Emotions. Do you stuff them?

Swallow hard. Clench your jaw.  Hold back the tears.

Breathe in deep. Inhale…exhale…hold it all in.

Silence. Throat tightened. Bite your tongue.

Just a few of the ways you may be stuffing your emotions, saving them away for another day. There's no harm in a momentary pause in emotion in order to process it in an appropriate time.  The problem for most of us is that time never comes, and emotions get stacked like sardines in the back of our minds and the memories imprinted on our bodies like a record to be replayed again and again.

Later, maybe a day or a week or a few months, perhaps a few years even, something happens to recreate the feeling you had before, the time you stuffed it to take care of another day or hoping it would just go away.  But it didn't.  It just got stored in your body, waiting for its turn to come out and play.  Except an emotion that's been in a closet doesn't play nice anymore, especially since it's been ruminating around with all of the other emotions it found hidden away.

These emotions start to swap stories.  They have ways of organizing themselves with their narratives, each telling more embellished than the last. Sometimes they try to one up each other, there in the recesses of your subconscious mind, replaying over and over and over again their moments of pain and sorrow, fear and regret, shame and guilt…vying for their place in line at the closet door.

Finally, that closet door has so much pressure behind it….all of these emotions vying for their place in line, pushing and shoving, getting louder and louder, more boisterous…more angry.

Until something small happens in your day. It could be you got cut off in traffic. Or perhaps someone was short with you and said something unkind. Maybe your kids left their shoes out one too many times or your husband forgot the most important item on the grocery list. 

Those emotions, they have been waiting.  It's getting hot in that closet and they are tired of being silenced.  Plus, there simply is no more room.

You go to stuff that emotion away only to find a rush of feelings flooding your body, and you react…or, rather, you over react to that situation that just happened.  In your mind, you begin to justify and maybe even blame someone current…"Well if you would have only…if they wouldn't have done…if there had only been…" as you struggle to get those uncomfortable feelings under control and back in the closet and hope no one has noticed the mess that just spilled out.

Has this ever happened to you?

Depending on your mode of operating, after an episode like this you may then add another layer of locks on that closet door, locks like guilt and shame or anger and rage. You want to protect that door at whatever cost because you do not want to ever feel that way again.

The problem is, you will.

You have effectively just told your body to store them for another day because they are just too much or too hard or too painful or too….well, you know, messy.  Emotions are messy.

Yes, yes, they are.  But emotions stuffed are way messier and more toxic to you, your body, your spirit, and your loved ones than you can imagine.  And also easier to process than you've been led to believe.

Next….Emotions. Can they make you sick?

ANNOUNCEMENT: Early Bird Discount for in-person AFT Certification Course!

Early Bird Discount through May 5th!

Find a group of 4 friends, send the names and emails of your group of 4 to connect@untethered.life, and receive a discount code for 20% off regular tuition for the in-person, intensive Aroma Freedom Technique certification course coming to Dallas, TX, May 19-20th.

This innovative approach to eliminating negative beliefs, limiting mindsets, and releasing challenging emotions is changing lives and helping people on their paths towards reaching their heart's desires.

Must register your group of four by May 5th to receive discount.  In addition, register by May 1st to receive a hard copy of The Aroma Freedom Technique book by Dr. Perkus and an AFT sampler oil kit (this offer also available for single registrants).  

What's really behind all that "meanness"?

I'm really into discovering what makes people tick and what makes them react the way they do.  On a good day, I'm unflustered by the behavior of others because I understand that there's almost always an underlying cause.  On a regular day, I'm reacting to that poor behavior just like the next person out of my own buried issues and emotional baggage.

I'm blogging over at Plaid for Women once a month, so head over here to read more on having compassion and understanding for those around us.

How the Aroma Freedom Technique has changed my life

Happiness isn’t a goal in and of itself; it is a side-effect of doing what you are meant to do in this life.
— Dr. Benjamin Perkus, author and founder of the Aroma Freedom Technique

It was a rather random happening. I opened an email with information about a free opportunity buried in amongst other posts: a free month of weekly calls about the Aroma Freedom Technique. Inexplicably, something immediately grabbed my intention and pulled me in.  I found the link to sign up and set a reminder on my phone.

That Friday, I logged into Zoom and found a group of people being instructed by Dr. Benjamin Perkus on the ins and outs of the Aroma Freedom Technique (AFT) and the ways people were being impacted.  He shared about classes and certifications he would be offering and then encouraged us to all grab our oils for a clearing using AFT.

