Touching the Base

Touching the Base

lassen

 

When I read Wild, by Cheryl Strayed about six months ago my thoughts were, “Wow what an amazing journey this woman embarked upon.” If you haven’t read it, it’s the memoir of a woman in her mid 20s venturing out solo on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to the Cascades of Oregon. Remarkable, yet all the while, a parallel thought was running along, saying, “That will never be me, no way in HELL!” I finished the book, put it on the shelf and forgot about it until last week.

Last week my family and I headed out to the mountains. We had reservations for ‘glamping’ at a sweet little guest ranch in the Warner Valley of Mt. Lassen National Park. Our cabin was outfitted with a full bath, hot shower, comfy beds and kerosene lamps. The dining hall served up three gourmet meals every day with a wine list to match. We went there for some family time, just to get away, do some hiking, swimming, get off the grid and pay attention to each other.

One of the extraordinary things about this spot was that it is a thoroughfare for many thru-hikers in the wilderness of the Pacific Crest Trail. Can I tell you these people were amazing! Men and women, traveling in pairs, small groups and even solo wandered onto the guest ranch looking forward to a swim in the pool, hot shower, good food and even a most-coveted popsicle.

These people became easy to identify as they strode into the ranch with forty-pound packs on their backs. They have a certain gait, some might even call it a hobble. Yet they wear it and all the blisters, scrapes, bruises as badges of honor. As well they should, because most of them just hiked up from the CA/Mexico border for over the past three months. We met one woman from Holland, a yoga teacher, deciding to hike the trail solo. She began in Washington and was making her way down to the Mexican border. We met a 41 year-old guy who had quit his job, sold everything, flew across the country and was deep in an existential crisis about why he was doing this, primarily because of the triple blisters on the balls of his feet which were taking him out of the game for three days until he healed.

There must have been at least twenty hikers who came through and while I marveled at each of them, I still wasn’t fully getting why they were doing it. Why would anyone put themselves through that kind of physical and emotional torture? They shared about how their thoughts while hiking were incessant of how many miles they have to go, how heavy their packs were, when their next shower will be, when they can get their hands on an ice-cream bar! They shared the mind tricks to get them through the last five miles of the day. Along with some pretty harrowing tales from near-death slips to up-close bear encounters, they also shared tales of the ‘trail angels’, people who had helped them along the way with rides into towns, home-cooked meals, supplies, etc. My beau and I became such angels to two hikers whom we offered the shower and fresh towels in our cabin. They were incredibly grateful to receive such a gift and we were elated to see their transformation from weary to invigorated. We heard about the moments of zen when all the pain begins to fade away and their true spirit takes hold and guides them. And I suppose that’s when I got it. The breakthrough moment of when you feel so broken that there is nowhere to go but up…literally! I would imagine doing a trek like this, or anything that challenges you to the brink of intense internal questioning brings you to a place of not only surpassing your limits, but a deep devotional surrender.

We hiked small day hikes while in Lassen to many of the hydrothermal features. We saw some breathtaking views. There is something about walking in the forest, hearing absolutely nothing but birdsong and your own breath that is so grounding and uplifting. There is a spiritual component to hiking, wandering on the long journeys, being off the grid and living in a way that has always been possible, but we’ve become so challenged by. It’s a touching down to our inherent basecamp within all of us. The place which tells us not only that anything is possible, but so available!

As we returned from the trip, we rode down from 8500ft altitude and back into Marin County. There was an acclimation period in which I resisted coming home, back into the buzz of the Bay Area. Yet with me I took the inspiration these trekkers anointed me. I immediately looked up the 2600-mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail. And while there was still a ‘HELL no!’ coming from my body, there was a audible, ‘hmmm…mayBE’ as I read about the 226-mile John Muir Trail. I’ll keep you posted!

