This is Personal: Humanitarian Pilgrimage to the Border

I’m heading to the border. Please read if you’d like to know the details, and how you can help.

These are not ordinary times. 

Many of you already know me.  I am an adventurous spirit with an itch to travel, a license to practice as a counselor and consultant with quite a bit of experience working with people who are struggling from one kind of trauma or another. 

I am currently on a mission of the heart.  Though I am from the Midwest USA I live in Guadalajara among kindhearted and welcoming Mexicans.  Every time I tune in to the news and world events I am compelled to do something out of the ordinary.  So, in October I’m taking a bus from Hermosillo MX to Tucson, where I will do some talks on trauma and embodiment. Along the way, I hope to learn more about the people and the overall situation at the border, and the folks who are providing care to refugees.  

In my experience, those who serve others are often less dedicated to making sure their own needs are well met.  And since the bulk of the work I do now is with people in helping professions (clinicians, administrators, healers of various sorts), I plan to team up with an organization or two at the border where I can do some volunteer work with clinicians and/or people in service on the front lines who could be experiencing secondary trauma and/or in need of some personal support.  So far I am looking at Kino Border Initiative and No More Deaths.

For me, these past few years have been about getting myself positioned to contribute more to issues I am passionate about.  This trip to AZ is just now taking shape.  I am in communication with Kino Border Initiative with the intention of seeing how it would feel to team up with them as a longer-term partner.  Partnering with an organization like this would require me to travel, but I can also follow up via video conferencing if I start with a client who could benefit from subsequent sessions.

With the help of Kino Border Initiative, and other agencies that serve refugees I hope to offer my services free of charge to people who have been experiencing symptoms of PTSD, shock or burnout.  I have the tools, and I am equipped to just jump in and work.  Gratefully I find that with my tools, interacting with people who have experienced outrageous circumstances does not tend to impact me in ways that are overly stressful or overwhelming.

In this initial visit to Tucson, I will be taking as many opportunities as I can to speak to small groups about trauma. I believe that I can do these talks and offer my trauma therapy services on a volunteer basis if I can also sell some of my books, have a number of paid clients and paid gigs and possibly a series of hosts to count on and/or some orientation and/or rides from place to place to keep my expenses down.  So far, I have a few dear friends to see, some former clients and some professional contacts in the Tucson area who are helping me get the word out so that I can fund my trip. 

I am not averse to working hard, and I am not fussy about accommodations.  I know there is a lot of work to do, and I am ready to step up.  If I get the necessary support, I could see myself making the Tucson area a place I come on a regular basis.  As often as possible, while also taking care that I don’t over-commit or burn myself out.

Below I include the latest version of my itinerary.  It will change as the days go by and things firm up.

  • Oct 5 – Leave Guadalajara for Hermosillo
  • Oct 6 – Book Release Event at El Centro Zalzicán for Estar En Mi Cuerpo
  • Oct 7 – Go to Kino Beach, visit, and play with Friend/Publisher Mariana Ayon at Ban Pang Editorial
  • Oct 9 – Leave Hermosillo via bus, stopping in Nogales to cross the border.
  • Communication toward building long-term collaborative relationships continues with 3 agencies which serve refugees:
    • Kino Border Initiative
    • No More Deaths
    • The Florence Project
  • Oct 9 – Arrive in Tucson
  • Oct 10 – Visit Dear Friend from MO
  • Oct 11 – Visit Dear friend, have tea with a new friend
  • Oct 12 – Visit ranch of a friend I met in Ajijic, overnight there
  • October 13, Sol Center Yoga Studio – Speaking on attachment and early relational trauma.
  • Oct 13 – Meet new friend after talk at Sol Center
  • Rent a car and leave for Sahuarita: At Home With The Stars Astrology where I will spend three days and nights.
  • More visits with friends
  • Individual Sessions with Clients
  • Oct 17 – Leave for Temecula CA, where I will meet with Bengali family and talk some more about trauma.
  • Oct 19 – Return to Guadalajara

I can easily craft talks about trauma in very basic terms, and the importance of trauma-informed care.  I also can teach techniques for helping people who have just experienced a traumatic event to calm their nervous system down so they can think and attend to next steps. This can be learned by anybody for self use or helping others.

