How Original Play Can Strengthen Family Bonds

Nov 06, 2023

Do you intentionally play together with your family? How do you invite your family members to join you in play and maintain emotional connection when someone gets upset? These were questions I wanted answers to, especially in partnership with my spouse. When Kri, the organizer of a weekend play workshop in Portland, offered an opportunity for me, my husband, and our son to participate together in a Play After Play* experience, I was thrilled!

At the Play after Play Theater, the acting team, Marc Otto and Melanya Helene, performed a 20-minute show based on a folk tale, with just a few props and traditional songs. "The play will begin, and then the play will end," Melanya said. "That is the time for wild applause."

After the play, it was time for the "after" part of Play after Play: playtime. My family gathered with other families filled with anticipation around the tumbling mats where Marc, Melanya, and Kri each invited a child into the middle of the circle to "play" with them. They...

Continue Reading...

Unlocking the Power of Play: How Original Play Can Transform Your Relationships and Parenting

Oct 25, 2023

When someone invites me to play, it opens up a world of possibilities. However, when my child becomes stressed, terrified, or overwhelmed, I find myself disconnected and flooded with fear and shame. Receiving empathy support and learning about the brain has helped me live in congruence with my values, especially when it comes to parenting.

But I remember how I still felt like something was missing. I longed for a dis-confirming experience that would allow me to keep my heart open and present regardless of environmental factors. Then, my empathy buddy invited me to a weekend play workshop in Portland, and I was thrilled with the possibility!

During the workshop, I sat with 30+ others in a big circle. Our instructor, O. Fred Donaldson, introduced us to the world of Original Play through a framework of concepts, choices, distinctions, and patterns. I found the guidelines illuminating: no contest, no winning, no losing, no fault, no fairness, no revenge, no tickling. I realized that the...

Continue Reading...

Navigating the Overwhelming Role of Parenting a Child with Special Needs

Oct 18, 2023

Today, I want to share with you my personal experience as a parent of a child with special needs. I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed and in need of someone who can truly understand what you are going through. It can be difficult to manage your emotions and maintain your composure in the face of your child's heightened nervous system. I have often found myself in this situation, feeling like my cup is nearly empty and desperately needing empathy and compassion.

During these times, I have learned the importance of showing myself the same love and acceptance that I seek from others. One technique that has helped me is using a deck of GROK "Needs/Values" cards. I sorted the cards into two piles, one with needs/values that resonated with me and another with those that didn't. Out of 54 cards, 33 resonated with me, and I grouped them under the seven basic human needs.

I focused on the need for connection, which had the largest cluster of cards, and counted 16 cards, including...

Continue Reading...

Unpacking Trauma: The Healing Power of Accompaniment

Oct 11, 2023

What is trauma? By definition; trauma wreaks havoc in a body, a mind or a system.  Do you imagine the devastation might be less if the person who had the experience were accompanied?

One way to think about trauma, which may seem surprising, is, rather than measuring the magnitude of the horrendous event, we can measure the extent to which the person who experienced the tragedy was left alone with it.  When we approach trauma from this point of view, its after-effects become the evidence that a part of us became stuck in terrifying, isolated, moments of time. 

These little ones hidden within us, the ones we try to care for with self-harming remedies, are formed and then left behind by the rolling waves of trauma, such as; an intensity of loneliness, of terror, or of rage, which as it slowly recedes leaves behind entangled parts of self. The tangles are unchanging in their need; inconsolable, forever desperate, seeking to be soothed by something that is so close to what...

Continue Reading...

Unleashing the Magic of Healing: A Journey with Horses

Oct 04, 2023

At Healing You Sanctuary, both horses and clients are recognized as sentient beings, whole, complete and perfect as they are. The dance of connection that unfolds, as clients develop their unique relationships with the horses, allows each person to begin to glimpse their patterns that are below conscious awareness in their relationships. Time slows down, and they begin to “see” through the eyes of the horse, new possibilities of what they might begin to do differently in relationships. The following testimony reflects this beautifully. 

“In my session I noticed there was still a part of me that needed to know it is safe to have a voice when big energy comes up. I saw the big horse standing tall, looking at me. He started to move toward me. I was doing my best to imagine slowing down inside, when an image of my husband and son in conflict popped up in my mind. In that moment, my heart raced with fear, and I could not think or imagine what to do different. I...

