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.

 

 

 

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Calling The Moon

calling-the-moon

Calling the Moon-  Mixed media on paper. Susan Korsnick 2016

CALLING THE MOON

You called me

Cycle by cycle.

I called you in turn-

A rhythm shared.

And now a new rhythm begins

To find you, I go within.

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

Art Journaling

Art journaling, for me, is sometimes the end and sometimes the beginning.

Heart Art- journaling for fun

Heart Art- journaling for fun

Quite often, I art journal (if that can be a verb) for art journaling’s sake.  I play with a variety of materials, subject matter, and techniques without concern for the outcome.  The key word here is PLAY.  It’s an activity that reminds me of being a child– joyfully exploring without self-criticism, getting my hands covered with paint and glitter, and feeling limitless because I’ve put no limits on myself.  It’s about the process not a product.  It’s liberating to know that this is a piece for my eyes only, unless I choose to share it.  I’m free when I art journal.

Camper- playing with all sorts of materials

Camper- playing with all sorts of materials

Being an artist who also appreciates the sale of my work and the connection my pieces can make with other people, I also use my art journal as a learning tool.  All of the playing and experimenting help me see new color combinations or envision new compositions for larger works.

The Divine in Me

The Divine in Me

On a deeper level, my art journal is a way to connect with my authentic self in a way I cannot with a written journal that so heavily relies on intellect and grammar.  My art journal is soulful.  It is the place where I can explore personal imagery, dream symbolism, and my spirituality.  The mysteries of my inner life are revealed in my journal.  My emotions are vaildated and freely expressed without judgement.

Focus on the Light- what came out when I found out my brother-in-law committed suicide

Focus on the Light- what came out when I found out my brother-in-law committed suicide

An art journal can also be a seat of power.  A place to set intentions for what I want to manifest in my life.  The art I create in my journal can deliberately reflect my desires or unconsciously expose what is hidden inside of me, much like a vision board.

Dream the Moon into Existence

Dream the Moon into Existence

In my art journal,

I am creator, healer, priestess, teacher, student, celebrant, and eternal child.

Dream Weaver

Dream Weaver

Enso Inspires Art

Inspiration comes from unexpected places when I am open to it.

 When I first saw an Enso, a circular image that holds special significance for Zen Buddhists, it resonated deeply with my soul.  I found that, among other things, it “represents the moment when the mind is free to let the body create”.  The traditional Enso is an open circle created with one or two brushstrokes –receptivity and potentiality, the infinite void where experiences and energy are free to flow in and out.  Space.  Not the space one associates with nothingness but the sacred space where all is possible.  Perfect symbol for me as I navigate the waters of a dynamic, change-filled year!

Enso IV

Enso IV: SOLD

Blue Enso

Blue Enso: SOLD

Enso II

Enso I: SOLD

Enso III

Enso II: SOLD

Enso I

Enso III: SOLD

Enso in Pink and Gray

Enso in Pink and Gray

Intuition: Trusting the Voice Within

“Overnight success stories” rarely are.  For what appears to be overnight to an onlooker, took years of patience, frustration, hope, doubt, sweat, and tears for the person actually living it.

For me, major changes that I’ve purposefully made in my life are a lot like “overnight success stories”, they took years to bring about.  And while it looks like I did it all myself (no, I’m not Wonder Woman), I am actually co-creating with something much larger than myself that speaks to me through my Intuition.

On July 10th of this year, I published a blog post titled “What is Your Tipping Point?” https://awakenpureyou.com/  It explores my journey from knowing that life needed to change to bravely taking that first step.  Take time to read that before reading this post for a clearer picture of where I am coming from and why I’m taking time to share this personal story.

To successfully experience life’s  constant changes, I must heed the still, small voice within so I can wisely decide what must be done for my greatest and highest good.  In other words, I must trust my Self.

Around 2010, my Intuition was sending me quiet, gentle, loving signals hinting that change was in the air.  It was as subtle as the first scent of autumn wafting into my nostrils on a cool September breeze.  I ignored it.  While I was beginning to feel “growing pains”, an uneasiness with how things were, I justified my situation by saying that other people had it far worse.  “At least I wasn’t working in a coal mine like my grandfather and his father before him.”  I could handle this.  It wasn’t that bad…yet.

Impatient, my Intuition got louder and more aggressive. The “cool September breeze carrying change”, that I mentioned earlier, became a hurricane of drama, stress, and ill health.  I knew most definitely that there would be even more significant consequences if I didn’t listen… NOW!

Why did I take so long to act on my Intuition?  I didn’t trust my Self.   That’s a powerful, humbling thing to admit..I DIDN’T TRUST MY SELF.  And that’s the worst thing we can do when making decisions about our future.

I know early on when a situation isn’t right for me– a job, a relationship, etc…  What I haven’t always known is that I have everything I need within me to make a positive change– strength, courage, wisdom, and my Intuition (guardian angel, gut instinct).

I hesitated to act on the information because I confused my Inner Critic with my Intuition.  I paid more attention to the negative voice that played on my fears.  The voice that weakens, stagnates, and ultimately paralyzes.  The voice that poisons the system with self-doubt and anxiety.  At first, it seemed to be protecting me from doing something impetuous.  But that’s at all what it was doing; it was keeping me from living an authentic life, from being my best self.  I was afraid of being jobless, homeless, and penniless.  I was afraid I would never find the level of security and comfort that I had in my present situation.  A friend asked, “Are you REALLY secure and comfortable?”  That sounds a bit sarcastic but it touched right on the heart of the matter.  No!!!  I was not secure and comfortable.  I was afraid… afraid to trust my Intuition.

