Safe Spaces

Some of you know that I've been on an intentional healing journey over the last couple of months. There are many reasons for it, but it all started a little over two years ago. After a 3 year struggle with multiple 'failed' adoptions, my mom died unexpectedly on a January weekend just a few days after her 64th birthday. It completely crushed me. There were days after that I didn't know how to go on. There were weeks of darkness and heart-wrenching grief. There were moments of full-breathing and hope - but they were few-and-far-between for a long while. I did what I could do to survive - to keep living and operating like a person after I felt like the life and joy had been drained out. I owe a lot of gratitude to my husband who walked through this with me, to my community, and to God whose Presence kept me breathing and moving and who kept infusing me with enough courage to keep my heart open. 

Two and a half years later, I'm still processing and grieving and healing. And maybe even more intensely now than before because I'm in a place where I can't run to busyness as easily. A few months ago, we moved across the country to the forest in Upstate New York. Dan was offered a job that proved to be an opportunity we couldn't pass up. I was so sad to leave our Colorado home - our friends, our family there, our beloved community, our church. There was so much connection and safety there. But there was also so much busyness. Busyness was my cover-up. Busyness was my distraction from a broken spirit. Busyness was the mask I could wear so that I wouldn't become crushed under the weight of my own sadness. 

In the last year living in Colorado, not only did I juggle three different 'part-time' jobs and two businesses (as if that wasn't enough!), we signed up to be foster parents. We went through lots of training, paperwork and preparation and then right away after being 'open', we got two boys under two. Then we said goodbye to them and hello to one 17 month-old boy. We parented him and loved him for five months until he went back to mom. We said goodbye to him and the next week, hello to a little 6 month-old boy. After three months he left, too. 

Hello-Goodbye-Hello. 

Grief upon grief with no time to grieve. 

I truly believe that our culture of busyness presses down grief and real feelings so much that many of us are operating on a half-present level. Our hearts can't hold on to these things for too long. Grief, sadness, fear (and all these things we don't like feeling), don't disappear if we ignore them. Even though I don't think I was ignoring my feelings, I do think I was suppressing them with being crazy-busy and not allowing myself to slow down or even stop. 

As Parker Palmer writes, "The divided life is a wounded life, and the soul keeps calling us to heal the wound. Ignore that call, and we find ourselves trying to numb our pain with an anesthetic of choice, be it substance abuse, overwork, consumerism, or mindless media noise. Such anesthetics are easy to come by in a society that wants to keep us divided and unaware of our pain...

...One of the things society is most deficient in a safe spaces for truth telling about the condition of our souls."

Safe Spaces.

I knew when we were about to move that this would be a huge change. From living downtown in a city, having lots of neighbors and a vibrant community that we were connected to, to living in a dense forest, in a tiny 'town', 25 minutes from the nearest coffee shop (which I frequented often back in CO). I didn't know to the extent that my grief and sadness would resurface with all this time and quiet in my new life here. I didn't know that I needed to be (lovingly) forced to slow down - even stop for awhile. I do know that God intended for this to be a place where I could be intentional about my healing. Where I could stop the chaotic lifestyle of five jobs and foster kids and lots of distraction. It's uncomfortable here. It's challenging. But it's GOOD. 

I know that some may think that I just need to 'move on' and 'focus on the good'. I know some may get tired of the fact that I'm not fully healed and I still struggle (almost daily) about the losses in my life over the last three years. I also know that some need to hear this. Some people need to hear that it's OK to feel how you feel. You don't need to rush it. You don't need to pretend you're alright when you're not. You do need a safe space for truth telling - a space where you can be honest with yourself and others about the current condition of your soul. 

