How I Found the Magic in My Life

what ifFour years ago,  in a room full of about 13 other women, I took a vow that would change my life forever.  In front of my teacher, and everyone else I committed to living life as a magical act for a year and a day.  At the time I wasn’t quite sure of what I was committing to, but a voice inside me said Yes! Do it!  So I did.

At the end of that year, I was in grad school, on my way to getting my degree in Chinese Medicine and starting my life’s work as a healer.   But something more profound than just finding my vocation had happened to me, and shortly after that year was over, I made a commitment to live my whole life as a magical act.

Here are just some of the things that has meant for me:

I came to fully accept that I was a magical being.

I was enrolled in a 4 year program in magical studies, but I always felt like and imposter and a fake.  I didn’t think I had any particular magical talents.  I didn’t feel like I was psychic, I had never been able to ‘see’ energy or auras. In fact, I was pretty sure that any minute someone was going to point a finger at me and tell me to get out of class. What I learned that year was that we are all magical beings.  We are all capable of developing psychic awarness, but more importantly, we all have gifts that no one else has, that is our magic.

I accepted that I was fully in charge of my destiny.

No more excuses or free tickets to pity-ville.  If I was going to live my life as if it were magic I had to accept that every thing happens for a reason.  Everything has a purpose. I also had to accept that I co-created my own reality with the universe.  If I felt like a victim or full of negativity, that is exactly what I was going to create in my life.  But if I stood in my own power and called to me that which I desired most, I was able to bring it into being.  What a scarey and awesome prospect.

I learned that I was here to do something amazing.

Up until that point I think my biggest life aspiration had been to avoid being eaten by what I saw as the soul killing machine of capitalism.  That meant living a life of flexible, but meaningless employment, always being broke and feeling like it was the fault of the system that I was unhappy.  But choosing to make this vow I came to realize that my gifts were needed. This is when I began to realize I was a healer, and invested time and  money into grad school so that I could open a full time practice.

I also learned to surrender to the fact that I had no idea what my true calling would look like.

In accepting that I was hear to do something special, the next step was realizing that my own attempts to shape that reality actually kept me bound by my own limitations.   When I learned to surrender to the Universe (which I think of as the goddess) I learned that life can be so much more wonderful than you could ever imagine.  When I look back on what I thought I wanted at the beginning of grad school, I can see now that it would have made me miserable.  So by surrendering and being open to the opportunities that life presented with me, I am so much happier.

I learned that when you are ready to do your work, the universe steps up to support you in a million ways.

Just one example.  Upon finishing grad school I had some vague ideas of how I wanted to practice.  Actually there was one practitioner whom I really looked up to, and if I was going to open a clinic, I really wanted it to be like her clinic.  After a couple of months of  practicing out of my house and looking for the perfects space, who calls me on the phone?  This very practitioner.  There was an opening at her clinic and did I want to join them?  Um Yes!  It made it possible for me to make a living strait out of school.  From there I built a thriving practice that not only paid me, but fed my soul in so many ways.  It was not uncommon for me to look around while at work and think “I can’t believe I GET to do this for a living!”

Of course making this decision hasn’t meant that things have always been easy, there have been a lot of hard life lessons to learn (more about that in a future post).  But I’ve felt ALIVE and CONNECTED in ways I never thought possible, and that has made all the difference.

In what ways has saying yes opened up magic in your life?  Leave a comment below.

Allison Carr LAc believes that healing yourself makes the world a better place.  Learn more about her work and classes at http://allisoncarr.net/

 

 

Want to make a difference? Three ways to start right now.

Butterfly

We all want to make a difference, feel like we are here on earth for a reason.  Truth is most of us feel totally unimportant when it comes to actually changing  the world.  We often think of grand external gestures that make the most difference to the world, but there are three simple things we can all start doing right now, that would radically change the world as we know it.  Now before you read them and get all indignant at me, let me clarify, I said they are simple, I didn’t say they were easy.  In fact, you could easily spend your whole life trying to master just one of these things.  But I do believe they are all connected to each other, and as you read them, I want you to imagine how different the world would be if we all did these things regularly.

Let yourself be vulnerable.

Author, researcher and speaker Brene Brown has written a lot about vulnerability.  She has identified shame as being the primary emotion that drives us to do bad things.  What she has found is that in letting ourselves be vulnerable, we find the courage to quit all the behaviors that we use to numb ourselves to pain.  We also separate from the shame cycle that keeps so many of us locked in misery.  In her book Daring Greatly she writes:

We all have shame. We all have good and bad, dark and light, inside of us.  But if we don’t come to terms with our shame, our struggles, we start believing that there’s something wrong with us — that we’re bad, flawed, not good enough — and even worse, we start acting on those beliefs.  If we want to be fully engaged, to be connected, we have to be vulnerable.  In order to be vulnerable, we need to develop resilience to shame.

