Self-Centred: Solstice Edition

My self-centred journey from politics to trauma informed healing. Because the world absolutely needs changing.

Solstice season is a time for shedding the detritus of the past, and clearing space for new beginnings. What better time to be self-centred?

How wonderful that we live connected to the Earth and its seasons of renewal and decay that follow each other in our journey around the sun.

The past three years have been transformational for me, and I recognize that many of you who have known me for a while might not be familiar with this new me. 

Allow me to introduce myself.

The following is an excerpt from a ReBloom Advance Coach Certification training assignment, my ‘healing journey essay.”

It speaks to my values, desires, hopes, dreams and aspirations – for my self, my family, my relationships, my community, my business, my planet.

If you feel called to join the conversation by hitting reply, I would love to know what resonates for you.

All the assignments have been submitted, graded and returned. Our graduation ceremony is complete, with all the bitter sweetness of endings and beginnings.

I am so excited and proud to be a ReBloom Certified Coach. I’m excited for the magic that this community of world-changing witches has to offer.

Hi, I’m Janine…. let me tell you a story:

* many of the terms I use come from the lineage of trauma-informed theory and practice. You can learn more about them here and here

“Slow is sexy. Less is more. Start where it’s easy, dip into difficulty, go back to easy. Body is beloved. Everyone always gets to say no. Resourcing is radical.”

These words have been posted on my bulletin board since early March in 2020 when I attended a women’s circle offered in person (remember that?) by Jo Tucker. The before time.

I did not realize at the time the potency of that action, like a spell cast into the future when, ten months later in January 2021, in the opening workshop of the ReBloom advance coach training, they appeared again in our workbook, with the potent additions of “connection over commodity, coherence is queen” and “center the most marginalized identities and everyone gets free”

With every moment that unfolded during that workshop and in the 14 months following, I knew I was in the right place. I celebrate giving myself the gift of this learning and healing journey.

Over the last 15 months, in the supportive container of the ReBloom coach training garden, I have moved from feeling like an outsider, like I didn’t belong, not sure I could trust it to hold and nurture my seed, to feeling like a sapling growing out of an old dead and decaying tree-stump, connected to the earth, connected to the mycelial network, connected to my ancestors and all of the resources of nature, drawing from the rich compost to nourish and sustain me.

I have come to realize that my deepest wounds and trauma are the result of internalizing messages that I do not belong – in my family of origin, in my community, in my church, in the world as a female, and later as a senior in a large body with chronic pain and mobility issues.

Those wounds were reinforced and repeated on several levels, and in layers that can be easily recognized in the ReBloom archetypes – all of them really – from Soul Seed to Sacred Gardener.*

I internalized messages reinforced and entrenched by systems of harm – colonialism, capitalism, the patriarchy – messages that told me I had to go it alone, that I could trust no one but myself to ensure my care and safety; beliefs that created deep grief and fiery anger in me. 

These are the imprints.*

At the same time, throughout my life, there has been the undeniable force and power of blueprint* sovereignty, spirituality, connection to something bigger than me, bigger than we, bigger than systems of harm, that forced its way in through the cracks to float me through the most difficult times and carry me to better places.

There was the seed of something held deep in my body, something that no trauma could extinguish – somatic, earth-connected, ancestral blueprint.

But it always felt like a struggle and it always felt like something I was not worthy to receive.For most of my life, I felt as if I was on the outside of belonging, looking in and craving a place in the garden, craving community and fearing it at the same time.

My go-to trauma* responses range from  hyperindividualism, hypervigilance, fight, anger, resentment, collapse into freeze and feelings of powerlessness or depression (I use the present tense because they are not gone. The trauma spell has diminished in its influence over me, and I can appreciate and honour that these responses are natural, that they rose up to protect me and keep me safe. We live together now in a sort of familial harmony)

By the time I was 58, a life of tilting at windmills (as an advocate, a labour activist, a social worker, and political aide) had extracted everything from me that I had to give. There was nothing left in my reserves to fight the good fight of creating a world founded in social justice, let alone diffusing the trauma spells accumulated along the way.

