personal healing

empowerment makes me uncomfy

the popular usage of ”empowerment”— particularly in relation to self-development, the current women’s movement, wellness communities, and inspirational leaders— has long triggered unease within me; beyond gross overuse, i feel the way the term is often used is incorrect— and insidiously disempowering to the subconscious as a result.

some definitions i pulled across a handful of online dictionaries, including merriam-webster, cambridge, and oxford:

  1. to give (someone) the authority or power to do something

  2. to give official authority or legal power to

  3. enable (to provide with the means or opportunity)

  4. to give someone official authority or the freedom to do something

  5. to enable or permit

  6. to make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights

  7. to encourage and support the ability to do something

  8. to promote the self-actualization or influence of

for me, definitions one through five cover the formal empowerment of someone by granting them access to execute a certain position or action of power within a given institution or system. depending on context, this can be a fair naming, particularly when operating to “correct” systemic imbalances and injustices; the privileged using their means to empower the disenfranchised rightfully exists as one tool, amongst others. though some might get it twisted, such empowerment is not a transference of actual agency, ability, or deservingness, which every person innately possesses— it is largely  functional and surface in nature.

then we arrive at definition six— the deeply troubling common usage definition in wellness and women’s communities; here, the first five definitions are rolled up to imply that one human can somehow “make” another human stronger and more confident. we can sure be deluded into this notion, but only after we decide— consciously or subconsciously— to give our own power away first. that this is a formal definition makes my head spin.

as far as i’m concerned, the only way it is possible for one person to empower another— i.e. give permission or power to— is by also giving power to systems of oppression and the victim-savior paradigm. our power is not derived from another. the power of our essential nature cannot be given, taken, or transferred— it can only be illuminated; others can inspire us to open to our truths but true empowerment can only ever come from within.

the only definitions i find relatively sound within a psychosocial context are seven and eight as they have a supportive quality— focusing instead on inspiration and promotion around self-actualization and self-empowerment.

but even then, i wonder how much we can escape the common usage assumptions embedded in our subconscious: “empower” as a subject oriented verb inherently disempowers the object by assuming its lack of agency and erasing its innate power. these subtle disempowering suggestions that have pervaded our collective subconscious require us to believe that we need something or someone outside of ourselves to be truly powerful— to “fix” us, to “heal” us, to “give us permission.” this is false, capitalistic, imperialist, supremacist, oppressive bullshit. it is quintessentially “giving our power away.” i don’t feel fucking empowered when someone suggests that they can empower me. making someone or something outside of ourselves the actor within contexts of empowerment, healing, and permission/agency is harmful, reductive, and regressive— let’s take some heavy pause here, please.

we wholly empower ourselves, heal ourselves, and give permission to ourselves— any outside influences are conduits and facilitators— that’s it. anyone claiming differently— saying they are saving, healing, fixing, allowing, empowering you (giving you power)— is quite possibly a false leader coming from ego.

even in healing modalities where say, someone performs a chakra clearing on you: your body, your energy, and your subconscious are active participants in these processes by offering permission, access, insight, and the willingness to shift— whether or not you are consciously aware of this. we are our own healers, even when we have assistance— healing fundamentally cannot happen without our consent or participation.

a quick shift back to institutional  empowerment: though technically another can empower us in these situations, self-empowerment is still the purest and truest form of empowerment at the root level— even here. for example, the act of white people empowering people of color by offering them job roles will not alone correct racist institutions— or the issue of racism; as such, this deference or assignment by a white person or “white” institution to a person of color is still a phenomenon occurring within the original oppressive paradigm; it is “empowerment” only to a degree.

as much as we must do what we can within existing constructs, we can’t take for granted the need for imagining and building new paradigms from scratch ourselves, where terms like “diversity” and “inclusion” are no longer needed because our new systems are inherently sound and of integrity.

all said, in it being a word deeply intertwined with current movements, i don’t believe “empowerment” is going away any time soon. so my hope is that we at least use it and receive it with more discernment, awareness, self-respect, and humility— and that we explore fuller, truer ways to express how we are supporting each other in collective healing and liberation.

