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Blog

Filtering by Category: All The Feelings

Meltdowns Lead to (Parentheses). Apparently.

Amber Adrian

I always feel so much better after a complete meltdown that I should put them in my weekly calendar.

"Friday, 4 pm, mental breakdown."

Breakdowns empty out the cup - dumping out every emotion and worry, everything I didn’t even know I was carrying, and suddenly I’m all free and light.

Meltdown: 5 stars, would have again.

I always resist the break like mad. I do everything I can to avoid it. I grit my teeth and stuff my emotions into my spleen, because I’m not supposed to have feelings. I watch TV to stave off that wave of fear that really wants in. I eat a hamburger, because - well - I eat a hamburger because I’m hungry and a person’s gotta eat.

But once it finally overtakes me - usually because the universe pushes me to the edge of the cliff and boots me over - and I spend an hour or two sobbing and throwing a, let’s just call it what it is, temper tantrum, clutching my stuffed therapy otter until I finally drag my soggy carcass out for bagels. I’m still kind of cranky as I bolt down my bagel, but at some point, I begin to feel better.

Surprisingly better. Better than I’ve felt in weeks. Incidentally, just about as long as I’ve been attempting to stuff my feels into my spleen where I hope they’ll die a quiet and unremarkable death.

On the heels of feeling better after the ignominious breakdown usually comes an answer to the situation(s) that led to the breakdown in the first place.

(This time, my answer to the work breakdown was “It’s time to be channeling star families now. Yes, it’s weird, but is channeling aliens really that much weirder than channeling Jesus or unicorns? Right. So get on with it.”)

(My answer to the relationship portion of the breakdown was “Hold your self-worth and self- esteem and stay focused on yourself and your work, no matter what the other person is doing or saying or how either of you is flying off the trigger handle.”)

(Two very helpful answers, it must be said.)

But we usually have to allow the meltdown before we get the relief and the answers. Which can be really hard for those of us who fancy ourselves adults who no longer have meltdowns or maybe were scolded or shut in our rooms for having meltdowns as children.

(Which has got to be a conundrum for parents. I don’t pretend to have the answer for this. I’m just trying to parent myself the best I can and not be too hard on myself over the inevitable breakdown.)

But when we finally let it just flow through, the post-meltdown relief is palpable. It’s like you’ve emptied out the bucket of everything you’ve been carrying around - judgment, overwhelm, fear, sadness, worry, pain - and then tossed the bucket into the Pacific Ocean.

When we’re emptied out and feeling better, that’s when answers come.

So what if it requires four bagels, a stuffed otter, and a temper tantrum that would make a three-year-old blush?

Sometimes that’s what being an adult is all about.

 Channeling my inner child in a more photo-friendly fashion.

Channeling my inner child in a more photo-friendly fashion.

Talking to Dragons

Amber Adrian

On the scale of delightfully strange jobs, talking to dragons is probably near the top.

But now that it’s been a few years, I probably need to stop claiming that channeling unicorns and hurling light with Archangel Michael is weird.

Not that it is or isn’t, especially as jobs go, but because it’s mostly my way of trying to make people more comfortable. Like, “hahaha, I know I’m crazy but what can you do?”

Yes, making people comfortable is generally a good thing, a kind thing, but not when it means diluting yourself for common consumption.

Recognizing my worth has been one of my greatest challenges. It’s tangled up in owning my weird, allowing myself to receive, and … oh my god this is all exhausting. Like, I just got really tired and want to take a nap now.

Part of me just wants to wash my hands of the whole thing, but that’s the problem with Talking To Dragons As a Job (TM). You have to keep plowing through these self-constructed webs. You don’t get to stop, because then you won’t be as effective. (And might not be able to make rent.)

I want to be effective. I want to know my worth, not just as an intellectual concept but as something I fully embody and never have reason to question.

So what would the dragons tell me about this? If I can talk to dragons, may as well ask them for help when I’m riding the struggle bus.

Therefore:

Hi, dragons! How can I recognize and feel my worth?

“By knowing that the wounds of your childhood do not need to inform your adulthood. By steeping in the joy of each moment and knowing that life is ever-changing and you are never stuck. You are never trapped. You are always loved and supported and in divine hands. Surrender into those hands and give yourself a goddamn break.”

(Sometimes the dragons swear.)

Choosing joy and play and fulfillment and abundance sometimes feels harder than anything you could ever do. This is why I talk to dragons. This is why I teach this stuff. Because we teach what we need to learn.

Good Old-Fashioned Primal Shrieking (And Squirrels)

Amber Adrian

I’ve been doing a lot of primal screaming.

Also, a lot of actual screaming.

This is when living alone is glorious - there’s no one to frighten with your occasional cleansing shrieks. I may have scared a squirrel or two, but since they dive bomb my roof at least once a day, sometimes waking me out of a sound Saturday morning slumber, I feel zero remorse.

Forest rodents beware.

So much has been rumbling to the surface lately that sometimes it’s necessary to let it out with a solid yell. The occasional yelp. Even a whimper or two. Though sliding into the pathetic whimpering usually means it’s time to do something else. Like take a walk in the woods (provided the air quality isn’t currently at You Gonna Die because of the wildfires). Do the dishes, write something, make something, color something. Stand under, sit in, or drink a lot of water. Visit your friend Adriene on her yoga youtube channel (she’s not really my friend but isn’t she really the whole world’s friend?). And of course… yell. How to best shift the sticky, crispy energy is a constant curiosity, something my sensitive peeps (which is all of you, hi!) understand 100 percent.

OH MY GOD I JUST GOT DIVE BOMBED BY ANOTHER SQUIRREL. It sounds like frantic skittering right over my head, mostly because my roof seems to be a major squirrel thoroughfare as they dart between trees.

