Bent Not Broken

I am bent not broken. Literally. My S shaped spine swerves to the left and then to the right. Untreated in childhood, the curve got more pronounced in adulthood. From the front, I look rather fine. From the back, I look rather crooked. So what?

So I had to make life changes. My S changed me and changed my world. How? It made me change my behavior. Goodbye no exercise. Hello yoga and walking. Goodbye soda. Hello water and yogurt. Goodbye crossed legs bent over when seated. Hello sit up straight. And a special hello to lying on the floor in the morning when I awake and at night before I get in bed which is both pain relieving and grounding.

Why am I telling you this? You probably don’t have scoliosis. I am telling you this because when life throws you a curve (literally for me 😉 ) you still have choices about how to deal with it.

When we feel broken in body or broken in spirit, our first response is often despair. That’s okay. It is the stage one of why me and this isn’t fair. (Unfortunately, fair has nothing to do with it.) More stages will follow, and we go through each one as slowly or as quickly as our condition allows. Some things we try will not work for us. Some advice we get will not work for us. But we journey on. Attitude and curiosity will be our constant companions as we seek the right, though winding, path for us. Healing is never a straight line.

Do I wish that I did not have a roller coaster of a spine? You bet. Yet, I recognize that the changes I made to manage my condition have made my life better. My health is better. My outlook is better. And I know that I would not have made these changes without the pain. Discomfort is a catalyst for healthy growth and daily self-care.

And when I am feeling worn out, I walk a few blocks from my house to look at the willow trees hanging over the lake nearby. They are bent. They are beautiful. And they are just the way they are supposed to be.

Shelter From the Storm

“Come in she said, I’ll give ya shelter from the storm.” (Bob Dylan) Shelter from the storm embraces those in need. Those hurting. Those battered by life or by circumstance. The broken hearted. The broken spirited. Shelter from the storm is a warm embrace, a kind word, a holding hand, a nod of understanding. It is providing empathy for the breaking and the broken.

Giving shelter from the storm comes naturally to highly sensitive people and empaths. We will pull you in as you crawl toward us. We will feel your hurt, listen to it, validate it. We will hold you as you push through the ugliness and back toward the light. We will be your companion and meet your needs and help with healing.  It is our natural gift, and oh, we will give it….until we are spent.

And that is the challenge of being empathic. We tend to give it all away. No limits. Shelter from the storm implies temporary safe haven. It is not  a harbor in every storm or a host to every hunger. This took me a long time to learn. There is a difference between helping someone who is going through a bad time and hosting someone who thrives in a hurricane. Don’t get sucked under again and again. If s/he doesn’t want to get on the life raft, sail away to shore anyway. Disengage. (I know easier said than done.)

And sometimes when the storm passes, it is you who is left behind. You provided what was needed – TLC – but you may have fell in love or at least in deep like. With the storm/crisis now over, those moments of heart-bearing soul are often scary for others, so they move away from those who witnessed it – yep, you.

We can embrace and use our gift of providing shelter from the storm, but know that it is a moment in time. It will bring us closer with some, and it will be a momentary passing with others. With each encounter,  our compassion and light will continue to expand.

Shelter From the Storm by Bob Dylan Vimeo link:



Music drives emotion. Seriously. Everyone can feel it, but for empaths, it is magnified. That’s why we like music so much. In fact, we crave it. I can’t imagine even one day without music.

Music is vast. It is wide. It is a rich. There is a song for any and every emotion we may experience. (And your choices will be different from mine.) Discovering the right song that connects to the right emotion at the right time is fantastic. It’s magic, affirmation, and catharsis/emotional release all rolled up into one. The right notes and lyrics help us to express what we can’t express alone. It is feeling beyond our own words.

Songs become part of our personal histories. We remember what was playing when something happened. We remember what songs got us through the very tough times. We know what ones express our anger or our sadness. We remember which ones were played at celebrations and concerts. At times in our lives, we latch on to one song and play it over and over because it expresses what we are feeling so well. Later, a few notes from a familiar tune can take you right back to a moment in time and a particular place.