I'm grateful for so many things. In the midst of my grief, I'm grateful God brought us to the forest- a safe place. I'm grateful that my heart is able to keep loving. I'm grateful that my heart was able to open to those four babies with had with us last year after the heartbreaking loss of my mom's sudden death. I'm grateful that I still have the courage to do foster care again. I'm grateful that God sees us, knows us, grieves with us, and has a plan for healing us. I'm grateful for those in my life who allow me to be where I am. I'm grateful for those people who are "safe places" to me. 

One of my hopes in all this, is that I too, can be a safe place for people. I want to create a community (in-person and online) that can be a 'circle of trust' as Palmer writes in his book A Hidden Wholeness. I want to be, as Joyce Rupp writes, someone "who had come through the fire and was pure gold", and who "carries the truth of resurrection in hearts which have been emptied and refilled." There's something deeply healing about being seen, heard, and accepted. 

If this resonates with you in any way, I'd love to know. I'd love to know where you're at. I'd love to know how you're healing (or maybe what barriers you're dealing with). Just send a message. I loved seeing the recent instagram campaign #hereforyou . What a powerful word in a place that often cultivates loneliness. I want to be someone who is here for you. Please know that you're not alone. 

I have some other resources here for you if you want to take a look around. 
5 Min Audio Meditations / Private Sessions / Healing Hearts: Online Workbook

Here's a closing prayer for you from the book Praying Our Goodbyes by Joyce Rupp; 

"God of light, hear my prayer. Listen to me and guide me in this deep darkness which is so predominant in my life...Here I am, hands outstretched. Oh, do not hide the radiance of inner light from me. I fear that I may be overpowered by discouragement or despair. May the dawn of each new day become a sign for me to trust in you. Help me to believe that your light is radiant within me. Light of my life, shine brightly and dispel this darkness. Amen" 

 

May you know that you are worth healing. May you feel a sense of hope as you remember that you were made to flourish and healing is possible. 

 

Healing Hearts: A Creative Journey through Art and Movement (an online workshop)

Healing Hearts: A Creative Journey through Art and Movement (an online workshop)

Welcome! We're so happy you're here. Watch the video to learn a little about our workshop and explore these questions below. If you have anything you'd like to talk to us, please get in touch!  Watch our intro video here! 

What is Healing Hearts?  

An online workshop using creative expression to help people process any kind of grief and/or loss. The workshop is intended as a one-day self-guided retreat that you can do on your own time alone or with others. Healing Hearts includes:

*two peaceful yoga videos  (to view a sample yoga class, go here > > password is healinghearts

*downloadable workbook with journaling prompts and more

*audio lessons

*art projects

*additional resources to continue your creative journey

Who is Healing Hearts for? 

This workshop is for anyone who has endured grief and/or loss and is ready to experience a deeper and more fulfilling experience in their healing process. 

Who is leading Healing Hearts? 

Teryn O'Brien has experienced multiple losses, including the loss of a best friend inside a cult-like setting, crippling health problems, and other deep heartbreaks. She hosts a popular blog on griefhealing, and creativity. 

Abby Mortenson has been going through a most difficult year with four adoption losses and the sudden death of her mom last January. She longs to seek God's love and healing through this process and be a source of healing to others. She is a social worker and yoga instructor in Colorado Springs, CO. 

When is the online workshop happening?

Once you purchase this workshop, it will always be available to you! It was created in a way that enables you to take your own time on this. You can do this in a day or spread it out over a week or more. The purpose is to give you some tools to help you on your healing journey.

I'm not an artist, or a yogi...does this still apply to me?

We believe anyone who wants to participate in this can do it! The art prompts will be accessible for anyone and the yoga videos will be gentle and accessible for beginners. (to view a sample yoga class, go here > > password is healinghearts

What if I have questions as I'm going through this? 

We will be available to you with any questions or concerns you have while going through this. Just contact us at flourishing.hearts@gmail.com and write "healing hearts" in the subject line. 

I want to do this. How do I get it? 

You can purchase the workshop here anytime and we'll send you an e-mail with instructions. 

