Expressing Grief Brings Us Closer to Life, In Remembrance of Luanne Blaich

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Sitting in my office today with the midday sun streaming through the window, my eyes continue to be drawn to a small bouquet of white roses from the memorial service of my friend Luanne Blaich, held last night.  Their beauty is a perfect reminder of the amazing opportunity that Luanne’s death has been for me and many others.  Luanne died after a 3.5 year battle with Leukemia, in which her brave fight deeply humbles me. To speak about someone’s death as an opportunity is strange and somewhat awkward.  And yet, Luanne’s death was an opportunity in many ways.  It was an incredible experience to be a part of a community that held someone through their passing.  The friends and loved ones of Luanne created a container for us to sing, grieve and celebrate her as she passed out of this life.  We were able to honor the cycle of life, the great unknown and mystery of the universe, and feel all of the joy and pain of our humanity. The biggest learning I have received from Luanne’s death is that to grieve in community is to come back to life.  I am blessed to be a part of a community that knows that feelings are healthy and welcome.  We are able to laugh and then cry and then laugh again with each other.  No one tries to shush or stop the flow of another’s tears.  Throughout Luanne’s passing, we cried our grief, we sang our grief and we danced our grief.  And through this expression, I found a sweet joy emerge in me; A deep reverence for life, for the treasure and blessing that it is.   Through grieving her passing, I found myself alive in a way that before I was dead.  What a paradox that it is through honoring death, that those of us who are living can come out of a half state of walking death.   In grieving death in community, we actually become more alive. One of my favorite teachers, Joanna Macy, brings people together to express their grief about what is happening to our planet.  Something similarly emerges through that process.  Through expressing their grief and anger and fear together, people awaken to their love and reverence of this life.  That’s why she calls it “the Work That Reconnects”.  It reconnects us to ourselves, our souls, each other and to the world. Luanne Blaich was a beautiful woman who walked with grace and compassion.  She was one of the most generous people I knew in our community.  She was always available to help with whatever I needed.  I learned to say yes from her.  She was also one of the most authentically polite people I have ever met.  I know that politeness is something that we can sometimes get stuck in or that can limit our expression.  But Luanne modeled how politeness can be an expression of love and kindness. Luanne also knew how to hold a safe space for you to vent or express anything you needed to.  She held a container of sacred trust and would not gossip or judge you for what you shared.  Maybe that’s why in her death, we were able to bring so much of ourselves and bring all of our feelings to be expressed.  We all knew that she would love and accept any expression that came through. Luanne was a great teacher to many.  We will continue to express our gratitude for her life and our grief for her passing.  And in that expression, we will continue to awaken in our own lives.  Her life will be celebrated and remembered. And what is remembered, lives.     Read more »

Counseling with Coaching for Women

Are you looking to create the relationship and life that you love? Do you feel like you give so much that your own needs are not attended to? Looking for compassionate support to move through blocks in your life? As women, we can tend to give to others to the expense of our own needs.  We can be riddled with self doubt and anxiety.  We can get stuck in comparing ourselves to the other women around us.  We can long for intimacy, but fear abandonment so much that we stay frozen and along.  We can doubt our own ability, and our own value in the world and therefore limit our own careers and dreams. As a counselor who integrates coaching, I am passionate about supporting women.  I create a safe place for women to get the attention that they need, in order to create a life that they love.  I help women feel confident in who they are, feel respect and love for themselves. As a woman, I see how systematic it is that women struggle with prioritizing themselves and their dreams.  I am committed to women valuing themselves, and to helping women get all of what they want out of life.   Read more »

Citizens of the Earth, take heart

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I once read a book on reincarnation called “Life Between Lives” by Michael Newton.  In general, I have mixed feelings about reincarnation. Sometimes I believe that it is a metaphor for the many lives that we live in one lifetime. A grand description of how over and over again we are offered the chance to start again. For example, I don’t know about you, but my childhood feels like 5 lifetimes ago.  It has a dream quality, like it was lived by me, but it was not me too. And with each new day, each new moon, each year, each moment, we are given the chance to do things over again.  We are handed millions of chances to start over, do things differently or change.  Change in fact, is the one constant.  It’s one of the things that I love about the Movie Groundhog day.  Bill Murray wakes up with the same day over and over again, and each day he gets to try something entirely new. Well, regardless of the truths of reincarnation, one of the things that Newton says is that souls that reincarnate to earth consider themselves a kind of warrior.  According to Newton, there are lots of different places that a soul can reincarnate, a lot of those places are much easier than earth.  So those of us that return to Earth, have a certain pride in daring to come back here.  We are “hard-core” souls in a way.  Because, sometimes it can be damn hard on this planet.  Seriously. Sometimes this idea gives me a lot of comfort. I imagine us getting ready to be born, about to jump into some sort of crazy tunnel.  We turn to a guide or friend and shout “Okay, here I go, back to Earth!”  We dive in, screaming or whooping, ready for our great adventure. And then….we forget.  We forget that we were warriors, proud of our journey to Earth.  We forget that we came here to grow and be challenged to the fullest, that we chose this life, chose to be here at this time. Most of all we forget that we are capable, that we can handle and that we are equipped for the journey that we have taken on. So, here is a little reminder.  Citizens of the Earth, take heart.  Take pride in the great task you have taken on.  You are up for the challenge.  And when you look around at the people you pass by today, imagine that they are also your Earth companions.  That they too dove into the wild adventure of being on this planet. We are fierce, we are brave, we are citizens of the Earth. Read more »

The Dragon’s in Our Lives

I love this poem from Rilke: “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” I think about it a lot when I am working with my clients.  So often we have strong feelings of pain, jealousy, disgust or rage that seem like awful feelings.  In a way, those feelings are dragons.  They seem gnarly and evil, snarling at us to pay attention to them.  They also feel out of control and like they are causing havoc in our lives. But most of the time when one of these “dragons” come up for my clients, my response is “Great!”.  Usually the person has something that needs tending to.  And that’s where the princess that needs saving is.  Usually under all of the rage or pain, there is a helpless part of us that never got his or her needs met.  It might be a lonely 4 year old, or a scared 7 year old huddling in the corner. So what do we do with that little prince/ss inside that needs saving?  Save them of course! We are after all, the hero that we have been waiting for.  It can be a little tricky sometimes, but if we can see past the dragon of feelings, to the younger part that needs saving, we can often soothe that young part.  We can identify what that young part of us needs to hear and say it to them. So, you might be thinking “What do you mean Sefora? Talk to myself?  Isn’t that a bit strange or psychotic?” Yes, I do mean talk to yourself.  Although this doesn’t have to be out loud.  And if you think about it, you are probably already talking to yourself all the time–just critically.  I mean how many of us have internal dialogues that say “you really shouldn’t have done that” or “come on, get your act together!”  So I am suggesting that you try saying some nice things to yourself.  But specifically, saying something to the sweet, little, young, scared part of you the things that it needs to hear.  Examples are “I see you”, “you’re safe”, “you’re loved”, “you’re beautiful” etc…  It helps to actually imagine a young child you that really needs assurance. If you can soothe that part of yourself, then you really do become the knight in shining armor.  Over time, the need to have someone else save the day lessens as well. So go for it.  Be the roaring dragon, be the princess needing saving, and the prince all in one swoop! Read more »