Awakening Goddess: Empowering the Goddess Within

As above, so below, as within, so without - every thing that we desire, and every thing that we fear, exists within us. This blog explores nourishing our dreams, committing to our highest values, and healing ourselves from the inside out: awakening and empowering the Goddess within our bodies, hearts, and lives.

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Self-Care in the Wake of Trauma and Tragedy

I remember in May happily telling a friend that I no longer had drama in my life.  Then, Memorial Day weekend, one of my best friends, a man I have loved for 23 years, dropped a drama-bomb on me that shattered my heart.  A week later, he texted me that he was killing himself, and I scrambled to get him help.  Before I could recover from either, a young singer was murdered by a psycho with a gun after her concert, and a few days later 49 people were murdered and 53 injured in the deadliest mass shooting since Wounded Knee, in an Orlando club, 11 miles from my house.

In the days following the Pulse mass shooting, I got in the habit of checking Facebook and other websites first thing when I woke every day, looking to see which of my friends had lost friends and family, and offering love and support to each who had.  I also made a point to share as much beauty as I saw, and to soak it in myself; the loving tributes pouring in from around the world, the hours-long lines of people in my community donating blood, the businesses supporting each other, the heroic stories of some of those lost, stories of people taking care of each other in the wake of the tragedy. Orlando United. Orlando Strong. Pray For Orlando.

I made the mistake of engaging in dialogue about gun control with people who are against any form of gun control.  I was too raw to articulate what I really wanted to communicate, that before humans had weapons, when they got angry enough to kill, they had to bludgeon each other to death.  That took time, a lot of energy, it wounded them as well as their victim, and gave others around them a chance to step in and stop the beating before anyone died, assuming the victim couldn’t escape on their own.

Weapons made killing each other easier, but before guns, a single person was very limited in how many he or she could kill.  Wounded Knee wasn’t one man with three guns.  But one man with three legally-obtained guns faced over a hundred people, including at least one armed guard who fired at him but missed, and that one man killed 49 and wounded 53 before other men with guns managed to take him out.  One man faced over 100 people and killed half, maimed half, before he could be killed himself.  11 miles from my house.

By some miracle, no family member or close friend of mine was among the victims.  Many of my friends lost friends and family, and our community lost intangible treasures.  I mourned with my friends and community, I cried, I offered comfort, and I thought I was taking care of my own needs during it all.

However, a few days later, a two year old was drowned by a gator at the “happiest place on Earth.”  This was one of the first things I saw that day, because I had been checking Facebook and the news first thing when I awoke.  Having lost a baby myself just sixteen months ago, I expected the story of the toddler and the gator to trigger me.  I expected to be overwhelmed with horror and compassion for his family and dissolve into tears.  Instead, I felt numb. I felt nothing.  My heart was at capacity.  I couldn’t take anymore tragedy, or trauma.  My well of compassion, which I’d thought infinite, had actually, finally, run dry.

Recognizing my need for mental and emotional detox, I turned off my phone and computer for 36 hours so I couldn’t see any more horrible news, or horrible people saying horrible things in wake of things that were already too horrible.  I dedicated those 36 hours to filling myself up with love and peace.  I played with my son, sang and danced to happy music, watched Zootopia and The Minion Movie, and watched the Planet Earth documentaries on Netflix to help me remember that no matter how huge the pain and fear feel, the beauty and awesomeness of our world, and our universe, dwarfs all of it.

I was reluctant to turn my phone back on.  Taking a break from it all gave me some perspective.  I realized that there were a few people in my life who contacted me so frequently that I hated hearing from them.  They took up hours of my time every day, dumping their emotional crap on me and begging for my services as a psychic, healer, and intuitive counselor without respecting my skills enough to follow the counsel, and without respecting my time, nor paying me for my work.

I realized my well of compassion had been slowly shrunk as the sands of resentment towards these people and anxiety about using my phone slowly filled it, beginning long before the recent traumas.  Thinking back, I realized that for weeks, maybe months, every time my phone rang or alerted me to a text, my stomach churned and I made noises and expressions of long-suffering irritation before feeling obligated to check it and respond.  Now that I had given myself some space, I could see that it was time to set a firm boundary or two.