Summing it up, I am interested in providing appropriate, high-quality therapies, knowledge and techniques to people who might not otherwise get it.  For this initial trip, I hope to work for a day (volunteer with 7-8 individuals or families).  For future trips, longer (up to 3 days).  The kind of therapy I do is research-based, of the highest quality available for trauma.  A lot can be done in a session or two, and even more if follow-up sessions are arranged via video.  I will see English speaking service providers who are suffering physical symptoms that are likely due to secondary trauma and stress, or helpers who have diagnoses of PTSD/Trauma.  I would also be open to seeing non English speakers if I can have appropriate interpretive support.  Adequate support would necessarily be someone with a mental health background/pastoral experience.

If you have read this far, thank you.  If you feel so moved, please send me some words of encouragement, pass the word to people you know in Tucson and others who are concerned about the humanitarian crisis at the border.  I trust I will find just the right setting in which to plug in, but your well wishes and support mean a lot to me.  The border is calling me, and there are important people there I need to meet.

I will be providing as much pro bono work as I can.  But there may also be people who would like to schedule paid sessions with me.  That income will help subsidize my volunteer work, so if you know of anyone who might be interested, please pass the word.  You don’t even have to be local.  I offer EMDR Therapy via Internet, and I can receive payments via PayPal!  Or if you feel like you would like to make a monetary contribution, it could help me expand my reach and the amount of trauma work I am able to do.  I promise I would spend it wisely, always with the intention of maximizing my positive impact in the region and making a difference.  My expenses will include the following:

  • Bus fare and Air fare.
  • Meals while I’m on the road.
  • Missed work while I am traveling.
  • Car Rental (I hear that Turo is an excellent and cost-effective option).
  • Incidentals – small gifts and compensation for hosts, etc.

Toni Rahman is a trauma-informed practitioner, certified in EMDR, and an EMDRIA Approved Consultant, who can provide consultation toward EMDR certification.  She is also trained in Advanced CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release and Hypnosis.

Ode to the Mother

I am willing to remember what it feels like.

Wow.  So many of us are traveling the same path, though not realizing how others are quietly doing their own work that is so very similar to ours, right alongside us.

It was so lovely to see Trina Brunk drawing on her Paneurhythmy roots in her recent post, and this exquisite piece of music with her resonant, moving rendering.  I was listening to it this morning, wrapping my mind around the idea that for the past several decades I have been learning how to put words to how it feels to NOT feel/have this. 

I listened thinking first of the universal feeling of unbounded, uncontaminated mother love – when it does happen – and then I made the Earth Day connection.  (How ironic! Because it was the Earth connection I know – not the infant connection with my biological mother). 

Today it strikes me that increasingly, I have seen the importance of feeling what THIS does feel like, even though it is not strongly in my immediate memory.  And anger and resentment and fear have been blocks to reaching consistently for it (stemming from old feelings of unworthiness?).  Below is an affirmation set I wrote for a friend a week or so ago.  It was inspired somewhat by Trina’s Closer Than You Think system of clearing old trauma, but also by Theta Healing, The Work, and EFT:

  • I now release any feelings of unworthiness from all lifetimes past, present and future.
  • I am willing to release feelings of unworthiness.
  • I can allow myself the time I need to remember what it feels like to be completely worthy.
  • I allow myself to remember what it feels like to be completely worthy.
  • I am completely worthy.

What a glorious musical piece; what a glorious expression of YOU, Trina.  To support us all in feeling loved and worthy of this huge unconditional love.


Dear Diary

2/13/19  Thoughts Today

I went to visit my sister Tracy yesterday and while I was at her house I was really grateful to have her in town so I could just go to her house, sit on her bed and do what I wanted to do.  Yesterday I pulled my Spanish homework out of my bag and I just started reading.  She was on deadline, and she waved me to her room, told me to make myself comfortable.   She had a very comfortable bed and she also had some construction going on in her house. I was happy it was not my problem.   The landlord and her plumber were there and had the bathroom torn apart.  “The toilet is chupando agua,” I heard one of them say  (sucking water).  Maybe there is some kind of leak so they told her she can’t use it until it’s fixed.  They told her she could go downstairs and use the one in the apartment that is being renovated on the ground level. 

