Author / Christy

I’m a passionate alchemist devoted to rekindling your life force for more energy, beauty and magic everyday.

Radio Show

Navigating New Fatherhood: Helping Men Beat the Baby Blues and Overcome Depression

Paternal Postnatal Depression

fatherhood-150x150Yes, as many as 1 in 4 new dads do get postpartum depression! Being a parent is hard, and being the parent of an infant is especially difficult. If you are a father suffering from exhaustion and anxiety, have lost your sense of humor and are often irritable, angry or otherwise miserable, you might be experiencing PPND (Paternal Postnatal Depression).

Listen to renowned psychotherapist Dr. Will Courtenay (www.postpartummen.com) and Christy, the “Mommy Muse,” discuss the rarely-acknowledged challenges men face while journeying into new fatherhood, and offer strategies that can truly make a difference to you.

self care
The Alchemist's Heart

Courage For a Friend I Love

When it all seems like too much…

heart

Remember the things you are working for that no one can ever take away,

Creative pursuits inspiring your passions,

Courageous acts driven by your spirit,

Tiny but TRUE moments of the heart that mean everything,

Knowing as you are discovering virgin territory

that your ability to carry forward is holding sacred space

for every kindred spirit journeying alongside.

~C

 

Alchemy for Moms The Alchemist's Heart

Blissfully Busted

Nurturing Your Spirit 

Sunflower-Twitter-Background-small-300x199

I didn’t so much hear the whisper of her skirt sweeping against the doorway as feel her eyes upon me. Possibly the quietest 6 year old I’ve encountered. But she couldn’t hide her intention.

Busted.

A pint-sized pixie was peering up at me.

I had offered to run down three flights of stairs to fetch supplies for our visiting company.

Sounds selfless, right?

Except that I was seizing a brief moment alone.

That’s when I discovered the box of stone-ground crackers.

Ahhh, blessed carbs…in a paleo-oriented family.  Lots of protein and veggies going on here.  Light on the whole grain goodness.

So, what’s a girl to do but open the box and pop a couple…ok, a few…crackers into her mouth before trotting back up the stairs?

Which was going great until Miss Munchkin discovered me.

I tried to work up a pang of guilt. But I couldn’t.

Why?

Because I knew I was doing something I’d tell you to do.  Nurture yourself with whatever is to hand. Three minutes of quiet. A morsel of yumminess delighting your mouth.  Goodness for your spirit = increasing well-being and ability to show up in a space of love for others.

What did I do? I handed the box to pixie girl with a wink and asked her to show me how well she could climb right back up those stairs!

Have you ever been caught blissfully nourishing your spirit by someone who loved you but didn’t quite understand? I challenge you to share your story – and to do something small and beautiful for yourself again as soon as possible!

Alchemy for Moms The Alchemist's Heart

Organizing Chaotic Households

How to Transform A Chaotic Space

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got an area in your home you want to change.

Not just an area that needs a little tidying…a space that makes you cringe when you walk by.

Shocker! I have more than one.

Here is a panoramic pic the knot I tackled a week ago…..

image001

Awesome, isn’t it? Brings lots of creative swear words to mind.

I’m still kind of amazed it didn’t eat me while I was in there!

Here’s what I tried first…..

My Top 3 Knee-Jerk Strategies For Organizing Chaotic Households

1. Positive Thinking messes away. Want to try this with me?

Ready, set, AFFIRM: “My messes are gone and I live in a beautiful space now…..”

Now look around…..mess still there? Shit.

It’s OK, I’ve got your back.

2. Ignoring chaos, leaving the lights off and groping around for whatever I need in order to avoid witnessing the truth. (Feel totally free to extrapolate what this might look like as a metaphor for our unconscious minds….)

Effectiveness of this strategy? Dismal.

Works about as well as trying to make love without feeling confident enough to enjoy being seen in the buff.

Which leads to:

3. Mastering the fine art of guilting myself. You probably know the tactic – enforcing change through personal shame.

Honorary graduate degree, anyone?

Imagine my surprise to discover that despite incredible consistence in reaching for these strategies, for sustainable change, they’ve never worked!

