Jan 1

The Burnout Epidemic: Lifting the Veil on the Compulsive Drive to Achieve and Produce


Stressed out

There is a voice inside many high-achieving women (and girls) that demands, “Go! Go! Go!  Do not slow down.  Do not stop.  Do not rest.  There is more to do!”  Just the thought of slowing, even for a moment, is terrifying because the fear threatens, “What if you cannot get going again? What if this time, is the time, it all falls apart? NO! You cannot stop, you cannot rest.  It is too dangerous!”

The echo left behind is sourced from an old, untreated wound that believes it is never enough.  External accomplishments are meant to silence the self-doubt that always seems to be pushing and driving–demanding more, more, more.  Caught up in the whirlwind of intense, chaotic activity there is little time for grounded reflection.  We write off the overwhelming stress and anxiety as a by-product of the “successful” life we are leading.  Pretending we believe things will be different once we close the big deal or land the next promotion.  But, the reprieve never comes.

In moments of despair, we may wonder why all of this accomplishing and achieving can’t seem to eradicate the sinking feeling that something crucial is missing.  It is as if, at the center of a life that reflects our culture’s definition of success, there is a barren, aching emptiness screaming, “This can’t be all there is!”

To touch into this feeling, this knowing for too long, is to walk through the doors of chaos and possibility.  Maureen Murdock gives voice to this soul disconnect and its source in, The Heroine’s Journey:

“Our heroine has learned to perform well, so when she feels a sense of discomfort she tackles the next hurdle: a new degree, a more prestigious position, a geographical move, a sexual liaison, another child.  She soothes her feelings of emptiness by massaging her ego with further acts of ‘heroism’ and achievement… There is a great adrenaline rush associated with the achievement of a goal, and this ‘high’ masks the deep-seated pain associated with not being enough.  She hardly notices the let-down after her goal has been won, she is onto the next one.

This obsessive need to stay busy and productive keeps her from having to experience her growing sense of loss.  But, what is loss?  Surely, she has achieved everything she has set out to do, but it has come at a great sacrifice to her soul.  Her relationship with her inner world is estranged.”

Deep in our bones we each feel the pull to answer the callings of our heart and soul.  The question is: Are we willing to turn toward ourselves? Are we willing to admit that we matter? Can we acknowledge that our needs, wants and desires are worthy?

The world is experiencing great change and women are being called to discover and declare new ways to live and lead.  Do you feel this calling?

If you are ready to live a more fulfilling and vitalizing life, if you are ready to embrace the most powerful parts of yourself, then I welcome you to connect with me at rachel.keener@newvisionproject.com or 828.318.6908. We will do an initial call, free of charge, to see if a single session or personalized program series makes sense for you.

Please keep in mind that the best results are typically created when the reasons for the work are triggered by important periods of change, a need for personal growth or persistent feelings of dissatisfaction, frustration or the perception of being stuck.

In the words of the great Sufi mystic and poet, Rumi, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.  It will not lead you astray.”

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Posted in Writings
Jan 1

I Am Here…Clutching My Throat

TransformationI am here… clutching my throat
trying to release my truths, trying to breathe…
but, my throat/ my body is silencing me.

With each second that takes me deeper into a voiceless whisper
I fear I have nothing worth expressing.
Or, rather, I fear I will make no sense.
I will not be understood.

And, this deep sacred eruption
that feels like feminine wisdom
having her way with the most vulnerable parts of my being
will be lost forever… to myself and the world.

No mirror to reflect Her magnificence.
Only a reflection of the past.

Stupid, naive girl- making something out of nothing…
looking for that which is not there- sneers the shadow.

Yet it is.  It is here!
These experiences are the MOST REAL.
There… Mystery… Truth

Standing in the fire.
Burning through the illusions.
Waiting in the In Between.

Do you know this place?

I don’t know how I know…
but, I KNOW…
It is in all of us if we choose to BE with it.

The road, the path, the journey…
the cycles, the process…
it is bittersweet.

Truths are not revealed on command.
In fact nothing, however desperate, can be summoned
from the place of unconscious egotistical command.

So, I stay with this heaviness in my chest
this lump in my throat…
this constriction of confusion.

I work with my dreams.
I write in my journal.
I sit with my experience.
And, I get closer to the pain.

I allow the darkness in…so that I may once again know the light.
Different.  Expanded.

I allow the darkness in…so that I may know the expressions of my soul.

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Jan 1

Learning to Dance with the Feminine

TransformationI AM… learning to dance with the feminine.