I was noticing some feelings: Admiration and also a little envy.  Tracy’s house is amazing. She has started to develop some really healthy routines and self-care strategies.  She has developed what seem to be some really healthy friendships in her neighborhood and she kind of “lights up” when she talks about them.  She brought me some nettle tea, I ate some grapefruit I had packed in my bag, and when she was able to take a break, she invited me to the kitchen so we could prepare some lunch.  She was so excited.  I noticed that when I was trying to talk to her I was having trouble finding my words.  I was stumbling, groping, grasping.  Place names.  People names.  They just weren’t coming.  And I wanted to share with her so much.  I wanted to be big and social and important like her.  And I also noticed that she was very attentive and very (as usual) very good at advocating for herself (a bit differently  this time, maybe), but really attuning to me and demonstrating her care and loyalty to me, regardless of my inability to express myself as fluidly as her. 

Digesting later, what that experience was like, I noticed some negative thought patterns that come up and tell me that she’s doing it better, that I should be different – that I’m behind.  All those things definitely irrational today (relics from her being 6 when I was 2, probably).  But they helped me identify the feelings.

When I give such negative thought patterns my time and attention I can see that I’m exactly where I should be.  I have so so so much support: human support, economic support, emotional support, physical support, divine support.  I have what I need and I have permission to ask for more.

I talk to myself gently: My house is simple and uncluttered because visually I need that.  My life is spacious because that is what I’m asking for.  My systems are still under construction.  I’m still developing systems because my whole structure is rearranging – with my diet – requiring things that are soft to eat.  Exploring – feeling my way through that whole process and having extra appointments to support the physical reconstruction and anatomical adjustments that are being made to correct my bite.  I’m grateful for exactly where I am right now.  There are so many things I’m looking forward to and the project I’m working on right now (which may not look that exciting; that doesn’t vibrate at such a social level), but is mine to do right now: fixing my bite so that I’m not in pain all the time!  And that is a project that has an end point to it.  I will be completing those physical things – the re-patterning of my muscle memory.  The fixing of my molars so that I can eat without pain and the application of my braces so that my teeth actually look like they have been cared for and that I have the means to take care of myself well.  And maybe even opening up my avenue of expression so that I can more easily and fluidly and confidently express my thoughts and ideas.

I think about why this was not taken care of before, in the “developed” United States, where I grew up and lived for so long.  More feelings.  And understanding.  Compassion for myself and for my parents.  I mean, how could I have taken care of all of this in the US?  A single mom with no insurance for dental care?  Making barely enough to get by?  How could my parents have taken care of this with nine children, aversion to credit and boot-strap values?  They couldn’t have.  And I couldn’t have while I was raising children either.  But that’s another topic.  That is what I’m thinking about today.

Ripple Effect in My Body

I feel like I have been following a trail of breadcrumbs to the diagnosis of TMD or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, which I received with a huge sense of relief in November.  I followed one un-ignorable breadcrumb to another: the inability to chew because of pain and sensitivity, months and even years after getting dental work on several molars; developing what seemed like tendonitis in my right arm; chronic, never abating pain in the neck; one chronically constricted muscle along the right margin of my spine; the inability to sit for very long before experiencing back pain; difficulty standing without slumping.  My massage therapist and others had mentioned mouth guards, and how well they worked for a lot of people.  My chiropractor noticed that the pattern of lock-up I experience seemed to originate somewhere around my right neck/shoulder.  My CranioSacral therapist said that there was an irritated nerve in my molar, but that the tooth was healthy enough.  An iridologist in Missouri said that there was something significant going on in my jaw/shoulder area.  I clearly had a problem.  Now the breadcrumbs had finally led me to a solution.

Since I’ve been seeing a specialist recommended by my dentist, and have been wearing a mouth guard, I have been slowly recognizing that for many years I had been unconsciously clenching – not just in my jaw, and jutting it forward, but other places in my body as well.  Little by little I bring consciousness to places in my body where I had been unknowingly tightening my muscles.  And I am learning, slowly, how to direct my attention toward those places with love and care.  And even more slowly, I am learning what it feels like when I am truly relaxed.  As I do, the pain is going away as if by magic. 