Once I was clearly able to feel the difference in my body between Intuition and the Inner Critic, I was able to discern the messages and heed the one meant for my highest good.

How do you know what to do when you aren’t sure whether it’s your Intuition or fear?  In my work with women and girls, I explore a variety of ways to sense the differences using body wisdom based on a lifetime of my own experience.  Every message from both Intuition and the Inner Critic can be felt in different parts of the body.

One technique that has worked for me is to sit quietly and relax.  First, think back on a time when you listened to your intuition.  Imagine the situation in as much detail as possible.  Where were you?  Who else was there?  What was happening?  Play it in your mind and feel it in your body.  Sense what it feels like to listen to your Intuition and have a positive outcome.

Open your eyes, stretch, record the sensations in a journal if that is something you like to do.  Then, repeat.  Only this time, recall a time when fear got in the way.  You sensed your Intuition but ignored it.  Where were you?  Who else was there?  What was happening?  Play it in your mind and watch this scene play out, too.  Feel it in your body.  What does it feel like in your body when you ignore your own inner wisdom?  What emotions and thoughts accompany this feeling?

This is just one exercise that can awaken your Intuition and heighten your awareness so you can act on it more quickly in the future.  But please be gentle with yourself as you do this.  As I remind myself regularly, this is a spiritual practice with the emphasis on the word “practice”.  No one is perfect and faced with a new situation, it’s easy to be afraid.  But with strategies in place, we can get to this intuitive knowing more quickly each time and avoid unnecessary pain.

Imagine how different life would be if we trusted our Intuition more fully!  Imagine how wonderful it would be for girls to learn this at an earlier age than we did!

What’s next?  Once you sense the message your Intuition is sending you, how can you manifest a positive outcome?  This is where Imagination joins in, saying “I’m here to help!”  More on that next time….

 

What’s It Like in the Red Tent?

I found last Saturday’s Red Tent event rich in conversation & deeply moving.  I chose the topic “Mothering and Being Mothered” for Mother’s Day weekend… it seemed appropriate.  I’ll never divulge the details for “what happens in the Tent stays in the Tent” but consider how you’d answer these three questions and imagine what the conversation was like among women ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s.

1)  How does your relationship with your mother impact your ability to mother others?

2)  Who (what) do you mother and what forms does your mothering take?

3)  As you give generously in so many ways, how do you nurture your Self?

These amazing women brought their authentic selves to the tent, speaking their truth courageously because somehow each sensed that the tent is a safe, sacred, private place where women can speak without judgement, shame, criticism, or guilt.

For this Red Tent event, I established an altar in the center of the carpet to honor “mother” images from various religious traditions, our own mothers & grandmothers, as well as the ways we mother in our own unique ways.  Each woman brought an object or photo that symbolized motherhood for her and we shared their importance.  This initial introduction of ourselves- women who gave birth, adopted, chose not to have children, & were contemplating having a child for the first time- cast a magical circle of protection around us in some ways, allowing each of us to share deeply and honestly.  I call this circle the Sacred Wisdom Circle because each & every one of us brought the wisdom of our experience to the group for all to possibly learn from.  Each of us was student & teacher in turn.

When I create a Red Tent event, it’s not merely a “gimmick” to create a space that resembles a Middle Eastern tent with red curtains, rugs, and exotic accessories.  I deliberately design it with the intention that I’m creating a space set apart from our everyday concerns so women can rest, rejuvenate, connect with other women, and reconnect with their highest selves.  I want it to look different, feel different, and be different.  I want the women to feel different and be different from how they feel they have to be for husbands, parents, employers, and children.

The Red Tent is a womb– a protective place that nurtures and nourishes.  All who identify themselves as women are welcome here regardless of age, race, or spiritual beliefs.  Every tent is charged with the energy of the participants, be they contemplative, humorous, emotional, lively, or a blend of one or more of these qualities.

Our time together ended far too soon, after meaningful discussion and a reflective labyrinth walk nestled between the memorial wall and the majestic weeping beech at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York’s campus.  I trust all the women felt refreshed in some way be it physically, spiritually, mentally, or emotionally.  I know I did.

So what’s next?  My next Red Tent event will be an all-day retreat that focuses on Beauty- Inside and Out.  And this time, it will be open to women AND GIRLS ages 8 and up.  Mothers can share this experience with their daughters or come alone for the topic is relevant to all of us.  We’ll explore what it means to grow up in a society that still places too much emphasis on being skinny & young.  Most importantly, we’ll explore ways to be strong, empowered, & full of the knowledge that we are each beautiful in our own way.  It’s time to tell our girls that they are valued just the way they are.

Stay tuned….

 

Legacy

For women, the divine feminine is a concept that may be unfamiliar except in the context of the Virgin Mary.  I painted this to remind us that our legacy as women is the entire history of the divine feminine found in ancient cultures around the world.  She is earth mother, healer, creator, and destroyer.  She embodies love, compassion, courage, strength, and creativity.  All of these goddess images are our legacy and all reside within each of us.

This piece is featured in Volume 3 Issue 2 of Wild Woman Rising magazine, an amazing online magazine that celebrates and honors women.      http://www.wildwomanrising.com/category/volume-3-issue-2/

Legacy:  The entire history of the divine feminine is our inheritance.

Legacy: The entire history of the divine feminine is our inheritance.

Detail of Legacy.

Detail of Legacy.

Susan_Korsnick_Legacy_acrylic_48x36view3

Detail of goddess image.