Tag Archives for " energy healing "

Staying Empowered While Navigating Social Media

Have you been feeling overwhelmed by the intensity of social media and the news? When there is a lot of highly charged energy being passed around, social platforms it can create anxiety where there used to be fun. This is an especially challenging situation for empaths, as we are not only experiencing our own pain, confusion and emotions, but we are also tuning into the energy of the collective emotional consciousness right now, and in doing so, we are tapped into the feelings of others.

But many of us want to understand and follow what’s happening…Now more than ever, many of us feel the need to not be ignorant of what’s occurring in the world around us.

So how can we reconcile this for ourselves? With a little awareness and discipline, it is possible to remain inspired and aligned while also being engaged and informed.

A good starting point is to tune into how we feel before engaging with social media. If you notice that you are feeling tired, upset or anxious, try another activity that can shift your mood before you get on. The experience that you have on social media is directly relational to what you take to it. And a lot of the time, we’re not even aware of what we are bringing to the interaction.

Activities such as dancing, meditating, walking in nature and laughing can shift our energy powerfully. If you do something uplifting and then still feel down though, try honoring that feeling. What is really going on? See if you can pinpoint the emotion or energy that wants to be released and express it. Follow that up with doing something to further nurture yourself. The important thing here is to listen to yourself and honor what your body, mind and spirit are wanting.

If when we tune in, we notice that the desire for social media is connection, we can call a friend, make a tea date or take a walk with someone. If it’s boredom, what can you do instead to fuel the desire to be inspired?

And if you feel that you do truly want to jump on social media, gauge yourself as you go: How are you feeling? What links are you clicking on?

In the recent past, our social media feeds were likely filled with a lot less political commentary and news than there is now. Not only is the information difficult to take in on a personal level, we are also being exposed to the super charged emotions of our family and friends who are posting them.

Here are a few guidelines that can help us to navigate social media and the news in a way that feels self-empowering. We always have a choice as to how we interact with our environment and what we choose to take in!

1. We can choose which news sources feel the best to us. There is a lot of purposefully inflammatory news being passed around right now, but we can opt to only interact with the ones that feel the most stable and unbiased and we can use them with awareness.

2. Setting boundaries for ourselves is an act of self-love! We can schedule our time on social media and we can pay attention to our bodies and what is coming up for us as we do so. When we start to feel tired or drained, we can practice loving self-discipline by finding something nourishing to do away from the computer or phone.

3. It’s important for us to be mindful and express our emotions. It’s helpful for us to feel the emotions as they arise: cry, yell, stomp our feet, laugh…Whatever comes up is ours and real and valid.

4. When we finish reading, we can further support ourselves by disconnecting from the energy of the news and the collective when we are finished. Imagine cutting a cord with the platform you are on and anyone whose energy you may have taken on and then take a few moments to bring yourself back into your body and breathe mindfully.

5. Engage in what you love. It  is supportive for empaths to balance the days out with creative activities and things that are inspiring…things that help us to remember our aliveness.

6. We have the power to tailor our social media experience. Unfollow friends or family whose posts are triggering to you and leave any groups that feel intense. Add in some fun groups that you could be interacting in that would help you to feel inspired and connected and spend more time in those.

When we remember that social media can work for us rather than against us, we regain our sense of empowerment in sometimes difficult situations. As you navigate these new waters, stay in the awareness that we get to choose our experience. Holding that awareness alone can be a powerful catalyst for a new type of social media interaction.

I’d love to hear about any tools that you use to manage social media! Jump down to the comments section to share or to ask any questions you may have.

Sending you much love!

2 Releasing the Bondage of Toxic Shame

Recently it’s been brought to my attention that my “openness” can be uncomfortable to others at times. It provoked an interesting reflection for me, since I spent most of my life buried in secrets.

I remember even as a young child thinking that I needed to keep aspects of myself hidden away as sharing them would show me to be the less-than-perfect human that (of course) I was.

There were always little droplets of shame dusting my existence, since the very beginning of me.

