Discover more from The Sunday Soother
How to live a surrendered, intuitive life
Kick off a new series on alignment, trust and authentic living with me
Welcome! This is the Sunday Soother, a weekly newsletter about compassionate personal growth and authentic living, written by me, Catherine Andrews, a life coach, teacher, and writer. Did somebody forward this to you? You can subscribe to the Sunday Soother here.
Happy Sunday, Soothers. If you're reading this, you're officially on the Substack version of the Sunday Soother! Hooray! I made this change for a couple of reasons:
1. Mailchimp, where I was before, blows and gets more expensive by the year but actually is a nightmare platform from a user perspective.
2. I think you can more easily share and get exposure on Substack. I seem to have stagnated in growth around the Sunday Soother over the last couple of years and I'm hoping this discoverability might help me gain a wider audience for my messages and teachings.
3. We have a comment section!!! As somebody who is obsessed with community and who came of age blogging in the aughts (please read a NYT article here about a blogging house I used to live in in my 20s, yes we were insufferable), I remember a time when Comment Sections Were Good, and I hope to nurture and cultivate that in Sunday Soother post comments!
All Sunday essays will always be free, you don't need to upgrade to the paid version of the Sunday Soother to keep things as they've been. That said, if you do want to support my work, and get extra content (essays on health, wellness, thriving physically and energetically as an HSP, as well as more spiritual content) you can upgrade here for $7/month or $77 annually.
Today, to celebrate this move, I'm going to kick off a new series: How to live a surrendered, intuitive and aligned life.
I know that many of you desire to release control and fear, trust the unfolding of your life, feel more deeply into your intuition, and follow the flow of what comes your way knowing it's all working out for your greatest good. But this can, reasonably so, be very hard and challenging.
First off, today's world doesn't make it simple to trust the unfolding of our lives. We have all been dominated into smithereens by colonialism, patriarchy, capitalism and white supremacy, all systems that operate on right and wrong, black and white, punishment and reward, hierarchy and control, scarcity and not-enoughness, shame and fear. We have also been separated, cleaved, from our natural world and natural belonging, and gaslit into not trusting ourselves and our intuition, especially those of us that identify as women.
Reclaiming and relearning this process is a difficult path, and also sometimes an isolating one, that requires a lot of courage, because it goes against the grain of how we've been raised and how most of the current world operates.
Secondly, the concept of alignment, surrender, being intuitive, etc., is not easy to express in words and not necessarily easy to teach cognizantly and clearly, as it's more a knowing state, an embodied state, a way of being you feel into, rather than an intellectual, rational undertaking.
That said: I am going to do my damndest to try to break it into a doable, step-by-step process in this series.
Over the past five or six years, I have really been experimenting with leaning into alignment, surrender and intuition in my life. And I think, much due of course to my privilege, and some due to my willingness, I have succeeded in some aspects and learned a few things worth considering. It has been this process that has led me to quit a corporate career at age 40 and create my heart-led, soul-centered business, move to nature, decouple my identity and self-worth from my status (in money, in life choices, and traditional success), lean deeply into spirituality and trust, reconnect and learn from the natural world, and simply, at the end of the day, really be able to trust that even through many challenges and ups and downs and fear and obstacles, that there is a flow of life I am being invited into, and to be willing to step into that current.
In the next several weeks, I am going to go over 8 or so steps I have documented in my own unfolding that will help you surrender control, step into alignment, and learn to re-connect with your intuition. With each post, I am going to give a small assignment for you to take out and try in the real world, so you can almost think of this series as a mini-class I am teaching. I'm also, in each essay, going to include real-world examples from my own life or that of students, clients or others to help ground the concepts and make them more understandable and applicable.
And there will be bonuses! If you comment with the results of your assignment each week on each Substack post, I will take everybody who has commented every week at the end and put you into a raffle to win a free coaching call with me. (We love a gold star and prizes as motivation around here.)
Today, to kick us off, I invite us into the first step of this whole process:
Stepping into the belief that life wants to flow through you, to be expressed through you, and all you need to do is allow it. To shift your perspective to one of life wanting to live THROUGH you, not that you are in dominating control to the force of life. And, the most difficult part: to trust all of this.
This is not simply about the concept that we are not in control (because, while I do absolutely believe we do have free will, we are not in control, more on this contradiction later in the series); to me, it's a perspective shift that there is some sort of energy, some sort of higher force, that wishes to be expressed and lived through us, and that each of us is not here to dominate, master, control, manipulate, subvert that energy, but to co-partner with it, to step into its invitation, to listen to its clues and songs and offerings, to follow and trust its lead, and that the more we listen to and accept its invitations, the more we will be guided and supported.
I don't believe you have to be spiritual to believe, learn from and eventually step into this perspective shift (though I'm not gonna lie; it helps). You can also simply think of this energy as your higher self, your authentic self, your highest intrinsic values, your intuition or gut knowing, wanting to be expressed and lived through you.
