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What the Heck is Energy Work? An Ode to Woo

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What the Heck is Energy Work?

“I love your new website! Way to go, Nic!”: a happy text from one of my best buddies on the day I launched the forever-in-my imagination website.

I smile. I give myself a little pat on the back and a mental high five. “Badass”, I tell myself. So happy I finally launched the damn thing after talking about it for FOR-EVAH.

The next text from my friend, just a few moments later: “But… what happened to the woo?”

I frown.

Dammit! Clenched fists.

I knew EXACTLY what she was talking about.

The WOO.

The thing that I can’t explain to people, even after 19 years of doing energy work.

It goes like this. The call comes in and I get the question, “So what is it that you do, exactly?”

Exactly. What the heck DO I do?

I’ve launched into millions—it truly feels like millions—of painfully detailed explanations about the power of the compassionate heart, how I “feel” and “sense” energy, and then how I, “use my sensory abilities to move energy into a higher vibration,” and… even I want to gag a little bit and roll my eyes right now. I know how it sounds.

But during these past 19 years, as I’ve muddled through my explaining, I’ve also learned a few things along the way about what people are really asking.

And it’s not about what I “do”.

It’s, “If I hire you, will (ideally a positive result) happen?”

It’s about what might happen.

It’s about results.

Because quite frankly people in pain don’t care about my sensory abilities. People whose homes are for sale but they’re getting zero bites, they don’t care about what I feel. And people whose lives are in the shitter with zero logical explanation? Sometimes they don’t even care who I am. “Come on in, have at it, fix this please!”

(On that note, there have been numerous occasions when upon completing a session with a client, there is a big pause at the check writing moment. I catch them nervously glancing up at me and then asking, “Um, how do you spell your name again?” It’s okay that they don’t know my name. I get it.)

I think about what the unedited Nicole would say if I freely shared my version of what I do, given the past few decades years with clients.

People hire me to shut the f*ck up. People hire me for the uncomfortable silences. People hire me to stay still while they tell me the things that make their friends and family squirm. People hire me to sit there and not wipe away their tears and not tell them it’s going to be okay. People hire me to not agree with them and tell them how awful it’s been for them. People hire me to be real, and to let them empty out everything they’ve been holding on the inside. People hire me because when I leave, they feel better. When I leave, their space feels more real. People hire me to come in and just accept whatever is there, no matter what, because there’s so much power in that.

People don’t hire me to say smart stuff and use quotes that I pulled off Instagram. And my work isn’t about radiating golden balls of love and light, unicorns, rainbows and positive intentions. It just isn’t. It’s the unsexy, humbling, glorious work where I get to be with people right at the apex of their deepest pain point.

The magic is that people are drawn to this work for the result, but what they get is the powerful moment of connection – and that’s when everything changes.

And over the years my explanations about what I do haven’t gotten any better, but my client stories have been pretty off the charts. And that seems to be the way for me to explain the “what happens.”

Since I was a youngin’, I have loved stories. And arguably, one of the greatest all-time storytellers, Jesus Effing Christo himself, was a darn good orator. Parables, he called them. I remember one of my Sunday school teachers sharing why Jesus explained things through the medium of story. She said, “People just didn’t understand what Jesus was trying to say any other way.” Wow, do I get that! And no, I’m not comparing myself to Jesus, but I do resonate with the power of story and how it helps explain complex and uncommon phenomenon.

It’s how I explain how the house sold.

It’s how I thread together why you’re sleeping better after we clear your bedroom.

It’s how we weave the logic of finding and hiring better candidates after the office space clearing session.

Can I explain woo? The magic? Can I distill it down into a formula?

Heck no—and I really wouldn’t want to.

And it’s not what you really want either.

What you want is results.

So, on that note…knock knock knock – what’s your story?

Does Your Office Need a Seshie?

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Back when I was single and living in the house of WOE (more on that another time) my roommate Lola, who had just started working at a new job, asked me if I would clear her office.

It doesn’t feel right, she said.

I don’t really want to be in there, she said.

I can’t put my finger on it but something is off, she said.

HELL YAH GURRRRRRL, YOUR OFFICE NEEDS A SESHIE!

Let me explain Lola to you for a sec before you get the impression that she’s a weirdo like me that carries a pendulum around and burps and yawns when ‘clearing’ energy.

