How I Found My Voice on Instagram

When you think of Instagram, you might think of selfies or celebrities, but Instagram is so much more than that. The reason I was drawn to Instagram in the first place was that I could control the content I see. My issue with Facebook was always that it was nearly an obligation to be friends with someone, and that meant you would have to see all their posts, good, bad, and ugly. With me being so sensitive to energy that often meant just opening Facebook would cause me to process and clear other people’s emotions.  Instagram is entirely different, you follow who you want, they choose to follow you back or not. If someone starts posting things I don’t want to see, I can unfollow them. No big deal, no hurt feelings, and most importantly for me, the experience is as positive as I make it.

Because of this, I decided to really make a good go of being on Instagram in July 2017. Plus, I have over 10K photos and I really needed a place to share them. I had an older account that I had started, but really had done anything with, @karenedowning . When I started back I was trying out different topics, posting photos of all topics, blog posts, vegan food, affirmations, past life patterns, and I certainly didn’t know much about engagement. I would follow people I was interested in, in in the hope that they would follow me back, and that seemed to work. But, my problem still was what to post.

From July to September of 2017 posting on Instagram was a mystery to me, I would just pick something and share it with a few hashtags, thinking that was enough. My description would be a few short words, like, “picture of flower”, or something similar. Not exactly an original caption!

Near the end of September, I began to be aware of some the photo feature hubs, and I joined onto one as page moderator. For those who don’t know what a photo feature hub is, it is a place on Instagram that features original photographs from other photographers and Instagram users. A photographer will use your page hashtag in their description, to put forward their picture for a chance to be featured. As a moderator, I learned so much about posting, hashtags, images, and content. It was an incredible learning curve. A short 3 weeks after becoming a moderator, I was asked to be an administrator of the page, the duties moved from only posting pictures, to engaging with the audience, sharing Instagram stories, creating graphics, and so much more. I also become the administrator for the photo hub’s challenge page and learned about how to run a photo challenge.

In December 2017, the photo hub I was a part of split into two different hubs, and the admins and mods were asked to choose where to go. I still didn’t have much experience (I thought), and so I followed some of the people I had connected with to newly named hub. While here, I started to admin a third page, and also became one of the lead administrators for the entire hub (about 60 Instagram pages). My new duties here included training new moderators, creating even more graphics, and also handling personality conflicts at times. It really pulled from my HR background. I learned so much from every person I met and every task and duty I had.

This went well for a few months, the new hub grew, and my knowledge also grew more and more. I started to get inspired ideas about why something worked (or didn’t), and begun to research more about different ways to post, share, engage and grow a page. Eventually in late March of 2018, I saw some things in the hub that I didn’t agree with, and I chose to leave. A friend of mine encouraged me to start my own photo feature hub, and the first page, @Colorful_challenges , went up on April 3, 2018.

During the month of April, I added 7  hub pages to my photo feature hub, called @Colorful_clicks ! I was able to take my knowledge and apply it to this new hub, and learn more about what works, and what doesn’t. Plus, since it was only me, I was also free to experiment with different ways of doing things, including trying out new Instagram features, like IGTV. At the time of this writing, 3 ½ months after starting out, over 4000 photographs have been tagged to #colorful_clicks for a chance to be featured on the main hub page. Phenomenal!

Now, here comes the part about how I found my voice. So, during all this time, I had connected with amazing photographers from all over the world, who are all passionate about sharing great photos as well as words of kindness and encouragement. This was the world of Instagram that you would never know about if you didn’t follow these pages! With so much positive energy and encouragement swirling around me, it gave me the confidence to share more about myself to push the boundaries beyond my fear of judgment.

From July through the end of 2017, would experience an incredible amount of fear when trying to figure what to post, who would like it, would would be upset by it, how to say it in the best way, etc. But, what I learned from all of this is to simply be myself, drop the façade that had become my security blanket, and allow the words to flow free. Only with giving myself permission to be truly free in my expression, was I able to find my voice.

Last Saturday, while at my mom’s birthday celebration, we were talking about Instagram. I expressed how I had learned so much over the past year. My brother-in-law replied with something so profound for me, “Imagine if you applied that to your business!” It took a moment to settle in, and my fearful resistance initially tried to pop up. But then, oh my goodness, it just clicked into place for me. That is what the whole year had been all about, to learn about Instagram, and to work through the fears of judgment and ridicule. The very next day, I started an IG account for my business @Your_soul_mission . It is the place for affirmations, past life patterns, blog posts, and vegan foods. I will still hang onto my other accounts, they are part of the fun!