I knew in a deeper somatic* place (my blueprint self) that I needed to retreat, refocus, turn inwards, rest and heal, without really knowing what it was I was healing from or where the process would take me.

Simply put, I felt like I had no choice, and was gifted with the privilege of resources that allowed the bills to be paid and my basic needs to be more than met.

I explored all of the healing modalities and returned to those I had dabbled with in the past.

I engaged a ReBloom coach to walk with me on that journey. I will always be grateful to Jo Tucker for her presence and influence in my life.

And I had the loving support of a partner who loves me as I am and as I am becoming.

Each of them contributed to the creation of a safe container for healing and growth.Layer by layer, module by module, step by doable step in the wonderful and magical community container of the ReBloom garden, I felt the old me falling away and an even older me – soulseed* me, blueprint me – returning, with the capacity to hold more, feel more, process more, allowing trauma to move through my body, up and out, because I had created a safe embodied environment for healing and thriving.

What’s changed?

In small, titrated and doable increments, and in this community of care, I have cultivated safety in my body – learned to trust my body as authority, learned to quiet my brain long enough for my body to speak. I have gradually increased my capacity to hold a full spectrum of emotions, to allow the stuck trauma to move, rise up and out, in layers, gently and profoundly, without reliving the trauma.

Slow is sexy.
Less is more.
Centre the most marginalized bodies & everyone gets free.
Connection over commodity.
Coherence is queen.
Permission to opt out.
Start where it’s easy, dip into difficulty, go back to easy. Body is beloved.

I have recentred my authority so that my decisions and direction and energy move from the inside out rather than the outside in.

I am relearning and cultivating body agency, and dynamic boundaries that open, close, contract and expand to contain and protect myself while moving through the world. 

I have become deliciously and fruitfully self-centred.

I recognize that none of us was meant to do this alone, that my cup needs to be overflowing in order to serve others.

I have recognized the importance of daily practices and rituals of self-care, including community connection, as necessary for keeping my cup sustainably filled. 

I have learned to be more gentle with myself, and others by extension, to move more slowly and to offer myself rest more frequently.

I am still captive to perfectionism that says “you’re not healed yet”; but I recognize that this is the voice of systems of harm that none of us have escaped. It’s the soup we all swim in. It’s the messaging that created and formed and traumatized my parents and their parents before them, generations back so that it’s engraved in our ancestral DNA.I understand that the work of healing – myself, my loved ones, my community, my culture, my planet – is ongoing.

Sometimes that feels disheartening. Because the messages of those systems of fuckery tell me that there should be a perfect ending, a neat tying up of the package and a moving on to the next challenge.

This next phase of my healing journey, the ‘third act’ in this body, will be focused on being in the flow, soaking up every second of life that remains for me, and contributing in whatever ways I can to collective and personal healing.

Three years from taking my exit from the political world and the nine to five (I believe there was some prescience in doing that 5 months before the first pandemic lockdown in March 2020) I have to remind myself (with the help of my newly cultivated connections in the ReBloom community and others) that at 61, it’s not too late.

It’s never too late.

Thank you for being here!

I appreciate you and would love to hear your feedback.

If you would like to subscribe to have Self-Centred delivered directly to your email inbox, you can do that here

Until next time,

Janine Bertolo (she/her)
Trauma-informed somatic coach & space holder
Anti-capitalist crone & Culture Maker

Thinking of working with me?

A Future Planning Session is a great way to discover how it feels.

Give yourself the gift of an hour, in safe supportive space, to land in your body and focus in on want you’d like to create for yourself.

I’ll offer that space, some grounding practices, insights and suggestions.

I know the power of setting intentions and getting out of my own way to allow them to manifest and would be honoured to hold that kind of space for you.

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