A Love Letter

A love letter to my fellow therapists, doctors, nurses, healers

I know how much you want to help each client who comes to you. I know how hard you work and study to help them. I am right there with you; I have been a healer of one sort or another for over 25 years. I know how much you care for your clients and want to help them heal.

You love them and want to help. But what if you actually have very little control over whether your client improves and heals or not? What if your clients are in charge of what happens in each and every healing session, NOT you? And what if being a healer or therapist no longer meant you were supposed to have the answers, or know how to fix your clients’ problems? What if being a great healer / therapist / doctor does NOT involve dispensing advice and healing wisdom to the suffering masses like some kind of Healer Dear Abby?

How would embracing your lack of control change your healing practice?

Each client holds the keys to their own healing. Every client has their own answers – even if they don’t believe it yet!  At best, you can be a helpful conduit or sounding board – someone who helps your clients find a new perspective on their personal journey of self-discovery and self-healing. At worst you will try to take charge and actually get in the way of their healing.

Stop and take a breath. Give yourself a moment to grasp the idea that you are NOT in charge and you CANNOT CONTROL if and when, much less how your client heals. Each client is responsible for whether they heal or not. Does this lack of control and responsibility for your clients’ healing fill you with relief or infuriate you?

No matter what you do or say, no matter how many classes you take or how good your therapy techniques are, your client will choose whether they heal or not.  You don’t control that, they do. If one of your clients heals, it is NOT because you did an absolutely flawless massage, gave them the perfect pill or performed the best sphenoid release in the Midwest. It is not because you said just the right thing or executed a flawless lymphatic drainage routine.  People have been healing from all kinds of illnesses and pains for thousands of years before your favorite drug or healing modality was even invented.  And isn’t obsessing about technique how we healers handle our own discomfort with not knowing how to make everything all better for everyone? Honestly?

This idea of the client being responsible for their own healing probably bursts all your fantasies about “if I just get really good at the right and perfect technique, then my clients will heal.”  In my experience, there is no silver healing bullet – so stop looking for the “perfect” therapy, the “perfect” medication or herbal remedy, the “perfect” modality.  Besides, that search for the perfect healing tool will only make you feel like a failure over and over and over again.

Open to the possibility that you have never been in charge of anyone else’s healing and see what happens for you and your clients. Remember that it is their body, their mind, their emotional reactions that determine how much healing happens in each session with you.  Each client comes to you with a unique set of issues and strengths. Each client will heal in their own unique and unpredictable ways. If you want predictable outcomes, give up healing work and become an engineer.

So, if you cannot control the outcome of healing sessions with your clients, why be a healer at all? What is the point? How can you help anyone?

Before you throw in the towel and completely give up healing work in despair, try a few radical healing acts in your sessions. Shift your focus and see what kind of healing magic is possible:

  • Consciously turn control of the session over to your client and their spiritual source. And share with each client how large and in charge they actually are! Help them to access their own wisdom and their own power, rather than relying on yours. Every time you feel shaky or uncertain about what you are doing and if you are helping, take a breath and turn control over to your client and spirit.
  • Your mental and emotional state matters way more than ANY therapeutic technique or modality you use in a session. Keeping an open heart and an open mind has a big impact. Be aware of how you approach each client – what thoughts are running through your head, what emotions are surfacing? Are you getting caught up in needing to find the answer – or can you take a breath and let your client flounder around and discover for themselves what they need?
  • In each session, hold space for what else is possible. No matter what has happened for this client before, lasting healing is possible now. Hold the knowing that your client can heal whatever is ailing them – even when they have lost faith. Even when neither one of you has any idea exactly when or how healing might occur. Even when healing seems impossible, you can hold the memory of how other clients have shifted and found balance and healed. Hold the awareness that human bodies heal in amazing and miraculous ways every day. Set an intention in each and every client session that healing is possible, that healing is just a breath away – even when you have no clue how it can occur. Set a healing intention that your clients truly can shift and heal now.
  • Shut up and listen. Do you know how rare it is to find someone who will actually LISTEN? The simple act of listening is profoundly healing. Try listening instead of grasping for answers. Try listening and NOT giving advice! And try asking your client what they like, what feels good and healing to their body, what would help them right now. Can you stop assuming you know what they need?   Can you respect and honor your clients enough to put your ego aside and follow their lead? Make it your priority to create a space where clients can find their own answers.