Music is my number one stress buster and motivator. I like to play it loud because it literally blasts everything else out of my head. I’m the one driving into the parking lot at work, and with windows rolled up, you can still hear my raucous music. (My colleagues find it funny because I am a calm and peaceful person. They don’t realize that my music helps me stay that way.) Music helps me to start the day on the “right note.”

Did you know that there is something called “music psychology”? It is the study of how music effects us. You can get a college degree in music psychology.

“Music psychology, or the psychology of music, may be regarded as a branch of both psychology and musicology. It aims to explain and understand musical behavior and experience, including the processes through which music is perceived, created, responded to, and incorporated into everyday life.” ~ Wikipedia

Music enriches our lives. There is a song for every emotion and every occasion. What are you listening to today?

When I Get Knocked Down, I Get Up Again

Resilience IS the capacity to recover from difficulties. Resilience IS the ability to bounce back from tragedies. We all have it. But some seem to have it more than others. Some people in the same circumstances often end up with very different outcomes. Some move on, and some get stuck in the hole.

When real tragedy is up close and personal, we react with fight, flight, submit, or freeze. These reactions rely on instinct. But step two, after the horribleness has happened, is where resilience comes in. We can’t stop difficulty and tragedy from coming our way (and sometimes it feels like there is a target on our backs) but we can push through it to the other side. The awful experience(s) can become part of our history, but NOT our self-definition.

I hate being stuck. I can’t stand it. Awful times bring awful feelings. If we ignore them, they become an internal tsunami. Empaths and highly sensitive people have to open up the floodgates, let the feelings wash through them, and then get help to clean up the aftermath. It is intense, but it works. Change is the process of getting unstuck. We have to be unstuck to move forward and to rise up.

While we are healing, we have to be gentle with ourselves. Would we judge a hurricane survivor? No. So don’t judge yourself. We need help and support  from people we know and people we don’t know. Be around positive people (even if they are only characters in books or movies). Avoid naysayers and people who don’t like change. Embrace the underdogs for their stories of inspiration. They are the BEST role models for resilience. (Uh, Oprah?)

Have faith and look for the light at the end of the tunnel. It may look like a tiny match at first. But as you get closer, one step at a time, and one day at a time, the tiny light will become a sunrise. Hope will return. Better will return. And one day you will realize that you made it through. Resilience won.




You’ll Know When You Know

Big decision on the line? Sit with it. Feel it. Consider it. Know that there is no set timeline to solve a problem or resolve a situation. There is only what you can bear. What you can live with and what you can’t live with. You get to decide. Who knows better than you what is right for you at any given time?

Indecision can be its own stress. I like to think about it this way – when making a considered decision, yes, you are in limbo, but no, you are not doing nothing. You are processing your thoughts and feelings. You are considering impact and consequences.You are collecting information. You are in process.

We weigh our big life decisions. Pros and cons. Impact on my life. Impact on those around me. Known vs. unknown. Security vs. leap of faith. Willingness for change. Tolerance for criticism. Likelihood of support system staying in place. Openness to signs and spiritual guidance.

Case in point – People have very strong opinions on birth (which they will readily share with you). “Everyone is an expert.”  But they are not an expert on YOU. Example – I made an alternative birth plan for the arrival of my 2nd child. It was a gradual, researched, prayed about, considered decision. I told no one who would not support me (including my own mother) because I wanted to be surrounded by strong positive energy. Jake was born at home. All went well. One of my very best life choice decisions ever. (Postscript, I decided to have my next child born in the hospital. I was older, and he was early. You see, what is right for you at one age and point in time may not be right at another. Decisions change as we change.)

Considered decisions take some time. So when you are not sure, name it. Tell others and yourself that you need some time to think about it. Collect information, build support, trust your intuition, ask for guidance. When stumped, sit on that stump for a while. You will figure it out. I know it, and deep down, you know you too.