Thank you for joining me your host Liz Clifton and my wonderful take34u Self Care Series: Creating Calm Confidence Guest Shirley Riga as we share selfcare secrets, top tips and stories of our experiences.

It's an absolute pleasure to support you with your own self-care journey as you take34u and enjoy our chat below:

Shirley Riga & Liz Clifton Interview

Shirley Riga
Her life changed dramatically in 1981 when her youngest daughter was born with two liver diseases. For her own sanity, Shirley searched for tools she could use to help herself and her family, and she found Dr. Susan Jeffers’ book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. It was a resource she latched onto for many difficult years and events. As a trained practitioner in Psychosynthesis Counseling and drawing on her life experiences, Shirley wrote Tools for the Exceptional Parent of a Chronically-Ill Child (Strong Voices Publishing, 2016) a self-help book offering helpful daily advice to caregivers, and then a workbook, Tools for the Caregiver: A Workbook for Finding Yourself Through Caregiving (Strong Voices Publishing, 2018) a workbook to help manage your caregiving journey. In 2011, Shirley became a licensed instructor for Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

Wanting to integrate a spiritual dimension into her work, Shirley completed a two-year Spiritual Director certification program through the Rowe Center. This training helped develop her deep listening skills, compassion and awareness of each person's essence and the many ways the sacred manifests in people’s lives. Bringing her mediumship abilities into soul readings, Shirley is able to help people find a deeper sense of inner alignment. As a spiritual guide, she can help people explore their connection to the divine however they define that. Shirley is effective in helping people who are at a crossroads in their lives or at a standstill, because fear is always an operating factor. She has a special interest in supporting caregivers, people experiencing bereavement, and the LGBTQIA community.

"Very often fear keeps us from moving ahead with our lives. The trick is to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway." -- Dr. Susan Jeffers

Connect with Shirley here

Shirley Riga & Liz Clifton Interview Transcription:

Liz Clifton: We are official. So it is my great pleasure to introduce the wonderful Shirley Riga. so, and get a jump straight into our first question. And what does self-care mean to you?  

Shirley Riga: Oh, self-care is so important and, everyone has a different definition for it. To me, it's remembering me in my life. And, I create things I do, actions I do, that comfort me. That bring me into the present that allow me to remember that there's me in here. Despite everything going on in my life, in my personal life, in my career life, in the chaotic world. So specifically, what I have been doing is when I feel overwhelmed. It's because I'm probably looking ahead. Probably thinking about, what's happening in the world or to a family member, or, you know, there's a lot of stuff happening. If I bring myself back to the present moment and it can take two seconds. I touched the end of my nose, brings me present. I only know what's happening at the end of my nose. And I come back into my body. I am here now. This is what I'm doing now. And it always energizes me to feel more present. Always looking at my feet, breathing, doing grounding, anything like that to bring me presence is a present. So I have presence within the now, is helpful to me. That's one of many, many things I do.  

Liz Clifton: I absolutely adore it and I am stealing it.  

Shirley Riga: Good good good.  

Liz Clifton: Exactly. And, my little four-year-olds, she's been doing a lot of their, you know, like absorbing the Reiki and sort of my conscious speech around like the NLP and things. and that is so accessible. She can do that. She's going to love it.  

Shirley Riga: She needs to know what you're doing. No one needs to know what you're doing. That's the beauty of it for me when I'm dealing with whatever.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah.  

Shirley Riga: Me and me.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. Me, myself and I.  Oh, and what is your favorite, piece of self-care that you do?  

