Suicide, Feelings & the American Dream
 

I was deeply saddened this morning to hear about Anthony Bourdain’s suicide. I hadn’t realized Kate Spade had taken her own life as well.

First I felt a wave of empathy – how alone and utterly hopeless one might feel in the moment of choosing to end life. But the depth of my sadness arrived after in the form of a broader despair – If these people with all of the fame and wealth the American Dream teaches us to strive for can’t find inner peace and wellbeing, what hope do the rest of us have?

Though I haven’t been suicidal or ever inflicted intentional harm on myself, I will admit to having occasional suicidal thoughts over the years – little fantasies almost – picturing the pure relief of simply not having to deal anymore.

I share this not to ask for sympathy or as a cry for help or to freak you out (sorry, Mom), but to normalize this experience. Because I know I’m not the only one. And the shame and self-judgment we feel for our pain only causes it to get stuck and to spiral deeper into depression and despair.

 

It’s a shit cycle and it needs to stop.

 

So I have two thoughts which I hope will bring you some peace no matter what you’re currently experiencing.

 

1- If you feel depressed, sad, anxious, overwhelmed, deeply stuck, or even suicidal – YOU ARE NORMAL.

Deep, intractable, inexplicable sadness is part of the human experience. Period. Please stop judging yourself as broken or inadequate for feeling it. We all do. Some are better at numbing it and stuffing it down than others. Some have done the deep work to process it and come out the other side. All of us have felt it at some point.

For me the only thing that has helped is finding ways to accept and feel what’s there. To get out of my head and into my body and allow myself to cry, to punch, to kick, to feel numb and utterly miserable and to just let it all be ok. We hear this all the time now, but it’s true, emotions are just energy – if we find a way to feel them, they will move through us. It’s our judgments, stories and stuffing them down that cause them to get stuck.

It’s perfectly ok to seek help in learning how to do this. I certainly have and it’s been life changing and life affirming every single time.

 

2- Fuck the American Dream.

I have spent so many years striving for success – yes, doing my best to find it “on my own terms,” but still very much stuck in the paradigm which values striving, achievement, monetary success, fame, accumulating more and more and move over just about everything else.

That traditional success will buy you happiness is a boldface lie. A lie we’ve bought hook, line, and sinker that has most of us consistently denying our truth, shoving ourselves into the mold, and stuffing down and numbing out our feelings in order to get by in a day to day endless struggle of doing more, being more, getting more.

 

Fuck it.

 

It’s not worth it. Success achieved in this manner does not bring inner peace and wellbeing for most people. It just doesn’t.

What does? Well it’s at once simple and complex, both the easiest and hardest thing you can do. I won’t pretend to have all of the answers or have it all figured out.

 

For now I’ve been working on slowing down. Slowing way, way, way, way down. Finding moments of stillness with myself, to get honest about how I really feel, what’s working in my life and what isn’t. What steps I need to take to follow my heart and align more with my truth.

It’s a journey. It can be rugged. Terrifying at times. But living my truth is what I’m on this planet to do. I’m pretty sure I didn’t incarnate in this body to stuff myself in the uncomfortable, ugly ass box that society demands, hate and judge myself for not being good enough at it, and numb myself just to get through it. Fuck that.

 

I came here to love and be loved.

To revel in the beauty that is this outrageously intricate and stunningly gorgeous planet.

To learn to open my heart and feel all of it – the joy and the pain.

To accept and allow all of my human experience and heart’s desires.

And to hand out permission slips to you and everyone I meet so that you can accept and allow all of your human experience and heart’s desires too.

Consider this your permission slip to feel all of it, to say fuck it, and to start living your truth.

Not that you need one, but it is nice to have sometimes, isn’t it?

 

Loving you all so much with my fierce, wild heart –

Rachel

 
Liminal Space
 

The in-between. The unknown.

The sometimes wildly uncomfortable place where we are choosing to leave behind the old – the old pattern, situation, way of doing, way of thinking – but we have not yet settled in the new.

I have been dancing with this liminal space for nearly a year. Choosing consciously to leave behind my old pattern of trying to “fix” myself, to figure everything out, and get it “right.” And having to choose it over and over again.

“It’s like knocking over a coke machine. You can’t do it in one push. You have to rock it back and forth a few times and then it goes over.”