On Your_Soul_mission, my posts are no longer one sentence descriptions, they tell a story, they are a part of me, as I finally feel free to share my vulnerabilities, and to be a person, not a well-groomed façade. In my previous blog post, I wrote about cracking the façade, and how it important it was for me to bare my truth in such a public way. I found my voice in that journey, and can’t wait to see where it will lead me.

Are there outworn patterns of fear that have become your security blanket? A good way to find out is to take the Past Life Quiz and read about the different past life patterns. One of my patterns is the Infidel, where I had been persecuted for my beliefs in previous lifetimes, and I had such of fear of saying or doing the “wrong” thing, that it would holding me back from experiencing who I truly am. I do not want to be in the prison of the past any longer, and I’m sure you don’t either. When you are ready to have some help with working through your challenges and growing your past life gifts, consider my Past Life Discovery program. Thank you and Blessings, Karen

P.S. Be sure to follow my new Your Soul Mission Instagram page!

Forest Bathing for Inspiration

Gravel dust swirls in the warm air, stirring more with each step I take. To my left are rows of flowers, with colors spanning the rainbow, smelling like a perfumery of floral and wood. To my right is a border of trees, protecting a wetland and habitat to rabbits, ducks, frogs, and many varieties of birds. Up ahead the crows call out, beckoning me to move deeper into the forest. Two butterflies dance in the sky, moving from one side of the pathway to the other, reminding me to be spontaneous and playful.

I have been an avid forest bather long before I even knew what it was. Nature’s cathedral of treetops has always been my place of peace, where I can turn off and allow everything else to fall away. The Japanese have coined the term “forest bathing”, and it has recently made a surge into our American lexicon, but for those of us living in the Seattle area, forest bathing has already been a part of life.

Forest bathing is not simply being outside, it is about immersion in the natural beauty that surrounds you. It is a break from devices, signals, and busyness. While there will be some people who tell you how to take a forest bath, it is more about embracing a being-ness that cannot be defined by another person. Forest bathing creates a daily escape from our workweek routine, and forges connection with nature, as well as our innermost thoughts.

When you emerge from your time in nature, you come out with renewed priorities, perspectives and focus on what really matters, instead of what you think should matter. You can walk, jog, sit, meditate, practice tai chi, do yoga, read, color, take photos, sing, laugh, or simply be. The more you allow each moment in the forest to lead and guide you, the better experience you will have.

I enjoy using this time for walking meditation, contemplation, connecting with the animals I encounter, tai chi on occasion, and taking photos. Each day is a different experience, even if I go back to the exact same place. The forest is my place for inspiration to jolt me to my next adventure.

Whether, I am sun gazing though the canopy, or pondering on the ripples in a pond, the forest reminds me of what is important for me in my life today. It is my therapist, my guide, and my theater, showing me all that I need to see.

Question Everything

One of the questions I am often asked is, “Do you ever question how you get your information?” My answer. Yes. In fact, I feel that taking regular time to question the process of your intuition keeps you in check, out of the Ego, and even more importantly, away from the influence of malevolent beings.

This is not a question of protection. If you wish to be protected, and ask for protection, you are protected. But, what if you have been unknowingly asking for protection from beings who have not been honest with you? How do you learn to discern the difference between your Higher Self and the Ego? Between malevolent beings, here to disempower, and benevolent beings, here to assist?

There are two key points to accomplish this, balance and discernment. Both are simple to remember, but can be challenging to practice. These are tools available to everyone, and with a little practice, you can master them quite easily.

Opening up your energy to intuitive communication of any kind, is like opening the front door of your home. And, just like before you open your front door, you want to have a few checks and balances in place before you open up your energy for intuitive communication.

First, you want to know who is at the door. When you are opening the door for a new energy to work with for the first time, you want to know who they are. Start by asking for their name. Then you want to ask where they are from, and why they are coming to greet you. Sometimes it will be a longtime Spirit guide who is introducing themselves, or a loved one who has passed, or sometimes no one you have ever heard of. Some of the most selfless and helpful beings have names we have never heard of, so do not be put off by an unfamiliar name.

Also, there is a rule that governs the name that an energetic being can present themselves as. It must be a name that they have been referred to before, but not necessarily their name on the other side. For example, you have a given name for this life on the Earth plane. When you leave this life and go to the Other Side, you will also remember you Soul Name. You will respond to your Soul name, and also to any of the names from any of your incarnations. Your living relatives on the Earth will not know your Soul Name to call you by. However, this naming rule can also be confusing when you are meeting with a new energy for the first time. If you hear the name “Michael” do not assume it is Archangel Michael without asking a few more questions first.

