illness and many extremely unpleasant disturbances on all levels.
During our session a door was opened that must be closed.
I have been working with two practitioners who are helping me clear and refortify myself. I need your cooperation and assistance in order to quickly and completely restore peace, health and well-being in myself, my home/sanctuary, my field, my Sacred space.
It is critical that all connections made between you and I be thoroughly and immediately severed.I trust, as a healer, you will do what is best for me by honoring my wishes and my boundaries.
Thank you for all of the good that you are and all of the good that you do.
I wish you well.

Respectfully…in Grace and Peace

The work with me is not always a graceful affair.  Grace-filled, yes.  Grace-ful, no.  Sometimes there is a lot of snot involved during a session and after.  Not all of the time but sometimes it is just that.    The session mentioned above was not one of those snot-filled occasions.  There was laughter, great joy, major realizations including, “I have prepared for this my entire life.  I was born for this.”  And, my response was, “YES”.  Before I begin working with a new person I give them the general rundown of what one may experience during sessions and after.  Included in this almost-mantra is, “Be aware that you may go into a full-body detox that can appear in any number of fashions.  You may experience a range of emotions and mental kerfluffles that I am the support for.  You don’t need to be alone in this and you don’t need to be uncomfortable.”

For some people, the initial session sets the foundation for deeper spiritual work, begins a transformation that some call awakening.  For others, like this woman, the experience through me is the awakening and described as “pure bliss”.  Sometimes, what comes with this experience of instantaneous meeting of all things divine is what Rumi calls the necessary dyings, as one soul gives birth to the next and the ground crumbles so that wildflowers come up.

It is not always like this.  There are two responses to the awakenings that happen through me:  One is mentioned above.   The loss of identity can be frightening.  The recognition that all things holy, our own nature, the divine god-stuff within, and the divine god-stuff without isn’t what we thought it should be or look like can be a ball-buster and can blow ones mind.  Primarily because, well, one of our stupid human tricks is the idea that we know ahead of time what it (here, things of spirit) should be or look like.  People spend decades searching, learning, sitting at the feet of gurus and spiritual ‘masters’ who tell us that this is the way, this is what it looks like, and this is what you should do to see it the way it’s supposed to be.    I try to help people move from a boundaried, fear-based experience into one that is limited by nothing, is filled with curiosity and wonder.     When that occurs, the second response to the awakening resembles how you feel on a winter day and put on your favorite pair of jeans straight out of the dryer.  One big, loud, “Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh….”.  So, growth spurts don’t always have to be painful.  Generally, how we move through it is of our choosing.  We can continue to be afraid and try to shove experiences into the boxes already established in our minds or we can

Once the door to the divine is opened, it is never closed.  Once you glimpse what has always seemed hidden from you, you never forget and will never be the same.  The integration of one’s consciousness with One’s consciousness brings the knowing that no connection is ever severed.  Connection, one-ness, unity consciousness isn’t controlled by a light switch or mental process.  It just is.  Always. And we are not separated from it or each other.

You and I have spoken all these words, but as for the way we have to go, words are no preparation.

There is no getting ready, other than grace.

My faults have stayed hidden. One might call that a preparation!

I have one drop of knowing in my soul.  Let it dissolve in your ocean.

Inside each of us, there is a continual autumn. Our leaves are blown out over the water.

A crow sits in the blackened limbs and talks about what’s gone.

Then, your generosity returns:  spring, moisture, intelligence, the scent of hyacinth and rose and cypress.

Joseph is back! And if you don’t feel in yourself the freshness of Joseph, be Jacob! 

Weep, then smile.

Don’t pretend to know something you haven’t experienced.

There’s a necessary dying, and then Jesus is breathing again.

Very little grows on jagged rock.  Be ground.

Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are.

You’ve been stony for too many years. Try something different.

Surrender.

~Rumi

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A Taste of my own Medicine, Self-Worth & Pissin’ People Off

Every now and again, I feel the need to get a taste of my own medicine.  When I do that, I click around and find out when and where Panache Desai is going to be.  This time it was Black Mountain, North Carolina.  What’s little road trip?  Only seven hours between here and there, right?  Yup.  Something like that.  Seven hours to drive for an energetic ass-kicking.