To help you with this perspective shift, let me offer you three metaphors that have helped me step more into this shift of surrender, trust, alignment in my life:
The river: This is a common example when we talk about living a life that flows: we think of a river. When we're living a life that is not in this flow or alignment, we can think of it as frantically paddling in a canoe upstream against a current. Things feel heavy, exhausting. We're putting in a ton of effort but not making much progress, or as much as we think we "should" be making. No matter how hard we're trying, we don't seem to get where we think we should be going. We think in this scenario that only if we put in more effort, then we'll be rewarded with an outcome or a destination, and that more effort is the only way.
Now, in the river example, when we switch around our canoe downstream to float along with the natural current of the water, it doesn't mean that there are no challenges, no obstacles, no difficulty. The river will still take us through stretches of whitewater or dark forest, and we never know what's quite around the next bend. We must follow the path, the current, the pace of the river, though, we do have paddles that at times can help speed us up, slow us down, or navigate rougher patches. Overall, there's more of an ease to this way. We don't have to paddle quite as hard. We are supported by the natural current of the river. There is an invitation to trust where the river is taking us. And yes, while the river will take us through dark and rocky stretches, it will show us some of the most glorious, beautiful moments of our lives, moments we could have never predicted.
The loving parent: Another way to consider surrender is to think of this life force that desires to be expressed through us, whether it's your intuition/higher self, or the universe, as a loving parent who has a perspective that we, as the kiddo, cannot quite see or understand. I'm not a parent, but from what I get, a lot of the time you are obviously trying to do the best by your kid: get them to sleep. To eat nourishing foods. To give them education, delight and love. And often times, they might fight you on these concepts because of course, they are learning, especially as toddlers, boundaries and individual self-expression, but also because they just cannot see or comprehend the full picture of what you are trying to do for them and why it makes sense.
You can think of the concept of surrender in this example a bit like this: Your parents have said you need to go to bed tonight at an earlier than usual bedtime, maybe extra early. You're mad, you're annoyed, you want to fight against this, you think they're being unfair, bedtime is already too early as it is, you want to party all night. But the next morning, the reason for the early bedtime was revealed: They are waking you up extra early to take you on a trip with your best friend to Disneyland (or, insert whatever would have felt amazing as a kid).
So in this metaphor, you may be railing against something that has happened in your life (a layoff, a breakup, a painful experience, something that "shouldn't have" happened), but it simply may be life's best way of clearing a path to be able to give you something better than you could have imagined.
The red thread: A lot of times when I'm explaining this approach and perspective to clients, the best way I can describe the way I try to live my life is that of following the "red thread" — aka the "invisible string" as Taylor Swift (recent questionable dating choices aside) describes it in her beautiful song. There is, in my life, a thread, something that tugs me along; something that offers me next steps and invitations and gentle clues, only so that I can see just a few steps ahead but not really beyond. This thread alerts me to its presence and invitation in a variety of ways: through synchronicities and coincidences; through things that spark my curiosity; through the right resource or right person stepping into my life just at the moment I am ready to receive them. My only assignment? To pay attention to when the red thread is sparking and showing itself, and trust it enough to follow its clues.
Consider this poem, The Way It Is, by William Stafford:
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
So, that wraps us up for the first lesson in living a more, intuitive, aligned life: simply beginning to believe that there is a wise, aligned life force that wants to live through us, be expressed through us, that is natural to and exists for each of us, and our only job is to listen for the clues, the invitations, and step forward and accept them, even when we are scared (probably especially when we are scared; more on this later in the series).
For your assignment, I have two options:
First, simply share any reactions, questions or thoughts to this concept in the comments. I'm happy to clarify any of this or answer questions as they arise.
Second: Draw a Tarot card, asking the question: What will unfold for me when I truly step into surrender and alignment? Then, share the card you pull in the comments. Don't have a Tarot deck? No problem. You can try out an online draw at this site (scroll down a bit to the Draw a Tarot card section.) Ask the question first, then click to draw. Not into Tarot? I'd still encourage you to give it a shot. Part of living an intuitive, aligned and surrendered life is being willing to be open to transformation, invitations, and new experiences to see what they might have to offer you.
To access the comments, simply click on the title of this essay or the comment icon, it will take you to a browser window in Substack, and you can scroll down to the bottom to comment.
In next week's essay, we'll discuss learning how to discern the seeds of desire that lay within you, and trusting that they are meant for you, and I'm gonna throw some Aristotle philosophy in there for funsies. Future installments will also include understanding signs and synchronicities (we're all gonna pick a sign together!), how to create space in your life to pay more attention, and lots more.
See you in the comments!
To round out May as money month, in today's podcast episode I answer all the questions you've asked me about money. In this episode we cover my favorite apps to manage money, finances with a partner, why money can be thought of as a feminine energy, how to bring more playful and joyful energy to money and lots more!
Listen to all of my Sunday Soother podcast archives wherever you listen to your podcasts. I have over 200 episodes to binge!
Reads & Recs
Where I share articles, books, recipes, podcasts, beauty products and more that I'm enjoying! (A few links may be affiliate links off of which I'll make a small commission; I only endorse stuff I've tried and loved).