Anyway, life, am I right? It’s good, all and all. I just shift between feeling like I’m standing on a precipice and like I’m stuck in an extra confining box and I know it’s completely within my power and capacity to shift it in a hot second, but then I don’t. Or I do and then I shift it back again. I don’t know. Energy is weird and I’m still learning (remembering) how it works.

Part of me can’t wait for change, part of me fears change, the rest of me wants potato chips. I think that’s called being human.

Hi, human friends. I hope you’re doing well and letting a good old-fashioned primal shriek whenever necessary.

 Here, have a soothing dragon.

Here, have a soothing dragon.


Grief Anniversaries

Amber Adrian

As much as I congratulate myself on understanding grief - hey, take the wins where they come - there are still so many pieces that elude me.

Someone posted on Twitter about how today would have been her three-year-old's birthday if she hadn't miscarried, and that struck a rather resounding chord so I did the math and realized HEY ME TOO.

Perhaps that's the cause of all the emotions today. I don't remember what happened this time last year or the year before - I'm so emotional most of the time that this stuff honestly doesn't register until I'm sobbing wildly and it somehow clicks in that "Oh, it's my dad's birthday" or "Oh, the baby I miscarried would be three today" or "This was the day I finished reading the final Harry Potter book."

But I do remember the first year, and the first year was bad.

On my actual due date, I went to a dance class to make myself feel better. It was with a teacher I didn't know, and she was one of those who walks around the room, yelling at people to smile. (Which is super obnoxious, no matter what your gender.)

When she got to me and I couldn't smile - like, literally, couldn't, even if I had wanted to or was willing to, which I 100% was not - she stopped the whole class and started yelling at me about how I was what was wrong with Mill Valley and just because you all have money you think you can do whatever you want.

First off: Sister, have you seen my bank account? I had to use a credit card just to get into this $15 class.

Second: That all sounds like a personal problem that has no place in a dance class you're supposed to be teaching.

So I walked out of class and the tears that are always pretty close to the surface on a normal good day rushed up, post-miscarriage and random admonishments from a short she-demon in yoga pants.

As I was sitting outside sobbing, an older woman came up to me and crouched down next to me and just kept saying "Jesus te ama, Jesus te ama."

I didn't retain enough high school Spanish to read the Taco Bell menu, but that translated.

For every she-demon, there is someone who will send you love and sit with you as you cry.

Grief Cocktail, and Other Things I've Learned About No-Good-Terrible Life Events

Amber Adrian

I've learned a lot about grief in the past ten years. From watching my father die, to a miscarriage, to more breakups than I willingly admit to, I feel like a bit of an expert. 

Which may be yet another cloud of hubris encircling my head, but I'll take it. Since my thirties yielded none of the things I expected (marriage, nope; kids, nope; career success that makes sense to my mother's book club, nope) and I'm now staring down the barrel of a brand new decade,  I will take what I've been given and like it.

(While also sending up a request that my forties feature exponentially more fun and exponentially fewer grief cycles. Thanks.) 

Therefore!

Here's what I've learned about grief:

Grief is the heaviest emotion.

As the grief rises through your system, it lifts every other emotion up and out with it. Misery, fear, sadness, anger, loneliness, you name it. It's a feelings cocktail mixed by one of Satan's underlings and served with a maraschino cherry.

So you think, "Well, hey. This royally blows, but at least I get a maraschino cherry." Then you bite into it and have to hack it into your napkin because it's so damn foul. You didn't even think it was possible for maraschino cherries to go bad, but then your horned bartender turns to you and grins the grin of someone who ruined a maraschino cherry on purpose. 

I joke about hell's minions, and that's often how the process feels, but my father's death was one of the best things to ever happen to me. I say that feeling like a grade A twisted asshole in my human self and like it's 100% true and perfect in my higher self. 

Being forced to drink the grief cocktail is nothing you'd ever want to put on your calendar, but it swept me clean of so much emotion that I'd been carrying around my entire life.

I think of my dad's death as my Cracking Open Moment. Those are the moments that shatter you, but in the breaking, you let all the sticky emotion flow out, everything you were holding onto and protecting without even realizing. 

After you put yourself back together, you realize that there's so much extra room now. Room for joy, room for love, room for peace. 

Grief comes in waves. 

Sometimes when you're angry, you're really grieving. Sometimes when you're lonely, you're really grieving. Sometimes when you're pissed at the world and especially everyone currently driving a car, you're really grieving.

Sometimes you think you're done, and you aren't - and the grief wave knocks you into the sand. 

See: grief cocktail mixed by Satan's minion. This time with gritty sand in indelicate places. 

Don't beat yourself up for riding the emotion roller coaster. 

Be extra careful with big financial decisions while you're in a grief cycle. 

Everything is all over the place, so stay out of your bank account and away from your credit cards if you can.

But since life happens, you may need to sell a house or something. Call in someone you trust with a dispassionate perspective to help you do whatever needs to be done. 

But also trust yourself. If you need to take some fancy trip, maybe that's the exact perfect thing for you to do. 

(But don't do what I did, which is try to take a trip and then end up not taking the trip after paying for half of it. Whoops.) 

Love doesn't die, it only changes forms. 

I believe the more of the grief cocktail we drink, the more room is created for this to make sense. 

Do whatever you need to do to get yourself through. 

If that means developing a weird relationship with a stuffed otter and taking her on road trips, so be it. 

Sally strapped in.jpg

Go on long drives with your therapy otter, take classes in things you're terrible at, read anything you want, eat fried chicken in bed, upgrade to first class.  

