Lessons learned Soulwork Transitions & Transformations

Soothing the Little One Inside

Do you have a little one inside you?
Does she feel scared, lonely, or worried even though things are generally ok?

Tomorrow is my birthday, so I’m remembering being that little one… so dependent in all ways.

How can we give ourselves what we needed most, and did not get enough of?

This spring I shared Spark Story at my local church in Suquamish. Being active in local community for 25+ years, I hoped for a big turnout. Despite a few glitches with inviting people, and still learning how to do this, 24 souls attended. It was lovely!

Yet I was disappointed — I did not fill the house.

spark-story-scared-baby-selfMy littlest inner child took it very personally. She felt unloved, alone, isolated. Afraid that she doesn’t really matter to people. Or they would have shown up, right?

She believes Love = people being there.

My mind knows there are many ‘reasons’ people do or don’t show up. Most have little to do with me.

But these old feelings persisted below the surface. I worked with them, felt them, yet they didn’t resolve. I stopped reaching out to set up new gigs. Spark Story is very vulnerable work, and it felt too exposed.

Ironically, Spark Story is all about meeting our deepest fears, and calming them with love. It was not working! Yet.

The healing epiphany came in a whoosh.

At one of my women’s circles, meeting outdoors, we heard a baby cry – a good long wail. One woman spoke. “I’m not listening to my inner child.”

I felt tears rising. A sudden visceral memory of being locked up in a closet at a very young age.

I’d been crying, hard. Our babysitter Snooky said, “I’ll give you something to cry about,” locking me in for hours.

While not extreme, this trauma created a deep cellular memory. A belief: that vulnerability leads to punishment. If I express my feelings, I’ll be alone, excluded, left out.

The moment I fully acknowledged her, gave her love, hugs, compassion and understanding, she relaxed.

Spark-Story-hugging-selfSince then I’ve felt a new whoosh of energy and renewal, reaching out, taking risks, showing up for what I love most.

I wish the same for you.

Have you ever felt this way?

That even though you’re all grown up, you still hold some crusty old beliefs.

All of us have experienced some wounding. All of us still carry some of these old stories. It does not mean we are mentally ill or emotionally stunted.  Therapy may be beneficial, but it’s not the only way to grow into a deeper relationship with your inner world.

I believe that any of us can listen to that little one, and love her.

Take a moment to connect to your little one:

  • Take a deep breath into the center of your body.
  • Remember how you began: very small, very tender, very sweet and completely vulnerable.
  • Notice any pangs of sensation in this tender place. Be open and curious to what the little one wants to share with you.
  • With your next breath, send pure unconditional love to that little one inside you. Let her know that it’s going to be OK. Whisper that she is truly precious just as she is.
  • Keep breathing love.
  • Did you feel a slight relaxing, a letting go?

Please let me know how it goes with her :)))

With love to your inner one,


Inspiration Everywhere Lessons learned

Five Secrets to Remember when Sh*t Happens

It’s nearly 2017. With all that’s happening in the world, things can sometimes feel unbearable. What can we do? Remember these Five Secret Ways of the Heart.

  1. Remember to Breathe, or Die

angry-pooIn moments of stress or fear or anxiety, or when people act like total ______, when everything seems too much or goes wrong (it’s probably not that bad compared to the whole range of human struggles, but feels horrible nonetheless) let us remember to pause, and breathe deep. Even better? A good long sigh. Go ahead, let one out now: “Ahhhhhh…” Feel better?
Breathing is easy. Cheaper than drugs, alcohol or therapy. But so damn hard to remember.

  1. Remember: Emotions are like Pizza

Poop_-pizza-EmojiAfter breathing, may we remember that strong feelings are messengers. Something needs our attention. Like a pizza delivery guy knocking on the door. How can we respond?

  • Go hide in the closet and pray he’ll go away
  • Peek out, decide he looks like a crazy person, and slam the door in his face
  • Invite him in, to hang out in the living room for hours and hours and hours
  • Run away with him, leaving everyone at home to fend for themselves

May we remember instead to acknowledge the feeling, and open it up, like a mysterious box of pizza. Get curious. Smell it. Taste it. Digest it. Use the info. And poop out what you don’t need.

  1. Remember: You don’t have to do it Right

sad-pooMany of us walk around with little haters inside us, telling us we are pieces of shite. They’re just waiting for the right moment to catch us off guard and say, “See, there you go again, ___________. Didn’t get it right. Again. You never will. I wonder if you even deserve to live.”

