Joy is Now listeners will remember an illuminating conversation I had last March with artist, writer, and founder of People I’ve Loved Carissa Potter Carlson about Schadenfreude (you can listen to the episode here). Carissa speaks so beautifully to thorny and often overlooked topics of all kinds, facing them head on in a beautiful and loving way. She is so gifted in this process of illuminating the difficult to decipher. It's magical. 
While Carissa approaches a variety of often messy topics regarding the human condition in her art and newsletter , her newest musings HOW TO HEAL FROM HEARTBREAK (or at least feel less broken), explored with writer Vera Kachouh, take us on a new and deeply empathic exploration of heartbreak. 
Heartbreak is rough. And inevitable. I’m guessing when I mention the word heartbreak I am not alone in my ability to immediately conjure up a face, date, time, place and just awful details of the multiple times my heart was beat to shit by someone who didn't feel for me what I felt for them in the same kind of way. Love is grief and grief is love, but heartbreak often arrives with very specific emotional partners so to speak, that other types of grief may lack. Rejection, questions of self-worth, surprise, a tortured wondering and words unspoken when things end suddenly. Oftentimes closure is not an option. 
Personally, these badly behaving emotional buddies to heartbreak have split me open. In my young teenage years I remember actually thinking a boyfriend broke up with me because I must have been too tall. Because changing my height would have been possible?! 
So often I turned heartbreak on myself, as though I was lacking. And in my own psychology that inevitably meant I was not enough of or too much of something to be loved.  Whether it was height, looks, humor, smarts, any and all the things, I imagine that those same old shadows would come creeping up again now. I still live through them at times.  
Out of all my breakups, only once did I think it had anything to do with the other person. And this thought only arrived when he tried to sleep with me at a party when the woman he broke up with me to be with was running late. By two hours. Only then did I think perhaps our breakup was not because of me being too much or too little of anything. He was who he was and he was not for me. Still it took me moving 3,000 miles away, starting an entirely new life and being happily alone for 8 months to be able to open my heart to someone else. Wild.
Moving in a sense saved me from the complexities of heartbreak. The running into him at other parties, the friends who were lost when we broke up. The surprise of the ones who stuck around. Heartbreak can be so isolating because it is seldom we grieve the loss of a singular person. There are friends, family, and pets who disappear from our lives overnight. What do we do with this grief? It is hardly ever addressed. 
I wish I had this book to work through not only after breakups, but also after hoping, wishing for and feeling for someone who just didn’t feel it back. Those are heartbreaks too, yet we seldom provide space to process the incongruency of emotions. Unrequited love sucks too.
Like all things Carissa explores, heartbreak offers no easy answer, has many different answers, and the process of healing may be forever incomplete. Carissa’s genius is so often found in the places where closure is elusive. Grief, illness, love, and now of course heartbreak. 
This book is so damn good. 




One of the truly fun parts of working with my Human Design clients happens in the guidance of their Centers and Gates. Centers are the shapes that run from top to bottom of the body graph beginning with a triangle at the top (Head) and ending with a square at the bottom (Root). Your graph may include any combination of defined centers (colored in), Undefined Centers (not colored in with defined Gates) or Open centers (completely uncolored without any defined Gates - small circled numbers). 
Defined Centers offer guidance on what energy is most consistently available to us. Often this is energy we recognize and traits or ideas that feel like a constant part of our personality. Undefined and Open Centers are exactly that. Places where we are more open and receptive to the energy around us and the energy of others. This can feel like experiencing other's emotions as our own, being vulnerable to the stress and hustle of others, and even feeling the fears of others. It is said that understanding our Undefined and Open Centers holds the potential for our greatest growth and wisdom. This is often where a lot of shadow work is done and we can begin to understand what belongs to us and what we try on that might belong to others. It’s fascinating and also a process. 
Gates work in a similar way in that the Gates - small circles with numbers appearing in centers - are either Defined (colored in) or Undefined. Defined Gates are where we can look for guidance on our greatest gifts and where to best spend our time and energy. When one Defined Gate connects to another Defined Gate across a center, the Gates create a Channel. Channels are an even more potent place to seek guidance. 
With Centers and Gates, it is often that we are naturally attracted to those who possess definition that we do not. This happens so often when reading the Centers and Gates of my clients and their partners and children. I see this with my husband and daughter. There are numerous instances where we bridge a Defined Gate for each other, creating a complete Channel between the two of us. This speaks to the beauty of how we need each other and how Human design encourages us to embrace ourselves and embrace the differences of others, as we all have a valuable role to play together. 
Have questions about Centers and Gates? Send them my way below.: LISAANDERSONSHAFFER@GMAIL.COM
Do you have an album that so perfectly holds the history of a moment? The Shins Chutes Too Narrow was the soundtrack to my graduate school years. I remember listening to that album on my way to and from SFSU and being taken by surprise when I started my car after class at just how loud I was blasting it on the way to school. You know that startle at the sheer volume of it all? 
There is a song that reminds me of each and every one of my colleagues, but this song, Saint Simon kind of sums up my entire experience. Intellectually and emotionally. The verse, “But Mercy's eyes are blue when she places them in front of you,” brings me back to an exact moment so very clearly. It’s like I am there all over agin. Music is golden. 
I hope you enjoy it too. Hit listen to get a taste.
The Shins
After all these implements and texts designed by intellects
So vexed to find evidently there's still so much that hides
And though the saints dub us divine in ancient fading lines
Their sentiment is just as hard to pluck from the vine
I'll try hard not to pretend
Allow myself no mock defense
As I step into the night
Since I don't have the time nor mind to figure out the nursery rhymes
That helped us out in making sense of our lives
The cruel, uneventful state of apathy releases me
I value them but I won't cry every time one's wiped out
I'll try hard not to give in
Batten down to fare the wind
Rid my head of this pretense
Allow myself no mock defense
As I step into the night
But Mercy's eyes are blue when she places them in front of you
Nothing holds a Roman candle to the solemn warmth you feel inside
There's no measuring of it as nothing else is love

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