Ramp up your self-care exponentially. Shower every day. Treat yourself like a toddler, making sure you've napped, eaten, cried, and played with crayons. 

Let yourself feel without making it mean anything. 

One of the grand challenges of being a human is allowing your feelings to be felt.

Feel them as physical sensations, as something passing through, rather than something that needs to be stuffed into your spleen until one of you dies. 

As the feelings are rising, your brain will frantically try to give you reasons why the feeling is happening, and it doesn't care if those reasons make you feel better or not. So your brain might make those feelings mean something about you, something about your life. Do your best to disengage your brain from the process. Just feel. Let the energy move through your body. Up and out. Hush, brain. 

Keep crawling through the tunnel of sewage, Shawshank Redemption-style.

Keep going, keep crawling, keep putting one foot in front of the other.

You've got this. It will pass. You will feel better. You will feel joy again.

You just need to move through this season of your life until the next season arrives with cherry blossoms and red convertibles driven to Mexico by Tim Robbins. 

Magic Requires Space

Amber Adrian

Making space can be one of the hardest things for smart, driven people. What do you mean, space? Won’t the world crash into some unseen barrier if I stop working? Shouldn’t I be doing something?

Nope. Not always. Sometimes when you give yourself some time to just sit on the deck in the sun, mind blank, the problem your brain has been wrangling will suddenly snap into focus.

Sometimes it doesn’t, but you still got to sit outside in the sun rather than glaring angrily at your computer and a project that refuses to cooperate.

I’m in big building mode right now and it is vaguely terrifying. And by “vaguely terrifying” I mean MOSTLY TERRIFYING.

I am terrified. Sometimes when humans get terrified, they freeze. So do deer. But, unlike deer, when I’m terrified I get to crawl onto the couch with Sally and watch season four of Mozart in the Jungle. Instead of, you know, getting shot by big game hunters.

But the terror actually feels similar. When you step outside your comfort zone, your brain immediately yells UNSAFE BAD IDEA GO BACK. And will flood you with fear and adrenaline and, if you’re a delicate peony like me, sometimes you collapse.

Onto aforementioned couch.

(At least I’m dog-sitting right now, so I’m being kept company in my terror by Homer, the biggest floofer that ever floofed. When I got here, I spent a solid seven minutes singing about how fluffy he was. Homer was not impressed.)

On Monday, I was accidentally still in Napa, sitting on a deck in the sun, not expecting anything of myself. It seems that when I don’t expect anything of myself, it unlocks that flow state and suddenly I’m having a merry time creating things on my phone and eating truffle fries.

I’m trying to hack this quirk. Because my aim is to be in that glorious soul-flow most of the time, just letting things unfold in a way that also makes me a lot of money.

But apparently my subconscious is too smart to be fooled by me not expecting anything of myself in order to be massively productive. Or maybe such convoluted hijinks are too much and my subconscious just rolls its eyes and wanders off to do something else.

I think I’ve spent a lot of time suppressing my Type A drive because I have trouble turning it off. Once the switch gets flicked, I push myself until I collapse, and I know that's not the way I want to live. 

So what's the choice here? Because I believe our choice is the most powerful tool we have. 

I choose to allow it to be easy. I choose to let my business be guided by my joy. I choose to show up as me and have that be more than enough. I choose to allow myself to be visible so that anyone who needs or wants my work can find it. 

If that looks like sitting on the couch with a fluffy dog and watching TV instead of creating the business thing I told myself I'd make today, that gets to be perfect. 

I choose to create space for magic. Maybe that's all it takes. 

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Dear Empath,

Amber Adrian

If you’re an empath (or any super sensitive human), here, let me give you a hug. 

Cause that shit is hard.

I basically didn’t get out of bed for actual years. 

I Netflix binged like a seasoned pro, scarfed Pringles and gummy bears like I was being paid by the pound, and - well, honestly - kind of loved life. Except for the part where I was clinging to financial solvency by a thread because 1) energy and 2) I didn’t believe I was allowed to have money if all I was doing was taking care of myself and writing whatever made me happy. 

(NEW WORLD ORDER: I AM ALLOWED TO HAVE MONEY - LOTS OF MONEY! - IF ALL I DO IS TAKE CARE OF MY ENERGY AND WRITE AND MAKE WHATEVER FEELS FUN.) 

(Sorry for shouting. I’m doing my best to rewire my brain and sometimes that requires yelling over the old stories.) 

I spent so much time curled up in bed with my stuffed therapy otter because I was so exhausted from trying to carry the pain of the world. 

Remember Marley’s ghost at the beginning of A Christmas Carol, carrying all those chains behind him? Yeah, it’s like that. Only empaths carry all that clanking weight because they’re trying to be good people. 

It’s a hell of a pickle. Empaths without boundaries are in for a rocky ride on this planet.

We tend to think we’re required to heal the world by taking on its pain. So we do. Pass a homeless woman on the street, pick up some stray trauma and deep loneliness that we carry for years. If our partner is angry - whether it’s at us or something entirely unrelated - and we start feeling that anger too, thinking it’s our anger, and acting on it. Oops. 

You can make a hell of a mess when you act from someone else’s feelings rather than your own. Often, it takes empaths a lot of practice to know which is which. 

Vacuuming up all the emotion in our vicinity takes an impressive toll - on our energy, on our relationships, on our ability to do the things we love. 

My sensors were fried from trying to process other people’s emotions my entire life. 

So, bed. It seems reasonable. And often felt like the only viable option. 

I was in a very slow and profound healing process for a long time. I was cleaning up a lifetime of accumulated emotional baggage, toting it out to sea and tossing it overboard. Leaving it on the ground, feeling it leach out of me as I lay in the grass. Engaging in the slow grind of learning what was my pain and what belonged to others. 

