Self-Care for the Empath on the March

stillness

Self-Care is necessary for body, mind, and spirit.

Who Has Time for Self-Care?

I’ve always been a “To-Do-List” maker.  In the past, I made grocery lists, work-related lists, lists of errands I had to run on Saturday, and even a list of things I’d like to do if I wasn’t so busy making lists!  Do you know anyone like this?

Lately, my list also includes things like march on Washington, call my legislators, write to them when they stop taking phone calls, and put my money where my mouth is by getting rid of credit cards that are affiliated with companies that support things that I don’t.  I never dreamed I’d need a list like this.  I don’t want a list like this!  Who would?!

march-3

I never imagined this being on my To-Do list but it is!

In addition to being a list-maker, I’m an empath and maybe you are, too.  Empaths are highly sensitive people who feel deeply and try to do as much as they can.  They…we… act from a place of compassion and love but can easily get overwhelmed.  It leaves me feeling like this…

Freyjas Soulful Eyes

I have nothing left to give.

 

 So what can I do for body, mind, and spirit?

For me, it begins with a brand new To-Do list, identifying ways to balance what I need with what I need to do.  What are all the ways I can nourish and nurture myself so I don’t get depleted?

  • Body:  Getting sick or exhausted doesn’t do anybody any good… least of all ourselves.  To take care of our physical bodies, I suggest things such as a deep tissue massage, exercise a few times a week, eating healthy foods and also allowing the occasional treat, yoga, and my personal favorite- simply being in nature.  Nothing compares to a few minutes in my backyard where I can listen to the birds and watch the sun set while I swing in a hammock with my fuzzy kids.
  • Mind: This includes things that release my mind from my lists and the oh-so-real sorrows of the world.  I read for the sheer joy of it (mysteries and historical fiction right now).  I also do my best to focus on positive words of encouragement and affirmations like those Jessica Swift sends out as part of her 100 Uplifting Messages 100 Days in a Row.  Part of nurturing a healthy mind is knowing my limits, saying “No” when I need to, and disconnecting from social media when it gets to be too much.  Did I, a blogger, just write that?!  Yes.  Unplug and be present.
  • Spirit:  A balanced program of self-care has to include the spirit.  It can take many forms including meditation, prayer, connecting with a like-minded spiritual community, embracing solitude, Reiki, creative expression, and cuddling your 2-legged and 4-legged loved ones (a bit more difficult if you have a parakeet or fish).

One of the first things I notice about that 3-prong guide to self-care is that it is all connected.  What nourishes the body can also soothe the spirit and quiet the mind.  This reminds me of my post titled Boundaries & Priorities from May 2014.  Following these suggestions and reflecting on those I wrote about 3 years ago take me from “I have nothing left to give” to this….

peaceful-girl

Shhh… self-care in progress.

In the March/April 2017 issue of Spirituality & Health magazine, Dr. Judith Orloff’s  article “The Empowered Empath” shares some of her tips for refilling our well so we have more to give others.  I am particularly moved by her Empath Affirmation.

“I will treasure myself and vow to have people in my life who treasure me.

I will use my sensitivities to better my own life and the world.

I will celebrate the adventure of being an empath.”

What do you do for self-care?

I’d love to hear what works for you.

 

 

 

The One You Seek

The One You Seek- mixed media on 18 inch square canvas. SOLD

THE ONE YOU SEEK

The one you seek 

is already here.

The one you seek

always was.

The one you seek

is within you-

is you-

is.

Susan Korsnick 2016

Dear Seeker

Dear Seeker- clay sculpture holding crystal

Dear Seeker- clay sculpture holding crystal

Dear Seeker

Sit, be still, listen-

The guide you seek is within.

Susan Korsnick 2016

Dear Seeker- view 2

Dear Seeker- view 2

It is natural to look outside ourselves for gurus, guides, and teachers at various stages of our spiritual journey.  The worthy teachers are like the Hermit in the Tarot deck- shining their light to illuminate the path for those who follow.  True masters are humble, trustworthy, and wise.  They recognize that their purpose is for the student to surpass the teacher so each initiate, in turn, can hold their own lantern high and light the way for others.

