How Emergency Rooms Handle PTSD

“It’s like…a prison…in my mind…”

“Awww, try to breathe, that will help you, we are almost there, I’m so sorry you feel this way, no one deserves to feel that way.”

I recognize that my shallow breathing is audible, I can’t believe that I have this angel driving me to the emergency room, I am holding a bucket of my own vomit and I can’t stop my eyes from rolling back in my head.

This is why I called for help in the first place.

I’m an adult. It’s okay to throw up. The circumstances surrounding the sickness were shady though.

I had done everything I set out to do that day. I made it to my son’s preschool to cheer him on for the St. Jude trike-a-thon. I mailed out 7 pieces of my Ho’oponopono healing art. I picked my son up early that day and surprised him by taking him to the new Smurfs movie.

By the time I got my son to sleep, I was going to reward myself with some “me” time. For sure. I was totally going to do that. But I found myself doing some chores instead.

Kind of unlike me.

Only because I said that I was going to relax. I have been pushing really hard for a long time.

Kind of unlike me.

Only because I said I wasn’t going to accomplish goals by pushing too hard anymore. I set the intention to achieve my goals in the amount of time they take to achieve. I am not trying to control anything other than what is in my control.

These are important mantras for someone who set out to write, direct, produce, design, style, wardrobe, hair, make up, edit and star in a 30-day video series. I wore all these hats for 30 videos and I’m ready to celebrate right now. I achieved that which I set out to do.

It’s time to relax now. Right, Rae? Right now, right? Are you going to do that or…

Oh my god…

The tops of my shoulders are my first clue. The tops of my shoulders begin to tingle, like they are spinning and that spinning starts to ignite a spinning sensation in my stomach. Interesting…it’s like a message…

FEAR!

Fuck. What? What’s going on? I’m crying by the way.

I think you should stop picking up toys right now and just accept the fact that you are going to throw up.

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Why????????????

I don’t know.

I was going to watch my show…

No, you are going to throw up, get the garbage can.

Shit…you’re serious.

I’m going to meditate.

It’s too late.

I’m going to take that medicine they gave me last time at the hospital.

Good luck with that.

Thank you.

**throws that all up immediately**

Do you think I threw that medicine up?

I’m not a scientist, but yes. I totally do.

The spot at the top of my stomach, my sternum, it really hurts.

Touch it.

**throws up immediately**

You need help.

No, I think this is going to go away.

**throws up immediately**

My shoulders are spinning so fast. It’s like some sort of anti-gravity magic is pulsing through me. My eyes want to shut but they won’t. I am so tired. My body became freezing cold with sweat and then burning hot with sweat three separate times. It has to be rest time now. I know I wanted to close my eyes. But my eyelids wouldn’t shut. I couldn’t see anything though because my eyes were rolled back in my head.

I am floating away.

I see other things. Things I don’t want to see. Anymore.

Rachel, call for help. Just do it.

Yes. Let’s do this. No bra. Get your ID and insurance card. Grab that little garbage can and go get yourself some help.

I for one am going to kick this car ride off with throwing up. Painfully. It adds the right aroma for the rest of the drive. The angel driving me tells me she doesn’t mind. She is a nurse and vomit doesn’t scare her.

I get out of the car, determined to bring my vomit with me, so I don’t permanently leave my scent on her vehicle. I drop my driver’s license. I bend over to pick it up and drop my phone and my insurance card. I’ve got the vomit though. Don’t worry.

As the sweet angel takes my hand to guide me toward the entrance of the emergency room, I take her hand and feel compelled to warn her:

“I’ve done this a bunch of times…and…it’s not going to go well…probably…so…maybe it will…but…they don’t really know what PTSD is…so…”

My angel assures me that she understands, she is prepared and she is not going to let anything happen to me. As we walk through the entrance of the emergency room, I see a woman being wheeled out; she has balloons attached to her wheelchair that say: It’s a boy!

I discreetly throw away my bag of vomit in the garbage can in front of her and keep going, trying not to think about how that was me 5 years ago, leaving the same hospital with my boy. But the ocean of my thoughts is so deep and I’m stuck in the center, unable to stop answering the question of: what has your life become?

Get me a bag to throw up in, please.

I hold the paper bag to my mouth, certain I am going to explode at any minute. So close to getting help, yet so far away, I try to register at the front desk:

I am having a PTSD attack, I am stuck in a flashback, I cannot stop throwing up, the pain in my sternum is unbearable, I am dehydrating and I need help.

The nurse explains to me that she has PTSD, too. It’s going to be okay. I just need to go take a seat in the waiting room.

I notice a man in the waiting room and try to not sit by him. I notice there is a play area for children and I try not to sit too close to that. I sit down and feel too close to both the man and the play area. I throw up into my little paper bag. The pain is excruciating.

The nurse comes back to the waiting room. I hope she is taking me to my room now. She is not. She has come over to tell me that she takes Lexipro and that has helped her tremendously. I grunt in response.

Has anyone ever recommended an antidepressant to you while you are vomiting?

It feels weird.

I looked at the man sitting six feet away from me in the waiting room and thought, do I know him? Is HIPPA still a law? What about confidentiality?

As I ponder the benefits of medical privacy, the second nurse at the registration desk calls my name. I shuffle over to the front desk, doubled over at the waist because of the pain in my sternum, holding onto my angel companion, who is holding onto my bag of vomit.

“Insurance card and ID.”

As I hand over my documents, the nurse asks me: “why are you here?”

“I am in tremendous pain, specifically located in my sternum, I have PTSD, I am having a flashback episode and I can’t stop throwing up, I need help—”

“–YOU CAN CALM DOWN FOR 5 MINUTES AND ANSWER MY QUESTIONS!”

I wish I had my face on film when that happened, so you could see my reaction. That was a wind out of the sails moment. I deflated. I was so confused. I was answering her questions. Why was she implying otherwise…

“DO YOU WANT TO KILL YOURSELF?”

“No”

“YOU DON’T WANT TO KILL YOURSELF?!”

“Nope. I sure don’t. I want to live.”

My angel starts yelling: “SHE ALREADY ANSWERED YOU, SHE SAID NO!”

Exasperated, nurse one turns to nurse two and says: “she claims she’s not SI.”

Nurse two sighs like she is tired of being lied to and shrugs her shoulders like, who cares?

My face is burning as I survey the room, ascertaining who heard that exchange and what they thought of it. My mind starts to prickle with questions like, why do they think I want to die? Why aren’t they glad I said I want to live?

Before I can draw any conclusions, the first nurse, the one who has PTSD and is doing great with lexipro, takes her last shot at me:

Where did your PTSD come from?

My eyes roll back far in my head and I feel myself leaving the room. Trying to answer the question is causing me to float away. I need to stay present. I tell her:

“No.”

“Yes! Why do you say you have PTSD, what caused you to have PTSD?”

“Um…nooooooooo…no…no…nooooo…”

“YES! YES! YES! YES!”

So the nurse is screaming yes at me and she sounds exactly like Jillian Michaels. I’m holding a paper vomit bag up to my face, my eyes are rolled back in my head and I am whispering no as she is screaming yes. Again, we are in the waiting room in front of everyone.

If I had come in experiencing pain and vomiting related to diabetes, would the nurse need to know where the diabetes came from? If my pain and vomiting was related to cancer, would she need to know how I got the cancer?

PTSD is a disorder hallmarked by adrenaline dump. A massive amount of adrenaline was pumping through my body. Adrenaline will dehydrate you. Vomiting will dehydrate you. I needed an IV so that I could rehydrate. I needed an anti-nausea medication so that I could stop cyclical vomiting. That I couldn’t make it past the waiting room without explaining the juicy details of my story, the very thing that is triggering the episode itself, is criminal.

I began to understand intimately why 22 American veterans commit suicide every day.

The nurse made clear that she was taking “this man” to his room and that I was to follow behind them. In the middle of our walk she said, stay here and left me standing in the hallway. Several nurses asked me why I was standing there in the middle of the hallway. I explained that the admitting nurse brought me back there and told me to stand there. All of them seemed shocked at my answer and went about finding me a room.

I throw up a bunch of times to christen my new hospital room as I wait for the doctor. In between the awful vomiting sound, is the unbelievable sound of my hiccups, which are so painful, that I moan in despair after each one. Nurses poke their heads in periodically just to ask: “was that you?”

Yeah that awful sound was me.

The doctor finally walks into my room, holding my medical file. He says:

“I remember you from 2013. I’m not convinced about what’s going on here. I’m going to touch your stomach. Hmmmm, you aren’t too tender.”

I remind him that the pain is in my sternum, nowhere else. He pushes on my sternum. I hiccup super loud. He walks away. I throw up violently. I look over at my angel and ask her: “do you think that doctor knows that he pushed on my sternum and caused me to hiccup and throw up or do you think he just walked away and didn’t notice?”

She looked sad as she admitted: “he just walked away, he doesn’t know you threw up.”

I get hooked up to an IV and begin to rehydrate. Yay! I get some Atavan and Zofram for the pain and nausea. At some point, I fell asleep because I am woken up to the sound of: you are being discharged.

I’m better? Okay.

As I shuffle home from yet another PTSD emergency room experience, I can’t help but feel defeated. Why was it like that? Why did I know it was going to be like that? What did I do wrong? How could I have done that better?

I don’t know. It’s been like almost 2 weeks since then and I still don’t know why that happened. I’m afraid it will happen again. I’m afraid for people who go into emergency rooms without companions. I’m grateful I had an angel. I want to live. If I have to scream that truth over and over and get in a fight about it, so be it. I want to live.

I want to cure my complex PTSD. I want to say that I don’t have that anymore, that’s something I used to have. I am doing the work. I will get there. It takes time. In the interim, I will love myself and focus on gratitude. I will go slow and take excellent care of me.

Thank you for listening.

XO,
Rachel

Martin Luther King Doesn’t Want Women to Wait

 

In honor of Martin Luther King, I tell this highly controversial story that has been stuck inside of me for about 8 years and is inspired by this quote:

 

“It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.”

~Martin Luther King

 

Are you aware that history repeats itself?

 

It sure does. History is a course of study so that we can either replicate or avoid certain events in the future.

 

Here is an example:

 

The women’s suffrage movement was delayed by 53 years because the suffragettes were successfully divided by a separate movement to win the right to vote for black men. Unfortunately, women were not in a position to win both rights and their decision to support black men adversely impacted their own chances at freedom because black men never bothered to reciprocate or use their new found freedom to turn around and help women earn the right to vote.

 

White men were in a better position to hold onto their power by completely controlling the system of government that allowed only men to vote. Women were not a part of this system and had no ability to thwart Jim Crow laws or to call out any of the racism that was used to slow down the impact of the 15th amendment. Once black men “won” the right to vote, momentum for women’s right to vote stopped.

 

Essentially, women had to start over and win the right to vote all on their own. There was no significant group of white men or black men who joined the effort to win women the right to vote, there was never reciprocity or gratitude for the altruistic efforts of women to win black men the right to vote, and that is why it took 53 more years for women to be allowed to vote via the 19th amendment.

 

History repeated in 2008.

 

The Democrats had 2 choices to consider backing for President. There was one white woman who had more experience than anyone. There was one black man who had less experience than anyone. There was a lot of posturing about how the Democrats needed to win this time and about how Republicans would be more upset about a first-time woman president than a first-time black man president.

 

Yes—that is how successful the white male movement of 1776 has been. It took until 1865 for black men to win the right to vote and until 1920 for women to join in on the freedom. So yes, by 2008 we are all still walking on eggshells about which one of us non-white-men will piss off the Republicans the least, as a political strategy. Should women support women this time? Is that even safe?

 

Needless to say, women were more than happy to step aside and let the less-experienced black man take her place in line. So happy for you! Because we are democrats and we are a team, right? It’s not about experience, skill or merit when it comes to man versus woman, we women totally get that. We know how disgusting you think it is for us to vote for someone “just because” they are a woman, as though being represented in government is not something to strive for.

 

I know how disgusting it is for me to begrudge America the experience of a black first family. It’s like being mad at the new hire for getting promoted before you; you can see he’s doing a great job, but it is still unfair that he didn’t put in his dues. And that unfair promotion has a ripple effect.

 

Because who cares that history tells us it will now take 53 more years for America to experience their first woman President. “No taxation without representation” is a sassy phrase that only applies to white men; it’s not a real call to action that has aaaaaaaaanything to do with a REVOLUTION.

 

Revolution? For What? Because Planned Parenthood is being defunded? Because our President Elect brags about abusing his power to sexually assault women? Because sexual assault is not something white men are criminalized for perpetrating? Because white men remain in charge of women’s healthcare? Because of the pay gap?

 

“It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, ‘Wait on time.’”