But here’s the good news, if you are an empath on this journey. 

IT GETS BETTER. 

(I’m not yelling at you, I’m yelling at the story in your head.) 

What you clear makes room for joy. For peace. For inspiration.

Where you set boundaries gives you fresh energy to do the things you want to do, experience what you want to experience, create what you want to create. 

Doing this work is hard, but it’s worth it. 

You get to engage in unabashed napping. You get to learn who you are and what you feel, rather than being constantly overwhelmed by everyone else's hulk-smash emotions. You get to step into the person you always knew you were meant to be, you just couldn't quite get there and you weren't sure why. 

There is nothing wrong with you. There never was. You were just learning how to operate your superpowers. 

Love, 

Amber

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Locked Out and Muddy Subtitle: Fuck Friday

Amber Adrian

After I pressed publish last night, I sat down on my bathroom floor and sobbed. Like something deep yet mysteriously prominent had rearranged itself in that quantum box where I keep everything I don't fully understand. (It's a really big box.) 

Sobbing on your bathroom floor is never fun - I've done it a fair few times in my life, and somehow, it's always on a white bath mat. Perhaps I should only use colored bath mats from now on. Because the color of my Cost Plus purchases are obviously the culprit here.

I've given up trying to explain my feelings. They've always been a mystery tsunami, like just hanging out on the beach in the sun with lemonade and your dog and then all of a sudden, "HOLY SHIT THERE'S A SEVENTY FOOT WAVE RIGHT ON TOP OF US."

(Don't worry, the imaginary dog is a champion swimmer.) 

That said, It felt like I was grieving something I had only just realized I lost, but had disappeared long before. I still can't explain why or what the good green earth was going on. 

All I can do with feelings is ask whether or not they're mine (half the time they don't, being an empath is annoying). If they do belong to me, just let myself feel them in my body without letting my brain attach a story to them. I'm usually only about 37 percent successful at this, but that's better than the last decade's .003 percent success average. 

For reference, attaching brain story to feelings often looks something like: 

Feelings of anger, sadness, loneliness, pain, grief, etc, from apparent nowhere. 

Brain, ever helpful, hops quickly in: "It's completely logical that you feel this way, because x, y, and granny smith apple happened last week. In fact, we should probably obsess about x and granny smith apple for awhile, or maybe forever, so these feelings never happen again." 

Helpful, brain. Thanks. 

Anyway, post traumatized-bathroom-sob-for-no-apparent-reason, I wake up feeling much better and ready to greet the morning with vim and, I dunno, vigor - or at least coffee. And then there's another quantum collapse. I don't have a better description than that. Kinda like the black cat in the Matrix. The one you see after they've changed something. 

I'm reeling from latest quantum shift when I realize I don't have my keys. They're just...gone. I search my path from house to car, and conclude I must have locked myself out.

IS THAT WHAT THE MATRIX CHANGED? IT TOOK MY FUCKING KEYS? Come on, Matrix. Be better, 

Peering in my back window to ascertain location of said keys - are they really in the house? did I drop them on the stairs and they're now in the ivy? shall I call a locksmith or try to engage a wily raccoon? - I slip on my rain-slick deck and fall on my ass in the mud. 

Fuck Friday, is basically what I'm saying. 

Hours later, after licking my wounds at Starbucks and driving almost two hours to means-of-unlocking-my-house-without-my-key (luckily, I had a spare set of car keys in an accessible place), I get back into my house.

My keys aren't there.

It's like they slipped into another dimension.  

Which would've been pretty sweet, except no. After retracing my steps for the seventh time, it seems that, actually, they're IN THE GARBAGE CAN. Couldn't the Matrix at least try? Try and make a slightly cooler shift in my reality? 

But this is the joy of blogging again. As I'm hopping mad on the freeway, because of course I don't have time to drive multiple hours today just to unlock my door, I think, "At least I have something to write about now."

Even if I'd rather Friday would slip casually into another dimension, maybe the one where my keys were hiding.  

Grinch of Las Vegas

Amber Adrian

My heart grew three sizes this weekend.

While I’m definitely the Grinch of Las Vegas - my 70-something mom and aunt both out-gambled and out-drank me - it was more than just fleeing the Strip for the rocks and the lakes.

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Vegas has nice rocks. 

It was seeing my brother happy. It was exploring caves and riding a train with a stuffed fox-toting seven-year-old, and buying his love with vanilla ice cream. Sitting by a lake in the twilight while bugs hummed, kids ran, and a new baby kicked.  

Some people go to Las Vegas to gamble. I go to sheep-gaze.

It was wholly unexpected and so perfect. My heart definitely grew bigger, and that gives me more faith in myself and my capacity for love.

Before I left, I was telling a friend that I 100% expected this trip to be epic, I just wasn't sure what that epic would entail. Las Vegas epic makes most people think of slot machines and unexpected marriage certificates under an empty tequila bottle on the bedside table - not freshly-hatched babies or a field full of big horn sheep. But that's the kind of epic I prefer these days - and it doesn’t even require a hangover.

But going to Las Vegas with your family will definitely test your empath boundaries. I started to see where some of this grief I've been carrying around for years isn't my own, and realizing anew how hard I have to work to stay clear of what's not mine. When you feel it, you assume it belongs to you, especially if you've been sponging up other people's pain all your life.

It's the challenge of the empath - to remember to ask to whom this emotion belongs. Even when your brain can logically assimilate it to your own experience, pointing to a specific event and saying, "This. Yes, this is why I feel this way. It makes perfect sense." When, in fact, it isn't yours at all - and there's no sense to be made. 

