Activating the Bat-Signal for My Deceased Father

This Father’s Day is the 18th without my father on the physical plane.

After so many years without him physically but with an ever-present, still-growing spiritual practice and much gratitude, I’ve learned that we can simply ask our deceased beloved to show up, and they will. Most recently, I know my dad helped me fix my clothes dryer. He was a fix-it type–and still is, it seems. I spent a significant part of my childhood in the garage with my dad, handing him tools and keeping him company, whether he was building his ’35 Ford Coupe from the shell-in-primer state, changing his oil in his Ford station wagon, working solo or with his buddies on his latest race car that hadn’t been demolished at the Slinger speedway (Wisconsin favorite), or fixing his Yamaha motorcycle and later his Harley Davidson. I got up at sunrise to join him at many hot-rod car shows, and he quizzed and trained me about car parts at the swap meets. Three years ago, I wasn’t afraid to research YouTube, buy the necessary parts and replace my blower motor and resistor, so I could have working heat again in my Honda CR-V and save a couple hundred dollars. I am my father’s daughter.

The clothes dryer. In the same week a few weeks ago, my clothes dryer and five-year-old smart phone went kaput. For mechanical woes, I’ve learned to put a call out to my deceased father, just as you might pray to the appropriate saint or angel for a lost object, protection or house sale. I shine the Bat-Signal (RIP, Adam West) for my father when I need mechanical help or driving directions. I first had my human-experience panic: I was already in financial struggle, and now two not-so-cheap replacements were needed, in the same week. Then, I went into my famous research mode, checking “new” dryers but gravitating toward Craigslist. And asking Dad for help.

That’s when I called “Dan” about the dryer he posted on Craigslist. This man could barely hear me when I called, and I practiced patience as I repeated most of what I needed to say and ask. My gut said to trust him. He wasn’t hearing me that I just wanted to buy his dryer and that I’d need to arrange help; he insisted that he check my dryer first, completely confident he knew he could probably fix the 1970s dryer I had. So, we scheduled a time, and then I did the responsible thing of letting close friends know that I had a stranger coming to my home while I was alone; I texted his name and phone number and the time of his visit to said friends.

Dan exited his large, white truck, carefully lifting each foot, as his legs wobbled a bit, and he firmly planted one foot on the ground, as he advanced toward me. He’s in his 80s, since he later shared that he’d been in Colorado since the 1930s. I exhaled, now trusting that there was no stranger danger. I shook his hand, and he met my dog, and we all entered my home. After I let him assess the dryer, I asked if he needed water or anything else. He handed me a crazy-dust-and-lint-filled metal piece, and I understood I needed to vacuum said piece. No words were needed. After that task was complete, I returned and saw him struggling with thick, shaky fingers to undo a necessary screw in the dryer, and I asked if he needed some help. “I usually have an assistant,” he assured me, but we knew that’s why I was there and so willing. For the next 40 minutes, we were a seamless team, sweating in my small laundry room and exchanging only fix-it-related words. I wasn’t afraid to jump in and find myself covered in the dust–more vacuuming and helping where I could. It was in the first moment of his asking, “Hand me that socket driver,” that I knew exactly what he meant, and I was suddenly a young girl in my dad’s garage, handing my father tools he’d taught me to distinguish. I knew.

And when I noticed the dryer vent had come off the back of dryer and couldn’t quite reach it and grabbed a mop handle to hook and lift it within reach, Dan smiled at me and laughed and said, “Well, that’s a smart thing to do. [pause] Are you married?” No. “Well, how come no one has snatched up a beautiful, smart woman like you, yet?” And then he went on to say he’s been married 62 years to his “beautiful bride.” Our affection grew when I noticed the end of the rescued dryer vent end coming apart and announced, “Duct tape–right there, a few inches from your right hand in that basket on the shelf.”

An hour and only $60 later, my 1970s, still-awesome dryer was working again because Dan replaced the faulty thermal fuse. Like my father, I’m apt to try to fix something before tossing or replacing it; I couldn’t have found a more perfect form of help. I nearly cried with both the relief and the gift of this man. We hugged as he left, and he continued his careful, strategic gait with exaggerated knee lifts and foot placement, and only after I handed him a bag with blueberry scones I’d baked him that morning. Because somehow I knew.