Continue Reading...

Experience the Magic: Connect with Horses and Discover Your Power Within!

Sep 27, 2023

Do you believe in magic? In the power of warm, resonant magic? 

Experiential learning is powerful, especially when building a relationship, especially with a horse. Yet it is just part of the picture. For healing to happen, we need to begin to notice the patterns of our inner experience, and where we place our attention. The formation of neural pathways that shape our brains are stimulated by our behavior emotions and (energy in motion) especially in relationships with others. Where we focus our attention, consciously or unconsciously, our energy follows. This practice either reinforces old patterns or initiates new ones.

We all have emotions that we are very familiar with and know that if certain things happen, one or more of the emotions will flare up and dominate our awareness. (Limbic hijack) We also have underlying patterns of thoughts that accompany us all the time. So, the emotions we feel and thoughts we think (the quality of our consciousness) increases the energy and...

Continue Reading...

Healing Hooves: How a Bond with a Horse Can Transform Trauma

Sep 20, 2023

How can a bond with a horse help a human heal? 

Moving a human from trauma to healing requires the restructuring of emotional response. Both primary and secondary process emotions (conscious and pre-conscious) must be engaged and soothed (regulation of the sensitive limbic region of the brain). This must come in the form of new experiences. The experience of limbic neuroplasticity (the laying down of new neural pathways and responses) was deeply and beautifully expressed by a client in the following: 

"What I noticed more than ever today was how all of the horses responded to me. They came close with softness. I did have a story with some alarm come up around the big black, but then I took a belly breath and allowed him to come close. I touched him on the side of his face and acknowledged his presence by looking into his eye. I used to go into such deep states of disconnect that I could not even look anyone in the eyes and my body felt like it was made out of concrete.


Continue Reading...

Unlocking the Power of Time-Travel Empathy: A Journey of Healing and Connection

Sep 13, 2023

What is the magic of time-travel empathy?

There are different times in each year that I like to take time to slow down and acknowledge just how many miracles I have been blessed to experience in relationship with others. I enjoy recognizing invitations to deepen my capacity to both self-connect and connect with others and listen to the wisdom of our bodies through its felt-sense, becoming more and more horse-like. This year began with knowing I was stepping into a new beginning of my life, in partnership with my majestic herd, and collaboratively growing with warm community. This continues to be an ongoing relational practice. 

A huge part of my learning journey has been intentionally developing my ability to be willing to trust that not only is it possible, but that it's safe, to receive deep, meaningful support for myself. Allowing myself to be vulnerable, transparent, and curious in relationship within a collaborative community of others--sharing resonant space, exchanging...

Continue Reading...

Breaking Through Suspicion: Learning to Trust Kindness From Others

Sep 06, 2023

Do you feel suspicious when you receive kindness from others?

I've shared many times how, until even recently, my inner world was an unfriendly place. 

I would often go to a place of harsh, self-criticism, longing to get it "right" or be "enough". 

I've managed to shift my inner critical voice into one of warmth and safety over time, using resonant language, understanding how the nervous system works and rediscovering my joy. 

Many of us did not receive accurate reflections of our emotional experiences as little ones, and so did not receive the understanding that what was happening in us made sense.

It can be very difficult for humans to access self-esteem and self-compassion when what we are experiencing does not make sense to us. 

In fact, it is so distressing to be in this place of not making sense to ourselves that we can become cut off from accessing self-warmth and enter a place of intense self-dislike, even self-loathing. 

Other times, some of us...

Continue Reading...

From Despair to Hope: How Horses Can Help Us Heal and Find Meaning

Aug 30, 2023

Some days you can wake up and feel so full of possibilities, and other days you might feel the complete opposite, life may seem nearly unbearable. All beings need to experience mattering no matter how they feel. All beings need safe spaces where they are welcomed as they are and listened to deeply and completely. Horses have an amazing power to heal and to teach.  They offer unconditional friendship, experience a wide range of feelings, and provide immediate, honest, observable feedback in response to our interactions with them. 

Relationships are healing for both horses and humans. Let me share with you a clients recent experience.


"I had an amazing day today, something I say often. 

And just as often a voice tells me to run far, far away, as fast as I can and that I just need to hide under a rock and die.  It is one of my voices that arise when I feel...

Continue Reading...

50% Complete