God love you, smart empaths. It's not an easy road. Someone told me recently, "You're very smart. But more often than not, your brain completely fucks you." Well...yes. 

Luckily, having a stuffed therapy otter in your purse helps.

As we circled Las Vegas, getting ready to land, I got the hit that my father had just reincarnated in India, because he doesn’t want to miss this time, this rebirth of ancient wisdom that's beginning to sweep us clear of multiple dark ages. He hit the re-set button and landed back on planet Earth, ready to go. 

Honestly, who knows. As with most intuitive hits, they’re impossible to fact check. You just have to trust - and realize that, in the eternal sense, it ultimately doesn't matter. But it was fun to think about, in those last moments before we landed.  

We're all connected to our people - those we know and those we don't yet remember - on this plane and beyond it. It's like my relationship with my brother - fathoms deep and about half an inch wide. Like, we had no idea he had a girlfriend. He just...showed up with her. There was a lot of frantic rearranging of facial expressions, let me tell you. 

In the small talk sense, I know more about most of my first dates than I know about my only sibling. But it ultimately doesn't matter - I can feel his heart and so it makes my heart happy when his is happy. 

Maybe that's the reward for being an empath. I got to be so happy this weekend in Vegas because he was so happy. When there's that much love gathering, each heart reflects it like a hall of mirrors reflecting a lightbulb. And I got to feel it all - and feel my heart expand with it. 

My Heart Feels Like Charlie Brown Trying to Kick a Football

Amber Adrian

Plowing forward, filled with hope, leaving the ground with the high of the kick as you look up to the sky ...and then the nausea-inducing spinal trauma of crashing flat into the ground. Yup, my romantic life most accurately resembles Charlie Brown trying to kick a football.

This is mostly my fault. If I try to date out of fear that I'll miss out, or because I'm bored, or because I want the quick hit of validation, or because I think I should, or before I'm completely out of the grieving cycle, that's when I get stood up four times in two weeks by four separate people or end up unraveling a tangled mass of karma. 

So I vow to be more careful a dozen times a week, to guard my heart better. But that’s not really what I want, and I know it. Even when I’m carefully instructing myself to just go ahead and be a different human this time. 

Being in a relationship with me means you occupy a portion of my heart’s real estate and you get to live there for the rest of your life, whether you want to or not. Luckily, my heart is growing bigger every day, so I don't begrudge the space. Construction is ongoing.

So far, three people have annexed a corner of my heart. As much as it hurts in the healing stage, if I love someone enough to assign them a lifelong corner of my left ventricle, how could I pass up that love for as long as it lasts? I can't, and I wouldn't want to, no matter what I tell myself in the getting-over-it process. 

Minor heart fractures do fade. Karmic entanglements do drift right back out again. Melt like ice cream on a hot sidewalk, leaving only a sticky residue to eventually wash away in the rain, the cement no worse off - and maybe even retaining a hint of that invisible sweetness.

But the big cracks, the breakages, those don’t recede as easily.

Two major heartbreaks in one calendar year strike me as more than plenty - and explains all this hard-felt keening and flopping in my ribcage over the past few months. 

(This is what keening and heart flopping looks like.) 

I was wrangling last year's heartbreak around this time in Hawaii. Hey, if you have to get over something, you might as well do it on a tropical island. The big energy of those islands had me rolling through vision after vision of my not-on-this-plane-but-still-very-persistent daughter

As these visions drove saltwater into the cracks to unapologetically bust me wide open, I saw my heart being knit back together with gold light.

Heart breaks open, you put it back together again. With Elmer's glue, if you have to. 

A friend once called me a dating warrior. “You just keep throwing yourself back out there to get trampled.” I'm an enthusiastic warrior, but apparently not a very good one. 

But every time I hurl myself into the ring, my heart does grow bigger. It has to. 

Feeling big clears out big space. Space for unconditional love to flood in naturally, replacing the sadness and the anger and the “here are seven reasons we both royally fucked up” judgment parade marching through my brain in an alarmingly predictable loop.

When the unconditional love starts sweeping everything clean again, the space that lets everyone have their own experience and knows that the love doesn’t go away even if the people do, that’s when I start having more trust in the process.

Trust in myself - that I haven’t profoundly fucked up this time, even when my brain is pretty certain I have. Trust that the right relationship will work out at the right time for everyone involved - and that I don’t have to hurl myself warrior-style into the coliseum to be gnawed on by a tiger for the privilege.

I do want to be kinder to my heart. I'm learning what that looks like, slowly but surely. It means not proceeding out of fear or need for validation. It means giving myself plenty of space and room to nurture me and my relationship with myself. For now, I'm just thrilled that my heart is finally feeling less raw. Joy is starting to feel more natural, and all the I'm-in-a-grieving-period bad decisions and massive karmic tangles have finally stopped. It kind of feels like a hot shower and big meal after running a marathon - routine experiences that suddenly feel like Christmas morning, simply because you put yourself through the wringer first. 

It's like the universe is asking for my faith, asking me to just surrender. Because the more I try to control, the harder everything gets. But if I just trust what comes my way, and trust myself to handle it, everything simplifies. 

Meeting My Daughter

Amber Adrian

My daughter first stood in front of me on a summer day three years ago.

I was sitting in the Super Duper Burger near my house, eating a hamburger under a sunny window and minding my own business, when she showed up out of nowhere - eight years old with long blonde hair and wise eyes.

I’ve had visions before, especially when I was younger, flashes of downloaded information about how we all connect as souls and how the universe works. But this was my first holy-shit-I-can-see-her-standing-in-front-of-me vision.

She was my daughter. In my future, but already so present. Her name jumped right into my head as we looked at each other and I started sobbing into my lunch.