She goes on to illustrate how shame correlates highly to violent crime, bullying, addiction and aggression, but that over-coming shame leads to innovation and daring: that in order to take risks we need to feel worthy and resilient to shame.  Notice how I said resilient, not immune.  In what ways does shame come up for you?  How has shame made you do things that hurt others?  Shame is a necessary part of humanity, but it shouldn’t be what shapes our every move.  For more great stuff by Brene Brown check out her TED talk.

Follow your heart’s desire.

In a previous article I discussed how our heart is the part of us that is most connected to our highest calling.  If each one of us had the courage to fully embrace what our highest calling was, we would live in a world where each person inherently knew, and felt, their own value.   When we aren’t in touch with our heart’s desire, in its truest form, we also find that we are drawn to material things, as a means to satisfy ourselves.  But we all know that money alone can’t buy you love, or fulfillment, or even happiness.  By truly tapping into what really fulfills us, what really inspires us, we find that we don’t need to consume as much, we don’t need to spend as much, and that alone would make a huge difference in the world.  Have you thought you really wanted something only to get it, and realize it isn’t enough?  Do you harbor desires that you don’t talk about because you are afraid they are selfish or trivial? For more on this, check out a talk I did this past May.

Realize your connection to everything.

It’s a myth and a falsehood that we are separate individuals with out connection to everything around us.  When we come from a place of feeling like we a separated from everything, we don’t consider how our choices affect our family, our friends, and our environment.  We also feel isolated, alone and cut off from that which truly feeds us.  One of the greatest lies of this era is that the earth is merely a collection of resources to be exploited by man, rather than a living breathing entity with a life all of its own. Read more about the  Big Lie and how it affects us.   The world around us is rich with things we cannot see or name, we are all connected to each other in ways we could never imagine.  Did you know that your heart has a magnetic field that affects people you come into close proximity with?  Or that most of us can sense what others are feeling even when they never say anything about it?  What if you lived your life knowing that you were part of an immense web of interconnectedness instead of feeling like an isolated being?

How do you incorporate or struggle with these three concepts?  Leave a comment below, and be sure to share this article if you find it useful.

Allison Carr LAc believes that healing yourself makes the world a better place.  Learn more about her work and classes at http://allisoncarr.net/
photo credit: nutmeg66 via photopin cc

Navigating your late 20s, Part 2: clearing the slate

I’m officially on maternity leave and in honor of the up-coming birth, and to make life a little easier, I’m reposting some of my old material here.  I originally ran this post back in 2010, but many of you may not have seen it.  I think its worth another look!

This article is part two of a three part series on Saturn return: the period of transition between the ages 27-30. Click here to read part one, and learn more about what your Saturn return means. In this article we will talk about the process of clearing away things that you’ve out-grown, or that are no longer good for you. Since the Saturn return is a turning point, it is necessary to clear some of the old stuff away, before you can be ready for new things in your life.

If you are in your Saturn return, the process of clearing out old stuff has probably already been happening on it’s own. The most obvious way it might be showing up in the feeling that things aren’t working anymore. Your standard methods for coping, and getting your needs met, seem to stop working for you. Maybe its a job crisis, and you find yourself sick of working the same dead-end jobs you have been surviving on since your early 20s. Maybe you find yourself in what is supposed to be a good career, but totally burnt-out and uninspired. Maybe the techniques you have used to cope with the emotional scars of your childhood are finally catching up with you. Maybe your relationships and friendships all seem to end in the same way. Whatever the reason, life just doesn’t seem to work anymore. You can keep trying the same old methods, and chances are you’ll keep getting the same results, or you can use this time to re-evaluate and take stock of your life.

Ask yourself what isn’t working. You don’t have to know what you are going to do about it yet, you just need to know what isn’t working. In fact, often not knowing how to change something is what keeps us from being ready to let it go. But here is the secret, you don’t have to know what is coming next in order to aknowlege you are ready to let something go. It might be a good idea to get some good perspective on this part, either from a counselor or a trusted friend. Often, others can help us identify what our repeated patterns are, and what we might need to get rid of. We might be too close to the issue to be able to see it clearly.

Let go of your limits: What are the stories that you tell yourself about what is not possible? What hopes and dreams do you carry that you tell yourself you just can’t have? There are lots of reasons we tell ourselves that things can’t work: money, fear, or the fact that we’ve never seen it work before. Chances are, that a lot of the limitations that you carry with you came from your childhood. During this transition you have two choices: take these limiting ideas with you, or let them go. I’m not saying it is easy, but think about it this way: the universe is handing you a tremendous opportunity to reinvent yourself, what kind of person do you want to become: someone who is daring, courageous and able to live out their dreams, or someone who is scared and stuck by the limitations in their own minds?