May we remember to breathe and say to the haters, “Yup, I’m a Human. Again. An imperfect, totally loveable human being, just as I am.” That usually hushes them up. Until next time.

  1. Remember to Laugh

Poop_EmojiThe whole world is weird, but who’s the funniest comedian you know? You. So let’s remember to smile at the one who goofs up regularly, slips on social banana peels, and argues with people you love (but only about really important things like how to drive or load the dishwasher).

  1. Remember Love, dang it

LOVE-BLOW-KISS-pooAlthough we are the center of the universe, and all things ‘should’ revolve around our world view and preferences, let us remember that others have other priorities, other ways of doing things.

Let us remember that we too want everything to go our way, so we’re not all that different, really.

May we remember tolerance and empathy, even for those who have none, which is pretty much the same as love, only harder.

So let’s remember to Love, because without that, we’re totally effed.

With Love from my Heart,

Download this post as a PDF to share: Five Secrets to Remember When Sh*i Happens 2016

Authentic Action Lessons learned Listening

What I learned at Summer Spark Camp

Last week girls a gaggle of 8-11 year old girls descended on our property for our annual Summer Spark Day Camp.

I learned as much – or more – about Spark than the kids. Not by leading, but by following.

The intention is to prepare preteen girls for the social-emotional challenges that can pop up like scary clowns in early adolescence. For example: Looking in the mirror, not liking what we see. Saying rotten things to ourselves. Trying to get approval from folks who may never give it. Watching our friendships mysteriously go “poof.”

These are real topics that girls in my teen circles talk about. If we can’t spare them the hardships of the road, can we give them tools to negotiate the terrain? Can we guide them to their core, so they won’t forget how sweet, beautiful and powerful they are?

My copilot Katherine Wieseman and I devised a sequence of themes, activities and movement games to connect the girls to their inner value (Spark) and to each other. We planned to make hula hoops, practice communication with games and collaborate on a project of their choosing.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”2476″ width=”250″ autoHeight=”true” align=”right”]On Day One the girls got so creative during snack time that we abandoned other plans.

After grazing on strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, apples and snow peas in our garden, they begged: “Can we make fruit salad?”

An hour later, we shared a gorgeous array of dishes made entirely by them. Surprise: basil with a dusting of sugar is excellent! Who knew?

The day was focused, playful, smiling, laughing, experimental, productive, problem solving. But it had little to do with our ideas, other than a few movement games Katherine led us in.

On Day Two we went to the beach. My favorite moment was crouching in wonder at the colors and textures of life in a square foot of tide pool. Calloway led me there, to catch crabs to stay in her Crab Hotel made from a clam shell.

On Day Three we brainstormed project ideas on a giant pad. “Let’s bake pies with the fruit! Let’s make art! A treasure hunt!” We helped them negotiate and happily blend ideas to create an event for parents and siblings the last day of camp.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”2483″ align=”left” width=”275″ autoHeight=”true”] On Day Four they devised the official Spark Olympics Treasure Hunt. They wrote rhyming clues to guide our guests to places we explored at camp: the Spring, the Greenhouse, the Blueberry Patch, the Apple Orchard, the Wheelbarrow, and my husband’s Sculpture Garden, aka Junk Pile. Each place had an activity, so parents could try out our games.

On Day Five we scurried like a synchronized team of happy ants, making fresh juices, testing the Spark Olympics before our guests arrived.

We asked them for one word for how they felt. “Excited! Happy! Ready!”

The event was beautiful, epic. Though our plans went by the wayside, the intention held: to build core confidence through the creative joys of collaboration. And it was done almost by magic, without trying.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”2482″ align=”right” width=”300″ autoHeight=”true”]What did I learn? That the real juice of learning happens when we trust the moment. Bits of what we know – or want to know – can simply flow between us, lifted by smiles and laughter.

Creativity is more than making art or music. It’s using what we have (fruit, the land, each other) to make something beautiful and useful.

This feels good, like evolution. And it will live on in memory, feeding us long after the last piece of pie is gone.

Everyday Spark Lessons learned

Day 14: PlateSpinner strikes again!

So apparently, I’m human.

I can’t always execute all of my high-falutin’ aspirations. Like to make a video for 30 days leading up to Dec 21, 2012. Real life gets busy. Even if my Spark loves to create, to express.

