Della and Jim

Do you know the touching Christmas story “The Gift of the Magi”, written by O. Henry in 1905? It tells the story of Jim and Della Dillingham Young, a poor, young married couple. They both had two things they are really proud of and value. Della had long brown hair “rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her” (O Henry). Jim was really proud of his gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s and which was the only object of value he owed.

Della's beautiful hair

The short story begins on the day before Christmas with Della counting her meagre savings of one dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all she had to buy Jim a Christmas present, even though she had been saving every penny for months. An intoxicating idea came to her. Della decided to sell her hair to purchase a beautiful chain for Jim’s gold watch.

Gift_Of_The_Magi_2

Nervously, she waited for Jim to come home at night, worried he might be upset and be appalled at her hair cut short like a school boy’s. “Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for a moment… and now she whispered: ‘Please God, make him think I am still pretty’” (O. Henry).

When Jim entered through the door, Della did not know what to think. “His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face” (O. Henry).

After he had asked a few times incredulously, “Your hair is gone?”, Jim pulled out a packet, his Christmas gift for Della. Excitedly, she opened it. It was a set of beautiful tortoise shell combs, with jeweled rims, which she had longed for and never thought she would get. And now they were hers, but her hair was gone!

Then she remembered that she still had her gift for Jim, the chain to put on his gold watch. Expectantly waiting for Jim to pull out his watch to attach the new chain to it, she finds out that he has sold his pocket watch, his prized heir loom, to buy Della the set of combs.

Henry finishes saying “The magi… invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication” but no gift as valuable as the ones these two young people had given to each other was among them.

Magi invented

I have always really liked this short story and the message of two lovers having sacrificed the one thing which was precious to them in order to give the other what they most wished for. This year, when I re-read the story it struck me how it also is a story about embracing imperfections. How useless could one say is a set of decorative combs for short hair and how even more useless a chain when the watch is gone. Yet, both of them—after their initial shock—lovingly embrace each other, each others gifts and the imperfection of their situation.

Della responds to the set of combs by hugging them and saying with a smile, “’My hair grows so fast, Jim!’” (O. Henry) And Jim, when she give him the chain, “tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled. ‘Dell,’ he said, ’let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present…And now suppose you put the chops on’” (O. Henry).

Della & Jim Christmas wishes

Angelika

If you enjoy my posts, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

 

Are You an HSP?

I went into a busy mall a few days ago and within three minutes I was reminded why I do not do that—ever. The loud noises, the busy movements, the bright lights, all the sensory in-put from too many people vibrating at different levels of energy, many of them excited and emotional, immediately had me going into “fight or flight mode”.

When I was young I was told on a regular basis and in a reproachful voice, “Sei doch nicht so überempfindlich!” which translates into “Don’t be so hyper-sensitive”. This was usually said with the expectation that I should be able to just flick a switch and turn my sensory perception off. I used to feel something was wrong with me, being “too sensitive”. After all, those comments carried the suggestion with them that I must surely be over-exaggerating or being unnecessarily dramatic about people’s energy or my surroundings.

HSP crowd

Today, I know that around 15-20% of the population are HSPs, or Highly Sensitive People. “What seems ordinary to others, like loud music or crowds, can be highly stimulating and thus stressful for HSPs. Most people ignore sirens, glaring lights, strange odors, clutter and chaos. HSPs are disturbed by them. Most people’s feet may be tired at the end of a day in a mall or museum, but they’re ready for more when you suggest an evening party. HSPs need solitude after such a day. They feel jangled, overaroused. Most people walk into a room and perhaps notice the furniture, the people—that’s about it. HSPs can be instantly aware, whether they wish to be or not, of the mood, the friendship and enmities, the freshness or staleness of the air, the personality of the one who arranged the flowers.” (Elaine N. Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person)

When I end up in the theatre next to somebody who noticeably wears a perfume, my daughters will automatically volunteer to switch seats with me, knowing that strong smells completely overwhelm me. At other times, they will lovingly make fun of me because I am always the first one who goes, “What is that smell?”, when nobody else can detect it, yet. I am also the loving family joke because I make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows. My family remembers the times when I had to leave the movie theatre for a while during a scene which for most people would qualify as a “regular amount of violence”. The movies are particularly challenging because they come at me with well placed sounds, the intense emotions of the characters and light effects. That usually is too much stimulation for my nervous system.

