Who, me? A Snowbird?

Who, me? A Snowbird?

It began as a daydream. The idea of escaping to Florida got encouragement from my son and daughter-in-law. Then the New England winter strongly reinforced it. And suddenly it began to feel like it could become a reality. Despite all of the urging, there was a lot of resistance on my part. Could I afford it? Would my classes suffer? Would my clients feel as though I’d abandoned them? Would I be lonely or bored?

The main issue, though, was that I’d never thought of myself as a Snowbird. I had envisioned them as grey-haired, decrepit, old people escaping the harsh winter months because they couldn’t hack it. They were burned out and frail; they didn’t have the gumption or energy to make it through the colder months. That wasn’t me!

In retrospect, I have to admit that I was finding the ice, frigid temperatures, and shoveling of snow more onerous than in the past. In order to counteract the winters, I had been taking one-week vacations to beautiful scenic spots for several years – the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Belize. These vacations seemed to restore both my body and soul, and I returned to New England each time feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. 

Last February, I returned from a snorkeling trip where my hair, long-dyed, lost much of its color. Although I had contemplated letting my hair go gray for a couple of years, I always seemed to pull back from actually committing to the process. I knew it would take years for my natural gray to fully return, as my hair is long, and I balked at chopping it all off. After this particular trip, it just seemed to be the right time, and I am now a multi colored woman! Grey/silver hair for about 6 inches, then a mixture of browns with a couple of brightly colored green and blue streaks underneath.

So, I had now achieved 2 out of the 3 items in my list of what made up a snowbird: I had grey hair and admittedly I was getting older. But decrepit – never! This is when I realized that aging itself is a choice. If I didn’t limit myself in terms of physical activity and health, why did I need to limit myself in terms of how I thought about being a snowbird? In fact, there were many advantages to spending time in Florida in February!

Miami Beach – warm, humid, flowers and leafy trees, ocean, and family! My son and daughter-in-law had moved here over a year ago and my grandson was just 7 months old! One of my best friends and energy medicine colleagues lived in Miami. No snow, no cold outside temperatures or dry roasting hot rooms inside the house. No need to put on excessive layers of clothing. I could enjoy the beauty of a new place, discover new neighborhoods, meet new people, and push myself to explore what was unfamiliar. Being a snowbird no longer seemed to be about shortcomings but more about breaking limiting habits, thoughts, and boundaries.

In this first short week, I have moved into a small but perfect, for me, cottage in a neighborhood that I most likely would never have seen had I stayed in a South Beach hotel. The area is filled with extravagant new mansions that face the bay but also more modest homes that were built years ago. Walking around, I have discovered fantastic gardens, elaborate wrought-iron gates, and wildly varied styles of architecture. There are no high-rises here, and the trees are filled with birds and squirrels while little lizards scurry to get out of the way of my feet on the sidewalk.

I am walking everywhere here and sometimes think I know better than the maps I consult on my phone. That leads me to investigate places that I would never have been seen otherwise. The free trolley is a boon, though sometimes they don’t stop because they are full. This means I have to be patient and temper my expectations while I wait for the next trolley. Each day, I am reminded of how much I am driven by my schedule and routine at home.

Learning how to live in a new environment compels me to create new mental maps. How do I get the things I need when I don’t know where to get them? How do I get to those places without a car? What are the basics that I really need to survive and thrive? What can I live without that I never imagined? It begins to narrow down what is essential away from what is superfluous.

Perhaps what this experience is teaching me is to see more clearly without the filter of external expectations, imagined limitations, and unrealizable ambitions. To acknowledge all my attainable desires and wants and needs. To release what is not attainable or even realistic. As Joseph Campbell so succinctly noted, “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

After all, going on this journey to a new place and learning how to create a life here in Miami Beach isn’t the most difficult of challenges. I’m not completely alone and English is spoken here. But in a sense, it’s like going to a strange and unfamiliar country. I have to relearn myself and figure out where I fit into the new environment. I am evaluating who I am becoming at this stage in my life and looking at future possibilities.

My maternal grandparents visited San Miguel de Allende in Mexico when they were in their middle seventies for five months. Part of their motivation was my grandmother’s lifelong interest in painting. For me, they serve as an example of what is possible at an older age. We don’t have to stay home and wither away. We are fully capable of continuing to grow until our physical death, capable of rejuvenating who we are through new experiences and exposure to the unfamiliar, capable of finding new passions that fuel ongoing dreams.

It is important for each of us to try out new circumstances, to venture outside of our comfort zones, to reach for the unknown but often dreamt of. The novel experience doesn’t have to be extreme, and we don’t even have to travel away from home to encounter a fresh adventure. However, for me, this time my adventure was becoming a Snowbird.

Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Clinical Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and shamanic practitioner. She also teaches classes and workshops in Stretch/Body Awareness, Energy Body Tune-up, and Jazz Dance. For more information, email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com, call 781-354-0725, or visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.

