Navigating Pandemic-Induced Grief

Moving Forward and Transforming the Pain

“Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” – C. S. Lewis

In March of 2020 our relatively stable lives and economy were uprooted. The news became a constant stream of COVID-19 questions and concerns. With no solution or cure to be found we all went into lockdown. Little did we know at the time that it would take roughly two years before we were tip-toeing back into society. Collectively we experienced an incredible amount of trauma and it feels like no one is talking about it.

With limited opportunities for us to get out and experience our family, friends, and work life we had to face this new reality alone. We sat home alone in our grief as we realized things would never be the same again. The loss and pain that comes from a dramatic change in our day-to-day life can be overwhelming. 

Now that we are out living our lives once again it is time to start processing the huge emotional shift the last two years have caused. 


You remember the early days of the pandemic. Everyone was shocked but also enjoying some downtime at home. We were all baking bread and re-organizing our rooms and giving lots of unwanted items to Goodwill. But then, what we thought was going to be 3 weeks dragged on for another 2 years. We began hopping on Zoom calls with our friends and drinking wine in the middle of the day, and we started to realize how precious our fragile economy was.

People started to break up and our mental health plummeted. We were not okay. And as a result, we were realizing that we haven’t been happy in our lives or at our jobs, and we started grieving, at home, by ourselves, in a very unhealthy way. 

We were home, but we realized we had been burnt out, and we were used to living with a lack of focus and endless fatigue. 

We hadn’t had time to stop and breathe and because of that, we didn’t know how to stop and breathe.

Suddenly we were less engaged with friends and family online. We became tired of Zoom, and the Great Resignation began. 

As we headed into year 2, with no end date in sight, we became more divided as a nation. Polarized by politics and caught between doing what is right and taking care of our mental health. 

Two years isn’t long in the grand scheme of things, but it shifts how we communicate, do business, and how comfortable we are in a large room of people. 

The world opens up

Slowly we emerge on the other side. COVID still moves silently among us. It is more contagious but less deadly and it’s time to get our lives back on track. 

Now the fear of socializing begins. Now we must relearn how to leave the house. How to show up for events, and how to be responsible for ourselves and each other as we do so. 

For many, this has been equally as challenging. Many are questioning what this post-pandemic life will be like. Many are feeling anxious about the future and question whether or not we will need to shelter in place once more. 

There is a void, and we are all seeking new common ground in a world that has been utterly shaken. 

Working Through Pandemic-Induced Grief

Most of us shy away from feelings of grief. We understand the overwhelming effect grief has on the body and would prefer not to feel that pain. This is one of the reasons it’s so hard to connect with someone who just lost a loved one in death. We understand their suffering and we don’t want to acknowledge that hurt and unhealed wound inside of us, so we stay nothing, or we stay away. 

This makes grief one of the most challenging emotions to breathe through. Although we collectively understand that grief is inevitable, it is also one of the hardest to face. 

Grief is a form of love. Love that has been lost in some fashion. When we turn our thoughts toward love, transformation can begin and we heal and grow. It is when we decide to stuff it in and not deal with the hard emotions of grief that trouble arises. Overworking, substance abuse and isolation are common masking tools that might numb the pain but result in illness, depression, or more grief.

Collective Healing

It is time to come together and heal from this pandemic. I am thrilled to be joining forces with Pastor Kacey Hanh from St. Matthews Church in the Renton Highlands to bring you Breathing Through Grief: A three-part series dedicated to helping our community heal.

The first of the three is Oct. 2 and we will focus on this very topic. We will come together and breathe through the hard and uncomfortable. We will support each other through the grief and come out stronger together on the other side. 

This 90-minute workshop is open to all regardless of gender, race, sexual preference, or religious affiliations. Grief is a common thread and together we will always be stronger. 

This is a time to listen, share, breathe, and explore. Grief is love that we don’t move on from, but that we are open to moving forward with new eyes and appreciation. 

Learn more about all 3 workshops and register by clicking the link here. 