Dear Seeker from the back

Dear Seeker from the back

Join in the Dance

The image of women dancing in the light of an enormous full moon has brewed in my imagination for some time now.  Our natural cycle is so closely linked to the cycle of the moon that a painting showing this connection is particularly meaningful for me.  Several women clasp hands as they twirl in the sand; while a lone figure reaches out to them.  Who is she?  Is she hesitating?  Is she eager to join in the dance?  Is she me?  Is she you?

Visit my Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan to see this painting & my other work.

Join in the Dance:  20"x24" acrylic painting

Join in the Dance: 20″x24″ acrylic painting

Vesta & Me

Years ago, an amazing college professor introduced me to the world of Greek & Roman mythology.  While I’ve regrettable forgotten her name, I vividly recall the myths she brought to life every time she walked into class, hopped up onto her desk, & told us stories as if we were eager grandchildren crowded around her feet.  She brought them all to life– Zeus, Diana, Aphrodite, Apollo, & Persephone to name a few.  The goddess who comes to mind when I pull in my driveway, the porch light shining like a beacon in the dark is Vesta, Roman goddess of the hearth (Hestia in Greek).  Romantically, I envision her lighting a fire in the fireplace & turning on a lamp beside the sofa… beckoning me to come home where I can rest, reflect, & rejuvenate when the windchill dips below zero & the ice lays thick on the dangerously slick roads.

Now I know I’m the one who left the porch light on for myself; yet, isn’t it lovely to picture a goddess tending the fire of the home, making it welcoming, warm, & safe for all who enter?  I embody the qualities of that goddess every time I light a candle at dinnertime or leave a small light on in the kitchen so my boyfriend can find his way to make coffee before sunrise.  These are all attempts to bring in light where there was none.  I’m the keeper of my own hearth.  I am Vesta.

I take the image of Vesta step further.  Home is often a symbol for our spirit or Soul so could Vesta also represent the flame within each of us?  Ovid is credited with calling her “the living flame”.  Could I embody this goddess’s attributes, living my life so the Divine spark within me turns into a living flame, illuminating my path & those whose lives I touch?

Yes, I am Vesta but I am also Aphrodite, Athena, Kali, & Kuan Yin.  As are you.

Dreams Illuminate the Soul

We are physical, mental, emotional, spiritual beings and we are dreamers.  

Light in the Darkness: How Dreams Illuminate Your Soul is the title of the workshop I led for almost 50 people last Friday.  I was glad to see people of both sexes, all ages from pre-teen to elderly, & a wide variety of faiths represented for this is a natural experience that has no boundaries.  Our dreams have messages meant to illuminate our souls & guide our lives if we are aware of our personal symbols & have the courage to act on what feels right.

My background includes over 30 years of dream journal writing & interpreting the dreams that resonate on a deeper level than ordinary dreams influenced by the day’s events.  I believe the awake life informs my dreams & that my dream life informs my awake life- two aspects of my total being.  Over the years, I’ve studied the work of Rudolf Steiner, Carl Jung, Sandra Ingerman & other shamanic practitioners, & Robert Moss.  His particular viewpoint seems very much aligned with mine.  Writers coming from a shamanic background or those with native influences understand the importance of dreams for they can impact the individual and even the entire community.

I spent part of the evening describing different types of dreams from daydreams that we have when we are totally awake to lucid dreaming (that in-between state where we are aware of dreaming) to night dreams that occur while our body is asleep.  These “asleep dreams” were my focus.

Dreams are your personal oracles, coming to you in ways you can understand with imagery that means something special to you.  Even if archetypal symbols such as angels, fairies, Mother Earth, Merlin, an eagle, a cave, or the Tree of Life appear, they are appearing because they have personal meaning in addition to their cultural symbolism.  Messages are always for your greatest & highest good.  Nightmares, although terrifying at the time, are unique opportunities to face our fears, reflect, explore, & grow.