She is graceful.  I am awkward.
She is soft and strong, big and swirling.

I am trying.
I am stumbling.

She is patient, kind, loving.
Her hand is outstretched.
Her smile is inviting.
Her eyes are drawing me in.

I can trust my humanity in her presence.
It’s ok to fall.  It’s ok to fly.
I don’t look stupid or lost to her.

She sees all of me… even the parts I cannot yet see of myself.
She believes in me as I am.
So, I believe in me as I am.

For a time, I surrender and I am free.

I want to get it right.
Why is something so simple so hard?

Angst begins to form.
The cloud of irritation arrives.
I am no longer free.

She coaxes me to relax… to be lighter on my feet.
It is, of course, the precision that is tripping me up.

I want to let go.
So, I breathe.
I flow from where I am.
The uncomfortable self-consciousness shifts to an expansive feeling of love and acceptance. Peace.

I find the flow.  For a time, I am.

The process is the point.
The destination will always be unknown.
Slip into the moment, the flow and let the natural life unfold.

This is the dance with the feminine.

You don’t have to work so hard she whispers.
All you seek is here.
Come and dance.

Bring all your imperfections and all your heart’s desires.
Together, we will light up the world… from the inside out.

© 2013, All Rights Reserved.

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Posted in Writings
Dec 12

Giving Voice to my Inner Wild Woman


This work is a reflection and expression of the grief, anger and pain that was injected the moment our world learned of the tragic massacre in Newtown, CT, as well as Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ book, Women Who Run With the Wolves
May we remember and honor the lives lost, and may we hold those left behind in love’s healing light. 


Events like this cause us all to cry, what is wrong with the world?

The wild woman in me
knowing she has reason to share
screams with agony to be unleashed.

Pacing, weeping, shrieking
from the depths of my soul
she cries out, now?

Now, will you unleash your truths?

Will you stand in your passion and compassion?
Will you unite with your sisters?
Will you demand to be heard once and for all?

Will you rise up and
give voice to an intelligence
rooted in such truth
it transcends the fallacies of lone logic?

As the giver of life will you now stand,
unapologetically, in defense of it?

Or, will you cave to your fears?

The fear of being misunderstood…
disliked… offensive… or, wrong.

Will you be docile with your words,
leaving room for everyone else to be right?
All the while diluting the potency of your message.

Will you allow your fear of being
too aggressive… too emotional…too naïve…
too angry… too political… too much…
to stifle what needs to be said?

Because, I beg of you she cries, time is short.

Humanity is dying for your rage and anger
channeled into compassionate action.

Do you hear her calling?

The pain, the tears, the anger, the sadness, the grief…
the ever-pervasive love…that’s her.
Pleading with your every cell to stand up and
give voice to your deepest truths.

Sisters and mothers of the world,
we are the givers of life…
we are the protectors of life…
we carry the torch of the feminine.

And, the feminine has been pushed aside for too long.

No more.

There comes a time when enough is enough.
This unrelenting stream of sadness screams the time is now.

No more.
No more tolerating the intolerable.

So, I call to you too.
I beg of you…Give voice to your inner wild woman!


But, for the love of life, give voice…
to your deepest truths!

The time is now for the feminine to rise.
Raging not in revenge, but in defense of all life on earth.

And, while our voices may shake
as we give voice to our inner wild woman
know her truth cannot be ignored.

Because our voices… rising together
from the great strength of love…
Is the only thing that will change the world.

© 2012, All Rights Reserved.


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Sep 9

What Happens When You Start Exercising Your Right to Personal Boundaries?

Below offers some insight into the reactions you can expect from your colleagues when you start exercising your right to create, enforce and maintain your personal boundaries.  This is part two in a three-part series.

As women we are raised to be pleasers, to get along, to say yes, to be part of the solution not part of the problem. This approach, unedited, usually benefits everyone but us. When we finally decide enough is enough, and we are ready to say yes to the right things and no to the wrong things, it’s only natural to wonder how we’re going to be received.  Speaking from personal experience there are roughly three phases to the process: the storm, the retreat and the return.

Phase 1: The Storm

Like any storm you can see it coming and you usually have a pretty good idea of how bad it’s going to be.  So, you prepare.  Whether you are pushing back on your workload, making a case for fair pay for fair work, or letting a weekend work call go to voicemail (which will no doubt create interesting dynamics Monday morning), expect to meet some resistance.