I don't know what specifically it was about that first call, but I knew that I was hooked.  I was drawn to the method, intrigued by the immediate results, and had an instant connection with this community of people who were "practicing AFT." 

That was a Friday.  On Monday the certification class would be starting, and Dr. Perkus requested sign ups be in by Saturday.

It didn't make sense in a logical way…Where would the money come from? What exactly would I be able to do once I got certified? And who, exactly, was this Dr. Perkus? I wasn't entirely sure, but I knew that God was opening up a path before me. The choice was mine. Would I trust Him?

After much going back and forth (self-doubt and money worries hinder me the most, y'all), I decided that the voice inside my head was most probably God and I could trust Him with this step of faith.  Truthfully, the worst that could happen was minor...I'd be out some money and some time. It would be ok either way.

Monday dawned bright and early, and I jumped on the zoom call and away I went.  Dr. Perkus was kind and engaging.  The more I listened, the more I knew that this was where I was meant to be.

Then another opportunity opened up to do level 1 AND level 2 concurrently.  Again, I felt that irresistible draw in my spirit to take this "quantum leap." I hemmed and hawed again, self-doubt and money worries vying for a say.  I listened some to those voices, how I could delay and wait to do level 2 another day…but there was just something about that moment in time that said: "this is it…this is the pathway to open up your passion…just do it!"

So I did.  I jumped in and quickly felt over my head but I popped up soon and paddled my way to increasing my clarity and confidence with each AFT clearing and class interaction, my strokes getting stronger with each session.  I've not looked back since except to admire the view from here, to see how far I've come in such a short amount of time.

How has AFT changed my life? Here are just a few of the gifts that are now mine because I said "yes":

  • A broadened circle of friends and like-minded practitioners.  My AFT buddy I met in my level 1 class and I still meet regularly for accountability and support. I have a growing network of support that undergirds my work on several levels, but most importantly my AFT practice and my Young Living business.
  • A greater sense of purpose and direction. I have a structure within which my passion for helping people get free of what is holding them back can flow unhindered while sharing my love for essential oils.  It's glorious!
  • A way to share about Young Living Essential Oils compliantly. Who doesn't like a new way to share and build your Young Living business? Watch people's eyes light up as you help lighten their load as peace increases in their hearts while sharing your amazing oils.
  • A tool that has immediate results.  It doesn't take much time to show people how quickly they can experience a shift in their mental state and have more hope to reach the goals and dreams that before seemed so elusive. 
  • A method that works for groups of individuals. I put my certification to work immediately, helping oily and non-oily people, privately and in groups.  I've more than made back my certification costs.
  • A gift that just keeps on giving. Not only am I able to bless others, but I, myself, am daily blessed by the Aroma Freedom Technique and the practice I'm working into my life of clearing the blocks instead of staying stuck and stagnate.  I don't have any excuses anymore!  I can confidently take myself through AFT (or reach out to another AFT practitioner) and know that whatever has held me back in the past, doesn't stand a chance now!
  • A spiritual support.  This is, perhaps, the most valuable gift thus far.  Scripture says to make every effort to add to our faith goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love*. I'm finding this modality is increasing my ability to produce fruit in keeping with repentance [getting new thoughts].** I'm finding that belief is rising and love is increasing.  I am more confident about being who God has created me to be and in helping others to throw off everything that is entangling them*** so they can run their race full of love, peace, and joy.

Want to explore the Aroma Freedom Technique with me?  May 19-20 in Dallas, Texas, I'll be holding an intensive 2-Day Aroma Freedom Technique Level 1 Certification.  I'd love for you to join me!  Sign up by May 1st and receive The Aroma Freedom Technique Quick Guide and an AFT sampler oil kit at the class.  Questions? Send me an email: connect@untethered.life.  Ready to join the #aftrevoilution? Click the link to register today!

Read testimonials here

*1 Peter 1:5-12  "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters,[a] make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

**Heb 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

***Matthew 3:8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance

When hope springs anew

On the surface it seemed that life was lessening, but silently and lavishly the seeds of new life were always being sown.
— Parker Palmer in Let Your Life Speak
"Hope Springs Anew" Heather Harbaugh, acrylic on canvas

"Hope Springs Anew" Heather Harbaugh, acrylic on canvas

It's hopelessness that drives through my door and breaks through thin strength to see me crumble to the floor.  As I lay low, I see only the shambles of past and present expectations…how things would be if only…how things should be if only…a future now shrouded with the cloak of fear of more disappointment clouds my vision.  I remember, though, that I cannot see what I cannot see.