~Dr. Martin Luther King

 

Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King, I needed a man to tell me what I already knew to be true: telling me to wait is a subversive form of discrimination. In the 8 years I’ve been waiting to be represented in government by a black man, I’ve decided that it does actually need to be a woman president in order for valid representation.

 

I wish history didn’t repeat itself in this case. I wish that I could tell you after 8 years of Obama that all the black men turned around and supported the most experienced female candidate in the history of America. After all, that same woman, and all the women who supported her, set their needs aside to support the black man because it was the right thing to do. Would it not now be the right thing to do to reciprocate?

 

No. That’s not even close to what happened. Name a time when men voted against their own interests. Name a time when women voted in their own interests. Men know what it’s like to be represented by their own gender. Women don’t. History repeats.

 

After 8 years of waiting, I’m done. I’m breaking the cycle. I support you men and I’ve proven that. Watch me support me now. I don’t want white men deciding what to do with organs they don’t even have in their own body. I release you men of that burden forever. The war on women has to stop now. There has to be a point where I grow up and am adult enough to admit I know more about my body than a dude.

 

I don’t want to pretend men know better than me about me anymore.

 

All that ended in November 2016.

 

2017 is all about direct action.

 

“You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”

Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

 

Nonviolent direct action.

For me right now, that means produce, direct and star in a play. Maya Angelou and Eve Ensler are my idols because they use theatre for social change. I want violence against women to end and I’m not afraid to put on a charitable play to demonstrate that.

 

If you’re in the Las Vegas area on Saturday February 4, 2017 at 7:00 p.m., check out the V-Day 2017 production of The Vagina Monologues at the Summerlin Library Performing Arts Center; all proceeds benefit Refuge for Women Las Vegas, an aftercare program for the trafficked and sexually exploited.

 

 

I’m done making things more comfortable for you guys. This is a time for growth and growth is necessarily painful. Growing pains begin with discomfort. Get uncomfortable. Decide to have a conversation with the man in the mirror and ask him to change his ways.

 

Altruism is the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.

 

If you do not have an altruistic bone in your body, you’re not a leadership candidate; you can’t be trusted to put the needs of the group ahead of your own. Stop talking about “the way it should be” and start looking deep within yourself for a shred of altruism. The reason women historically keep putting others above their own needs is because it’s the right thing to do–even if the efforts are never reciprocated–because we are the models demonstrating with our lives how to treat each other. That’s right, children, women are the mothers and we are asking you all to grow up now. Pay it forward.

XO,

Rachel

How To Beat the Holiday Blues

 

Happy Holidays! Yes, I had the holiday blues and yes I still have a reason to smile. HUGE.

 

First of all, I made it. It has now been one full year since my last PTSD-related Emergency Room visit for dehydration due to cyclical vomiting. Let’s take a look at how I did it:

 

(1) I cried a lot. This is not a new thing. I usually want to cry the whole time and do cry most of the time. The difference this year? When I felt like I wanted to cry, I didn’t judge that feeling or conclude that I was an asshole for wanting to cry. Instead, I would get up and go find a quiet space to cry into until I was done and then I would simply rejoin my family.

 

(2) I went out of town just days before the holiday. We took our son to LegoLand to make this Christmas extra magical and it totally worked. The two days we spent in the car was WAY better than spending two days anticipating my annual holiday blues.

 

(3) Activism. I am wearing a dress every day in December as part of the #Dressember movement to raise awareness and funds for survivors of human trafficking. As part of the campaign, I post a photo of me in my dress online and this has forced me to get dressed up every day of a month that I normally spend exclusively in my pajamas. (To check out my campaign, click here).

 

(4) Activism. I am the official organizer for the V-Day Las Vegas 2017 campaign to benefit Refuge for Women Las Vegas, an aftercare program for the trafficked and sexually exploited. This campaign will produce a benefit production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues on February 4 and I am the Director of the show. This means I have to talk to people and participate in life.

 

There are times when I have thought about quitting. For sure. I didn’t particularly enjoy Christmas shopping this year and often experienced feelings of “what’s the point?” Also, I miss wearing my overalls and thought about blowing off my Dressember obligation like every other day. Furthermore, I ran into an incomprehensible amount of difficulty securing a beneficiary for my V-Day campaign and wondered if I was supposed to just give up.

 

Then I think about how I’m glad I don’t live in a box under some sicko’s bed right now. I’m glad I didn’t get stolen from my family and forced into prostitution. As much as PTSD, anxiety, and grief can feel like a prison in your own mind, at least I’m not really in some prison unable to get out. I value my freedom. I express gratitude for my freedom through activism and this heals me.

 

 

XO,

Rachel

Annual Holiday Epiphany: Relationships Come Together OR Fall Apart Via Communication

 

The following is an excerpt from my journal dated November 26, 2016:

 

I have to stop hating myself. Hating myself is a bad habit that does not serve me and impacts my relationship to the world. This has always been my struggle: I fear everyone hates me and then I hate me and then all I can see are people who hate me.

 

I had an epiphany yesterday:

 

The purpose of communication is either to create distance or connection and the purpose of life is merely to observe the way in which our own voice creates distance or connection.

 

Communication is not limited to the purpose of connection and human beings are not meant to control the outcome of a relationship; we are here to observe the way in which communication brings about either connection or division. This is part of the human journey.

 

When you hold back, because of fear that your voice will create distance in the relationship, you illuminate the reality of the distance in the relationship by holding back (or by modifying your position into something more “palatable” for others).

 

It’s okay to be the culprit of distance. Observe it. Feel it. Do something about it if you feel compelled. Don’t if you don’t. Either way, it’s okay.  It’s not your job to become someone else so that you can force a connection; it’s your job to be who you are and that is complicated enough.

 

In those moments when I fear using my voice will widen the divide, when all I want is to experience connection, I’m right in those moments. It’s not an irrational fear, it’s accurate intuition. Using my voice will probably lead to a greater division because that’s part of the purpose of communication and that’s what makes connection so beautiful–that it is not a guarantee.

 

Communication is how humans learn who is available to connect with and who is not. This is where we develop support systems. Manipulating your communication style to please others does not create connection, it is the beginning of a toxic relationships that sets the stage for a major divide in the future.

 

You are not more than or less than based on the amount of time other people spend singing your praises. The moment you sing your own praises will be the same moment you begin to notice others have been singing your praises this whole time. In fact, you’ll more than notice it–you’ll feel it.

 

So speak. Or don’t speak. You’ve got a 50/50 chance at either connecting or separating over it. Observe what happened and why. Grow. Understand that being your true Self absolutely can lead to goodbyes. Not only are we meant to observe this, we are meant to own it and take responsibility for it.

 

Own that your truth telling caused a separation. Learn and grow from it.

 

Own that your silence caused a separation. Learn and grow from it.

 

Own that your truth telling has lead to beautiful connections. Learn and grow from them. Intend to replicate these moments as often as possible.

 

img_8960

 

XO,

Rachel

PS: This is a collaborative mixed media piece I made with my husband a couple years ago and my haiku reads:

“There is no normal.

Regarding relationships:

they are what they are.”

Why I hate my vision board

 

I have a great idea for my 2017 vision board and I need your help.

 

In the past, I have made vision boards for goals and for healing exercises, but something has been happening to me that I guess I will publicly discuss here:

 

I don’t feel inspired by vision boards.

 

In fact, I often look at my vision board and feel some sort of guilt or annoyance…a sense of…don’t tell me what to do.

 

Maybe it’s because I have always felt very goal oriented, acutely aware of my own goals and progress. Maybe it’s because I’m lazy and self destructive. Maybe a little of both.

 

Either way, I’m sick of looking at my vision board from 2016.

 

I want my 2017 vision board to be something that inspires me to accomplish my goals.

 

I spent some time over the weekend crying out on top of a stuffed horse in my closet. Crying out is a medical term I just made up that is similar to bleeding out, only instead of blood you use tears and instead of dying on the outside, you die on the inside. It occurred to me that feeling lonely and dying seem synonymous to me.

 

Epiphany!

 

I want to make my vision board for 2017 out of pictures of the people who love me. I want to stand in front of my vision board and be reminded that I am not alone.

 

That’s where you come in.

 

If you want to be a part of Rachel VanKoughnet’s 2017 vision of love board, then please send your photo to 11700 W. Charleston Blvd. #184, Las Vegas, NV 89135.

 

Whoever has a photo and a stamp and feels love and kindness for me, please send it my way. I am open to love. Who is with me?

 

blogpicture

 

XO,

Rachel

Like a Girl Blog Post

hero

 

Maybe you don’t know how strong girls can be.

 

Let me tell you a story about what I know.

 

I know what it’s like to grow up a girl in a house full of boys in the 80s. I know what it’s like to hear the rumor that you can do anything while simultaneously watching how that actually plays out.

 

Take dodgeball for example.

 

Dodgeball. That game with the hand held rubber balls you throw at each other as hard as you can. Why as hard as you can? Because you don’t want the person to catch the ball, you want the person to get hit by the ball. If they get hit with the ball, they’re out. If they catch the ball, you’re out. Simple.

 

When I was in elementary school I went to a summer day camp. In the morning, after drop off but before camp officially began, the kids would all play dodgeball. Mostly the older teens, but because camp had not yet started for the day, the younger children could mix in with them, too.

 

Normally, the younger children choose to mix in with the older children to showcase their amazing, advanced, dodgeball skills. Not me. On that day, I joined in because I thought it would be fun. I believed that the older children would take into account how small I was even for the lowest age group.

 

In the 80s, you learn lessons the hard way.

 

The few minutes I spent on the field, to this day I can conjure up how it felt like a battlefield. The expressions, the sounds of satisfied triumph and stinging, shameful defeat, dodgeballs flying so fast, you can barely see them. I was lost out there, unable to catch or capture a ball to throw, startled by how hard the kids around me were getting hit.

 

WHAP!!!

 

The biggest kid on the field took aim. I saw it. I saw the whole thing. I saw his expression change from glory to terror right as the ball left his hand, as he realized too late that he had used too much force for such a small target.

 

That’s all I saw because when the dodgeball hit me in the face, the force of it brought me up off my feet, into the air and slammed my whole body onto the ground. Never before has anyone thrown a dodgeball that hard, and probably not since.

 

What happens next, the memory of it, brings me to tears.

 

While there is an outburst of accusations ranging from, ‘you’re in deep shit’ to ‘who let her on the field,’ only one person reacts appropriately. The strongest kid in the group ran to me, picked me up like a baby and RAN me over to the nurse. She was my hero.

 

I always wanted to thank her. But I was so overwhelmed with gratitude, that even to this day, I don’t have the right words to convey the emotions in my heart. It’s not just that she picked me up when I was down, it’s the way she did the right thing without hesitation. Alone. Truly, a hero.

 

That’s a role model.

 

Years later, that beautiful strong girl went on to play football for our high school, the first girl ever. I used to watch the football games and feel this enormous sense of pride, like that’s the girl who carried me, look at her, she can do anything. She can do things I’ve never even seen before. She matters.

 

I’ve had my moments. I’ve picked up many people who were down and cradled them to my chest. I have held the hands of countless emergency room victims of violence and advocated on their behalf. I have argued in Court pro bono to make children and families safe from violence. I have empathized with every soul who has looked to me for advice and counsel. But I have not yet been able to pay that one forward, I have not physically carried a stranger to safety.

 

I am so ready for that moment. That moment when objects are flying, people are screaming and pointing blame at each other. In that moment, I am ready to, without hesitation, physically remove the person in need of protection to carry them to safety. Alone. I am prepared to do the right thing because I know what a hero looks like, Luana Halftown showed me.

 

mayastrength

 

Thank you for showing me strength. Because of you, I know that strength involves care, kindness, empathy, bravery, compassion, self sacrifice, faith and intuition. Strength is about having heart.

 

XO,

Rachel

%22i-would-like-to-be-known-as

Why Individuality is rebellious

 

 

My son is 4 and a half and he has hair down to his shoulders.

 

Every single person who lays eyes on my son, mistakes him for a girl. They say “she” and “her” when referring to my son even after I say: this is my son, Jackson.

 

I find this very strange. I look at my son’s cotton shorts and tee shirt, I look at his light up batman sneakers and I conclude: you really can’t tell the difference between boys and girls at 4 years old. So why is everyone so certain he’s a girl?

 

Seriously—why don’t people refer to him as “your child” or attempt to ask his name before so confidently assigning him a gender. He’s 4. It is confusing to him and we talk about it often.

 

The conversation looks something like this:

Did you notice that lady kept calling you “she?”

Yes.

How did that make you feel?

Bad.

How come?

Because I’m not a girl, I’m a boy.

I know, you’re a boy, that lady made a mistake. I’m sorry her mistake made you feel bad. What do you think we can say next time that will feel better?

I’m a boy.