Dreams can…

  1. be little dreams that simply reflect your day’s experiences- books you’ve read, things that happened at work, or stories you saw on the evening news
  2. allow your soul (spirit) to travel across time or space
  3. connect you to the deceased, who are letting you know they are ok and still with you in some way or maybe they are trying to impart wisdom to shine a light on something you haven’t seen clearly
  4. inform decisions you need to make in your awake life or offer a creative solution to a problem
  5. connect you to spirit guides, power animals, or magic objects like flying carpets or hollow tree trunks that lead to other worlds
  6. reveal your deepest desires at soul level regarding your higher purpose, relationships, career concerns
  7. be premonitions of events in your life, those around you, or the greater world community

For each of those examples, participants had dreams to share, dreams that demonstrated the importance of recalling the dream & opening to the dream’s message.  I was very clear to state several times that only the dreamer can accurately interpret his or her dream.  I can suggest strategies to improve dream interpretation but I cannot say what the dream means for the dreamer.  Even dream dictionaries & books about symbols can only scratch the surface.  You’ll know when an interpretation is correct by the way it makes you feel.  This is an intuitive process.

The last segment of Light in the Darkness explored ways to increase dream recollection…

  • journal writing
  • orally sharing dreams with others
  • dream reentry (a technique suggested bu Robert Moss)
  • dream reenactments (another Moss-inspired technique)

It’s not at all surprising that profound things happen when participants share their dreams & perform reenactments.  I look forward to going through my own dream journals to discover even more about this fascinating phenomenon that defies scientific explanation.  Yes, we can study REM sleep & brain waves but the mystical messages & imagery in dreams remains a mystery.

Reiki- Balance, Harmony, & Healing

Everything is made of energy… finally, something spiritual people & scientists can agree on!!  You, me, the maple tree in my backyard, rivers, animals,… all energy & all connected.  The potential for balance, harmony, & healing is immense.  That’s what I love about Reiki.  It’s universal life-force energy, flowing through everything & everyone.

As my Reiki practice grows, I find that it helps my clients physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually because the energy flows where it’s needed most.  I don’t use the term “healer” to describe myself because I’m a hollow reed, a vessel, for the energy that flows to the person or animal I’m helping.  It’s not my energy that heals; it’s the energy available to all of us with proper training & heightened awareness.  It’s very exciting that the Western medical profession, from doctors to insurance companies, is publicly acknowledging the benefits of energy work.

Every session is unique, allowing me to use a variety of sources, including Usui Reiki, to help my clients.  The work I do falls into three general categories– hands-on, animal Reiki, & distant healing.

Hands-on work means an adult or child comes to me in person for reasons including but not limited to– past trauma, illness or recent surgery, stress or anxiety, and self-awareness to identify a drop in energy or a feeling of disconnectedness.

Animal Reiki is performed for pets who’ve experienced neglect or abuse, anxiety, illness, & even aging issues.  The flow of positive energy & love to the animal can relieve negativity, increase a sense of well-being, & lessen pain & suffering.

Distant healing benefits the client just as hands-on work can do & helps those who cannot see me in person for whatever reason.  The only difference is that it requires more of a time commitment from both me & my client to communicate via phone before & after the service is provided.  The results can be just as powerful.

I’ll explain more in future blogs but wanted to send out this general information because so many people ask, “What it is energy work?” and “How can it help me?”  Websites & books have more background information so my blog posts will focus on my personal experience & what kinds of results I’m seeing in my practice.

Authentic Selves

Can we be our authentic Selves all the time?  This question came up with a friend as we discussed our spiritual journeys & how we try to live our truth in a world where religious intolerance leads to family rifts on a personal level & war on a global level.  (Yes, we get into heavy discussions sometimes.)  She said she’s at a point in her life where she is comfortable being who she is & will not compromise that for anyone else.  I, ashamedly, have to admit that I’m not there yet.  I was raised with the belief that you never talk about religion, politics, or money in social situations.  If people agree, there’s no point to the discussion & if they disagree, there’s still no point.  These conversations rarely lead to a change of heart.  They more often lead to arguments, judgement, misunderstanding, & hostility.

Call me a chicken but I play it safe.  I sense the climate in the room & make the decision whether or not to voice an opinion.  Is that compromising my authentic Self?  This can be a real struggle for someone in the minority– be it race, religion, politics, sexual orientation, or social status.  Too often the majority squelches the individuality of those in the minority.  We give up our authentic Selves so we can belong.  But there’s the dilemma.  We’re being accepted for who we aren’t.