I have been instructed to wear my mouth guard night and day.  Wearing it during the night was helping, but not enough.  Dr. Citlali, my specialist, explained that my jaw is so habituated to being in a forward position, that I will need some time to train it to be where it is supposed to be.  After having the guard and using it night and day (when I’m not eating), when I take it out, I notice that my teeth come together differently.  Now it feels a little odd because it will take a while for me to get used to having it in the right place after having it forward all these years (maybe +50?).

This makes me think about how that misalignment must have been impacting my teeth.  When I was always chewing using my molars in a way that they were not designed to be used, with the jaw jutted forward, they just didn’t line up right, which caused undue wear and tear on them.  They served me as best they could under the circumstances, but with time, they wore down, chipped and cracked.  Now I understand why I have always needed so much dental work on my molars.  Before this treatment is said and done, I’m going to need to raise the height of the molars themselves because form follows function; my teeth have changed to accommodate my jaw movement patterns over time.  As a result of my jaw being relaxed and in the right place, many muscles (that I had no idea I was clenching) begin to relax.  This one little thing has had an impact throughout my entire body. 

The good news is that in response to the treatment (ongoing work with Dr. Citlali via the mouth guard) my body is relaxing and settling into its new normal.  I am noticing a ripple effect.  My arm (I couldn’t use that arm without pain) is back to normal.  My back feels somewhat improved, but it’s all the way back there and I still can’t really tell for sure.  The brittle feeling I was having in my feet and ankles is gone, and I sense my feet as newly supple and responsive to the demands I put on them.

With ongoing care scheduled (I have an appointment with the kinesiologist and two massages with my favorite massage therapist in the next couple weeks), I hope to bring even more awareness to those places so that my new normal will be relaxed, stronger and even more resilient than before. 

With this kind of care, education and support, I can learn to notice when I am clenching or drawing in, and anytime I tune in, I will more easily and automatically be able to return to a healthy, relaxed state. 

Through my healing process, I am bringing loving, conscious attention to obviously affected places, and my body in general, and am definitely feeling results.  Over the years, my legs did not really seem to be part of me, and it felt precarious to move through life in a fluid and grounded way.  By comparison, I can look back at times when it felt as though I was walking on tree stumps.  What I experience now is so much more fluid and integrated.  Like my right leg – my shins – my heels.  They are now parts of me.  I walk with more connectedness/awareness, more fully inhabiting my feet and lower legs. 

So, the journey continues.  I am super excited about this, and I am interested to see what happens next!

Anxiety as a Substitute for Grief

Anxiety and Repetitive Repeating/Looping Neurotic Thoughts.

These are coping mechanisms designed to protect you from pain – Deep. Terrifying. Buried. Pain.  So it’s really a very adaptive coping mechanism whenever you’re a child and you don’t have a parent or older mentor you know you can go to for help or support.  Whenever you are a small one, dealing with the pain of facing the world and your emotions is just too much to do alone, when you don’t have adequate support.  But as adults, we can begin to see that these repetitive/looping thoughts as they really are when we are all grown up.  They are just lies.  With just a little guidance, we can do the work of exhuming these buried hurt feelings and letting ourselves put words to them.  Then they can become harmless stories.  By reconstructing the stories, we can gather all the pieces together in one place, so it’s no longer in the shadow, and when it’s not in the shadow, it’s not so scary anymore.   Feeling grief is work, but it’s quite do-able for an adult.

You already have what it takes to parent yourself well.  Check out my online course if you’d like more information on how to parent yourself as an adult.