So I flow into the unknown, then back into the familiar. I ease back into the unknown, taste a hint of the new, fall abruptly back into the old... The dance of the liminal space. Of heart guided transformation..

My dance partners – self-compassion, trust, and patience. On the good days, that is. #perfectionnotrequired #thankfully


I’ve surrendered my “fix-it sword” to Mother Earth several times over the past year. And yet I keep looking down and finding my hand clenched tightly, dramatically around it again. Clinging for dear life. My whole body tense with fear, with doing, with intense over thinking. My mind spinning story after story to explain what’s going on, what’s holding me back, what’s needed next.

This over thinking mind also voraciously consumes – books, videos, podcasts, instagram posts – searching everywhere for answers. Looking for the magic pill, the magic tool or technique I haven’t tried yet, the thing that will make it all feel better.

And then I remember. The wound up, tense, fear-filled path is not the way to a spacious, easeful, and joyful life. Crap.

So I lay my sword down again. Re-enter the liminal space of not knowing. Try to find some self-compassion. “It’s ok, my love. Of course you’re quick with the sword, you’ve been highly trained. It’s ok to relax. It’s ok to soften.” Deep breath. And another. And another.


What I’m realizing – One reason why I keep reaching again and again for my sword is the liminal space. See, it’s scary. It’s unknown. It’s uncomfortable. It’s unchartered. The only way to navigate through is to listen, to trust, and to wait. 3 things which are culturally not really our strong suits.

My mind so quickly jumps in with, “You’re not doing enough. You’re behind. You’re failing. You’re a mess.” And before I know it, I’m fighting again.

But I’ve built and burnt to the ground 2 successful coaching businesses that I created from fixing and figuring and shoulding myself. I don’t want to do that again. I won’t. Instead, I’m choosing the wild unknown of building a business via intuition, alignment, spaciousness, ease and joy.

Living my truth. Growing my embodied confidence. Creating success in true alignment with myself and my desires.

The fixing and figuring never leads to ease and satisfaction. I have to find a new way.

So I surrender my sword again. Knowing deep in my heart, though it may look like nothing is happening, actually a powerful alchemy is brewing. The alchemy, the magic that comes as I choose to sit in presence. As I choose to explore and meet all of myself with loving compassion. As I choose to wait, to listen, to breathe, to allow.


I’m learning to trust the liminal space. To lean into the discomfort, the not knowing. To turn inwards, to listen more closely and longer. To hold myself even more tenderly.

To choose trust and love over fix and figure. To choose myself. Over and over again. 

Loving you fiercely, brave ones,

Rachel

 
For When You're Feeling Like Crap
 

I recently stepped up in my business in a big way, taking on a new project that was intuitively inspired, but also a pretty big leap for me. I had been doing my inner work and when the idea arrived, I jumped on it – acting with more decisiveness and confidence than ever before.
 
And at first it went great. The project began, and I was rocking it. Then about two weeks in, my energy began to drop. I started to feel heavy and foggy brained. My self-doubt was creeping back in.
 
I can celebrate that it was far softer than it’s been in the past. My brain used to bully me and tell me I’m a loser and no one will like this and that this teaching isn’t valuable. And this time it was more of a subtle story, “Oh so and so doesn’t need your help on this, she could do it all herself.” A little easier to stomach, but then again a little harder to catch in the act!
 
Also present was that voice that always says, “Oh no, not again. Will I always fall back into this rabbit hole?” Though it was quieter too and came with heaps more compassion.
 
I share all this to say, it’s completely possible to heal how you speak to yourself and the struggle of doubting your value and your worth. AND within that, it’s totally normal to continue to experience the cycle of growth, and that’s beautiful too.
 
This is the cycle that I’ve noticed…
Feel good for awhile, maybe expand and grow
Cruise control, slack a little on the inner work practices
Slowly low mood creeps in
Denial and resistance of low mood
More discomfort from low mood
Denial/resistance and increasing discomfort keep going for a while…

Then, finally accepting that discomfort is there
Voice that’s sad/annoyed/angry I haven’t healed this yet !!!!
Surrendering into whatever feeling is present, letting it be felt and seen
Low mood evaporates from being held and witnessed
Clarity and space open up again
Flow and feeling good…
 
And the cycle begins anew…
 
Can you relate to this? I’ve watched myself and my clients go through this cycle many, many times.