Want to know what DOES? Here you go:

Kick-Ass Cleaning in 13 Simple Steps

  1. Get clear on the feeling you want in the arena you want to change. What would feel really GOOD to you instead of “Aaaccckk?”
  2. Dedicate limited time brackets for your project. I recommend no more than 3 hours in a day. No marathons – I’m serious. Consider what you would advise a friend!
  3. Give yourself the gift of an honest evaluation of the situation “on the ground” so you’ll know the difference once you’ve worked your magic. Considertaking a picture or one minute video complete with commentary.
  4. Call in help from people who are gifted in what you want to do.
    Living or not, you can request assistance from their hearts to yours.
    Seriously ~ I asked for guidance from my Grandma June. She was a masterful cleaner.
    I’ve since learned this is probably because she had OCD, but all I knew was that chaotic environments bowed under her glare and shifted into order.
  5. Declare your intention to safe people in the world to create accountability. We want people rooting for your success in REAL TIME if possible! My personal cheering team came via Anna Kunnecke’s Queen Sweep cohorts. Amazing women who made all the difference.
  6. Promise yourself a genuine treat at the flip side of your day. Something small, something sweet (for your soul, not just your tongue) something just for YOU. Alchemist’s ordersflirty-emoticon
  7. Invite a little (or a lot of) joy into the process – Turn on 80’s music, make your favorite tea or hot cocoa, pour some wine, put on your tiara, stick chocolate in your pocket, keep friends who make you laugh on speakerphone.
  8. Create work “bursts” (15 to 30 minutes) + mini breaks within the larger time frame. Stick to pieces of time even a squirrel could stay focused on.
  9. Gather as many sorting containers as you can lay your hands on – bags, boxes, you name it – grab it! And garbage bags – big ones!
  10. Sort the mess into the simplest possible categories – like with like – bedding, wrapping materials, party supplies, bathroom “goop,” hair doo-dads, pantry items, donations, and “never-ever-wanted-that-how-did-that-get-in-there?” sections. You can always fine tune later.
  11. Take pictures and video halfway through AND at the end of the day’s process. Share these with your support team.
  12. Celebrate your magic ~ Give yourself the promised treat(s) ~ YOU DID IT!
  13. Give yourself full permission to REST. This will feel SOOOO good 

And just the fact that you’re considering this transformative act of courage? Here’s my toast to you!

image002

The Alchemist's Heart

The Power of Pumpkin Pie

Basic Human Pleasures

basic-human-pleasures-300x300I’m not scared by a person’s pain.

Do I feel it?

Yes.

Do I care?

Profoundly.

Do I trust the process?

Absolutely.

Where there is pain, there is life as surely as when there is joy. And where there is life, there is space for healing.

It is deadness that frightens me.

Today I honor a client of mine who walked in the door as numb as I’ve ever seen another human being. No visible spark. No pain, no happiness, no words. Sitting on my sofa looking at me…through me…as though I almost wasn’t there. As though she had already given up and was nearly in another world.

I fussed inside my head – about what to do – how to help – asking where the BLEEP was her spark?!

So I did the usual protocol…asked the standard questions…made sure safety nets were in place….and then I went out on a limb and asked:

“What are your favorite things? What do you love to see, to feel, to taste, to touch, to smell?”

Barely blinking, she looked at me.

I waited.

She closed her eyes.

I waited.

She said, ”Nothing…..”

I challenged: “Really? Nothing? There must be something you have taken pleasure in at some point in your life.”

She opened her eyes and said the magic words….”There is one thing….”

I barely breathed as I searched her face, “Yes?”

“Pumpkin pie. I used to love the taste of pumpkin pie.”

A wave of relief washed over me. “Done! Do you know what I’m going to do?”

“No?”

“I’m going to bake you a pumpkin pie. And next time you come in I’m going to give it to you.

The Whole Thing. And you are going to take it home with one rule.”

“What’s that?”

“You need to savor it. And don’t share it with anyone unless you really, really want to. Eat it slowly – a little bit each day until the next session – and taste every bite.”

She smiled.

I rejoiced.

And THAT is what began the remarkable process of transformation of the woman who now enters my office with bear hugs for everyone and an impish smile.

Is her life perfect?

Oh Heavens no!

Is it a hell of a lot better?

Oh my, YES!

Magic of the heart is this simple.

So, tell me, what is the single most basic pleasure YOU have taken comfort in? What has brought you one true moment of warmth, peace, relaxation, happiness or strength? And what would you be willing to commit to bringing back into your life that you have left along the way? One thing you love. One thing that wakes up part of you that’s sleeping.

Maybe it’s time.

I KNOW you’re worth it.

Alchemy for Moms

You are Better than June Cleaver!

Finding Your Authentic Self

you, body, mind, soul, spirit - a simple mind map for personal growth or development sketched with white chalk and sticky notes on blackboard with eraser smudges

A talented mom wrote me recently to say that she’s been a mother for 15 years, but she’s still “no June Cleaver.” This led me to an “ah-hah” moment:

Each and every one of us is better than any TV mom, June Cleaver or otherwise.

“Why?”

Because we are real parents nurturing real families the best we can with the resources we have.