Difficult Women – Book Review

Roxane Gay’s title, Difficult Women, speaks to any woman who has felt difficult to love.  I had long since owned that title and studied the qualities that made me “difficult” in relationships.  I had searched tirelessly to identify the conditions to which I might attribute this unfortunate state of affairs.  So when my sister, the day before her wedding, gifted me this book and began to explain her intention, maybe for fear that I would feel labeled or defensive, I waved her off.  Thank you!  I told her.  I love it already.  Gay’s writing pulled me in from the very first paragraph.  Her voice captures all the ways women might be considered difficult in intimate relationships yet at the same time looks deeper at who they are and why.  We come out of this reading experience so much richer for having explored these stories with her.  They are fiction – products of Gay’s imagination.  But for me, each is a window into a rich and ornate chamber of its author’s mind.  This book leaves me so much richer, with a stronger sense of how a woman might be loved well, even if temporarily.  It leaves me with a broader vision of how a woman can allow her difficult self to be loved and why that might add value to her life.  It leaves me with a clearer personal understanding of the complexity of myself, love and relationship and the natural grit and beauty of coupling in its infinite forms.

And I feel a little less difficult after having read this book.

 

Other books by Roxane Gay I plan to read:

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

An Untamed State

Bad Feminist

Ayiti

& several comic books in Marvel’s Black Panther: World of Wakanda series

 

“I vigorously encourage women and people of color to be ambitious, to want and work for every damn thing they can dream of. We’re allowed to want, nakedly, as long as we’re willing to put in the proverbial work….I am ambitious because I love what I do, not simply for ambition’s sake. Ambition is what allows me to take creative risks and try things I never thought I could do. Ambition makes me a better thinker and writer. Ambition makes me.”                       — Roxane Gay

Horse Therapy – Living Without Defenses

Three weeks ago I had a Horse Therapy session with Tonya Crady in Festus MO.  It took some coaxing for me to do it, but I finally agreed, having been called in many ways to find out more about this mysterious healing modality.  This was my chance.  I knew Tonya, and I knew she was good people.  The therapy itself gave me plenty to chew on, with Tonya’s support in assigning meaning to each of her three beautiful horses and seeing what they did when they encountered me.  During the session, Tonya gave me a task to complete and watched how I went about doing it, and took pictures of me throughout the session.  She also instructed me to pay attention to the other animals that showed up in my life on the day of the therapy, during the therapy and afterwards.  Days after the therapy we went through the pictures she had taken, which told me a whole lot about myself, what I’m up to on a social and emotional level, and a whole lot of other things I could have never learned in traditional psychotherapy.  Today I am arriving at some very exciting new realizations about defenses I have used against intimacy and what the Universe is trying to tell me about it.

The therapy session itself was kind of puzzling.  Trying to figure out what it all meant, trying to do it “right,” trying to do it efficiently, as my mom was kind enough to wait for me in the car while I did it, circumstances as they were.  We were there anyway, she encouraged me to do it, so I did.  After it was over, we all got into Tonya’s jeep and she proceeded to drive us back to her house where Mom’s car was.  It had gotten quite dark and when we were about halfway to Tonya’s house we all saw the possum with his gleaming eyes staring us down, there in the middle of the road.  Tonya slowed down to a crawl in her jeep, assuming that the creature would run and save itself, but when we got to where the animal was, we heard a sickening bump as the vehicle struck the animal.  Or did the animal strike the vehicle?  Tonya looked at me with an agonized grimace.  It had not been her intention to kill the little guy.  During the next several days, more dead possums showed up along with Skunk and Armadillo. Armadillo is said to represent armoring as a defense.  And Skunk also showed up representing defensiveness.  They all showed up as carrion, though.

What I’m coming to believe is that this phase of my life is about living without defenses.  The primary defense that was put on the chopping block that night was Possum, followed by Skunk and Armadillo.

Possum freezes, plays dead.  His nervous system shuts down so that his predator thinks he’s dead (or gone), and often the predator will lose interest and leave him alone long enough for him to escape.  Freezing, playing dead, shutting down until the danger is gone, and then leaving when the coast is clear is exactly what I learned to do, watching my sister Tracy’s attempts at independent thought, questioning authority, or fighting for her rights in the family, which brought a whole lot of noise and resistance from our parents, and sometimes even what seemed to me like violence.  It all felt like too much.  Individuating seemed like something I, personally, would never be able to pull off, being 4 years younger and so much smaller, so I avoided all that and did my best to get along.  I had defenses at my disposal, like stinking up the place with stinging criticism or an unflattering “truth” when the opportunity presented itself or if backed into a corner.  And for sure I armored myself to the hilt.