That grand idea came from my PlateSpinner persona. He spins a bunch of plates in the air until he can’t do it anymore, then he drops them. He’s got the seductive smile of a TV game show host, he’s a showman, a performer and a multi-tasker. Thinks he can do it all.

I know him very well. But I don’t always have the wisdom to calm him down.

So the ongoing question to ask my Spark: how can I let him do his thing without running me ragged? How can I allow that creative impulse, without the grandiose schemes that sound good at the time, but are really too much to implement?

The bigger question: how to balance the needs of my Spark, which is simple (love, love, love) and all my inner characters (make money, keep things tidy, keep learning, make new friends and keep the old, do what I say I will do, go out exploring, tell stories, make visionary artwork, help others grow into themselves, go dancing, strut my stuff?)

What I need is an inner leader, a manager, a chairman of the board. Queen of my domain.

Someone I can trust to rule, not with an iron hand, as with steely discipline I’ve leaned on in the past, but to check in with. Someone I can ask, hey, is this something we can ALL agree to?

I know she’s in here, just waiting to be asked.

Everyday Spark Lessons learned Singing Spark

30 Days of Spark: Day 3, A Song for the Suffering

On Day 2 of this video series, Thanksgiving, I felt so in love with my life: my husband, the beauty of where we live, the woods, the mushrooms I harvested, even the weeds.

And then I woke up. To a pain in my ankle so sharp I could barely hobble home.

I sat on the couch icing my foot, realizing I’d left something out of the picture: the very real suffering in the world.

Pain is a great teacher. To be in the moment. To breathe. To appreciate what is.

If you’ve ever experienced pain, suffering, feeling loss or discouraged, there’s a spontaneous improv song here for you.

Love, love, love.

Authentic Action Lessons learned

How self-awareness opens stuck doors

Like many women, I long to amplify my voice, to make a difference. That’s why I’m in Tara Mohr’s PlayingBig course. Yet there’s another part of me that doesn’t like it one bit.

I made this video – and lullaby – for any of you with a similar Pushme-Pullyou thing going on. One part is stretching and growing, while another part is kicking and screaming.

A few weeks ago I presented “SparkStorySong” at an Ignite event for 150+ people. While slides of me as a baby and a gawky kid were projected on a movie screen, I sang and told the story of how my Spark of the divine got covered up, and how I learned to know and love all my inner “layers” so I could sing again.

The crowd loved it. Many people told me how touched they were, how they felt the same way.

I was thrilled and filled with plans. Pitching more presentations. Scheduling and creating programs on how to access inner characters, to transform destructive energies into forces for good. But over the next days and weeks, my energy dropped. I was ineffective. I had trouble with time management, mood swings and even getting out of bed. For someone who teaches inner awareness, I had to laugh — and cry — at the irony!

What really worked was noticing how my characters showed up to try and protect me, to keep me small and safe. By playing bigger, I had triggered my deepest character, a little baby who isn’t quite ready for prime time. Knowing her, I could work with her, see her, give her what she needs. Sing her a lullaby. Tell her it’s going to be all right. It’s in the video.

Now I’m back in the flow, creating more effectively. I wish the same for you.


A Creative Life Authentic Action Lessons learned

How to move through a deep, dark forest of Questions

I love big, important questions: What’s it all about? Why am I here? What is the shape and color of what I’m supposed to be giving, sharing, doing? How shall I spend these precious moments?

Living in America in a time of vast cultural and economic wealth, there’s a downside of too many choices. Like 500 varieties of shampoo at the store, I sometimes face my options. And go numb.

As a multi-creative plate-spinner, I can be paralyzed by choice. A year ago I longed to find a ‘container’ that could carry the full range of what I love: spirit work, singing, writing, drawing, video, dance. I decided to teach what I’ve learned navigating the inner realm, and to serve the Spark within us all.

The many forms of communication and expression I’ve cultivated do serve in this way, to reach people on many different levels. However, a new teaching practice (business) requires vast amounts of energy. Creating, planning, scheduling, networking, teaching, marketing, speaking, etc.

Some days, it’s fine. Other days, I notice what I’ve given up: growing and tending my own creative children. And soon I’m in the Land of Exhausting Questions:

Why am I doing this, and not creating? Shouldn’t I just write real songs, collaborate, start a singing career, in midlife? Work on that multimedia graphic e-book I started last year? Finish Book II of my fantasy series, Twins of Tessar? What about that paranormal memoir, still in first draft? And that blog series combining episodes of my story with useful tools, a book done by the end of the year?