much love <3

i don’t owe anyone my inner world

upon deciding that i wanted to talk a bit about my depression that consumed the second half of my 2017, it took me a moment to realize that my previous post was in part about the bliss i was able to connect with earlier in that same year. i also recalled how the bliss itself was borne in response to pain. all around, the duality of that year was profound.

over the course of 2018, i couldn’t quite comprehend what the fuck 2017 was. because 2018 was confusing as all hell on its own; it was this extended sense of being suspended in transience, which i was aware of the whole time and simultaneously knew that it wasn’t something i could control or fight. i just had to be in this long ass incubation period of what felt like a whole lot of nothingness.

i still don’t have enough distance from 2018 to have much clarity on what quite happened— but my sense is that my system was integrating the rollercoaster of transformational experiences and deaths/rebirths that 2016 and 2017 brought me.

now having some distance from 2017, however, i can see what an important example of duality it was. it’s fascinating to know that what we view as opposite or polar are never too far apart— particularly with the recognition that duality itself is a construct. the only thing that is actually true and real is oneness.

i remember being awe struck by the daoist view of impermanence and the ever-changing nature of what we view to be opposite or contrasting; for example, light is not light but light-becoming-dark and dark is not dark but dark-becoming-light. because everything is constantly shifting, a static assumption or prescription upon anything is essentially inaccurate and moot. it’s deep and something i’m still unpacking.

existential interlude aside, i want to share a couple stories related to my experience with depression— particularly within the framework of vulnerability, authenticity, and personal boundaries.

to first offer some foundational context: i was on and off depressed from 15-25, then was totally in the pits from 25-27, and started therapy at 27 in 2010. i felt the depression pretty much fully lift after my first eight months of therapy and my first two months of a naturopathic regimen for my neurotransmitter imbalances. since then, i’ve had depressive dips for a week or two on a handful of occasions over the years and one few month long very low point around early 2013.

what i experienced in 2017 was the longest and most nuanced, shape-shifting, unrelenting depressive period i’ve experienced since what brought me to therapy in 2010. shit was real as fuck. basically, a succession of deeply traumatic and very unpleasant challenging things happened back to back to back— it took me out and knocked me all the way off center.

thankfully, i had my awareness tools to keep from completely going off the deep end, but i was literally teetering on the very edge of that hole for months. it took all my energy to at least just stay teetering and not fall in. after several months, i got two steps away from the hole— my awareness allowed me to measure that— and it took everything in me for another several months to maintain those two steps away from the hole. sometime in the first quarter of 2018, i felt like i got beyond two steps and finally was able to feel more grounded and self-possessed.

in fall 2016, i started sharing my poem-quote things and occasional reflective thoughts on instagram; some people decided i was wise and woke and zen and shit. i am, thanks. i’m also human and have eccentricities and quirks and seeming inconsistencies and personal boundaries. though that may be confusing for some, i get to contain all of that and still be authentic and in integrity.

in fall 2017, during the peak of the aforementioned deep depressive period, i ran into an acquaintance at an event.

she asked me how i was and before i could answer, she said something to the effect of, “and i know you being you, you’re gonna keep it real and not just be like, ‘i’m great!’ if you’re not.” i know she meant to be complimentary, but it was not what i needed to hear in the moment.

in those months, my whole life had been consumed around salvaging my mood the best i possibility could; my own thoughts on ‘how i was doing’ were already encroaching on my space in my alone time. i had decided in advance to do my best to act as if i was okay during this event— because that’s what i needed; i needed a goddamn break.

i got extremely uncomfortable and began wondering if i was inauthentic because i didn’t want to put energy on naming that i wasn’t well. i wanted to answer that i was good and move on to some other type of conversation that i could actually enjoy.

i told myself that saying “good” was true in a sense; because ultimately, i am always alright. and at that time, i was simply experiencing an ebb of my human experience.

i think my discomfort with her remark and my ensuing internal conflict blew my cover; i’m quite certain she felt my reservation and unease when i said “good.” it changed the vibe. and i mostly didn’t care. i wasn’t there to cater to her vision of me.