Still, this way is hard and the path obscure and muddled and fraught with pain that I thought I was avoiding by doing all of the "right" things in the best way I knew how thinking I was going to reap certain rewards from living a godly life, not imagining that often those rewards are on the other side of the process of pain that needs to be embraced so that sorrow can do the work of enlarging my soul far more than I ever imagined was possible or needed.

This slow death, this sometimes rapid decline, of ideals of a life well-lived is surely, "silently and lavishly" sowing the seeds of new life…and who can know what the new will bring?  I only need to let myself be lifted off the floor and set between Hope's shoulders to rest for a while and allow His Hope within me to arise strong and fierce once again.

As He stands with me, having stooped low to scoop me up and lovingly place me up on His back, I look out with the shifted perspective of a child up high on the shoulders of her daddy.  Here I can see beyond, out past the pain of disappointment, to Hope rising up from seeds cast far and wide.

Hope doesn't disappoint because Hope doesn't stop showing up. When all hope seems lost, Hope pushes its way up past the charred remains, a smidge of green on an otherwise stark landscape, reminding me to look, always look, for a glimpse of the grandeur to come when Hope springs anew.

P.S. As I was preparing this blog post, I was reminded, yet again, that Hope knows my name.  I capitalize Hope because it is one of the ways that Jesus comes to me.  A few weeks ago Isaiah 49 was highlighted to me by Holy Spirit to encourage my heart regarding some of God's promises.  This morning as I was searching for a verse on hope that I had read recently, Isaiah 49:23 popped up…the exact one that God had used to remind me of His promises a few weeks ago.  Hope springs anew sometimes moment by moment.  It seems new, but really it's that I'm being reminded.  So, read below for some verses on hope that I'm using to center and ground myself in Truth today. 

Then you will know that I am the Lord;
those who hope in me will not be disappointed.
— Isaiah 49:23b

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! Romans 5:5 MSG

and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5 NASB

Romans 15:13, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (NASB)

I am passionate about helping people to become all they are created to be, leaving behind old patterns of thinking,  of feeling, of living… to embrace the life they are meant to live. As a Certified Aroma Freedom Technique practitioner, I combine the power of Young Living essential oils with this powerful 12-step process that helps you be who God created you to be. I'd love to chat with you. Contact me at heather@untethered.life and check out my classes and AFT session availability at www.untethered.life/classes.

How I'm ditching my 5 a.m. wake up call for something better

Isaiah 49:23b, 25b "Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed…I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save."

It's a subtle, slight slip into rational and reasonable responsibility that leads to fearful fretting and anxious alliterations and thoughts tripped up in thinking that in the end, it is all up to me which ends up making it all about me.

That's what gets me into trouble most mornings.  I wake and the thoughts come unbidden and instead of showing them the door like I know to do (surely, by now I know to do this…) I invite them in and sit them down for a discussion to see if I can figure out this puzzle of where things went wrong and what I can do to fix them by replaying past events and thinking how I could have done that differently.

The problem is, short of an ability to time-travel, there is absolutely nothing I can do to go back into the past as recent as 5 minutes ago and change anything.  I mean, if you figure that one out…can go back even 1 minute to change something you just did that you wish you didn’t do, please come see me.  I need what you got.

So, I'm sitting with these thoughts, and, in my defense, they do come knocking on my door around 5 a.m., usually a few minutes or an hour or two before I am even planning to get out of bed.  Why I don't get up every morning at 4 a.m. and beat these suckers out of bed, I don't know.  I actually did try that for a season, and it was helpful, but I also wasn't getting enough sleep because who can get into bed before midnight with fun-loving teenagers in the house?  (Whoever said I'd get more sleep when my children were older never had children because while I do get to sleep without outside interruption through the night, I have my thoughts on the front end and my children who I love connecting with late at night on the back end, so maybe I'll sleep when they are all grown…nah, probably not. By then there will be grandkids to love on.  This may be why I've taken up drinking coffee more than just socially.)