Each client who comes to you is on THEIR own personal healing journey, not yours. So, take a big breath, smile at your silliness and learn to let go of control. You never really had it anyway.

Venus

Anybody else watch Venus fly by between the Earth and Sun yesterday?  In case you missed it, here is a photograph of her crossing the setting sun in France.

The Divine Feminine Venus made herself seen with a backlight provided by the Divine Masculine Sun energy.  All in the sign of Gemini,  AKA the great communicator.  Ladies, if you are feeling the urge to stand up and express yourself, blame it on the transit of Venus!

How Does it Get Any Better Than This?

Venus Transit seen from France
Venus Transit seen from France

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

Our beliefs become our thoughts…
Our thoughts become our words…
Our words become our actions…
Our actions become our habits…
Our habits become our values…
Our values become our destiny.
-Author Unknown

I intend to plant a seed in your mind today and encourage it to sprout. And today’s seed is… Change your mind, change your life.

✧✧✧

What if I told you that your biggest block to health and happiness lies in the beliefs you hold; beliefs that shape your every thought and emotion; beliefs that define your every reaction to life? If you are open to the possibility that your beliefs are really that powerful, then read on…

Your beliefs can help you or hold you hostage. Do you realize that your chronic health issues are chronic and difficult to heal because an old belief or emotional pattern is probably getting in your way and keeping you stuck in pain and out of balance? I’ve witnessed this over and over in my healing practice; I will treat two clients of the same age and sex with the same physical issue, but only one of them will heal while the other stays stuck in pain and misery. Why? Because these two clients hold different beliefs about the world and how it works. They hold different beliefs about what kind of healing is possible for them. So one of them heals while the other stays stuck in pain.

Your perceptions and beliefs about the world create your reality. Your perceptions and beliefs can limit you and close off amazing options – or open doors for you and expand what’s possible in your life. Unfortunately, your core beliefs were put in place when you were a very young and vulnerable child. What that means is, some silly idea you formed at the age of 2 about life and how it works may still be pulling your strings and affecting your health and happiness years later when you are an adult. And if you had a traumatic childhood, just imagine what kind of crazy ideas are still mucking up your life today from deep within you!

In my healing practice and in my personal life, I have witnessed the effect people’s beliefs have on their health and happiness for years. And I have found shamanic techniques that can be used to shift beliefs and emotional patterns. No matter what you’ve been taught in the past, I am here to tell you that you truly can release those old outdated thoughts, emotional reactions and beliefs from your system. Yes, you can change your mind! And when you change your mind, you can change your entire life.

☾☽

Change your Mind, Change your Life, Change your World.

A Walk in the Woods

“Said the river: imagine everything you can imagine,then keep on going.”
~Mary Oliver

I went for a walk in the woods a few days ago. I love paths that are a bit wild and natural even in the middle of town. On this particular day, I am on one of my favorite trails; it meanders through  a dense patch of woods next to a big wide creek. The path has been left untouched for decades in many places and I love wandering there. But walking into some sections of this trail brings to mind Dorothy hesitantly walking into the dark scary woods with the scarecrow on her journey to Oz. Or maybe it’s Gretel wandering in the forest with Hansel, looking for her way home. Either way, the path can be a bit unnerving. I find myself humming that old Lou Reed song, “Walk on the Wild Side”, as I walk.

Deep dark untamed woods hold big, scary, archetypal energy for me and lots of other people; all those wild, uncivilized natural spaces where we might just meet something bigger and hungrier than us on the path. It is exciting and and enticing and scaryall at once. I think this is why our ancestors spent so much time trying to tame Mother Nature. Generation after generation of Americans have spent huge amounts of time and energy trying to corral and control Mother Nature;  e.g. clearing away the forests that once covered the northeastern US like they were tidying up a closet by throwing almost everything away. Or The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging and straightening and pushing around the Mississippi river decade after decade – we all saw how well that worked out for New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina made mincemeat of the Corps’ dykes.