So when I was raped, I knew right where to place it. I took the event, twisted it around in my mind to try to maintain some sense of power in the face of this devastating situation, and then I tucked an entire tome of self-blame and denigration right there along with the rest of it.

I buried it amidst a pile of secrecy and I left it there and I fed it. Each and every day, I added at least a little more. Sometimes I added a lot. Even when I shared my dirty little secrets, it always started with, “Don’t tell anyone this, but…”

The fear of judgment ruled my shame and bled into all areas of my life.

And for a long, long time nothing seemed to help it. I knew that I wanted it to leave me. I was aware that it was harming me, but I struggled and struggled to release it. It wasn’t until I did the deeper work of releasing the repressed emotions along with a lot of energy and body work that I began to feel myself swimming up to the surface.

Once this happened, the shame released. The bundle of emotions that had kept the shame locked into place had moved and with that a tidal wave of energy poured out of me. The place that had been full of all that fear and self-judgment became a beautiful and open space, a neutral vacuum ready to be filled. I knew that I had the say in what went in there and I did not want to go back to the space I had been occupying for most of my life. That had NOT worked for me and I was ready for something new.

I also knew that I wanted to help others who also felt locked in pain, trauma, toxic shame and fear and that I couldn’t do that unless I openly and unapologetically revealed myself to others.

It was scary to very publicly share my experiences. Once on the Internet, always on the Internet. I was aware of this. I knew that the words could not be retracted. I had a few people in my life who really worried about this for me and that was challenging as well.

But I could not repress it again and I couldn’t help others experiencing this same pain if they couldn’t find me. They had to be able to identify me. It was my choice how that could play out: I could put on a modern day Scarlet Letter or I could speak with the voice of someone who had claimed her healing and her power. I chose the latter.

Being open feels natural and normal to me now. I don’t keep secrets and I don’t feel shame in the way that I used to. I don’t share every aspect of my life with every person I meet, but I do get to be authentic and true and genuine about who I am and my experience here in this lifetime.

And honestly…It feels good. I am so much lighter and I breathe so much more freely. I don’t have to cover things up or pretend or hide. I just AM. At times it’s uncomfortable and hard, but mostly it’s freeing. I can just show up and be and hold my space in a way that allows others to also be vulnerable with me. My openness gives others permission to be open too if they choose to accept that invitation. And I like that. It keeps it simple.

Button Lady

The Alchemy of Shift

What do you get when you connect seven courageous women, two loving and compassionate facilitators/healers, a nurturing and supportive healing space and Costa Rica? Pura Vida transformation!

“Elicia, Janet, (Doug and the Vida Asana team) gently held us in a structured, supportive healing space in a Costa Rica paradise. We clarified our hopes with personal intentions, fed our bodies nourishing food, bonded by witnessing each other’s vulnerability and shared courage through tears, laughter, yoga and cathartic meditation and rituals.

 Elicia’s wise, earthy calm and Janet’s spiritual insights create a generous, focused, harmonious coaching partnership. ‘Your symptoms are a gift’ resonated in truth as we unpicked avoidance habits and messages in our suppressed feelings.

Their confidence in the alchemy of listening to, processing, honoring and respecting the un-met needs of our inner children and nurturing their responsible (and angry) expression worked quickly for our collective good. 

I won’t say it was easy to explore hurts and give painful feelings a voice, but it was worth the journey. I have come away with awareness, a new mantra, tools, faith in myself to heal and beautiful, life-long supportive friends. ~ Anna

There is true magic in a connection forged through honest and intimate transference of emotions and experience, the kind that occurs when defenses are dropped and hearts are raised…an intimate camaraderie of sorts that activates our highest potential and allows for individual and shared catharsis.

Reaching down and into the core of our being to reveal that which we thought too painful to face and having it met with compassion and love by others is healing in itself. Beyond that, we are able to see the many ways in which we are the same, the manner in which the very fabric of our lives intersects and intertwines from experiencing similar pain, even when reached through different avenues.

This work with Elicia Miller has become a true love ~ one that transforms me right along with everyone else.  It elevates and inspires and I can’t wait to do it again (September!!!).