In my book, authentic is always better. And this applies to our bodies as well as our souls. From a cosmetic perspective, implants may give the illusion of a generously endowed figure, but they have nothing to do with our ability to nourish and care for a family. Lip injections add temporary fullness, but they don’t do anything to enhance our ability to kiss our kids. Botox may erase lines for a time, but it can also give a stiff, unnatural appearance to an otherwise softly loving countenance.

Am I against cosmetic procedures?

No, I think they can be tremendously helpful in certain circumstances.

Do I think they’re overused?

Yes.

I believe we should honor our authentic selves, including our minds, bodies and spirits, and allow our innate beauty to shine through. Trying to be like someone else may give us a start in the right direction when we’re working to co-create a better life, but at some point, we have to trust ourselves from the inside out and take a leap of faith.

When you catch yourself thinking you should be more like another person, ask yourself this question: “What would that give me?” And then listen and feel for the answer.

If you come up with an answer that seems fairly superficial, ask the same question again: “What would that give me?”

If you follow the trail, you will eventually come up with an answer like “peace,” “love,” ” abundance,” ” a more harmonious life,” ” happiness,” etc.

In which case, it is time to honor your heart’s desire.  Like a seed preparing to sprout toward the sun, you are ready to begin manifesting that which you seek from the inside out. You, with all your perceived flaws, are beautiful and good enough just as you are. And you, not some social icon, are the amazing person your family actually needs!

The Alchemist's Heart

Overflowing with Joy from Client Transformations

 

Celebration of Success

Do you ever have one of those moments when you are are so freakin’ proud of someone you love that your heart could burst?

sunflower-1That’s how I feel when my clients make such amazing progress they are ready to “Graduate” from our sessions. Sometimes I jump up and down and do the happy dance to celebrate! There’s no use trying to stop up the feelings of joy when they wash through – I’ve learned to set propriety aside and just go with it.

And right smack in the middle of my enthusiastic exhortations to “GO GIRL!” lies the spark of an answer to balancing our society’s focus on all that looks WRONG.  Rather than focusing on the prospect of imminent doom (as presented by mass media), we have another CHOICE!

Sure, we responsibly examine our lives, set goals and strive for self-improvement….I’m all for that – BUT there is one sure way to shift gears into an endorphin-filled state – and that is to embrace the moments when another precious spirit takes a step into a healthier life.

You get to ride the wave of joy as a two-for-one – help them “anchor” their positive state with a mini-celebration – and help YOURSELF remember that we are all in this together.  The success of any one of us shows what’s possible in the world for EACH of us.

And just in case you need an example, I will be sharing a story later this week of one of my client’s transformations – from dejection into bubbling laughter – guaranteed to show how the simplest steps can bring the most joy.

In the meantime, you KNOW I would love to hear, ’cause I’ll celebrate WITH you – what are YOUR “Burst-with-pride” moments?

The Alchemist's Heart

Engaging in Deep Play

Deep-Play-Pic-200x300I dedicate my inaugural post of The Alchemist’s Heart to my mother, Linda Semrau, on her birthday.  She was the first to recognize my Alchemical nature, and consistently provided rich opportunities to nurture my unique gifts in life.  Happy Birthday, Mom!

My passion in life is engaging in the field of deep play – the space that challenges me to bring my best, risking deep authenticity, daring to explore the boundaries of my client’s beliefs, joining up in the adventure of expanding our capacities for wellness.

There is rush when a client breaks through old limits into a new space of possibilities.  In these moments, we both feel intensely alive, appreciative, and filled with a greater sense of Lightness.  Every time, I marvel at our strength and courage as human beings, and feel privileged to be able to share the journey of growth with another beautiful spirit.

Once you have experienced this magical space, you will return to it in your mind, diving into the memory to reconnect with your truest nature.   In this case, you will resonate automatically with the concept, but for those of us who also crave word play, here are excerpts from Diane Ackerman’s book (2000) Deep Play:

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning and maneuvering.  It feels satisfying, absorbing, while offering rare challenges.”

“It always has a sacred space in which it happens…invites problem solving, allowing a creature to test limits and develop strategies. ”

“Play has a time limit which may be an intense but fleeting moment….or the exact span of a psychotherapy session.

“Play requires freedom – it happens outside ordinary life. ”

The original meaning of play involved the concept of risk.  In early times, play was far from frivolous, requiring “daring, risk, concentration, the ability to live with uncertainty, a willingness to follow the rules of the game, and a desire for transcendence.”

THIS is what makes life worthwhile – the reason I love my work and look forward every day to the sacred space I am honored to hold with my clients.  Alchemical transformation through life coaching and counseling inspires my days, but so does dancing, hiking to mountaintops, and fishing in beautifully remote areas.

I would love to hear from you.  What are YOUR areas of Deep Play? What moments bring you vibrantly alive?  Thank you for sharing YOUR your favorite areas of life!