Mindset: The Battle Between the Conscious and Unconscious Mind

Program Yourself Into a Growth Mindset

  • Why is it that when it comes to trusting the universe we immediately put parameters on what is possible?
  • Why is it that accepting yourself as an infinite being of light is so hard for us to believe? 
  • Why is it that we feel we must consciously understand the magnificence of the unknown in order for it to work in our favor? 

Why is it so hard for us to let go and trust without a need to understand or figure it all out?

Unconsciously we are moving and performing tasks all the time with zero thought behind them. Our motor skills are busy working away so our conscious mind can think about a hundred different things. Even though we work between the conscious and unconscious daily, it seems there is a part of us that believes we have to understand everything in order for it to be possible for us. 

Our conscious mind likes to make sense of our environment. It likes to see the line between step A and step B. It likes to know right from wrong, and it likes problem-solving. The unconscious mind isn’t concerned with any of that; its only concern is supporting the beliefs and narratives programmed into it. 

When you are looking to grow your mindset it is important to take a close look at the relationship between your conscious and unconscious mind. Both play a role in how you see your life and both have insight into where your work will be. 

Seeing Isn’t Always Believing

There’s a scene in the second Matrix movie, Matrix Reloaded, where Neo and Councilor Hamann are talking. The councilor is describing the machines that keep them alive in Zion that he knows nothing about. He understands he doesn’t need to know how they work in order for them to work. He then says, “I have absolutely no idea how you are able to do some of the things you do, but I believe there’s a reason for that as well.” I have always loved this scene because it reminds me that I don’t need to know how everything works, I just need to know that it works. Like plumbing or electricity. I trust these things to work in my life and I don’t put energy into trying to figure them out. It’s a knowing. 

Your conscious mind needs to learn to let go of trying to figure it all out. It needs to connect with your inner knowing so you can find happiness and begin to reprogram the negative unconscious patterns into healthy ones so you can get where you want to be. 

This feels impossible at first, but others have done it, and you can too.

Conscious Thought vs. Unconscious Thought

We are always taking in and processing our environment. We use our lens on reality to determine what is necessary information and what we can discard. Your conscious thoughts narrate to you what your unconscious mind is programmed to feel. Or rather, your unconscious mind is using a lifetime of experiences based on early developmental programming to make decisions. 

This is why change and growth can be so hard. 

You can want to change and have every intention to change, but until you are aware of the unconscious programming behind your decision-making, you won’t change. 

Think of a friend you know really well. You know all their patterns and you can easily see how they get in their own way. Now let’s suppose you know their mom, and she’s the same as your friend. You can see how or why they adapted certain unhealthy or healthy programming. It was unconsciously passed down to them. So when someone says “you’re just like your mom” you can begin to see how or why that happens. 

If you have been conditioned to some negative or destructive patterns in your unconscious mind and you are ready to explore the root cause, you better be ready to do some work. 

Your thoughts and feelings are going to lie to you to keep you safe based on old programming. And if you want to move beyond that programming you have to be ready to step outside your normal decision-making skills and start to create new pathways in your brain that support this new way of thinking. 

This is how you move into a growth mindset. It is the difference between saying, “That’s just who I am” and “I can do better.”

Once you begin this process your unconscious will, over time, start to adapt to this new conscious way of thinking and you will no longer be trapped in your old narrative. 

The Conscious Dreamer

If I were to ask you…

  • What do you want out of life? 
  • What do you want to see and experience? 
  • What kind of job do you want? 
  • What kind of relationships do you desire? 
  • Where do you want to live?

Your conscious mind would start dreaming up all kinds of things and you would start to feel the joy and gratitude of having those things. It feels good! Dreaming is fun. But then If I asked, why aren’t you doing those things? Your conscious mind would move from dreamland to the analytical mind. It would start to tell you all the reasons why it wasn’t possible for you and you would be pulled back into those limiting patterns programmed into you from your childhood. 

  • What if you decided to allow yourself to not know how or why, but stay in the dream state? Remember it’s that conscious need to know everything that slows you down and gets in your way. 
  • What if you just decided that what you wanted was the truth for you and started acting from it? 
  • What if you started to accept your needs as worthy and true without your inner critic judging you or trying to dictate how it will happen?