 

jenniferbrinn.com     coaching : healing : training   newheadshot

Reality Show

 

Reality Show

reality-illusion

 

I’ll never forget the time I dropped to my knees in excruciating pain. I just turned 30 and was going back to school for my degree in Creative Writing. I was just three quarters away from graduating and whammo! A bulging disc in the lumbar region of my spine intruded upon my sciatica nerve, sending searing pain down my right leg. I woke from a nap between classes and waiting tables that evening to find myself dropping to the floor and crawling to a telephone. I endured three tedious months of dealing with mind-bending pain, in addition to a relationship that was on the rocks, having to drop out of school and no job. A long story short, since I had no interest in holistic healing methods back then, the injury healed from a cortisone shot to the spine. I vowed to be a better inhabitant of my body and to take gentler care of it. That injury and the very challenging time that came with it, made me seek reflection and inner healing. That injury opened the door to yoga, meditation and an opening of my senses. All of which ultimately led me to Reiki and the amazing practice I’ve had for over a decade.

I bet you can remember at least one circumstance where you felt life handed you a big pile of caca, but once you got on the other side of it, you found something so much better waiting for you. It’s in these moments when we can have gratitude and gain momentum for whatever we’re experiencing now.

Whether it’s a job we despise, relationship troubles or even a health issue. How we deal with these circumstances shapes our overall perspective and mood. If the constant loop in our head is, “Life is hard, this sucks.” then guess what? It will be. However, if we look at our circumstances and find the loopholes, the workarounds, and even the pockets of joy..and trust me they are there…then we begin to retain more energy and become more fluid with life.

There’s the saying that ‘everything happens for a reason’. We don’t know exactly what that reason is. It may or may not ever become apparent to us. All we can do is make a choice. There are two options available to us in challenging circumstances: Flow with it or get caught in the downward spiral.

Remember that energy follows focus. Whatever we focus on, that is where our energy will go. The circumstances do not define you, how you deal with them does. So go have a fabulous long weekend, regroup, gather your light and bring your A-game on Monday because that is who you really are.

 

jenniferbrinn.com  Coaching : Healing : Training      newheadshot

Storytime

Storytime

 

storytelling

 

I recently began reading The Whole-Brain Child  by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. It’s a wonderful book explaining the neuroscience of a child’s brain and how it develops. It’s been tremendous in helping me understand why our 9yo daughter dumps her banana peel on the coffee table after eating it and walks away, why I find her wet towel crumpled in the middle of the floor, or why??? I found her toothbrush down by the pool. And because I’ve learned that our brains do not fully develop until we are in our early 20s (boy does that explain alot!) it’s going to be this way for at least the next twelve years. Breathe in…breathe out…

Outside of these revelations, this book has also been valuable in explaining communication styles. It tells a story about how a two year-old boy went through a traumatic accident with his nanny. Luckily all was well in the end, but it shook the boy up. His mother did something remarkable. Rather than distracting him to feeling better, placating him with toys or ice cream, she let him tell his story over and over until the charge of the trauma released. Reading this completely shifted my perspective on communicating. ….So I practiced this on my beau. Yes, a grown man who recently had a tantrum about my ordering a giant truckload of wood chips to be dumped in our driveway. Clearly not a traumatic incident, but it sent him off a cliff. As he charged through the front door, panicked and yelling, I did something remarkable. I stood there and listened to his story about it. I let him get it all out.  What was beneath it all was how incredibly overwhelmed he felt with various deadlines and now this was one more thing to deal with. He needed the space to express the frustration. So I held it for him. Only after he was finished did I calmly reassured him that I understood and outlined how everything was going to work out. I could see that while he was still frustrated, the charge had dissipated, the tension began to ease in his body because he could express it without getting push back or distracted.

Ladies, I know you can relate when you come home from a crappy day and want to tell your husband or boyfriend about it and they go into fix-it mode. “ARRRGH..just listen to me!” It seems so simple, but when something goes wrong, when someone gets angry or hurt, we are programmed to cutoff the expression of it by either defending ourselves or distracting from the incident.  When we’re able to express ourselves fully until the charge of it is released we feel so much better because it no longer has to be trapped in our bodies. The tension eases, the adrenals calm, our blood pressure regulates just by having the opportunity to tell our story, whatever it is. It’s why I love my work so much, because it’s an opportunity for you to tell your story and then receive healing so the body may finally release it.

Practice this next time you encounter an argument or a friend who has had a crappy day or even your child who has fallen off their first bicycle. Listen to their story instead of distracting them or defending yourself. Let them work it out by telling it. Hold that calm, supportive space with an empathetic ear and see the healing magic reveal itself.

 

jenniferbrinn.com     Healing : Training : Coaching   newheadshot