Preparing mentally for the storm.  I’ve found the intensity of the storm is based on two variables:

1.  The amount of experience the other person has had with you enforcing boundaries.

2.  The emotional intelligence level of that person.

Unfortunately, these two factors are related to the other person, which means you don’t have a lot of control here. Bottom line, if the other person is accustomed to being allowed to behave however they please with you AND they are more of a command and control, my way or the highway kind of person, then mentally prepare for more of a level 4 hurricane.  Anything better will be a welcomed surprise.

I know… so far this sounds pretty bad.  Just stay with me, some good news is coming.

During the storm, stand firm in your power. This is absolutely critical.  If you back down now, it’s like giving a screaming child candy every time they freak out.  Remember, you have the right to establish and maintain your personal boundaries.  You are not asking for a favor, something extra or special treatment, you are simply saying it’s time for quid pro quo respect between two adults—regardless of positional power.

Once it is clear to the other party that you are committed to maintaining this boundary, the storm will begin to fade.  Then, you will move into the next phase of the process.

Phase 2: The Retreat

As the storm passes things will become quiet, in a strange way.  Your phone may ring a little less, you may not be included on a project that has your name written all over it, or you may see a decrease in communication other ways.  Expect this.  You’ve just established new standards for everyone to play by and your colleagues are going to take a step back to recalibrate.  If this is the first time, you’ve made it clear that there are new rules of engagement, then expect this retreat to last a little longer.

Even if you do remember to expect this response, it will still trigger fear.  So, you should also expect to hear from your ego shouting things like, “See what you’ve done! …Now no one is asking for anything! …You need to fix this fast! …And, blah, blah, blah.”

Quoting my own journal during such a time, “While part of me feels really proud of the steps I’ve taken to bring more balance into my life another part of me is saying… nice work… you’ve just committed professional suicide.”  This is a prime example of inner wisdom vs. a freaking-out ego.  Which voice do you think was louder?  Right.

I’ll tell you more about why I wrote that in my journal in the next blog.  Suffice it to say, of course, my fear was going to me speak to me.  I was stepping outside of my comfort zone in a big way.  And, when you step outside of your comfort zone your fear is going to get loud too.  Why? Because, most of us have allowed our fear to control far more than we realize for a really long time.  Once we decide to make new choices we have no tangible experiences, yet (operative word here… is “yet”) to remind ourselves why everything is going to ok.

So, when things start to hit a fever pitch for you, and they will, take a deep breath.  Trust the wisdom that guided your right actions of empowerment.  Stay true to the quiet, deeper inner knowing and soon enough you will have an experience to validate why you did what you did.

Another thing, it’s during these #ohshit #whathave.i.done moments that you should be calling on your support team (see the last blog post if you missed it).  These wise women that you trust will remind you that you are in fact not only sane, but brave.

The point is you must do whatever you need to do to calm your very real, very irrational fears.  Then, take another well-deserved breath and realize part of this quiet feels really, really good. This is what you wanted—the power (and time) to spend your energy on the things that matter most.  This is what the world needs from you.  Only you know what matters most to you.

This period of retreat, of quiet, is a gift back to you for all you have given to others.  This is some good karma!  Recognize it.  Honor it.  Use it!  Replenish your energy and feed your soul.  Whether you know it or not, you’re taking steps to align yourself with your true purpose in life.  Choose to believe it or not, I’m just saying what I’ve learned to be true.

Moving on.

Phase 3: The Return

Here’s the most important piece you’ve probably forgotten, but others have not.  You are awesome.  You are totally and completely awesome… awesome… awesome.  That’s how you found yourself starved of energy to begin with.

People with bright lights, creative power, passion, and drive stand out.  You stand out.  Others are naturally drawn to you.  They always have been and always will be.  You add value to everything you touch because you care deeply.  You’re a great resource and people are going to want to continue to tap into the unique gifts you have to offer the world.  But, they are your gifts to give; soul-level energy is not to be taken.  So, trust me, they will be back.

Still don’t believe me?  Let me put it this way.  99-percent of the time you make people’s lives easier, better, more full.  Even if that drops to 75-percent of the time, YOU MAKE PEOPLE’S LIVES EASIER, BETTER, MORE FULL!  That’s what they know to be true about you.  When they do return, your inner wisdom will have that “I told you so” moment with your fear and your ego.

So, give yourself a big hug; and, take great pride in paving the way for other women to also make clear their boundaries- to choose freely how they will and will not channel their unique gifts into the world.

Remember, it takes courage to consciously step into the unknown.  It takes a leader.  And, the world needs your powerful, feminine leadership.

