7 Keys to Courageous Self-Expression | Sovereignty (Part 2 of 2)

Love is like gravity; it helps us to keep our feet on our ground as we navigate the topsy turviness of the human condition. Even so, sometimes the ways in which we ‘do love’ inadvertently sabotage wholehearted connection. In Part 2 of the Sovereignty series, Candice invites you to walk with her along the tightrope between love and limits. Patterns of codependency are explored and we gain insight from the work of Joan Halifax, who encourages us to move through the world with a strong back & soft front. Candice shares more intimate personal stories and a game-changing quote from her favorite Game of Thrones character. This episode delivers some counterintuitive realizations. The more we self-center, the less selfish we become. The more we express our limits, the greater our capacity for loving connection.

0:47 - Quicksand (story)
4:11 - Love & Limits
11:26 - More on boundaries
14:45 - San Fran Shell Shock (story)
24:14 - Strong back, soft front
26:05 - Arya Stark
27:59 - The Pushback & the Pendulum
30:37 - Snot-Soaked Tissues (story)
37:09 - Forest as a whole

#13 | Love & Limits

Welcome, welcome to The Deeper Pulse. This is Candice Schutter.

Today, we're continuing our journey through the seven keys of courageous self-expression. We're midway through key #5 - sovereignty.

We're going to keep this dialogue alive, turning our attention towards some of the challenges we face when it comes to standing in our significance, especially when it comes to loving those who are nearest and dearest to us. If w e become mindful in our efforts, it is possible to love universally, and to also make requests around our own personal limits. So let's get to work on that... starting now.

Many years ago, I was teaching a movement class at a high-end fitness club in Portland. During a break between songs, something caught my eye out the studio window. I saw a woman in workout attire. Her shirt stained with sweat. Her cheeks flushed bright red. She was moving as though she were traipsing through quick sand. Her body was lunging forward at a sharp angle, and it was as if she was fighting to summon strength to propel herself forward.

It took me a moment to realize that her waist was harnessed to some invisible force behind her, just out of my line of sight.

The class full of students and I stared out the window, baffled at first, until her personal trainer came into view. He was tethered to the strap at her waist, leaning back against her might. He looked almost bored as he, quite literally, resisted her call to action. I was mesmerized as she labored on and I said the words:

"Wow, that looks a lot like my last relationship."

The entire room of women erupted in laughter. Apparently I wasn't alone in that sentiment.

While a certain degree of tension is to be expected in every relationship, there may be times when you feel yourself pulling around more than your fair share of the weight.

You may feel angry. Resentful. You shake your head in disgust. How dare they drag their heels in tandem with all of my efforts? What's with them anyway?

Well, perhaps a better question to ask is: What's with you?

It may seem like a loving act, to continually pull the people you love where you think they need to go. But in reality, you're not doing you, or anyone else, any favors. Sacrificing vital energy in favor of an unreciprocated agenda invariably breeds resentment in both directions. And, it's quite often counterproductive.

If your back is breaking and your heart rate is up, more often than not the force you are fighting against is, in fact, you. Against your innate desire to untether yourself from codependency and move in the world as an independent entity.

You've likely heard the old adage: Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me. While I would argue that shame doesn't serve as an either instance, the point is clear. Sometimes the only way we learn where to draw a line, is to have someone cross over it.

The truth is, we don't get to choose how we're treated at all times. And we don't always know that we've overextended ourselves until it's too late. But once circumstances and our personal limits have become known to us, it is up to us to live in accordance with them.

Now, if like me, you've caught yourself harnessing others to your own personal agendas, attempting to drag them here or there. I get it. If you've listened to earlier episodes, you already know that I'm an empath who quite often gets my emotions all tangled up with the needs of the people around me. And in fact, this is not uncommon, especially among women. In intimate dealings, deep feelers commonly disown their edges for the sake of what we have come to call unconditional love.

Unconditional love is the unspoken vow we make to offer our love freely and without condition. And all of that is well and good, if we have a clear and embodied understanding of what love is, and also what it isn't.