Questioning. Overwhelmed. Stuck.

It’s a familiar feeling. An addiction, perhaps. One that keeps me stalled, and safe.

[blockquote align=”center”]At the heart of it, is my adorable little ego’s desire to know the ‘Right’ answer. To not make mistakes. To avoid painful detours and back alleys. To be certain.[/blockquote]

But to be human, and creating, is not about certainty. It’s about remaining open, flexible, fluid, and MOVING. Even if you’re sitting still.

What can I do about this old pattern? I can notice it arriving like a familiar friend, and say, “Thank you. I hear you. But all these questions are simply not helpful. I’m listening to my Spark now.”

I can cultivate ways to stay in the Right Here Right Now. Breathe. Express what’s there, then shake it off. Allow my body and the moment and the calling of my deepest, most joyful desires, to lead me toward the next step.

Tell me: do you ever get lost in a deep dark forest of questions? What do you do when your options become overwhelming?


Lessons learned Transitions & Transformations

What’s the scariest creature of all? Crickets.

I recently dove into a big volunteer project, co-leading an initiatory process for young women leading to a solo experience in nature (a Vision Quest or Vision Cry).

Learning to face your fears is one of the truly heroic tasks of initiation. Sometimes you’ll face real scary things, like snakes, bugs or animals. More often, it’s your inner fears. These young women are brave for stepping into that.

For me, it’s not lions, tigers or bears. It’s Crickets.

“Crickets” is the dead quiet that can happen when nobody responds to something you put ‘out there’ on the Interwebs. No calls, no emails, nothing. Just — crickets.

One morning as I drafted an email to request some interviews, the Fear Monster raised its head from deep in my gut. It said, “What if no one responds?”

I tried to sidestep it, to breathe, work past it. But it had me in its grip. Because I’ve known crickets.

[blockquote] Fear whispers, “They won’t like you. You don’t know how to be with people. That’s why you always work alone. You’re crazy to take on a business where you show people your real self and ask for something back.” [/blockquote]

Shadows know how to get our attention, eh? I let Fear take me to a hard place, one I’ve visited several times. It felt very ancient and deep, maybe from infancy. From there, Fear said: “Don’t trust people. They will let you down. You can’t depend on them.”

Hours later, I was exhausted. Wads of wet tissues in my lap. I hadn’t sent my email. But I’d met my real fear, named it (fear of abandonment, lack of trust) and claimed it. So I could tame it.

[blockquote] Yes, Trust has been hard for me at times. Some people won’t care or get what I’m doing. But it’s not about their approval. It’s about me stepping up to do what I’m here for. And putting it out there.
[/blockquote]By choosing to reinvent yourself, you enter an initiation. You will face fear, because you’re an explorer on the edge, gathering valuable insights. Even if it’s for you and the crickets.

Question: How do you face your fears? What helps you tame them?

Authentic Midlife Lessons learned Transitions & Transformations

Midlife Shift: from Holiday Meltdown to Love 365

If you’re a woman in the midlife shift, you’re often overwhelmed. Then comes the holiday frenzy, tearing us away from the natural flow of winter, when we crave extra sleep and quiet. While we may enjoy aspects of the holidays, the demands of gifting and socializing can knock us off balance and turn us into raving bitches.

Are you pissed at the commercialism? Do you resent the material excesses of our culture, and how our holidays feed that? Do you rebel against the expectation of things you should do? Where’s the joy, Charlie Brown? The win-win?

I got there, after a nice little meltdown.

Every year we send homemade gifts to out-of-town family, as well as presents or gift cards to all the nieces and nephews and my husband’s siblings. It’s a lot. I love making the homemade jam and biscotti, but then we have to figure out what other gifts are needed and what we can afford. We don’t always agree and since we’re not working much, this year it’s been extra tough to navigate.

I truly resent the idea that we must give a certain value amount to everybody. The message? $$ GIFT = LOVE. If we don’t give enough, we don’t love enough.

I’m not buying it. That makes me a Scrooge, a Grinch (a bad person). Generosity from the heart feels great, but love can be expressed in so many other ways besides a dollar value. Especially in hard times. The pressure to keep up with this standard feels unholy.

