Brave Soul · Grief & Loss

The Wisdom of Hope, Renewal & A New Start

A Reflection From This Week

One morning this week, I walked out the front door to see a favorite tree that had fallen on the house.

My eyes welled up with tears as I felt the shattering and longing for some of my favorite memories in the front yard of my family’s Portland home.

You see, while my dad was sick, we used to sit on a bench that looked out across the yard at this very tree.

So many summer afternoons spent talking and laughing with him, and learning, what I didn’t realize at the time, was a lesson in the power of presence.

We used to sit in awe of the way the sunlight hit the water droplets flying up through the air from the sprinklers in a way that made them sparkle and dance through the sky.

The quaking aspen stood in the background with a generosity and beauty about her. She helped to ground the scene. And added to the beauty of each moment — her soft leaves fluttering in the breeze.

I’d also known for a long time that this was one of my mom’s favorite trees, for this very reason.

Watching the leaves flutter in the breeze, watching them dance with hope and joy, gives us permission to do the same — to trust the same wisdom, and hope and joy within us.

It grounds us in the present moment, and allows us to spring forth rooted in something that cannot be seen but only felt in the quiet and most tender, sacred places of our being.

It is a truth so deep that only nature has arms long enough to reach.

Maybe the branches of that tree, with the leaves dancing in the breeze, was actually just a way of returning home to myself, in a way I hadn’t come to fully recognize yet.

It had a unique and sparkling way of aligning me with the truest sense of myself: the self that has no words.

It’s one of the few things in the world that can help point you to an experience, without you even noticing. That’s how good it is. That’s how magnificent of a gift it brings.

It stirs the heart and soothes the soul in ways that Netflix movies or comfort food can only dream about but never provide.

For a long time now I’ve been amazed by the way the beauty we see in nature helps us to find and see greater beauty and love within ourselves.

And when a special part of nature — like a tree, a bird, a forest creature, flower, or plant is lost to us, it can tug at some of those deepest places within our hearts.

The moments. The memories. The freedom, the joy, and the love. All rolled into one.

As I stood there, I allowed myself a few minutes to stand with the tree and cry. Images of my dad and me sitting on the bench floated through my mind, all the memories of looking up at that tree, and a very real felt sense in my body of the sadness its loss brings.

The rest of the day I found my mind wandering back to that tree.

And later that night while meditating, I had a sense that the tree had somehow lived its purpose. That by helping to guide me, and those close to me, to the homes inside our hearts, she had been set free. 

She had done all that she came here to be.

And the lesson, too, that sometimes, the greatest thing we can ever do, is be.

The gift is in who we are, and who we’re becoming. And the far-reaching affects that can have on those around us.

Like one little leaf traveling through the breeze, with the hope and freedom to soar, and with it, bring to life a brand new tree.

By this morning, when the work crew arrived to cut down the tree, I was ready.

And this surprised me.

I’ve had so many experiences before where the wrecking all comes in at once. The turmoil, the grief, the pain, all mashed together.

But this time, I allowed myself to grieve. I allowed myself to feel all that this tree meant to me.

I allowed myself to say goodbye, and to honor the gifts that she brought me.

So that by today I was ready honor her, by freely letting her go. And knowing that she’d been loved, and that I am loved in return.

There’s this strange magic that happens when we allow ourselves to feel the feelings that flow through us. When we honor ourselves and our experience enough to acknowledge them and let the tears flow.

I can still remember a hospice worker who once said that when you sit with an emotion and feel it and allow it to flow through you, then it flows through and can actually move through rather quickly.

As a twenty-something who had just lost my dad, I thought this was complete poppycock. She just didn’t understand, I remember thinking to myself.

And it wasn’t just what she said, but the way she said it.

I can, now — many years, and a chronic illness, and a life coach training program later — see the wisdom in her words. But I will never forget the way I felt — and the way her words seemed to dismiss and undermine the complexity and depth of my feelings.

So I don’t say any of this today to undermine your feelings. I offer this reflection because of the joy it brings me to see the beauty in the process. The process of healing can be vast — it can take time, and it can also happen in an instant.

In some ways it’s very simple — but simple does not mean that it is easy.

It takes courage. LOTS of it.