“I’ve been lucky enough to do quite a bit of inner personal work on myself in my life. I have to say that this retreat was the catalyst for some of deepest healing I’ve been able to do yet. Janet and Elicia provided such a safe space and environment that I felt safe to work on some very uncomfortable issues that have been wanting my attention for years.  I feel alive and peaceful in a new way and I credit it to the retreat: the material, the environment, the group synergy and Janet and Elicia’s facilitating skills. I’m a new woman.”  ~ Natha

“My week at the retreat was more than I ever could of imagined. I have been in talk therapy on and off for 15 years and honestly accomplished more and saw my “stuff” more clearly in just seven days. The power of the retreat is in the gentle guidance of Elicia and Janet, the power of a group of strong women also searching for self empowerment and the beauty of Costa Rica. I am truly grateful for such a life changing experience.” ~ Kelly


“This week was transformational and inspiring. Not only did I feel the shift in my own being, but I could sense it in each woman there. I cannot thank you all enough for what I gained through this experience. ” ~ Amy

 “An inspiring and life changing experience…” ~ Marva

To learn more about our retreat, click HERE.

CONTACT ME if you are interested in possibly attending our September 2016 retreat!


Embracing the Skeleton in the Closet

On the physical plane, the body is the home.

Not only is it the residence within which we dwell, it is a physical reflection of our experience here. Every cell, every gene shares a message with us about our experience, our passions, our fears, our everything…

We were wired to have emotional experiences ~ not just the happy and carefree ones, but also the sad, scary and angry ones.

But somewhere along the way, most of us discovered that it wasn’t safe to feel certain ways…We were taught that to cry was to be a baby, to be afraid was to be a sissy, and that to feel empathy or compassion was to be weak.

In the face of taunting, teasing and even physical or emotional violence, we may have started to push it all down and away. Many of us have felt that the only way to get through our lives was to try to pretend or act as if it never happened. And in the moment, it may have been. When there is trauma or abuse, compartmentalizing or ignoring the pain may in fact be the best coping and survival mechanism available at the time.

And so some of us may manage to forget it. But our bodies never forget. Even when we push our emotions down and away, they stay with us until we acknowledge them and listen to their messages.

Every emotion has a story that yearns to be heard. And when we don’t pay attention, that story starts to play more and more loudly in the background.

It may start as anxiety or an upset stomach or an injury. We may begin to lose sleep and wonder what is wrong. Ultimately, if we still insist on not listening, if we instead continue to numb ourselves or merely treat the symptoms, our bodies will speak up even more loudly.

Illness and disease have an emotional and metaphysical meaning that underlies their manifestation. When we can learn to live more fully present ~ to experience our bodies in a new and empowering way ~ and access the repressed emotions, we can begin to live our lives in a new way.

We can begin to live with a sense of flow, trusting ourselves and our surroundings. We can begin to know true joy ~ a sense of profound contentedness that is not dependent on that outside of us, but that instead rises up from within.

We can learn to intuitively know how to handle life and feel confident in how we do so.

It’s all within our reach. The only requirement is that we be willing to go deep within ourselves in a way that is honest and fearless.

I was terrified to do this work. I tried every way possible to bypass it: I did tons of energy work, I was hypnotized, I did yoga, I meditated, I read self-help books, I talked to counselors and more. It was all very helpful and it all has held a beautiful space in my healing journey.

But one piece was missing and it was an integral piece. I was talking around and skirting the repressed emotions, but I wasn’t feeling them. It wasn’t until I went into the deepest and darkest corners of my closet and pulled up all that I had stashed away that I experienced profound and lasting shift.

It may sound too challenging or too scary, but once we open the door to the closet and actually look at the skeletons, we see that they are an offering. Within each of them is a gift, a key, to a deeper understanding of our soul, our purpose, our how and why for being here. Each bone is a physical and spiritual inheritance, provided just for us.

Skeleton Praying

Skeleton Praying by William Cheselden

Are you ready to embrace your skeleton in the closet? Join me and Elicia Miller for our Tropical Immersion Healing Retreat in Costa Rica. Click HERE for details!