The fine print: 

This workshop is not meant to replace counseling or therapy. It is intended as an additional resource. Please seek professional help if you are experiencing deep depression or suicidal ideologies. This material is copyrighted, and no un-authorized distribution or replication is allowed. Please contact us if you'd like permission to share or if you have other questions. 

2 Comments

Abby Mortenson

I'm a yearner, a dreamer, a hopeful wanderer searching for truth and beauty in the midst of this heart-breaking and beautiful thing called life. My desire is to bring healing and hope to those paths I'm blessed to cross - to be a light and a friend. I want to share the grace I've been given with you. I hope to do that through different creative mediums; photography, yoga, journaling, and whatever else may come up!

Fall Yoga Playlist

Marisa here! I have had SO many people ask me where I get my music for yoga, and decided to share it with the entire web. I'm super passionate about music- I know that it has the ability to change an entire atmosphere in seconds. There is a connection that happens with the vibrations of notes that we don't feel with any other of our senses, and can bring us different emotions. I create my yoga playlists with this knowledge and try to curate each of them with a unique feeling. All of my playlists are a mixture of worship and 'secular' music. I feel that God can speak through any of his creation, and sometimes He touches my heart more through a song on the radio than a cookie cutter 'worship' song- which is why I try to incorporate different genres and cultures in the music I listen to. This particular playlist is 50 minutes long and perfect for a 10min quiet meditation to start out with for a full hour yoga class- or you can do something shorter using the entire 50 minutes. Enjoy friends, I'll be doing this often- and let me know if there's any songs you'd like to recommend for a future playlist!

The Yoga-body Myth and why it needs to be busted.

I feel compelled to write this post. There are many thoughts I have on this subject of yoga and expectations. I'll start with one for today and maybe address others in future posts. 

Body. 

For many women in our North American society, this word can bring up thoughts and feelings ranging from shame, obsession, destruction, dread, envy, striving, and more. There seems to be so much pressure on ourselves about our bodies. How do we look in skinny jeans? How do we look in high-waisted shorts and cute little dresses? If you're like me, you have areas of your body that you try to hide, or parts that you silently (or maybe not-so-silently) condemn "why can't my thighs be thinner!?" "If only I had a few more inches on me or at least a few less pounds..." I could go on and on and it's almost embarrassing to write this out, but I feel compelled. Because I know I'm not the only one. And I know this shame that many of us carry around is not from the God who created us and called us Beautiful. It's not from the God who adores us and desires us to delight in our bodies and be grateful. How many times do I remember to say; "thanks, God, that I have legs that work!" instead of silently wishing they looked different?

Yoga, for me, has been a way to come back to my body, and realize it's strength, beauty, ability, and importance. The more I practice, the stronger I feel. Are my legs as 'skinny' and muscular as I wish they would be? No. Is that really important. No. Can I balance and do some cool things that require a strength and concentration that helps me in life? Yes. Please understand, I'm not condemning health and working out. But I am standing against this perfection-mentality that keeps many amazing women enslaved to a false expectation - and an expectation that is quite frankly a waste of our time. As I've said above, I'm guilty of falling into this trap, too. But I want to cultivate a community where we remind one another that our beauty is much deeper than our pant size. Our value is much bigger and more important than how we look in yoga pants.

I want Flourishing Hearts to be a place where we all feel WELCOMED. We don't have to have 'yoga bodies" (which, from what I see all over instagram and pinterest look pretty much perfect...) It's not the kind of spirit I want to cultivate. I don't want a spirit of comparison, of 'perfect bodies' according to our current culture, a spirit of shame because of how we look and think we look. I want Flourishing Hearts to be a place of authenticity and acceptance. A place where we come together with thanksgiving because we can move our bodies and be present with God just as we are. 

So if you struggle or worry that you're not in 'good enough' shape for yoga, please know that's not true. Everyone is welcome. We take the time to practice because it's good for our bodies, but also, good for our heart and soul to be able to take time to be present with ourselves and with our God who adores us no matter how we think we may look. 