Love is love. Love is limitless, largely immaterial, and constant. And you, my dear and your human form, you are not. Living as a flesh and blood human means reconciling that we feel genuinely moved to offer infinite love while also living in a finite physical reality.

How do we reconcile this? It's a damn good question. And I wish I had the answer to it. But I am intimately familiar with the challenges we face as we strive to balance love and limits.

Love is expressed in a variety of ways - time, nourishment, attention, constructive action. In each case, we are dealing with either a finite resource or a personal expression that requires a certain amount of energy and output.

While there is no end to our capacity for love, there is a limit to how much we can give in any given moment.

I've heard it said... love is a verb, and I've always appreciated this reframe. It reminds us to go beyond lip service, to tend to our blind spots, and move in integrity with our values. I'm good with all that.

And yet, it is also true that this way of thinking... of thinking of love as an action... it can get us into a bit of a pickle when we start acting as if love is a full-time job.

Bless our generous hearts. We move through the world asking ourselves again and again, what would love do? What will it do? Well, I'll tell you. Love will love, just as water flows and wind blows. Love will go on loving.

Remember the song by Tina Turner? What's Love Got To Do With It? It's a good question, because there are times in our lives when we must examine our relationships and our choices through a lens other than love. Case in point, we may love someone profoundly who is abusive or who has scarred us immeasureable ways. We can love someone and never want to see them again. Some of the deepest traumas that humans carry were etched into the soul by relationships that centered around so-called love.

I spoke with a client the other day, who is doing some really brave, deep inner work to free herself from an addictive and abusive relationship. There's no question that she will always love her partner, but separation from him has become critical to her mental and physical health.

Sometimes the choice we need to make is not a matter of love. Some will say, oh yes, it is. It's love. It's self-love, to walk away from a situation that is unhealthy or toxic in some way. And yeah, I can get behind that... to a certain degree. While it can be helpful to say, I'm choosing to love myself rather than you, for most of us that doesn't sit quite right. It implies a scarcity of love and that we must choose... you or me, him or her, us or them.

There's plenty of love to go around. It's not a matter of love.

What I'm suggesting here is that we stop imposing our desire for limits on love itself. We think we have to impose limits upon love, when in fact it is just our personal limits that need expressing in the moment.

Love isn't conditional, but life is. It is possible to love liberally and also be discerning in your dealings with the messy, other-than-loveness of humanity. Because let's face it. As much as I aspire to expressions of deep and abiding love, there's a lot more to life in a body.

So perhaps rather than asking the question, what would love do, a better question to ask is what is an authentic expression of my values in this moment, given these exact conditions?

Mental, emotional, physical limits. They're largely self-defined and they're shaped by our life experiences and our capacity in any given moment. There are times we will choose to bypass our limits in the name of love. And also this is a slippery slope to say the least. Women in particular often over-commit their energies and/or suppress their deeper truths because we've been conditioned to give up and give in to all sorts of things in the name of love. To relegate our needs to the back burner. But in time, our relationships, they go sideways and our bodies begin to cry out for our attention. We may grow irritable. We unconsciously attempt to change those we love. And when it doesn't work, it seems we have no choice but to leave the room or the relationship in a huff, because we can no longer stomach what loving has cost us.

It's tragically ironic, really, just how much relational love gets lost through the inability to express personal limits.

Two contradictory truths can be true at once. What if it is possible to remain open and available to loving connection, without denying our deeper truths and personal limits?

You know what, I think I'm going to take it even a step further.

What if we become more available to love when we express our limits openly and unapologetically?

It's not that we can love despite dealing with the inconvenience of our limits, but it's that our limits themselves help us to embody a deeper and more authentic expression of love.

Loving someone does not mean that we must grant them permission to overstep our bounds. It is neither kind, nor generous, nor effective for you to serve your people by making a habit of sacrificing your personal integrity. When we deny our edges, it sets the stage for drama down the road. When it becomes our habit to just suck it up in the moment we sabotage long-term intimacy.