Back to the thoughts…I can hear them outside the door starting a little before 5.  I don’t even look at the clock anymore.  They come calling without fail.  No one told them that today is MLK day and that perhaps they should let me sleep in a bit.  They start out whispering and tapping lightly.  This only serves to wake other thoughts that had a restless night and were chomping at the bit to get some things discussed when I was awake.  So now the noise is getting louder.  Finally, a thought gets bold and knocks loudly and without waiting for me to open the door (aka wake up and get the tea/coffee going), they all come tumbling in talking loud and fast, vying to get my attention.

This used to throw me into high alert, nigh unto panic attack mode.  Thankfully, that is no more.  With time (going on 5 years to be exact), I have gotten more adept at sorting through the thoughts and discarding the majority of them.  Also, honestly, I've experienced a lot of healing in the past year and a half through many different modalities that Jesus has brought my way which have served to increase my awareness of patterns of thought and behaviors that no longer serve me and have given me tools to let those go and pick up new tools that lead to love, peace, and joy.

My word for 2017 is "delight," and I've come to realize that it's a challenge to experience "delight" when the 5 a.m. wake-up crew keeps barging in.  They are my thoughts, after all, and somehow I need to get their attention and let them know that when the door is still closed at 5 a.m., that means they need to go back to bed and read a book or something… until I at least am up and moving around and they see the light under the crack of the door.

This morning I actually woke first at 2:45.  I think the storms we had last night got my subconscious all in a dither because they were early.  I got up to pee and told them to go back to bed.  For once, they paid attention.  It was the dog that got me up at 5 today.  She's in heat and sleeps in a kennel in the house which means her routine is off and, thankfully, she barked to alert me that if I didn't get up and let her outside, she/we'd be in a world of stink.

After letting the dog out and getting some tea going, I sat down to read Isaiah 49, a passage rich with encouragement for me this morning, especially the last parts of verses 23 and 25: "Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed…I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save."

As the Spirit of God breathed revelation into my spirit, I found the response I've needed to these thoughts that bombard me morning by morning until I wrestle them to the ground at some point.  All of that wrestling takes energy, and it's time to direct that energy into more creative and life-giving endeavors.

Those mistakes and worries and fears and anxious ponderings that are so insistent that we need to talk and talk and figure all of the things out right this minute will now be met with these words: "Look, guys.  I appreciate you trying to bring these things to my attention.  I know that I have some part in making things work out, but right now, I'm choosing to trust God and put my hope in Him.  He's promised to contend with those who contend with me and to save my children (a lot of my worries have to do with them, and most (if not all) usually end up being completely unfounded)."

A lot of words for 5 a.m., so perhaps I'll just shorten it to: "I'm hoping in God.  Relax.  We won't be disappointed."

We will see how tomorrow morning goes. 

 

I am passionate about helping people to become all they are created to be, leaving behind old patterns of thinking, of eating, of feeling, to embrace the life they are meant to live. As a Certified Aroma Freedom Technique practitioner, I combine the power of Young Living essential oils with this powerful 12-step process that helps you be who God created you to be. I'd love to chat with you. Contact me at heather@untethered.life and check out my classes and AFT session availability at www.untethered.life/classes. 

All is well

The anxiety isn't as oppressive anymore, but it still lingers in the background, wooing my thoughts into the pool of despair and discouragement.  Things done wrong or gone wrong or going wrong can fill my mind fast and furious, and when it's 5:30 in the morning, I struggle to wrangle them into submission.  I confess, many a morning in the grog of sleep and exhaustion, I sit down in them and allow them to take me away into vain imaginings and fretful outcomes.

This morning, I grabbed my essential oil blend Sacred Mountain* and inhaled it deeply into the unrest and swirling thoughts.  They started to settle.  I lit my candle, took a sip of tea, and read my devotional.** This sentence caught my attention: "All is well and all will be well." 

I've decided that this is to become my new intention before bed each night and when I wake each morning because in my spirit I know this to be true.  It's my uncertain soul that has yet to land on bedrock truth, and I get it.  We've been through a lot.  Our fears have played out into our lives and things I never thought I'd go through have hit me full in the face.

No one likes that kind of pain, so my thoughts rush in with goals of self-protection as if thinking through all of the bad things happening and all the ones that could happen could actually protect me from future pain.

But pain is a part of life.  So is trouble and hardship and unexpected disappointments and mistakes and wrong turns and missed opportunities.  I can choose to sit in those places and allow fears and worries and concerns to be my focus, to absorb my attention and to fill my thoughts.

Or I can make a different choice.