It shifted and rearranged me on a cellular level. Not having children was no longer an option, because I had seen her and felt her and knew her as mine. I loved this vision that, even a year or two before, I might have chalked up to biology-driven yearning or low blood sugar. Which is probably why she waited to visit.

When I accidentally got pregnant a few months later and my new boyfriend was panicking, my rib cage released a few terrifying questions: Is this my daughter? Will I have to do this alone if he bails? Will I have to make a choice that will break my heart? In a channeled session with my teacher, my daughter told me that this wasn't the only chance, she could always come in another time, another way. 

I ended up miscarrying, and coped by developing a rather intense attachment to a stuffed sea otter

So many relationship decisions have been drastically affected by that summer lunch I spent crying into my french fries. Can’t commit to children? Bye. Not ready to even have the discussion? Bye.

Sometimes I wonder if I should give those relationships more of a chance, if maybe the flesh-and-blood human in front of me should win out over the etheric vision. But she was so powerful - as an energetic being, as a part of my future - that if this man wasn’t ready for her, I couldn’t stay. Because I wouldn't be sacrificing my dream child, I would be sacrificing some essential piece of myself.

She looks like me, but lankier, with light-filled eyes she'll get from her dad. 

She left for a few years, as I struggled through that relationship and breakup, but when I was in Hawaii last April, my daughter started showing up again.

Wearing goggles and bumblebee wings and racing around a grassy farm fueled by a delirious hybrid of pure joy and epic sugar high.

A toddler, handing me a lollipop because she sensed I was sad.

In the last vision, she tugged on my hand, dragging me through the zoo as I ask, “Where’s your daddy?”

I cried a lot in Hawaii, is what I’m saying.

She’s been quiet for the last year or so. But I’m sure she’ll show up again. It would be super convenient for me if she really would point out her daddy. But I don’t think children are that biddable, especially spirit-realm-children you can’t threaten with loss of television privileges.

I turn 39 in July, which is terrifying on one level, but on a deeper, more peaceful level, I know I have time. I’m healthy, pretty damn fertile, and still working on healing my own wounds and releasing ancestral patterns so they aren’t passed on to her.

She’ll be like me, and probably even more so, a ninth generation sensitive with superpowers that will likely be both a gift and a terror. The more work I do before she’s born, the more I’ll be able to help her when she lands on this planet in the haze of forgetfulness that we souls sign up for.

Or maybe she’ll be born fully realized, knowing exactly who she is and how she’s here to contribute, and just needs me to feed her and clothe her, and drive her places. I don’t know. But I’m really excited to find out, and finally hold her in my arms.

Living in the Crucible

Amber Adrian

I am so, so, so ready for a change. 

When you feel stuck, it’s often because something energetic, emotional, physical or spiritual needs to be unraveled before you can move forward.

But unhooking the threads of karma that bind you is no small task. It’s like picking apart a tapestry and re-weaving shadowy demons into white dragons. You can’t leave any loose threads or they’ll form a pathway to let the shadows to walk back in.

We’re entering a six month cycle of great change and, in order to be ready for this change, I’ve been deep in releasing mode. I’ve been burning things, tossing things into the ocean, doing rituals, and throwing a few hissy fits in the general direction of god. (Or in the general direction of my bed pillows, but if god is everywhere, it’s basically the same thing.)

People have been telling me for years that I have self-worth issues. I mean, yeah. I get it. But unearthing your self-worth from the landslide that buried it often means digging without a map - it can be hard to know where to aim your shovel. You have to rewrite the stories you’ve absorbed from others, untangle the knots of normalized abuse, peer at the karmic baggage you may have grabbed - and empaths are so much more likely to carry other people’s bags as well as their own. For the first three decades of my life, I was basically a martyred hotel porter.

When I look at the Facebook highlights of the past ten years, it looks like a litany of loss. Death, miscarriage, getting fired, trying-and-failing-trying-and-failing, getting fired again, breakup after breakup after breakup. My ego has been thoroughly thrashed.

When I scan through the loss litany, relatively unbroken by brag-about-able triumph, my life starts feeling like a crucible whose only purpose is to burn me down to the bone. 

  Where I go when the crucible feels extra hot. 

Where I go when the crucible feels extra searing. 

But the up side to all that fire is that I've gotten really good at transmuting dark into light. 

Diving into the depths of the bubbling muck of your soul and swimming around even when you’re afraid you might suffocate and hitting the same problem over and over again from every angle will show you what you're made of - and I'm made of pure tensile strength, baby. I am whittled down. Sometimes I feel like I'm two taps away from breaking, but I haven't broken yet. I've bent, I've danced, I've sobbed like a broken doll, I've set fire to the branches, and I'm still standing. 

I’ve gone from unconscious empath to understanding that if I’m angry for no reason, it’s not because I’m slowly and methodically going insane, it’s because I just sucked up that anger from someone else. I’ve gone from hating myself for being too sensitive to recognizing that sensitivity is my primary superpower. From words that were funny but flagellating to being able to write my story from a place of deeper, if less amusing, compassion. From trapped in the hell of my own head to relatively accessible joy.  

If it took that litany of loss to get me to a place where I’m mostly free of the hell my brain spent most of every day re-building, it was worth it.

But I'm not here to swim in my own stuff forever. I'm not here to heal everybody else. I’m here to feel joy. I’m here to share what hits me in the solar plexus and expands from my rib cage. I’m here to be a gift to the planet, just as you are.

So I’m re-weaving the patterns of my life, unraveling the threads of the images that don’t serve me and tying off all the loose ends. It’s not easy to keep track of all those dangling knots. And just when you think you've tidied everything up, you find a whole new room full of yarn. 