I wrote out all the things I've been doing to navigate this cycle with ease and grace and it was practically a damn novel. Too long even by my long email standard. So I'm going to start with step 1 today and share the other steps with you over the next few weeks. 

Step 1 is Acceptance. 

Acceptance is so important (that's why I talk about it all the time)! It's really the foundation of everything. Because as I read in Eckhart Tolle's Power of Now last night, "What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to something that already is?"

And yet we are doing that all the time when we fight and judge and criticize ourselves and our circumstances for being what they are. You are where you are right now, it's ok to soften and just be here. It's actually the only sane option! 

Here are 3 key areas to invite acceptance when moving through the cycle of growth.

1- Accepting that the cycle is how it works and that’s totally ok. Beautiful actually. It doesn’t mean I’m failing or I’m doing it wrong or the work isn’t working when I experience low mood or frustration. It's just how it works! 
 
2- Accepting that a low mood is coming in, rather than tightening against it, pushing past it, or ignoring that its there. The more I resist or attempt to press on despite what I’m feeling, the longer the cycle takes, and the longer the low mood sticks around.

3- Accepting that I will feel some amount of, "Oh no, not this again," sadness and frustration. In almost every session with my clients, I witness them growing aware of the ego's stories and the source of the heaviness and then immediately after feeling sad or frustrated that this is happening. But guess what? It's normal to feel this way! It's most likely going to happen! And if you pay close attention, its really just the ego playing more of its games. The art is to witness and accept the low mood AND the frustration/sadness about the low mood. (Check out my podcast Ripen Episode 11 for more on this idea).

You are where you are, you feel how you feel, and that's ok. Consider this your permission slip to take some deep breaths and soften into accepting wherever you are in the cycle right now. 

Lots of love,
Rachel

PS Yes I know this was still a damn novel even though it's only part one! And get excited, Ripen Season 2 is in the works, woot woot!

 
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Why I decided to remove – “All races, ages, sexual preferences, and flavors of womanhood are welcome” – from the description of my podcast Ripen.
 

It’s not that I don’t want Ripen to be inclusive, but that the truth is, at this point, it’s not actually inclusive. That statement is just that – a statement.

And not only is that not enough, it’s actually part of the problem.

The problem that’s worsened when I add something like that to my website without doing the deep work internally and externally to back it up. I’m checking the “I’m diversity sensitive” box, but not challenging myself to create actual change in what I’m delivering or how I show up. And not shockingly, lip service to change does not actually create change!

More likely, me making this statement at this time actually perpetuates the whiteness / heterosexuality / cisgender cultural norm that blindly demands everyone should just fall in line and be happy with content and communities that aren’t actually created for and sensitive to their unique experience.


I starting to think critically about my attempts at being more inclusive after attending Andrea Ranae’s super impactful webinar, 5 Ways to Use Your Business as a Tool for Social Justice (I encourage you to check out her offering, Coaching as Activism if this is resonating with you). 

Andrea challenged us to think about where we are coming from in taking actions like claiming inclusivity or using stock photos with people of color (which I have not done but I’ll admit has crossed my mind). Are we grounded in truly being inclusive? Are we clear about what that means to us? Or are we trying to assuage our conscious or make sure we look good?

Andrea also challenged us to get honest about our capacities to actually hold and create safe space for the people we are trying to include.

Reflecting on this, my honest truth is that I haven’t done the work to get crystal clear on my values and what concrete steps I can take to reflect those in my business. And I haven’t done the work to make my podcast and my community a safe and supported space for people different to myself. I sincerely hope it’s not actively unsafe, of course, but I also acknowledge that it’s not yet intentionally supportive and inclusive. I have only shared my own (straight, white woman) perspective and only interviewed other straight, white women.

Also it is important for me to realize that though I may want to be inclusive, I will never be the best person to serve these communities different to me because I have not walked in their shoes and shouldn’t presume to know what they might need.


I firmly believe that sharing my personal challenges and growth vulnerably and doing my best to help people does ultimately help society and the world to be a better place. However, claiming inclusivity, trying to be more politically correct or sensitive to those different to me on a surface level only, does more harm than good.  


So what am I going to do instead? How can I do better?