Lola is a badass, witty as f*ck, smart as a whip, as loving as can be and just plain awesome. She’s a great listener, kind and a true-blue friend. A Wisconsinite, she proudly enjoys drinking BUD and she can talk about anything politics related– just TRY her.

And do not, I repeat, do NOT, try and outdo Lola when it comes to a spontaneous costume dance off.

Just don’t.

What Lola is NOT is woo-woo.

Open minded, yes.

Curious, yes.

Woo-woo? No.

But I wasn’t surprised at all when she asked me to do my energy thang in her new-to-her office space. And so off we went.

I arrived at the rather old and crusty building in downtown-ish Seattle, stepped into the space and dropped into curiosity and feeling. My trusty pendulum started whirling, I let my thinking mind off the hook and my body went into GO mode and I just….felt, sensated, and let impressions come right on in.

Who was here before Lola? I wondered. Damn this building feels thick, I thought. Woah, slight headache, head pressure and tension in my temples. Oh, a sense of dread just showed up. Hm. Tightness in my belly. Again – that sense of dread! Now I’m thinking the thought “I don’t want to be here” – not my thought, not Lola’s. Someone else’s thought. Now it’s passing. That’s nice. That feels good. And so on and so forth for about an hour, give or take. Burp. Yawn. Sniff.

Lola then says “wow, it feels soooo much better in here!”

It does.

We kinda laugh a little. It’s that thing that I’ve experienced hundreds of times. This space, it actually FEELS like her office now. It feels different in the way you can only put your finger on in the context of contrast — from what it was and what it’s like now.

It’s just lighter! We agree.

I don’t feel sad and depressed in here now, Lola says.

It’s just a happier room, we chirp.

Do we need to know why? What happened? What I “DID”?  Not really.

What Lola needed was to feel good in her office.

And now she does.

‘Nuff said.

Does your office need a seshie?

Nicole Kincaid - Ground Photo

The truth about energy vampires (and how to turn them into your BFFs)

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I’m sitting on one end of my client’s couch and she’s at the other, but she seems a million miles away, lost in thought. Finally, she hurls the question at me that she’s been cranking on for a solid 10 minutes:

Her: “Nicole, what can I do to protect myself from ENERGY VAMPIRES?”

Me: “What do you mean by ‘energy vampires’?” I have a good idea of where she’s headed, but I want to hear more.

Her: “You know, those people that, when you’re around them, they suck the energy right out of you. Like, you feel totally drained.” Her eyes are wide. She’s now leaning forward, she looks legit unsettled.

Me: “Hmm. Can you say more about this?” Her shoulders droop and she looks at me like I’m an idiot and she’s suddenly not-so-happy she’s paying me to sit in her family room and “clear” her.

So she explains. There are these people out there, she goes on, who are so full of vitriol, or drama or who are so angry, or weird, or off the chain that they can turn into super-human-energy-sucking-vampire-beings!

And that they must be avoided.

And you’re better off not making eye contact with them if you don’t have to.

And if you do have to deal with them, vigilantly practice the B-word. (That’s B for “Boundaries”, people.)

Basically, SHIELDS UP!

I smile. But on the inside, I am not smiling.

On the inside, I am Pete Carroll on the sideline after a terrible-awful-no-good call has just been made by the ref against my team. (Quick FYI for the non-sportsy-types, Pete is head coach for the Seattle Seahawks, a professional American football team.)

“COME ONNNNN!” my inner Nicole/Pete screams with both hands in the air. “You have got to be KIDDING ME!”

I am killing that piece of chewing gum right now.

Alright, people, HUDDLE. ‘Cause we need to talk about energy vampires.

I’ve been studying and working with energy hardcore for 20 years now and I’m frequently asked about this topic. I think it’s safe to say is officially a thing now.

It’s starting to seep into conversations everywhere, and not just from my curious and worried clients.

Just recently, a highly respected and well-known OBGYN/MD gone woo-woo that I follow on social media posted a program for purchase on this very subject. In her introductory video, she details exactly what she believes energy vampires are, how she’s been vampired (losing $7000), and then goes on to say that for blahdey blahdey dollars, you can buy her three-part video series and never again be taken by one of these nasty energy vampires.