Some people like parties and loud music. It gives them energy. Loud music and a lot of other noises literally make me feel like I am being attacked. A social gathering of two hours stretches like an eternity for me. The other day we were at a busy restaurant for three hours with wonderful friends of ours. We had a lot of fun, talking and laughing. I enjoyed myself immensely. Yet, in order to tune into only their words and energy I had to tune out everything around me which requires a lot of concentration. After such a gathering, I feel completely drained and desperately need to have quiet around me, preferably even be completely alone for a while.

“Our trait of sensitivity means we will also be cautious, inward, needing extra time alone. Because people without that trait (the majority) do not understand that, they see us as timid, shy, weak, or that greatest sin of all, unsociable. Fearing these labels, we try to be like others. But that leads to our becoming overaroused and distressed.” (Elaine N. Aron)

HSP Tia

Up to the age of 14, I had been attending a small school in Africa. When I returned with my parents to Germany, I was put into a big high school with approximately 800 students. Being in that school everyday completely overwhelmed me. It was like going into a battle field every day, sorting out all the different stimulations and emotions of everybody. The suppressed unhappiness, hostility, anger or aggression of many students and teachers were hard to take. My dad was sure I would get used to the big school. After all, what was the big deal? My mom knew better. When the first opportunity arose for me to switch schools and attend a high school further away with only 300 students and a very different, more personal and supportive atmosphere, she advocated for the change. She didn’t know about HSPs. But she had enough empathy to understand that I would need a more predictable and manageable size of an environment to do well. And she was right.

Elaine N. Aron uses the acronym “DOES” to describe what a Highly Sensitive Person is like. D stands for “Depth of Processing”. HSPs often have a strong (yet not infallible) intuition. When an HSP is asked to make a decision consciously they are often slower than others because they think over all option carefully. O is for “Overstimulation”. If a “situation is complicated (many things to remember), intense (noisy, cluttered etc.), or goes on too long (a two-hour commute)” overstimulation is experienced. E is for giving emphasis to our Emotional reactions and having strong “Empathy” with others. S is for being “Sensitive” to all the subtleties around us, for example the non-verbal clues or sometimes even having what is described as a “sixth sense”.

D O E S

In my field, there is an unusual high number of HSPs. At a meeting of practitioners earlier this year, we were going around the room to share how we all got to be in the alternative field. There were four women sitting right next to each other who all described a very similar story. As children they were all told that they were “too sensitive” and that their intuitive perceptions where not valid. For a while most of them suppressed their sensitivity and strong intuition trying to be like everybody else. Each of them, however, realized at one point that being different has it’s challenges but also is a precious gift. The gift is to be able to tune into other people and to feel them and what is really going on with them energetically. Some of us see energy, others can feel other people’s pain and emotions in their own bodies, some just know things and are intuitively guided while they facilitate a session.

If you suspect you are an HSP, remember that you are not crazy or flawed. Being outgoing, tough, stoic and always searching for entertainment, is only the ideal in our culture. “In China ‘shy’ and ‘sensitive’ children were among those most chosen by others to be friends or playmates. (In Mandarin, the word for shy or quiet means good or well-behaved; sensitive can be translated as ‘having understanding,’ a term of praise.) In Canada, shy and sensitive children were among the least chosen.” (Elaine N. Aron) However, not all HSPs are introverts. According to Aron’s research about 30% of all HSPs are in fact extroverts.