Even logical and reasonable adults plant grass over mile after mile of suburban neighborhoods, then burn thousands of hours of free time and gallons of gasoline every weekend mowing their lawns down with military precision until the grass is a socially acceptable “tidy” length that resembles some perfectly green and uniform man-made carpet. We humans cannot seem to leave Nature to her own devices, can we?

Mother Nature scares the crap out of most humans. Mostof us either hide away in man-made homogenized boxes and pretend Nature doesn’t exist or we head out loaded for bear to try and kick Mother Nature’s butt and make her our bitch. In the end, neither way works very well.

I go visit an old tree every time I walk this path. Her diameter is larger than my wingspan. I remember the golden mean ratio – exactly how tall does that trunk diameter mean she is?  And how many rings does her trunk hold? Her rings must carry the wisdom and the history of this place at the edge of the path, this spot that she has anchored for at least 80 years . This tree has been here at the edge of this path for many, many years; she has seen all this human silliness before.

That’s where true wisdom comes from, being silent and still like an old tree; just absorbing what happens in whatever place I find myself today. And in taking the time to make the connections between what happens today and what happened yesterday on my path – and 2 years ago and 200 years ago. I need to remember to stop; get still, watch and listen to everything happening around me. And to take the time to reflect; to remember and store that longview of history like an old tree does.

I leave grandma tree and move on down the path. As I wander, I look up at the sky and realize that a storm is rapidly brewing on the horizon; it’s time to head for the safety of my house. Once home, I sit by the window in my study and watch the wind and rain thrash at the trees. Lightning splits the skyagain and again. Mother Nature is flexing her muscles. Even my tame garden seems a bit scary now. I watch the storm from a safe perch inside.

The path I choose again and again is not tame and civilized like a perfectly groomed suburban lawn. But it’s also not a solitary cabin surrounded by wilderness; I don’t require a life so wild and scary that I quiver with fear like the cowardly lion every time I venture out into the world.  I seem to constantly be searching for the middle path; in my mind I picture land on the boundary between wild woods and tame suburbs. That feels like the space where I belong.  It is the space where I feel most at home.

There has to be a way of living that is more in synch with my own inner nature. I want be find that way, to dig in and explore that middle path. I wonder if it is possible to live in way that is engaged with Mother Nature, fascinated and respectful of her powers rather than trying to subdue and mow and bend her to my will? And at the same time, can I develop a connection with Mother Nature so deep that I’m not left feeling completely helpless in her storms?

What is the middle path through this landscape? How do I become an actual friend and ally of Mother Nature? There are a thousand different opinions out there about how to walk softly on the earth; go vegan, buy local, grow your own, buy a hybrid, solar power… But I am wondering about diving deeper and making choices where I work with Mother Nature rather than doing things to her.

Whatever I choose has to come from my heart truly connecting with the natural world.  I wonder what will my life look like if I open up and deeply connect with Mother Nature? What would it look like to be close friends with this Earth? This feels like a shiftin my path… like rounding a bend on a trail and seeing a whole new vista opening up in front of me. And just like any great adventure, this new terrain is exciting and a little scary, but not too scary…

Sitting

I sit in Ridgen shrine room

I sit, I breathe

I scrawl words on paper

I feel happy and peaceful

I sit, I breathe

It begins to snow outside

I sit, I breathe

I write word after word

I feel sad, so sad

an old wound exposed

Snow falls

I sit, I breathe

Machinery hums outside

out of sight but still with me

I sit, I breathe

My hip aches, my nose is numb

I sit, I breathe

and wonder, why numb?

the pitch of a roof outside

catches my gaze

I sit, I breathe

My hip aches

I breathe with the ache

the hum, the roof

Snow falls

I sit, I breathe

I feel hungry

the hum, the ache

and the roof go on.

