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Ebb and Flow

Once a month I have tea with an old friend via Zoom. We grew up in the same town, went to the same schools, attended Brownies and Girl Scouts together, learned to drive together, kept in touch in college, stood up in each other’s weddings and then life happened and we separated. We lost touch with each other for years. My life changed dramatically as I figured out who I was and what I wanted. We eventually reconnected years later when we met at a volleyball game for LGBTQ folks. We discovered we had more in common than we thought. Needless to say, my heart is connected with my friend.

I got caught up in the worry and angst as we spoke. I was losing myself in the images I saw in my head with what was shared. My breathing was shallow with a growing agitation. Fear and worry are like a contagion. If I could just control what my heart feels, maybe I can keep these thoughts out. But inevitably the worries and angst scurry in through the open door.

I am empathic. I have been all my life. I still struggle accepting this fact and used to critically judge myself. According to Dr. Judith Orloff, empaths are highly sensitive people who absorb emotions of others, both good and bad. Now in my 60’s I am appreciating these traits more and this has actually helped with self-compassion. Dr. Judith Orloff’s book, The Empath’s Survival Guide, has helped me understand and accept myself as is.

Poem by Rev Alix Klingenberg April 2020

I go in and out, don’t you?

Into flow and gratitude,

and out of it again

Into grief and hopelessness,

and out of it again.

Into routine; cooking, walks, connection

And then into bed, the bath, my head, my tears.

These days call for the ability to sway

Sway into reality, sway into empathy,

and back again.

Dip toes into fear, anxiety, awareness

And rest in creativity, distraction, comfort.

We go in and out, like tides

Creating our own slow rhythms

Finding the pulse of survival.


  • Joy to be here

  • My boundaries were violated as an empath. Al-anon helped. So did a book “The Work” by Byron Katie. I ask myself “Is the feeling true?” This freed me up. I'm a smiling happy light being today

  • Reconnecting is the word I focused on. My schedule has changed, I am still connected with friends, I don’t want to overlook others

  • Tides coming in and out, everyday different, comes and goes. Challenge is to find wave of peace

  • Go in and out. Go in and out of grief. The ending words “the pulse of survival” spoke to me

  • In and out. Light of sun is always there but we don’t always see it. This too will pass. Swaying birches are rooted. Reminder to me.

  • Breath going in and out. Noticing heartbeat

  • Aware of how quickly my emotions change

  • Your last words “as is” spoke to me. Acceptance of who you are

  • These morning sessions help ground me during the day

  • Put my meditation music on during my work day and feel grounded because it reminds me of these meditation times

  • My meditation music helps me sleep at night

  • I read how we have leeway in our reactions. NASA tests astronauts in capsules in order to teach how we have control over how patient we can be

  • Dolphins go in and out of water.

  • The sentence “dip toes in fear, anxiety, awareness and rest in creativity, distraction, comfort” spoke to me. It sums up how to live—we have a range of emotions during the day and have a choice how to respond

  • Hibiscus bloomed last night, life was expanding as I slept and greeted me in morning

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