That choice is never easy for me.  Believe me, the ruckus inside my head is deafening and alluring and convincing, especially at 5:30 a.m. for the last 4 1/2 years.  But, if I've learned anything during this time, it's that those thoughts don't actually ever get it right.

Sure, something may need my attention and I may need a course correction, but the truth is "All is well and all will be well."

So, to the fears I have for my children I declare: All will be well.

To the stress and anxiety over building a business, bringing in an income, figuring out flow and timing and tasks I say: All will be well.

To my heart that worries and frets and fixates on all that is not perfect, I emphatically declare: ALL WILL BE WELL.

Peace, my soul.  Peace.

I want to inscribe this on my subconscious, to drive it deep into the deepest places of my heart so that when the tumult of angst and worry swirl loud and strong, the resounding response is the centering voice that rises higher still, calling me back to the truth that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, has overcome…has come over and over shadowed, has intermingled and absorbed into His being, every harm and distress that could every come my way.  Because of this I can experience the challenges of this life and still say:

All is well and all will be well.

*I'm finding Young Living Essential Oils to be an important part of my emotional process, in particular the Aroma Freedom Technique which I regularly practice on myself and others. If you're interested in learning more, send me an email and check back here as I plan to write more about it in the near future

**Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day: A 40-Day Journey with the Daily Office by Peter Scazzero [affiliate link] is my devotional au jour.  I light my candle, sit in centering silence (or, truthfully, the house is silent but my thoughts are still racing and I have yet to achieve any kind of silence with them that lasts longer than a second) for two-ish, and then read the short devotional and reflect on the accompanying question.  I've round this rhythm to be helpful, particularly the lighting of the candle and the sitting in "silence" to be an important start to my day.

Women and Networking: Why women NEED retreats

Up until two years ago, attending a Christmas Tea was a regular thing for me on the first Saturday of December.  The Friday before, I would show up at church with boxes full of china and table decorations and join the other table hostesses in decorating my table that friends and family would join me at the following morning.  Then Saturday, I would show up early to make last minute adjustments and eagerly await the arrival of the women. 

But not this year. I didn't even realize it was tea weekend until I started seeing posts about it on Facebook on Friday.  I felt a twinge in my heart, missing the women and the festivities of gathering together for something distinctly "woman." I felt self-pity tugging at my heart, sighing with sadness that I wouldn't be attending. I felt the nostalgia of Christmases past swell in my heart.

I allowed myself to grieve the moment, the memories, happy ones for sure, of many Saturdays of Christmas Teas. And then I stopped because the beauty of the moment I was about to enter into was amazing and I didn't want to miss a single drop of joy that was waiting to be poured out. Nor did I want my walls of self-protection to rise up in an attempt to protect my heart from the risk of opening up to a new group of women.

You see, although the road of the past two years has been painful, confusing, daunting, and a tad bit scary, it has been overflowing with amazing connections and open doorways that I wouldn't have imagined possible just a few months ago.

After registering that it was the weekend of the Christmas Tea, another realization quickly became apparent.  No, I wasn't at the church on Friday, preparing for Christmas Tea on Saturday morning.  I was at the Every Heart Has a Story retreat, an entire weekend that had been prepared just for me to find space for hope and healing to continue to grow and flourish.

And, while it was with an entirely different group of women from this new season of life I've been in, I was ready to keep moving in this new direction, grateful for all of the past Teas I'd had the privilege to host and be a part of, but now embracing these days ahead of me.

My heart almost swooned with gratefulness to God. You see, I still almost daily grieve the losses that have occurred since the great shift a little over two years ago, but I am also increasingly aware of the expansion that is happening in my life, sometimes at breakneck speeds. He knew this weekend would coincide.  He knew I'd feel sad.  He knew I'd need hope.  He knew.  Oh, how He knew.

I took my place at the registration table next to Sydney and Liv, both of whom I had just met.  We chatted it up, having an immediate connection in our spirits, and enjoyed the next hour welcoming women to the retreat.  Some were nervous, having signed up without really knowing anyone.  Others came in excited and bursting at the seams.  And a few, like me, came in cautious, yet hopeful, because deep down we all knew that we had something in common that was waiting to connect us.

Janet and Lori called us together, welcomed us, and set the tone for the retreat: "Every heart has a story to tell and yours is no different.  Have fun, make connections, and be ready to have your heart nurtured and cared for this weekend."  

