Closure of the past and start of the new year – part 1: locking nights

This is the first part of a three part series about nature connected rituals for the end of the year.

On December 8th, the locking nights (Sperrnächte) started. They are the lesser known harbingers of the longest night of the year and the following rawly nights (Rauhnächte). But where does this tradition come from? And what do we actually do in that time?

About the locking nights, there is barely any information available to find, and those you do find, don’t have any sources. The rawly nights are a little more wide-spread, but you’ll find many different, contradictory pieces of information. As a result, I want to draw you into my own observations of nature, in order to create a space where transformation through the darkest time of the year is possible. read more

Who am I?

For many years I’ve been struggling with the question of my essence. What is it that I’m really good at? What is it that makes me unique? What is my role and my purpose?

And after asking myself those questions for many years, I finally got clearer answers a few weeks ago, when I realized, that I was trying to put myself into predefined boxes, that didn’t really fit.

My process

I felt like a puppet on a string, until I had realized that I needed to let go of those ideas and definitions and openly look at what I do. That process of realization and anger (described in Puppet on a string), and now letting go and opening up, were the most important steps in my process of figuring out who I am.

I could tell you that I’m on my path to building my business that allows me to live my purpose and serve in the best way that I can. And since I’m building a business, I need to know who I am, what I stand for and what my services and products are.

But that’s just a story that I held on to for the last almost two years. I was grabbing onto that story so tightly, that I didn’t even realize what was actually happening to me.

I dove into different free and paid material about building your business, marketing, online marketing, how to grow your instagram, how to do facebook ads correctly, how to build up an online training, and the list goes on and on.

The Scanner’s curse and gift

Since I identify with being a Scanner or Multipotentialite, I jumped on any opportunity I could find to learn more. I wanted to understand everything. And with every offer, every webinar, they were targeting to a specific group of people.

One was for coaches, one was for trainers, one for influencers,  others were for — I don’t even remember all the “role definitions” I stumbled upon. And I could see part of me in any of those descriptions.

So subconsciously – being a good student and all – I tried to bend and stretch and change myself so that I might fit into one of those categories. Because I thought I needed to know “who I am”, in order to know what next steps to take, so that I could fit into those meticulously prepared courses. To be who “those people” wanted me to be to fit their offer.

But wait a second…

There was always that feeling of something being off. It didn’t feel right to call myself a coach. And it also didn’t feel right to call myself all the other definitons. And the more I noticed it and looked at it in more detail, the more I realized two aspects of it:

  • I had a certain idea, picture and feeling attached to any of those definitions, and they didn’t feel appropriate for my own offer.
  • Because of that idea, picture and feeling, I felt constricted to them and not be allowed to stretch not only the definition but also my own ideas, pictures and feelings about these words.
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    Puppet on a string

    Have you ever felt like you were torn into pieces from many different sides and helpless to step out of it and realize that it’s just your mind playing tricks on you? – Well, that’s how I felt really intensely for most of the day yesterday.

    Like I mentioned in my last post about purely being me, I’m really good at anticipating what others want and expect of me. But I didn’t realize until the last few days, of how it seeped into many different parts of my path to be self-employed and build up my business. I didn’t know at all how to handle that completely new process of being on my own, deciding for myself, what to do almost every single minute. No idea, how to really focus and build up a project like that from scratch.

    The Search…

    So, of course, I was looking for answers in a lot of different places outside of myself. Seeing patterns, following questions, mimicking other’s paths and figuring out how I would fit in those paths. I only realize now, how stressful that was that whole time. Always being on the lookout of what I missed in my observations, always afraid that it’s not a complete replica. So I guess that is a big part of why it never felt right to go online with it. It never really felt like my own expression.

    I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, to collect some new experiences of making myself visible to a broader audience, but it only got me so far. Like a child that can’t swim very well yet and is pushed into deep water, your first instinct is to just struggle real hard to somehow get back to the shore or some area where you can hold on to something or get out of the water. That’s all that I could do. It was frustrating, but at the same time, it also helped me to see the parts I still needed to learn and figure out, before I could just swim on my own.

    Who am I?

