What 2020 can teach us about our unmet needs

Photo by Cliff Johnson on Unsplash

For a few gifts this year, my husband and I gave f*%kflakes. Intricate wood ornaments that say f*%k in the shape of a snowflake with “2020” in the middle. We did this because humor is medicine, not because we blame 2020 for all the terribleness of the past twelve months. And not because we’re writing off the year and banishing it to some hidden corner of the universe.

The ever-spreading and mutating virus, corrupt politicians and inept government, basic needs insecurities, inhumanity, ecological crises (that…

Transforming fear one breath at a time

Transforming Fear: Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Lately, I’ve been contemplating fear. Not specifically my fears, or contemporary collective fears — though, I’ve spent plenty of time there. Instead, I’m interested in understanding the essence of fear itself. What is it and why does it manifest? How is it processed by the human psyche? Can it be released, maybe even transformed? What happens when we don’t resist fear? What happens when we do?

Oxford Dictionary defines fear as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.” Fear is one of those big umbrella emotions, where…

Easing anxiety through mindful embodiment

Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

This morning, a young woman in an ecology-conscious online community shared that she was sad and anxious for not feeling effective in motivating people to take better care of the environment.

It was one of those moments I could have moved quickly passed, not registering the invitation she was extending. A heartfelt plea drenched in misspellings and text-speak. For whatever reason, I slowed down to greet the moment and sat with her words for a while.

In this stranger, I recognized myself. My deep and unwavering desire to add meaning to the world. The feeling of urgency I carry about…

But, I’m gonna love ‘em anyway

Photo by Eric Ward of Banksy’s Balloon Girl :: Berlin, Germany on Unsplash

I’ve been contemplating having a tee-shirt made that reads: “humans are exhausting.” Some days, I just can’t muster a feeling of openness towards some people. I imagine this tee-shirt serving as subtle armor on those days.

When I encounter someone who exhausts me and don’t have much in my compassion reserves — I close up. My immediate reaction is to switch to autopilot, where my intellect works hard to categorize a person or people into boxes. When I’m mindful, though, I can close up temporarily to recalibrate without judging myself or others.

Closing up isn’t a character flaw, its survival…

Heeding the stories of racism seeded in my white skin

Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash

For the first time, I’ve been really thinking about the color of my skin. Of course, I’ve acknowledged the color of my skin superficially, but I’ve never listened to all it has to say. My skin, my white skin…the cause of profound suffering all around the world — a default, an accident, not something I chose. My fragile white shame mixed with few external invitations to examine the ways in which the color of my skin defines me — has left me detached from this white skin of mine.

The other day, I found myself struck by a well-meaning comment…

How staying present with difficult feelings transforms absolutely everything

The Matryoshka doll is a symbol of a strong Russian matriarch. Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash

The first time I wore a cloth mask to run errands, I felt an ache in my chest. It was a jumble of feelings: embarrassment, awkwardness, anger, sadness, and resistance. It didn’t help that the mask I had was too big and that some people without masks seemed suspicious of me — at least that was my perception.

Weeks before, when the CDC recommended that people who believed themselves to be healthy not wear masks, any time a person walked into a store wearing a mask — especially medical masks — it felt jarring. …

The gift of conscious breathwork

Photo by Valeriia Bugaiova on Unsplash

I’ve been thinking about my breath. Following it when it is unaware of my observation. Noticing when it shallows — noticing when it deepens.

I’ve been thinking about my breath. Coming back to it again and again. Bringing my attention — my conscious awareness to it. Listening to its wisdom: inhale… pause… exhale… pause… Feeling life, death, expression, and introspection in each phase.

The maestro of my body, my breath tempting my heart to beat rapidly or slowly, sparking my mind to flit about restlessly or settle in like a bird — exhausted by flight — into her evening nest.

Stepping into the void of inner quiet, with courage and conviction

The social distancing of pupas :: Photo by Francisco J. Villena on Unsplash

Here we are. Where is here, exactly? We’ve lifted from the threshold of the familiar, many of us painfully stretching to keep the tips of our toes in a tender kiss with the known world. Knowing, at least on a subconscious level, eventually we’ll have to let go.

In my last (for a while) in-person therapy session last week, I pondered the stark difference between a singular human death and the extinction of an entire species. A subject I’ve been contemplating for years as I’ve grown better educated about the grave outcomes humanity faces if climate change is not abated…

Charting the unknown waters of a global crisis

Photo by Artak Petrosyan on Unsplash

This morning I woke up and felt fear for the first time since COVID-19 entered my psyche. Previously, I was cautious and concerned, but unafraid. This acute global crisis is one I’d imagined many times over the years. It’s felt like a 1000-foot wave that would eventually come to shore and disrupt life as we know it. …

Blythe Dolores Utz

Emotional literacy advocate and contemplative writer. Imaginator + Bricklayer at The Emotional Resilience Project [facebook.com/emotionalresilienceproject/

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