Over the years, I've worked with literally hundreds of women on issues of sovereignty. At work. In marriages. With friends and strangers. And what I've found to be the most interesting and ironic takeaway is that it is when we learn to actively express our limits that we stumble face first into the deepest intimacy and the most boundless expressions of love we've ever known.

In the last episode, I spoke about boundaries, when they are needed and when they aren't. To briefly reiterate, when it's an issue of safety, when our desires are out of alignment with the moment, or when we have not yet developed the capacity to energetically express our edges, we may consciously turn to boundaries to protect our wellbeing or preserve our energies. All of this is well and wonderful. And yet, physical and emotional boundaries must be consciously attended to and regularly reassessed. When we draw lines that are inflexible and static, we shut ourselves off from connection. We may feel isolation or regret. However, if our boundaries are overly porous, we often end up in messy interpersonal dynamics.

One of the best examples of this is what happens when we idolize a boss, therapist, or a spiritual teacher. We project our unrealized ambitions onto them, and we forget their humanity. We lose ourselves in the high that we get from the privilege of their attention. Transference is a powerful intra-psychic drug and when a leader, therapist, or guru fails to reinforce self dominion, disconnection from self can be toxic and damaging.

Whether the walls you erect are fortified or paper-thin, unless it's your aspiration to become the Goldilocks of boundaries, you might want to explore the alternative.

There's a visual that I've been using for almost a decade that some of my clients find helpful. It's pretty straightforward. All we're going to do is compare a strainer to a sponge.

When you pour a pot of aldente spaghetti into a strainer, all that is left behind is what is needed. A strainer is penetrable to input, and yet it denies access to anything that does not serve its purpose in the moment.

A sponge, on the other hand, is porous. It soaks up anything and everything that is offered. And unless we give it a hefty squeeze, it becomes weighted down in time. Eventually no longer functional.

When it comes to matters of the heart, it's easy to see which metaphor bears the heavier burden. So if someone weighs heavy on your heart and mind, perhaps it's time to invite in less emotional absorbency and more conscious, energetic filtering.

But squeezing out all that extra... what is not yours... it does not have to mean that you abandon those you love. No, ma'am. I'm going to keep saying it over and over again, until it sticks in between your ears and drops down into your heart... The more sovereign we become, the deeper the connection we experience, with ourselves, our loved ones, and the world at large.

It makes perfect sense if you think about it. Depth begets depth, my dear.

Trust, forgiveness, acceptance. These are all inside jobs. I know that I am sovereign when I stop expecting the world around me to center my needs and emotions. When I take responsibility for my life and my choices. When I'm no longer working overtime to make others see or notice or agree with my point of view. When I've stopped fighting to prove who I am, and I'm simply living as I am.

It was 2009, and I was in San Francisco for a professional opportunity that was stretching me beyond my comfort zone, in all the best ways.

Shortly before the trip, my live-in boyfriend and I had reunited after a painful breakup. We'd recently moved back in together.

On my second night away, I phoned him after a long day. Rather unusually, he didn't answer. I felt an immediate and familiar swell of anxiety. I talked myself down from all the worst case scenarios. Maybe the ringer's turned off? Maybe he was in an accident and he's in the hospital? . Is he on the phone with the vet? Was our six months old puppy hit by a car? I conjured endless dark narratives one after the other all meant to hold my greatest fear at bay. My fear of having been abandoned.

Hours passed, and I tried calling him again and again. And finally he picked up.

I knew right away that something was off. He sounded out of it. His voice seems strangled and he wasn't making any sense. As he struggled to communicate, I thought for a moment he might be having a stroke. And then it finally occurred to me. He was drunk.

I thought back to over a year ago when we'd met and the heart-to-heart we'd had where he finally explained to me why he rode a bike and didn't have a car. His license had been suspended years prior for multiple DUIs. And, he had been sober for some time since. He'd shared with me transparently the deep shame and regret that he felt. I was so busy celebrating the deep intimacy that had resulted from his vulnerability, that rather naively, the idea of a relapse wasn't even on my radar. I had unconsciously convinced myself that our love and his daily Buddhist practice would somehow be enough to fortify his resolve to stay sober indefinitely.

