When it comes to boundaries, really fabulous hair helps. Or really terrible hair; either will work.
Check out the shag wig I rocked last week at my friend's birthday party; we pedaled through Portland on a truly classy expedition: the Brewcycle. It combines beer, a pedal-powered trolley, and being public spectacles-- VERY Portland!
Tell you what, it wasn't hard to maintain our own personal space when we were singing Red Hot Chili Peppers at the top of our lungs as we sailed down the street.
But the following suggestions may be a tiny bit easier to implement.
Real quick, a heads-up: doors are open for Practical Magic for Secret Mystics ! This is my autumn program for loving, sensitive souls who want to strengthen their energy so that they can be loving, sensitive BADASSES.
We're heading into a busy, social time of the year, and this can be tough for those of us who feel a tiny responsibility to take of the feelings of-- oh, well, pretty much everybody. So here are my favorite ways to preserve social harmony and still take good care of that tender soul of yours.
Because that soul of yours? It's precious. It's your birthright. It's your first responsibility.
Five Bodacious Boundary Begetters:
1. Use the bathroom. Use it like you're pregnant. Seriously, any time you feel yourself getting jerked around, hot under the collar, or tempted to throw a green smoothie at someone, simply excuse yourself, lock the door, and breathe. If that means you're disappearing every ten minutes, so what? Maybe you'll start a juicy rumor or two that'll take the focus off of politics and the boss's new facelift.
2. Offer to take dogs, clients, kids, hamsters, or houseplants on a walk. Offer to feed the parking meter. Offer to deliver the brief yourself. Offer to run to the store for that special brand of cinnamon they only stock in Michigan. Do anything that will take you outside, even if it's just for a few minutes. If you're brave, simply say, "I'm going for some fresh air." (I know that can be hard to do-- it's my personal theory that this is why people smoke. It's not the nicotine, it's the socially sanctioned excuse to stand outside alone for a few minutes!)
3. Imagine a membrane around yourself, made of anything that feels loving and utterly strong. It can be white light, or green leaves, or your favorite color, or fairy metal. Extra points if it makes you smile. If you've tried this before and it hasn't helped, try experimenting with a tougher substance: imagine yourself at the center of an enormous redwood tree, or inside a ring of holy fire that doesn't hurt anyone but is utterly impermeable and flickers beautifully on the manic faces gathered round it.
4. Send your attention and your breath to your heart. While you carry on conversations, refill wine glasses, or hand out soccer snacks, let a small part of your awareness stay on your heart. Send a small, steady trickle of affection to yourself, acknowledging the heartbeat of your body's most loyal rhythm, thanking this sturdy engine that sustains you through all things. You can place your hand on your heart without attracting much attention, and it's very grounding. If you find that your heart is racing, it's time to excuse yourself for a few minutes.
5. Most importantly, declare dominion over your space. You don't have to laugh at stupid jokes, kiss anyone, go out with the guys, listen to tales of woe, take advice on your parenting, hold anyone's baby, sit on a lap, eat more, watch football, talk about your reproductive choices, accept a drink, take phone calls, respond to idiotic comments, or really do anything else you don't want to do. It is perfectly possible to be perfectly polite and perfectly clear. Think Oprah. Think Michelle Obama. Think Kate the princess. Think your favorite feline. You can blink, smile, and change the subject. You can walk away, pick up a book, or step outdoors. You can do any of those things with love and grace.
And when you set beautiful, bodacious, bad-ass boundaries, guess what happens? Your potent inner energies stay blissfully filled up so that you can pour them out where they really matter.
Wishing you a beautiful autumn crackling with magic--
bare branches against the moon, reeds singing songs of far away, gourds bulging with smug fertility, crimson maple leaves drifting down to say hello.
But mostly I wish you your own true magic. It's all you really need.
Did you ever see the movie Benny and Joon? There's a scene where Joon gets totally overwhelmed by a chaotic situation, and she cowers on the ground, hands over her ears, wailing, "Too much, too loud, too much, too loud!"
I feel like that sometimes. I bet you do too.
Sometimes it's because some sort of drama has erupted in your life: nasty rumors, unnecessary rudeness, a fight with someone you love, or some sort of crisis. Other times the normal but relentless inflow of emails, texts, phone calls, questions, and decisions can just seem utterly impossible to deal with. Weirdly, even joyous events can tip us over into a panicky sense that too much is happening, too fast, too much, too loud.
I'm going to give you a little technique that can help you.
