Yesterday, I stepped outside to enjoy the warmth and sunshine. I was looking at the landscaping and making a mental list of what needed to be weeded or trimmed.
The bush closest to me was a bit wild, so that was first on my list to be trimmed. I started to reach in and grab the dead branch that had fallen into the bush.
At the very last second, I pulled my hand back, and my heart skipped a beat.
It was not a dead branch.
It was a snake that had slithered up into the branches and was sunbathing.
I almost grabbed a snake!
Now, I am not a big fan of snakes.
Logically, I know that it was just a harmless garter snake. It would not hurt me.
Yet in the moment, my imagination was running wild as I stood outside in my bare feet. I just knew that snake was going to do a slithery-snake-leap out of the bush, wrap itself around my feet and drag me into the bushes. There I would die—not by snake bite or suffocation—but of fear.
I was trying to take a video and picture of it but couldn’t get close because I was still imagining the snake leaping from the bush into my face.
Yes, I feel fear with snakes.
I, however, am also determined to face my fears…if necessary.
When I was about 12 years old, I was playing out in the field with a friend. A couple neighbor boys found a snake and started chasing us with it. We both started to run, but then I stopped. I turned around and stared those boys down as they came running up to me. They put the snake in my face and rubbed it on my shoulders, but I would not respond. They got no emotion out of me.
That was not the fun they were looking for.
So, off they went chasing after my friend who probably screamed and then knocked them flat. I don’t remember that part.
I only remember that because I didn’t show fear, I was safe and the boys moved on.
But, was I ever in danger?
My fear back then and even now is of something that is not in the least bit dangerous. My brain makes up these wild scenarios of what might happen if I get too close.
Does that ever happen to you?
What are you afraid of?
What are you afraid of getting to close to? Maybe like me, it’s just a harmless critter.
But let’s think deeper.
What is in your current situation that is inviting you to take a closer look?
It may be that you need to get closer and explore a new opportunity.
What about getting closer in a relationship?
It may be a business relationship, a relationship with your significant other, a friend, or someone you really don’t know right now—but would like to. What’s holding you back?
Maybe it is your relationship with God. What belief do you have that is keeping you from getting closer?
Or maybe…just maybe, it’s your relationship with you. What’s holding you back from exploring your own heart?
The invitation is there.
Your heart may immediately respond. “No. I’m not going there. Been there, done that and I’m not doing it again.” Your own brain may jump out and drag you into the bushes, not to die like with my snake imagination, but to keep you safe.
Your brain may give you all the reasons why you should stay away. It will point out every obstacle and remind you of all the times you got hurt, and every single time you tried and failed. “Don’t dream, accept life as it is, don’t try to improve your health or your marriage or other relationships. You’ll just try and fail…just as you always have.”
If you start hearing any of these things, stop the dialogue.
Its fear talking.
You may find pain and anger mixed in as well.
Know that your brain will do whatever it can to protect your heart. It will remind you of all the past hurts, failures, and losses. It will weigh the risks and the possibility of pain as high. It will do whatever it can to keep you safe.
Fear is not bad. It is not wrong. It is an emotion used to help us take action when there is a real threat. When there is real danger, fear creates an energy that helps us survive. We respond with fight, flight, or freeze.
If, however, we take this intense energy of fear into our daily life where there is no real threat to our survival, it will wear us down physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. What is meant to protect ultimately creates a prison. With constant fear it will be a challenge to live a life of gratitude, joy and an abundance of blessings and goodness.
It will stop us from getting closer.
Closer to new opportunities.
Closer to new relationships.
Closer to the desires of your own heart.
And that is where you start, with your heart.
What does your heart really want? Not your brain…your heart.
Get close and explore.
What is it your heart really wants?
If you are afraid of getting closer, start by answering these questions.
What is the story of your heart that is creating the fear?
What belief do you now have because of this story?
Then challenge that belief. Is it really true?
And finally, what if the opposite is true?
It’s okay to tell your story of hurt, pain, and loss. These are the stories your heart remembers and is bringing into the present. Remember it and deal with it.
Here’s an example from my personal heart story.
My dad, Dr. Dick Versendaal, was a genius at understanding how the body worked together as a whole. He developed a technique called Contact Reflex Analysis, which he taught to health professionals around the world. I taught with him for many years. In 2014 he was killed in an auto accident. Needless to say, my heart was broken. I didn’t want to teach without him. I didn’t believe I could endure the pain.
