Justin Bieber is an empath. Are you one, too?

Justin Bieber is an empath

Today, Justin Bieber announced that he’s canceling all future meet-and-greet sessions with fans because of how much they drain his energy, to the point of depression. While I’m sure some people are questioning or scoffing at this announcement, it all makes perfect sense to me: the reigning prince of pop is an EMPATH. It explains so much of the wild ride he’s been on these past couple of years.

People who are empathic are super sensitive to other people’s emotional energy. An empath can feel happy walking into a room full of people, but quickly begin to feel weighed down, sensing and absorbing each person’s emotional state like a sponge. It happens swifly and subtly, and can feel like you have multiple personalities, unsure which feelings belong to you and which ones belong to someone else.

That kind of confusion can easily cause anxiousness and depression, as Justin has experienced, and can drive empaths to find ways to “numb out” – drinking, doing drugs, overeating, acting out – so they don’t have to feel so much. I know there will be lots of disappointed fans and angry concert promoters, but I applaud Justin for recognizing his sensitivity to others’ “spiritual energy,” as he put it. He’s creating healthy boundaries for himself so that he has the energy to continue creating and performing.

If you suspect you’re an empath, too, figure out what you can and cannot handle and then take good care of yourself. Before Lori Portka​ and I took the stage at our Infinite Purpose​ book launch last fall, I could feel my energy rapidly draining as people filed into the theater. I wanted to greet everyone, but I simply couldn’t. I quickly headed upstairs to the green room and Lori and I did a grounding meditation with our peeps. It brought me back to center and allowed me to focus on my own emotions. Without that quiet reflection and distance from others, I would have taken the stage feeling shaky and unsettled. So while I don’t sing & dance for millions (and never will!), I can relate to Justin’s decision and hope it serves as an example to others. If you don’t protect and preserve your personal energy, you cannot show up in the world with purpose and clarity.

(For more about living as an empath, I highly recommend Dr. Judith Orloff​’s book, Emotional Freedom and Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person)

there is still good in the world.

no matter how bad things get, there is always good in the world. find it. (via liv lane)

I hate days like today. I hate when the world spins off its axis and we all stand stunned, staring at our televisions or computer screens, holding our breath as bad news comes in, feeling equally numb and raw, feeling helpless and worried. I hate when tragedy strikes so close to home, too close for comfort. I hate when the news gets worse with each hour, when beautiful children become innocent victims, when I have to suddenly search for the right words in my turned-to-mush brain to share shitty news with my kid.

While my four year old may have sensed my shift in energy and needed extra cuddles to know things were alright, he ‘ll know nothing of the Boston Marathon attacks for years to come. He blissfully played with his toys after preschool while I periodically scanned the awful headlines online. But my 10 year old is a different story. When bad stuff happens, I’d much rather him talk through his questions, fears and hopes with his parents than hear everything secondhand from the TV or kids at school.

So I sat him down, which told him something was up. First, I had to explain what a marathon is. Then, I had to explain why the Boston Marathon is a big deal and why the finish line is a place of great celebration. And, finally, I had to tell him two bombs went off near that very finish line, that people got hurt, that people died. He had lots of questions – about the victims, about the perpetrators, about the buildings near the finish line (and how close is Fenway Park to it, anyway??), about broken glass, about blood, about rescue workers, about finding the perpetrators, about how skin regenerates when you get cut or even lose a limb like the Soul Surfer girl, about whether there are pictures or video of the bombs going off, about how bombs are made, about the chances of the bombers coming to our neighborhood, too. I didn’t have answers for everything. I mean, who really does?

And then, my little man asked a question that floored me. “Well, the good news is that more people didn’t die, right?”

At first, I was appalled…sure that Spy Kids and Nerf guns have desensitized him to violence and death so much that there’s not a sympathetic bone left in his growing body. I had failed as a parent and here was the proof! He saw the combination of worry and horror on my face.

“Well, I just mean it could have been worse,” he stammered. “I mean, those bad guys aren’t here. And there have been tornadoes that killed more people, so at least it wasn’t a tornado. And the hurt people got to go to a hospital for help. I guess…I just wanted to think about something good.”

My worry melted. Tears took its place. Yes, of course. Think about something good. Words I have said to him so many times in so many ways. Holy crap, I thought. The words actually sunk in – and here he was, reminding me: remember that good exists, Mom, even when and where bad stuff happens. Look for silver linings. Keep the faith. Be part of the light.

Find the good.


creating goodness: art for sandy hook

I have been shielding myself from TV news for days now. While I’ve read several stories and talked with friends and family about Friday’s travesty in Sandy Hook, I cannot bring myself to watch the footage, to hear the interviews, to process the facts (and the fiction). I just am not strong enough. I have wept so many tears these past few days – with such deep sorrow for the mamas and papas and siblings, with such deep gratitude for every precious moment with my own littles, with such admiration for the human spirit because I know – somehow, someway – we will all heal from this and be changed by this. Even the families left behind will find a way to carry on someday. The way shattered hearts can heal never ceases to amaze me.

I have been at a loss for words, except for the ones above, which came pouring out on Friday. I scribbled them on my paper and within a few minutes of posting them on the Facebook page, they’d already been shared so many times, which touched me deeply, knowing that those words brought others comfort, too.  And I am certainly not alone. My spirits have been lifted by the art I’ve seen emerging from the wreckage; stunning and soulful. We artists know no other way to deal with tragedy like this than to create – paintings and poems, songs and sculptures . Here are some of the works of art I’ve seen that have stirred my soul and added light to the darkness:

Beautiful painting featuring 26 floating hearts, by massage therapist Wendy Sullivan (aka Wind Gypsy), owner of CowGirlz Spa in Oklahoma.