i chose my self-preservation. and that’s what i’ll choose in the vast majority of cases. i know how useless and even harmful i can be when i’m unwell and not tending to my needs. when i’m real low, any filter i’ve got to maintain a semblance of normalcy and civility with the outside world is paper thin— i know this.

i don’t think we need to feel obligated to say we’re feeling unwell while we are still amidst that experience; it doesn’t help my healing to put energy on a given challenging thing that i’m already working on for the sake of updating someone— especially an acquaintance—perfectly truthfully.

when i’m not intentionally going into my shadow to do work, i want to focus on light to help raise my vibration. note, there is a distinction between mindfully raising my vibration and avoidance/distraction.

online and on social media, there’s a  pressure to name our precise reality while we are still inside of a challenging time— in the spirit of “vulnerability” and “authenticity.” nah.

internet and instagram vulnerability culture has distorted our vision on boundaries and what actually constitutes healthy sharing. this culture, which can also be beautiful, has also somehow allowed certain folks to think that they have license to our inner worlds.

our own vulnerability isn’t supposed to harm us. and it isn’t a service to others if we are self-sacrificing our health to share before we feel ready.

important: vulnerability online isn’t a replacement for professional help if you think you might need that. no shame in it— i’ve been in some form of therapy or another for a decade.

some things are only meant for specific people and specific communities in my life. and even then, that doesn’t mean i ever owe *anyone* anything i don’t feel called to share. for more introverted folk like me, certain things may be meant for us alone (and perhaps a therapist or healer, if inclined).

basically, we don’t owe the internet shit— least of all our bleeding hearts. <3

living the feeling first: a means to manifestation

i’ve been thinking about joy lately, especially as it being a way of manifesting our dreams even before they materially come to fore;

a couple nights ago, i picked up the book creating money by sanaya roman after a long while. i re-read my notes and a bit more of the book. i’m only about 20 pages in; i tend to read very intentionally, stop to reflect a lot, and simultaneously take notes.

in my review, i was reminded of a powerful perspective shift:

i manifest best when i choose to *right now* genuinely live out the higher qualities i believe money (or whatever i’m looking to manifest) will bring into my life.

an exercise + illustration:

  • think of something you’d like to manifest

  • what higher qualities do you think that manifestation will bring into you and your life?

  • what are some easily accessible ways you can bring those qualities into your life now— today, this week, in this moment?

unfolding the perspective shift:

  • i want more money because i believe it will bring me freedom.

  • i realize that i can also easily access the feeling of freedom when i’m being silly, when i’m being fully myself, when i see children being free, when i deeply connect with someone in a way that i can almost touch the entire universe in that moment

  • when i choose to be in the vibration of freedom *now*, i am calling in the matching/correlating vibration of that which i desire. and because i am coming from a place of authentic connection to source, i am simultaneously manifesting 1) what i *really, actually* want and 2) more precisely for my highest good.

before finding this book, i intuitively created a similar practice and paired it with intentional action towards manifesting the money i needed. with this way, i catapulted myself out of major, heart-wrenching brokenness in early 2017.

it was a time where every other day i was getting notices of bills being declined, my credit cards were maxed out, i had no idea how i’d be paying rent, and my cash was just enough to feed myself.  it was the closest i’d ever been to feeling like i could soon be out of choices— and would possibly need to move back to cali to live with my parents.

i decided that if this was it, i was going to respond in the best way i possibly could and opt out of weaponizing my pain against myself. i was going to live my best life with what i had been given. it almost felt like that choice was all i had left.

i chose to:

  1. live in joy anyway, because i was alive— that was something i did have

  2. try my best to turn things around— i did have agency over my actions

  3. accept any outcome with grace— i always have a choice in how to respond

from this space, i found myself the happiest and most magnetic i had ever been— socially, financially, and with the opportunities that flowed to me like a force of nature (because it literally was).

since then, my path has ebbed and flowed as i continue to dismantle old programming and belief systems. however, now i have the gift of the experience and evidence of what is possible. i know what i can access when i am in flow. i know that making *who i choose to show up as* my starting point is what truly creates the type of life-affirming magic that is beyond dreams.