Setting boundaries is something I’ve heard a lot about without really understanding what it looks like, so I had to figure out what they were going to look like for me. 

First, I decided that I was not going to take calls or texts after 7pm anymore, because that is my time with my family.  I decided that I would turn my phone off at 7pm, and turn it back on at 10am or whenever I felt ready to take calls again, and that some days I would just leave it off, whenever I felt like I needed a sanity break.

When I got back on Facebook, I unfollowed a lot of people posting things that triggered and otherwise upset me.  That was an unofficial boundary, but if I were to make it official, it would be something like: When I am in a vulnerable emotional space, I will avoid media that may upset me, or avoid social media altogether.

I decided I would not check social media first thing in the morning anymore, that I would take time with my own thoughts and taking care of my own life in the beginning of my day, especially in that first groggy hour of waking, when my subconscious was most vulnerable to outside influence. 

I highly recommend not listening to the news or checking social media first thing in the morning, when all the drama and trauma and propaganda has the best chance of influencing your subconscious, potentially programming your beliefs as well as setting the tone for your day.

That was enough boundary setting for one month.  Setting too many new rules at once would make it too hard to make these new boundaries into habits, and it is important to me to make these boundaries into self-care habits.

We have to take care of ourselves when horrible things happen, both in our personal lives and in the bigger world around us.  We can’t make the world a better place while we’re stuck in the pain and fear and rage.  Pain and fear and rage are the sources of most of the problems in our world.  We can’t put out fires with flamethrowers.

Society has this weird idea that it’s selfish to take care of ourselves, and at the same time it’s selfish to expect others to take care of us.  We’re supposed to take care of others without expectation, and to never need care ourselves.  You can tell these ideas are fear-based, because they make no sense.

The antidote to fear-based thinking is love-based thinking.  Fear isolates, Love connects.

It is a gift to others to allow them to help us.  That is love-based thinking, and it makes sense because it feels so good to help others, and things that feel good are gifts.  Think about how good you feel when you are able to do something for someone that makes them feel good, especially when they thank you for it, all smiles and hugs.

Taking care of ourselves, meeting our own needs, gives us the reserves, the strength, the power to help others when they need it, and gives them inspiration and a model to follow in meeting their own needs.  The better we feel, the better we do, and the better we can help others to feel and do themselves.

That makes sense, right?

When we feel bad, every thing seems harder, goals seem less possible to reach.  When we feel good, every thing seems easier.  We get more done when we feel good, so taking time to meet our own needs makes us more productive, more efficient, stronger and more effective.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or numb, consider giving yourself a self-care day - detox from the things that are weighing your down, and fill yourself up with the things that feed the love in your heart. 

Figure out which needs you most need met.  Maybe you need a few hours catching up with a good friend or a few.  Maybe you need to crank up the music and dance your heart out. Maybe you need a day in bed, sleeping or listening to beautiful music or reading a great book.  Maybe you need a day of being pampered, and can pamper yourself or make plans with a friend or partner to take turns pampering each other.



For me, I’m taking a self-care day every week for now.  I find that I feel even better after each one, like my inner well of compassion gets bigger every time I fill it with self-care, and it holds more and more for longer and longer. 

One day, my well of compassion really will be infinite.


P.S. Orlando still needs blood, and there are no lines anymore.  If you can donate blood, please do!  And if you'd like to help Orlando in other ways, please check the following resources:


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Ashley Rae published her first book, a memoir, in 2012, and has been a professional psychic, healer, and teacher since 2003. Ashley's goal in life is to help you empower the divine spark within yourself so that you can love yourself freely, make your life awesome, and make this world a more beautiful, compassionate place. Visit her website to check out her other blog, find out her schedule, book an appointment and register for her classes.


  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Friday, 24 June 2016

    Thank you so much for this beautifully written piece about your own healthy response to overwhelming tragedy - I hope your example reminds me to do the same. Blessings.

  • Ashley Rae
    Ashley Rae Friday, 24 June 2016

    Thank you, Lizann! Blessed be!

  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch Monday, 27 June 2016

    Self-care is a necessity. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  • Ashley Rae
    Ashley Rae Tuesday, 28 June 2016

    Thank you, Arwen!

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