Essential oils can be a great tool to help release emotions and to support you in your process. To help with repressed emotions, both Geranium and Release (a blend from Young Living) work wonderfully! I’m happy to share how you can use them! Contact me at: janet@janetraftis.com.


16 On Being Self-Full

I used to really struggle when it came to putting myself first, though taking care of others came very naturally to me. If I sensed that someone needed something, I quickly prioritized it, putting it above my own needs. I gave and I gave and then I would give even more, often to the point of depleting myself.

As a strong empath, much of my life has been experienced through the feelings of others. Within seconds of being around someone, I know exactly what emotions are processing through them, from the surface layer and all the way down to the most hidden.

At my best, this gift allows for me to be really good at what I do.

At other times, it has created confusion, anxiety, depression, exhaustion and a host of physical ailments.

Society taught me as I grew up to give selflessly while my empathy pushed me to try to manage everyone else’s emotions so that they would feel better. Initially, before I knew how to handle “being sensitive,” I had to numb myself with alcohol and drugs. The world always felt like it was just “too much” for me to handle and so I had to check out in order to manage it.

Once I got sober, learning to care for myself became a fast necessity. Valuing myself as my first priority was one of the most challenging lessons I had to learn, and it’s one that I’ve been working with for years now. Turns out, boundaries and self-care aren’t a one-shot lesson; they roll themselves out over and over again and with each step further into self-love, we extract a new layer to learn from.

For the longest while, it didn’t feel natural to prioritize my own needs, but what I realized was that unless I figured it out and put myself at the top of my own list, I wasn’t going to be good for myself or anyone else.

Even today, my primary impulse is almost always to over give, whether it’s of my time, my space, my knowledge, my heart or my energy. I have had to learn a lot of awareness so that I can step back and assess what areas of my life are pulling a little too hard on me so that I can adjust accordingly. I’ve had to assert myself in ways that have felt uncomfortable and hard so that I can understand my surroundings and the people in my life and find a way to interact with them in the way that best values my wellbeing.

And I’ve had to learn that self-care is non-negotiable. I still catch myself trying to circumnavigate this one at times. I’ll put it off or stick it behind a lists of tasks that I think are more important ~ and I can promise you that when I do this, it never ends well.

But when I am full because I have been nourishing myself and taking care of my own needs, the energy that I extend towards others is much more vibrant and alive. It is full of my own love of self that gets to spill over from a full vessel into the lives of others. It is infused with love and life and respect and honor because that is the energy that created it.

When I am around others who are doing the same thing: What a treat! We get to share in this beautiful exchange of energy that uplifts us both. Our hearts get to meet one another in a space of being self-full and we both are able to experience a richness of connection that is authentic and loving. Truly the best gift I can give to others is the highest version of me and it’s the one that I would like to receive from them as well.

Self-love keeps the soul humming.

What is one thing you can do to nourish yourself today? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

Self-love keeps the soul humming.

2 Five Tips for Calming a Busy Brain (Besides Meditating)

We all know the feeling of the overactive brain and when we hit that moment of anxiety or overwhelm, it can be hard to remember our tools. Here are a few of my favorites that are easy to implement and highly effective at resetting the energy of mental chaos.

1. Stop, Drop and Breathe:

This is actually as quick and simple as it sounds. When you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, confused or ungrounded, this technique can provide a huge reset for you.

  • Stop what you are doing and sit down.
  • Feel your feet on the ground and settle into your physical frame. Notice your body without judgment; feel it and trust it as your structure and support.
  • Turn your attention to your belly and draw in a long breath. Allow your stomach to rise on the in-breath and fall on the out-breath. Repeat this about 5 times (or as much as feels good).
  • This is a great way to start a meditation if that is already in your practice, but it most definitely stands on its own as well.

2. Energy Dump & Refill:

A busy brain creates a lot of chaotic energy in your upper chakras, which in turn can manifest as anxiety and overwhelm. Grounding and cleansing is a great way to shift this imbalance.