Let go of old ideas you hold about yourself that aren’t true anymore. We all have stories around about who we are. Some of them were given to us by our family, some we invented ourselves. Make a list of all the things you often tell other people about yourself. It can include serious things or silly things. Then go through the list and really examine the things that aren’t true about you anymore. Write down a new list of things you are ready to let go of about yourself, and release it using one of the ideas listed below. Keep a record of what you released to review later, (we will come back to this idea of self-concept in part 3 of this series.)

My tried and tested way of releasing old patterns is to set my intention, and use ritual. A simple way to do this is to write down what you want to release, find some quite private space, and safely burn your list. You can be creative, and make up your own ritual by releasing something into flowing water, burying it, or letting the wind take it away. (Please remember to make sure anything you release into nature is biodegradable) It sounds too simple, but intention setting can be a powerful way to send a strong message to your subconscious that you are ready to move on. Before you do it, be sure that you are really ready to let something go. I always recommend waiting a few days between writing the list and burning it. Get some perspective on how this pattern/relationship has helped you in the past. Its always easier to let something go with an feeling of gratitude rather than anger. You adopted this way of being in the world to get you to where you are today. Even though it doesn’t work for you anymore, there was still a time when it was helpful to you. Letting things go with gratitude is a way of practicing self-acceptance and forgiveness, this makes the transition into something new much smoother and easier.

I’ll say it again, it is not easy, but you can do it. Start with what isn’t working, and get rid of it. Dealing with issues from your past that are too much for you to handle alone? You may need some help:

Counseling can be an excellent way to change emotional patterns that aren’t working anymore. See the links section of this website for some great counselors in Portland.

Acupuncture:
In Five Element acupuncture we have several treatments geared specifically towards releasing old patterns. These are called Dragon Treatments. They were used in the past to deal with what was once termed ‘possession’. When we talk about it today it sounds mideval and antiquated, but think about if you’ve ever felt so affected by something that it seems to be ‘haunting’ you. These are the types of situations that Dragon treatments can be most effective for. You can be haunted by an event, a relationship, something from your childhood, or simply an emotion like anxeity that you can’t seem to get rid of. Dragon treatments are a combination of 7 p0ints on either the back or the front of the body that help to clear the way so that you can begin moving-on from past events. They are not miracle treatments, often when an event is that significant it takes time, thought, and real work to heal from it. Dragon treatments can be the first step towards that healing, and I often think of them as getting the door open, so that we can clean out the rubbish.

Whatever your method, clearing the slate can be a great way to get you through your Saturn Return. In part 3 we will talk about setting intentions to build the kind of life you want to see yourself living in the future.

Navigating your late 20s, Part 1: your Saturn Return

I’m officially on maternity leave today, in honor of the up-coming birth, and to make life a little easier, I’m reposting some of my old material here.  I originally ran this post back in 2010, but many of you may not have seen it.  I think its worth another look!

If you are between the ages of 27 and 30, you may have noticed life getting a little harder lately, or maybe it hasn’t been difficult, but it is getting more complicated. In our culture, the time span between ages 27-30 marks the transition from youth into adulthood. This time period is known as the first ‘Saturn return‘, based on the astrological position of Saturn in your natal chart. I’m not an astrologer, but I have noticed common themes among my patients and friends who belong to this age group.

Commonly people in this age group find themselves needing to face long-held patterns, or finally decide on a life path during these years. Many folks I speak to, view the Saturn return as a difficult process, but it doesn’t have to be. The following is part one of a three-part discussion of what I have learned in my own process, and in helping patients through the transition. In this first part we talk about what this transition can mean, and how you can work with it to make it a positive experience.

I think of the Saturn return as being an opportunity for much needed change. Like any rite of passage, there is both a component of sacrifice and of tremendous gain. Someone once described the process to me as being a time of reckoning, between those things from your past you are going to carry with you into adulthood, and that which you will leave behind. This can take the form of emotional patterns, relationships, habits, even the ways you view yourself. In my own experience, I also found it to be a time where I gained an immense amount of energy. For me, this came in the form of stamina. Suddenly I had energy for long-term projects that had not interested me before, or that had seemed to daunting. It is common for people to return to higher education, form life-partnerships, or decide to become parents during this period. Not that you have to do any of those things, this process can be about whatever you need it to be.

Your Saturn return is not without struggle, however. Often to move forward, we need to let go of the past. This can leave us feeling like we don’t know who we are any more, or that we have nothing left to stand on. While this can be really scary, it often only lasts a short time, and then we begin to build new structures for our lives based on the kind of values we want to embody in the world.