My heart grieved and remembered all the years of life together.
A belief took root. It was that I could not teach without my dad, and that CRA could not go on without him.
I had to ask myself, “Dawn, is this really true?”
“Dawn, what if the opposite is true?”
What if I could teach without my dad? What if CRA could go on without my dad?
What would that look like?
I started dreaming and creating from that space in my heart.
As I dreamed and created, I bumped up against fear and false beliefs many times. I challenged each one as it was revealed. “What if…the opposite is true?” I’m still a work in progress
But I want to tell you, many of those things I dreamed about, some of which I dreamed about when my dad was still alive and I thought we’d do it together, have now been created. I’m living the reality that I dreamed.
Now I’m dreaming bigger.
So what about you?
Who or what is calling you to get closer?
What’s the opportunity or relationship you need to explore?
If the so-called opportunity or relationship creates a real danger to your survival, stay away.
I’m not talking about entering bad relationships or making life-altering decisions based on the results of a horse race or a too good to be true offering from a snake oil salesperson.
I am talking about those obstacles that keep you from living your best life. These obstacles may actually be invitations to explore new opportunities, to do something different, to make a change. Yet you may be too afraid.
When you feel afraid to get closer to any obstacle or opportunity, first remember the story of your heart. Go into that space.
Scream, shout, cry if you must, and then dry your tears.
It’s time to develop solutions and to create something new.
Ask yourself four questions. Spend time on each one.
What belief is creating the fear?
Is that belief true?
What if the opposite is true?
What would your world look like if you imagined, created, and took action from this new space in your heart and brain?
Play with the idea. What if what you are imagining could actually happen?
It is in this space of no fear that you can get closer and start to create something beautiful and new.
When you’re knee deep (nose deep?) in Life’s Fertilizer, sometimes you just have to laugh. It’s either laugh or cry, and crying all the time is exhausting. I can't imagine anyone has ever said, "I've just cried my eyes out, and now I'm so full of energy I can run a marathon". If I heard that, I'd have to bite my tongue, think happy thoughts and walk away.
The women I have gotten to know over the past few years would never let the world know their heart was breaking. You'd look at them and think they have it all together, and their life must be pretty good. If you asked, they'd tell you they were doing fine. They would mean it because of the simple fact they were up, still functioning and going 100 miles per hour taking care of everyone and doing everything that needs to be done.
They wouldn't share the hard stuff, the stuff overwhelming and breaking their heart. This detail is saved for the trusted few; those who notice, ask and genuinely want to know.
I've been blessed with opportunities to share my story with women and to listen to theirs. Each story was of love and of heartbreak through many seasons of life; from the joys and sorrows of children and family, relationships, work success and failure, caring for and losing loved ones and everything in between.
I love these women.
We understand each other. We are not whiners or complainers. We are get up and get it done kind of women. We pour our heart into life, juggling the demands of each day and serving those we love the best we can. With only 24 hours in a day, our needs come last. We do not want to hear that this is not a sustainable way to live healthy, strong and beautiful.
Our greatest strength, however, is also our greatest weakness. Darn it.
I gave them an increasing list of symptoms and syndromes that could possibly occur if they didn't start taking care of themselves; weight gain, tiredness, inability to sleep, joint pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, thyroid issues, digestive issues etc. They looked at me and their eyes got wide as if I was reading their mind and body. Several were experiencing these very things and hadn't said anything about it. They believed all their symptoms were a normal part of aging beyond 40 and they would just have to deal with it.
…until I told them this, and it suddenly made sense and gave hope.
"Can you create a 30 day program that will help people with all their various symptoms?"
This was how the conversation started. I don't know if I hid my eye-twitch response very well, but my answer was "No, that's not possible."
No, I can't because...
I went on to explain the body works as one integrated system; the body, mind/emotions and spirit. In my work and teaching Contact Reflex Analysis, I don't treat symptoms. I uncover the root cause of symptoms and syndromes; the imbalance in the body creating the symptom. Though the symptom may be the same, the cause can be different for each person. It would be impossible to create one program that would help everyone with all the various aspects of health and wellness.
I was adamant that there is NOT ONE THING for everyone.
Then it hit me...YES, there is ONE THING that would assist the rest of the body going back into balance so the body could heal itself. I have taught it for years and it remains a foundation principle of CRA.