Shirley Riga: Well has changed over time. Probably the most helpful thing I do that takes longer than two seconds is, sitting with myself in silence. Sometimes it's five minutes. Most often it's 15 minutes where there's nothing. I'm, I'm choosing not to do anything, but to sit in silence. My mind may be going crazy, but I'm choosing not to engage. So I just kind of watch it. Thank you for sharing. Yep. Yep. Glad you're there. Nope. Just sitting and it was very hard to do. But, but sitting in silence for me and I have witnessed it hundreds of times at this point with the meditation or work I do. Is that it becomes more, my higher self becomes, it almost emerges so that I witness me witnessing me in silence. And, it's an incredible experience. And I've had other people tell me that they, when they're crying because they are so sad or something. That they, they realize that there's a presence there that this calm, quiet, solid stead fast presence. That's their higher self with them.  

Shirley Riga: It's an incredible gift. And it has come from me spending time with myself and people say, I can't do that. You know. And, and that's fine. You know, there are ways to do that so that you can build up to it. And I started with, guided meditation four minute. So that I was sitting with myself without engaging my mind. I listened to a comforting thing in it, and it has been extremely successful. So I, If, people get afraid of being with themselves. For what they're going to hear or what they're going to feel. And, it's always worse in the worry than it is in the reality always. And oftentimes it's really helpful to get the feelings out. There's some times that I sit in silence and I need to cry. And then I can be with myself because I've gotten it out instead of fighting it, fighting it. So long answer for, my most favorite.  

Liz Clifton: But it's perfect as a perfect arms that, and I love that you mentioned how you began. Was by taking those four minute guided meditations. Is that what, the starting point you'd suggest for somebody who's really new to self-care is that way you'd have them start?  

Shirley Riga: Absolutely. Because the first knee jerk reaction for anyone is I can't do that and the doors close. And so I encourage people to just think about it because we could start with a minute, a minute out of a 24 hour day is, nothing. And there are, I think I used insight timer, and I know that there's lots of apps on the phone with, guided meditations. Or even music if people prefer that. But it is creating, like a cocoon just for me. And even though my mind is going, I can't do this and stuff. I, I listened to a guided meditation. We'll take it, take a breath and blow out and be aware of, you know, whatever the it's saying. Be aware of the air coming out of your nostrils, or be aware of, be aware of, the air moving in your lungs or something.  

Shirley Riga: They are out there and they're short and, and start that, start that much and congratulate yourself for doing it and move on. And then the next day do it again. And you're really, you're cultivating a habit of, of self-care. But it's, it's cultivating it for, for myself. Which is I'm, I'm worth the time. And that's part of the process is believing that we're worth the time and effort to, to spend a moment with yourself. So I absolutely advocate for that. And I am not a believer that you have to do meditation a certain way at all. And, because that thwarts people too. By, thinking that they can't do it, they, you know, for whatever reason and they can. They just have to design it in a way that works for them. So that they stay steady with themselves.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. Yeah. It's so true. We're all worthy of spending the time.  

Shirley Riga: And I had to work on believing that for many, many months and years, probably. Yeah.  

Liz Clifton: Just like me.  

Shirley Riga: It does take work. It does take work, but we are worth it.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. And it's like he said, it's so worth persevering.  

Shirley Riga: Absolutely. Yeah. But people, come against their, their ego voices that are screaming. No, I can't do this, this going to destroy me. You know, all these things and it won't, and you know, I let the ego scream. Sometimes I write in a journal, everything that the ego is saying with big letters, you know. Just to get it out because it'll still be, they're surprised that they survived.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. And I love that you've mentioned journaling. So how do you approach your journaling, do you, obviously say sometimes you're writing where the ego is saying, and it's really big letters and it's loud and you're just, you know, just getting out that other ways that you approach your journaling also?  

Shirley Riga: Well, I think the biggest way to approach it as not to have expectations of what you want, things they have to do in order to be a successful journaler. Because throw that out, throw it out. I worked with a woman who was, could not journal. She was, she kept talking herself out of journaling. And so I suggested that she just get an empty page and write one word on it. One word, start there, one word one day. And so she wrote the most expletive, nasty word you can imagine in big letters. Perfect. Okay. Let's move to the next day. And, because it's journaling is not to create something that you're going to show somebody, journaling is a way to vent. It's a way to vent personally with, a journal. With something that, that my eyes can see that I am expressing something and it's surprising what comes out.  