This might explain why I was so shy and felt so generally unsafe to be playful or controversial or vulnerable around groups of people.  Instead I was serious and hardworking.  I was “the good one.”  I listened carefully and did what I could to offer support.

This also might explain why I am affected the way I am when a loved one escapes injury or experiences a close call – with my daughters in particular.  While talking to Tracy yesterday I was explaining how when my oldest daughter told me about a close call she’d had, and how thankful she was to be safe, I noticed that the image of the disaster she escaped was still stronger than the information I got with my eyes when I saw her, all intact and smiling afterwards (more than two weeks ago).

I don’t have much in the way of childhood memories, but I get a strong sense that when we were younger, and Tracy was being threatened with violence and when there was a lot of noise and angry discussion going on, I must have been terrified for her safety and mine, and probably dissociated, and didn’t ever quite recover from that.  Unlike Tracy, who was duking her way out, knowing what she wanted, and believing that she could cause a ruckus and still have a family and a home afterwards, she moved through the normal cycles of discomfort, vocalizing her discomfort, getting various reactions from our parents; sometimes getting her way and sometimes not.  In any case, she didn’t learn that resistance was futile, as I did.  She could feel the rewards of her small victories, which at my age probably didn’t make much sense to me, whether it was fighting to be able to listen to a popular radio station, watch a TV program, stay out an hour later with friends or get an allowance.

Through Horse Therapy, I learned that I can get what I want and need, I am way more powerful than I ever imagined, and I have not only adoration, but also support and cooperation from those around me.  What is required of me is to believe in my power and worth and ask for what I want.

Here are the other animals that showed up:

The support Tonya received to help her prepare for the session and set the foundation for the session:

  • Barn Swallows – sun rays and playfulness; showering home with love and protection
  • Frog – connects us with world of emotions; supports us in time of change
  • Turtle (with missing foot) – take it slow. Be gentle.  Abundant wisdom.
  • Groundhog – Ability to watch out for danger and move to safety; family, community.

The support Tonya received during the session:

  • Fly – abrupt change regarding lies, gossip, dirty; impurities

The support I received to help me prepare for the session and set the foundation for the session:

  • Deer (in a large group with babies) – Sensitivity, intuition, gentleness; fertility

The support I received during the session:

  • Lightning bugs – Illumination

During the night after the session, I spent some time lying in the bathroom floor with cramps.  I processed some old memories about an ongoing trauma from my late teens having to do with my first husband and how our relationship began.

The support I received after the session for processing and release:

  • Armadillo – helps you define your space; armoring
  • Skunk – defense mechanism; prudence, valor, awareness
  • Possum – protects itself by dissociating, playing dead, becoming immobile

My old, automatic defenses are useless to me now, they don’t really protect me.  I can’t armor myself, cause a big stink or play dead anymore if I want to get what I really want, which is deep and rewarding closeness with other people.  I release the need to use these defenses any longer.  I allow myself to move through life in my power, using my voice to communicate with others about who I am, what I want, and what I need.

The support I received even later, for processing and release:

  • Pooping Hawk – awareness; sharp eyesight. Release.

The support I received even later, for processing and release:

  • Pooping Squirrel – Don’t be so serious; have more fun. Release.
  • Baby bunny – fertility, innocence.

Another important thing to note is that the session was on Saturday, two days after the full moon.  Lots of planets were retrograde.  We were still in the very powerful activation of release, with a need to slow down and just be where we were.  All of this served to kick up what had been in the shadow, so that it could be released.

Animals that have visited since:

  • Groundhog – watch out for danger, boundaries, and hard work; helps us bring up stuff to work on
  • More squirrels – fun, playfulness
  • Cricket – cheerfulness, good luck
  • Grasshopper – good Luck. Trust your inner voice. Take a leap of faith and jump forward without fear. This has to do with change on a larger scale, and has to do with how you perceive myself.  You are taking the right steps to move forward in your current situation. Go ahead and move forward, to get past what is hindering you.
  • Blue heron – immerse yourself in the world of feelings and look for your own truths.  If you only ever look at yourself in a negative frame of mind, you never really understand your true potential or see the opportunities that come your way.  Heron tells us that we need to really reflect on our feelings and get to know who we are intimately to find our true calling in life. He tells us to claim responsibility and face the enemy that lives inside us all.    Sometimes he wants us to find balance with our truths inside, work on our inner weaknesses and develop the inner strengths we possess so that we really own our spirituality.
  • Deer – sensitivity, intuition, gentleness; fertility
  • Turkey (maybe) – a spirit animal closely associated with honoring nature and the Earth. Symbol of abundance, this totem animal encourages us to honor our sources of nourishment, whether they are physical, emotional or spiritual. The turkey reminds us to develop a harmonious relationship with the land and our environment and consider them as foundations to our well-being and sustenance. The Turkey totem is a powerful guide to unlocking the fullness of life and feeling content with what we have instead of accumulating material belongings to seek happiness.
  • Cardinal – in this case, cardinal symbolism is reminding you to be clearer with your intentions. Moreover, setting a clear and insightful goal for yourself will accomplish everything you are asking for and more. The key is to focus and set your intentions clearly to expedite matters.
  • Hummingbird – lightness of being, swiftness, independence, courage, sensitivity, determination, love, beauty, endurance, wisdom, vitality, hope, and enjoyment of life.
  • Owl – intuition, transition, wisdom, silence, observation, quick wit, independence, power, intelligence, and protection. Prophecy and wisdom.

You can find Tonya Crady here.  Drop her a line if you want to set up an appointment.

Meet Mariana

Mariana is my Spanish teacher, my friend, my translator and now my publisher.  Here she describes her publishing house, Ban Pang – Casa de Harina Editorial.

Thanks to Mariana, my book is going to be available to speakers of Spanish anywhere in the world.  Being In My Body (Estar en mi Cuerpo) is now available in Spanish as a PDF.  Read more about the book here.  You can get your copy here.  By August 18 it will also be available in paperback!

Life in the Fast Lane

The past several weeks, since I left Mexico in June, have been rather intense but 100% blessed and good.  Maybe I should just say that change is in the air, and I am going full steam in that direction.  I have been in Kalispell Montana, re-taking EMDR 1&2.  I stayed 6 days with a family who put me up in their pop-up camper, out back, took me in as family, shuttled me to and from class, and made sure I got a chance to visit Glacier National Forest and connect with their community in Kalispell.  Prior to completing this course, post re-training was a big blank, because I knew not what training would be like, or how these people would feel to me, or what the next steps would be.  I have a better idea of that now, and all lights seem to be green for me as I move forward.  As I have time to attend to it, I plan to complete my consultant status, which will involve building more of a professional relationship with the trainer, Roy Kiessling, and then communicating with him that I am interested in becoming a trainer (which I already have, but he’s a very busy guy and the time has to be right, and there are still things I need to do before I’m ready).  I absolutely love his approach, his style, and the content and organization of his training.  It is as different as night and day when compared to Francine Shapiro’s approach, and I heard so many stories from the other trainers about how it had also been difficult for them to feel supported and/or taken in by the larger, overarching EMDR organization given the relative rigidity and sterile feel of Shapiro’s style.

Sooooo, I will finish out my visit in Missouri, which will include my daughter’s and granddaughter’s birthday, watching my daughter and her partner as they turn their school bus into a tiny home that they will live in this winter, and as they move equipment and raw materials into some kind of a studio space in downtown Columbia; walk through my other daughter’s house since she has already left for Cyprus, and is gallivanting around in Portugal and will soon be in Morocco and Rome before finding a place to live in Cyprus!  I might squeeze some sessions in there, and some quality visits with family and people I consider friends.  And then back to Mexico, where I am committed to doing at least a month of intensive Spanish lessons.

Although the printing of my book seems to be delayed, I’m not at all worried about it.  There has just been so much movement in my life, all of which has been grace-filled and obviously in flow, that I know this timing is in divine order.

I envision my new life in which I am involved as a trainer in regular (maybe quarterly) trainings where I show up and teach and get paid by a well-run organization that takes care of the other myriad details.  I envision myself having consultees on a regular basis, and becoming a better and even more effective EMDR therapist.  I see myself feeling more and more comfortable in front of groups, knowing that I will have exactly the right words and experience, and that my clients and students will be enriched by this amazing modality, and grateful and empowered.