I asked him if he had been drinking and of course he denied it, but there was no mistaking his incoherence, his slurred speech. The way he dropped the phone after saying goodbye.

After hanging up, I was a bit shell shocked. I was staying with a dear friend and colleague and I turned to her announcing in no uncertain terms, "I need to fly home immediately."

I remember how she'd been unable to hide her shock, how she'd blinked three times before gazing into my eyes with an expression of concern and confusion.

The look on her face, spoke volumes. And suddenly, I wasn't all that sure what I should do. So instead of going online and booking a flight, I did the only other thing I could think to do. I called my boyfriend's AA sponsor. I left a frantic voicemail, and Jeff returned my call immediately. He sat on the other end of the line quietly, as I explained the situation... that I was in the middle of teaching a big event, and that I had made a commitment to be in San Francisco for three more days, but that in light of my partner's relapse, it seemed like suddenly none of that mattered. I said to him matter of factly... "I need to go to him."

Jeff sat silently for a moment, then he took a breath. And very calmly, he asked: "But do you?"

"Of course, he was a mess. You should have heard him. He's relapsed. He needs help!"

I could feel Jeff nodding on the other end of the line.

"It's true. He does need help, but what do you suppose you will do?"

I sat there on the phone saying nothing, because deep down I knew there was nothing I could do. I imagined myself sitting next to him, consoling him while he spiraled through shame and another excruciating hangover. The only thing that felt remotely helpful would be to tell him that I loved him, but I knew that trying to rescue him from the lonely consequences of his actions would be futile.

He said to me, "Candice, this is his spiritual crisis to deal with. The best way for you to love him right now is for you to stay exactly where you are; to keep doing the good work that you're doing. Support him on his spiritual path by leaving him to it. Love him by setting an example. It's the only thing you can do."

As difficult as it was, I did stay put. I stayed in San Francisco and finished my work. Not because I was advised to, but because it was what felt right in my bones. As they say an Alanon, it is unwise to make someone else's wellbeing more important to you than it is to them.

I am no longer an intimate partnership with an alcoholic, but I am loving a dear friend through her first year of sobriety after a lifelong battle with addiction. As she's stopped drinking, all of the unfelt emotions have risen up, and our relationship is sometimes strained as she's working on integrating all the feelings that she's now so bravely expressing. Most days, it's all she can do to stay vertical while she navigates the disorienting realities of early sobriety.

And the truth is, sometimes they take her actions and emotional withdrawal personally. When I forget what is mine and what isn't, I feel myself feeling desperate to save her from the anxiety and isolation and unearthed trauma she's experiencing on the daily. And this is where I must pull back, return to sovereignty, tend to myself, and remember that I am only human. I will never be a suitable stand-in for a higher power or a deeper truth.

It is this arrogance and desperation and habitual enmeshment that leads me to act as if I might somehow inject her with a self abiding love that she will only be able to uncover on her own.

So I take a step back and get right within. And when I do, I'm able to see her, to hear her, to forgive her, and request her forgiveness for having made her problems my own.

There's not much else for me to do, but turn my attention back to my own path and walk it best I can. Hoping to remind her, and me, that saviorship is an inside job.

Let's look at this a little closer.

The trouble with a world where God is often shaped into the image of man, is that the projection works both ways. Just as God has been personified and assigned human qualities, we likewise internalize projections of divinity. We humans love to play God, in the literal sense. We dress ourselves up in our best intentions and make noble efforts to embody grace and generosity to a degree that is largely unsustainable.

It has been said by many that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Maybe. Yet even so, life in a body is no church service. It's fraught with darkness and challenge. Heart-to-heart connection cannot possibly always be about being good or getting it right. The more we deny the limits of our physical reality, the more we suffer.

Sovereignty, it may conjure images of a pompous and regal figure, who reigns majestically over her domain with unquestionable authority.