Good idea.

 

Parenting involves instilling within your child a sense of personal autonomy. Children are not dolls or robots. Children are future adults who deserve to know the truth about consent.

 

Close your eyes and imagine a world where all human beings understand, respect and appreciate consent. Open your eyes and imagine that lesson is learned at home.

 

Every few weeks we go to see my son’s hair stylist and I ask him what he wants to do. Hair cut or just a trim? For the past year his answer is always “just a trim” because he is growing his hair long.

 

Right now, my son’s hair is down to his shoulders and it looks incredible. Hair model worthy. He is certainly capable of at least playing the part of a rock star on television.

 

We are part of that movement of parents who have to go tour private kindergartens well in advance, apply, and then fear we might not get in. I want my son to go to the best school for him.

 

Challenger School is a Charter school and we thought it was beautiful. In fact, we were worried we might not pass the test to get in because we liked it so much. It has a great playground, which is high on my son’s one-item priority list for schools.

 

I had a great conversation with the school administrator on said playground about how they resolve conflicts with logic and have a method for teaching logic that is unique to their curriculum. Like music to my ears, I really lit up when she explained all of this to me. I’m a big fan of logic.

 

For whatever reason, I decided to ask the administrator if Challenger School had a weird hair policy and she said actually they do. In order to attend the school, he would need to keep his hair cut to above his ears.

 

Do the girls have the same rule?

 

No. This is a grooming rule for the boys only.

 

I wish that I could have resolved that issue with logic, but we had to agree to disagree and are now ineligible for Challenger School.

 

Las Vegas Day School is an impressive facility. The campus has a music building, a huge art center, a gymnasium, an incredible library and a cool playground. We were all super excited. I noticed a little boy in the kindergarten class had longer hair and felt relieved, like we are in the right place.

 

Until I asked the administrator what their hair policy, if any, was. She flinched. Like I struck her. She said she had been meaning to say something about that because Jackson would need to trim his hair to rest at the top of his shirt collar to meet the school policy.

 

Do the girls have the same rule?

 

No. It’s a policy based on tradition.

 

Oh man, that’s too bad because we are precluded from admission and should probably just stop the tour here so we stop wasting each other’s time. I am raising my son to have personal autonomy for his own health and safety. Please let us know if you change your mind on this policy.

 

I will let the Director know your thoughts and please let us know if you change your mind.

 

We have four more schools to tour and I am confident that I will find something that works for us but I am beyond frustrated. Gender stereotyping really bothers me.

 

All men are created equal. That’s just exactly what they meant to say. They meant to exclude females. They intended for the divide in order to derive a benefit without a care for the consequences; certainly without well reasoned thought for the consequences. We can do better than this.

 

Flash forward to middle school where the girls start getting sent home for the same length skirt they were forced to wear in elementary school, now no longer deemed appropriate. Sent home for showing off shoulders, collar bones, cleavage because their bodies “distract boys from learning.”

 

News flash: puberty distracts children from learning. Making girls disappear is not the answer to anything. Sending girls home distracts everyone from learning anything other than the clear lesson that girls matter less than boys.

 

Do you want to know why my son wants to grow his hair long?

 

Because he wants to be like his Mom.

 

Society hates that. It terrifies them. It angers them. It invokes very strong feelings.

 

My son wants to be like his Mom because she is a lawyer, she is brave, loyal, strong, fiercely protective, funny and a master storyteller. My son’s Mom is also beautiful and so loving. Of course my son wants to be like his Mom.

 

But we can’t say that out loud, right?

 

Well as long as we are going taboo, then let me also throw in some other things I’ve been dying to say:

 

I’m not going to cut off my son’s hair so that you can easily identify which benefits to assign to whom.

 

I’m not going to cut off my son’s hair because you want to know if he’s a boy or a girl. He’s 4. You don’t need to know what’s going on inside his pants.

 

I’m not going to cut off my son’s hair because what he wants to look like matters to me; he is a brand new human being developing his amazing personality and not only do I respect that, as his Mom, I wholeheartedly facilitate it.

 

I’m not going to cut off my son’s hair because I want to know who he is, not tell him who to be. If you don’t want to know who he is, then this isn’t the place for us.

 

I’m not going to cut off my son’s hair because I’m not a fan of tradition for the sake of tradition. I’m going to continue to fight for equality and for freedom.

 

XO,

Rachel

 

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Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 6 (deep breathing)

 

Of all the healing modalities I experienced on my Sedona Soul Adventure back in January, the one I REALLY must learn to master is deep breathing.

 

Why?

 

Because my body naturally wants to heal itself in exactly this fashion. When I surrender and finally allow my body to do what it already knows how to do, which apparently is deep breathe, all seven of my chakras spun like seven pinwheels with enough energy to light up NYC forever.

 

When that happened, I didn’t know what chakras even were (and I still kind of don’t).

 

Spirituality has always been something that I understand that I don’t understand and I get that. I am the kind of person who will dive headfirst into personal exploration without fear. Role play? Sure. Group improv? No problem. Hypnosis? Why not. I walked into every session on my Sedona Soul Adventure itinerary with a positive, can-do attitude because I really do want to heal and to grow.

 

Except this one.

 

Inner Journey With Breath & Sound.

 

Something about the title…I don’t know…this is the one session I felt little prickles of anxiety about. I had preconceived fears. FEAR? Who invited you?! What could you possibly be afraid of??? You’ll probably just breathe and listen to music, Rachel, you’re going to be fine, cut it out.

 

First of all, I just want to stop now and proclaim that Penny Elias is incredible. I love her. I wished we were best friends (recently I made her a BFF bracelet and so that is now a done deal). Penny’s home is beautiful, but it was her healing room that spoke to me. Penny hung grape vines wrapped in white twinkle lights around the room up high at the ceiling. It looks like a fairy wonderland.

 

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I guess I was afraid to breathe and, since that sounded dumb, I dove in headfirst (smart, right?).

 

When we practiced the deep breathing for the first time, it only took me five practice breaths before my hands started tingling in a very familiar way. Instantly, I was in that space of: are you having a PTSD episode? I was worried I might faint, I was worried I might cough uncontrollably and I was mostly worried that I was going to freak out and throw up. This is signifiant for ME because, as I mentioned above, I don’t have fear regarding any of the other million self help exercises I’ve ever tried.

 

Beautiful Penny laid me down on a long cushion, placed heated pillows under my knees, covered me with a blanket and put on some serious tribal music. Loud. The deep breathing feels weird! Because you have to open your mouth, relax your jaw, inhale so that the air hits the back of your throat in a big gulp and then exhale it out fast; at first I was reminded of what it feels like to be out of breath.

 

Immediately, my body started to tingle–my neck, my mouth, the top of my head, my stomach, my hands, my arms…

 

I began to think about how this is exactly how it begins when I get “sick” from PTSD, only I have no fear. It begins with this same sort of body tingle. Maybe I’m not sick, but my fear then makes me sick. Maybe my body has been trying to naturally heal itself all along by beginning to deep breathe and I resisted because I didn’t understand, thus preventing the healing my body requires.

 

At the same time I had that thought, the tingling sensation in my throat, mouth, heart, stomach and the top of my head changed into a spinning feeling–like little circles of energy spinning really fast, really hot and seriously vibrating. At that moment I knew intuitively:

 

Those are your chakras.

 

Open your mouth and speak the truth about what hurt you and you will heal.

 

You will heal if you breathe like this–tell people. Your body already knew how to do this, remember? Everyone told you to “calm down” and “stop breathing like that” because “you’re going to hyperventilate.”

 

I can’t stop my body, it’s too powerful.

 

At this point, my legs started to feel tingly like they were going numb. And I forgave everyone who had ever hurt me. Because I knew that I had agreed to it before I was born. And now that I know that, they can’t hurt me anymore. I began to feel like I am Mother Earth.

 

My son. In my womb. That’s when my body first tried to deep breathe all on its own. That was a gift from my son. He woke me up. He saved my life. Being a Mother is my most important role. I was going down the wrong path without my son; I was living for others to the extent where there was no room for me. My body rebelled against this and I fought hard against my body but my body beat me, my body won.

 

I’m supposed to deep breathe to heal my pain. All of my pain. Anything can be healed with deep breathing. My God I would love to show people how to do this, it is the secret universal medicine we all are looking for. I fought it as hard as I could to no avail. Deep breathing is in my DNA.

 

When you open your eyes after a deep breathing session (lasts anywhere from a half hour to ninety minutes depending on how focused you are), Penny Elias is the first person you want to see. Our conversations are deep, meaningful and oh so powerful. Not to mention, we wrapped the whole thing up with a two hour massage.

 

This one session totally changed me and that was immediately made clear to me. As always, I drove around after my session starving and confused. I thought that because I was wearing sweat pants, had tear-stained glasses, and essential oils all over my body, face and hair, that I would have to settle for Burger King drive thru for dinner. But, honestly, I had not had a decent meal the entire time I was there and could not take it for one more minute. I blew by the Burger King and found myself driving toward what appeared to be a very fancy restaurant as I tried to tell myself: you can’t go in there looking like this.

 

Oh but I did.

 

Maybe I should insert a tiny back story here. At that point, I had a history of bizarre dining experiences that usually look something like: I sit for a long time and no one comes to wait on me, so I actually have to get up and leave. I used to joke that I was Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense. Dead. Invisible to everyone except Haley Joel Osment, I guess.

 

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Seriously, everyone LOVED me in that restaurant. I’m not kidding, it was outrageous. The hostess, my server a random bus boy–totally smitten with me. Like this make-up-less, pale-face girl was enchanting them, they could not have made it more clear that I was welcome in their fancy expensive restaurant. Praised for my order of the filet and fries, cheered on for eating every single bite, impressed with my dessert order, smile and eye contact like I’ve never seen before. Each staff person had their own unique statement in furtherance of their desire that I come back again, which I am well aware is very normal, but it was not for me. What’s more, I could FEEL their energy was sincere, they really liked me.

 

I’m different now. The world looks different to me–more accepting of me. It’s real. I feel it.

 

Afterwards, I FaceTimed my son to say goodnight to him and our conversation was electric. He loves and misses me so much, he is so articulate for 4 years old, he is so affectionate towards me. He loves me. He told me:

 

“When you see me, I’m going to be AMAZING!!!”

 

WHY???

 

“Because I love you so much.”

 

And there you have it. He’s so smart. My son saved my life. Before he was even born yet. He showed me how to heal myself, how to love myself as my number one priority. This will undo a generational cycle of self hate. This will be modeled for my son, thus freeing up space for him to do something great without ever having to do dance with feeling unworthy or unloved. What a time suck.

 

I am made of love. I will never run out of love.

 

Deep breathing is worth practicing on a weekly basis. I did when I returned from my Sedona Soul Adventure and the most amazing things happened. There is never a deep breathing session that is less than transformative. It’s the best way to download guidance into your consciousness. There are pages and pages in my journal of deep breathing messages and inspiration. Here is a small excerpt:

 

Deep breathing causes the Writer within you to creatively awaken–deep breathe before writing if you don’t feel creative. Also, copy your ideas from this journal, they are solid gold.

 

And they seriously are. I got distracted by reading my deep breathing journal for an hour today, crying for joy at the ideas that have come out of my own soul. Wondering if they’ll ever see the light of day. Right now, I’m smiling huge because at least I finally shared this story.

 

XO,

Rachel

ps: stay tuned for my final Sedona Soul Adventure Session, it’s HUGE.

pps: to catch up on my other Sedona Soul Adventure Sessions, click here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Rachel VanKoughnet makes Ho’oponopono Healing Art

 

Remember how my New Year’s Resolution for 2016 was to forgive myself?

 

Well, I had to go on a Sedona Soul Adventure to learn how to do that. There, I learned the best story, told to me by Dr. Sher Wesch, about the Ho’oponopono Prayer.

 

Forgiveness is a practice.

 

Once upon a time, about 30 years ago, a miracle took place at the criminal facility for the mentally insane in Hawaii. This facility needed a miracle, too. Staff turnover was frequent due to violent sneak attacks from the inmates. So desperate to hire a new psychologist, the facility agreed to the terms stated by Dr. Hew Len:

 

He would not meet with any of the inmates.

 

The facility agreed to this! To hire a doctor to treat the inmates upon the condition that he never have to actually meet the inmates–seriously?!

 

Yes. This doctor arrived, went to his office, never met with the patients and then…

 

drumroll please…

 

The inmates started to get better. Like a lot better. They improved remarkably. Dramatically. The inmates began to change for the better and eventually every single one of them was released from the facility. Free to go home.

 

WHY???

 

Seriously, WHAT WAS THAT GUY DOING IN HIS OFFICE?!

 

Thank you for asking. This is the whole point of my story. The doctor was practicing the Ho’oponopono prayer of forgiveness: Thank you, I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me.