❇️ We got micro in the Sunday Soother paid version recently. I talked about a "micro morning routine" that can be done from bed, and the concept of "micro stacking" my habits to fit in my regular self care. The paid version of the Sunday Soother gets you regular bonus wellness and health and spirituality content, is only $7, and you can sign up here.
💛 Join energy healer Missy Toy Ozeas and me on June 21st, the solstice, for a summer evening to unblock limiting beliefs & clear old energy. Missy will first guide you through a group energy clearing, then I will do a group Tarot reading and draw individual cards to help further understanding and release of any blocks you may be experiencing. This will be an intimate evening, with just six participants. Only two tickets left!
👩 Elise Loehnen, a writer and thinker and podcast host I really admire, has a bunch of content out recently as she promotes her new book. In the New York Times, she writes about "the lies mothers tell themselves and their children:" My mom mothered so as to keep up her side of the bargain, an agreement she made with my dad but never with me. Instead of giving me her delight in my presence, delight she couldn’t fake, she would give me what she wanted for herself: opportunity. Untethered and unbridled opportunity. [NYT gift link]
🤩 Then in her newsletter, she writes about how envy is a guide to our desires, but as she writes she begins to realize and unfold, something I realized for myself in the past years as I did deep shadow work: it's more the people we judge and criticize — especially the WOMEN we judge and criticize, if we ourselves identify as women — that we are truly envious of. And we can transform this into a guide for owning our desires.
💡 The Latest Promising Long COVID Treatment? Psychedelic Drugs: "There’s a growing movement to study whether psychedelic drugs could treat Long COVID, an often-debilitating chronic condition for which there is currently no proven cure." [Time]
👂 I also urge you to listen to Nicole Sach's content on healing long covid through emotional excavation, here is her first interview with a patient she had who healed her long covid through her process. There is so little understood about long covid that I urge you to keep an open mind about how it could be resolved and also seen as a disease of a dysregulated nervous system overwhelmed with fear and emotions.
🎉 The delightful Samantha Irby shares a very fun Favorite Things list in NYMag.
⌚ I thought this was a genius life hack tip from a recent episode of the podcast Almost 30: Have a dedicated two hour (or whatever time block you can swing) block to doing annoying shit every week. The host speaks about hers being from 2-4pm on Tuesdays. That's when she does admin, returns packages, schedules dentist appointments, whatever. This way you aren't dreading the thing all week, avoiding it, or trying to figure out what last minute opportunity you can do it in; you have a dedicated space every week to just get all that lame stuff we're always avoiding done.
🙏 Want to Fix Your Mind? Let Your Body Talk. "Somatic therapy is surging, with the promise that true healing may reside in focusing on the physical rather than the mental." [NYT gift link]
🔥 I'd say Ask Polly columns, by Heather Havrilesky, get shared more than any other content in the Sunday Soother Slack, for good reason, she's an incredible writer who helps people heal on their journeys of shame. This piece in particular on being exhausted by one own's self-pity was good. If you resonated with that particular column, I urge you to look into C-PTSD (complex-PTSD) and its result, toxic shame, and begin to utilize inner child and parts work to begin to heal. Pete Walker's book, Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, is a great place to start.
🌹 Using the magic of fragrance in your spirituality. "The next time you buy a perfume, you might want to consider what you are calling in with your selection. For example, Martinez uses rose when she is working on opening the heart chakra or healing from grief or heartbreak. While jasmine, she says, is better for manifestation work and deep transformation. Citrus scents awaken the senses and help remove negative energy. Wooded aromas (like cypress, cedar, and pine), on the other hand, are used for creating a peaceful and grounding environment." [Nylon]
🏡 The joy of moving out of the city to the country: Why I did it, what I miss, and what I don't by Ingrid Fetell Lee resonated with me. Agree with a lot of her takes, as somebody who six months ago left nearly a lifetime in Washington, D.C. to move to a village of 100 people in a rural Virginia county. I also took away a lot from this episode of the podcast Belonging, on moving to a more rural area from an urban one, with Alissa Hessler.
😡 “I was angry the entire time I was writing this book,” Jancee Dunn tells me over the phone a couple of weeks ago. I’d just finished reading Hot and Bothered: What No One Tells You About Menopause and How To Feel Like Yourself Again, and I understood completely. It’s enraging — to realize how much we — and our medical professionals — can do to alleviate the symptoms and sheer anxiety around menopause, something that happens to a full half of the human population, and how little the average person (me!) knows about it or even is willing to talk about it (also me, but I’m working on it). Reading this piece in Romper on menopause.
🙋♀️ This is something I absolutely used to struggle with extremely — and honestly still do from time to time: feeling the need to get the last word, to be seen as "right" in an argument. Melissa Urban writes about this as an energetic drain: "Back-and-forth exchanges are tremendously energetically draining, especially if you're intent on getting the last word. Here's why I walk away in order to 'win.'"
That's it for this week, all my love for the week ahead.