I was participating in a healing circle training recently and during one of the sessions we were given a writing prompt, “what showed up this morning?” For five minutes I wrote about what had shown up for me that morning: death. I had experienced a vivid dream in which a horse had charged and deliberately stomped on a person in front of me. The experience was both jolting and awakening.
Witnessing, being present, and showing up for others and myself in a world where eyes are shut wide open now is frightening. We have eyes but do not see! I will start with myself. There are parts of myself and behaviors that are not fully in alignment with my true being or values, and unless I take time to explore them, I continue to do them, habitually. These thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are so integrated in my mindset, I do not recognize them until an outside factor jolts me, such a vision of a horse stomping a person!
Something or someone shows up in my life in the form of cancer, estrangement, loss, illness, or life transitions, and grabs my full attention and invites me to stop, ponder, consider, and evaluate changing what is not in alignment with my inner being and values. It is an opportunity, a gift, a moment to shift my focus on what may alter the course of my life. Over the past several years, I’ve had a lot of things show up and I have chosen to examine myself and my behaviors.
I had to start by bearing witness to myself, my own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and circumstances. I had to ask questions such as, what am I feeling? What can this teach me? How do I want to live? Who do I want to be? What do I want? I showed up for myself first and leaned into what I was experiencing without changing anything. That is what bearing witness to oneself is, becoming aware and conscious of what shows up at any one moment.
It is hard to do!
I’m a people pleaser, performer, suck it up even though it is killing me, stoic! Asking for help or letting others know I am struggling has been non-negotiable in my life up to this point. After sitting with myself for a period of time, I discovered I had cheated myself out of something that could have been life transformative, LOVE! I didn’t allow others to love me. I didn’t even give anyone the opportunity to love me, walk alongside me, or offer support.
So, nobody showed up for me and it hurt. I embraced something I had tried to keep out of my life for over five decades. My eyes wide shut suddenly opened to new possibilities, experiences, and a deeper connection to myself.
According to Dr. Barbara Dossey (2015) “bearing witness is being present to things as they are, which involves developing qualities of deep listening to understand what another person is expressing or not expressing.” When we are fully engaged with another person, listening with our full body, and allowing space and time for one another to share both verbally and non-verbally, we become open to whatever will transpire in the encounter. It is nothing short of an act of self-less, engaged, open, love energy, flowing and encircling each person in space and time.
What I find so refreshing about bearing witness to others is that I can transform in an instant or over a period of time just as the other person may. It is an act of love that plants itself in both. A smile, an acknowledgement, a thank you, a moment of kindness can bring about the same results as spending hours with someone. No words ever need to be spoken to initiate this experience either!
As an Integrative Nurse Coach, I explore bearing witness daily. I recognize this must begin with me so I can become the vessel of healing to others in which a container of hope encircles those who are present with me. I leave the labels, diagnoses, preconceived ideas, past, future, and become fully present in the mystery unfolding in the now. Nothing short of a miracle reveals itself each and every time. I know I am witnessing something with eyes wide open and have nothing to do, except radiate LOVE.
As a young girl, Holly was drawn to nature and helping others which provided deep connection to others. It was while volunteering as a candy striper that she dove deeper into interacting with patients and families and planted the seeds of a career in healthcare. Her desire to pursue nursing cemented while in college after a serendipitous meeting with a Nurse Practitioner. After attending Purdue University for three years studying the natural sciences, she fulfilled her dream to become a nurse and proudly graduated from Akron City Hospital’s Idabelle Firestone School of Nursing in Akron, Ohio with her nursing diploma. She went on to obtain her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Akron with a focus on the health and wellbeing of children as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. She was awarded ANCC’s credential of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in 1996 until 2001. After taking some time to stay at home and homeschool her children, she pursued recertification as a Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in 2021. She is currently combining her love for children, families, and teaching as both a PNP and Nurse Coach.
She has had a lifelong interest in the impact of nutrition on a person’s wellbeing, along with alternative healing therapies, and the mind, body, and spirit connections to a person’s wellbeing. In 2017 she attended the International Nurse Coach Association program and obtained her Board Certification from AHNCC as an Integrative Nurse Coach™ in 2018. She went on to obtain additional advanced training in Clinical Nutrition from the Institute for Functional Medicine and the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine’s Plant Based Prevention of Disease Conference.
She established Life Cycle Balance LLC in 2018 and has led numerous online and community wellness seminars and webinars on topics ranging from bearing witness to suffering, stress management, nutrition, brain health, caregiver stress, self-care renewal techniques, and non-violent communication techniques from the Center for Non-Violent Communication. She has completed advanced training as a facilitator for Non-Violent Communication and Healing Circles Global. In 2020 she presented a workshop at the South Eastern Theatre Conference (SETC) in Louisville, KY on using NVC starting with yourself.
She volunteers with the Panhandle Health Medical Reserve Corps. in Idaho, in her church, and community. Her passions include her family, learning Latin and American Sign Language, reading, cycling long distances, hiking and traveling.
Her future dreams include developing additional programs to provide healing and nurturing for children and families, creating a wellness center, and writing a book about being a Nurse Coach and healing from trauma.