First is commitment. The commitment to keep trying even though I’m uncomfortable, uncertain, and way out of my depth each time I wade more into these topics.

Second is learning more. Continuing to read books, attend webinars, take classes which challenge my limited view of the world and help me better understand the systemic and cultural forces which create hierarchies of privilege and power.  

Third is personal reflection and inner work. Looking at the ways in which my business and my life come from a privileged frame and how I participate in and perpetuate systems which do not reflect my true values. Exploring more specifically what my true values and intentions are and how I can better live those values in integrity, and truly be a more supportive and safe space for those who are marginalized by society.

Fourth is to keep having this conversation. Listening to perspectives which are different to my own. Sharing my process of exploring social justice and issues of race and discrimination even when I’m scared and uncomfortable. Featuring different voices and perspectives on my podcast and using my platform to highlight some of the many powerful, inspiring, and diverse teachers who are out there doing this work with far more experience, wisdom and grace.

That’s my commitment. I know I’ll be far from perfect, but all I can do is keep trying.

 
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Are You Frustrated? Exhausted? Overwhelmed?
 

Often times along with the new year hullabaloo, there can also be a sense of frustration. Another year and I’m still working on this. Another year and this is still on my goal list. WTF.
 
Can you relate?
 
What I’ve found in myself and in my clients is that this frustrated piece of us is really good at taking over and running the show. Meaning when we feel frustrated with ourselves or where we are in our lives or both, it feels like that frustration is all there is. I should be further along by now, period.
 
So we let this frustrated piece set the intentions, set the daily habits, set the goals. We let the frustrated piece push us and make us feel behind. We let the frustrated piece drive us to exhaustion and overwhelm. 
 
Then we wonder why we feel so tired and unmotivated. Then we get more frustrated with ourselves. And the cycle continues. Am I right??
 
This frustration is indeed very good at taking over and causing quite a bit of mayhem while it’s at it.

So today I want to invite you to notice that the part of you that’s frustrated is actually just one part of you.
 
For instance, there’s also the part of you that feels scared – scared to do what you need to do or scared that you aren’t capable of doing it. And there’s the part of you that feels tired or overwhelmed. The part of you that just wants relief, to give it all up entirely.
 
Now I want you to notice the part of you that knows that everything is actually ok. The part that can hold all the frustration and fear and sadness and simply sit with it.
 
Maybe it’s in your heart or in your yoni or along your spine. Maybe it’s a shimmery energy around your whole body. Just open your mind and notice.
 
This might take some practice, especially if you’ve never tried to do this before. Close your eyes, take some slow deep breaths and ask yourself, where is the part of me that knows everything is ok? Whatever you experience, take a few more deep breaths and really soften into that.
 
See if you can feel a little relief. A little release. A softening.
 
Or if you can’t, check in and see if you need to create space for that release to happen. Get up and shake your whole body. Scream into a pillow. Fake laugh until you cry. Cry until you laugh. Move and sound however your body wants, regardless of how silly or weird it might seem. Go until your body is ready to stop.
 
And now try again. Close your eyes. Where is the part of me that knows everything is ok? That knows I am where I am and can simply soften and open into that?
 
What does this piece – this piece of you that can hold and accept all of your pieces – what does it know about your intentions and goals for 2018? What does this piece know about what your body and spirit truly need to thrive this year? What wisdom does it have for you?

 

Breathe. Listen and breathe.

 

Whether you are able to tap into this accepting of it all piece of you or not, it doesn’t matter. You can still notice how the frustrated piece is just one part of you.

And the more awareness you bring to that piece – maybe even giving it a name or a persona – the more you can notice when it’s running your show and question whether you want to buy into everything it says about where you “should” be by now and how much shit you “should” have on your to do list.
 
Because I promise, when you stop letting your frustrated piece blindly run the show, the new year feels a lot more simple, gentle, and potentially expansive.
 
My intention for this space in 2018 is to share practices which are helpful and transformational, ideas and invitations that bring you home to you. The truth of you. That means more awareness, more breathing, more expansion, more surrender, more exploration, more confidence, more trust. You have everything you need within you already, sweet one. Let's explore it together.

Thank you so much for being here.

Lots of love and self-compassion to you for wherever you are today –
Rachel

 
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