© 2020 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

Yin and Yang – Non-Identical Twins

Yin and Yang energies are very different in aspect, outlook, and appearance. Yet they come from the same parentage, namely, Source. Although we often think they are separate and function in completely different ways, the truth is that there is some Yang in Yin and some Yin in Yang. Each of these opposing yet complementary energies needs the other to operate at their highest potential. Balancing the two energies is one of our important life quests in order to function at our highest and best health.

Balancing yin and yang isn’t the act of maintaining an equal and static position like measuring gold with weights to determine the exact value of the valuable metal. Yin/Yang balance is a constantly fluctuating equilibrium as we are faced with the challenges and joys of human life. In some life situations, we might wish to use more Yin energies to manage what is before us. Likewise, another situation might best be served by utilizing more Yang energies.

Yin and Yang have often been described through observations of polarities, e.g., night and day; cold and warm; wet and dry; inward and outward; soft and hard. In the traditional Chinese symbol, Yin is represented by the black side with the white dot in it, and Yang is represented by the white side with the black dot in it. The small dots of opposing color illustrate the concept that some Yang can be found in yin and vice versa.

The relationship between Yin and Yang has been described in terms of sunlight playing over a mountain and a valley. Yin, or the shady space, is the dark area obscured by the mountain’s bulk, while Yang, or the sunny place, is the bright, easily seen portion. Interestingly, as the sun moves across the sky, Yin and Yang gradually trade places with each other, revealing what had been obscured and masking what had previously been revealed. Thus Yin and Yang represent opposite, equal, and complementary qualities. Further, whenever one quality reaches its peak, it will naturally begin to transform into the opposite quality. Like an undertow in the ocean, Yin and Yang transform into each other like waves coming into the shore and then retreating, only to rise and fall over and over again.

What are the individual features of Yin and Yang? Below is a chart that illustrates some of the opposite/complementary characteristics of each of these energies.

YIN YANG
Water Fire
Moon Sun
Cold Heat
Dark Day
Night Light
Autumn and Winter Spring and Summer
Receptive, introspective Active, Assertive
Inward directed Outward directed
Deep Superficial
Solid Hollow
Internal Surface
Creative Logical
Flow up from the Earth Flow down from the Heavens
Associated with “feminine” qualities Associated with “masculine” qualities

Beware of thinking of the above features as absolutes. Nothing in the universe or in life is simply black or white. Each exists in the other and each needs the other in order to exist. Remember that both energies are transforming into each other as well, so while they appear to be polar opposites they cycle from one aspect of the duality to the other aspect constantly.

Historically there has been some use of the “feminine” and “masculine” aspects of Yin and Yang to justify a pecking order, namely that Yang energies trump Yin energies. Thus we have seen women considered inferior to men and barred from taking positions of leadership. Nothing could be farther than the truth. This is why the chart lists the associated gender qualities last. Although there is some relationship to gender, it is very subtle and not meant to be pejorative or restrictive.  Jared Osborne, a Men’s Coach, QiGong Teacher, and Transformational Psychotherapist, has this to say:

… “Quite often men are described as Yang and women as Yin. This can be true when compared to each other. But it depends on what you’re comparing – and even when. For example, physical characteristics: height, strength, hardness, and an outwards focus are all things we can ascribe as Yang and (generally) ascribe to a man as compared to a woman. However, emotionally, who is more Yin and Yang? I’d contend a woman is more Yang emotionally than a man: stronger, seen, outwards. Man tends to be a more inwards, hidden, passive emotionally.”

It is interesting to look at the various facets of our lives in the context of Yin and Yang. When might a more Yin approach be more productive and where might a Yang approach be more useful? If we have a colleague, friend, or family member who is undergoing a difficult life transition, would it be most helpful to offer reflective, introspective comments or superficial, assertive declarations in our conversations? When a meeting is scheduled for a yearly performance review, would it be better to actively state our accomplishments or to quietly wait for the reviewer to notice what we have achieved? In our current political climate, we can see how Yin and Yang energies play out and can imagine how a different tack might change the dynamics.

The natural world around us also reflects the concepts of Yin and Yang. It makes sense that spring is a Yang season. It is a time of growth – seeds are beginning to burst from their opened husks, sending shoots from under the earth and up towards the sun. Leaves unfurl; birds lay eggs; animals wake from hibernation and breed and give birth; and the planet grows green with vibrancy and expansion – all qualities of Yang energy. The summer then celebrates the expansion of Yang energies into the most sumptuous and extravagant design! We humans feel alive and enlarged and we are motivated to move our bodies actively at the beach, in the mountains, at parties, in joyful groups mingling and socializing. We feel expansive and want to make the most of this very Yang period!

Suddenly summer ends and we find ourselves moving into the Yin season of autumn. This abrupt change into the energies of contracting and harvesting of what has grown during the spring and summer can feel harsh and restrictive by contrast. Although we are reaping the benefits of summer’s bounty, there is a melancholy that may overcome us when we realize that we are entering a colder, more introspective period of the year. And yet, there is now a chance for us to rest and review what we have learned through the riotous boom time of the past season. What worked and what needs to be changed? What no longer serves us and how can we shed inoperable ways of functioning?