Well, that sounds great, but an actual practice I'm here to say... not so much.

Personally speaking, I'm no longer in that place in life where I'm impressed by the person who convinces me she's got her shit together. No, more often than not I moved and inspired by the woman who wears her so-called imperfections (aka: her humanity) with dignity and grace.

Gloria Steinem once said, "a pedestal is a prison, like any other small space."

Amen to that!

Sovereignty, as I speak of it, does not mean being perpetually put together or endlessly self-sufficient. On the contrary, it means being brave enough to be real, to embody the wholeness of humanity without apology or fanfare.

Sovereignty is what inspires a grown woman to speak truth to power, embrace her shortcomings, and go to the store without mascara. It is the embodiment of a soulular confidence that has no need to convince him or her of this or that. It makes room for all the conflicting selves, the mess maker and the wise knower of things. The one who is heartbroken, and the one who rebuilds. The sabbateur and the innovator. The sovereign heart is big enough for it all.

And ironically, the more we learn to self-center, the more unselfish we become.

How's that? Well, when we place our emotional wellbeing at the center of our own lives. When we learn to reparent and provide for ourselves, we let everyone else off the hook.

In other words, I don't need you to take care of me if I've developed the habit of caring for myself.

It was Joan Halifax who first coined the phrase strong back, soft front. She used this phrase to describe the critical relationship between equanimity and compassion. In other words, between love and limits.

Strong back is about mindful embodiment, taking responsibility, and self-regulation. We know we have a 'strong back' when we've developed the capacity to remain calm, rooted, and real when life pushes against our edges. Our center is secure. We may fall over, but we always bounce right back up.

A strong back alone may keep us vertical, but it is not always enough to keep us conscious. Because sovereignty requires vulnerability and the ability to dialogue with the world around us.

A soft front is about acceptance of things as they are, rather than how we need them to be. It's the ability to keep the heart open, to remain vulnerable, even when we feel the urge to defend or shut down. Embodiment is critical to a 'soft front' because emotional patterns live inside the body. If we want to revise our responses to everyday life, we must create new habits in thought, word, and action... from the inside out.

And yet, a soft front alone without a strong back, it can leave us like a pile of mush on the floor. Without the connection to the deeper self, we become mowed down by life, collapsing due to an inability to express our edges.

A strong back keeps us vertically connected to the deeper self.

A soft front inspires us to engage and learn from the world around us.

I know myself and therefore I am open and available to knowing you.

I'm going to get a little pop culture on you here. In the popular HBO series, Game of Thrones, there is a character that I consider to be the epitome of sovereign self-expression. Her name is Arya Stark, and she is the youngest daughter of Ned Stark, a great and noble leader in the north.

We meet Ayra as a child. She's young, quick-witted, and precocious. And quite unlike her sister, she does not enjoy dressing and fine clothing. Instead, she wears pants and sneaks to the courtyard to practice archery and sword fighting.

There is a scene with young Arya in the very first season, when she greets her father after they've spent some time apart. They embrace warmly and then sit together on the steps for a chat. As the conversation shifts toward the distant future, he says to her, "You will marry a high Lord and rule his castle, and your son shall be knights and princes and lords."

Arya sits there on the steps. She doesn't flinch. She just stares into her father's eyes, shakes her head and says, quite simply: " No, that's not me." And she turns and walks away.

This is what sovereignty looks like. It is knowing oneself so intimately that there's no need for anything but the plain and simple truth... nothing to dispute, debate, or defend.

Ah, yes, it sounds gloriously easy, but alas, it is not. Arya had to kick against the current of social conditioning and she had to come to terms with the mighty pull of her darker emotions. It took her seven seasons to restore authority in her life, becoming her own hero in the end.

It's a process that looks different for each one of us. But generally speaking, there are two constants.

The first is the pushback. When we are first finding the sovereign self as my sister friend, Britt likes to word it... don't expect a standing ovation.

We laugh, but when you begin to walk in the world sovereign and self-possessed, you're likely to get push-back from old narratives, and from those who have come to rely on your self sacrificing habits.