Okay, so I don’t have anything to sell here but I do have some free thoughts on this topic.

Then there’s the best-selling author that I seriously love the bejeezers out of who recently podcasted this tight episode on the topic of boundaries. At the very end, out of NOWHERE people, he guffaws and then throws in a curve ball that went something like: “but you gotta watch out for those people that will suck the energy right out of you. Watch out for them, cause they’re out there!”

I almost cried. He was right at the finish line and then he fumbles the whole damn 90-minute podcast with that one bad play?

It was off. It just felt OFF. Kind of like that weird feeling you get when you go to a fundraiser to help abused, abandoned animals, and people are chowing down on hamburgers.

But we do that as humans.

I don’t mean eat burgers. I mean we choose what to make sense out of, what to think really hard and thoughtfully about but with other things—most things—we choose to shut down and not see.

I get it: it’s how we cope.

Otherwise, if we let everything in, our psyches would threaten to blow up into a million pieces. We can’t open our lenses too wide; humans simply aren’t built to process the immense amount of information available to us at any given time.

But out of this place where we protect our fragility, our humanness, we have also moved into another extreme: defensiveness and separation. It hurts to be a human sometimes. It hurts to feel. It hurts to see horrors and travesties. We start shielding ourselves from the magnitude of life by mentally placing “bad things” in an “out there” category. We often do this is in our day to day interactions. Say we have an exchange with someone and are left feeling yucky. We automatically externalize the experience by putting it in the “out there” category: somebody MADE me feel this way.

And that’s how we got started with this whole notion of energy vampires in the first place. Because back in the day, I promise there were never any stories where Jesus, Buddha or Gandhi warned us about energy vampires. I mean, can you see Jesus, being all, “dude, stay away from that guy over there, he’ll suck the ever-loving energy RIGHT outta ya”.

Uhhhh, not so much.

Yet, over time, we started labelling our fellow humans in a way that is, quite literally, dehumanizing. We transform an everyday person just doing their thang into vampire status because we have an experience with them that leaves us feeling drained, depleted, not good. We don’t assume it has anything to do with us, we assume it was someone else… something else. 

But what’s really going on is that deep down, we hold the subconscious belief that someone “has the power to do something to me without my permission”.

What we then commonly do in response to the notion that something is happening to us is we defend and protect. We separate and we move into “us versus them” mode. We point the finger. We judge.

And we conveniently stop right where our edge ends and others people’s edges begin by calling people vampires when we feel off for reasons that we don’t spend the time figuring out. When really, it’s how we’re reacting to the person on some level that holds all the clues to why we feel bad. But dang, it’s just so much easier to say it’s YOU. Can my discomfort please be about you?

We need to do ourselves a ginormous favor here. A favor that will empower and enliven us and make us more human again. And not only that, it will make us feel better. Not the “I just saw a great movie and have warm fuzzies better, but we’ll start feeling like better human beings.

We are, after all, humankind. But we often forget the “kind” part.

What we desperately need to do is suck it up and admit that really, no other human can come along and take your energy away from you without…YOU.

“Without YOU WHAT?” You ask.

Without. YOU!

Because if we do believe that energy vampires exist—AKA all of those nasty people that come out of nowhere can zap, melt, and suck your energy —here is what you’re really saying:

  • I’m powerless.
  • I have no responsibility in how I react to other people.
  • I’m a victim. Poor me.
  • There are bad, evil people out there and they’re coming for ME!
  • Be suspicious.
  • They’re everywhere, watch out!

Does this really sound like the real YOU?

I don’t think so.

We aren’t always willing to face information head on, especially bad feelings and emotions. And if you can’t, THAT’S OKAY. But to make the bad feeling stuff about someone else, that’s not really okay.

So let’s play this out a little bit. You go to a party after having a great day. But you leave feeling dull, moody, and with none of the sparkly energetic self you went in with.

Where did it go? Where did it go, indeed. We naturally go looking for answers outside of ourselves.

It was the bad chicken taco. It was the full moon. It was the anniversary of the death of my favorite great aunt Claire.

All legit. But then we keep doing it and we get used to using this “it’s out there” habit.

“Doris was having a bad day, she spewed that shit all over me and now I feel awful.”

“Kim just told me all about her job review. It was bad and man, I did NOT need to hear that.”