Winter deepens our desire to go within and delve into the depths of ourselves. Because we have acclimated to the Yin forces throughout the autumn, we are able to turn ourselves to the creative side of Yin introspection. Thoughts swirl in our minds as the winds outside do likewise. Ideas begin to surface, new ways to approach old issues arise, and hope begins to sprout. We may begin planning our literal physical gardens for the coming Yang spring season as well as the metaphoric gardens of new careers, new adventures, or new relationships.

Knowing that the seasons blend from one to the other can help us to understand the partnership that Yin and Yang play in our lives. In a very real way it is hard to separate the two energies from one another because they are different sides of one whole. Each would not function well without the other, precisely because they are constantly transforming into the other. We need both to be fully functioning and healthy in the daily balancing of our bodies, emotions, thoughts, vitality, and relationships. Yin and Yang.

© 2018 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches classes and workshops: Stretch/Body Awareness, Energy Body Tune-up, Crystals and Healing Stones, Chakras, Jazz Dance and more. For more information, email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com, call 781-354-0725, or visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.

The Courage Required for Transformation

Man cannot discover new oceans until he has courage to lose sight of the shore. Anonymous

Often we only think of transformation in terms of the end result. That’s when we celebrate and reflect on how far we’ve come! We enjoy and feel pride in ourselves for arriving at the new place, whether it’s a new job, new relationship, new understanding, or new version of ourselves. We know that we have put in hours of work, revision, research, and contemplation getting to know ourselves and/or others so that we are able to move forward into the next best thing. The journey has traversed a multitude of potential barriers in the form of challenges, obstacles, and less than stellar encounters. Yet we prevailed and have been transformed!

What we may forget about in the act of jubilation, is the starting point of any change. In facing a major makeover in our lives, we often face a great deal of fear. It can present as an underlying sense of discomfort and anxiety or a debilitating fear. We are embarking on a shift from a familiar situation and taking a leap into what is unknown and unsure. It takes courage, sometimes large amounts of courage, to change and face what may feel like insurmountable odds.

Humans are creatures of habit. Habits are how we learn to function in society. Some habits are simply automatic like breathing; others are necessary for survival like eating and drinking regularly, having a physical shelter where we can sleep safely, or wearing clothing to protect us from the elements. Other habits include how we interact with others, what our habitual mindset is, what emotions are most available to us, or how we treat ourselves. These last patterns are often the result of constant verbal, emotional, or physical reinforcement received at the hands of our parents or guardians. These patterns become locked in and we move about our lives with these habitual patterns running in the background influencing everything we do, say, or believe.

When we are no longer content or able to remain functioning from the background behavioral and emotional patterns, that is when we look for a way out – a way out of where we are in the present moment. Perhaps it has become unbearably difficult to stay in the same job, home, relationship, or, even, be the same person. Perhaps we will die – either quickly or slowly – if we don’t make a switch. Maybe we are so bored that to face another day like yesterday and the previous days without a change is unfathomable. We can be running away from a painful past or moving forward to an idealized future. Regardless of our motivation, we are looking for a course correction.

In order to transform, we must be willing to shed our skins, like snakes, so that the new skin can begin to emerge. During the shedding and before the new skin has fully formed, we are vulnerable. We don’t have the comfort of the old habits to maintain us and, yet, we also don’t have the new future pattern firmly in place. This is where fear comes in.

How do we know that what we envision will work? What if the vision is a moving target? What if we “fail”? How do we trust what we’ve never actually experienced before? Will we have to leave everything and everyone we’ve known in the past behind? Will anyone love us when we have changed? Will we recognize and like ourselves in the future?

Our very identity is at stake. We may have an image or dream to guide us but there is the moment of leaving behind what was and standing at the precipice, before we reach for what will be. We are by ourselves at this moment. It is our decision alone to go forward, stay still, or go back. Leaving the familiar awful for the mysterious unknown. This takes courage, enormous courage.

Sometimes we don’t have the courage required for transformation. In the end, we want to stay as we are with no alteration in our habits. A former friend of mine found that when he was standing on the precipice of transformation, he was not willing to let go. His decision was to maintain the habitual belief that he was not lovable and didn’t deserve to be in a romantic relationship. He was unwilling to change his “story”. Painful as this was to observe, my friend made his choice and turned back from the ledge and walked back to his old way of being. The familiar patterns held a siren song for him from which he couldn’t break free.

In my own life, it has taken enormous courage to make a later life career change to become an energy medicine practitioner. To do so, I had to surmount the fear of financial ruin, the fear of ridicule by family and friends, and the fear that I would fail. Energy medicine is on the cutting edge of health practices and has not been widely respected in the western world. I had to buck the prevalent trend in western medical theories and beliefs. There were days of almost paralyzing fear that I was embarking on a fool hardy course. But in the end, I had to move forward into this new career. Despite the anxiety, I had to step out from the precipice to continue to grow as a person. I found the courage to stride forward into the mysterious unknown and transform.

© 2017 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

 

Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches Stretch, Energy Body Tune-up, and Jazz Dance classes and workshops. For more information email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com, call 781-354-0725, or visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.