What does trauma healing have to do with marketing? And how does your nervous system relate to systems of structural oppression? In this episode, Natalie touches on these subjects as she goes deeper into her background, the lenses and privileges that inform her world view and her work as a “nervous system personal trainer”
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This episode of Noticing With Natalie was co-created by Natalie Ross and spirit. It was recorded and presented/channeled by Natalie Ross.
The show notes were written and the transcript edited by Leandra Maria Gil.
Natalie is broadcasting from the land of the Awaswas, Amah Mutsun and Ohlone peoples in what is known as Santa Cruz, CA
What's up change makers, witchy weirdos, visionaries, seers, channels. Welcome to Noticing with Natalie, that's me and this is a podcast where I help witchy weirdos feel confident sharing their gifts, their magic, their voice with the world. I'm Natalie Ross, I'm your hostess and fellow Earth loving animist. I hope that what I share here helps you feel more confident about trusting what you're noticing in yourself, around you, in your relationships, in your intuition, as you engage with the seen and unseen worlds, so you may tap into more connection, creativity, community, aliveness. As always, nothing I say or do here is meant to override your own best knowing of what's right or true for you. Take what works, trust yourself, take care of yourself and welcome to the conversation. Hop on over to natalie.net to sign up for my free newsletter. That's natalie.net. And I'm coming to you from the land of the Awaswas, Ohlone, Amah Mutsun peoples in Santa Cruz, California. My pronouns, in case you're interested, are she/her. And now if you're into it, I invite you to join me in invoking your helping spirits. You can repeat after me or use your own words or completely opt out if this isn't your thing, you do you. I welcome my well ancestors. I welcome my spirit guides and helpers. I welcome the earth, air, fire and water. I welcome the benevolent spirits of the land I'm on. I welcome the little people. I welcome the spirit of this podcast to protect guide inspire and support me today, as well as my listeners and whatever their prayers are, whatever they most want and need with grace and ease. So be it.
My work in the world as of now, it's August 2023, has been around helping people, facilitating people to experience connection, connection within themselves, connection with other humans and other beings in both nature and the spirit worlds. And the way that that connection has come through most recently, that facilitation, is working with people to help them really feel confident about the value of what they offer and understand how to communicate that and how to connect with other people who might value that so that they can partake in it and receive that value. And in the modern world, we'd call this offer creation, marketing, stuff like that, which is honestly a little cringe every time I think about it, because I'm like it just already has so much meaning and so many assumptions put into it. And so my whole approach to marketing and offer creation is rooted in connection, rooted in acknowledging and honoring the connection, the relationship, that's being created between oneself and the world, that invitation that's being put out there, inviting people to engage with you, to engage with your creations, your gifts, your soul work, what you offer. I think a lot of. . . a lot of offer creation and marketing know how just kind of completely really skips over that whole connection piece, and I've gone so deep into it that I've become . . . well I'm in the process of becoming certified for a trauma healing modality called somatic experiencing. And trauma to me is really a break in connection. It's a break in connection with the here and now, with the present, with one's aliveness with one's sense of belonging in the world. It's a break of relationship. And we will get way deep into that, that works with the nervous system, that works with the unconscious and conscious mind, with sensations, it's very rich work.