    I was wondering, if I’m a Coach, or a Trainer, or a Blogger, or a Writer, or a Consultant. Trainer for groups to go out into nature to connect with nature, or just facilitator and organizer for those events? Consultant for IT, for Online Marketing, for organizational development? I really tensed myself to figure out who I was. Even if I came up with more than one definition, I would have been fine. But I felt like I NEEDED to find an answer to the question of what I do. During my training to become self-employed and all the other programs (marketing, business,…) I stumbled upon after that, a lot of focus was to get your elevator pitch up and ready.

    All of those actions were very much focused on what’s outside of me. Even though I meditated on my vision and my dreams and what I really want to do and why, the motivation was still somewhat extrinsic. It was focused on what I need to be on the outside so that I fit into some pattern where people know what to make of me.

    stuff that just happens…

    All the while, I didn’t even realize, that I was already following my path. It was especially fascinating to me, that all the steps to follow my heart had happened incidentally, even though I was putting all that energy in those really stressful exercises to find out what that big faceless blob of “society” needed me to be. It felt like running around in circles with your feet tied together.

    So while I’m ripping away the strings, my next posts will finally reveal, what I came up with for the question of “Who am I and what is my message?”

    Purely me

    A few days ago I got a special gift: a grain-free superfood bar with the name “Purely Elizabeth”. It made me laugh and be thankful, but also reminded me again, how important it is, to be truly, purely myself.

    It seems that we constantly hear and read about being authentic and being you and being true to yourself. But what does that actually mean? I read a wonderful article about that topic by Manuel Harand (article only available in German), writing about his journey to his truth and it touched me deeply. For many years I’ve been on my path to be honest and tell my truth, not hiding behind white lies. But the painful realization is, that I’ve only been scratching on the surface, not really being completely honest to myself in that path. I touched on that in a previous article on vulnerability and expression of self. But it goes much deeper than that.

    In so many situations I automatically scan the situation and the people involved, in a matter of milliseconds flipping through all the different scenarios of what they might expect from me and how they might expect me to be. Not realizing for a long time that I was always hiding big parts of myself…

    I’m still really good at trying to figure out what others expect of me, and to do that and be that person. And for my journey, it’s not a good talent to have, because it keeps me from really discovering myself. What is purely Elisabeth? What is purely me? And can it be expressed in words?

    My journey to follow my wild heart is my path to my true self. And on the way I learned that there is no clear answer to that. I learned that being me is not a state but a process. Not a noun but a verb – as Tamarack Song would put it. It is not about arriving some place and saying: “Ah, yes. Now I arrived and I’m truly myself”. It’s in every single decision I make, every single thing I do and think and say.

    Every time I decide not to say anything – because of whatever wonderful and creative story I came up with why I don’t have to say something – I deny myself to be me. And it hurts. It’s so much easier to just go back into my old patterns and not deal with it… But since I found my voice to follow my wild heart, it is a really powerful reminder of my path. And it strips away all the stories I’m creating. It’s not about showing all the different versions of myself that someone else expects or wants me to be. It’s about figuring out, when I’m not honest to myself, then thanking myself for noticing it. And inviting all the emotions in, that come with it.

    So, after sitting on that article for a few days, worrying that the message might not be clear enough or on point enough or xyz enough, I embrace all of that, welcome it to be a part of me being purely Elisabeth, and will send it on its way. In its absolutely perfect imperfect glory. And after hitting the “publish”-button, I’ll take some time to care for all the emotions that came up…

    Can you relate? How much or how often are you purely yourself?

    floating with the river…

    Last week I was embarking on a new journey full of challenges and new experiences.

    I was offered to join a small group of people to go on a 3 day, 3 night adventure with the canoe into the Northwoods of Wisconsin. It was organized and facilitated by the Teaching Drum Outdoor School, so the main goal was a full immersion into the land and to learn and experience to use simple (some would say primitive) tools and techniques to help to get really connected with the natural world around you.

    we are starting…

    When we started, my feelings were a mix of excitment, curiosity and fear, which is a mix I know all to well, since most of my adventures start off like that. The only difference might be the intensity of one feeling over another.

    So when we started practicing the different techniques, I felt pretty confident. I felt like I understood them, and so all would be fine. But when we then embarked on our journey up the river, it soon became very apparent to me, that understanding how it works and having sort of done it a few times isn’t enough. By the fifth paddle-stroke, the others were far in front of me. And after another five, they had disappeared behind a bend in the river.