 

He was reviewing the files of the inmates. File after file of murder, rape, murder, rape and he was asking HIMSELF: What have I done in my life that I am now being presented with this?

 

Please forgive me

I’m sorry

Thank you

I love you

 

Dr. Hew Len forgave himself. He felt his way through all the feelings (horror, disgust, fear, anger, sadness, despair, compassion, hope, remorse, gratitude and love) for healing purposes.

 

I’m pretty sure this requires empathy.

 

em·pa·thy /noun
the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

 

Forgiveness is a practice.

 

I carry this story with me. I believe in the healing power of the Ho’oponopono Prayer because I have seen it and felt it for myself, through my artwork. Mixed media acrylics, ink, paper, orchids and the power of my prayer.

 

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You may recognize this artwork from the Meditations included in my grief-healing app, the iHeal because iFeel, but you probably don’t know that people I love with all my heart own the originals that I prayed into for many hours. When it feels like there is nothing you can do, it feels so good to sit down and do this instead.

 

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I got to the point where I had actually lost track of how many pieces of Ho’oponopono Prayer artwork I had gifted away. I began to feel so good. It feels amazing to practice Ho’oponopono. When I go to bed at night and find myself unable to sleep, I say the prayer for each person’s face I have ever seen in my life.

 

I’m sorry

Please forgive me

Thank you

I love you

 

One day I got so confident, I made a piece of healing art for the great artist Cher Lyn. As soon as I arrived in Sedona, I wanted so badly to forget all about my plan to give it to her. In fact, when I packed up my car, I almost left it at home–the very piece of art I had prayed for hours and hours to specifically gift to my great friend, I was just going to leave it. But I brought it.

 

Serendipitously, I was not actually able to give it to Cher Lyn. There was a moment at a restaurant where I felt excited to just drive away, keeping my secret safe with me. Instead, I told everyone at the table:

 

Listen guys, I have a piece of artwork in my car that I made for Cher Lyn and I’m scared to give it to her.

 

WHAT?

 

WHY?!!!

 

Go get it.

 

Ok, I say smiling, I will go get it. My smile is huge as I walk to the car, about to be found out, exposing my Self. Vulnerability is excruciating but I’m such a voyeur, I love it; there is a pleasure within the pain. I handed the piece of artwork over to my friend Mally and she just lights up.

 

Not only does Mally agree to deliver my art to Cher Lyn, but she also asks me if I want to display some of my art in her studio, Awakenings, for sale. My jaw just drops. The only art at Awakenings Yoga Studio is Cher Lyn’s and they are MASTERPIECES. My art…next to HERS???

 

I am so grateful. But I also feel like I am going to blow this opportunity. Am I an artist?

 

I wrestled around with this question for a long time. More like, who am I to call myself an artist?

 

So I did something huge. I signed up for Cher Lyn’s retreat called “Creating a New Myth” and decided that I would learn how to consider my Self an artist. This would mark my fifth trip to Sedona in just eight months. This also provided me with a deadline to bring my artwork to Mally’s studio for sale.

 

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I made 6 to sell and 10 for gifts. The energy of all the prayer that went into these left me feeling pretty high. Ho’oponopono HEALS!!! I have so much gratitude and love for the people in my life and I FEEL for them all; I FEEL for everyone who I have crossed paths with. I am so sorry for the pain, the pain that life lessons and growth inevitably brings to anyone who is alive enough to feel.

 

Ho’oponopono Heals.

 

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All 6 of these pieces sold in Sedona in less than one week. How can I deny the fact that I am an artist now? There is now a demand and orders to fulfill. I have created a new myth to say the least. You are watching the phoenix rise out of the ashes, transform into a butterfly and explode into a rainbow.

 

THANK YOU!

I LOVE YOU!

I’M SORRY!

PLEASE FORGIVE ME!

 

XO,

Rachel

P.S. – If you would like to order an original piece of Ho’oponopono Healing Mixed Media Art, Contact Me Here: 

 

 

Hiking Oregon

 

We were so excited for our first trip to Portland, Oregon. If you live in Las Vegas, you know that you have to escape the desert in the summertime, you have to beat the heat. All my husband wanted for his 38th Birthday was to go hiking someplace green.

 

I found us the BEST cabin.

 

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Actually, this is not the best cabin I have ever discovered, but it is by far the best yard I have ever played in. Totally private. The ground is soft. Spongy. Walking is more like springing. My eyes were more than observing, they were drinking in the surroundings in a constant state of awe.

 

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You have to cross this bridge over a beautiful creek to access the cabin. My son invented a thumbs up system where he had to cross the bridge alone first and, if he gave us the thumbs up, we were then allowed to cross one at a time, giving each other thumbs up.

 

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Basically, this is a place for a magical woodland fairy experience. This is exactly the place I dream of whenever I meditate. Moss covered stones and trees, running water, natural landscaping, and fun surprises everywhere. Like a Goddess bath that my husband insisted I could not swim in because of all the pollywogs.

 

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And this old fashioned bed frame under a chandelier in the middle of the woods that my husband insisted was not for me to lay on.

 

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Within the first half hour of our arrival, my face began to hurt from smiling so hard. I had found a real paradise. I was pretty sure that I should live here forever and began to go over in my mind what I could remember from law school about adverse possession.

 

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The three of us, my husband, my four year old and I, could not believe our eyes as we began to walk the path through the woods next to our cabin. We spoke only of what we thought was beautiful. Pointing out to each other whatever made our hearts soar. Trees, piles of mossy covered logs, giant clover patches. We spoke of adventures and exploring and discovery. Eventually this talk turned to “going off the path.”

 

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What happened to our family on the other side of this giant fallen tree will never be fully understood. I wish we had stayed on the path. But there was this like giant tipi made out of sticks that I had to see up close, I wanted to go inside. So we carefully made our way over to it and talked about how this could be our new house, if only we could find some cloth to wrap around the outside of the sticks.

 

From inside the stick tipi I pointed out what appeared to be a new path we could get on and continue exploring. Again, we carefully climbed over the piles of fallen logs, noticing how fun and springy it was to jump on. Just as we made it to the path, my husband got all shhhhhhhhushy pointing out a brown figure in the distance in front of us. A deer? We will never know.

 

Because my son started screaming.

 

SOMETHING IS STICKING IN MY LEG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

In the amount of time it has taken me to stare at my son in horror, my husband has already grabbed my son and began asking him to point to where it hurts on his leg. He points at his inner thigh and my husband pulls his pants down.

 

Chris is a good Dad.

 

I scrutinize my son’s leg looking for a stick protruding from it or an arrow because he is screaming in a way that has never happened before and I can feel fear releasing into my body.

 

Very calmly, I point out a tiny red mark on my son’s leg that could be the cause…maybe? I am very confused. My husband is acting fast. Taking my son’s shoes off and telling me that he felt something drop into the pants when he pulled them down.

 

FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m Sorry OW! I got bit. Oh no wonder, this really hurts!

 

My husband has never said the F word in front of our child before. He finishes taking my son’s pants off and then pulls up his own shirt to reveal a huge red welt on his side. My son is scream crying:

 

TAKE ME BACK TO THE CABIN!!!

 

My husband picks up our son and begins to run back toward the cabin but only makes it about 10 feet before my son begins screaming bloody murder. My husband very quickly puts my son down, rips off his hat, his long sleeve shirt, his short sleeve shirt and there, on my son’s side is a red welt just like his Dad’s.

 

OW!

 

My husband screams again. In one fluid movement he rips off his own long sleeve shirt, picks up our son and begins to run. I am totally horrified. I run behind them not even breathing. I don’t see any danger at all. I do not hear any danger at all. What is going on?!

 

As I am thinking this, I glance down at my left shoulder and see a hornet.

 

I have never taken off a sweatshirt so fast in my entire life.

 

Immediately, I understand that the movie I am in is called “My Girl” and Macauley Caulkin dies over this shit.

 

My husband is scooping up dirt from the ground and applying it to our son’s leg and stomach. My son is screaming:

 

THEY ARE CHASING US!!!! I WILL NEVER GO HIKING AGAIN!!!!

 

My husband assures our son that we are not being chased, that we left those bees back there in the woods and they will not come back. As I run up the 100 stone steps to our cabin to get ice, I rip off my T-shirt and take the suspenders off of my overalls, convinced that this is not over, I remark to myself that my husband hasn’t even rubbed the dirt on himself yet. He is really something.

 

In the freezer I find a bucket of ice. Later my husband laughs about this, like the cabin owner knew this might happen and keeps a bucket of ice handy for this exact purpose. I grab some towels and, half naked, I run them down 100 stone steps to my screaming naked son in the front yard.

 

Unfortunately, the soil doesn’t have enough clay to do its job of sucking out the stinger and does nothing to ease the pain. This is the worst pain of his life. I can tell by his facial expressions that he is traumatized because he cannot understand why he would be caused so much pain.

 

I am so upset that my son is experiencing pain that, in a voice that doesn’t even sound like me, I proclaim: I HATE THOSE BEES!

 

My son relaxes, as if he finally feels we understand the gravity of the situation. I hold the ice to my son’s leg and stomach and he wraps his body around mine, clinging to me, begging me to take him to the cabin, repeating that he will never go hiking again, over and over. He holds up his hand and I see, for the first time, his very swollen pinky. If only I had three arms.

 

I WANT TO GO TO BED, I WANT TO GO TO SLEEP!

 

Never have I ever heard these words come out of my son’s mouth. I can tell by his body language that he is shutting down from having to endure the pain of the three stings. I can’t stand the idea of putting his extremely muddy body into the bed so I had to convince him to take a cold bath, which he could only stand for however long it took me to get him clean-ish.

 

As an added bonus, while I was putting his pajamas on him, a bee buzzed around our heads in the cabin after I had already promised him there were no bees in the cabin, causing him to proclaim:

 

I AM GOING TO HAVE NIGHTMARES!!!!!

 

I hold my son, rock him, try to soothe him. My husband explains that we must have stepped on their house and that made them feel scared of us. My son insists that he is done with hiking and eventually he falls asleep.

 

In an effort to put some distance between this experience and the rest of our trip, we decided to get up and go in the morning. We went to breakfast and happened to find the perfect distraction. Mount Hood Adventure Park.

 

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This place could not have been more perfect. Trampolines, pony rides, a huge tube slide, a big kids play area, rides, and, best of all, Jackson got to drive his first go kart.

 

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Seriously, I could not be more grateful to this place for getting our family vacation back on track.

 

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Luckily, my son had no problem stopping along the way for a hike because he saw that as different from hiking on the obviously deadly paths at our cabin. Hallelujah. We were so worried he would be too afraid to try again, but once more we found ourselves totally entranced by the beauty of the forest.

 

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We saw parts of the Oregon trail!

 

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We hiked every single day of our trip.

 

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To places that had really cool bridges!

 

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Jackson totally conquered the hike to Mirror Lake.

 

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As a reward, we let him take his boots off to cool off his feet before the hike back down to the car.

 

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Everywhere we hiked, I kept seeing hearts.

 

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Plain as day. Hearts all along my path. I even pulled one out of the creek by our cabin and took it home with me. As I hiked along I thought about love and felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. I made a mistake. Even though I was thrilled that my son was hiking again, despite saying he would never hike again, I felt a sense of…guilt? Like I had done the wrong thing…

 

How you gonna teach your son what love is when you told him you hate those bees?

 

And then it hit me:

 

I forgive them.

 

I told my son:

 

What if…What would you do if a GIANT came up and crushed our house with his huge stinky foot? And there you were…just standing among all the crushed up pieces of your broken toys and busted up couch, bits and pieces of your whole house broken and crushed up all around you…do you think you might crawl up inside that Giant’s pants and bite his leg as hard as you could?

 

Oh yes! I would bite his butt!!

 

Hahahaha me too!! I would say: Hey! You can’t just go around crushing my home with your big stinky giant feet! And then I would bite his butt and crawl up further and bite his belly, too! Hey you know what?! I forgive those hornets.

 

Me too, Mama.

 

You do?!!

 

Yes because they were protecting their home.

 

You’re totally right, Jackson, and guess what else–I can see our hearts have gotten bigger since we decided to forgive.

 

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XO,

Rachel

 

PS–Hornets build their homes in the ground inside the fallen logs that are super fun to jump on.

The State of The Union

 

 

Remember last winter?

 

I do.

 

So long. So dark. So full of despair.

 

I spent a lot of time sobbing in the bathtub thinking about Whitney and Bobbi Christina last winter. Unable to see the light. Wondering how it could possibly be that I am still fucking here. How am I still alive?

 

On one of these days in early January 2016, I came across a story about a woman named Baba Vanga. Through tear-stained glasses and swollen eyes, while scrolling through FaceBook on my phone, I saw a face that made me stop crying:

 

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Whoa.