But before I get into that, I also want to introduce a little bit more about me, just some foundational things and feel free to ask me questions. So I'm not going to get too deep today, but I just want to, I want to share some things. My, you know, I've already spoken about my inherent belief that there's, there's no. . . my belief that there's no inherent meaning in the universe and to me, that doesn't mean that there's no meaning at all, that we can't make our own meaning, or that everything's pointless, though if I'm in a depressive funk, it can feel like that. But it's more that I don't feel that there's one supreme meaning that is truth with a capital T. I really feel that each person has the freedom to make or choose their own meaning, and I shared more in the first episode about what, how I make meaning, what brings me meaning. But another part of that meaning is my experience, my worldview as an animist, seeing all life, and all beings, including elements and inert objects, as mainstream society might call them, as equal and worthy and full of aliveness in their own way. In this animist perspective, animals and non human beings are sacred and just as equal and worthy as humans, and I even see that in the animal of our own bodies. I talk about this a lot, about engaging with the animal, of one's body, not as an insult, not as. . . not. . . nothing near an insult, but rather a recognition of the sacredness, the wisdom of creation that is our bodies, that is within us as living beings, that is beyond just our conscious mind. So that is very. . . everything I say, do, offer, speak, see, is through that lens, through that lens of being part of an interconnected living universe with seen and unseen realms. And that's fun to me. I mean, it's also brings a lot of deep grief because of how. . .how the modern, mainstream worldview doesn't see this, doesn't honor or acknowledge all life as equal and worthy. And in this, I also want to speak to and acknowledge the privileges I've had in my life because of this mainstream system of supremacy, you know. I recognize that the impact of my place in this system has given me a lot of unearned privileges, even as this system marginalizes and oppresses certain beings and the Earth itself. I think it's crucial to address these privileges or at least acknowledge and speak of them and actively work towards dismantling, or recreating, dismantling the oppressive constructs that even creates the concept of privilege in the first place, and creating a different possibility. This is part of what brings me meaning. I certainly don't have the answers and I'm not perfect at this, and I make mistakes along the way based on assumptions or missed attunement, misattunement to the present moment or a relationship, but that's also why I rest in the power of repair, and I'm sure we'll be talking a lot about the power of repair. Yeah, I'm. . . part of how I actively engage in deconstructing this supremacist system is working in my. . . looking at my own unconscious biases, deconstructing those as I become aware of them, doing work to become aware of them, and helping others do that too. Not in any should or pressure or judgmental way, but in a very like, addressing these unconscious biases is very liberating way. It's not always easy, it's not always fun, it's not always pretty. But it is freeing, freeing for all, no matter what their places within this system. These biases are things that have been ingrained by the oppressive constructs of our society, just by simply existing, being born into this world and I don't know if it's possible to ever completely deconstruct and reconstruct all these unconscious biases, because we always carry unconscious biases, but that doesn't mean that they all have to be negative, right? An unconscious bias can be: I am biased towards non judgement, towards presence, towards understanding. It's more of like, what is my unconscious attuned to? What kind of reactions happen in my unconscious in response to certain stimuli? We'll get into this more, we won't unpack this all right here, but I just want to touch on this. And so yeah, through this ongoing work, this is, this is an undertone of a lot of what I do. So many of these unconscious biases are how the system lives within us and through us and controls even our own path forward. And I love to help people decompose this, and recompose new patterns, see what patterns emerge from a place rooted in one's expansive being beyond the meanings imposed by the system. I also want to talk about my own experience with trauma, disability, chronic illness and pain and, you know, I have faced my fair share of struggles as well. I don't think that you can live in this world without facing struggle, right? I don't know if I'm wrong, tell me. But I've navigated debilitating, complex trauma from childhood that deeply, deeply impacted my life, still does to this day, but I've been fortunate and privileged to have access to resources that have helped me find a lot of healing and liberation and that's part of what helps me, what drives my own meaning making and what moves me to do the work I do in the world and to show up, despite my own challenges, despite the sometimes overwhelming situation we seem to find ourselves in sometimes, in late stage capitalism and climate change and just thing after thing after thing, challenge after challenge after challenge in the world. I also have been diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is classified as a disability, and it is definitely disabling. It's a very intense experience where in the week or so before I get my period, I just feel like a different person. And I've been able to find a lot of relief from this through lifestyle choices, food, exercise, mental health support, and I take Prozac for this too. Prozac has been game changing, it hasn't eliminated this experience, but it's definitely softened it. And after years of doing so many, so many things, having very, very. . . being very dedicated to different diets and routines and meditation and journaling and even therapy and all of this, taking Prozac, I started 2021, early 2021, so it's been a little. . . I think that's when I started, was it 2022? Okay, I don't know when I started, but it was pretty recently, you know, within the last couple of years. And it really helps a lot, and so I'm definitely someone who does not have any ideas of like, needing to be pure and not taking any sort of prescriptions or things like that, I actually find them to be very helpful in certain circumstances, and I think for myself without having already done so much inner work and somatic therapy and personal development to really have access to some sort of nervous system regulation and sense of self and groundedness and access within my own energy, I think Prozac would have been a very different experience. It probably would have helped still, but I think it was just like this Ah. It's like a, I dunno just kinda helped make everything else easier, it really has, without dampening my creativity or aliveness and I'm really grateful that it works for my body chemistry.
