The Cook Awakening

Archive for the ‘Seasonal Change’ Category

2020 Summertime Skills

August 2, 2020
Posted in: Seasonal Change

Summertime. There’s a quickening as the sun comes out more consistently. Even in times such as these, as the world grapples with how best to respond to the pandemic, how best to respond to government over-reach or under-reach.

Whether you’re in an area that is opening up COVID-19 restrictions quickly or cautiously, there’s probably a bit more options for activity — socializing outside, folks figuring out how to work safely, whether with masks or in the open air (I now have an outside office on my side porch with plenty of airflow and distance), perhaps some travel to see family or camp.

I have numerous clients coming in with reports of general over stimulation, and self judgment about it. “I shouldn’t be feeling like this! I used to do three times what I’m doing now with no problem at all!”

Borage and Jude the Obscure rose in spring water and sunshine, Fierce Love flower essence in the making.

You may know that I have been on many meditation retreats. I lived part time in a meditation center for 10 years in my 30s. There were long retreats that I participated in. I continued to go to week long retreats after I became a mom and the family could manage with me being gone.

Re-entering daily life after a long period of relative silence takes care. We are sensitive beings with nervous systems that need care. Especially if we have significant wounding or trauma from childhood or our lineages!

I still notice a generalized, uncomfortable “buzz” in my body the first day after a retreat. Just talking to someone for more than a couple of minutes can feel overstimulating after days of quiet. I’ll never forget the first retreat I went on 35 years ago. Luckily one of the teachers was kind enough to coach me a bit. “Hold onto your purse, you’re likely to feel a bit spaced out and forget it somewhere!” I well remember the electrified sense in my body. And, that has happened consistently after every retreat I’ve been on since. It’s a simple nervous system response.

COVID-19 has been like an enforced retreat for many of us. Unless you’re an essential worker, then you might have experienced no retreat.

If you’ve been protesting, you’ve come out of this pandemic retreat with a bang. You’re likely really feeling a speedy, jangly quality in your being.

All this to say, it’s normal to feel dysregulated right now. Life is demanding things of most of us that we’re not used to. There’s more energy in our cities, pressure to “get back to normal” and/or “change normal”. And, it’s more stimulating.

My wish for you is that you are able to take parts of your life slowly. Much of what is happening is important. We need to exercise our 1st amendment rights (in the US), we need safe social interaction, we need to support ourselves. And, we need to tend to ourselves as we adjust to more activity.

What helps your nervous system calm down? You probably already have methods. Deeper breathing. A walk in nature. Meditation. A warm bath. Time alone. Time snuggling (if you’re fortunate enough to have a snuggle partner in your pandemic pod). Time hanging out with pets. Lying on the earth, or at least bare feet in grass. Tree hugging (it’s great, try it!).

This is not selfish. This is what makes your life sustainable.

What are your calming skills? I’d love to know.

And, of course, if you’re finding you don’t have strong skills in this area, please ask for help. I have some space in my schedule. If not with me, find a trusted counselor and do the work to regulate yourself. You’re worth it.


June 15, 2020
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Meditation, Seasonal Change, Spiritual Practice

A client who’s been working with me for over a year has recently been able to more fully access a core piece of suffering. We’ve both known it was there, but it took time to establish enough safety for it to come clearly into awareness.

The doorway in was to look at the way her Inner Critic was attacking her. (I’ve written more about the Inner Critic here and here.)

“She has bad genes”, was one of the things her Critic said. Bad genes.

My client’s mother is a first generation immigrant, and comes from a people whose women are often beautifully dark eyed, dark haired, and voluptuous.

In order to be “good enough” to truly belong here in the US, my client learned to measure herself to a standard of “Whiteness”. Her mother’s people don’t look like Brittney Spears, one of the images she learned to emulate growing up.

These are the waters we swim in. It goes unquestioned, until the suffering in it becomes impossible to ignore. And, some of those standards play out in the larger context as violence — the threat of violence against, or the fear of violence from anyone who doesn’t conform to these images of what we have learned to view as “normal” — whether that be Whiteness, financial security, health, body shape and size, images of femininity or masculinity, etc.