I don't know that those are the exact words that came out of their mouths, but that's what happened over the course of the weekend.  Because Janet and Lori had poured their hearts out in creating the retreat, they created space for us, in turn, to pour our hearts out to one another and receive the blessing of other women validating and embracing our stories.

On Saturday morning, I looked out over the room filled with round tables and women, much like the room at church would be set up.  We weren't taking tea together with china and dainty sandwiches and other delicious delicacies, but we were being served equally tantalizing food for our hearts and souls. We laughed and cried together as Janet and Lori set the precedent for vulnerability and authenticity by sharing their own personal stories with us.

Then Saturday night happened.  It's great to sit around a table together and share stories.  It's AMAZING to sit in a circle on the floor in pajamas, play silly games, laugh until our faces hurt, learn trivia about each other that we wouldn't have thought to talk about in a more formal setting…and yet it was that moment, at least for me, when the laughter flowed and the walls were down and the women were more fully present than ever before that the gift of the retreat landed squarely in our hearts.  Here, we were, women of all ages and from all walks and stages of life, unified by the love and acceptance and joy in the room.

All of that laughter and reindeer dance offs and funny stories helped set the stage for Sunday morning where vulnerability and authenticity were off-the-charts present as seven beautiful women shared from their hearts and gave us the gift of their story, creating a space for us to receive deeply and to say "yes, me too." Even those stories that went unspoken, those that are still raw and unformed, were gifts in the room in all of the women attending. 

The flow of love continued as we circled up again, not in pajamas this time. But the pajama party had done its work and our hearts were expanding, our sisters' stories intermingling with our own.  We shared through smiles and tears our favorite moments as the retreat inevitably came to a close.

It's hard in one single post to express what happened in my heart during the Every Heart retreat as I'm certain the story is far from over.  I'll be unwrapping gifts from that time for months to come.  I know today I am waking more confident, seeing how God has orchestrated the last several months for me, even choosing a crazy busy time of year to bring me to a space that was slow and savored to the last drop. 

EVERY WOMAN needs a retreat. 
Every woman NEEDS a retreat. 
Every woman needs a RETREAT. 

I'm so grateful to have gathered with these women who I now can call friends who know parts of my story as I know parts of theirs…because I am the richer for having taken the risk to show up, be present, be vulnerable, and be authentic.  We are all better for doing that together.  We are all stronger and more determined than ever to share our stories as the opportunity arises.

And the really great news is, if you missed it this year, it's definitely happening next year. It will be bigger, more women will come, more stories will be told, and more hearts will be nurtured and comforted and held. Every Heart Project coordinators Janet and Lori actually have a whole line up of heart-sharing events designed to empower women in their relationships with each other. I hope I'll see you at one of them.

I encourage you to create space in your life for these encounters other women. Find a group of women who will challenge you and yet provide a safe place for you to be vulnerable and authentic with your story.  You'll be so glad you did.

What you do matters

Days like today are hard to make sense of.  I mean, it’s not the actual day, but, rather, the culmination of days and days and days of difficult news that has trickled in like a steady stream of pebbles into my heart.  I don’t know if it’s a capacity my heart has to bear weight or a tendency to be in denial, but today I’m feeling the weight.

I don’t watch the news, barely read the newspaper, and get updated on current events when my friends start posting on Facebook.  I’ll click on their links or research the breaking news.  Depending on how close to home it hits determines how wide open my heart is to that trickle of pebbles.

I’ll be honest, some stories I have to just let flow over me…not because the stories aren't important or moving, but with 24/7 news coverage, a Facebook feed full of articles and information and discussions, well...I think it's more than this human body is designed to take in.  I just can’t.  It’s too much.  If I wanted to, I could have a steady flow of bad news coming in and still not be aware of all that is going on in the world, much less what is going on in my neighbor’s house next door.

And because of the weight of responsibility I’ll take on when I learn of a tragedy or a problem or an event that is calling my name to come help, I keep my line of sight pretty focused.  I’d collapse under the weight of it all otherwise or become emotionally and mentally incapacitated to help anyone anywhere if I felt like I should try to do all of the things. 

[I don't know if I'm saying this very well.  I hear in my head the voices of those who I know who are passionate about their causes telling me that I'm turning away from important things when really, I'm not turning away from anything or encouraging anyone to turn a blind eye to be comfortable...so bear with me as I try to articulate what it is that's on my heart.]