I'm also someone who has been recently diagnosed with ADHD. I know there's a whole big trend of this happening, and this happened because my husband was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid, but it was not treated, and he struggled for his whole life, and finally, was like, Wait, maybe I can get help for this. And so he went and sought diagnosis and during his experience, he was like, I, he was looking at the indicators and he was like, Natalie, this sounds like you and I read it and I had never considered myself to be ADHD because I'm not hyperactive, but when I read some of the ways that it can show up for people, and especially female bodied people, I was floored. I was like, how is this naming my experience to a T, and so I sought support and have been recently diagnosed within the last six months, actually, and started taking Ritalin. And my body's pretty sensitive, so I take a pretty low dose, but oh my gosh, it's been game changing, and same thing as with Prozac, I feel like if I hadn't already done nervous system healing and trauma healing, and created access to a sense of nervous system regulation, I think that Ritalin would have been extremely overwhelming for my system, I don't think it would have been as game changing for me. I don't know though, I mean, I'll never start Ritalin before I've already had these other skills, so I don't know, but just my experience that I had with it. And I'm happy to get into more about my own story because a lot of my body's trauma response skewed towards freeze and shutdown, which is a very low energy, heavy state. And I've actually had to help my body learn that it's safe to be energetic, to have energy to experience the activation of energy that allows me to move and do things in the world, and so I think if I had taken Ritalin, which, which, which activates that, that sort of energy that that helps you do things in the world, I think it would have triggered my body's threat response and just looped me right back into that shutdown, so. . . I don't know if that doesn't make sense, don't worry about it, I'm going to be talking so much more about the nervous system and trauma and all these things, but I'm open to any questions I really, I'm open to sharing about my journey, because I hope it can help other people with their own journeys. I've been helped by people who have vulnerably shared their mental health journeys with me, and there are some people who have helped me just by sharing that they take meds and what their experience has been like and that helped me feel more comfortable exploring the possibility of that for myself, and. . . and removing a sense of shame or whatever came with that. I also experience different chronic pains, and I won't get into all of it, because I don't want to just sit here and like complain. But my body. . . I do feel like I have a, I live a pretty active life, but then sometimes everything comes to a screeching halt because of different pain flare ups and yeah, that's really makes it challenging to just exist. All these things together make it challenging to exist in a world that feels like it takes more than the capacity I have to survive in, and I know I'm not alone in that feeling. And it's definitely through my privileges that I've had access to resources and support, I am very privileged and grateful for that privilege, and I hope that I can help other people have access to resources and support that allow them to be in this world a little more easily, with a little or a lot less weight to bear because of physical, mental, emotional, or systemic challenges.
I also want to explore a little bit about my background. My background is in science, I have a master's degree in soil science. In my undergrad I studied Ecosystem Assessment, which is a branch of forestry, that. . . well it was part of, like the forestry curriculum, and I spent a lot of time in the woods, it was pretty cool. I mean, it was, it was. . . I was in the Deep South, and it was, I don't know, I think it was the best I could do. I was drawn there by the mushrooms, the mushrooms drew me to do that work. I actually began college in 2020. . . No 2002! In 2002, dropped out three times, didn't finish my undergrad till 2013, and then got my Master's in 2016. So I spent most of my 20s kind of spiraling, and yeah, that I'm sure I'll share more about. But my background is in science, I do really love and appreciate science, but it's also really frustrating, because it is so reductive, it does not, it is not animist. It is very much seeing the world, trying to break the world down into little itty bits, like each part of a machine and understand them alone with. . . and then put them all back together and understand how they're in relationship with other things, and yeah, it works, and I have so many frustrations with it. So yeah, it informs my deep appreciation for the world, and it's also just one language through which I can speak.