the belief that something outside of us will give us the higher qualities we desire is false; if we do end up manifesting what we think we want while we are out of alignment, it’s always ultimately a lesson of some sort. sometimes we can be taken through a long journey before we realize we are still unhappy and unfulfilled. think about the loads of celebrities who have all their “dreams” come true, only to feel more alone and lost than ever. most might not show it, but this phenomenon is very very real.

dreams without grounding in your higher qualities usually end up empty.

if i lack freedom in my life already— before having the money i desire— deep down i will continue to lack freedom even once i have said money; that is, until i practice cultivating freedom from within and with what is already available to me.

so, let’s ask ourselves:

how am i choosing to engage my most basic blessings on a day to day?

how am i showing up as “the person i think i’ll be when i have everything i want” *today*— right now, in this moment?

much love <3

in allyship with anger, fear, and pain

photo // CC0

photo // CC0

the most potent balm;
a dialogue
in allyship
with your anger
fear
and pain.

most often, our relationships with anger, fear, and pain tend to center around our reactions to the emotions themselves; themes of frustration, shame, avoidance, and overwhelm pervade. this unfortunately only compounds existing “negative” feelings and drives us deeper into cycles of misery, escapism, helplessness, and self-judgment. we begin to feel like we’re drowning.

in these instances, we have opted to merge with the challenging emotions; take them on and wear them as parts of our identity and who we are — perhaps even beginning to look at ourselves as deficient. in my view, this is inaccurate as our essential selves are always whole, powerful, and wise. our spirits are indestructible and i personally refuse to see it any other way.

what i have to come to learn is that anger, fear, and pain are messengers; they are not negative, but are rather gifts we receive to learn more about ourselves and our relationship to this world and this existence. through my own rigorous experience, i’ve learned the unparalleled transformative power of making friends with my anger, pain, and fear — as entities separate from my true self whom have come to me as my teachers.

in unpacking the underlying truths my anger, pain, and fear reflect, i have come to more deeply meet and embody my true self, what i stand for, my connection with others, and the nature of existence. committing to this process has allowed me a greater acceptance for what is (no matter what) while simultaneously equipping me with a resolve to go out and fight for who i am and what i believe in with a delicacy and strength i’ve only just met.

yes, i preach love — lots of it; but my love is not one of passivity, one that turns a blind eye to injustice, or one that withholds itself from so-called ‘lower based emotions.’ if so inclined, i encourage you to connect with your anger, pain, and fear. ask them what they have to say; layer by layer — until you have stripped down to the core — to the truth. the fire behind that truth will naturally propel you to transform both what is within and what is beyond.

with love,
seher

seher.co is here and this is why

photo // self portrait

photo // self portrait

writing this is the most nerve-wracking shit i’ve done in a while. in anticipation, i ate a whole meal and drank some water just before starting. still, i find myself dizzy. heart’s beating fast. something like public speaking jitters except the only thing i’m actually facing in this moment is myself. maybe it’s not so peculiar; our relationship with ourselves is ultimately the most frightening and highest stakes one of all. 

putting myself out there to the internet world is requiring me to more firmly own myself and the things i am about to share.

launching this new website means many things to me at once:

  • self acceptance and stepping into my name
  • getting out of my own way and honoring my work
  • owning both what i know and what i don’t know about my purpose
  • taking what i do know and formally claiming a career pivot
  • a jumping off point for projects that embrace my skills and interests more fully
  • a platform with the intentionality to communicate who i am and what i stand for

this site will be a living representation of my personal and professional metamorphosis in progress. you will find projects popping up in my new ‘projects’ section that may involve photography or have nothing to do with photography at all. this site is me officially giving myself license to do whatever the fuck i want — and a declaration to others of the dynamism and relationship with the unknown i intend to fully embrace.

and this blog will perhaps be the thread that weaves it all together. just like everything, i have no concrete plans for it. the possibilities: anything and everything on my mind and in my world. a window into my process and my path to purpose. still, definitely open, fluid, and real.