Not all HSPs are the same. Some HSPs are affected more by other people’s moods, others more by sensory in-put, some are easily moved by emotions, arts or music, others are easily rattled by having a lot to do in a short amount of time and feel annoyed when people try to get them to do too many things at once. Some HSPs cry easily, when they are happy or when they are sad, others really struggle with making a conscious choice or decision. Most HSPs crave deep relationships, and feel unhappy without meaningful interactions. Not all characteristics apply to all HSPs in the same way.

Whether just a few or many characteristics of the HSP definition applies to you, you can learn to accept yourself the way you are and thrive in the world. You can learn to protect your energy when you are around others. You can train yourself to be more outgoing and social, as long as you meet your need for quiet time to recharge. You can change your limiting beliefs around your abilities and embrace them as a gift. You can learn to express what it’s like to experience the world in the way you do and take care of yourself.

Contact Angelika for Life Coaching

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you enjoy my posts, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

“I Just Want Christmas to Be Over”

Opinions about the holiday season vary greatly. You come across people who truly love Christmas and you come across people who are not that thrilled the holidays are here once again; some even literally hate this time of the year.

How we feel about Christmas—and about celebrating this or other family holidays—depends a lot on what experiences we have had and what beliefs we have learned. Sometimes our apprehension might be connected to missing a person, sometimes to how we get to celebrate. In fact, it’s a time in which we are really tested in regards to negotiating compromises.

With the permission of two clients, I want to share two different Christmas stories today. Both stories started with a depressed sigh and with the sentence, “I just want Christmas to be over”.

The first client was a woman in her fifties. She told me, “Christmas is so stressful; it is just work for me!” And then she listed all the things she had to do and the lack of time to do it. When I asked her how Christmas would look if she could have it exactly the way she wanted, she was speechless for a moment. She had no clear idea. She started saying, “Well, if I could have what I wanted, I wouldn’t have my whole family over and cook for everybody on the 25th, and I wouldn’t go to my in-laws from the 26th to 28th, and I wouldn’t buy so many gifts and… but that’s not possible because everybody is counting on me to do this! If I don’t do it nobody else will!”

So this was clearly a case of negotiating needs. In order to do that, this wonderful giving woman first of all needed to believe that her own needs matter. We needed to teach her subconscious mind more supportive beliefs about herself and her needs, especially in comparison to other people’s needs. She also decided to take an honest look and ask herself what energies she had over-identified with and which opposite energies she had disowned. Her perfectionist, pleaser and care-taker parts were strong personality parts for her. She liked to give to others but because her opposite energies were underdeveloped, she ended up feeling resentful, unappreciated and completely overwhelmed. She needed some more separation from her perfectionist, pleaser and care-taker and had to embrace her own inner child which wanted to have play time and relaxing time over the holidays.

She came for three sessions at the end of last year. I just heard from her a few days ago. She is creating a completely different holiday experience for herself this year. She negotiated that they would only travel up North to stay with the in-laws every other year and that everybody in her family would help with Christmas dinner at her house. “I had to let go of my need to have things ‘just so’, but it was worth it! I actually have found time this year to start cross stitching again; I always used to love needle work. And instead of giving gifts to everybody in the family, we are only doing cards for the adults. All I need to worry about is my grandchildren and it’s fun to shop for them. I am actually enjoying this time of the year! It is wonderful!”

IMAG0202

The second client is a man in his late thirties. When asked why he wants Christmas to be over, he said, “I don’t know. It is just depressing. Just thinking of Christmas shopping makes me break out in a cold sweat; in January we are always in debt because of all the December expenses.” When asked how he envisions a Christmas that meets his needs he replied, “I have no idea! Christmas was always a time I dreaded, going back to the year when my grandpa Miller died” and his eyes filled with tears. He quickly wanted to push that sadness down again but I asked him to sit with it and feel it. It turned out that as a child a few years in a row, traumatic events happened around Christmas: somebody died or moved away or an accident of sorts happened.

