“Don’t forget to check on your strong friends!”
We hear that statement quite often, but I have learned we need to take it a step further, or perhaps I should say, nearer.
“Don’t forget to check on your strong children.”
While my family experienced a crisis stemming from an event that directly impacted my younger daughter, it impacted every member of our family.
Crisis has a way of contaminating every life attached to it.
And although I desperately tried to make sure my kids felt supported through it, the child with the indirect hit – the strong one – suffered too.
I didn’t know to what extent until almost two years after the peak of the crisis. Over the December holiday, it became evident how deeply my older daughter had been affected.
Part of what made the distinction so clear was that while she’d gone off to college, the three of us that remained had continued to face our healing in day-to-day interactions and practices.
A few days into my older daughter's holiday break, it was clear there was a lot of unresolved pain, and it needed to be expressed.
It happened by accident as our family cleaned up after dinner one night. A tense exchange between the two siblings indicated strong emotions bubbled beneath the surface. Through my Soul Shift journey, I have learned that moments when big feelings surface are not ones to fear, avoid, or shut down. Actually, it’s quite the opposite; those moments need space, time, and presence to be explored and processed.
Standing in the kitchen for almost 90 minutes, the pain came out. Specific memories and details came from the perspective of the strong one – the child who began pressuring herself to be “perfect” because the family couldn’t bear anymore pain. What an incredibly difficult way to have to navigate the final year of high school, a time when teenagers are supposed to be celebrating and having fun.
For nearly two hours, the emotionally reserved one was given the space and permission to not be strong – to be fully human in order to be heard… seen… validated… understood.
As difficult as it was to hear of the struggle she endured, I knew blaming myself or someone else had no place in that discussion. Through my Soul Shift work, I’ve learned that healthy families see crisis as a family-centered problem and work together to correct the problem and address the pain.
I was incredibly proud of my daughter for allowing herself to be emotionally vulnerable, and I was proud of the other members for giving her the space and acceptance to do so.
Throughout the holiday break and the weeks and months that followed, I often wondered:
Will our family ever be whole again?
When fear urged me to control, fix, or catastrophize, I practiced Letting Go of Perfection, one of the most transformative practices of my Soul Shift journey. I have learned that that by accepting what is, we are able to use our energy to move through the challenge and begin healing.
I knew I had two choices. I could hold on to the way things were (though I knew resisting the flow of life only made me unhappy) or I could accept things for the way they were, which I knew was conducive to growth.
I chose the latter.
I strived to see a hopeful future, without denying reality.
I strived to mourn the loss without living in it.
When my older daughter chose to come home for spring break rather than travel with friends, I felt encouraged. Part of the reason she made this decision was because she’d baked something special to celebrate my past four book releases. Natalie said she wanted to keep up that tradition for Book 5, Soul Shift.
Early on in her break, she asked me to go dress shopping. Being alone, just the two of us, offered me a chance to see how she was doing. As we talked, I noticed a peace about her that I hadn’t seen during the holidays. That felt encouraging.
During our time at the mall, I noticed the Sundance store. That was the jewelry company I’d ordered my special heart necklace a year and a half ago after finishing a grueling audio series as our family’s world imploded.
Scott had taken the broken necklace I’d hoped to wear for my Soul Shift book release to several jewelers. In light of the challenge the repair was turning out to be, he’d wondered out loud if the actual store might still carry it, even if the necklace had been discontinued on the site.
Feeling hopeful, I went inside the store and showed the salesperson the broken necklace I happened to have in my purse.
“Oh yes… I remember that one. Very popular,” she smiled. “But I’m afraid we don’t have any left.”
I looked through the glass case for a suitable replacement. I didn’t like the other heart options, but I was drawn to a simple gold necklace with four oblong links. After trying it on, I decided to purchase it.
As I was checking out, the salesperson suddenly had an idea.
“If we can find the product number of the heart necklace, we can run a search through the other Sundance stores,” she said excitedly. The associate next to her suggested I check my email order confirmation to find the number.
Within five minutes, we’d found one of the few remaining necklaces at a store in Connecticut!
“Will you be putting this one back?” the salesperson said, holding up the necklace with the four links.
“No,” I responded, feeling certain it was for me, although I wasn’t sure why.
A few days later, I asked my daughters if we could get a picture of the three of us and the new book to add to my collection. Natalie had invited friends to join us for dinner, so she suggested we all get ready and do it before they arrived.
After I got dressed, I looked for Avery.
Her bedroom door was open, but there was no sign of her.
That’s when I heard voices; the two of them were in Natalie’s room talking as Avery curled her sister’s hair.
To most people, this would seem like nothing…. but to me, it was the faintest sound of hope.
Two human beings, irreparably changed by trauma, trying to form a new bond by getting to know who they are now.
That is when I reached up to touch my neck, and I finally understood.
Cradling the heart necklace that had just arrived from Connecticut was the chain of four gold links.
One link did not hold more weight than any of the others; the weight was eventually distributed as each piece connected to the others, making a beautiful whole.
It sure felt like a hopeful foundation for the next chapter of our strong family narrative.
My hand in yours,
Dear community, my new book, Soul Shift, has been out in the world for just 4 days and already the response, both publicly and privately, is beyond my wildest dreams. I have shared a few of the responses below, but I encourage you to check out reviews on Amazon and Goodreads to see for yourself why you might need this book in your life right now. First week sales close tomorrow at midnight. This means your chance to make the biggest impact as a supporter of my work is today and tomorrow. If you have been considering purchasing Soul Shift (or thinking about getting a copy for a friend), I would be grateful if you were to do that today. Here’s what you might expect:
“This book is what I've been waiting for years. Its gentle guidance helps me discover who I truly want to be without guilt, shame or pressure. On every page is another quote or idea that touches me to my soul. The book truly lives up to its title – I can feel the shift happening.”
“Rachel, I am 58 years old and the first chapter of your book has already changed my habits. Your words reached me at just the right time, and I am hopeful I will now be able to make lasting changes to live the rest of my life with joy at the center. Thank you.”
“I could quote the book and tell you what it did for me, but that isn't what this book is about. It is about the individual. Each weary human that picks it up will be graced with a unique experience that meets them right where they are. I don't know where you are in your journey toward joy, but I am absolutely confident this book will inspire, enrich, and encourage your path no matter who you are or what past you come from.”
Don’t forget, I will be coming to Indiana, Alabama, and Georgia for a few in-person events. The only one that requires tickets is the very special event in downtown Indy called, “The Power of Friends,” happening in just two weeks on the evening of April 13! Please don’t delay if you want tickets. I appreciate your support so much.