If you have access to grass and a little time, go to it. (If you don’t, find some!) Lie on your back on the earth and settle into your body as in the tip above. Shift your breathing to your belly and take a long and full breath from it. Next, imagine that all of your cares, worries, fears and any energy that you are holding onto that doesn’t belong to you is flowing off of your body and into the earth to be transmuted.

You may find it useful to do a full body scan and to feel the energy flow out of each region of your body.

When you feel that you have released all that is heavy, frenetic and/or no longer serving you, set the intention to receive from the earth. In our busy world, we often forget to receive from others and it is vital that we refill as much if not more than we give. Feel the energy from Gaia flow up and into your body. Thank her and yourself for this opportunity to nourish and replenish.

If you have a grass allergy or find it uncomfortable to lie in it, this works standing or you could do the activity leaning against a tree. In both cases, release through your feet.


3. Take a Real Time Out:

The busier the schedule and the more activities you have stacked up in your day, the more you can benefit from stepping out of your active life and into something that requires you to be in a receptive state. This could be an energy healing session, a massage, a manicure or a facial. The point is that you are in a still position and receiving love and nourishment from another. You and your body deserve it!

4. Smell Your Way to Clarity & Calm*:

Lavender is my personal favorite essential oil and when my mind won’t slow down, it’s the first thing I turn to. It’s also great in conjunction with any of the activities above. It supports relaxation, so be careful with daytime use. If my mind is racing before sleep, I put a little of it on my pillow. I’ll fall asleep in no time!

Product shots fro new catalog at YL farm in Mona

Rosemary and Lemon promote clarity and focus and if I need to get some work done, I will diffuse these two together. This combination is uplifting and grounding at the same time. These combined with an energy shake off (see below) can create a great shift.

5. Shake it Off:

This advice from my childhood soccer coaches really works. Stomp your feet, shake your arms, move your torso and your head. Feel the excess energy releasing. Dancing is a great way to get the same result. Both activities release excess while bringing you back into your body.

If you’re really clearing some energetic muck, spray or burn some Sage afterwards to help transmute it.

If you have any tips that you use, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section. Thank you!

* I use and recommend Young Living oils for their purity and high quality. If you use another brand, be sure that it is chemical free and that the company takes pride in its product. Lavender oil found in the grocery stores is often made from Lavandin, which has a completely different composition and may not promote calming at all!



8 Musings on Being a Badass

I did something super badass the other day.

The thing is, though ~ I almost didn’t do it.

I was given the task ~ along with about 20 other women ~ of breaking a pine board in half with just our hands. We wrote the limiting belief that is holding us back from creating more success in our lives on the side we were to break through and on the other side we marked down what we truly desire.

I felt pretty calm about the whole thing and wasn’t worried about whether or not I could do it until we actually got down to doing it. I watched my mentor, Monica Shah, lead and then a few others follow. Witnessing so many powerful women really focus and bust through the boards was inspiring. It was joyous. Their exhilaration was palpable.

It was also intimidating. I had started to worry about whether or not I could do it. I have a weak wrist from years of injuries and bartending, and I began to worry about hurting it. When it was my turn, I stepped up and I lined myself up and I struck at it.

Nothing happened.

I hit it again and then again. Still nothing and my wrist hurt from the repeated force against the board.

I stepped back, unsure of what to do. My injury was the result of not listening to my body when I was younger. For years, I had ignored its cues and pushed through pain, both emotional and physical. Even with years of healing, I’m still unraveling some of the repercussions from that.

I also knew that there was something that I was missing. I was aware that it wasn’t about force and that my apprehension was getting in my way.

I was stuck.

That was when this beautiful community of women reached out and lifted me up. My soul sister, Elicia, suggested I try with my other hand and encouraged me to play with a different mindset. She saw into my heart ~ as she does ~ and sensed that I needed an out-of-the-box solution. Another dear friend and colleague (and exceptional body worker), Susan, assured me that she could correct anything in my wrist that needed support. More girlfriends rallied and Big Bob, the man who facilitates this work, was called to assist.