Again, all normal. But there is a line in the sand we sooooo need to draw and that line is this:

Catch yourself before you go there and by there, I mean the place where you naturally and with lightning-fast speed look outside yourself and aim your bad-feeling arrow at someone else. Doing that is what’s really sucking your energy.

I’m not saying Debbie Downer and Negative Nelly don’t exist. And I’m not saying they are easy people to be around. I’m also not saying this is an easy fix. What I am saying is that resisting and defending won’t give you the outcome you want. But looking inwards instead of outwards just might.

Don’t feel bad. Don’t go glance in a mirror looking for fangs. Please no shaming or attacking yourself instead!

Just be aware.

Don’t BEWARE.

BE AWARE.

Your go-to guide for handling the people formerly called energy vampires

  1. Train yourself to recognize the signs of when you’re about to launch an arrow. Slow down and get curious. Endeavor to get out of your own way before you make your experience about someone else. For example, check in with yourself before you rush off to Happy Hour or hit Costco midday on a Saturday. What’s your mood? Are you edgy, agitated, annoyed? Or are you feeling good, zippy and curious? Or are you somewhere in between? One a scale of 1-10, where are you at? Have you eaten? Are you hydrated? Have you done anything just for yourself today?
  2. Instead of asking yourself, “who or what is coming for me?”, try asking “what is coming UP for me?”
  3. Resist the urge to blame. People are just doing them. You’re just doing you.
  4. Get curious about how you’re feeling. The value of discomfort is that it gives you information. Your body is talking to you. Don’t rob yourself of an opportunity to feel something supremely uncomfortable, to be in information you don’t understand, to sit in discomfort. I mean, can’t we just be having a bad day? Or a bad moment? We’ve been trained to think that happiness is the only “good” emotion, but why is it so terrible to feel something that sucks right then, just for a little while?
  5. Don’t head out into the world to be a Social Sally when you know you’ve got a layer of edginess, agitation and annoyance right beneath the surface.

There is energy that exists out there that feels intense, scary and dark. I work with this kind of energy. I know it’s for real. And I know it can feel dense and murky, and when it hits our bright and shiny armor, we don’t like it.

But personalizing it is a losing proposition. And beyond personalizing it – deflecting it onto another, that’s an even bigger no-win scenario.

And here’s the glorious news: when you do this, you really do reap massive rewards and benefit. You’ll have more energy, you’ll feel better, you’ll feel kinder and you’ll stop creating and attracting drama in your life.

And hey, one day, you may even miss those hard partying energy vampires and wonder “where the heck did they all go?”

Nicole Kincaid - Cloudline and Olympics

The hot tip to lightening up that nobody talks about

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When I was five, my mom divorced my dad: a painful and all too common experience. She left my father for another guy. We drove away in a big U-haul waving goodbye while my dad stood alone in the driveway. While my memory can be pretty crap about a lot of things, there is no forgetting that whole agonizing ordeal and how it went down. And it was bad.

I also remember what five-year old me did, starting about that time in my life, when I was stressed out, afraid, uncertain or rattled. I would empty out my entire dollhouse of all the little tiny things in it; tiny furniture, tiny area rugs, tiny cups and saucers. All of it would get unceremoniously dumped out of the house and onto the shag carpet in my bedroom. And then, piece by tiny piece, I would put it all back. Sometimes similar to the way it was, sometimes not. But the process was more about totally leveling it and then rebuilding and reassembling, one tiny item at a time.

This made sense to me. It calmed me down. It got me into the present moment. I was utterly absorbed in this single task. It focused me. It was active. And it was pretty brilliant really.

Why?

Because it made me feel better.

Fast forward to present tense, and yea – my friends lovingly poke fun of me. “Neat freak”, they mutter under their breath at dinner parties when I relentlessly bid for dishwashing duty. “OCD!” Another friend whispers under their breath with an eye roll when I get caught straightening a slightly off kilter hallway photo.

But, I have always been this way. Or I’ve always coped this way. I like to tidy up. I like to organize. And I also like to clean. I just can’t help it. And I don’t want to help it! In fact, I need it.

And you might need it too. More than you think.

Perhaps you’re willing to parse together that there are people out there, like me, that truly enjoy cleaning and organizing and that us wierdos even derive benefits beyond a sparkly “oh, that feels SO GOOD” well organized environment.