More courage than some of us have to offer in a given moment — but when we do, ahhhh, that’s when the magic surfaces and the sun can begin to rise.

They say, “it’s always darkest before the dawn.”

Well, what if we saw every bit of darkness as an opportunity for a rising sun.

If pain became a beacon of hope, of light — to come and rescue us from the turmoil that can feel so often unrelenting.

We are free to choose the way we want to respond to the pain in our lives. And I’ll be the first to admit that I at times fall down the rabbit hole of choosing unhealthy behaviors to cope with the challenges that life brings.

But this week, and this tree — this holy, magnificent and altogether splendid tree — reminded me that it’s okay to grieve.

It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to allow those feelings to flow, and allow the grief to flow out your eyes with longing or anguish or anything you may feel.

And when we allow it out, we can ask for healing. And with the healing, comes new space — space for the sun to rise.

And before you know it, you’re watching the miracle of a new idea being born, or a new feeling of hope blossoming within yourself — a brand new start.

I’ve always been amazed by the power of writing or or even just talking things through for this too. It seems like pure magic or dumb luck, but every time I start out writing or talking about (and acknowledging) the terrible thing, it’s as if the awareness is a flashlight that allows it to receive moonbeams of love from Heaven that allow it to fully shine. And when it begins to shine, the old falls away and it makes space for something new.

Like I mentioned above — a new idea, a new solution, a new feeling or different approach. And whatever it is, it is usually BEAUTIFUL — and so much better than you ever could have imagined when you were standing back on the other side of the grief, or anger, or fear — whatever you were feeling.

So whatever YOU are feeling this week, and whatever trees (literal or metaphorical) that have fallen down in your own life, calling you into the pain so that you can be ushered into a brand new beginning, know that I’m sending you tremendous compassion, love, and healing grace.

You are brave.

And I’m so proud of you. And you know what? I think I’m proud of me too.

With infinite love & grace,

Caitlin

Brave Soul · Grief & Loss · Self-Compassion · Writing as Healing

10 Ways to Connect When You’re Feeling Isolated & Alone

I still remember standing outside visiting with people after church. I could feel the warmth of the sunlight on my skin, but I couldn’t feel the compassion or understanding of those around me. It felt like an invisible curtain appeared right in front of my face as I talked with them — you couldn’t see it, but you could feel it. An invisible barrier laced with the belief that no one cared, that they couldn’t understand.

And to be honest, they probably didn’t.  I’d recently lost my dad, and even those who had experienced loss couldn’t express their sentiments in a way that I could feel. Somehow their genuine concern got lost in translation.

They had already made it to the other side, to a place where their grief was no longer felt at the same depth as mine. They were no longer standing in the very same hole that I felt I’d been plopped down into.

I wanted someone who could crawl down into that hole with me and keep me company while I was there.

And that’s what I’d love to do for you — crawl down into whatever exact, uniquely shaped, and sized hole you are in, and shine some light, share some love, and walk beside you or sit with you with compassion.

Compassion is my specialty. 

Just ask anyone who knows me, and it is often one of the first traits people will mention.

I care. Deeply. And it’s one of the things the people I’ve coached thank me for most.

And it’s also one of the things I’ve practiced most deeply in my life — learning to care for and be kind to myself.

Do you have that challenge too? 

My guess is, if you’re here reading these words, you might also be on a similar life path of learning to offer yourself the same kindness and grace that you so readily offer to others.

And I’d love to work with you.

I’d love to shine a light in all of the dark corners and lift them up with evergreen grace.

I’m here for you. All you have to do is decide you’d like to open your hand and welcome some fresh love in. 

Try it right now. Open your hands, palm up and feel the love that is here for you.

Now — let me know where your “hole” is located and I’ll be right over! With your favorite cup of tea and a beautiful strand of twinkle lights.

We’ll shine some twinkle lights in the darkness until you find the light and strength of your own. And we’ll do it, together. 

You don’t have to go through any of this alone. 

I’ve got you. And I care. 

And that’s a winning combination. 

Not that there’s anything to win. But the ability to feel better, even when the circumstances around you don’t change, is one of life’s greatest gifts. It’s something I’ve learned again and again in new and deeper ways, and continue to practice every day.

So if you feel curious about the idea of hanging some twinkle lights to bring a little light and ease to any challenges or losses in your life, I’d love to talk with you. 