© 2017 Erika M. Schreck. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Practicing Maitri [Unconditional Friendship with Oneself]

“Spring is about growth and easing into the light. When we practice maitri [unconditional friendship with oneself], we feel unconditional love and kindness toward ourselves. Extend this practice to others.”


~ Monika Carless, Elephant Journal,

“Spring Equinox: The Astrological New Year Begins”

Unconditional love and kindness towards ourselves. What if we grew more of that? What does that look and feel like to you?

It’s lovely to receive compliments and kindness from others. It’s amazing to feel compassion from those around us, especially at our most vulnerable and self-critical times. And. Partnered or un-partnered, living with or surrounded by others or living alone, we are “in”–privy to–our own heads and hearts more than anyone else. Our thoughts and feelings about ourselves–expressed in self-talk, acts and thoughts toward self, our priorities–create a structure that can support us or break us. Relying on others for friendship, love and kindness will only go so far; we need to have a wonderful friendship with ourselves.

Depression, grief, loss and other life experiences, as well as unhealthy mindsets created and shaped long ago or even more recently, can offer challenges to our relationship with ourselves. And understandably so. I’ve also realized even more so with more of the grief support I’m offering that when we depend so much–too much–on others to keep us lifted, we can be even more devastated when that person is no longer physically with us. What, then, is the source of our self-esteem and worth, if not within? So, what do we do about it?

Small steps. Important steps. Commitment. Any steps towards kinder self-talk, thoughts and priorities for ourselves. A couple of months ago, I (again) ventured into the on-line dating world. I’ve felt ready for partnership after lots of healing this last year-plus of time. And in six weeks with seven dates, I didn’t hear compliments, I didn’t receive any financial generosity even when I gave, and I was reminded of the ever-importance of my own self-view and self-treatment. (Note: I know this is not everyone’s experience.) What a gift! I felt relieved to pull my profile and realize that there are other ways to meet people and that I’m still intact. My self-care and self-talk are even lovelier. Mr. Partner will merely offer icing on the cake.

In this time of new, this time of excitement, this time of unfolding… how can you strengthen the friendship with yourself? How can you be an outstanding, unwavering, loyal supporter of yourself? Do one new thing this next week. Try it on. Feel free to let me know how it’s going and feeling.

 

© 2017 Erika M. Schreck. All rights reserved.

My New “Calm the -Bleep!- Down Club”

Since earlier this year, when significant challenges flooded in, I realized what I really needed to do was to calm down. So, I started telling myself to calm down. And it helped–magically and immensely. Then, as dear girlfriends and I discussed that phenomenon of “those moments” of feeling so overwhelmed, so angry, so sad, so frustrated, so _____, I started proclaiming that I was starting a new club called the “Calm the <bleep!> Down Club.” One of my dear friends immediately wanted to be vice president.

Here’s what I realized: In those moments when we feel intense emotions and anxiety, we really can get our bearings, return to clarity, return to breath… when we calm down.

But can you hear those words when someone else says them? That trigger when someone tells you to calm down? I usually don’t like it, either.

So, train yourself to tell yourself to calm down and follow up with peace-creating, grounding actions and thoughts. When we need new patterns, and, as I found through extensive research last summer about trauma and habits, we don’t “break” a “bad” or unhealthy habit–we replace it. What different approaches and responses to stay calmer, especially in the face of those intense times, are you willing to “try on”?

try these steps to ground, be in the moment and feel safer_may2016

What the heck is Erika talking about? I really like the grounding approach in the image above–one great example.Lately I’ve been talking more to my clients about a “spiritual tool kit,” otherwise known as the sweet, personal collection of practices that keep you grounded, calm and authentic, no matter what may be happening around you, and I encourage people to also have a portable version. For example, no matter where I am–at home, my office or traveling far from home, when I’m feeling overwhelmed or even to get ahead of and prevent difficult and stressful moments, I have my go-to spiritual practices. And my travel grounding and self-care kit contains my yoga practice, my journal, certain mantras and small rituals… and my breath.

BREATH needs to be in all of our calming kits. So portable, too! In seconds, just by putting your hand over your heart, which essentially says “I am here–in this moment,” and slowing down the breath, adding intention to the breath (ex. “I breathe in calm; I breathe out and release fear”), and taking three deliberate and slow breaths, you can feel the calm within you and surrounding you. Start there. Start here. Make calm accessible and access it.