Midlife is a time of questioning old ways. It’s about searching heart, soul and mind with a big industrial flashlight. To uncover the truth. And to change old patterns that keep us from our ‘muchness.’

So I took some time alone to let my emotions rip. Had a real tantrum. Stomped around, kicking some Christmas ass. Heard the conflicting voices in my head, then let the Wise One sort out the takeaways.

  • Miser frowns at the bottom line. “Hey, what’s up with the dolla dolla amount? Can’t we get a deal?”
    Wise one says, “Thrift is the new black. But don’t spend hours on Ebay scrounging for screaming deals that don’t exist.”
  • Rebel is ready to bolt. “Who the F are they – society, tradition – to tell us what to do?”
    Wise one says, “Hmm, but really it is our choice, to give or not to give…right?”
  • Good Girl wrings her hands. “But if we don’t send something good enough, they’ll know we’re not a good person. We will not be loved.”
    Wise one says, “We’re human, not a good person, ha ha! They’ll probably still love us.”
  • The Queen grits her teeth. “I’m in control. Maintain strict cost measures. Ship it. NOW.”
    Wise one says, “Ok, but that’s a lotta pressure. And where’s the spirit of giving?”

After releasing all this noise, it came to me. I can hate the expectation, the cultural norm, but love the people. So I decided: this is my last MANDATORY Christmas. I’m done with filling “orders.” No more proving I’m a good person. I’ll give what is genuine, dollar bills or a song or a heartfelt letter…

I feel lighter, and paradoxically, MORE giving. Because I’m called to show love and gratitude to the people in my life 365 days a year. I’ll do it in ways that reflect my best gifts. And next Christmas? It’s wide open.

If you’re feeling blue or even black about the Holidays, you’re not the only one. Schedule your own little meltdown. Take some alone time, or with someone you trust. Close the door. Speak the unspeakable, the awful things you tell yourself. Give voice to your anger and fears, but DON’T BELIEVE IT – just let it out. Be gentle with yourself. Listen for different voices. Hear them, so the one inside you can respond with the Truth. Let me know if you feel lighter.

A Creative Life Lessons learned Listening Singing Spark Transitions & Transformations

Perfect no More.

I’m not perfect. Yay!

Why am I so friggin’ happy about this? Because I no longer need to try.

To celebrate, I am CREATING and RELEASING a new song nearly every day for a month. These songs aren’t perfect. They are handmade, on my iPad, with only my voice and the VoiceJam app. They speak directly from my heart, soul and guts. And they are gorgeous in their imperfect glory.

Here’s today’s song: Brand New
Brand New by christine-ah

The Story.

I lost a few things lately, including my 6-year-old dayjob as a web producer/ designer. I’d looked forward to this change, but didn’t count on misplacing my old identity, my contribution to society, my nerve, my equilibrium, blah blah blah.  Since I’m offering creative tools to navigate change, life gave me a perfectly imperfect opportunity to walk the walk.

Writing is one of the best creative tools for change. Not only do you uncover what’s going on inside (daily morning pages, journaling), but telling your story can open things up for others, too. So I’m firing up this weekly blog again.

Time to face up – and fess up – to my own demons. I had to name it, claim it, and tame it. A big self-sabotage patterns for women is a need to be Perfect.

You too? I see more than a few hands raised…

I have a character inside me I call Good Girl. She’s a helluva survivor. She’s pretty great at being perfect. So perfect that I would be loved. But she’s also a bit of a Bad Seed.

Good Girl has a problem with Weird. If I’m too weird in public – be myself, actually – she gets her panties in a twist.

But there’s a visionary and a storyteller and a performer in me, too. They get ideas and even execute and finish them: stories, songs, artwork (you may have a character in you that won’t let you even get that far. I feel your pain.)

But then Good Girl stops me from releasing. From performing. From sending it off to be published.

She only wants to help. Really. It might not be good enough. It might get rejected. People won’t like me. And that is intolerable to Good Girl.

Good Girl and I had a good long chat the other day. We made a deal. It’s ok for me to be weird, as long as it’s Good Weird.

So I’m making songs, to create a new GROOVE to replace the old pattern: Good AND weird.

I do hope you like my songs. But being liked isn’t the point. It’s releasing the songs – and not worrying too much about the liking part – that counts.

May you make peace with your own perfect little Good Girl. Tell me about it, with a perfectly imperfect comment.