To add to the difficulty with going off of name alone, there have been beings who have been going by copycat names. So the “Michael” you connect with has the potential to be a copycat “Michael.” This is why asking the questions about where they are from, and why they are connecting with you are incredibly necessary to determine their true origins and intentions. However, once you have gotten to know an energy who is working with you, there are many different cues you can pick up on. They have signature color they present to you, some can have a signature smell, and all of them have a certain feeling to their energetic presence.

This feeling is your best discernment tool; as just like your loved ones, you can easily learn the feel of a person’s/being’s energy signature. This isn’t something that can be duplicated. But, you cannot lead with this feeling, you need to know who is there first, build up a relationship with them, and then only at that time, can you rely on the feeling of their energy signature.

Even at that, you do want to maintain a balance in trusting what you feel, and knowing that if something feels “off” to you, it is time to question the connection once again. There should never be a time in your life where you can rely on blind faith in the course of your intuitive communication. If you do, that is a vulnerability that can be exploited by those with ill intent. Even the energy you know as God can be questioned about Its Name, Source and Intention. Without going through even just one round of questioning, you will never know if you have unknowingly been communicating with a copycat God energy. If you do not ever question your communication process, you are like an open energy line that can be tapped without your permission. The best way to grow confidence in your connection with any energy being is to first grow you connection with your own Higher Self.

This connection to the Higher Self is a part of every individual. Through your Higher Self is your pathway of connection to other energetic beings. Imagine your column of light extending from below your feet to far above your head. That column connects Mother Gaia (Earth) to Source energy. You, and everyone else, is a bridge for this light connection. Each one of us, through our will, discernment and attention, can keep this bridge wide, flowing and secure. If we ignore it, or give its management away to some else, it will become narrow, rickety and difficult to cross. If we keep our bridge difficult to cross, this creates a vulnerability for other energies to utilize our bridge without us knowing. When you are in a trusting connection with your Higher Self, your light bridge automatically is wide, secure and flowing with energy and communication.

So, then how do you create a trusting connection with your Higher Self? This first comes from recognizing the qualities the Higher Self possesses, and what qualities the Ego possesses. The Ego is attached to the matrix grid of greed, anger, separation, fear, corruption, and so forth. The Higher Self is free from all of these types of emotions, and is in Oneness and peace with all things. The more you neutralize the Ego, the more you connect with your Higher Self. The more you connect with the Higher Self, the more you neutralize the Ego.

To fully neutralize the Ego, you must identify within you, ALL pieces of fear, sadness, doubt, anger, greed, pride, corruption, hubris, lack, etc. It may sound like a tremendous feat, but really once you have gone beyond the 50% threshold of dealing with these Egoic traits, then you are more in the Higher Self part of you. At that point, the Higher Self is able to really work their magic, and remove from within you much more of your potential susceptibilities. Of course, the more attention you pay to this process, the more of these susceptibilities are brought into the light much sooner. Everyone will make it to the same destination, but the amount of time it takes to get there, depends solely on how much you are actively participating along with your Higher Self.

One of the disservices done by some who teach the Law of Attraction, is that they often tell you to force yourself to move beyond your negative emotions. Unfortunately, this does nothing more than stuff them down inside of you. Instead, when you feel a need to cry, cry. When you feel a need to vent, vent. When you feel a need to express your anger, do so. There are helpful and appropriate ways to release your emotions. And, the great part is that once you have released them, they will not come back to bite you in the you-know-what!

It is only when these Egoic emotions and traits are kept buried inside that they can create all sorts of problems, not only with your spiritual communication process, but also affecting you on a physical level. To facilitate the release of these emotions and Egoic traits, all you need to do is identify what you are feeling, and then find a healthy avenue for getting it out of you. Here are some recommendations.

To connect more with your Higher Self, you can engage in any activity that provides fulfillment for you. When you cultivate peace, joy, happiness, contentment, acceptance, unity, abundance, and fulfillment, you are in the Higher Self. The more you are able to hold these positive states of frequency within you (while also releasing the Egoic side), then you will have achieving the balance that is needed to use your tools of discernment.

Balance is needed for discernment. Discernment is needed for you to maintain sovereignty of your own energy. Question everything, but also trust. Build up your inner peace, but also release the anger. Stay out of judgment of where another person or energy is on their path of learning. Instead, focus on whether their intentions are harmonious with your own. If they are not, simply ask them to move along. Do not be mad at them, or in fear. They can use that energy to infiltrate your bridge of light. Instead, focus on building up your own bridge of light, maintaining it, understanding it. Then you can truly be sure you are connecting on your own terms.