Schedule a time on my calendar for a free 30 minute, Shine The Light On Your Life call where we can talk about your dark hole of a challenge or loss, and what some possible twinkle lights might look like in your life right now, even if it’s just one teeny tiny bulb to add a little glow.

Schedule here: https://calendly.com/coachingwithcaitlin

In the meantime…here are 10 ways to feel more connected when you’re feeling alone.

Feeling disconnected and unable to connect with the people around you, whether because of loss or illness, is one of the most gut-wrenching experiences I believe we can ever have. I also believe that it is an opportunity to get creative and find other ways to support yourself in feeling connected. 

I know from personal experience how hard it can be, and whether you’re in a tough place right now or not, I know these can help. They are my top 10 favorite ways to connect! Enjoy!

1. Take a 5 minute nature break.

Spend some time sitting or walking outside, or looking out the window. Just take some time to notice your breathing and look at what’s around you — notice the rocks, the leaves, any trees, or blades of grass. Even if you don’t FEEL anything, just keep noticing. Keep observing. And eventually you’ll start to feel more connected both to yourself and to your surroundings. 

(Bonus: Make note of how you’re feeling both before and after your 5 minute nature session to build evidence for yourself if it’s helpful and to watch how your experience changes over time.)

2. Write down how you feel.

Science shows (and I’ve learned from personal experience) that naming your feelings can help lessen the severity right away. And then writing them down is an even deeper way to acknowledge your feelings and offer yourself compassion and support. Take 1 minute and write down as many feeling words as you can that describe what you’re experiencing. 

(This can be a post it note, a note on your phone, the back of a letter or piece of mail, anything nearby will work.) 

They don’t have to be complete sentences either, anything goes! Scared, alone, twist in my stomach, hard to breathe, numb. Whatever it is, write it down. See how you feel when the minute is up. Any better? Want to keep writing? If so, keep going. If not, move on with a greater sense of connection to yourself and awareness of your emotions and experience.  

3. Do a Lava Volcano Quick Write.

This is where you set a timer for 5 minutes and just write down EVERYTHING that comes to your mind. And when I say everything, I mean everything! Every thought, even if it’s “this is a stupid exercise.” Letting whatever is swirling around in your head flow out through your pen onto the page (or note on your phone, etc.) is one of the easiest, and most powerful ways to set that energy free. Try it and see how you feel!

4. Connect with your breath.

This is one of the easiest ways to begin feeling more connected — and also one of the most challenging to remember or make time for…or, let’s be honest, find the motivation to actually DO. But it’s effects are far reaching and healing in ways our minds can only imagine. 

To do this, simply stop wherever you are. 

Notice your breath in, and feel what the air and oxygen feels like as it fills your body. Does your belly expand, your chest rise? Do you feel it in your neck, head, shoulders, feet? 

Then exhale slowly and notice the physical sensations in your body there as well — does your chest collapse and relax forward, do you feel an openness in your belly, sleepiness in your eyes? 

Whatever it is, just notice. And then at the end of your exhale pause, and wait for your body to naturally inhale. Follow this sequence for as long as feels good and notice how little effort it actually takes — that you’re not the one who has to MAKE breathing happen, that in fact, you’re the one being breathed.

5. Write a note to a friend.

Whether it’s a text message, an email, or a handwritten letter, reaching out to those we care about can have huge mental health benefits. But what do you do when you don’t FEEL connected? Reach out anyway. Send a kind word, a thought about how your day is going or ask for some support. If there’s something you need — ask. This is SO hard, I know from personal experience and it’s harder for some of us than others. But even if you simply write to wish THEM a wonderful day or to say “I’m thinking of you,” there’s some part of you that will receive that kindness too.

6. Write a love letter to yourself.

Take some time, set aside maybe 10-15 minutes and write out some of the things that are troubling you. Then, look through your list and imagine your dearest friend was experiencing these things. What would you say? What words of comfort or compassion would you offer? Now write “Dear, (and your name),” at the top of a fresh page, and begin pouring out all those loving and kind words of support to yourself. Allow yourself to gush as much as feels comfortable — and know that it might not feel comfortable at first, but that’s okay. The more you practice this, the easier it will get. And before you know it, you’ll be connecting with yourself in an easy and compassion-filled way each and every day.