But we can’t be that gift until we see ourselves as that gift. So that’s where my effort is going now. Into the day-to-day process of keeping my energy and gratitude and joy high. Not to heal myself or anyone else, but to know that ascension from the hell of your own head is possible. Because it is. And it’s required.

And sometimes that means spending the evening watching TV and eating ice cream straight from the carton so you can get up in the morning, light the match, and ask what the crucible has for you today. 

Your Feelings Are Changing The World

Amber Adrian

I turn 38 in a few days and I’m feeling entirely lackluster about the whole situation.

Newsflash: Woman in her late 30s not super thrilled about late 30s getting later.

I guess I feel like more should have happened by now - besides the death of a parent, a miscarriage, and a rather startling collection of breakups. But you really can’t measure your life in Facebook events. Because that is a soul-withering road.

We all want the highlight reel, the one we’ve decided will make us happy. The partner, the baby, the job, the shiny accomplishment that looks oh-so-slick in a snappy bio.

But does all this really make us happy? Oh yes, absolutely. In moments. I imagine some of the very best moments in life are holding your baby for the first time or feeling so deeply grateful for what helped land your goal or marrying your person in a haze of mutual adoration. But these highlights, these moments, don’t necessarily equal a lifetime of bliss.

Any moment can bring joy. Even the painful ones, the ones that crack you open. Because eventually you’ll learn how to mend the pieces. How to put yourself back together like Humpty-Dumpty did after the king’s men wandered off and the story ended. Or you’ll realize that the scars have healed themselves, as wounds often do. The lightness that follows pain is its own joy.

My highlight reel feels a little sparse - and, yes, I do care about that perceived paucity - but my soul hasn’t withered. I’ve tended to it, often relentlessly. Just as I’ve tended to my heart. Both have been filled with light, and the cracks filled with gold.

One thing I have learned: Those of us who are deeply sensitive, who feel a lot, who process a lot, who sometimes think we are doing nothing with our lives but feeling and processing - we aren’t just feeling and processing for ourselves. We’re feeling and processing for everyone.

It may feel like you’re just sitting in your bedroom crying - but you are feeling for the entire world. You are healing thousands of people, maybe even millions.

When you process that heartbreak, you are making the heartbreak of others easier to bear. When you feel that grief, you are easing the pain for others on the planet. For those who may not have the luxury of time or access to the tools that we have.

It won’t win us any awards or commendations, no one can even prove we’re doing it (yet) - but I would argue that this is some of the most important work a human person can do.

Lately, whenever I work with a client and they ask why it feels so hard, why the world feels so heavy right now, I always receive the same answer: Because you aren’t just feeling for yourself, you’re feeling for the world. Because you aren’t just healing for yourself, you’re healing for the world.

It’s so easy to forget that this applies to me too. To get down on myself for not having done more, having been more. But shame has no place in light, and it doesn't get to take any more of mine. 

You’ve probably heard the term lightworker, and if you’re reading this right now, chances are good that you are one. Because you’re infusing this planet with much-needed light and desperately-sought love. Even when you don’t know you’re doing it.

Next time you’re feeling sad or lost or unsure, pull light into the experience. Imagine light filling your dented heart. Pour light over a tricky situation. Ask for light to be applied to any moment, any event, any hurt. You don’t even have to do it yourself, you just have to request that it be done - and it will be.

Light. You have it. I have it. No matter what our Facebook feeds look like.

(That said, I really hope 38 is the year my highlight reel gets dusted off and starts rolling again.)

The Relentless Roar of the Ego

Amber Adrian

There is a fierce and relentless section of my ego that roars in fury whenever I see someone else doing what I want to do. Shame is triggered when my heart sinks because an essay I wish I had written, or did write to a far quieter reception, is splashed all over the internet. The piece of me that feels that this reaction is bad or immature or not spiritually enlightened (whatever that means) is reflected in the reactions of others when I share that I feel jealous over the words of others or the number of people who see what they do.

But maybe in some twisted way, this ego serves me. Because it only quiets down when I’m doing my work - writing or sending out that writing or even resting when I know that it isn’t the time to write because I need to rejuvenate before I can create. When I am consistently in the space of creating and sharing what I create (or consciously resting in preparation to create), my ego is quieter, calmer, more centered in a space that can appreciate what others do without feeling a deep and shameful lack in myself.

Writing this made me feel better, and isn't that what writing is supposed to do? Purge us, calm us, and help us realize that the monsters we feel lurking deep in our stomach aren't the terrors we imagine them to be. 

Resistance Fighters

Amber Adrian

Building a business will yank up everyone of your demons and wave them, skeletons rattling, in front of your nose.

I’ve spent the last five plus years looking inward. Clearing out the gunk, connecting with my soul, going into the shadows so that I can trust the light.  

But in order to build my work - both my writing and my work with writers - in the way I want and need to, I don't have the luxury of dancing with my demons any more. 

Oh, they’ll show up, and stronger than ever. But I can’t give them as much of my time. In order to help people transform in the way I know is possible, in order to write the words I know will help, I have to ground myself in simple forward steps. I have to take care of myself. I have to pay rigorous attention to my thoughts and where my focus lands.

Last week was intense. I got sucked into all the swirling negativity of my head. You aren’t making enough money, you’ll never make enough money, too many things have to happen before you can make the money you need, you have to increase your audience by a zillion before you can do the work you want to do. Et cetera to infinity.

It happens. Especially when you’re pushing so far out of your comfort zone that you can't even remember the zip code where your comfort once resided. But I just don’t have time to let the brain gremlins brought forth by the demons get the better of me.