 

In reading the article, I learned that Baba Vanga was a blind Bulgarian clairvoyant who has an 85% success rate with her predictions that include the attacks of 9/11, the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 and the concept of Global Warming.

 

The article actually scared the shit out of me because Baba Vanga predicted that by the end of 2016, Europe will cease to exist.

 

No way!!!!! I love Europe! I studied abroad in Law School at the University of Amsterdam in 2004 and got the opportunity to visit both Paris and Germany. I got to go inside Anne Frank’s secret annex!

 

024_24

 

Why in the world would Europe ever cease to exist? How???

 

Well, perhaps this prediction from Baba Vanga is related: our 44th president will be our first African American President and our last President. Ever.

 

Why in the world would America not have a 45th president? How???

 

I began to read every article ever printed online about Baba Vanga. I had to know everything. How did she go blind. Who was her family. What was her upbringing like? Why and under what circumstances did she make these predictions?

 

Baba Vanga died in 1996. It is always my first guess that the people who are able to report what they can “see” about the future are trying to help. I hoped that because of Baba Vanga having the ability to be heard, with her predictions in print and circulating the internet, that this would equate to mass numbers of people working toward making those predictions an impossibility.

 

That hope was shattered less than 6 months later when I woke up to Brexit, which I immediately understood to be exactly how Europe ceasing to exist will begin. As of July 2016, the prediction is that QUITaly will be next. For the record: I find these mashups highly offensive. Exiting Europe, quitting Europe–haven’t y’all heard about Baba Vanga predicting Europe will cease to exist at the end of 2016 OR ARE YOU CAPITALIZING ON IT?

 

IMG_7359

 

Thanks to People Magazine, I was able to piece together how it could possibly be that both Europe could cease to exist and America could have no future presidents around the same exact time.

 

Trump and this British Trump are too a-holes in a pod. Something about the fact that they both exist at the same time… It was at this moment that I knew this is the way things were supposed to be. That Baba Vanga wasn’t necessarily telling us so that we could stop it, she was telling us so that the people watching it could understand that this is part of our journey.

 

Does it mean we give up?

 

HELL NO!!!

 

Does it mean we can stop it?

 

I don’t know.

 

That’s not the point. I am not an opportunist, I am a humanist. Like I have already told you, we are here on this Earth to learn lessons and grow, a pain/pleasure cycle that ends with a life review you are held personally accountable for.

 

What happened with Wikileaks revealing the democratic party “favored Hillary Clinton and worked behind the scenes to discredit and defeat Bernie Sanders,” is the catalyst for change. For as long as I have been alive, it has been a given that politicians are “crooked,” unethical, self serving hypocrites and that “the voice of the people” cannot truly be heard as a result.

 

My little girl brain always made sure to stay involved in politics as a result of that given. I have always been active in student government, from grade school to law school. I am familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order. I am the president of the PTO at my son’s preschool. I am a whistleblower.

 

When I was 12 years old I thought it was pretty bad ass that the First Lady was working towards universal healthcare. The media was reporting it as a bad thing, I could hear that clearly and was struck by the message: the first lady is not supposed to be this involved. It was not about Hillary Clinton’s competence, it was about her being seen AND heard at the same time, which was clearly distasteful to most. Not to me, though. What’s the point of even having a brain if you’re not going to use it?

 

While Michelle Obama made her amazing speech at the DNC last night, people were already making memes out of her, declaring: Michelle Obama for president!

 

That really ticks me off. I don’t think people understand that they have the luxury of saying, “Michelle Obama for president,” BECAUSE Michelle Obama purposefully intended to be a “traditional First Lady” who is not involved in politics. Had First Lady Michelle Obama been as active as First Lady Hillary Clinton, using her amazing lawyer brain to actively pursue political goals, America really wouldn’t be able to give two shits about who Michelle Obama wants us to vote for because she would then be guilty of the worst offense: being a woman with an opinion.

 

I remember when Hillary lost the primary to Obama. I was devastated. I felt cheated. I didn’t understand how someone with more experience could lose to someone so green. It didn’t seem fair. I wish that wikileaks could go back through the 2008 emails and reveal the way in which the democratic party favored Obama over Hillary because we all have to know that this was not the first time that has happened. What has been revealed, is actually the practice and not the exception, in my opinion.

 

So here’s the deal: political parties are just like insurance companies. They want your money, they want your vote and they want your allegiance, but they do not want to give you anything in return such as honesty, integrity or value. Seriously. This is the nature of winning and losing. The only thing the “party” wants to do is “beat” the other “party.” That’s fucken weird.

 

This is the part where I wake up and realize I knew this was coming long before Baba Vanga told me. I’m talking about it in the very first blog I ever wrote (click here) which is published almost exactly one year before the article I read on Baba Vanga was published. I’m talking about it in the YouTube video I made almost exactly 2 years ago to the day (click here). I’ve been talking about a revolution for years.

 

Why?

 

Absence of matriarchy.

 

What does that mean?

 

Thank you for asking.

 

ma·tri·ar·chy
ˈmātrēˌärkē
noun: matriarchy; plural noun: matriarchies

A  system of society or government ruled by a woman or women.
A form of social organization in which descent and relationship are reckoned through the female line.
The state of being an older, powerful woman in a family or group.
“she cherished a dream of matriarchy—catered to by grandchildren”

 

Interesting. Compare that to the definition for patriarchy:

 

pa·tri·arch·y
ˈpātrēˌärkē
noun: patriarchy;  plural noun: patriarchies
A system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is traced through the male line.
A system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.
A society or community organized on patriarchal lines.

 

Ok, how can I explain this…

 

You know that old expression: all women are crazy and all men are assholes.

 

What if assholes have been exclusively in charge forever and it has driven us all crazy.

 

When I was in Law School the Constitutional Law books looked like this:

 

women are {can own} property.

 

Law school books are like that because part of a legal education includes an understanding of what the law was, what the law is now and everything that happened in between. If you have been through law school, then you know why Bill Cosby has not been indicted for serial rape and you know why Brock Turner only got 6 months as a convicted rapist. Our laws are based on what men think is fair for men.

 

Absence of matriarchy.

 

www.rachelvankoughnet.com-24

 

Oppressing an entire gender has not worked out. There is no way to fix a system that purposefully excluded an entire gender absent scrapping that shit system and starting over. Baba Vanga shared her visions so that we could know things don’t always stay the same. Life is cyclical.

 

Does the idea of no more Europe and no more presidential leader frighten me?

 

Hell yes.

 

But I have PTSD, so I deal with fear on a very regular basis and continue to face everything and rise. For me, fear will never trump justice. I am brave. I have always been prepared to go down fighting the good fight. I run from nothing. I believe in love, honesty, integrity, caring, compassion, strength, loyalty and kindness. These are my life values.

 

You know how Mister Rogers’ mom was all, look for the helpers?

 

mister rogers

 

Well I’m a mom, too, and this is what’s going down in my house: BE A HELPER. Look for the helpers so you can join them in CARING TO BE HELPFUL. You have to care.

 

%22We need to teach our children to FIND the light in the darkness. Where it -2

 

XO,

Rachel

PS: Baba Vanga also predicted that hunger would be eradicated between 2025 and 2028, I plan to be a major part of that effort. We have more than enough food, there is no reason for children to die of starvation. We can all be helpers.

Healing from Complex PTSD Adrenaline Dump

 

 

Today was a bit of a set back for me.

 

Truth be told, I totally lost my shit.

 

It’s already been kind of weird lately for me. I haven’t been sleeping well. After  a few days of not sleeping well, everything becomes surreal for me. The other day I looked up at the clouds and thought: those are old clouds from weeks ago, nice try…

 

Today I got pulled over. It happened so fast, I was unable to even have that sinking feeling in my stomach like, oh crap, that’s a cop. I just looked in my rear view mirror and saw the flashing lights right behind me. I looked down at my speedometer and was not surprised to see that I was NOT speeding. As I pulled over, I hoped that maybe this was not about me somehow…

 

As the officer approached, I got out my license and thought…I hope that me getting my license out of my purse does not cause the officer to think I am getting out a gun.

 

By the time the officer got to the passenger window, I became terrified to retrieve my registration from the glove box because I became fixated on the police officer mistaking me for someone with a gun. The fear came upon me so quickly, I was surprised to see my hands were shaking as I handed over my license.

 

The first words out of the officer’s mouth were a demand for my registration. Of course. License and registration. I knew that. But…

 

My mind is like…what is that again? Registration…that thing in the glove box…

 

Very slowly, I reached for the glove box while making eye contact with the Officer the entire time as if to say: please don’t shoot me for opening the glove box.

 

I pull out the canvas/velcro holder of all things paper related to my vehicle out of the glove box and sheepishly open it up knowing that I don’t know what exactly I am looking for…

 

Doom doom doom da da doom doo

 

Under pressure…

 

All the while, the officer is advising me that the sticker on the back of my vehicle is the wrong color and I should know the answer to this simple question and where is my proof of insurance?

 

As I am sheepishly explaining to the officer that “the shameful truth here, is that I don’t know the answer to these questions because my husband takes care of this sort of thing,” the radio on the officer’s shoulder declares that my registration is expired.

 

Copy that.

 

No registration and no insurance? The officer tells me to wait here and goes back to the police vehicle.

 

This is the part where I totally lose my shit.

 

I’m in trouble. As I begin to scan the vehicle for evidence that I have active car insurance, I begin to convince myself that I am going to go to jail. Right now.

 

I call my husband and am unable to even speak to him for the first 85 seconds of the conversation. This is not his first rodeo, so he waits for me to speak with the patience of a saint. I tell him while sobbing:

 

I am scared…I got pulled over…they say I have no insurance or registration…I don’t know what’s going to happen to me…

 

Really? Rachel we have car insurance. I’m surprised about the registration. Let me get off the phone with you so I can send you the proof right now. It’s ok.

 

But it’s not.

 

I have Complex PTSD. A bucket of adrenaline dumped into my system. I was hysterical. I was shaking, my heart was racing, my stomach was cramped and burning with acid, I could not stop crying and I was having a hard time breathing.

 

The officer could not believe it.

 

“Turn that off.”

 

Seriously, that’s what the officer said to me. Twice.

 

“Turn that off.”

 

Meaning, my feelings. Lol. If only I could.

 

I handed my phone to the officer to show that I had active insurance and was told to bring that proof to court with me so that my ticket could be reduced. I took the ticket and said:

 

Thank you. I just want to say that I am sorry.

 

“You weren’t even speeding.”

 

I know. But I messed up. And I’m scared. I thought you were going to arrest me.

 

“Why? Do you have active warrants? Should I do a background check on you now?”

 

This actually pauses the crying for five seconds so I can laugh out loud.

 

NO! I mean, go ahead you can do a background check on me if you want. I’m just so sorry and I apologize.

 

Disinterested, the police officer asks me to sign the electronic acknowledgement of my ticket, needing to quickly go pull someone else over who had just sped past us.

 

It may be necessary for me to point out here that I could care less about getting a ticket and having to go to court. The problem for me here is, I don’t think I can drive because my body is processing a bucket of adrenaline that dumped unnecessarily into my system due to mother-fucking PTSD.

 

The officer cut me off to pull out, wanting to go get that other guy, which left me in the awkward position of reentering the freeway on my own in heavy fast moving traffic. The terror inside of me is just, unreal. I do have the ability to intellectually observe in real time: wow, this amount of fear is excessive. I do not have the ability to make it stop before it has run its course.

 

So I drive home scream crying. So startled. I am so startled by everything. And at the same time, I am able to say the truth to myself: it’s ok. You didn’t get shot. You didn’t get arrested. You didn’t even get yelled at. You’re ok.

 

But I’m not. I wish I could tell you here that I was ok, but the fear inside of me needed to come out, it was not all gone. I could not stop screaming. I could not get ahold of my breathing and I could not stop crying and the pain in my stomach was intense.

 

My husband called to follow up with me and I told him: I got scared and it made me sick.

 

He asked what he could do to help and I asked him to get me adrenal gland supplements from the health store. This was a suggestion written down for me by a psychic I saw several months ago, but for some reason had never followed up on. I shouldn’t need a psychic to tell me to get adrenal gland supplements, but the fact that she made the suggestion without me ever mentioning my health issues resonated with me.

 

pills

 

My husband came home with a variety of supplements and tons of love and support for me. We talked about all of the healing tools in my arsenal and how this is a time to use my app. So I did.

 

I opened up the iHeal because iFeel app and it gave me the best homework. It asked me to list out my 5 favorite lunch meals. Now that may seem useless to you, but it was lunch time and I had not had anything to eat, nor did I plan to. Listing out 5 different lunch meals was hard but ultimately inspiring. I also meditated with the app and that caused me to fall asleep. When I woke up, I ate and felt much better.