He showed me what I had been missing. I was lacking force from my lower body, trying to push through with my hand, without accessing the simultaneous strength and thrust of my legs to facilitate the process.

I tried again and still I missed. By now, all eyes were on me.

Oh the beautiful and divine irony of it all! The limitation I was breaking through had to do with success and fear of failure with eyes upon me.

But Bob encouraged and inspired me, and the women around me cheered me on.

Then, as if it were nothing, I knocked that damn board and belief right in half.

I was greeted with hugs and I cried and I felt so so so supported. My wrist hurt less when I allowed myself to surrender and move through the belief. Susan worked some magic on it and it actually feels better than it did prior to the board breaking. (Imagine that!) Another Lady Love, Ina ~ channeler extraordinaire of The Alchemists, captured this great shot of my personal victory.


When I was young, I wouldn’t do anything I didn’t think I could master. I’ve spent years healing that sense of not-enoughness. It still rears its head at times and I thank god that when it does these days, I have people in my life that will support me and show me my potential.

I have opened myself up and allowed myself to be vulnerable ~ real honest-to-goddess, authentic vulnerability ~ in a way that has come full circle so many times.

When I show my heart, others hold it up for me to see.

What a treasure.

The Words Within

I’ve been struggling lately with a piece of my puzzle. Throughout my life, speaking my truth has been one of my most challenging lessons. It’s always felt scary and unsafe, and it was exacerbated after being raped. The fear of my voice not being respected, of it being stifled and repressed and ignored by another, has followed me into my forties.

I’ve spent the last 10 years working to release it. I’ve done energy work, journaled my little heart out, written scary vulnerable stuff and had hard conversations even when I didn’t want to do so. I’ve held myself accountable and allowed myself to do so in a way that has felt safe while still moving forward.

This practice helped me out of a marriage that had ceased to support me and my ex-husband, it led me into publishing my words and it allowed me to leave a line of work that was unfulfilling so that I could pursue my dream of facilitating healing and growth in others. It has been nothing short of marvelous and miraculous.

A few years ago, in the midst of a huge personal growth spurt, I became very close to someone, and I trusted her completely. She pulled me in, she made me feel safe and she helped me to heal and grow; she encouraged me to use my voice even more.

And I did. I shared in a way that I had been inspired to share, but when I did, my honesty wasn’t appreciated; she didn’t like what I had to say. She pushed me away, and she did so in a way that was hurtful and cruel, and it triggered all of my fears.

I hunkered down and healed even more. I shared with friends, I did pattern release work, I looked at unresolved traumas. I actually expanded even more and ultimately the experience has helped me to feel stronger than ever. I am expressing myself in the world in a way I never knew possible for me.

And then I was triggered this week. I’ve been growing closer with someone that means a lot to me and I’m noticing that I have been really fearful of speaking up, of potentially upsetting any waters. I have become quiet and subdued when it comes to things I feel might be risky as far as our relationship is concerned. I don’t want to lose this connection.

Things reached a critical mass the other night, and I needed to speak my truth, to really share on an intimate and deep level, and I panicked. I was asked to do what I always advise others to do, what I spent years learning and cultivating and practicing, and I froze. I felt all of the words catch in my throat, I felt myself struggling to please, just speak already, while at the same time not even being able to feel myself. I was a deer in headlights, completely trauma triggered. I could hear the voice outside of me, letting me know that it was safe to share, that I was supported, that everything would be okay and yet: I couldn’t even form a sentence.

At some point, thankfully, the tears started to roll out of my eyes and down my cheeks and I felt released. I was able to mumble a few things, to at least express my inability to understand what was happening, to start the process of unfolding. I slept and throughout the night, I integrated everything. I slept late and woke up feeling clear and able to adjust myself ever so slightly. I began the process of sharing in a new way. There are still words that need to be said, but they no longer feel trapped within me. They are rolling around, finding form, looking for a way to express themselves more fully. The thought of doing so feels slightly scary, but more good to me than not, and my relationship with this person has already shifted in a very positive way.