So they won’t. Resistance will be weeded out and the demon skeletons will be sent to rattle elsewhere. Because I have work to do. 

Judgmental Squirrels

Amber Adrian

Today, I rescued my Christmas squirrel from storage. Covered in glitter and toting a festive red acorn, he’s a bit of a joke to the tree squirrels outside my cottage windows. I'm pretty sure a squirrel just fell off my roof laughing. I’m concerned.

Lately, I’ve been noticing the words coming out of my mouth and how they reflect what’s going on internally.

Chances are good that precisely zero squirrels are laughing at my jolly, if rather effeminate, Christmas squirrel. There is no wildlife judgment. But it’s a bright reflection of where I’m judging myself.

Maybe it was the light of the full moon or maybe it’s starting two businesses at the same time, but all of my darkest fears and worst patterns have been making a fine showing this week. Realizing in horror how much scarcity and lack I still feel, when shouldn't I be past that already?  Beating myself up for minor infractions that are actually just normal human circumstances, and shouldn’t I be past that already?

Self-judgment has been flying fast and thick. Now I’m applying it to squirrels, who have probably never judged a thing in their lives beyond the likelihood of that hole hiding this nut.

Shadowy revelations aside, I’ve simply been pushing myself too hard. So today I cancelled my (thankfully light) day and climbed back in bed with gingerbread tea, kindle, and stuffed sea otter. And the squirrels have gone blessedly silent. 

Rooting in Words

Amber Adrian

One of my favorite ways of grounding myself when I’m flailing or disconnected from my body is to look at what’s in front of me.

Pumpkin, left over from the season of squash. Paper crane, folded out of a brightly colored napkin by my aunt and placed on my plate at Thanksgiving. Wooden box filled with essential oils. Crystals in a blue bowl. Candles in seasonally-appropriate scents. Tiny pinecones, given to me by a six-year-old who assured me they were magic. Giraffe in full lotus hanging from a silver tree. Framed print of the last Calvin & Hobbes cartoon ever drawn, the one I read to my Dad when he was dying, given to me by my boyfriend last Christmas.

Deep breath in, oxygen out. My face, pale in the light of the glowing screen, reflected in the window before me. Flame flickering, warm and golden, in a room at dusk.

Today has been rough. A lot of emotion - sadness, grief - has been appearing out of seemingly nowhere. That happens sometimes. Stuff collects without release, or something old decides to have one last hurrah before exploding in a shower of sparks. I don’t know and I don’t need to know.

But I do need to write, because I haven’t written regularly in a long time and it’s time to jump back in. It’s been a year of transition and transformation, one of grief and of joy. I don’t have many of my stories written, because I was busy with other things. But, as a writer, I can’t let myself be busy with other things for too long or the overflow begins to rise to dangerously tsunami-like levels.

Writers need to write.

We write to clear, connect, create, share. We write to put words to what’s swirling around inside us, even when the words don’t come or sound disconnected and discombobulated, as I suspect these do.

What is in me that still needs to come out? I don’t know. But I’m hoping that if I sit down to the writing every day in December, I’ll find out. 

Welcome to the Yule (B)log! I’ll be posting every (week) day in December because daily blogging is one of my favorite ways to jump back into writing after a hiatus - it slices through perfectionism and allows me to capture moments I wouldn’t otherwise. 

Cycles of Receiving

Amber Adrian

Sit back. Settle. Read. Know that all is happening in perfect time. Know that you don’t need to force or push or plot or strain or strive for what you desire. There is a time for action and a time for reception. Now is the time to receive. Receiving looks like putting aside the to-do list and letting yourself flow through the day, as you feel prompted both by joy and by nudges toward what’s necessary. Receiving looks like valuing insights and quiet over hustle and check lists.

You aren’t being given more than you can handle, you aren’t being given more than you want or need. You are being given exactly what is needed now. Now is the time to allow the cycle to flow - you have given, now you receive. Now you settle in for a few days and let life show you what’s next. Follow the steps and the sparks of light that are being laid out in front of you and practice being with your intentions and your desires, rather than doing them.

You can’t force receptivity. So if you’re always pushing and striving, you can never receive in the way you long for because you never slow down long enough for that bounty to catch up and walk in. Slow down and let what you want and what’s needed now catch up to you.

Fear Is Only a Shadow

Amber Adrian

Fear grinds slowly and painfully or hot and quick. Fear is that subtle sense of danger, that roiling blackness in your diaphragm or running rampant through the folds of your brain. But fear is a choice. You can choose to give your energy to fear and its agenda or you can choose to ask what purpose that fear now serves. Is it to keep you out of clear and present danger? Did that quick sense of danger prompt you to jump out of the way of a speeding bus? Or is that fear the product of some long-ago decision or some family system?

Ask if that fear is necessary now. Ask if feeling that fear is in your highest good. The answer you get back will probably be a soft but firm no. But whatever answer you receive - listen. Question it. Fear doesn't like to be questioned but your higher wisdom adores it. Your higher self, the self that has access to so much more information and assistance and knowledge and wisdom than we can imagine, wants you to question it, to ask for what it can share, what it can offer you. It lives for this. It loves it. It wants you to understand more fully what is truly available to you.

Fear wants to stifle. Wisdom longs to share.

So if you're ever in doubt - fear or wisdom, blocks or intuition - ask yourself how it feels. Does it feel open and expansive? Or does it feel like it's pressing in on you, forcing you into a box, telling you to take up less space? Does it welcome your inquiry or does it want to shut you down?

Fear dissolves in the light of your true self. Fear disintegrates when you shine in its face. So do whatever it takes to light yourself up, to shine fully. Because that will show you that what you fear is only a shadow.