    Photocredit: pixabay.com / Free-Photos
    Photocredit: pixabay.com / Free-Photos

    the first challenges

    Thoughts and worries came up, that they would have to wait and be annoyed with me soon after. But I kept reminding myself to just focus on the paddling technique and to make sublte changes in the position of the paddle so that I can slowly but surely learn the different reactions of the boat to the different actions of the paddle. And in a way, I was glad that I didn’t see them any more. That way it felt like I was alone on the river, and had all the time in the world to figure this out. It felt like the river and the surroundings were comforting me, giving me the space to learn in my own time. – And since practice makes perfect, I did get better the longer I paddled and adjusted and learned the movements. I still had my own slower tempo, but I didn’t feel like going much faster anyway. – After all, I wanted to really connect and take in the landscape and my surroundings.

    On our second day, I already noticed some improvements. Eventhough I was still the slowest of the group, I had figured out the steering to some degree, and there were moments, where I just felt one with the river, the boat, the paddle, the surrounding plants – in short: one with that ecosystem “river”. I didn’t think of paddling any more, but just quietly and elegantly floated along. This experience had such a calming effect, that I can still connect with that feeling now, a few days later, back in a warm and dry house.

    the gift

    Our third day however held a very special gift. So subtle, yet so powerful. Already during the night it had started to rain, and it didn’t stop all day. So the only thing that sane outdoor people can do is to stay in our shelter, stay as dry and warm as possible and take the time to reflect on your life, write, sleep, observe whatever it is that you can observe from your shelter. – So even though the whole trip was focused on being a canoe trip, the most memorable and deep memories of all the participants was that one day where we could not do anything but “have a date with ourselves”.

    Photocredit: pixabay.com / KajakFreak
    Photocredit: pixabay.com / KajakFreak

    it could go on forever

    So on our forth day, even though there was light sleet coming down (so it must have been cold) on our way back, we all could have gone on paddling. We were so acclimatised that all the weather – even though we felt the cold and the wet – felt like no suffering at all. And I guess that is all we can ever hope for with any uncomfortable outside situation…

    insight

    All the time we decide through our thoughts, if an experience feels positive or negative. If we are thankful for unexpected changes that we may not have wished for, but that turned out to be very valuable experiences. Or if we are disappointed because it didn’t go as we planned. In the end, it’s always in our hands.

    I’m fed up!

    I didn’t write for such a long time, because I always valued other tasks as more important. Task for my job, tasks for the projects I’m part of, tasks my friends or family asked me to, tasks that I thought were expected of me.

    No matter what, it was always more important than to do the things that made me happy at the moment. And when I finally had time, I had to play a defiant little child almost as long as I had worked before. Every time I was mad at myself afterwards, that I didn’t assign my wishes a higher priority. That anger and defiance was expressed in a way that I just didn’t want to do anything any more. Not even the things that would make me happy.

    But now I’m sitting here, feeling like a rebell, that I’m finally able to express how I feel. And I’m fed up! I began quite some time ago to consciously deal with myself, my inner parts, and consciously observe the world around me.

    This lead to me following a lot of facebook pages writing about what to consider when being on a journey of self discovery, what you have to do to be able to have healthy relationships, how important it is to have inner and outer silence, and all the other things I still need to learn, before I’m allowed to feel good in my own skin.

    Yes, I know that I can just unfollow these pages, but then I would miss the few imputs that actually help me see a new side of me, won’t I?

    And all the people that present themselves as if they already made it. People that are sometimes 10 years my junior and that seem as if they have all their shit together. I’m fed up!

    Of course is helpful and important to have role models to see what else is possible an that you could do it too. And I get that you want to show off your best side to show what you accomplished. But very often that just makes me feel even more inadequate.

    I know that there are a lot of projections in that text, and I know how to probably treat them. But to be honest, sometimes I just don’t want to! Sometimes I just want to be angry. Not have to “improve” myself again. Sometimes I just want to be with my anger, to be fed up with all the “bad” in the world. Not having to blame myself to still have another projection where other people trigger something that is not their fault. Bullshit! I’m not even angry at someone particular. It is important for me, not only to present that bright and shiny goal, but to show what is there at the moment.

    Yes I know that state where everything is awesome like on drugs and that is nice. But I also want to have the right and the room, not to have to be in that state. Simply to sit there in my imperfection and let the world be.