Unconscious Servant

All of your unconscious thoughts are programs that run on the information you feed them. You become a slave to these programs until you start consciously taking your power back. You get to create your reality and your unconscious mind will become a servant to the new programs you feed it. 

All that you want and desire can be true for you when you decide to work through and rebuild your unconscious mind. 

Trying to create a new narrative takes work because you can’t plan everything out. All you can do is learn to sidestep the old programming by paying attention to the feelings and triggers associated with it. 

Every time you have a great idea that is silenced by the unconscious telling you it’s stupid, you are present at this crossroad. You can continue to belittle yourself and the things you want or you can stop yourself and start inputting a new narrative. 

You don’t need to know how it all works, the universe is way too big for us to understand. The moment you start to play out the same stories in your head about why or why not something is possible for you, you leave the field of the infinite. 

A Record of The Past Does Not Need to Determine Your Future

Up until now, you have made decisions based on your past experiences. Some of these experiences were so traumatic that you relive them constantly and your unconscious mind keeps them handy in order to protect you and keep you alive. 

For example, when you are meeting new people you probably have some fear of rejection coming from your unconscious mind. This fear might not make any sense, and everyone else is probably feeling it on some level too, but fear is stronger than logic, and your unconscious mind is there to protect you from the rejection you felt as a child. 

A simple (not easy) way to look at consciously reprogramming this fear would be to allow yourself to imagine the desired result and use those emotions to feel something different than fear. The unconscious will slowly begin to view the scenario of meeting new people as safe or fun. 

Feel Your Emotions

We are emotional beings. It is important to put emotion behind what we want to feel. Like attracts like. So if you are always thinking the worst then that is what the unconscious is programming you to believe and experience. 

Your mindset is all about what you believe is true for you. 

As you decide to grow your mindset you will inevitably be faced with old programs that must be transformed for you to make new decisions. You must learn to stay focused on the end result and use emotions you want to relate to. 

Your unconscious mind is going to fight for its survival, so this may feel like a tug-of-war. Like you’re lying to yourself, but that’s where trust comes in. Just keep focusing on where you want to be and know that it is true for you. Like a baby throwing a tantrum, it will calm down and see you are no longer interested in going along with and rewarding bad behavior. 

Take Action

You’ve probably already noticed some of your limiting belief patterns and have asked yourself, “why do I always do that?” It’s your unconscious mind running the show, and it is outdated, and time for change. 

The best tool I have to help me through the hard times when the inner child in me is acting out and resisting change is to breathe. Consciously staying focused on what results I want, I calm my body and mind with some slow mindful breaths. Inhaling for 4 seconds and exhaling for 4 seconds. 

The longer I work on my own programming the fewer tantrums I see. I have developed an entire 4-week course to help others do the same so you can move from a fixed to a growth mindset with Breath Mindset. 

Come join me and together we can identify and reprogram your unconscious mind into the conscious reality you seek. 

Is Too Much Social Media Putting Your Nervous System on High Alert?

It Might be Time to Take a Stimuli Break. Here’s How.

The Internet has brought the world into our homes and has inundated us with a constant thread of news to absorb or ignore. Social media platforms have become a hub of information designed to fit our personal lens on reality. With the average of 3 hours a day spent on these platforms, one must question if this constant dopamine drip is a healthy activity or a complete waste of time.

It’s so easy when you have 15 minutes to spare to just open the apps and see what’s happening with your friends and family. It’s fun watching all the kids grow up and having cherished family moments. It’s nice to see friends sharing adventures and all the pets they love. As you mindlessly scroll you begin to drown out the ads that pop up in between every third post you see. But they must be having some sort of affect on your brain chemistry. Ad after ad sprinkled in with family and friends you get to appreciate from afar. Nothing too close, nothing too real, nothing to sincerely and honestly engage with. 

It’s safe to judge and like from your couch while your brain feels scattered and your concentration dwindles. 

Nervous System on High Alert!

This constant stream of stimuli has a direct affect on your nervous system. And as we are becoming more and more programmed by our devices to feel that immediate dopamine high, we are allowing side effects to creep in. Things like…

  • Spending more and more time on social media.
  • A quick 15-minute check-in turns into an hour-long scroll.
  • Jumping from one social media account to the next out of boredom.