A Prayer

May 10, 2020
Posted in: Seasonal Change

In this uncertain time, when there seems to be threat lurking and polarization everywhere, I offer this.

May all beings feel safe. May all beings have their needs met. May all beings be awake.

Late springtime backyard bouquet

For myself and for the collective

I call in resilience.

I call in the capacity to act when needed, to rest before depleted, and the discernment to know which is appropriate at any given time.

༄ I humbly request that there be wisdom infusing all decision making, that there be the capacity to listen to intuition and measured information, and use them in synergy.

༄ I call in compassion to meet fear and pain and anger, and clarity to know how to express that compassion in a way that helps calm and soothe and heal.

༄ I call in the remembrance that all things in the phenomenal world pass. All things pass.

༄ I call in blessings on those who die and blessings on those left behind.

༄ I call in the collective wisdom needed to learn from the current situation and the power and will to do what we can individually to create the change needed to further evolution infused with compassion.

༄ I call in the capacity to ride the waves of chaos and change with a relaxed and joyful discernment — engaged, loving, allowing the unfolding to be as it is, guided where it can be, surrendered to when it can’t.

༄ I call in the remembrance that all is connected. All is One.

༄ May all needs be met, even those needs that we don’t know we have.

Welcome to 2020!

January 9, 2020
Posted in: Events, Integrating Lifestyle Changes, Life on Life's Terms, Seasonal Change, Spiritual Practice

It’s a big time. Can you feel it? It’s obvious on the planetary level, so much conflict and structures breaking down politically and environmentally.

Most people that I talk to, clients, friends, and family, are experiencing the last year as being a time of deconstruction in many ways. Some examples include:

༄ Feeling like identity is breaking apart
༄ Loved ones dying
༄ Relationships ending
༄ Important events being canceled for reasons beyond their control
༄ Being assailed by doubts about whether what’s really desired is possible
༄ Feeling betrayed by loved ones
༄ Deeply understanding that patterns of being (jobs, relationships, living situations) are totally unsustainable, and not knowing what to do about it

It can feel like trying to pick up sand or water with your hands and having it just run through your fingers.

There are astrological influences that are at play right now that have been effecting the last year or more. I want to give a shout out to Emily Trinkaus who explains it all far better than I can. Here’s a recording of her class describing the Pluto-Saturn conjunction that’s happening on Sunday, January 12th, and will be felt for a few days, and will lay in energies that will last 35 + years, and this is her class on the Cancer full moon lunar eclipse happening tomorrow, Friday, January 10th.

Sacred Pause Revisited

December 18, 2019
Posted in: Events, Life on Life's Terms, Meditation, Seasonal Change, Spiritual Practice

This is an article I wrote last year around this time, edited to feel current to today.

It can seem overwhelming. The holidays. Crowds, traffic, the stimulation of gatherings and lights and cooking and eating, so many words. Kids wanting, wanting, wanting. Tummies rumbling from too much yum. Perhaps there are financial stresses in the mix.

Or, it may feel lonely, if you don’t have the energy for it all, or if community feels distant.

I have a memory of our dog, Jazz, the best dog in the world, who, for her first 5 years, would get so excited when we went to the dog park, she’d run and run and run with every dog she saw. At first we thought it was fun. Look how happy she was! She’s such an extrovert, look how she loves to chase and wrestle with the other dogs!

Jazz in motion

Until we realized, what we were seeing as fun, at some point became frenzy. We started to put her on the leash after she’d run long and hard when we’d see froth on her lips. And, you know what? There was clearly a feeling of “oh, thank you for saving me from myself” in her manner as she’d flop down next to us at the park bench.

In a different way that feeling can be there when we have too much isolation. Like water that becomes fetid without enough movement, you can see that the things growing in it are not healthy. Drinking that will make you sick. There can be too much inward movement, too, leading to stagnation.

All of nature runs in cycles and spirals of expansion and contraction. Breathing. The heart beating. The seasons. Sunrise and sunset. Birth and death.