i bought this domain about two and a half years ago, just because i thought it would be good to own my name in this way online. i began to consider that it might be nice to move my website to this URL. soon, that tiny thought became a decided leaning towards changing my business name and web address to just “seher.” rehes creative just didn’t fit anymore, and by some miracle, i felt this unfamiliar pull to embrace my given name.

i spent most of my adult life brushing off compliments about how pretty my name is because it was never something i believed myself. apathy probably better described our relationship. i was teased for my name from childhood through high school and in retrospect, it came to represent the many ways i was different and didn’t fit in; i’d wrapped up much of my not-good-enough-ness in it. i realized that in naming myself “rehes” (my name backwards), it was my subconscious trying to hide from myself and the shame that came with my name.

i quickly became clear that owning “seher” represented a deeper shift: i was ready to more fully own and accept myself.

i started thinking about my name, particularly in the vein of career shifts i’d been thinking about. seher translates to dawn. i thought about beginnings, the sun; i realized my personal work of the last two years had lead me to explore coming into myself as an initiator, an illuminator. i’d also recently learned that my name in german means seer; another connection — i had spent the last two years deeply awakening to my intuition and inner knowing.

the inherent resonance my given name shares with the true self i have been unfolding gave me profound pause.

an intuitive initiator and illuminator; sharing and championing the truth of things, the truth of us — that is, in fact, what i care about most. writing this, i am in awe once again.

i’ve shared a bit about finding my purpose and exploring a career pivot on social media. recently, i wrote:

i’m coming to see myself more as a thinker, artistic communicator, and facilitator for the universal good. where i’m going, photography and writing — amongst other skills i intend to conscientiously develop — are simply my tools for self expression, individual/community/global healing, and mobilization towards social change. these values form the root of all things for me now — not photography, not writing, nor any other skill or talent i may possess.

i’ve spent the last couple years engaging in deep spiritual work to identify my life’s purpose and true gifts. upon getting a grasp on the general themes, it quickly became clear that my career needed to shift; as far as what the details look like, i accept that i cannot force the natural process of inner awakening — it’s all still a work in progress.

during this period, my relationship with photography has constantly been hazy and in flux; figuring out how to redefine my relationship with photography as i explore a somewhat nebulous career pivot is a constant challenge.

the last couple years found me frequently disconnected from photography and even resenting it; in so desperately wanting to figure out the complete picture of my purpose, photography oftentimes felt like a mindless distraction. so through all that, it feels really great to be able to say that this new site and the new work i’m sharing are something i feel proud of. i don't take time to do that too often — stop to feel proud of myself and celebrate myself. 

going through the labor of launching this site and framing it in a way that leaves open space for the other pieces of me and my talents that are slowly emerging — for me, it’s fuel. to look at work that i like is affirmation that i do want to keep shooting and reclaim my relationship with photography — reincarnating it into something that more fully speaks to my spirit and that of others.

as i continue my process of personal discovery, i am constantly updating what i think is exactly my purpose. right now, how i’ve chosen to phrase it is:

using art, media, and community building to promote personal healing and social equality.

i see personal transformation and healing as powerful catalysts for activism and social change. in some way, i also see my work exploring this important intersection. where i currently stand, the issues closest to my heart are social equality for women and people of color, and personal healing as it relates to mental health and the body-mind connection (subtle energy stuff).

in expanding the scope of my work, i have natural strengths i’m looking to exercise and develop. these include: idea generation, creative problem solving, facilitation (people + groups + ideas), storytelling (speaking + writing + photography), leadership, strategic planning, and building safe community spaces.

to help me do this, i am looking to connect with people working in progressive and interdisciplinary spaces in the arts, media, personal healing, and social equality. i’d like to partner with people and/or organizations already doing work in this realm — even in a volunteer capacity — to inform my career pivot and process of personal discovery by diving into the work itself. i want to begin exercising my entire skill set, contribute towards meaningful causes, get a lay of the land, and connect with like minded individuals. 

if anyone is willing and able to make an introduction, i would love to link with any relevant people, organizations, or companies. even if only for an informational interview! 

in any case — my deep gratitude to you for reading this far. and to so many of you — thank you for believing in me and in my work countless times where inside i was secretly at war with both. you've kept me going.