Whatever you do, it is a good idea to pay attention to the issues that are coming up for you during this time. Work you do now, will impact your life for the next 30 years. Why not make sure that you use the momentum for a positive change, rather than staying stuck in patterns you have outgrown? There are lots of resources you can call upon to help you navigate this transition. Astrology, counseling and even acupuncture can help you get clarity about where you are headed and how you want to get there.

Acupuncture? yes that is what I said. There are several modalities of acupuncture, that can help you with emotional or spiritual processes. One such method, called Five Element Acupuncture, is based on the theory that we all have innate talents and innate challenges. Using the template of the 5 Chinese elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water) we can use acupuncture to strengthen our innate talents. Then we can get in touch with what we are here to do with our lives, and better deal with our challenges. In this series I will also discuss the various ways this form of acupuncture can help with the process of Saturn return.

In the next part of this series we will discuss the process and importance of letting go of old patterns, negative relationships, and destructive habits.

If you want to learn more about astrology check out Turning Wheel Astrology.

Why you will never FIND your calling

We are all here to seek our own pathAre you looking for that certain something that will give your life purpose? Do you feel like if you only found the right job or career or thing to study, that everything would fall into place?

I am approached by people all the time who want to find their calling in life.  They feel like something is missing and are scared to try anything because what if they fail?

Here’s the one thing I’ve noticed about our thinking when it comes to ‘finding’ your calling.

Your calling is already inside you!  You won’t find it out there in the world.  You already are IT! 

Let me explain:  Most of us think about a ‘calling’ in terms of sci-fi novel and fantasy movies we’ve seen.  Luke Skywalker discovering he is the son of a Jedi.  Those movies are a metaphor for the process, but we often take them too literally.  We think of ‘finding our calling’ as an escape from our lives. If I only discovered I was a princess, I wouldn’t have to deal with all this shit I’ve created.  Your calling is not some external factor about yourself that you will discover at some point.

It is who you are.

Sometimes it isn’t dramatic or heroic. Sometimes it’s not about being famous.  It’s about knowing yourself, and loving that self enough to honor your strengths and accept your weaknesses.

You might not be the seventh son of a seventh son destined to find the key to saving the universe in one dramatic battle.  But here’s what you ARE:

You are an absolutely special unique person, and there is NO ONE ELSE like you on earth.  NO ONE! 

You bring something unique to the world that no one else can bring.  Your only job in life is to realize that about yourself and honor it.  There is no FINDING it.  Only accepting it.  It’s not out there somewhere.  It’s been in you all along.

It’s that small quiet feeling of satisfaction when you know you’ve done something well. When you are moving within your zone of strength and confidence.

But what if I hate what I am?

Most of us buy into some kind of cultural baggage about what is considered a worthwhile life.   Usually it involves something created by the dominant culture.  We value fame, heroics, intellectualism, and this false notion of ‘contributing’.    In the light of that we search endlessly for something outside ourselves that will give us a sense that we’ve made a difference.  We forget all the small opportunities we have every day to make that difference.

We tell ourselves that we aren’t adequate or special enough.  We down-play the amazing hidden work we do all the time that give us joy and fulfillment.  Maybe you are called to be loud and public and speak to the masses.  Awesome!  But no less awesome is those of us who are called to be quiet, present, and caring to the few people we see daily.  Those of us who are called to practice compassion and honesty, and make amazing, soul reviving dinners for our loved ones.

And here is the secret. Ready?  When you accept who you truly are, and stop trying to force yourself to ‘find’ satisfaction on the outside, you become capable of seriously epic accomplishments. 

We can’t see the whole picture, so who are we to say which work is important.  You never know who’s life you have touched.  You never know all the differences you make every day.  To discount them because they aren’t the actions that get written up in the press is missing the point. For every Nobel prize winner, there were hundreds of mothers, fathers, lovers, best friends, trusted colleagues, worthy adversaries that all contributed.

So what then is the key to realizing your fullest potential?

Love.  Self love.

Anytime we don’t accept with loving compassion the truth of what we want in the world, we are actively blocking ourselves from happiness.

What is the quickest way to uncover the calling inside you?

Joy.

Where do you feel most alive?  Where do you feel in a zone of confidence?  Where do you forget yourself?   Where do you give yourself over to your work?  What makes your heart sing that song of contentment that so often feels like the loosening of a vice?

If you feel like you are putting yourself in a box, or cutting off a limb to do something, it’s not your calling.  Plain and simple.  And that doesn’t mean that it’s not going to take a lot of hard work to realize your dreams.  But you know you are following a true calling because you don’t mind the hard work, in fact you relish it.

Where do you already find joy in your life?  Where do you feel in the zone of confidence and where do you feel a sense of pride in your skills?  Do the answers surprise you?  Leave a comment below.

Allison Carr LAc believes that healing yourself makes the world a better place.  Learn more about her work and classes at www.allisoncarr.net