If you're especially compassionate, or sensitive, or any form of an 'empath,' you may find that you feel this way a lot, like you're constantly getting flooded with intense and overwhelming sensations. And if you have any history of pain (as in, you're human), these sensations can sometimes make you feel very afraid, as if you're not safe, even though your logical brain knows you're not really in actual danger.
You might feel like your stomach is in knots, or like it's difficult to breathe, or you might find yourself yelling or stuffing down half a birthday cake.
Oddly enough, these are all socially acceptable ways to deal with stress, much more acceptable than cowering and wailing. But they're very hard on your body, your nervous system, and your mascara.
Cowering and wailing has some definite merit to it; it's a pretty organic response to overwhelm, and kids use it very effectively.
But it might have unintended consequences for you (those men in their damned white coats) so let me teach you a more subtle way.
First, you require privacy. It's lovely to do this outside or by a window, but privacy is essential. So get yourself some, whether that's in a bedroom, a bathroom stall, or the dressing room in Saks. Curl in on yourself in whatever way you can, so that you're as tightly furled and protected as you can get. If you can actually curl up in the fetal position, great. If not, just wrap your arms around yourself and tuck your head in. Imagine yourself sinking down into the ground, like you're a little seed, and you're tucking yourself down into the earth. Feel how quiet it is down there, how safe you are. Close your eyes and feel that dark softness. Imagine that your heart is beating more slowly, attuning itself to the heartbeat of the earth, slow and steady, quiet and loyal. Pull deep, slow breaths into your lungs, and with each breath, pull into yourself a little bit of the earth's strength, quiet, and fierce power. When you feel quiet again, slowly let yourself begin to unfurl. Slowly slow loosen your arms, like petals. Let your spine curve gently up, like a dancer, until your face is tipped up to the sky or the ceiling. Feel how your feet can stay rooted in the ground while the rest of you stretches up and open, receiving the light. You may find yourself grinning. You may just feel more peaceful and calm.
This might seem overly simple, but just try it. It takes less than two minutes. Our bodies are powerful, and when we align our imagination, our visual minds, and our breath with our bodies, it's amazing how much we can shift.
And when you shift yourself, you just might find that the world responds to you differently. In fact, I'd bet all my rrrrrich magnets on it.
The first time I heard about the new tv show Grimm was when they shut down my Portland street to shoot it. I didn't plan to watch it. I don't watch things that are designed to scare me.
But I'll make an exception for fairy tales, those archetypal stories that are so powerful and have such wisdom embedded in them. So I peered through my fingers, clutched my copy of Women Who Run With The Wolves, and watched Grimm.
My manicure suffered, but I understood why it's such a sensation.
It's because so many of us know that we see things that other people don't see. We resonate with the young detective who can see through the masks of pretense and glimpse what is underneath.
Now, just so we're clear, I don't see my neighbors' faces transform into snarls and wolfish teeth (thank heaven). But I do pick up...stuff. I get feelings. I have dreams. I sense subtext. I smell bullshit. Call it intuition, empathy, sensitivity-- whatever.
For years I thought that being intuitive and empathic meant that I was at the mercy of whatever was coming my way. Bad moods, depression, anger, sadness, scary images--if I encountered it, I took it in.
I don't recommend this approach. It was intensely painful and draining. It kept me from doing my deepest work, because I could never feel bad enough to make anyone else feel any better.
So why are some of us so sensitive to these levels of communication that scientists are just now beginning to measure?
The reason that the protagonist of this tv show can see the true nature of those around him is because he's here with a special mission. As a Grimm, his job is to protect the innocent and do battle with those who would hurt them. We see this storyline again and again in our cultural myths, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Harry Potter; I believe it reflects our deep longing for the brave soul within us who can stand up to shadowy elements that scare us.
I don't have cupboards of knives in my house. But I do have a powerful toolbox to help me do my work. Most of my tools are invisible. They are habits, practices, beliefs, and the ability to create and hold energy. (Also some flat-out woo-woo techniques, I'm not going to lie.) I have learned to create a place of safety and clear vision within myself. Listen. You can too.
I'm teaching a class on the phone on December 1st. It's free. I'm sharing five potent ways to strengthen your energetic boundaries. You don't have to be a grimm to have a mission, and you don't have to see visions to know that there is more to this world that we can see. You can declare dominion over your own energy. And I hope that you will. Because the world needs you to see what you see and do what you're here to do.
You can sign up here.
Love and magic,