The Path Here: Nursing Then and Now

 

If you had met me five years ago, you would have never guessed I was a nurse. I managed a computer network group back then and I rarely mentioned my nursing background to even my closest friends. I left nursing back in the late 1980’s and for a very long time I was embarrassed to call myself a nurse.

I had been a good nurse, one of the best. I learned and applied all the latest technologies to my patients, from IV feedings to balloon pumps to SOAP charting and nursing care plans. Yet most of my ICU patients were not “fixed” by their treatment. Most of them died after a very expensive hospital stay. And worse yet, the treatments I gave caused many of my patients to suffer. I witnessed the failings of modern Western medicine up close; I watched patients held in limbo on the edge of death, only half alive. I watched patients suffer as they were separated from their loved ones by the very technology that was supposed to help them.

My nursing education had given me no framework to make sense of the pain and suffering I saw around me. The hospital where I worked was one of the best in the region and the nursing care I gave was state of the art. And yet I felt anger and a deep sadness within as I tried to care for patients the way I had been taught. I eventually left nursing and found a nice safe career in the computer field where the only thing that crashed and died was a poorly written computer program. When I left, I thought I put nursing behind me. But here I am back again.

Returning to nursing after more than a decade away was like peering down into a wild, raging river, seeing the whitewater and fast current and jumping in anyway. My friends and family looked at me in wonder and asked why was I going back? Health care is a mess, doctors and nurses are under constant fire and the nursing profession seems to be having an identity crisis. Plus, I earned twice as much money as a corporate manager. So, why did I return?

While I was away from nursing, I continued to search for meaning in all I had seen and experienced as an ICU nurse. My avocation became alternative healing modalities; Chinese medicine, herbal remedies, massage, acupuncture, spiritual healing. I read all the time about health and healing and became an avid student of mind-body medicine. I read studies on the power of guided imagery in fighting cancer, and on the power of prayer in helping open heart patients to heal. I learned how the simple act of massage helps premature infants to grow faster and thrive. A new world of healing possibilities slowly opened up to me.

As an ICU nurse I had focused on the physiology of the human body. Now I delved into the emotional and spiritual components of illness. I tried many of the alternative healing methods I read about, loved some and hated others. I went through a divorce, remarriage and a cleansing emotional healing of my own. And over time I began to miss nursing. At my core I was still a healer, a nurse, no matter how many computer programs I wrote.

So I finally came back to nursing. But I am not remotely the same nurse I was when I left in frustration years ago. My idea of what nursing is about has changed dramatically. I can still remember myself as a nurse, fresh out of nursing school. I remember believing then that “good” nursing was about mastering technology, understanding medication effects and curing an ailing physical body. My focus was on the disease and how it affected the physical body. Back then I thought nursing was science pure and simple; just apply the right technology or give the right medication and the patient would be fixed. It sounds a lot like car repair in retrospect. No messy emotional connection required or desired.

It’s been a long winding road for me. The shift in my definition of nursing has been gradual over many years. I cannot pinpoint when my idea of nursing actually mutated. Like the slow building of a sunset, my view of myself as a nurse has shifted moment by moment, experience by experience until today I look around to find that I am a totally different nurse.

Today I see nursing as more art than science. Nursing is not about passing meds and taking vitals for me. It is not about whiz-bang medical technology. And it is not about curing or fixing the physical body. Now nursing is about discovering how the emotions and the spirit of a person interact with their physical body. It is about connecting with a person and helping them to heal body, mind and spirit. And it is always personal and sometimes messy and emotional work. This time nursing is about relating to people one on one. It is about creating a healing space where the mind can rest and the body can heal. It is something I do with a person rather than to them.

Do I still find value in IV meds and CT scans and laparotomies? Absolutely. I also find value in meditation and prayer and acupuncture and herbs and the simple act of touch. I have come to believe that there are many paths to healing. True health is a balance of many factors; there is no one treatment, no silver bullet cure. Each person is unique and must find the balance of treatments, both conventional and alternative, that fits for them.