 

The app helped me to transition. That period of time between “I’m not ok” and “I’m ok” can be the scariest time of your life. You don’t know when it will end, if ever. I have spent a lot of time in this space. The space between.

 

cryingface

 

Interestingly, taking selfies of my crying face also helps me to transition. It’s hard to continue sobbing when you know exactly what it looks like. In fact, this almost makes me smile. Because I am so ridiculous. Shout out to my sense of humor for keeping me alive all these years!

 

Knowing I have the ability to heal my Self is empowering.

 

XO,

Rachel

THE BEST MEDITATION OF ALL TIME!!!

 

 

I think the worst part about grief is the feeling you get when you tell yourself:

 

We can’t be together anymore. Ever.

 

Or:

 

I will never hold them in my arms again.

 

These statements cause tremendous pain inside, right around your heart and your gut. The pain is uncomfortable and can lead to anger or resentment.

 

Instead of replaying agonizing statements in your mind that cause you to feel pain, listen to this:

 

You can meditate a heart to heart hug with any one at any time.

 

I do it all the time.

 

It feels AMAZING.

 

It works so well, I have to share it with everyone.

 

Click here to experience the best 15 minute healing meditation of all time.

 

You don’t have to suffer from estrangement, loss, divorce, death or major change.

 

ihealanimationpicMONKEY

 

We can all heal through mindfulness.

 

XO,

Rachel

p.s.: For more of my grief-healing meditations and tools, check out my app by clicking here.

 

 

RachelVanKoughnet

June 21, 2016

 

 

 

I did it!

 

It took me about 6 months, but I invented my first app.

 

The iHeal because iFeel helps organize and heal grief symptoms.

 

IMG_6825

 

First, select which of the 5 stages of grief you are experiencing from the menu. You will then be asked to indicate the intensity level that particular symptom invokes. These answers will all be auto populated into the handy calendar, together with the specific healing activities you have completed.

 

IMG_6828

 

What’s really cool: I made 5 meditations specific to the 5 stages of grief. As in, I wrote, read and professionally recorded them.

 

IMG_6764

 

That’s MY art work! Do you LOVE it?

 

IMG_6827

 

The point of the app is to encourage you to feel your feelings. To bury your feelings is to bury your Self alive, a form of suicide. Feel the feelings, organize your healing techniques and heal your Self.

 

IMG_6829

 

The point is: go out there and make rainbows. Feel it all. Heal it all. Yes cry, yes get angry, yes use that big old brain to bargain and find acceptance and above all else: enjoy sweet blissful denial, nature’s reset button. You can heal your own grief, your body knows how, you just have to stop fighting it.

 

Currently, my app is available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Click here to purchase yours today.

 

Thank you for your support!!!

 

XO,

Rachel

The Nice Guys

 

I went on a hot date a couple weeks ago.

 

 

I’m still bothered by it.

 

 

We went to the movies to see a comedy. More lives were lost in the first 20 minutes of previews than anyone could’ve ever imagined. It was unbearable for me to watch.

 

 

Human life matters.

 

 

This is what I said to myself every time I gasped and closed my eyes in an attempt to unsee the casual massacre: human life matters.

 

 

Why are these previews SO violent!? I’m here to see a comedy!!!!

 

 

So guess what? That “comedy” starring Ryan Goesling and Russell Crowe is more of a dark violent action movie. That movie starts with me gasping, filling with adrenaline, closing my eyes, and whispering: human life matters. This is how I spend the next two hours.

 

 

For someone who has PTSD, The Nice Guys is not the best date night movie choice. I didn’t laugh at all. I literally felt sick to my stomach because I do not understand what is funny about murder.

 

 

In fact, I would be so bold as to say: murder is not funny at all.

 

 

When I heard the news about 50 people being shot dead and 53 people injured in Orlando, I closed my eyes and said that phrase 103 times.

 

 

human life matters

 

 

I thought about all the movies I had ever seen. I thought about all the video games. I thought about HBO premium cable programming. I thought about music videos. I thought about brain washing. I thought about disconnect from self and others.

 

 

That’s what this is about. Disconnect. It starts with disconnection from self and spirals out of control from there.

 

 

Can you imagine actually looking a stranger in the eye and saying: I don’t know you but I love you. I love you because, like me, you are a human being and we are all here on this planet together. Can you imagine heart to heart hugging this person until you breathe together in a rhythm and can feel love going back and forth between your two hearts?

 

 

Would that be weird? Why?

 

 

Human life matters.

 

 

I don’t care what you have been taught. I don’t care what you have experienced. As a creator of life, I can promise you with 100% certainty: human life matters.

 

 

Act like it.

 

 

When our time here on Earth is up, we go into a life review. It’s like watching the coolest movie of all time. You get to see the story from way before you were born all the way into the future, far after you have already left; you get to see your legacy.

 

 

It’s not just seeing, by the way. You feel it. You feel what you are seeing. You feel the pain you caused others. You feel the joy you caused others. You feel and finally understand the big picture.

 

 

Life is about learning specific lessons. We each picked different ones before we were born. If we do a good job, we graduate. If we do a poor job, we come back and start over.

 

 

How do I know this?

 

 

I came here with that. I don’t know why. I brought it with me and I have always known it was the truth. I don’t care if you believe me or not. I just have to say what I know. I have to speak my truth.

 

 

My best piece of advice in this regard: make a practice out of honoring human life.

 

 

XO,

Rachel

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 5

Let’s recap:

Day 1 of Sedona Soul Adventures included 2 sessions that each lasted over 2 hours. I was so emotionally exhausted that I stumbled out of Divyo’s beautiful home to drive on autopilot straight back to the Sky Ranch Lodge, forgetting to eat.

No big deal. Miraculously, there is a restaurant at the end of the “street” behind the hotel. I grabbed a table for one and ate food that did not appeal to me while journaling. I had SO much information to write down. 

Back at the hotel, I FaceTimed my husband and told my son some pretty amazing bed time stories. I then journaled for two more hours before falling asleep.

Day 2 of Sedona Soul Adventures also included 2 sessions and my first actually took place in my hotel room. Thank god I sprung for the executive suite.

Shamanic Astrology.

What does that mean?!!!

I don’t know. I was super excited and peed like a million times before she arrived.

Jeannie is so pretty. I loved everything about our experience together. Especially what she said as she walked through the door:

Follow your intuition!

When Jeannie described the mistake she had made in deciding which way to drive through the parking lot, my eyes got HUGE as I exclaimed to her:

THAT’S THE SAME MISTAKE I MADE!!!!

“I know,” Jeannie said, “I have been here many times and I knew the way, but I didn’t listen to my intuition and I did exactly what you did so that I could come up here and tell you, Rachel: FOLLOW YOUR INTUITION!”

Ok.

God.

Thank you.

Jeannie prepared a chart representing what the alignment of planets and stars was at the exact moment of my birth. As she explained the chart to me, I thought to myself: what the hell is she talking about…

IMG_7006

I am Mother Earth. (If you could read this chart, you would know that).

Jeannie was able to accurately tell me exactly what kind of man I am interested in sexually by looking at this chart. Wow.

The most important part of our 3-hour conversation though, was Jeannie’s insistence that my chart was very special; the numbers, the planets and the symbols all repeat.

So what—doesn’t everybody’s chart have the same number going around the circle?

No!!!!  Those numbers around the circle of the chart are usually all different.

Not only is it unique that I have the same number going all the way around my circle, but the number itself is significant: 29. 

I think that’s so neat because my son was born on the 29th of January.

Jeannie emailed me one week after our session with some research she had done on the 29th degree, a critical degree in astrology, because she wanted me to understand.

I do too because, from what I can gather, I am going to soul graduate. I know it. All I have to do is get it right this time on Earth. How motivating is that?!

Stay tuned for the next Part of this Sedona Soul Adventures series—you do NOT want to miss the next session!

And if there are any other Shamanic Astrologers out there who want to throw in their two cents on what my chart means to them, PLEASE PLEASE DO SO! Though I practice following my intuition, I am still all about that guidance.

XO,

Rachel

ps: if you missed the previous Sedona Soul Adventures blogs, catch up:

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 1

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 2

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 3

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 4

Serendipitously, I met a Goddess…

 

Once upon a time I took a five-month break from writing because my feelings were hurt.

 

I had apparently decided to participate in the suppression of my Self.

 

Serendipitously, I met a Goddess. She saw me. Does that make sense? I often feel like, despite the fact that I am in the presence of other people, they are still somehow unable to truly see me for who I am.

 

Nothing gets past Jamie. She is the only person I have ever met in my real life to ever discover my online presence, despite the fact that my Blog and YouTube channel are titled in my full name.

 

Jamie took the time to express her gratitude to me for the “kind and uplifting messages” that she feels are “bringing a lot of positivity to the world.”

 

Most importantly, the point of Jamie’s email was to tell me that the haiku I had written in my last post reminded her of a poem called “On Children” by Kahlil Gibran, a poem that is her personal mantra as a Mother.

 

I cannot explain to you what that exchange meant to me. She saw me.

 

The Haiku I wrote about my son that she was referring to is this:

 

HE’S NOT MINE TO OWN

I WAS MADE TO PROTECT HIM

BEFORE I WAS BORN.

 

The poem that Jamie shared with me is this:

 

On Children
by Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

 

Every single time I read this poem I cry. You have no idea how far I have been bent. That I have never broken is nothing short of a miracle. I am that stable bow. Bend me as hard as you can, I cannot be broken. My son is that arrow. I am doing it.

 

I am so proud to have a friend who uses this poem as her parenting mantra. That I could write a haiku reminiscent of Kahlil Gibran’s On Children, without even knowing it, makes me happy to be alive.

 

I am grateful to my friend Jamie because she made me come alive.

 

My heart cracked open. I started writing again, I found the courage to tell her about my app idea and she helped me find a developer to build it. Jamie has allowed me to practice healing her in so many different ways, she has become the physical embodiment of my soul purpose, which is to heal.

 

Did you hear what I just said? My soul purpose is to heal. That is not easy for me to admit and I would love to add a caveat about how I am only supposed to heal myself, but with one comes the other. I have always been a healer, but I have also always kept that fact a secret, even from myself.

 

Why?

 

Because I am so fucking tired of being misunderstood. I thought if I could control the way I was perceived, then it would be easier to understand me and I could finally feel NOT lonely.

 

As you can see, I CREATED MY OWN LONELINESS BY NOT BEING MYSELF.

 

No one could understand me because I wasn’t being me. I am not a lawyer. I am a radiant being filled with love and light. I am totally made of love. I came here knowing many things I should not know and I am going to share them all with the world. I was not born with these gifts to keep them secret.

 

Only I know who I am and only I can share that.

 

IMG_6914

 

My grief healing app is going to launch shortly together with the book that goes with it and everything in my life will change. This will involve “owning” who I am. I am a healer. I am an artist. I make healing art. I am a storyteller. I tell healing stories. I have enough love for the entire world and I will never run out.

 

If you have a friend who came into your life and made it better, tell them. Look them right in the eye and tell them your truth. Then give them a super long heart to heart hug. Just really breathe deeply into this hug and feel the love going back and forth between the two of you.

 

This is your soul mate. And by mate, I mean friend. There are people who come into our lives and we feel like we already know them, we feel like we love them more than people we have known our whole lives. This is what it is to connect with the spirit you agreed to connect with before you were born.

 

Why?

 

To make sure you are following your soul path. No detours.

 

If your friends could care less about whether or not you are on your soul path, they are not your soul mates and that’s ok. Everyone in your life is there for a reason: to help you learn your soul lessons.

 

Be as grateful to those that bend you to your breaking point as you are to those who support you. Everyone in your life is responsible for the person you are today. Acknowledge your own strength; you are not broken, you are learning.

 

XO,

Rachel

ps–tomorrow is my Deer Friend Jamie’s Birthday and I am going to hug her so hard. Don’t forget what I said above about those heart to heart hugs, that’s a prescription for healing. You’re welcome.

pps–Jamie is really special.

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 4

 

 

Ok now where were we…

 

Right, it’s Sedona Soul Adventure day one and I have just finished my first session.

 

I now have about 45 minutes to eat and get to my second and final session of day one.

 

What I really want to do is go to sleep. The first session blew my mind too many times for me to even know what to do next. I drove along route 89 totally confused about where I was going or why. I had to start gently talking to myself:

 

“Ok, Rae, you can eat whatever you want for lunch, I will take care of you, you are fine…”

 

I pull over at this Deli I have already passed twice and force myself to go inside even though I do not feel like this is the place for me to eat. I order 2 slices of pizza to go even though I have no place to go and I have to pee really bad.