Today we can’t focus on one thing too long without looking for a new distraction, and this causes stress. And stress creates unhealthy pathways in your nervous system. 

Stress and the Nervous System

We are all wired differently based on a variety of things from our past and our general demeanor, so these stress patterns will look different for everyone. 

Stress enters our body as a result of our natural (and programmed) reactions to… 

  • How safe you feel
  • Your sense of belonging
  • Your sense of Identity
  • How well you create or state personal boundaries

Social media platforms are a great place to express yourself with easy access to quotes and memes and images that can easily be shared. But only when someone feels safe to do so and this comes as a result of how our needs were met or not met during our developmental years. 

When threatened, our body goes into a fight or flight state, and our stress skyrockets! When this sympathetic side of your nervous system is triggered you might find yourself easily frustrated, annoyed, and irritated by what you see online. 

When you post something you might feel anxious or overstimulated by the responses. Or you may find yourself completely frozen in what to do in life so you use social media as a numbing agent to avoid responsibility and keep you in a procrastination mill. 

These are all emergency responses caused by trauma in the body. In our busy modern world, we are becoming more and more accustomed to living in a continuous state of stress.

We need to allow our nervous system time to find balance. 

It’s time to push against our social media habits and use our time and energy towards the pursuit of becoming a more present and calm human. 

It’s time to take a break from social media. 

Taking time to step away from the constant momentum of social platforms is challenging because self-care doesn’t come with any instant rewards. It takes time to slow down and tune in to what you need. 

For the next seven days instead of continually checking your phone, challenge yourself to take a break. It’s a great way to find out if you have an addiction and a refreshing way to identify where some self-care is needed. 

Here are 3 tips to help you break the habit for seven days and unplug.

Create a Goal

We are so programmed to mindlessly check our social accounts that we may find ourselves on an hour-long drone without even realizing it. That’s why it is practical to create a goal for your social media break. Make it simple and write it out where you can see it. Consider things like…

When I feel the urge to check social media I will…

  • Go for a walk
  • Pick up an old hobby
  • Write out the grocery list
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Call a friend
  • Read

Depending on how much time you find yourself on social media it is a good idea to have a list of things to do instead to keep your mind productive. Try things that keep the phone out of your hands to avoid any accidental peeking.

Delete the Apps!

Okay before you freak out, I’m not suggesting deleting your accounts, just remove the app from sight. Create steps between you and the platform. If Instagram isn’t on your phone then you have to log into your computer to get into your account, and who checks Instagram on their computer? 

At the end of the week, you can simply re-download the app and sign back in. (If you decide you want to.) 

At the very least, turn off all notifications for the week. Set yourself up for success by removing those beeps, buzzes, and flashy notifications. 

Announce the Break

This is helpful because you are openly letting others know of your intent. You can include things that let your support group know that you need their help. Encourage them to reach out to share news or go for a walk. It’s always nice to share your challenges and successes with others, and a break from social media is no different. 

Find Your Breath

Taking a break from the socials helps you to be more present in your life and breathwork is a great way to help you engage in the moment. It’s simple and effective. 

As part of your seven-day detox, I invite you to try breathwork. In my online course, Breath Mindset,  I have students do breathwork 3 times a day, every day for one month. 

  • 5 minutes of energizing breathwork in the morning.
  • 5 minutes of balancing breathwork in the afternoon.
  • 5 minutes of calming breathwork in the evening.

By doing 15 minutes of breathwork a day you start to create a more balanced nervous system and the brain fog seems to dissipate into clarity. 

If you are interested in learning more about breathwork, reach out! I have a ton of resources and it’s a great way to set your phone down and stay present in the moment. 

Breathe in Nature Ends with a Trip to Mason Lake

Come Explore a Variety of What You’ve Been Missing!

It’s hard to believe Summer is coming to an end. The kids are heading back to school, Fall routines are taking flight, and just like that, there is a hint of Autumn in the air. It seems like just yesterday we gathered for the first Breathe in Nature adventure back in April. Yet, here we are, arriving for our final adventure of the season. A variety of experiences and high elevations await us for this last and most challenging of hikes. 