I once saw a meme online that said it well. "The only people who get upset when you set boundaries, are those who benefited most from you not having any."

And it's not so much because people mean to be selfish or controlling. No, it's because we come to expect what we project. In other words, if we ourselves don't know how to connect with sovereignty, we may be offended by it. We may resent it. And we may even gaslight people for taking care of themselves because we ourselves are desperately in need of some self tending.

Pushback is to be expected. Embraced even. Because having something to push against will make your sovereignty muscle that much stronger.

And another certainty to expect is what I've come to call the pendulum. It's a very good thing to keep in mind, that growth in an opposing direction often leads to an overcorrection.

Have you ever witnessed an infant who is learning how to walk? Think about how they become vertical by going almost too high, perching up onto their tip toes as they wobble around. Initial efforts at mobility involve a good bit of arm flailing and kurplops. It's awkward. It's messy. And we take videos of it because it's just so damn beautiful.

Unfortunately we don't approach our own emotional development with the same patience and tenderness. But the truth is, our efforts to re-express ourselves will be likewise awkward at first launch. Overcorrection is right and natural on our way to finding a new center.

And so, in your early expressions of sovereignty, don't be surprised if you swing from one extreme to the other. Meekness might turn to meanness on a dime. We might go from being an emotional doormat to deadbolt locking ourselves off from connection. Extremes are all part of the journey back to heart center. Let me be the first to normalize that early expressions of sovereignty can be profoundly uncomfortable.

I can still feel it in my body... the day I sat across from a boss and mentor whom I adored and idolized, and I spoke about the abuse of power I was experiencing in my workplace. I twisted a snot-soaked tissue in my hands, as I struggled to get the words out. Shame, anger, and self doubt flooding through my body as my heart insisted upon its honest agenda.

I was terrified. I spoke my truth and at the end of the interaction, I was shaking from toes to fingertips.

But the next time, it was just a little bit easier. And the time after that, even more so. Eventually I learned to speak up and that's when I pass through a few years of militant rebellion. Every time, I felt compelled to express my limits I would do it, and it felt like a matter of survival. I was no longer meek and subservient. I was guarded and an emotional livewire. As a result, my early attempts at assertiveness were less collaborative... more like take-it-or-leave-it ultimatums.

But it's all good because I've since landed where I am now. More often than not, I'm comfortable speaking my mind, now without an energetic or a need to impose my values.

Not to say that I'm done. Hardly. Sometimes it takes me days to reorient myself when I feel that someone's opinion of me is misguided in some way. And that's where I'm currently working my muscle, making peace with the fact that what others think of me is really none of my damn business.

It's all a work in progress. It's meant to be that way. That's the beauty of life. It will continue to deliver up challenges that strengthen your will and offer new opportunities for self alignment.

What's cool about the second half of life is that I've been some places, emotionally speaking, and I know how to get back. I know how to shift from reactivity to responsiveness, even when it takes me a day or two, I can get there. I've become less reactive over the years, because practice, and also because I spend a whole hell of a lot of time these days tapping into the deeper pulse. Most mornings, I wake up naturally before the sun. I feel around in the dark and sit on the floor of my office. Some mornings I chant. Sometimes I meditate. And sometimes I just focus on sitting still because it's all that I can do. In all instances, I'm clearing the way so that I can drop in... I'm listening for that silent whisper within.

If I wait long enough, I always 'hear' it. Sometimes it's a glorious surge of peaceful surrender. Other days, only a flicker at the edge of my line of sight.

When it feels like it's time, I get up, lace on my shoes, take a walk outside just as the sun is rising. As I walk, I listen to my favorite podcast or playlist, my feet keeping time with the rhythm of my own heart. I walk until I'm complete.

When I get home, I whip myself up a decaf oat milk latte and sit at my computer, and I write. Or at least I struggle to. And I do all of this before 8:00 AM, each day.