 

In a fog, I eat the gross pizza in my car in the Deli parking lot and then I get out and walk over to a grocery store so I can go pee. I look at the grocery items on my way out like…maybe I will buy something…but ultimately I keep going because I have no idea what to buy or why.

 

Back in my car, I journal until it is time to make the short drive to my second session, Family Constellations, whatever that means…

 

hellinger

 

First of all, her name is Divyo and her home is amazing. The views from her huge living room window will make you reconsider your life. Divyo has this fantastic German accent that I felt enhanced our session, as many of my family members are of German descent and this session was supposed to be about my family through the generations…

 

…or maybe it’s because I spent a semester in college with a German exchange student trying to master a German accent for the musical Cabaret…and the following semester I cast that same German exchange student to play the Therapist in the one-act play I directed, Women and Wallace…hmmmmmm….

 

There are many brightly colored pillows lining the wall of her healing room. Divyo invites me to sit in one of her matching leather chairs as she steps out of the room. Immediately, I decide to wrap up in her big fuzzy blanket while she is gone. Divyo’s husband brings me a glass of water and I admit, in case he is blind, that I have decided to use the blanket. He approves. Divyo returns and is pleased about the blanket as well.

 

We begin the 2-hour session with Divyo explaining Hellinger’s Constellation Therapy Model. I can sum that all up by saying: wow, it’s really not about me. It’s not. DNA, man. Trauma transfers genetically, it’s science. The things that bother your parents will both you, too. This is why it is so important to consider your issues before you have children.

 

hellinger 2

 

Divyo asked me to pick out 2 pillows to represent my parents. Next, she had me pick out pillows to represent all of the offspring between my parents, especially the offspring that did not make it. We then repositioned and spoke at length about my family structure and how we all agreed to come here and be a family before we were even born. The struggles are lessons we all agreed in advance to experience to learn together from each other.

 

einstein

 

The content of this session is private, so I will leave the 5 pages of notes in my journal to myself. The outcome of this session was phenomenal. Clarity, compassion, forgiveness, and best of all, unconditional love.

 

I love my Dad. I love my Mom. I love each and every one of my siblings. I feel and speak this truth from my heart every day. I love my family of origin at all times. Like a tree, the branches tend to grow away from each other, but family will always share roots.

 

hellinger5

 

I am grateful for my life journey. I am excited to be growing in this direction:

 

hellinger 3

 

XO,

Rachel

PS: Stay tuned for more of my Sedona Soul Adventure!! Click here to read part one, click here to read part 2 and click here to read part 3. Ok now you are all caught up!

First Thing in the Morning Mourning

 

 

Have you ever taken a break from FaceBook and then come back to FaceBook…

 

And then saw a friend of yours tag another friend of yours…

 

And then thought: hey what’s up with that friend, haven’t seen him in a year…

 

And then realize he had died.

 

IMG_4341

 

I cannot tell you how hard I cried this morning scrolling through all the bereft posts on his page. Howled. It’s not over. I’m still crying. I don’t even have to squint, tears are flowing from my resting neutral face and landing on my damp hair and pajamas. I have to tell you about Russell.

 

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Russell was an angel. Not like the halo-wearing kind, but the kind of angel surrounded by light at all times. He lit up every room he entered. His energy was infectious and I absolutely LOVED being in his presence. He was magical.

 

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Russell was a performer, both onstage and off, entertaining anyone lucky enough to be in proximity to him. He dated a very good friend of mine from college and I got the opportunity to take their headshots together in Red Rock Canyon.

 

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This was such a meaningful experience for me; I love to combine my strong desire to help my friends and be artistically creative. Russell made this day extraordinarily light and fun. He had this natural ability to simultaneously deliver and enhance; when I wasn’t shooting him, he was using his energy to bring all of our spirits up.

 

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That was just how Russell was…he was always working…but his work was love…and light. He was ALIVE. To be in his presence made you feel more alive, too. We laughed the whole time, my face hurt from smiling so hard and focusing the camera.

 

IMG_4378

 

When I asked my friend to join me, to dance in the One Billion Rising for V-Day Flash Mob, he said yes and made a point to tell me that Russell was so excited. I cannot tell you how that made my heart swoon—swoon? Yeah, it swooned. When I ask people to volunteer for V-Day, usually I either get a ‘not this time’ or an ‘okayyyyyy’…but Russell was excited…he was so pumped for every single aspect of this.

 

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If you knew Russell, you would know that a Flash Mob is right up his ally. He showed up like he always did, radiating light with this confidence that made you want to be around him forever.

 

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My first time Flash Mob nerves melted into laughter and excitement; Russell helped me get out of my head and into the moment.

 

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Russell showed me what it looks like to be ALIVE.

 

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Before my last Facebook hiatus, I was very closely following Russell and his dream to read every single Stephen King novel. I thought that was so cool. I have read many of those same novels and appreciated his appetite for more books!

 

This morning, when I saw my friend tag Russell on FaceBook, it reminded me that I hadn’t seen him posting about his novel reading status in a long time and it hit me—you probably didn’t add him as a friend when you rejoined FaceBook—so, I clicked on his name thinking I would add him and get all caught up on what he had been reading…which shows he would be performing in…

 

I did not expect to see so many people mourning Russell. How could I? How could this happen? I don’t understand. I began to sob instantaneously, thinking about how I was not done…I intended to hug him again…I had plans to be in his presence more…

 

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You don’t understand. Russell was an angel. It was healing to be in his presence. I am crying so hard as I type this out…oh Russell, do you see and feel my grief??? It’s not just me, it’s almost been one whole year since you’ve been gone and there are so many people aching from losing you.

 

grief god garden

 

Many people are using this god-picking-flowers analogy for you, Russell…I had never even heard this one before and MANY people are using it to describe what has happened here. I get it. Put Russell in a crowd and he does shine the brightest.

 

grief mom meme

 

I don’t really pick flowers though, I let them grow.

 

This is what I will be doing with our relationship from now on, Russell, allowing it to grow. I feel you. I hear you. I will not resist that. It’s okay to cry because I can’t hug you or watch you perform onstage. It’s not okay to convince myself that it all ends here because that is simply not true. Relationships never die.

 

I’ll hold you in my heart forever and feel so much lighter as a result.

 

Thank you.

 

XO,

Rachel

grief flower

 

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 3

 

Immediately after my Orientation at the Sedona Soul Adventures offices, I drove a very short distance along Route 89 to my first session: Radiant Heart Healing.

 

I don’t know what Radiant Heart Healing is, but I am so pumped to begin my very first session of my first-ever personal retreat that I don’t even try to imagine what it is. All I know is, I have to pee.

 

Sher is standing in her front door as I pull up to her home. She has on a beautiful turquoise shawl and matching jewelry. She is radiant.

 

Aqua Radiant Heart

 

Sher hugs me. We both have to go pee. I get to use her beautiful bathroom attached to her therapy room and marvel at the tranquil decor. The hand soap she has smells amazing. I like it here. Sher returns from her bathroom and we hug again. I feel super happy and excited to begin.

 

With notebook in hand, Sher asks me some questions. I explain to her my estrangements, traumas, and feelings of loneliness. I feel comfortable enough to explain to her that I have always felt like not a real human being, that I’ve always felt myself to be more of a tool to use, like a crutch, and that this often results in me spending a great amount of time wishing to return “home” where I belong.

 

Sher was not surprised or taken aback by anything I said. In fact, she completely validated everything I said and invited me to lay down on her Reiki table so that she could help me let it go. We talked about angels and I told her that I know who my angels are. Sher asked me to invite my angels to participate.

 

I imagined roots coming from the bottom of my feet and grounding deep into the core of the Earth, where all the energy is purple and that purple energy comes up from the core of the Earth, through my roots, up into my feet and throughout my entire body. I am now grounded.

 

I imagined a white source light coming from above and straight into the top of my head, mixing the white light with the purple light until my entire body is my favorite shade of pink. I asked my angels what color the hurt is inside my chest cavity and they answered immediately: black. I can see my angels begin to help me release the blackness and it begins like a very difficult game of tug of war. The struggle is real.

 

Then, I silently gave my angels permission to take my pain away and the blackness began to shoot out of me like a geyser. I could actually feel the darkness leave my body. Effortlessly. You should’ve seen the expression on my angels’ faces. Priceless. They were so happy and proud of me.

 

Here comes the best part: filling back up with divine love. I used mantras to do it: I am a child of God and have so much love, I am loved just as I am, I have enough love. A light begins to illuminate my empty chest cavity, empty now because the black is all gone, and this feels so strange–not heavy, but light.

 

The darkness is gone. I replaced it with light. This makes my angels clap; this is all they’ve ever wanted.

 

radiant-heart universe

 

My angels are here because they love me. My angels want me to heal. To heal is to fulfill my life purpose. Sharing my healing through storytelling is my gift.

 

I suddenly felt like I had gotten it all wrong… When I hit my Complex PTSD rock bottom and began my healing journey I learned the principles of “name it, own it and let it go.”

 

I had vaguely heard of this concept before…

 

Name it–no problem.

Own it–already done.

Let it go…

 

Like…

 

How do you mean?

 

Let it go, like forget? Oh, I’m not like that…

 

Let it go, like don’t care?

 

I FEEL EVERYTHING!!!!!!

 

I feel everything

 

Sher blew the roof off of what I thought I knew when she told me that it’s actually:

 

Name it,

Own it,

Let it go,

AND FILL BACK UP WITH DIVINE LOVE

 

You have to replace what you remove in order to truly let go. I couldn’t let go of what I was holding because I didn’t have anything else to hold on to. It’s actually a 4-step process.

 

Sher invited me to ask my angels for help. I was able to close my eyes and ask my angels to fill me up with divine love. I straight up asked them and they were more than happy to point and shoot it right out and into me, just like the Care Bear stare!

 

care bear stare

 

My entire body was warm and vibrating, I had goose bumps everywhere and was smiling huge. So this is what having room for love feels like…

 

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My love is real and I have access to it. I can both give and get love. I was able to FEEL all of this. I am still able to feel all of this, through Sher’s Radiant Heart Healing method.

 

Sher sat for half of the session with her arm around me and her other hand over my heart. No touch has ever felt so good. I never wanted it to end, so I sat very still, so at ease in our little love seat huddle.

 

I felt compelled to say: “I love you Sher, I don’t want you to ever stop hugging me.” And, like I already felt to be true, she admitted that she loves me, too.

 

Before I left, Sher gave me one of her books. I am reading it now and it is phenomenal.

 

Radiant Heart Book

 

During my retreat, I felt compelled to contact Sher about a grief-healing app I had invented in my head. I actually threw my app idea into the garbage can in my mind after day one of my retreat and then felt certain that I had to go fish it back out by day two. Sher invited me back to her house and let me pitch my app idea. She loved it. The iHeal will launch in the next few months.

 

In less than one month, I will travel back to Sedona for part one of my Radiant Heart Healing Certification Course.

 

XO,

Rachel

 

P.S. I have SO much more of this story to tell, so stay tuned! If you missed Part 1 (click here) or Part 2 (click here)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Billion Rising For V-Day

 

 

It’s February. It’s cold. There is a lot of political talk going on. Does anyone know where the potential U.S. presidential candidates stand on the global issue of violence against women?

 

I don’t. And I do. I know enough. I know we all need to be more aware and involved.

 

What is the One Billion Rising Campaign?

 

One Billion Rising is the biggest mass action to end violence against women in human history. The campaign, launched on Valentine’s Day 2012, began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. On 14 February 2013, people across the world came together to express their outrage, strike, dance, and RISE in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women. On 14 February 2014, One Billion Rising for Justice focused on the issue of justice for all survivors of gender violence, and highlighted the impunity that lives at the intersection of poverty, racism, war, the plunder of the environment, capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy. For the third year of the campaign, One Billion Rising’s global coordinators chose the theme of “Revolution” as an escalation of the demand for justice, and to build upon the massive efforts of communities worldwide that also looked at the roots and causes of violence as part of their call for justice. On (or around) 14 February 2015, millions of activists in over 200 countries gathered to Rise for REVOLUTION, to change the paradigm, demand accountability, justice and systematic CHANGE. We are rising to show we are determined to create a new kind of consciousness – one where violence will be resisted until it is unthinkable. In 2016, the theme of Revolution continues with a call to focus on marginalised women and to bring national and international focus to their issues; to bring in new artistic energy; to amplify Revolution as a call for system change to end violence against women and girls; to call on people to rise for others, and not just for ourselves.

 

To join my official One Billion Rising Campaign for V-Day, click here. I have been a volunteer activist for V-Day since 2002 and I will continue to do so Until The Violence Stops.

 

What is V-Day?

 

V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), and sex slavery.