"The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Comment

Abby Mortenson

I'm a yearner, a dreamer, a hopeful wanderer searching for truth and beauty in the midst of this heart-breaking and beautiful thing called life. My desire is to bring healing and hope to those paths I'm blessed to cross - to be a light and a friend. I want to share the grace I've been given with you. I hope to do that through different creative mediums; photography, yoga, journaling, and whatever else may come up!

The Art of Silence

To be silent. 

Listen. 

Hear your breath and feel your heart-beat. It might be a rare thing in our rushed and busy lifestyle. How many minutes go by in a day without a distraction from your smartphone or computer screen? How often do we sit, listen, be.

There's a great article here that brings clarity to the idea that our culture seems addicted to busy. He brings up the question, "How is your heart?".  As opposed to the typical and sometimes non-sincere question we often ask of "how are you?", this question of how is your heart brings a depth and meaning that many of us crave. I dont' know about you, but lots of days it's hard to answer 'how are you?' in an honest way. Sometimes I want to say, "Do you really want to know? Cause this make take awhile".  OMID SAFI writes; 

"I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.  Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence".

One of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen, often challenges me in a similar way. His words sink deep into my soul when I read about how he sees life with God and life with others. He writes about distraction, too, in his book Making All Things New; 

"How...can we move from fragmentation to unity, from many things to the one necessary thing, from our divided lives to undivided lives in the Spirit? A hard struggle is required. It is the struggle to allow God's Spirit to work in us and re-create us....It calls for a few moments a day in the presence of God when we can listen to God's voice precisely in the midst of our many concerns...When we remain attentive to this divine presence, we will be led always deeper into the kingdom". 

This is why I love yoga. I love it because it gives me space. A space to breath and be and feel my heartbeat. A space to go back to the truths in my heart that sometimes get drowned out by the business of life and the noise of the world. This is why I love offering it to others. I know we all need this space. A space to come, be still, and be refreshed by remembering that place of where we come from and whose we are. There's a beautiful freedom in that. 

-by Abby Mortenson

Comment

Abby Mortenson

I'm a yearner, a dreamer, a hopeful wanderer searching for truth and beauty in the midst of this heart-breaking and beautiful thing called life. My desire is to bring healing and hope to those paths I'm blessed to cross - to be a light and a friend. I want to share the grace I've been given with you. I hope to do that through different creative mediums; photography, yoga, journaling, and whatever else may come up!

Welcome to Flourishing Hearts!

Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy...You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass.."   -Isaiah 60 and 66 

Over time, this little idea of doing yoga-for-healing has developed into a place called Flourishing Hearts.  We are so excited to offer Christ-centered yoga for our community, as well as fun classes like Yoga with He{art} and sometime in the near future; Trauma-informed yoga for healing. I (Abby) have a masters degree in social work, a 200hr yoga teacher certification, and a heart for God and for healing. Marisa has her 200hr holy yoga teacher certification and loves to bring people into a safe space to connect with Jesus. We are honored to be able to teach yoga and also provide a space for deepening, connection, and healing...hopefully leading to flourishing hearts! A portion of our profits will be going towards some amazing organizations that seek to bring hope and healing to girls and young women who have been exploited in the US and beyond.  {Check out Restore Innocence and Ho'ola Napua for more information.} 

Please take a look around to see what we're about and find out about upcoming classes and workshops. We can't wait to meet you! We're also on facebook and instagram, so please connect with us there! 

 

Comment

Abby Mortenson

I'm a yearner, a dreamer, a hopeful wanderer searching for truth and beauty in the midst of this heart-breaking and beautiful thing called life. My desire is to bring healing and hope to those paths I'm blessed to cross - to be a light and a friend. I want to share the grace I've been given with you. I hope to do that through different creative mediums; photography, yoga, journaling, and whatever else may come up!