Let me divert a bit with a little back-story. I first saw Panache about a year ago.  He ‘accidentally’ showed up on my computer screen.  Riiiiight.  You know how I feel about ‘accidents’, right?  I knew in less than an instant that I needed him like I needed air.  I drove like a bat out of hell for 14 hours to St. Petersburg, FL, to the Unity Church there to see him.  I sat. Looked around at the eclectic crowd and tried not to fidget (remember how I have to practice patience?).  When he began speaking I almost fell over.  He was using the same language, the exact same words I did while working, the language that others thought I channeled.  I was brilliantly relieved and tickled that I wasn’t alone.  Then, he started doing his thing.  He wandered around the room touching folks and when he finally got to me, I was just ‘struck’.  That’s the only way I know how to describe it except to add that in one moment, in less than a second, I just ‘knew’.  I knew everything.  I knew that what I’d begun doing a few months beforehand had little to do with healing torn rotator cuffs and a lot with changing the world.  All in a flash of light (although that doesn’t quite describe it) and presence that moved in and through me in a split second.  And, then, it was all I could do to not interrupt the still, meditative manner that others had settled into without laughing hysterically!  Guffawing, snarfing, snorting…the whole shebang.

The mystical experiences clients had been describing to me finally made sense.  Those may have made sense but the “holy shit” factor remained at the forefront of my brain all night.  The 14 hour drive back to Virginia was filled with self-conversation that went something like this: “Oh. Shit.”  “Holy CRAP!”  “HOLY crap!” “Whatthehellisthatallabout!”  “Crappity, crap, crap, crap!!”  “Damn, there’s responsibility here!” “Now what the fuck do I do with that bit of information?”   Enough that the chatter sent me straight to the computer before the bathroom (after 14 hrs on the road, no less) to send an email that said, essentially, “Holy crap.  Now what the hell do I do?”  The response, bless him, was, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

Moving back on track to this summer’s trip.  Only 7 hours, not 14. And I knew what I was getting into.  Didn’t feel the ‘need’ but wanted to feel what others feel through me.  A reminder, really, of what we’re about. As far as I know, he and I are the only ones that work in this strange and usual fashion (odds are, though, that if there are two of us, there are bound to be more around the globe).  What’s a state line or two between us, I thought?  So I went.

Hauled ass (safely, of course!) through the heart of Virginia into some of North Carolina’s finest spaces.  The two-hour session on Friday evening was nice.  I was tired and it was a great way to end a day of travel.  Just a nice energetic high of the warm, fuzzy kind.   On Saturday, though, initially it wasn’t.  I found myself annoyed.  Annoyed that I was listening to myself. Really annoyed.  Remember, we really do speak the same language–damn near word for word.  It was only toward the end of the day that the smack upside the head occurred.  The universal, “Yeah.  You.  You big dummy.  You ought to listen to yourself!”

A week or so before I made the run to NC, I met with a really awesome woman from Northern Virginia.  During the course of our time together I looked at her and said, “Quit being a pussy.”  (Yes, I really did. I don’t have to make any of this up, kids. These aren’t therapy sessions.  And, seriously, wouldn’t you love to hear your therapist say that?).  After listening to what Panache had to say toward the end of Saturday, I realized I’d been speaking to myself as well. I’d been settling for being a pussy.  Preaching on one hand while my other hand chose to hold me back.   Although in some respects I have behaved fearlessly, in one key aspect I had chosen not to.

Because I am ridiculously  human, I’d held onto a couple of key beliefs about myself that others had sold me on.  The primary of those (the one addressed now) was that I didn’t have value. Grounded in years of ‘stuff’, I’d held onto that notion.  And, subsequently, have lived recently as if I was of no value, as if my needs and desires, and, yes, my Gift, had no value.  I’d dealt with it at one relational level but not at another.  Silly girl.  Don’t know what I was thinking.  Actually, that’s not quite true.  What I was thinking was, “Oh.  I can’t do that. They won’t like me/come to me/value me/want me (think Sally Field) if I do …”.  In this case, ‘it’ was if I charge for my services what I need to have my own needs met.  As if it were perfectly okay for me to provide what I do for others and martyr myself in the process.