Whew.  I gotta be honest, I will not be bored if I just have a day to sleep in, to read, and not have a single appointment.  There are tons of details packed into this next three weeks, and I pledge to take it one day at a time.  Grateful for the richness of life.

I received some really great EMDR therapy during training, from a young man who was attending as a student in our 5-day training.  It was the most profound therapy I’ve ever had, and I’m still processing.

So at the moment I’m heading back to Columbia MO, where I will be for the next three weeks or so.  My sister Tami Brunk, who was bit in the ear by a brown recluse spider is okay, but it’s been a difficult journey.  She has had to postpone her travels to the Yucatan, where she is getting ready to launch a new phase of her life.  My other sister, Tracy Barnett, will be headed back to Mexico about the same time I am.  She’s babysitting my granddaughter while my daughter is packing all her stuff and getting out of her apartment before her lease is up in the next couple days.  My daughter and granddaughter will be spending 10 days in Portland with my other sister, Trina Brunk.

Tracy, my mom and I went to visit my brother, and we stayed at his home from Thursday through Sunday morning right before I left for Montana.  It was a priceless though intense several days, and we’re all glad, of course, to have had that opportunity to connect with him and his family.  He’s great, as he tells it.  His family is struggling.  And there is a lot of grace and love in that home as he navigates these last days/weeks/months/years? of his life, living it all to the fullest with a Stage 4 Cancer Diagnosis (as of 3 years ago).  We played some pinochle, we told some stories.  Mom asked him for his advice on some things she needs to handle on the farm that my dad would have helped her with if he were still around.  My step-nephew forged a blade out of a huge nail, and my brother was working on a vest of chain mail he was crafting with his step-son.  Our being there, obviously, kept their family from having their normal intimate moments, and taxed my sister-in-law, and a big part of this visit was her coming to us for support in telling the rest of the family that overnights were not going to be possible anymore.  Since we have such an enormous family, and lots of little ones, they have decided to protect their remaining days together “as if they were running a hospital,” as their pastor advised.  The rest of the family will have to observe visiting hours and restrict their visits to day trips, and/or find accommodations nearby.  The time they have left is truly precious, and should not be stressed by the work involved in hosting guests.  We are all so grateful for her willingness to approach this in her own way, and to give us this opportunity to see Scott as he faces this stage of his life.

So it has been truly intense, with the son of my youngest sister having a coming of age ceremony and my youngest daughter having a going-away camping Kaboodle at my mother’s farm, a niece adjusting to life with a newly adopted infant and navigating all those legal processes, etc, etc, etc.

I am still a bit dizzy from all that.  But absolutely grateful.  This is what having a close-knit big family looks like. ?  It can be exhausting at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am wishing you a fun and fulfilling rest of your summer.

Te amo mucho,

Toni

Photo Shoot – Being In My Body (Estar En Mi Cuerpo)

This is what emotional work can look like!

This past couple days has been so interesting, as I wrestle with my body’s terror about being the center of attention and knee-jerk reactions to staying present in situations where resources are coming from others to me, specifically.  It’s really stretching my mind and my understanding and challenges the wiring of my brain.  Not always fun, and not always comfortable, but always held in love and gentleness and so much kindness and creativity.

Hope you like my photo collection!  Watch for more photos from the shoot which will be appearing on Facebook and other forms of social media over the next couple months.  They will make up the launch for Estar En Mi Cuerpo, but they will be professional photographs by Kitzia, who I am sure you are going to love.  For those of you who don’t know, Estar En Mi Cuerpo is the Spanish title for Being In My Body, What You Might Not Have Known About Trauma, Dissociation, & The Brain.  The other women in the photos are so dear to my heart – my translator, Mariana and her sister, Margarita.

Margarita, setting the tone for Day 1

Mariana, Shoot Director, Translator and Publisher

Kitzia, Photographer

Kitzia, Mariana, Margarita, at Bicycle Snack Station

Bicycle wheel table and reading the coffee grounds

Juice and coffee stop

Kitzia loves this pup

Photograph the photographer – What a love

It just doesn’t get any sweeter than this.

Aren’t I photogenic?

The Crew – Day 2