I want to support more calm, peace and joy in your life–and sincerely enjoy doing so through my sessions and services. With or without me, give some thought to that spiritual, grounding, calm-inducing toolkit–before the next time life throws another zinger, or you find yourself in some intense anxiety. Planning ahead can make all the difference. Even if you write the words featured above in “For help during an anxiety attack, try this technique….” for some lovely guidance and keep it somewhere accessible. Or, take a picture of the image on your phone! Keep it close.

Do something, however small, to promote more calm in your life. Then, you’ll invite ease and clarity with navigating your life, moment to moment.

© 2016 Erika M. Schreck. All rights reserved.

Loss Can Feel Like This… But You Need to Be in This

Sudden loss can feel like this.

It’s like a car accident that includes a plunge into water: You’re driving along, maintaining and staying aware, and suddenly there’s the crash, the impact, and you’re free-falling off a bridge and find yourself thrown into the water below. At first, panic. Then, realization that you’re going to be here awhile.

And even though breath can sometimes be a struggle, you realize you can breathe.

Others may swim by, offer a life preserver, effort to pull you out… but you need to be in this. Feel it all. Know you won’t drown even if you feel you will—at first, every day. And even if you feel you’d like to drown and slip into the promised peace of letting go and surrendering.

But we can still surrender and LIVE. That’s one of the secrets. But we need to be okay with allowing the float, the awareness, and that hollow, odd sound and solitude we uniquely know when we are submerged under water.

Grief is like this.

© 2016 Erika M. Schreck. All rights reserved


2016-02-23 13.23.40 (450x338)

I lost my beloved dog Harley last month and have been in the thick of processing grief and integrating the hole and new routine that show up each day. Read my public tribute to my boy at this link here. I’ve had several significant losses in my life, which you can read more about here.

 

 

Grief Healing Resources: Please click here to see a started list of some of my favorite resources lately, as I grieve; I’ve started a list of books, on-line video and audio, and on-line articles. These resources have been game-changers for me.

When Life Is Not What We Imagined

Erika_Wonder Woman1_27Oct2012

Erika M. Schreck, Halloween 2012.

Is your life what you imagined it would be?

Are you enjoying your life?

Through acknowledging my own experiences and hearing countless client stories, I’m learning that the answers to these questions do not need to be the same, and these answers are best if not dependent on each other.

In the 1970s, I was convinced (and prayed that) I would be Wonder Woman. I would jump from our living room couch, throw off my robe and reveal my Wonder Woman Underoos to “save” my sister who was in the lava pit (designated area of the floor), going to be eaten by alligators or… well, you know.

Growing up in the Midwest, I learned the importance of family, kids, marriage and working-hard. One of my grandmothers requested that I select my silverware pattern at around age 13, so this elaborate set could be a wedding gift. She died before the gifting could happen and was a bit upset a few years before she died that my sister and I “still” weren’t married. My aunt told my first boyfriends with a strong wink that she made wedding cakes–when she met them for the first time. And in my later teens, I imagined that I’d be married by 24 and proceed to have four kids, of course with the partner I’d be with the rest of my life. This vision was a significant part of the future I dreamed in my late teens and early 20s.

Ummmm….

So, here I am, quite far off of that imagining from long ago.

And.

Life is really okay. Most of the time. I’ve needed to make peace with what isn’t and settle into and realize the gifts of what is. The comparing that can happen among friends and family, such as when we see what others present about their lives via social media channels like Facebook, can be heartbreaking if we get stuck on what other people have–wait, “everyone else” has–and we don’t. Right?

The gem I’ve learned with all of these possibilities, though, is no matter what we thought we might have, we can still be happy in our lives and enjoy where we are. We need to respect this concept for ourselves and for others–especially when we might not understand others’ life choices. It’s not that we can’t hope for more or have what we want. We need to be flexible, though, with how we get there because the how is revealed along the way, in ways we really can’t always imagine.

And.

Sometimes the unique path we take and life we create may not look like everyone else’s. I’m learning to be okay with that myself. With several clients, I’m reminding them, as well. Choosing joy and supporting our priorities with our life choices seems to be the bottom line… the how may just not be what we imagined.

And it still can be all good.

And.

There are adult Underoos. And I may be Wonder Woman again. <wink>

© Erika M. Schreck, 2015. All rights reserved for photos and words.