We need the out-breath. We cannot breathe in constantly — we’d literally burst. The sun can’t be up forever, we’d be scorched, and the other side of the earth would be frigid.

This Saturday is winter solstice, the shortest day/longest night of the year. This is the bottom of the earth’s out breath. (Or, some say it’s the top of the in breath. Either way, it’s a powerful transition point!)

She needs a pause. We need a pause.

As I’ve written before, the days don’t immediately begin to get longer after solstice. There is a pause, a still point.

That still point is sacred. Many spiritual traditions emphasize noticing what happens on subtle levels during the pause at both the top and the bottom of the breath.

The still point is a beautiful time to say a prayer, in whatever way you do. That could be formal prayer. That may be setting intentions (think New Year). That may be gathering around the table with blood or chosen family over food that human hands you know have touched and loved. That could be as simple as finding your way to your open heart and asking that you be shown the way through. Many light a candle at this time of year to anchor their intentions, to invite light into their deepest longings.

All of nature needs the in breath, the out breath. All nature benefits from the still point of the transition between them, too.

I encourage you to pay attention to this pause that the earth is experiencing. We’re not separate from nature. How can you find your way into the sacred pause of your life? Is it making sure you have a minute or hour in nature? Maybe it’s remembering to connect with the physical sensations of your breath while you’re waiting in the insanely long line at the grocery store. Perhaps it’s putting away your phone and computer, and turning off the TV for an hour before you go to bed and just sitting quietly.

Were you able to see the full moon rising last week? It was glorious over Portland.

The Cold Moon — December full moon over Portland, OR

The seeds that are planted at this time of year can bear rich fruit come springtime. Don’t miss this opportunity to pause.

If you’d like some support in learning to slow down, or focus your energy differently as we move into the cold season, remember my New Year special is in effect now — if you are a new client, your first month of counseling is half price when you commit to 3 months of working with me. Read more about that here.

And, Sovereign Self, a women’s group and Deep Communication Circle™ meets this coming Friday, December 20th at 10 am via Zoom video conference. Read more about that here.

Wishing you all blessed holy days, however you celebrate them. Wishing you a nourishing connection with the pause in the world, however you can feel it. Blessings, blessings, blessings.

The Blessing of Impermanence

March 25, 2019
Posted in: Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Seasonal Change, Spiritual Practice

“I’m afraid if I really allow myself to feel what’s going on with me, the feelings will never stop. I’ll be lost, forever weeping or shaking, and I’ll never feel good again.”

I think we all experience some version of this. I know my clients do. I do! Even though the path through this “resistance to what is” is very familiar to me, I still have to navigate some version of “I don’t want to feel this!” when unpleasant emotions arise.

It’s natural. It’s human. So, before I proceed any further, please know that. There’s no criticism needed in this scenario. My goal is to tenderly support you in being utterly human, in all it’s aspects. It’s what your soul took birth to be.

However, the resistance to feeling can lead us into greater suffering than is actually necessary.

My dad played American football in high school. I remember him telling us the story about the time he broke his arm, and didn’t know it for two weeks. He continued to play during that time.

He broke his arm and didn’t know it for two weeks. Now, that’s resisting pain!

Once they figured out that something was wrong, he had ground the bone around the fracture to little bits. He wore a cast for over a year in order to heal. (He continued to play football the entire time, and broke the cast a number of times. His doctors would replace it, and he’d keep playing.)

He grew up in an environment where it was clear — you do not feel your pain. I won’t go deeper into that, there’s ancestral patterns I’ve been working with for years that led to his high tolerance for discomfort. My point in using this example is simple.

If he’d been able to experience his pain when he first felt it he’d have known something was wrong, and he’d only have had to wear a cast for 6 — 8 weeks. Compared to over a year. My suspicion is that if he’d taken a break from playing football, he would have healed faster, too.

This is a pretty concrete example that carries over into the realm of other kinds of human feelings. How it works in the case of emotions is a bit different, though.

The geese are easy with the day’s end

There’s a core truth taught in many spiritual paths. It’s often experienced as a truth that people don’t like, but it has a vast benefit as well.