It is no longer okay for me to suffer.  It’s no longer okay for me to choose between putting gas in the car and going to the dentist. It’s no longer okay for me to be afraid of what others think of my need to take care of myself.  It is not okay for me to be afraid of every noise my car makes.  It is perfectly okay for me to want underwear that fits.  So, I’ve raised my rates.  I’ve raised them to help support both me and those who can’t afford me at any rate.  I do a lot of work for no fee at all and when I do, it’s done with love.  I choose to do that for those in need who have limited or no income because I fully believe what I call the Gift is of all of us and for all of us.   I have previously set myself up and created limitations that needn’t exist because I was afraid.  No mas.   I have desires to work with veterans groups, pay for advertising, develop a retreat center, and live on my own again.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.

There are those who will say, “Oh, there she goes. Just like all these other healer-types.  All about the money.”  Others have already come right out and said, “You can’t do that!  You can’t charge so much for something that people don’t understand!” “You can’t expect people to pay you for miracles.”   You can’t, you can’t, you can’t.  And, we all know how I feel about that.  So be it. That’s their problem, not mine.  It is up to others to decide what the value of the Gift is for them and to find the courage to say things like, “I really can’t afford more than the $60 I used pay you.”   Those who don’t pay me do that every day and, then, pay with loving kindness, chocolate cake, garden goodies, and the willingness to be open to themselves & others.

A good part of what I teach is grounded in deciding (see above). Deciding how we want to feel.  How we want to experience life.  I’ve finally decided that I want to live freely, without self-imposed limitations.  I’ve got plans and am creating a way to make them happen. I am worthy.

So how does this healing stuff work, exactly?

A woman who called the other day to see about scheduling an appointment asked that question.   She’s feeling like one hot mess and wanted to know if I could help.   She’d heard about me through local gossip (free marketing, anyone?) and wanted to know how this “stuff” works, “exactly”.

I dunno exactly.  Here’s what I do know.

There is nothing wrong with you.

You may feel all sorts of things.  You may feel afraid, anxious, awkward, addicted, alone, angry, compulsive, impulsive, enraged, exhausted, depressed, downtrodden, delusional, disorganized, dissociated, lonely, spent, sleep-drived, sad, stuck, annoyed, paranoid, grief-stricken, spent, out-of-whack, wonky, weird, panic-stricken, pissed off, pissed upon, distressed, disturbed, dis-ordered. disconnected, discombobulated, dis-eased, uneasy, uninterested in everything and everyone around you, moody, mad, masochistic, irritated, irrational, inattentive, hypervigilant, hyperactive, startled, sad, guilty, traumatized, spaced-out, stunted, stunned, stressed, suicidal, rage-filled, and, frankly, just generally fucked up.  You’re dealing with some serious shit. It’s your crap and yours alone to try to figure out.

But these things, these feelings are not you.  They are of you, sure.  They are sometimes of others (figure that one out, eh?).   You are dealing with them (or notsomuch as is often case) in the best way you know how.  You feel these things. They suck.  They make you feel like you suck.  However, you are not them.  There is nothing wrong with you. And you do not suck.

Once you know that, once you decide that, you will recognize all the tools you need to heal, to release these feelings that are holding you back, are within you.  It’s simple really.  Not necessarily easy. But simple.  I say that it is simple but not necessarily easy for a couple reasons.  First, frankly, we get used to these feelings.  As uncomfortable as they may be, they often become our comfort zone.  They  help shape our day, our relationships, our responses to life-stuff.  We get used to them and like having at least one reliable thing in the midst of the fuckedupedness.  Others get used to them.  And, despite all the blah-blah about change being good, life being change, a lot of folks don’t know how to and don’t want to.  Change, that is.   Again, though, there is nothing inherently wrong with that.  Some people say it’s wrong, assign it the ‘wrong’ label, but really, it just is.  The second goes back a few sentences to ‘others get used to them’.