Posted by artist Mary Engelbreit on Friday with the words, “Pray. Even if you never pray or have given up praying, say a prayer today.”

 Graffiti artists in North Philadelphia painted a tribute to the victims of Sandy Hook.

 Art by children’s illustrator Nancy Carlson, depicting how I think we all feel.

I am uplifted, too, by the ongoing efforts to use art to heal and spread hope. The Newtown PTA has requested that people make and send paper snowflakes to Sandy Hook so that the school can be filled with them upon students’ return, representing so much love sent from all around the world. And next Saturday, the Children’s Book Illustrators Guild of Minnesota will host this event, in hopes hundreds of kids will come create art to be sent to the kids at Sandy Hook. 

I share this art with one mission in mind: to remind us all that when everything goes wrong, the goodness each of us creates matters and can pave a path to healing.

mouthing off: how my retainer held me back

On Monday night, I bit into a pear and everything changed.

I heard and felt it right away. A snap. A ping. An ouch. Something had gone wrong with the “permanent” retainer that had kept my lower front teeth in place since age 13. Yep, for all these years, two of my teeth have been wrapped in metal with a curved rod between them, cradling the back of my front teeth. Well, not anymore.

The retainer couldn’t be saved; it was so archaic that the dentist had to cut through the metal on my teeth, then buffer off a bunch of cement. When she was done, I was totally floored: not only did my mouth feel completely different, but all of me did. I keep running my tongue over the back of my teeth; a sensation I haven’t known for 25 years. I keep smiling in the mirror, thrilled not to see silver metal peeking through. But best of all? I feel lighter – like I’ve dropped a bunch of baggage. I have a feeling that little metal contraption has been messing with my energy, big time.

I know everything holds energy – especially metal {there’s a reason we’re supposed to steer clear of it when lightning strikes!}. Maybe that retainer held on to the many waves of the angst and insecurity that lived in me when it was installed, right after my braces came off. Maybe it sounds nuts, but letting go of that retainer – or it letting go of me – feels like a clearing, a cleansing of all of that.

Meanwhile, I’m very sensitive to the energy around me, but had never considered how my metal retainer may have been messing with the energy within me. Holistic dentist Dr. Paul Gilbert says any metal in our mouths – fillings, retainers, etc. – “may interfere with the natural, biological, electrical energy flow.  It’s like putting the wrong batteries in a computer or toy. Our brains produce an enormous amount of electrical energy at a very low power output. Adding even a little more power to this energy flow is disruptive to the biologically created electrical current.”

That just rings so true to me. I often forget how smart my body is and how small changes can make a big difference. Who knew an emergency trip to the dentist could help me come into my own? I had no choice but to listen to my body this time around; it literally broke through a barrier to change me for the better. Grateful…and smiling.



Free Printable: The Bravest Thing


I originally created this when Michele Rosenthal of HealMyPTSD.com asked me to create a bonus gift for early supporters of her recent memoir, Before The World Intruded. I was happy to do it, since she’s become a beacon of light for many who’ve survived post traumatic stress disorder {PTSD}.

Meanwhile, yesterday was the third annual National PTSD Awareness Day in the U.S., established by Congress to increase understanding of this debilitating mental illness, especially among service members returning from combat with symptoms of PTSD.  Until I was diagnosed with it, I thought PTSD was only something Veterans dealt with. But I now know trauma comes in many forms and wrestles with the brain in crazy ways. It is real. It is hard. And it is treatable.

I created the piece above with my own journey through PTSD in mind, but hope it’s meaningful for anyone who has faced hardship {and hello! who hasn’t?}. You can get the art here and print it off for yourself or anyone you know who’s been lost…and found.



Surgery Ahead: Everything Will Be OK

Last fall, we learned Ryder needs to have surgery. The news felt like a stab to the heart – not just because it was unexpected and worrisome, but because this operation is to fix an issue stemming from his birth. HIS BIRTH, people.

Many of you know my precious firstborn’s birth threw me into a huge tailspin nine years ago. The delivery was traumatic for both of us; Ryder arrived in the world beaten up and blue, with a collapsed lung and his heart on the wrong side of his body. Our miracle boy survived and thrived, but I fell into a black hole of depression and PTSD. It took a long time to feel whole again.

That’s why,  at first, it felt like a cruel joke to learn that we need to return to the hospital with Ryder – nine years later – for an issue related to that monumental day he arrived on the planet. I don’t see it as some random oddity; I believe everything comes into our lives to help us grow. I just couldn’t imagine what the universe still wanted me to learn after all those years of therapy!

That is, until I told a friend about Ryder’s upcoming operation and heard myself say, “I know he’ll be okay.” And I meant it. I later traced those words over and over in my head to make sure they were real and true. I know he’ll be okay. I know he’ll be okay. I know he’ll be okay.

This was huge! For years, I frequently panicked about anything and everything potentially hurting Ryder. I couldn’t even walk into a hospital for two years after his birth – convinced that if I did, disaster would strike. I didn’t have the wherewithal to recognize the insanity of that fear at the time. That’s why it was a big deal to realize I’m now strong enough and wise enough…that my heart has healed enough…to trust my “baby” is going to be okay this time around.

Surgery is tomorrow. I’ll be able to walk into the hospital with him and Brad…and be truly present for him afterwards. It feels a little like a do-over. Though I wish my brave boy didn’t need to go through this, I’m grateful for the opportunity to prove to myself – and to Ryder – that everything and everyone will be okay. Mommy is here. Really here.

P.S. The Little Bliss List will still appear here tomorrow – but with a super special twist since I’ll be gone. Be sure to check in!