Infinite Love and Gratitude for Our Pets

© 2015 Erika M. Schreck

© 2015 Erika M. Schreck

Harley and I “lost” a dear friend a couple of weeks ago–a friend of the furry, four-legged kind. Pepper, a sweet and spicy short-haired dachsund, was a little love. Okay, actually, he was a BIG love in a tiny body.

If you have pets, have had pets or hold others’ furry loves near and dear, I wish to share a couple of quick thoughts. First, my friend and client and trusted expert, Amy Miller, amazingly gifted and skilled animal communicator, just published her first book: Beyond Companionship: Connecting with Kindred Souls of Animal Companions. Learn more and order by clicking here. I also want to promote Amy’s lovely, unique, SPOT-ON Animal Communication cards–I’ve done readings with Harley and friends’ animals, and these cards’ accuracy is stunning. For example, as sweet-pea Pepper was getting more challenged, I pulled cards several times for him and kept getting the “Transitioning” card. Wow. Click here to learn more about and order these excellent cards.

Secondly, one idea and practice I want to encourage you to try and use often with pets still here on the planet and pets on the Other Side is a simple one. In addition to the love, care, kindness and exercise I hope all animals receive, I recommend saying to them, preferably with one hand in the sign-language formation of “I love you” pressed gently on their chest or somewhere else on the animal’s body (on a picture or on your own heart if your animal has died), “Infinite Love and Gratitude” repeated at least three times. Simple. Love-Filled. Necessary expression of love and sweetness.

These days, in addition to expressing “infinite love and gratitude” often to my lovey (dog) Harley, I tell him every day, given his heart condition and uncertain longevity, “Harley, I love you so much. And I am grateful you’re still here. I want you to stay as long as you can and want to stay.”

Let us love and respect all animals–and let our loving, kind example shine brightly to others.

© Erika M. Schreck, 2015. All rights reserved for photos and words.

What Is Your Biggest Ache?

2014-10-06 09.20.21I have a few people in my life who noticeably ask their clients and friends, “What is your biggest ache?” It’s often a good place to start when one commits to healing, moving forward, and discovering any emotional blocks that need attention and release. I’ve also given thought to this question and encourage others to ponder what longing and heartache has shown up for them.

Some people may first think of physical ache–maybe there’s that pesky knee pain that doesn’t seem to go away. What I’ve found consistently in my reiki and coaching work is that physical pain is often linked to emotional and spiritual challenges, even with a physical basis (ex. event of injury). Often our biggest pain and longing is an emotional journey of grappling with what cannot be or what never was.

“Our biggest ache” can pervade our lives and affect us in both conscious and subconscious ways, holding us back and limiting our joy and peace. One of my own biggest aches that again recently brought me to tears is my inability to have children. Endometriosis, age, single-hood and finances are all primary reasons for “no,” and I’ve needed to reach a place of trust and acceptance with this issue.

Ignoring our aches will not help us heal.

What do we do to stop or at least ease the ache?

Whatever our ache, we need to honor the necessary grieving and healing stages. And you will know best what you need to grieve and heal–after you allow time to get quiet and listen and slow down to hear and feel what you need to grieve and heal. That is, if you’re ready to not be stuck in the ache. Just as with grieving a loved one who died–and maybe your big ache is having lost a dearly beloved through death, we need space and time to process and be able to make room for this grieving and releasing.

Perhaps another part of this aching, grieving and healing is acknowledging that in most cases, we can admit that part of the ache is that our lives did not turn out as we expected. We can’t always quickly accept this element of the ache, but I’ve found it’s important to recognize the gifts in how life has unfolded for us and how we can still be joyful.

In what ways can we healthily soothe the pain?

As part of managing and healing my biggest ache, I’ve always made kids a priority in my life, whether it’s being Aunt Erika to my friends’ kids, nannying, babysitting, or daily being extra-sensitive and kind to kids I meet. The fact that I can always choose to enjoy kids in my life brings me sincere joy and soothes the ache.

And what if our “biggest ache” is also our “biggest ache right now“? Like chronic pain in any sense–physical, emotional or spiritual, we may choose to not live in it and trust in our ability to shift even the deepest pain.

What is one next step you can take for greater peace and healing?

© Erika M. Schreck, 2015. All rights reserved for photos and words.