The process of healing and expanding never ends once started and the more we ask to grow, the more we are given the opportunity to do so. The truth is that I don’t want to be shut down, and I want to be able to trust myself enough to know that when I speak my truth, the other person’s reaction is completely up to them and that it actually has nothing to do with me. If I am rejected for sharing from a space of vulnerability and the other person doesn’t respect that (regardless of whether he or she agrees or not) is entirely on them. All I can do is trust myself, feel strong in my core, and remember that if the emotions and words within me don’t find form to express themselves in the world, I will ultimately suffer. I don’t want to feel closed down and shut off. That version of me is better left in the past.

I love using tools that can help me move through things. Not only does lavender oil smell great and help you to relax, but it’s wonderful for helping you to speak your truth!

Telling the Heart

“I’ve become so intimate with fear/I am now the presence that exists at the end of it.”

— Meggan Watterson

Fear was like this three-headed monster that hung over me for most of my life. When I look back at my youth and my early (and even into mid-) adulthood, most of the memories that I do have (I’m missing many) feel heavy. As an empath, I felt everything and I had no language to understand it. I didn’t know that it was Mary’s anger, or the cashier’s pain, or my friend’s frustration that I was feeling, I just knew that I was feeling crushed by a need to take care of everyone and an overwhelming fear that I would never be able to do so and that I would somehow be hurt in the process.

The fear grew and grew until it encompassed just about every area of my life. I was a straight-A student afraid of failing, an all-star athlete afraid of not making a goal or hitting a handspring on the vault. When I discovered alcohol and drugs in high school, the pressure finally felt relieved. I felt like I could say, “Fuck it!” without caring as much what that really meant. I began hiding behind a wall while simultaneously building it higher and higher. I still performed well, but even that just became bricks and mortar for the sealing of my self-imposed limitations.

I was terrified of putting myself out into the world in a real way, of being vulnerable, of feeling more than I already felt. I was so, so scared to feel. It was too much and the thought of failing in anything that was a true expression of who I was felt too scary to even attempt. I stayed small, safe, hidden. I deflected, projected, and pushed.

I had many mini-turning points towards becoming courageous, beginning with sobriety. Committing to not drinking or drugging on a day-to-day basis was huge and it gave me a glimpse of a different possibility, one in which I could actually be awake in my own life. Lots of energy healing helped me to start peeling away the layers of self-deprecation that I had layered on over the years and gave me a glimpse of my potential. It also helped me to shift patterns around past trauma that were contributing to my fear.

After a workshop with Jennifer Pastiloff, I decided to do one thing every day that scared me regardless of whether that one thing was to open a piece of mail, accept a phone call, or tell someone I loved them. Every time I felt scared, I asked myself if I could do it anyway, despite the fear. Almost always the answer was yes. Sometimes I had to put a thing or two on a back burner and do something a little less frightening that day instead. And eventually – though honestly it was relatively very quickly – things just didn’t have the same hold over me anymore. What happened was that I built a faith muscle that showed me over and over again that no matter what came to pass, I was okay.

This shift in perception allowed me to move fully onto my path as a healer and coach, and it was what now allows me to help others to do the same. I have had to say “yes” over and over again. Sometimes it is still hard. Sometimes I need a friend or a colleague to see the fear in my eyes and remind me that I am ready and that I can do it before I can jump. And sometimes I take things really slowly because it just feels better to do so.

Originally, the meaning of the word courage was, “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” I love this. When I tell my heart, I feel good despite the fear that may have been there. And when I tell my heart by expressing the most authentic me that I can out in the world, my heart expands and fills with even more love that can be shared.

Finding our path and shifting onto it is an act of courage and perseverance. It asks us to open ourselves up fully and completely in a way that allows us to express our gifts in the world without fear of judgment or failure. It demands that we be vulnerable and trust.

I have found my edge. My comfort zone has space for discomfort now and is ever-widening. I am myself on the other side of fear – not without it, but not within it either. It no longer defines me and it no longer tells me what I can or cannot do. It has become a guidepost and when it pops up, I know that I have to step up. It’s not always easy, but it is always rewarding.