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Living in survival mode

When we are in a dark emotional space, that creative flow can feel totally blocked.

Like most of North America we had freezing weather, high winds, and lots of snow this last week. We lost power for four days. We have wood stoves that keep the communal areas warm and a generator that keeps the fridge and water pump running plus some lights and outlets on one side of the house. The bedrooms are very cold and we have put on lots of blankets.


It was exciting at first with the wind blowing all night and watching the snow swirl around. It was novel using the camping lanterns to read by and cooking on a single burner in the living room. After a few days I noticed I was making my world smaller, only focusing on survival, only wanting to do the basics. I found myself getting more and more restricted in what I would normally do. I had lights, a charged computer, and internet. I had all I would normally need for a day’s work in the same space that was now the whole family hub. As the days progressed I found myself less interested in doing any normal thing and focused on putting wood in the stove and staying warm. I had the ability to cook on a burner but bringing things from the dark kitchen and making them on a little table in a crowded space felt like too much. Those of you who know me, know I cook everything from scratch and last night I only had energy to make dehydrated emergency food for dinner. When we are in survival mode everything can feel more difficult, like we only have enough in us to focus on the basics.

This can be emotional survival mode as well. It is harder to reach out to friends or family when going through a super difficult time, when you can barely make it through the day, when making dinner or getting dressed feels overwhelming. Everything feels more difficult working in the dark.


What I have found is if I do the smallest thing that brings me joy I have an energy release that moves me forward even in the midst of dark restrictions. This is not watching cat videos or murder mysteries, though we can enjoy those, it is something that feeds your soul, that lets the Creative Flow of the Universe move through you, even in the smallest way. When we focus on what we can do, even if it is way out of the ordinary, it shifts our energy.


I had a sweater sitting at the top of my closet for years that had holes in both elbows. It has sat there waiting for me to have enough down time to choose to fix it. I realized that not being able to do any of my normal things allowed me to broaden my mind to possibilities and I was inspired to fix it. The joy and energy I felt once I had created and placed velvet patches on each elbow was twofold. One was I released the energy that was tied up in “should” around every time I saw that sweater in the top of my closet and the other was tapping into my creativity to design how I would fix it.


The emotional darkness and overwhelm of survival mode can be lightened by taking action to do something that brings you joy, using your creative energy, maybe that’s writing, drawing, or sewing. Maybe that’s making a special dinner or putting together an outfit you feel excited about, regardless of who will be there.


When we are in a dark emotional space, that creative flow can feel totally blocked. Ask yourself what you can do, where you are right now. It might feel like there is nothing but if you stay open to receiving insight, an idea will come, and when we take action on that insight we are energized. Ernest Holmes calls it the Law of Life, when we use our creative energies even in a small way we are revitalized, opening us up for further steps.


We all know the benefits of being in nature to shift our mood. There is an ancient Japanese practice called, Shinrin-yoku, also known as forest bathing, where one spends time in the forest focusing on their connection with nature. It opens up our emotional constriction and lets us breathe more deeply, feeling the flow of life force energy moving around and through us.


I was feeling so constricted being stuck in a dark house for days, but when the storm stopped we got out our snowshoes and went snowshoeing through our woods. This is our favorite winter sport, but we normally have to drive to where there is enough snow. Normally all the snow stays in the canopy of our forest and never falls to the ground, but with all the intense wind, the snow fell to the forest floor and we had 8 inches on our trails. Being able to get out and snowshoe brought me great joy and I found a shift in my energy to do other things.


When you find yourself in survival mode, I invite you to open yourself to Creative Flow and ask “What can I do from where I am?” Listen for an answer, and take action on your insight. Find time to be in nature and let the Law of Life move through you.



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