So when do we take the chance?  When do we say, “This is who I truly am?”  Sometimes we make that decision & other times, someone forces our hand, making the decision for us.  My boyfriend did that to me this weekend at a friend’s cookout.  He told some of the guests about my spiritual practice before I felt comfortable doing so.  I’m relieved to say they were very accepting & curious.  As we talked, they saw the similarities between my beliefs & their own.  What began as a tense moment for me, waiting for the hammer of criticism & judgement, became a great opportunity to be my Self & share my spiritual philosophy with them.

Another dear friend uses the term “universalism” to describe the commonalities that many religions & spiritual practices share, such as loving one another, honoring nature, & believing in something greater than ourselves.  At the cookout, we celebrated those similarities & connected at a much deeper level than we had before.

So many interesting topics came up during those conversations that I want to share them with you over the next few weeks.  In addition to my artwork, I’ll be writing about dream imagery, a need for community, soul loss, ritual, honoring life & death, energy work, & love.  I hope that you’ll reflect on the questions below & share your thoughts with me.

1.  Who is your authentic Self?

2.  Have you been authentic in your interactions with others?  Why or why not?

 

Horse Sense

Every once in a while, I like to share a book, art exhibit, or movie that resonates deeply with me.  Buck, a movie directed by Cindy Meehl, made me really stop & think.  It received the Sundance Audience Award for Best Documentary & I can clearly see why.  Buck Brannaman is a master horseman & the consultant/inspiration for Robert Redford’s The Horse Whisperer.  I’d go so far as to say Buck’s a philosopher whose “horse sense” could benefit educators, parents, & well… anyone who wants to relate better to others in a more positive way.

I’m always inspired by people who overcome life’s obstacles & rise above adversity with dignity, class, & style.  Buck is one of those people.  While others use their experience being abused as an excuse to abuse others, Buck was determined to break that cycle.  The pain he suffered at the hands of his father helped him to relate to horses who were also  “broken”.  He realized there must be a better way to train these beautiful animals & soon connected with someone who taught him gentler, kinder horse-training techniques.  Throughout the DVD, in his soft-spoken way, Buck lets us know that everyone (humans & animals alike) responds better to kindness.

At one point in the movie, a woman shows up at one of his clinics (workshops) with a horse who has clearly been mistreated & attacks anyone who dares get close to his teeth or hooves.  In the clip, Buck is obviously distraught but honest with the woman.  The horse has to be put down.  He’s violent & dangerous.  It’s not the horse’s fault, Buck explains, it’s hers.  She didn’t care for this animal responsibly & now he would be paying the price with his life.  Buck tells her that “the horse is a window to the owner’s soul” & she has some serious soul-searching to do.

How true it is… how you treat others speaks volumes about you.

Artists Are Inspiration

My soul sighed with satisfaction this past week because of the abundance of inspiration around me.  It’s been wonderful!  First, we watched the 2006 BBC miniseries, The Impressionists, on DVD.  This well-written, breathtakingly-beautiful series is told from Claude Monet’s point of view.  The series is based on letters, notes, & diaries so the information is highly accurate.  I learned that Monet ocassionally painted more than one canvas at a time so he could continue to work as the light changed the appearance of his subject.  Each episode is full of gorgeous scenery that makes me completely understand why Money, Renoir, & the others found it so inspirational.  The series also shows their actual paintings so you can see how the scenery was interpreted by each man.  Highly recommend this for anyone whose eyes hunger for beauty & vibrant color.

Second, a friend shared Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh & Gregory White Smith with me.  As soon as I saw the book (that she had to lift out of her totebag with both hands), I exclaimed, “Ooooh” out loud as my eyes opened wide with wonder.  It’s a massive biography at close to 900 pages but it, too, is full of photos & works that I had never seen before.  I bought a copy so I have time to read it before my artist friends & I take a trip to Philadelphia to see the Van Gogh exhibit next month.  I’m about 100 pages into it & have to say that it is extremely detailed.  For example, I didn’t know that Van Gogh was working in Paris at the same time the Impressionists were shaking up the art world.  (Gauguin was a stockbroker in Paris at that time, too.)  All that brilliant talent coming together in one place at one time.  Synchronicity… destiny… fate.

Lastly, a dear friend sent me the following link that shows 500 years of the female portrait.  Take the time to watch; you’ll be amazed!

http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencerreport/portraits_women.html

Each of these has been a feast for my eyes & nourishment for my soul.  I hope you find what inspires you this week.