I've also cultivated my intuitive abilities over the years for almost two decades now. I've always been into the esoteric, I've always been into the paranormal ever since I was a kid. I've been practicing meditation for a long time, over a decade, almost two decades, and practicing mindfulness, and developing my clairvoyance and other psychic skills and even guiding others through meditation, mindfulness and psychic development. And more recently, as I mentioned earlier, I've been becoming certified in somatic experiencing, which is a trauma healing modality that works with the nervous system's stories, with the nervous system's unconscious responses to perceived and real threats. And I'm a total nerd for the nervous system, and all of this and it's not like the end all be all of everything, but understanding this and having my own healing journey through somatic therapy, and then becoming, being on the path to becoming certified in somatic experiencing for two years now, I'm just like, wow, how is. . . how is this basic framework for how our bodies work not universally understood and taught and supported. And we'll be getting into that, like whooo. . . understanding one's nervous system's reactions, and how to navigate them and the impact they have on one's thoughts, emotions, actions, possibilities, reactions, everything, ability to relate. It's foundational, it's something that nothing else can replace addressing that. So yeah, I blend. . . I blend my understanding and the way I work the way I see things through these different areas of experience. I also have experience as a journalist, a photo journalist specifically, and I've worked for newspapers, magazines, bands, restaurants, individuals. I love portraiture, I shoot photos now mainly just for myself, just to witness the beauty of the earth, my adventures, and I have so many photos that have never seen the light of day to be shared, that I would hope to share one day. But it's so much more fun to take them and to edit them.
So yeah, that's a lot of where I come from. One of my core beliefs is really that we don't have to, or shouldn't have to, at least, conform to formulas, strategies or structures that don't align with our values, and living in a world where this, to exist I feel like I do have to sometimes conform or contort to things that are not aligned with my values. I know that this is something that I can't hold a bar of perfectionism over this, but it's something that I can operate from, to the best of my ability and my capacity within the constraints of any given moment. And, yeah, that's, that's part of how I bring meaning to my life is recognizing when I might not have to conform, and what might I like to do or be in that experience, and trying that out, if I have the capacity, and skills and resources. I guide my clients through this as well, and I guide them through facing the places that they fear, breaking away from what they believe they have to do. I help them confront that, in gentle ways. I would say I'm a gentle person, though, I can be fierce, but I'm not fierce to scare anyone. I would be fierce to protect myself or loved ones. But my approach is definitely gentle, and I help my clients and students confront, examine and question and decompose those things that are holding them in fear, holding them in attachment to what they believe they have to do or be, that they don't really align with. And it's through this exploration that we're able to find authentic ways to create offers, to create the way we want to share our work our gifts with the world, our creations with the world and market them, that truly work for us. And I'll be the first to say this is not an instant or easy journey. I think it's something that is probably going to always unfold for each individual and reach levels of more ease and integration and expansion, but this is something that I don't think there's like a done point, I think it's an ever evolving experience, but who knows. You'll see one of my things too is I'm open to the possibilities, and I'm not here to proclaim that I know any thing absolutely to be the like absolute truth. I don't know, that's what I think is cool is we each have our own ability to navigate according to what is that for us in each moment, and how do we come into relationship with one another, despite all of our differences. And I think that's really cool to explore. And even though it's like a cliche word, embracing authenticity really is at the heart of my work, I think genuine, authentic, these are the vibes. Now I'm getting really cliche vibes, but it's okay, I'm okay with it. Authenticity and being genuine, creating genuine connection and allowing one's authentic expression to flow through is really at the heart of what I help people do. It's another place where I . . . I make meaning, and where I find purpose and others who make meaning in that are the kind of people who come to me to help them with that, because I'm not going to go there and tell them what their meaning should be or how they should do it, but really hold space for that to birth, to emerge. We're going to decompose whatever's blocking that from coming through and allow that to nourish the seeds of what's sprouting, what's or what's already blooming there under the surface. So really, this is not about ticking off boxes to fit a specific mold, but more about being present and being present in any given moment, being present with how one's nervous system responds to different stimuli and structures, and navigating that, navigating towards safety when we're stuck in a threat response, and discerning and discovering what actions, structures, agreements and boundaries feel safe and supportive enough to each person, for them to be able to take the risk of putting themselves out there, of sharing their voice. So this doesn't look any one way, it's different for everyone, and that is fun, as well, to me. So yeah, I really appreciate honoring the unique pace and needs of each person's body, mind and spirit. And within this, there's some really important concepts that I work from that I'll be getting more into, but one is called titration, where this