Last March when I was first putting Breathe in Nature together I had no idea the impact it would have on the participants, the instructors, or myself. I learned a lot about planning an event outside in the questionable weather of a PNW spring. I didn’t consider people getting sick, and I jumped in without a backup plan. 

Lucky for me, everything and everyone was as delighted as myself just to be in communion with other humans for the first time in over two years. Every event came with its own set of challenges. From heavy rainfall, unexpected last-minute location changes, and even an army of mosquitos! Despite all that it couldn’t break the spirit of this crew. 

It seemed that every adventure came at the right time and attracted exactly who needed to be there. 

Every meetup since April has been building in length and/or elevation, all leading to this final variety pack of experiences that will guide us through an all-day affair. 

Here’s what to expect…

Foraging with a Pro

Mason Lake will be a journey through all the highlights. As we start out on this 7-mile hike we will reflect back to the first time we met in April. It was freezing and wet, but all came to enjoy Alissa Allen and her expert advice on foraging. We even went home with a guidebook and warmed our tummies with some fresh needle soup. 

Although Alissa won’t be joining us for this final retreat, her knowledge will carry on as we talk about foraging mushrooms! What to look for in early fall and when and where to forage. 

Gong Immersion

Jill Mattern was up next in what was supposed to be an outdoor gong bath under the full moon. The forecast had other plans that led to a last-minute indoor move that ended up being a cozy way to let go and open up to the sounds of the gong. Jill stepped in again in June after Jess got sick for another last-minute swap which led me to believe that Jill is one of those amazing humans who can adapt on a dime. And this time it was as intended, and set in the great outdoors.

Both gong experiences were soothing, and on our way up to the Lake On Sunday, Sept. 11th Jill will delight us once more with the sweet sounds of her gong as we take a break to refresh our bodies and minds before moving into the steep switchbacks leading to our destination. 

Photography in Nature

As we trek up the high elevations of the day we will revisit the tips and techniques presented by Matthew Brashears. Using the panoramic views of the climb we will take our time (and preserve our energy) stopping to take photos as we check off some of our favorite perspectives from that educational adventure.

Glacier Dip

Once we crest the high rocky peaks we will begin the descent into the cooler side of the mountain as we walk through lush green lands to arrive at Mason Lake. This stunning lake is surrounded by trees that offer privacy and an inviting atmosphere to jump on in and cool off after a long sweaty incline to get there. 

Lynar Deluca will be there to guide you through another cool dip if you choose. Helping to push you past your limiting perspective and safely guide you out of your comfort zone, Lynar offers great support to help you feel safe in the chilly glacier waters. 

Don’t forget your suits! And yes there will be a private changing station.

Nature Journaling

The amazing Jessica Winters was supposed to join us for a day of nature journaling that never came to pass. That darn covid had other plans for Jessica and the series was forced to move forward without this adventure. 

As we spend time soaking in the sun at Mason Lake there will be an opportunity to pull out your journal and get creative. Drawing, writing, or just reflecting on the day. This is your time to do as you will and you can bet Jess will be back next year to delight us with her wisdom. 

Breathwork, Lunch, and Closure

Breathwork is a huge part of this series and something we’ve done in conjunction with each outing. This will be no different. Along the route, we will practice a variety of breath practices to keep us moving and focused.

Once at the Lake we will do some dynamic circular breathwork to clear our minds and open our hearts. This will prepare you for the chilly water should you decide to get in for a spell. After which we will enjoy our lunches, good conversation, and amazing scenery before making the long haul back down the mountain. 

Here we will close the series for the year. Having a wealth of information to grow from and new friends to cherish. 

If you are interested in joining us there is still time! Here is the link with all the information. We will meet at the trailhead at 8am to beat the crowds, and plan on spending the whole day on the mountain. Returning to our cars, and life around 4pm.

This is a great way to see what you’ve been missing and get an idea of what is in store for Breathe in Nature 2.0 coming next spring. 

See you on the mountain!