What interesting timing to be leading a Sexual Abuse Survivor Group this fall right at the same moment of this #metoo campaign and this political backdrop of exposing the secrecy that shrouds sexual abuse, assault, and harassment.  Survivors that I see have had a variety of responses to this social media campaign, ranging from triggering to enlightening, validating, and empowering.

I always pay attention to timing and signals both external and internal.  These signals often help me to gauge if I am in alignment and flow.  When lots of things connect and there are lots of “oh now that” moments, it feels to me like I am doing the work I need to do at this time.  This “alignment” is a key component of the Emerge Process.

Thus when my client came in earlier this fall and said that she wanted to share her story in our survivor group, there was this resonance of “of course”.  For starters, our theme for the coming week was self-trust.  And this client having a clear internal directive that it was time to share her story was a wonderful example to reconnecting to self trust.  There is a definitive rupture of self trust after abuse of any kind.  Embedded in a sexual abuse dynamic is messaging that you can’t trust your body.  This messaging is sometimes given directly by the offender “Oh you like this,” by the family or community (being allies with the offender) or by the use of denial and avoidance by the offender, the family system and/or society at large.

An amazing sisterhood has developed in this group.  We wrapped up our time together last night in a beautiful game that I created called “Pass the Rainbow.”  I wanted each woman to receive light and hope to take with them so they might use this light in their dark moments.  My dear friend and movement student Christy Goldsby, founder of Honey Mamas, gave us a gorgeous rainbow pack of her chocolate and I sliced each bar in small bites and placed a lovely colorful bar in front of each lovely colorful woman.  Then we started with one woman and began to shine all the light on that woman.  I began by leading a little meditation calling that woman into the room – her presence, her essence, her courage, her healing.  Then, we went around the circle and the women shared what they witnessed of the called upon woman.  They blessed her with their hopes for her particular healing.  And then we toasted that woman by nurturing ourselves together with a little square of beautiful chocolate.  Next, we “passed the rainbow” by passing the bars to the right and beginning with the next woman to “receive her light”.  It was a powerful closing circle, complete with standing in the power of our own light as women, as women supporting women, and, as survivors.

Here the seed of Emerge Empower was born.  This program will begin again in January with more brave survivors reclaiming their bodies, their sexuality, and their lives in a profound process of movement, dialogue, connecting, and sharing.

honey mama


Emerge into discomfort

When I lead classes, I often talk about looking for the ease and flow, finding comfort and joy in our bodies.  Also, in my clinical practice, these are guiding principles.  And yet, this week, I heard myself urging clients and students to lean into the foreign, unknown, and unfamiliar parts.  These are the parts that may not have had the right conditions to emerge.  We do, act, and move in ways that work for us.  So those parts get well honed like a well oiled machine. If how we survived was to always hide, then “showing ourselves” will feel really foreign and unfamiliar.  And yet, it may now be safe for this part to come out and may indeed allow us to add more of ourselves to our relationships, work, and life!

In class this morning, we connected to those awkward parts.  We experimented moving in ways that were foreign, silly, and new.  Dancing is often a laboratory to explore in a playful, non-threatening, and light way.  You see, sometimes the things that are familiar are not the things we need.

If someone is used to not speaking up, there will be much discomfort when this person needs to speak up but is unable to.  This might result in feelings of powerlessness and frustration.  A student of mine shared recently that a movement in class helped her access her power in a new way and that just by visualizing this “power move”, she was able to access her power in a moment when she wanted to speak up but couldn’t at first.

When we dance, we literally grow ourselves.  We gain access to dormant, awkward, and foreign parts.  What emerges is a bigger, more powerful self that has a variety of ways and strategies to move through life!

Here we go!!

After announcing last Saturday that I will no longer be teaching Nia after 17 years, I am filled with a so many thoughts and feelings about what it means to let go, and really trust a process.  Last Monday, I attended my wonderful therapists process group that I have been a part of for years and I shared my working name for whatever is coming….Emerge.  My therapist commented that this is about my own emerging.  It is about me emerging from my family in new ways and my work in new ways and about me fully stepping into my confidence and path.  Boom.  Yes.  My own emerging is the framework for this process of holding space for others to emerge.  

The night this name was born I was with my dear friend Christy at the “Together” show with Glennon Doyle and other fabulous women.  I bought these tickets on a whim when it came across my feed one day.  What was the show about?  Well, a lot of things really. But at it’s core, it was about truth telling.  Boom, there it is…when we pay attention, it is all right there.

During intermission, I said out loud to my friends, “By the end of 2017 I will no longer be teaching Nia.”  Just saying these words out loud was so affirming.  Our language does in fact very much guide us.  And then I went on to say that I needed a name for what was coming next – I don’t even know what that is.  I know it is about me stepping into my own knowledge, wisdom, and confidence and offering my best gifts to the world in a really true and authentic way.  The thing is that I have been doing this – through a thriving counseling practice and movement practice and often times, integrating the two.  But this is about me really owning what I do and not using other peoples framework but trusting my own.  I couldn’t even look my friend Jane in the eye when I told her my working name thus far.  Turning my body away from her, I said quietly, “Soul Flow” and my friend Jane practically shouted “no no no.  It’s just too out there.” We both busted up laughing and I nodded, “I know!”  And then she said, “it seems like the word ’emerge’ keeps coming up for you”.  Boom.  Paying attention.

My mantra for year 2015 was “Let it emerge”.  And then in May of that year, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  That was not exactly what I was talking about but the universe works in mysterious ways.  What I was talking about was how to let things happen, unfold, be spontaneous and allow space for spirit to emerge.  I just felt like I needed space from all the scheduling, soccer games, playdates, and constant planning.  Yes, this is a theme! And so on May 7, 2015 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and guess what?  I got space! I let go of my counseling practice and my Nia classes and even from parenting…because I had to.  My healing from my double mastectomy was brutal and slow.  Everything got quiet and slow – this is the space of healing.  And when I started to emerge, I was really mindful about what I put back in place and how to choose mindfully.  In fact, that became my practice – “just say no!”  Many people work on saying yes, but my work is about saying no so that I can then say yes to what I really want and need.

I was on the fence then about re-engaging with Nia – it’s so refreshing to actually re-evaluate instead of just being in automatic mode.  And in that re-evaluation place, there was a part of me that wanted to step away from Nia but also a part that couldn’t imagine not teaching and guiding students to more health and wholeness!  Alas…this part won, and I stepping back into teaching in Jan., 2016.  But that other part kept talking to me.  It kept saying that there was something else, something more.

I often talk in both my clinical practice and in my movement practice about being in alignment.  As I stepped into the Jewish New Year several weeks ago, the Rabbi framed it so well, “how close are you in this moment to the person you are at your core”.  In my faith, this is the time of year to examine and reflect and I knew that it was time to listen to this other part that told me first I had to let go of Nia, and then I can see what will EMERGE! I am so grateful to continue my emerging alongside of each of you…