Subconsciously, this man still expected the worst to happen at this time of the year. His work was to joyfully release past Christmas experiences and to expect the best Christmas now and in the future. He also chose to change beliefs about being a horrible gift giver and about having to spend a lot of money for Christmas. His son now has a chance to experience a different holiday, one where there are less expensive gifts under the tree but where everybody sits together playing board games and laughing. It’s a Christmas where this dad might finally feel comfortable sharing about his childhood and what his Grandpa Miller was like, a different and special holiday memory for his son.

Wishing you a holiday

If you enjoy my posts, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Angelika

Belief Change Coaching

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

“I will not find you wrong”

At the end of the four day Shadow Energetics workshop, we all hold hands in the closing circle and share with a few words how we feel; gratitude, joy, peace, sadness for the weekend being over, and most of all unconditional love and acceptance are being expressed. The most magical moment for me always unfolds when we are playing the beautiful song “I Will Take Care of You” by Amy Sky: I can literally see into every person’s soul.

All the masks that we wear on a daily basis have come off after being together for four days. Everybody feels safe enough to let the other participants see their vulnerable, authentic self. Some people are really touched by the song. Some even cry, as I did when I first heard the lyrics and allowed its message to land inside my heart.

I will take care of you

The song tells the story of a baby being born and the mother taking care of her. It talks about the girl growing up to be a bride and her wedding vows being “I will take care of you”. It continues with the mother dying and the daughter taking care of her, and ends with another baby girl being born into this endless cycle of love and care. It expresses the longing we have in our closest relationships to feel safe, protected and taken care of. It is a song about our own inner child, that part inside us that needs nothing more but to feel safe and looked after.

As I look around the circle, there is no doubt in anybody’s face that we are one big family, in which you know with absolute certainty that you are accepted the way you are. The workshop reminded us of what we all know deep down to be true: We are one.

Incredibly blessed, deeply honoured and very much aware of the responsibility I hold as I am carrying forward the teachings of my friend and mentor, Darryl Gurney, I am once again reflecting on what it takes to get to this moment at the end of every single workshop. Teaching the Shadow Energetics Work is way beyond teaching techniques and even beyond providing the opportunity to all participants to make their own shifts and changes and do their own healing. The key to teaching this particular workshop lies in providing the experience of being unconditionally loved and accepted, truly feeling that we are enough exactly the way we are.

Darryl has many times shared what was the most intimate moment in his life, when he understood what allows people to heal. He was in a session with his Body Talk Teacher. Lying face up on the massage table something came up that made him feel defensive. His Body Talk Teacher gently put his hand on Darryl’s higher heart chakra, looked deeply into his eyes, and simply said “I will not find you wrong”.

I will not find you wrong img2

The experience of not being found wrong is deeply life changing. The courage of being able to be open and vulnerable is initiated and encouraged by the instructor, yet carried by every single participant. In all my years of taking different training and workshops, I have never come across a second person who so masterfully creates a safe space in which everybody is heard, seen and held. That Darryl has been able to do this over and over again is the result of many years of doing his own work, clearing out his own shadows and triggers and being conscious enough to know that the work never ends.

During the last workshop, a participant expressed surprise that Darryl himself muscle tested out a shadow and took part in a process I facilitated. She asked, “After all those years and all the work you have done, you still find shadows to integrate?” His response was an emphatic, “Yes, of course.”

He walks his talk. Darryl’s daily practice is to wake up in the morning and to work on his dream messages. Dreams show us what is going on in our subconscious mind and which beliefs we might want to change. In our family, we work on and with each other to clear out fears, limiting beliefs, emotions and integrate our shadows. Sometimes we say, “There is no time right now” and things are postponed and occasionally forgotten.

Doing your own work is about making choices and setting priorities. Often we wait until something is wrong, we are in pain, in a conflict or a relationship is endangered. What if we all healed our issues now, instead of waiting until we are seriously ill, or the other person we have a broken relationship with has died?

Having been entrusted with the Shadow Energetics workshops for the GTA, I have an extra incentive to continue my work on becoming clearer as a person, stronger as a teacher and more unconditionally loving in every way.

Please watch out for the Shadow Energetics Workshop Schedule for Early Spring 2015.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you enjoy my posts, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.