What other people think or expect of us has an impact on us that we often don’t realize.  Others might not be comfortable or understand our erratic behavior, frightening mood swings, inability to move farther than the couch, or need for the booze.  However, folks at least have a glimpse of what is going on if we say, “I have PTSD” or “I’m depressed.”  The labels connect them to a definition or label that may not entirely explain your experience but can lessen their fear and open their hearts.   It helps them define you.  They, too, become comfortable in that and become afraid of your own change because they face being in a place of fear again.

There is no need to be afraid.  You have all of the answers within you.  And, it’s time to get right with you.

Same client said, “That’s such a freakin’ cliche, Ingrid. I don’t buy that.”  Well, it may be a cliche.  It may be tired.  You may be sick of hearing it but odds are you’re hearing it for a reason.  This cliche is true.  You can’t fully do for others until you can deal with you. All of your glorious, beautiful fuckedupedness.

Client says, “What the hell do you know about this?”  Me: “Been there. Done that.”

I first tried to kill myself sometime while I was in elementary school (maybe before?). I won’t go into details about that part of my story because I don’t want to hurt others but I decided that I didn’t want to be in this world because something wasn’t right.  It wasn’t right that I was afraid all the time.  It wasn’t right that I hurt all the time.   However, as most kids do, I survived.  Sort of.  I mean, I continued to breathe.  After the attempt and through the next few years.

Then I got older and attempted again as a teenager.  And again.  And each time I survived still trying to understand why I didn’t fit in, why I was still here, why no one heard me and why no one could see what was happening.  When all those crappy feelings that I didn’t know how to deal with me caught up with me as an adult, things stepped up a notch. I worked myself into the ground, I became an ‘expert’, I worked hard, partied harder, and hit a brick wall in 2004.  I hit that brick wall with all the force of a Mack truck doing 110.  Bertha was in the mouth more than once, finger on the trigger more than once. I took medical leave from my Probation job after my own physician said, “Well, Ingrid, we call this depression” in only the way a brilliant, sarcastic mind who knows that you know what’s going on can do.

In all of this, I knew things were really, really, incredibly messed up beyond description. FUBARed beyond FUBAR. And as I tried to figure out why I was here, what the heck was going on with me, why I was ready to blow the back of my head off but didn’t really want to, I had to explain it over and over to people.  And each person said something slightly different: “You’re Depressed.”  “You’re Bi-Polar.” “You are really ill.” “You are what we call a PTSDer.  A Complex PTSDer (as if that made it all the more special).”

After two shrinks, four therapists, I finally decided I wasn’t what they thought I was.  I might have been feeling whacked out in more ways than one but I knew that each time someone else tried to pigeon-hole me as a way of understanding me, they got it wrong.

As soon as I decided I was a beautiful disaster that could fix my own-damn-self (dammit!), things changed.  Immediately.  IBS symptoms gone after I decided that caffeine, wine, and nicotine were the causes. Cut those out, cut out IBS.  Cut out the suicidal ideation because I didn’t really want to die.  Sometimes felt like it but didn’t really want to.  Left the husband that I’d talked about leaving for over a year within two weeks, moved 1700 miles to one of the most spectacular places on the planet, and have watched the beautiful disaster morph into a wondrous woman (if I do say so my own-damn-self!) who’s been given an amazing Gift.

I have been there.  Walked the darkest path, sunk into the deepest depths and thrived!! I am the most blessed of all people.  And I am grateful beyond words that I was kept here to be able to do what I do.

This “stuff” work because when you are ready, when you decide that it’s time to let go of all that  holds you back and no longer serves you, the tools come to you clearly.  I am simply one of them.  When I am with you and I breathe and connect to the Divine (however you define that) , I am a tool, a facilitator that allows what you need to release to just go.  It’s that simple.  And, yes, this part really is that easy.

When those things that no longer serve you leave; when you’re not holding on to them, you begin to experience the world and all of its challenges in a different manner.  Those emotions? You still feel them but they don’t define you.  You feel them, acknowledge them and let them go.  As you do, you grow. As you grow into the new experience of life, those things that do serve you just come to you.  In magnificent ways.    This is the healing process.  Maybe I should call it growth process instead, no?

When you’re ready, just get to me.

“I’m careful about miraculous stuff, but for a very real, straight up, down to earth gal, she shares a remarkable undefinable gift with her clients.”  Sandy C, Delaplane, VA (09/17/09)