 

To raise money for vday.org I have organized a SUPER SALE with a bunch of my friends who are hot mamas in direct sales willing and able to donate 20-25% of their sale proceeds from February 14, 2016-February 29, 2016. I’m talking about organic herbal Steeped Tea, statement making Chloe + Isabel Jewelry, easy to apply nail art with Jamberry Nail Wraps, health and nutritional products with Plexus, pampering bath + beauty products with Perfectly Posh, and therapeutic-grade DoTerra Essential Oils.

 

It will be impossible to feel bad making this purchase! You will be receiving an awesome product from a working mother who is donating her profits to a charity designed to stop violence against women and girls.

 

Still not interested?

 

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Then please consider donating your time and resources to your local crisis center. If you don’t know where to start with locating that building, this website will help you find the one nearest you, click here.

 

As a former Domestic Violence, Rape & Sexual Assault Advocate for the Crisis Services Center of Buffalo, I can tell  you from experience that the volunteer services provided are life saving. To advocate on behalf of a victim in the aftermath of their trauma will change your perspective on what it means to be a human being.

 

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is:

WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR OTHERS?

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

XO,

Rachel

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 2

 

 

Ok now where was I?

 

Did I tell you the part where I made a 5-hour drive without stopping once, not even for a bathroom break? That is so me…

 

I felt like SUCH a grown up when I checked into my hotel all by myself! Who does that?! All you women who are independent, throw your hands up at me!

 

beyonce

 

For my 3-day Sedona Soul Adventure, I chose to stay at the Sky Ranch Lodge due to its proximity to a vortex.

 

What the hell is a vortex?

 

A Vortex is a place in nature where the earth is exceptionally alive with energy. The term Vortex in Sedona refers to a place where the earth energy swirls and draws to it’s center everything that surrounds it like a tornado. At these magical sites, trees often exhibit this swirling or twisting of their trunks due the powerful vortex energy at the core of a Sedona Vortex. – to read more, click here.

 

Well, when I drove into Sedona on January 17th, the sun was going down and by the time I got to my hotel, it was dark. I didn’t notice any invisible energy vortex. I was hungry and had to pee real bad.

 

I was also missing my family. How could I just leave them to go be by myself? What was I supposed to even do right now all by myself? I called my angel guide and left her a voicemail to let her know I had successfully arrived. I Face-Timed my husband, who very quickly lost all access to the phone when our almost-4-year-old brought me into his tent.

 

Inside that tent I told my beautiful child stories that made him belly laugh. Stories about all the mischief he and our cat get into while my husband and I are asleep. Stories heavy with burp and fart jokes. A lot of slipping on banana peels and cold water squirting in your face scenarios.

 

This is significant because it’s the last night I ever tell these kinds of stories. My storytelling changes after tonight into something much more inspiring. Though, burp and fart jokes are still fair game.

 

On January 18th, I woke up in my hotel in Sedona way before the alarm clock, unable to sleep. Just…awake. Ready. I lay and wait for the alarm to go off anyways. I even get up and reset the alarm simply because I don’t know what to do with myself just yet.

 

I have to force myself to get out of the bed. The bed I haven’t been able to sleep in for hours. As I get ready I play some strategic music for myself to get pumped up.

 

Grace Kelly by Mika:

 

“Getting angry doesn’t solve anything”

How can I help it
How can I help it
How can I help what you think?
Hello my baby
Hello my baby
Putting my life on the brink
Why don’t you like me
Why don’t you like me
Why don’t you like yourself?

 

Warning by Incubus:

 

What’s so wrong with being happy?
Kudos to those who see through sickness, yeah
Over and over
And over and over
She woke in the morning
She knew that her life had passed her by
And she called out a warning
“Don’t ever let life pass you by”

 

So now I am overwhelmed by the healing power of music, instead of by the fear and anxiety looping through my head. I put on my jeans, tuck my shirt into a belt and slip into my cowboy boots with the peacock feathers. I put on the necklace my friend just gave me with the butterfly wings pressed inside.

 

I leave my hotel room for orientation, determined to never let life pass me by.

 

I arrive at the Sedona Soul Adventure offices for orientation a bit early. I decide to draft an email for PTO and suddenly realize I am now going to be late!

 

GOB

 

I get out of the car and sprint up the steps. The Sedona Soul Adventure office is beautiful. My angel guide hugs me and is obviously super excited for me. After we go over my itinerary and all logistics, the owner came in and I got to tell her how moved I was by her story. I love meeting other lawyers who don’t practice law, but instead do something really spiritual with their lives.

 

I tell my angel guide a very random story about how, while searching for lodging for this trip, I found a woman with a really cool website who I really really really feel compelled to meet. My angel guide smiled huge and told me: that’s my sister.

 

Overall, I feel ready to begin.

 

My angel guide asks me to set an intention for my retreat and to light a candle. I say to myself over and over again: please God, let me know my purpose. I know you just told me 2 nights ago and, instead of write it down, I fell asleep and forgot. I’m so sorry! Please give it back! I want to know my purpose.

 

My angel guide says: you’re vibrating!!!

 

I know I am. I can feel it. I am ready.

 

XO,

Rachel

P.S. Did you miss Part 1 of the Sedona Soul Adventures story? Click here.

 

How do you guys feel about making mistakes?

 

I’m working on that…

 

Right now.

 

Yesterday I worked hard to resolve a technical problem on my website. What was that problem? Well, I had set up a campaign where if you click the link, you would receive a free gift, a 7-day email series I created on finding your life purpose. But the link for some reason did not work…

 

During the course of resolving that technical issue, another problem was uncovered. An even bigger problem.

 

The Contact Me Form at the bottom of every single page of my website was not working. In fact, it has never been working. When Go-Daddy revealed this to me over the phone they said: I bet a lot of people have been trying to contact you.

 

Dun Dun.

 

Well that was like a punch to the stomach. You have to understand my constant inner mantra goes something like:

 

WHAT DO WE WANT?
CONNECTION!
HOW DO WE FEEL?
LONELY!!!

 

Oy. I am so sorry. If you ever sent me a message through my website and then wondered why I never got back to you, it is because of this technical error. I would love to respond to messages. LOVE!!!!

 

As I work to resolve the original issue with the email campaign, please know that the Contact Me Form is now up and running. If you want to resend your questions or comments, please feel free to do so.

 

Unless they were mean–in that case, then I just think this whole thing worked out perfectly.

 

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The most important thing I want to say about this experience is: I am working hard to be gentle and kind to myself as I sort this all out. I have never considered myself to be particularly adept at technology. I am still proud that I built my entire website all by myself. Mistakes and all. I will be even prouder of myself when my first email campaign is successfully up and running. I will fix all of my mistakes.

 

Wish me luck!

 

XO,
Rachel

P.S. As an UPDATE: I have fixed my technical errors and the free email series is now up and running!

 

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 1

 

 

I have so much I want to say about my personal 3-day retreat with Sedona Soul Adventure.

 

Bear with me, I am a brand new person now.

 

It’s like the difference between this:

 

I’ve been uptight and made a mess,

But I’ll clean it up myself I guess

Oh, the sweet smell of success

Handle me with care.

~The Traveling Wilburys

 

and this:

 

I saw the sign

And it opened up my eyes

I saw the sign

~Ace of Base

 

Do you speak in song lyrics? I do…

 

I am a storyteller. This is part of my life purpose. I knew this and I did not know this. I know this now.

 

Let me back up. How did I end up going on a retreat? Great question. Well, as I told the angel guide over the phone, I’ve been crying in the bathtub–I mean–I want to know what my purpose is. What the hell am I even still doing here?

 

Let me back up some more. I was crying in the bathtub. Like just so sad. I felt like I had finally done it. I had successfully pushed everyone so far away, I would now be disconnected forever. Utterly alone. How?!! I was breaking up with me. I guess. Now I didn’t want to be by me. At all. It was just two weeks into my New Year’s Resolution to forgive myself and I wanted to strangle myself.

 

As I looked around the tub for Whitney and Bobbi Christina, I picked up my phone and googled the search terms: Sedona Retreat. Why? Because Sedona is almost a 5 hour drive from Vegas and I keep hearing about how inspiring it is to visit, like it’s a magical place or something. I also keep hearing about how creative women like to go on annual retreats to keep their inspirational juices flowing…the seed was planted within me some time ago. Sedona. Retreat.

 

The very first google search result was Sedona Soul Adventures. I clicked on it and discovered that the owner reminded me of me:

 

In January, 1999, Debra was a divorce attorney in Omaha, Nebraska, beginning her 20th year of practice. With 175 active cases, she was stressed out, burned out and ready to jump off the nearest cliff. Having been on her spiritual path since the death of her mother in 1978, Debra knew there was more. Although she was helping her clients in her practice, she yearned to be of service on a much deeper level.

 

Debra, you got my attention. I filled out the online form and then I called them because I could not wait to begin the process. I see myself as a recovering divorce attorney. I too yearned to be of service on a much deeper level. YEARN. As in, I don’t even want to be here if I’m not living my true purpose. Not knowing what my life purpose was, man that was kind of killing me.

 

The thought of leaving my son was at first unbearable. I wanted to quit before I even began. I knew that I could not go on feeling the darkness inside of me without it permeating to the rest of my family. I knew that I had to go. So I scheduled it. And then I got afraid and wanted to quit. And then I leaned into the discomfort.

 

My son’s main concern was a prophecy.

 

“Who is going to tell me stories?”

 

Daddy.

 

“Oh no, Mommy, you’re the best storyteller.”

 

STORYTELLER

 

I told the most epic stories to my son on FaceTime during my trip. I have the best stories to tell right now. I am an even better storyteller now than I was before I left. I have accomplished my New Year’s Resolution within the month of January. I forgave myself. I forgave everyone. I love myself. I know what my life purpose is.

 

I have so much more to say…bear with me.

 

XO,

Rachel

Practicing Conscious Vulnerability

 

 

My son is kind of obsessed with “bad guys” right now. We used to fight the bad guys. Now we pretend we are the bad guys and we actually fight the good guys.

 

 

Imagination-land.

 

 

Sounds like this: I am the bad guy and I will not share anything. I am a bad guy so I will not help you. We are the bad guys and we are stealing all your food!

 

 

Of course I like to put in my 2 cents: I am the bad guy who pretends I am helping you but really I am not, I’m the worst of all the bad guys. Ha ha ha.

 

 

Seriously.

 

 

If you pretend to care but really don’t, I can tell.

 

 

Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles;

Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances.

Courage breeds creativity;

Cowardice represents fear and is mastered by it.

Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?

Expediency asks the question, is it polite?

Vanity asks the question, is it popular?

But conscience asks the question, is it right?

And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

I have been practicing conscious vulnerability daily for the past 12 days. Mostly this seems to go unnoticed. Some people are clearly positively impacted by my vulnerability. Some people are clearly uncomfortable to the point of disgust.

 

 

I don’t do it because it’s popular; I practice vulnerability because I feel it is right.

 

 

 

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I believe in vulnerability because I believe in love.

 

 

lovememe

 

 

I started following @ambertheactivist on Instagram about 7 weeks ago because I liked her chalk art. I scrolled through her entire page like, wow, what an incredible person; she is an artist, activist and founder of the #stoprapeeducate campaign. Talk about courage. Taking your trauma and using it to make the world a better place is the height of cool.

 

 

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Several days after I began to follow @ambertheactivist, things got real.

 

 

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During the #stoprapeeducate tour, Amber was raped by an acquaintance, someone who actually helped her make chalk art.

 

 

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This guy listened to Amber, understood she was a survivor of rape, helped her make #stoprapeeducate chalk art and then, one week later, he raped her. I’m talking about one of those bad guys who pretends to help, but has no intention of helping. I’m talking about the worst of all the bad guys.

 

 

Amber’s vulnerability initially resulted in support, which lead her to report the crime and endure the evidence collection rape kit.

 

 

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Amber’s continued practice of conscious vulnerability quickly lead to outrageous expressions of disgust and aggression. I get that it’s the internet, but the sheer volume of aggressive dissent was disheartening to me. In other words: victim blaming. It seems many people hate rape victims and their voices more than they “hate” rape.

 

 

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Not Marie Clair. 3 Days ago the popular magazine published an interview with Amber (read it here). Yesterday the Huffington Post published a similar interview (read it here). One hour ago Bustle published a similar interview (read about it here).

 

 

This morning Instagram deleted the caption underneath Amber’s selfie from 7 weeks ago, describing her rape in real time.

 

 

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Luckily, you can’t delete someone’s story. Not really. I will never forget the raw emotion expressed in real time; Amber has inspired me to be vulnerable. Sometimes trying to silence someone gives them the platform they need to be heard. I heard you, Amber; I care about your story, keep telling it. Practicing conscious vulnerability in this regard is the first step to creating consent culture.

 

 

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XO

~Rachel