is another part of how I. . . my work is gentle, is the body, the nervous system can only handle so much charge, so much activation, so much energy at any given time, and so much of our world and so many of the methods and approaches, even from really well meaning people, have been just completely overwhelming to a lot of people's nervous systems. Too. . . it's too much charge at once, too much energy at once, and titration is an approach where we only tap into as much charge or activation or energy as a person's nervous system has the capacity to handle at any given moment. And it's so powerful, because that in itself is part of the path of breaking free from feeling like one has to do more than one can, which is sort of a common theme I see in this late stage capitalist world, having to do more more more more more, never enough, faster, bigger, all of that, when in reality, a lot of that's overwhelming. And so there's no one single amount or set point or anything here that we're trying to reach or avoid or whatever, it's. . . it's a journey, and it's not always perfect, but a lot of the work I do is really being able to notice where someone's nervous system is at and help them learn to notice that for themselves, and learn how to titrate that, their own activation for themselves, so that they're not doing too much too fast, and then getting overwhelmed and collapsing, and having to put it all together from scratch again, because it all fell apart. I don't know if that makes sense, but I know that's been my experience of a lot of things, and I still go through it sometimes, I mean, that's life. But yeah, so while the work I do may be intense, it's titrated, it's titrated in a way that's meant to be digestible, doable, and encouraging that expanded ability to hold charge. And it's kind of, I think about it like if you went to the gym to lift weights after not, you know, you've never lifted weights, or it's been a really long time, and you wanted to lift weights, if you went and just lifted the heaviest one, and you didn't even know proper form, much less have the muscle strength to do that, you could really injure yourself. And that's kind of the same thing we're doing with titration is instead of going to the most intense activating part of something, we start by building proper form, and only working with a weight that our body can handle at a time, and then that allows the body to grow stronger, and hold more charge and more activation without getting overwhelmed, until the body can handle great amounts of charge and not. . . not so that one may endure terrible things, because it can be used that way for sure. But so that one can live, so that one can face risks, the risks of living and expressing oneself and putting oneself out there, and taking the risk of connection. Because it is risky, I'm not gonna lie, it's frickin risky, right? And so in order to be able to face that risk, we have to kind of work out our nervous systems and that's why I like to say I'm like a nervous system personal trainer. And I also want to emphasize that while Nervous System work is vital, it alone cannot abolish the oppressive structures of our society. There's so much that goes into this, the. . . what creates these oppressive constructs and structures, and I think nervous system work is very important and part of this, but I don't ever want to give the impression that this alone is all we need to, to deconstruct this. So I just want to name that. I do think nervous system work provides really valuable support to individuals on their path, and I think that just being, getting to a place where one can even express their voice and share their soul work is in itself part of that work, and that's a little niche that I hold space for and hold here is helping people to deconstruct the ways supremacy, blocks them from speaking, sharing, connecting, offering their valuable soul work and gifts that might not be valued by the system or by the mainstream, but are highly valued and supportive to the aliveness of our living community of humans, plants, animals, insects, elements, etc.
So yeah, there's a lot, there's a lot there, for sure, and we'll be getting into that as well, because it's part of what I think about, and act on, and do in the world, and, yeah, open to talking about these things. So I really do feel that in our individual healing and thriving, we do contribute to the collective liberation, that I would like us to have access to and, you know, it really is coming from this individual to collective level and the collective to the individual level, it's all about relationship, and a lot of the work I do, just like I said in the beginning, the work I do is in helping people heal the possibility of connection, heal their ability to connect, heal that ability to be in authentic relationship with themselves, with a full spectrum of theirselves and with others, with nature, with spirit, and tap into that aliveness, to express that, to be that despite, despite some of the things that we face in the world that try to prohibit that or squish that.
Thanks for joining me here in this episode, I hope that this was illuminating for you, or at least helps you feel more connected to, or understand me a bit better. And remember, this is a journey. We're in this together. If you resonate with what I've shared today, I invite you to subscribe to the podcast, if you're not already subscribed, in your podcast player, and share this with a friend, if there's a friend that. . . whether it's this episode, or just sharing the podcast in general, or any of your episodes, favorite episodes that you hear, if you share with a friend, and then that friend shares with a friend, like these are powerful ways we can create change without having to rely on the system's algorithms and rules and constructs and whatever, you know. So thank you so much for listening to me, for just getting into this and I welcome questions, comments, reflections. You can get in touch with me at natalie.net, you can sign up for my newsletter there or contact me through my contact page. And yeah, I hope to hear from you. Thanks for being here. That's natalie.net