I always thought of myself as a free spirit who didn't thrive on routines and structure of this sort. But it's been a funny thing because I've learned that when I invest in that time early in my morning... when I sit and stillness, walk outside, write until I'm empty, I create a container that somehow holds me as I move through the rest of the day. Now some days are better than others, but when my body breaks down or my expression goes sideways, it's easier for me to rewind the narrative, recapitulate back to the moment when reactivity first possessed me and I lost touch with my deeper self.

Maybe I lashed out at my partner in anger. Perhaps I left my body again during sex, avoided a much needed conversation, or became lost in outrage at another horrifying news headline.

This is all part of the human experience. I don't need life to be perfect. Every emotion is an indicator reminding me when and how I've lost touch with the deeper self in any given moment.

Sovereignty is my responsibility. No one else can give it to me.

Yet sovereignty can most certainly be modeled and nurtured. I'm going to take a quick moment to speak directly to all the parents out there.

If you've made it this far, you have a firm understanding of how and why it is essential to demonstrate sovereignty to your children so that you might better equip them to walk out into the world with a strong back and a soft front.

To this I say... yes, please. The world needs more young people who are courageous in their self-expression. I celebrate any way that you encourage and support that.

And also, may I gently remind you, and all of us who nurture little ones... As Carl Jung once wrote: "the greatest burden a child can bear is the unlived life of a parent."

This speaks to the crisis of sovereignty that occurs for so many parents, particularly when their children become independent and ready to move through the world on their own.

Case in point, my beloved niece is 17, and she's currently applying to colleges. And my sister who, biases aside, is truly a phenomenal mother, she's struggling with the conflict that every empty nester must face. She's made it known to everyone in the family that she wants my niece to attend college close to home. She's borderline insistent upon it. Now this is, of course, entirely understandable. I'll admit, I have a hard time leaving my cats for a long weekend, so I can not imagine the tender ache of separating indefinitely from your own flesh and blood child.

Ouch, is all I can say to that.

And yet it is also true when it comes to anything we hold dear, we must check in on our grip from time to time to make sure that our knuckles haven't turned white. It takes tremendous emotional maturity and mindful stamina not to burden a child with patterns of codependency.

Now, fortunately, my sister is a wise and capable woman who I know will come around to whatever outcome is best for her daughter.

This is just a reminder to all of us, to practice self empathy and compassion when it comes to the acknowledgement of how hard it can be when love means letting go, turning to face the pain and the grief of severed attachment, and quite often of an identity lost.

And it also means waking up to a new relational paradigm.

The other day, I was listening to an On Being interview with Suzanne Simard. She's a forest ecologist and scholar who has confirmed the long held belief of many indigenous traditions. That trees in a forest actually do communicate with one another, through a collaborative and life sustaining network of chemical compounds. Carbon, nitrogen, fungi, soil structures. Trees quite literally share an ecosystem underground. They nourish one another in ways that are inextricable. In essence, each tree is a part of one living, breathing organism. The deeper pulse of life, a collaborative systemically-nourishing undergrowth of connection. Out of view above ground, but no less real.

Simard is finding similar evidence across plants and species, and there are many reasons to believe that we are not in fact separate and in competition for resources, that each of us individually feeds and is nourished by the whole. When we rise higher. When we sink deeper, we not only nourish the fate of our own seedlings, we strengthen the forest as a whole.

It is this commitment to strength, to resilience, to wholeness that sustains life and is the lifeblood of connection. But in order for us all to benefit, we each must learn to trust our own nature and embody our significance as a way of life. Untangling ourselves from identity politics and the drama on the surface. Going deeper in order to rise higher and tap into the potential of a common and shared humanity.

Whether to you sovereignty means saying no, surrendering control, stepping away or staying put it's all about deeper truths and clear edges.

And that's where we're going to pick up in the next episode, as we move into the sixth key - integrity.

I hope to see you then. As always, I welcome your comments and input at thedeeperpulse.com/share.

I love you. Keep moving toward what moves you and I'll see you next time.


© The Deeper Pulse, Candice Schutter