    Very often it helps me to read or hear something that Stefan Hiene (site in german only) said. He is so refreshingly radical about doing his thing without obeying the rules of others. Not hiding his imperfections and being amazing because of it.

    pressure and the need to do something

    It has been a time of highs and lows for me the past few weeks. I’m usually very easily overwhelmed by my emotions, so I constructed an intricate pattern of safety nets, not to get tangled up in them. This has – for a long time – served me well in supporting me not to feel very much at all. The side effect of it is though, that the emotions don’t really go away. They are still here, they seem to be getting stronger, and I feel like I can’t handle them, because I’m not used to it.

    So probably, they’re not really that big, but if you are lying on the floor, not remembering that you could get up or how you could get up, it seems like an insurmountable thing to handle. Especially if you see a tractor, or even a small scooter coming at you.

    Yesterday, I felt like a truck hit me. I saw it coming for a long time – creeping closer every second. This is actually already a big accomplishment for me, since I would have just looked at the ground in the past… So I watched while it was getting bigger and bigger. I was so afraid it would hit me. And somehow, suddently I got up. Looked right at it while it was coming. I took a step to the left – it adjusted its course. I took a step to the right – it adjusted again. I tried to reason with it, but how can you reason with a truck?

    And then, somehow, it stopped. Right in front of me. It didn’t really hit, but that fear of really looking, really dealing with what’s coming, trying to fight it, and then dealing with all the dust that was swirling around, wrapping my head around the fact that it didn’t hit me… That still has me rattled, more than a day later.

    It’s probably similar with most of the emotions someone has to deal with. For me this time it was about the pressure I put on myself to do something (for all kinds of different reasons). That need to put pressure on myself is either triggered by some belief, some action that happens, or a person. I understand that it’s just myself that’s doing the pushing, so most of the time I do not put blame on some outside thing or person. That’s not really the point anyway.

    The hard thing to deal with is the actual emotions. So – if I look at my analogy again, the truck was the trigger. Usually I just let that pressure wash over me and force myself to do whatever it takes to not feel it any more. Mostly that’s just running faster, working harder, closing my eyes to what’s actually there.

    Yesterday , I saw it all coming, I felt all the pressure beforehand, really felt it in my whole body, from my head to my toes. And then I said NO. I might want to do that, but at the moment I could only do it under pressure and it’s just not worth it. I don’t under any circumstance (except theats to my life) want to do that any more.

    I don’t know how to do it differently, but that’s just a new process that I have to try. It’s hard work to find a new way of doing some thing differently that you have done in one way for as long as you can remember. But that’s a kind of work that I want to put in.

    Vulnerability and Expression of Self

    In my live now and again I achieved smaller and bigger things that I’m proud of, but never really showed publicly or kept as small as possible. I didn’t even really admit it to myself, that I was proud. It was and still is really hard for me, to really show myself.

    I did manage to show parts of what I accomplished and some of my thoughts in my previous blog Wandering Treechild, but was always too afraid to connect it to my name. I always had the feeling that I wasn’t ready to open myself up to the effects that it would generate. Would I loose my credibility at my previous work? Or some future work? Would I embarrass someone that knows me?

    There is a TED talk by Brene Brown (Brene Brown on vulnerability), that always causes different reactions in myself. Sometimes there is a feeling of motivation, inspiration and bravery, that I can embrace my insecurities and grow and become stronger through it. Sometimes there is a feeling of denial. The feeling, that there has to be another way to get rid of these insecurities and fears. It is my wish to really stay with me, in situations where the feelings of denial come up, and to be courageous nonetheless to take the next step.

    For me, this blog is also a way to help myself to find my own courage, to see my fears and insecurities step by step, to embrace them, to like them, and to accept them as part of myself. And maybe I can inspire you or others to do the same.

    By now I feel relatively secure when I write about ideas and theories that were developed by someone else, but that I like and support. And also creating and writing about own ideas doesn’t ignite fear inside me. It is actually just one of many ideas that I have during my whole life. Ideas come and go so fast, that I don’t personally identify with. What really scares me is to write about things that I can’t do (yet). It scares me to show all the parts of me that are embarrassing, because I can’t (yet) do them as well as I would like.

    Because I’ve been in the area of (IT) security for quite some time, it is a really big challenge for me – not only on a personal level, but also professionally and philosophically – to see new possibilities in taking risks and allowing vulnerability. But it is a challenge that I want to accept, because I observed, that my life feels so much richer and multifacetted through that path.

    What are the things that challenge you? What are the things you don’t want others to see?