But imagining that you too might reap personal, spiritual, and emotional benefits beyond what you’ve imagined by engaging in the menial task of cleaning?

No way.

And that’s the problem.

We don’t imagine it.

But – what if we did?

What if cleaning has inherent inside and out benefits.

And maybe, you try it, and something unexpected happens, you do feel better.

Maybe you feel clearer, lighter, more energized.

Maybe you feel happier.

Maybe you feel a sense of spaciousness.

You definitely feel cleaner. (Or at least your space does.)

Let me assure you, you’re not making this up. Experiencing the sensations of clarity, lightness, increased energy, happiness, and spaciousness is not uncommon at all after a good ‘ol scrubba-dub-dub throughout the house.

We’re simply not used to thinking about it this way.

Let’s be honest, housework has the worst rap ever.

It’s the classic task we hire OTHER people to do.

It’s gross. Toilets? NO!

It’s a bother, it’s never ending and it takes forever.

But people, it really is your dirt.

The hard and obvious truth is that we create our own messes. All of it. And then, when actual dirt, grim and disorder builds up in our home, we expect others to come along and clean it up. I get it. That makes sense. No judgment.

(And don’t panic, I’m not saying you have to get up now and go clean your house to within an inch of its life.)

But, let’s say you make a total mess of your most favorite relationship in your life. I mean, you really really screw things up GOOD and would do anything to fix it. It would be ludicrous to imagine hiring a stand-in person to go fix it for you and expect your relationship to get better.

What you would do instead is you would go see a professional, you would sit in the uncomfortable saggy couch next to your hopefully soon-to-be-favorite person again, and you would do the hard work. You would look at what happened, what you did, what you said, what your part in the mess was and you’d take some action.

The point is, you would clean up your mess.

So to suggest that intentional cleaning and organizing our spaces is intricately tied to an actual sense of well being and betterment is not that far off base.

What we need to start imagining and then adopting is that our psyches instinctually do reorder and make sense of our world when we put a little elbow grease into the equation. Cleaning might even be likened to a zero cost version of therapy – a two-fer ladies and gentlemen!

And here’s why.

Maybe you hate your job.

Maybe you are unhappy in your marriage/relationship.

Maybe you have a big decision to make and you don’t know what to do.

There are so many possible “maybe’s”, so pick your favorite scary scenario and imagine it now.

You don’t know what to do but your mind is racing and you’re going down the rabbit hole, fast. You think…

  • If you could just talk to someone! (No-one is around.)
  • I’ll just check Facebook, Instagram and Twitter a million times. (You feel worse. Much worse.)
  • I’ll have a glass of wine or a bottle…or a few bottles. (SUCH a bad idea – now you’re miserable and you have a bad hangover)

But you have this energy burbling around inside of you or maybe even worse, you have no energy at all.

This is when, the best thing that you can do, is to DO something.

Get into action.

It doesn’t have to be grandiose. In fact, don’t make it grandiose at all. It doesn’t have to cost anything. Perfect. Spending zero dollars sounds good, right? It doesn’t have to require analysis paralysis. But if you’re feeling lousy and about ready to push the GO LIVE button on your scary story, doing something will bum rush the icky feelings threatening to clobber you.

One of the most powerfully simple “something’s” you can do is to use the environment right at you very fingertips to transform your present tense.

Use your sardine packed closet to help unfold the parts inside of you that need to breathe. Use your kiddo’s toy room to unwind that tightrope like energy in your body. Use the crowded utensil drawer to loosen up and diffuse the ensuing freak out right under your skin.

Your space is safe, it’s your container on this planet, you can do this alone, you don’t have to know how and you need very little supplies.

As you engage in this experience, be open minded, be curious and expect there to be some level of relief or positive benefit while loosely holding onto what the outcome might be. For example, when you go to a spin class or you see a therapist, you expect to feel something or to have some sort of shift or change occur, right? Same idea here.

And you just might find that you:

Feel clearer, lighter, and more energized.

Feel a greater sense of happiness and spaciousness.

You definitely feel cleaner. Or at least your space does.

Slow down. Keep it simple. Start with something small. A closet. A bathroom drawer. Your guest bathroom. The trunk of your car.

Or go big and dump out the whole damn dollhouse.