I’m thankful for Heidi Baker’s message to love the one…that one face in front of me is the one I’m responsible to love. I feel helpless and even a bit hopeless when I look at the ENORMITY of problems just in the small amount of news I allow to filter in and then feel paralyzed and do nothing.

So I look at the one.

And even then I lack…I lack compassion and commitment and resources and I struggle to not pull back because of all of the “not enough” reasons that step into view that make the one thing I have to contribute seem like not worth giving.

It’s all a lie... “not enough” and “not worthy” are demons of an insidious nature that keep me from doing even just one thing.  I look at friends who are movers and shakers and generate momentum and gather people to create movements with huge impact, and then I look at what I have to offer and decide to put it back in my pocket because it’s that small and because I can hide it there.

But what I don’t know for sure, and who I haven’t taken into account when I close my hand and stick my fist into my pocket, is the God who created me and formed me and what happens when He breathes on my offering.

I heard someone say that we can see how many seeds an apple holds, but only God knows how many apples are contained in a single seed.

Just pause and think about that for a moment.

This idea sinks deep and sheds light on a lie I’ve believed for a long time, one I need to be untethered from, one that says that what I have to give is simply not enough and not worth giving unless it is measures up to some standard out there that I perceive to be legitimate.

The truth is...what I have to offer matters because it comes out of who I am and how God has created me to be.  It’s a seed, a Heather-seed, and it’s prideful and presumptuous of me to withhold it, as if I could know the impact or importance of the small act I have to share.

I’m writing all of this to encourage those of you who are like me, who are easily overwhelmed by all of the problems in the world…in your world...and who want to hide your contribution because you don’t feel like what you have to give matters enough to make a difference.

I’m here to tell you that you can help.  There is something you can do.  And what you have to offer and where you feel led to give may not be what everyone else considers to be the most important issue at hand.  But that’s ok.  It doesn’t matter.  The Creator of the Universe is well aware of what He’s placed inside of you and where those seeds, those gifts, those talents will be sown.

And He is totally ok with it. 

In fact, He may be leading you to plant a seed in an area that today feels like it’s obscure and unimportant in the eyes of the world, but because He blows on it and because He is God and His thoughts are higher and His ways unfathomable…that obscure area where you place your seemingly insignificant gift may very well be the place that feeds thousands, provides for cities, and transforms nations.

Who knows?

I certainly don’t know.  You don’t either.  And neither do any of your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or wherever you feel you’re being measured and compared.

Only your loving and benevolent God knows, and He is calling you today to set aside your feelings of not enough and not worthy and to just do that small thing that’s on your heart to do.

Do it, and be glad.  Rejoice in the power of God to multiply your efforts beyond anything you could ask or imagine.  Give thanks and watch as He grows your courage and confidence and empowers you to love the one who then loves the one who then loves the one who then loves the one…and on and on it goes.

So today I’m going to do my small thing.  And I’m going to commit to keep doing those small things and to allow my heart a break from holding this weight of fear and worry and sadness and grief. 

I’m going to trust that God will lead me and guide me into the places where what I have to offer will matter most (or matter some, because “most” makes it seem perfectionistic and I don’t want to go there).

And whether it’s one thing or 20, I’ll give and believe that what I do matters.

 

I am passionate about helping people to become all they are created to be, leaving behind old patterns of thinking, of eating, of feeling, to embrace the life they are meant to live.  If you’d like me to walk with you on this journey, contact me at heather@untethered.life and let’s discuss a plan that works best for you.

Exercising joy

Did you know that it's important to exercise your "muscle" that remembers positive feelings?

By in large, most of us are conditioned to hold onto negative emotions, to feel fear and anxiety and to use those as motivators to get out of danger, which is good if you are actually in danger, but how often is that? Probably not as many times a day as that gets triggered in you.

Think of a time when you felt happiness, joy, or some other pleasant emotion. Become aware of where you feel that in your body. Focus on that feeling and allow it to expand to fill other areas of your body. Hold that feeling as long as possible.

Next time you find yourself feeling anxious, remember that feeling, how it felt, and allow yourself to feel it again. Practice this throughout the day until it becomes second nature.
 

I am passionate about helping people to become all they are created to be, leaving behind old patterns of thinking, of eating, of feeling, to embrace the life they are meant to live.  If you’d like me to walk with you on this journey, contact me at heather@untethered.life and let’s discuss a plan that works best for you.