7. Listen to a song with a melody or lyrics you love.

Let the music wash over you. Get up and dance if you feel inspired, or sit and wrap yourself in a blanket and allow yourself to cry if they lyrics move you. Allow yourself to feel connected to the rhythm, the harmony, the connection of another person’s words and music, knowing that anything that artist could write or compose or sing about, is something they’ve experienced too. So if it moves you, know that there is a connection there. A life and a spirit of compassion and love. An empathy of sorts — being sent out through time and space in the sound waves of this favorite song.

8. Do a short loving-kindness meditation.

Find a calm and quiet place where you can relax. And sit down, or lie down and close your eyes. Call to mind the image of a pet or family member or friend who naturally makes you smile. Hold them in your mind’s eye and send them all the love and support that naturally arises. Do this for at least 3 breaths. 

Then see yourself standing there next to them, and continue offering the same loving support, and any kind phrases or wishes that come to mind. “May you be blessed with peace / ease / gentleness / kindness / love / forgiveness / healing.”

Now, imagine that this friend or other person or animal needs to go somewhere else for a bit (they can always come back if you need them!), and see yourself standing there in the golden glow of this love, and all of the wishes and kindness you have offered. 

Now spend 5-10 breaths sending even more love and support directly to yourself — this vision of yourself you’re holding in your mental movie screen. Offer her all the love and beautiful wishes you can and see how you feel. 

Repeat as often as necessary, and as mentioned, you can always bring that loving family member or friend back if that helps make it easier to send the compassion and love. You’ve got this. And you’re infinitely loved. Allow yourself to step into that circle and receive some love yourself. You so deserve it.

9. Pet, snuggle, or play with a pet.

This can either be your own pet, or someone else’s. (And if you don’t have access to a pet, try watching a bird or squirrel out the window, or pulling up a cute animal video online.) 

Connect with your pet — talk to them, pet them, invite them to sit on your lap if appropriate, stroke their fur, play a game with their favorite toy — anything that helps you connect. What do they like to do? Offering one of their favorite things and watching them enjoy it can help you feel more loved and connected in turn. And can even help spring forth some new feelings of joy and relaxation. Enjoy! 

P.S. If you’re really struggling this might even look like sitting in a favorite chair with your pet on your lap or by your side, not engaging but just sitting together, looking out the window or staring at the wall. Do whatever feels best to you and fits your situation. You are so loved!

10. Sing a song.

I know this may sound silly, but there’s nothing like the power of singing a song to help you connect to the voice and the power within yourself. It’s like you connect to yourself through your song. Any song that comes to mind is perfect, or maybe a lullaby your mom sang to you as a child. Maybe you have a favorite song that always brings tears to your eyes or helps you feel relaxed and at home. Even if you don’t have a song in mind, just humming whatever random sounds or tones come to mind can help put your mind at ease and connect you with yourself as you notice the vibration and humming sensation in your body. Give it a try!

I hope this helps the next time you find yourself feeling low, or alone and like no one understands. There are so many other ways that you can connect with the people around you — but when all else fails, don’t ever doubt the connection you have with yourself, and the power of tapping into that with compassion. 

I’m sending you so much love, and I’d love to know — which one of these ideas was your favorite? Is there one you feel like you could put into practice today or sometime this week?

Hit reply and let me know! I love hearing from you.

And as always, sending lots of love and many blessings your way,

Caitlin

P.S. You’re Invited…

I wanted to do something beautiful for us as a community, and so I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be fun if we had a virtual tea party!? 
So…

Join me August 1st at 3pm Pacific for a cup of tea, some journaling, Q&A and conversation. We’ll go wherever the wind blows so be prepared for an adventure!

All you need to do is subscribe here, if you’re not already, to receive weekly newsletters and the link to where we’ll meet at the designated time.

Make sure to bring a cup of tea (or other delicious beverage of choice) in your favorite mug, a cozy blanket, your journal if you have one and something to write with. Looking forward to it!

Hope to see you there!

three hearts, Caitlin 


Blessings · Brave Soul · Grief & Loss

Would You Like to Be Part of the Launch Team for My New Book?

Here’s the scoop:

You get a free copy of the book before anyone else, and you get to connect with me, and the rest of the group, leading up to launch week — and even after, if you’d like!