If you feel like sharing, I’d love to hear about your courageous moments.  Visit www.facebook.com/NewVisionProject or https://twitter.com/RachelAKeener.

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Sep 9

WARNING: Saying yes, when you mean no, is hazardous to your health

Below is a simple step-by-step process you can follow to uncover your real truths once you are ready to exercise your right to create, enforce and maintain your personal boundaries.  This is part one in a three-part series.

There’s been a lot written on the importance of saying no and specifics for how to say no, but before that information can be useful to us we must go back a step further.  We must uncover our personal motivators that make saying yes so easy and saying no so hard.  Once we’ve done this, then we can take the practical steps to creating healthy change.

So, let’s talk about the word no.  As much we intellectually understand the value and power of this word, it is still really hard for most of us to put it to good use.  Why? Seriously, why is it so freaking hard for us to say no?  This is a question I’ve asked myself, and my girlfriends, many times.  The conclusion I’ve come to is that saying no is so hard for us because it goes against the very core of our fundamental nature as women.  I also believe as a collective group we’ve allowed our good intentions to be exploited.  We ignore our inner wisdom, everything in our being that’s telling us to watch out, be careful, SAY NO for the immediate gratification that comes from saying yes (…and for all the reasons it’s scary to say no).  We tell ourselves we’re saying yes because we’re being good corporate citizens or because it was an honor to be asked to work on this project in the first place.  We tell ourselves it’s ok to say yes because it will put us in good graces with those who have the most influence on our ability to succeed.  We tell ourselves we say yes because others would do the same for us.  Sometimes these reasons make sense; often they do not.

What happens when we don’t learn to say no?  We lose energy.  We lose energy until there is none left to give.  Without clear boundaries, we give to the point of depletion.  When we realize we are doing this it’s time to ask why.  What drives us to give to the point of depletion?

Several years ago, I went through a very dark period.  I knew the way I was behaving, the choices I was making were damaging, but I couldn’t see a way out.  I felt like I was drowning in this thick, confusing fog.  I decided it was time to dig deep and find some clarity.  I found myself asking, “Why was I willing to sacrifice so much of myself?”

For me the why that came back was not easy to face.  You see my why is about self-worth.  I am a people-pleaser.  I feel safe and important when I feel needed and included.  As much as it pains to me to admit it, I was defining my self-worth, my satisfaction with my life through the acceptance and the approval I received from others.  With this belief system in place, saying no for me threatened how I defined my value in the world.

This was a most undesirable finding.  My reaction was… no, this can’t be true… fuck… seriously… no, really, this simply cannot be my truth.  Everything about this finding was repulsive and disgusting to me.  I am better than this, stronger than this I told myself.  Haven’t I proven that I have a tough skin, and that I don’t need the approval of others?  Haven’t I made it clear that I really don’t care what others think of me?

Thankfully, a kind, gentle knowing reminded me that deep down I knew the truth and the truth was I did care, I do care, and that’s ok… to a point.  The point that it becomes unacceptable is when behave in ways that are restrictive and depleting instead of expansive and energizing.  I had finally reached my breaking point and it was time for change.  It was time for recognizing, establishing and honoring my personal boundaries.

Below is the step-by-step process I went through to create healthy change.  Maybe it will speak to you too.

Step 1:  Pay attention to your inner guidance system.  Our bodies, our minds and/ or our feelings will let us know immediately when a personal boundary is being violated.  These red flags and signals of frustration are calling us to take appropriate action.

Step 2:  Define your boundaries.  Write out what is important to you.  Decide what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are intolerable.  This is a critical step because it brings real clarity, keeps you accountable and actually makes it easier to follow through on enforcing your new choices.  

Step 3:  Develop a plan.  This is the tactical phase.  Decide how you will enforce your boundaries.  (If you are looking for some specific guidance here, checkout Womenomics, chapter four, by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay.)

Step 4:  Gather reinforcements.  Enlist the support and guidance of two or three women you trust personally and professionally.  Allow this support system to help you stand strong.

Step 5:  Be brave and take action.  You know what’s important to you.  You know what you will and what you won’t accept.  You know how to respond.  And, you can take solace in the comfort of your support system.  Now, it is time to act.

Step 6 (optional, but highly recommended): Celebrate!  Sure, establishing and enforcing your boundaries is important, but it’s certainly not easy.  Take a moment to honor your courage.

Remember, when one of us stands strong in our rightful power, we all benefit.

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