I have found my own balance. I have found a way to nurse that is uniquely mine and it gives me great joy. If you meet me today and ask me what I do for a living, I will smile and tell you proudly that I am a nurse. It is good to be back.

© 2002 Nancy Lankston

☾☽

Note: I wrote this essay 10 years ago and it’s been buried in my files for years. But My nursing buddy and sister of the heart, Megan, asked me to pull it out and share it. So, here it is. Unfortunately, most of what I say about hospitals and healthcare in the U.S. is still true in 2012. Here’s to changing it in my lifetime.

What’s Your Line?

If you were to choose one phrase that describes your life, what would it be?

What’s your Line?

 
These days, every corporation has something called a Tagline. A corporate Tagline is a short phrase that’s supposed to make all of us want to buy their product. Ideally, a Tagline is a catchy slogan that defines the business in a unique way. Think of Nike and “Just Do It”. Or Wheaties, “The Breakfast of Champions”. Join the U.S. Army and “Be All That You Can Be”. Remember DeBeers slogan; “A Diamond is Forever”? Of course you do! A great corporate Tagline is catchy and memorable.

Every person I meet has a personal Tagline, whether they realize it or not. The difference is your personal Tagline is not really about selling yourself. It’s more about consciously defining yourself and what you choose to create in your life. You may call it your creed, your motto, your philosophy of life. A consultant I know calls it defining your True North. Whatever – your have one whether you know it or not. EVERYBODY has one. Kids seem to absorb and live by their parents’ Tagline until they consciously create their own. So, even if you haven’t consciously thought about it, you have a Tagline buried in your psyche that is influencing how you look at life and what you think is possible for you.

So, I think it’s important for each of us to spend a few minutes thinking about what our personal tagline might be. I don’t know about you, but my parents’ tagline is DEFINITELY NOT the line that I want defining my life! My dad’s Tagline goes something like, “Life is a struggle. You have to work really hard just to survive.” Wow – what a downer! Can you tell he grew up poor and hungry in the depression? And in his late 60‘s, even after making piles of money, my dad would NOT stop working. Work defines his life – he has never created much room for hobbies or goofing off – or even traveling for pleasure. His motto doesn’t allow for much fun or ease in life, does it?

When we met, my husband’s tagline was, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” Lucky for me his overdoing includes fun stuff and not just work! This man has taught me the value of having fun. And he’s a complete hedonist about food. 🙂 I actually think my hubby may have shifted his tagline a bit – he’s not quite so intense in his approach to work or play anymore. Maybe living with me all these years has mellowed him. LOL – He will find it hilarious that I’m wondering if I mellow HIM out!

Remember Dory from the movie Finding Nemo? Dory’s Tagline is:
“Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming.”

And who can forget Ferris Bueller In the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?? Ferris’ Tagline is one of my all time favorites. It’s funny, catchy, thought-provoking, irreverent… It truly catches the essence of who Ferris is:
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Great words to live by.

・・・
So, what is YOUR Tagline? What phrase defines you and your philosophy about life? Is it the same as your mom’s or your dad’s? Or completely different?

And does your Tagline define the life you desire, the life you crave? Hopefully it doesn’t describe a life that’s not working for you!

What would happen if we each created a personal Tagline that describes the life we crave rather than a life we feel stuck with? What would shift inside our world then?? Food for thought…

I’m still crafting theTagline to define my life and my future. It’s a work in progress. I guess I REALLY should decide what I want to be when I grow up! But maybe a Tagline can change and morph over time – God knows I certainly keep changing with the years. Today I’m mulling over three or four possibilities;

I could keep using my favorite Joubert quote:
“You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some of it with you.”

I could try my favorite Bill Murray (Tripper) line from the movie Meatballs:
“Repeat after me – it just doesn’t matter!”

Or how about something short and to the point:
“Life is Good”

Last but not least, I wonder what my life will be like if my line becomes:
“WoW – What’s Next?!”