And you commit to read the book (or play with a few of the prompts that speak to you), leave a review on Amazon, and help to share and spread the word during launch week —

which could look like anything from calling and telling a friend, posting on social media, or writing an email to your audience. The sky is the limit and the “how” is completely up to you!

It’s a chance to gather and celebrate and share the book with anyone you think might enjoy it, or benefit from a tender loving presence and safe place to write during their experience of grief. ❤ And, of course, get a free copy for yourself! 🙂

If you’d like to learn more about joining us, you can let me know here.

Brave Soul · Grief & Loss

By the Light of the Moon {+ Top 3 Title Choices — Help me decide!}

Having returned home from a trip to Easter Island, at one point it dawned on me–

Grief is like being plunked down on a distant island in the dark — strange terrain, not knowing your way, not even with a simple street light to guide you.

There is no map. No clear road ahead.

Only your inner compass, and the light of the moon overhead.

The stars are like your loved ones, shining down on you from Heaven above.

And the light of all, a reflection, of the light you hold within you.

And as you tune in very closely and listen to this light… you’ll find that it guides you every step of the way and you never have to go it alone.

From the light of the moon you gain your strength, the courage to take the very next step. And as you step and step and step…the landscape becomes less scary.

Before you know it, you find your way, with all your treasures in your heart and in hand.

Walking as a brave new person, with a new landscape to unfold.

By then it becomes an adventure — a daring new experience by the sea.

To walk and fumble, and hold yourself in love, until you finally find yourself free.

…This was another excerpt from my forthcoming grief journal.
AND…

I now have a selection of the Top 3 favorite title options from the various writing groups I belong to…and I was so surprised by the overwhelming favorite.

But first I’d love to hear from YOU! Which one do you like best? Or do you have a DIFFERENT idea that you think we’d all love?!
Click here to submit your vote!

And if you have an extra idea, you can always email me here, or leave a comment below!

Much love, and many blessings to you always,
Caitlin
Blessings · Grief & Loss

A blessing for you. {And my new grief journal}

This week I want to share with you a blessing I wrote for my forthcoming grief journal, By the Light of the Moon.

Although now I’m returning back to former ideas and playing with new titles alike.

You’ll be the first to know when I get close to a final decision and I’m ready for your input to make a final selection!

One of the most important things to me is to make this journal BEAUTIFUL.

I can still remember standing in the bookstore aisle with all of the books on grief. And most of them had one or two things in common.

1) They were…UGLY. Drab. Brown. Boring — Ugly.
2) They had the word GRIEF written on them in huge sprawling letters, practically acting as a flashing neon sign, like an arrow pointing to the person holding the book exclaiming, “Hey! This girl is experiencing grief!!”

Not exactly something you want to be seen with at a coffee shop when you’re in your twenties and just lost your dad.

Or at any age, I would imagine.

So I want this journal to be beautiful for you. And that is exactly what I plan to create. 🙂

If you’ve experienced loss, and have any thoughts on something that you feel would have really helped YOU, or anything you feel would help you in your current experience, I’d love for you to hit reply and let me know.

I’d love to hear about any insights you may have — and perhaps they even match up with some of my own that I still plan to share with you.

Either way, it is always a blessing to hear from you.

Your kind words mean so much, and you are truly a blessing in this world.

So without further ado…

May you be blessed~

May you be blessed with peace —
Even if that’s not what you feel like you want,
Or even need.

May you be blessed with grace —
To see the light of love shining through.

May you be blessed with courage —
The kind you show in every moment,
Just taking another step, and inhaling another breath,
Again and again and again.

May you be blessed with beauty —
The shared and treasured memories
That help to light your way,
The insights and ideas
That guide your self-care each day.

May you be blessed with gentleness —
To watch over yourself with care.
The way you’d love a sweet little bird
Or a toddler with messy hair.

And most of all…

May you be blessed with love —
The glue that holds everything together.
The twinkle lights that glow in the darkness.
The radiance of your very own heart.

May you be blessed with knowing how worthy
You are
And may you sing you own unique song,
Every day, your whole life through.
Knowing there is always someone
Who’s watching over you.

New! Coaching For Gentle Souls Learn more here.