Shirley Riga: And so just start in a little tiny step and make sure it's private. Make sure that, you know, it's not left around. And make sure that there is, boundaries, healthy boundaries around the fact that you have a journal and, and respect respected. And, you know, it's, it's a, it becomes a friend. And I certainly, I started journaling when I was a therapist told me that I should journal because I was dealing with my chronically ill daughter. And losing my mind a worry of, you know, when so many years ago, and I had another daughter and everything was falling apart. And the thought of journaling was like. I'll just cry through the whole thing or I'll just scream through the whole thing. And, I don't know how many journals I created. But I found that it, it helped me not feel so alone. So. Hmmmm.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah, I think a journal can be, it's kind of it's you, but on paper. So it's kind of you, but out in the world. And you're taking up that extra space I feel sometimes.  

Shirley Riga: And it really, it makes me think about, you know, as a field of fear trainer, I teach to be aware of their self-talk or how they talk to themselves. And most people are degrading to themselves and insulting and insistent and criticizing and judgmental. And that's what's going on inside. And it really makes it apparent when they journal of what they think of themselves. And it's a great opportunity to realize I don't have to talk to myself like this anymore. You know, it's much easier to be pleasant, you know. And there, and there, I do a lot of exercises with people about, about that awareness. And it it's, it is a great, great way to start getting to know our insights. Because the whole purpose is to become our friend, not our enemy. So.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And I think that's really interesting, you know, to speak about what's coming up in the self care. Especially in the journaling and things. And it's enabling people also to know that whatever comes up for them is perfect. And we don't have to judge.  

Shirley Riga: Right.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah.  

Shirley Riga: We don't have to report into somebody. Because I wrote this in my journal today. That's not helpful to somebody at all. It's, it's learning healthy boundaries and exploring within ourselves. And if we don't know what we think, we write, we write about the fact that we don't know what we think. And kind of tire out that questioning voice until other things come in. It's a great way to explore on the inside.  

Liz Clifton: And so from what we learn about. What's on the inside, in our self-care time and our journaling with what comes up in our meditations. Do you think that's important for people to then have a support network for anything that does arise. So that if we do get to reach out for support, you know, we have that platform there for us.  

Shirley Riga: Yeah, absolutely. It's, it's very important a lot of times. And I have done this myself is I depend on my friends. I depend on my family for my emotional care. Which is kind of a setup and a crash and burn situation as I've learned. And, and so it's healthy boundaries are really important. And, you know, there are people out there that help be a companion to somebody without having to go to a psychiatrist or a psychologist. You can  have, somebody who's a counselor that is there to be the listener as somebody explores themselves. And, you know, when there's there is, I am a practicing Spiritual Director. That's part of my job is to be a listener so that people can explore what they're saying, say it out loud. And, you know, if they feel they need guidance, I'm there.  

Shirley Riga: But I'm really the presence of a, of a spiritual listener is somebody who can hold the space and, guide in a direction, but not give the direct answers to. Because those come from people. So it's, it's a very profound relationship to, to have that type of give and take with somebody. So it's good. And the, from my understanding, and I belong to Spiritual Directors, International  that, both women and men are being trained to be spiritual directors for that very reason. Because of everything that's happening in this world, we need to companion with people. So we don't feel alone. And we need to do it in a safe, healthy boundary way. And, so that we, we increase our, our self self-empowerment for ourselves instead of giving it to somebody else. So, so it is a good movement that's happening. And not just with Spiritual Directors, but with others like that. So, yeah.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. I think for me, that's been the biggest silver lining in everything that's happened or the chaos, you know, over the last year or so. Is that people are supporting others to empower themselves, to be themselves.  

Shirley Riga: Yes. To find out what it is that you're feeling. What it is that you want or don't want. And, what it is that can support you to be all that you dream of. Or even just find peace of mind while you're figuring out your dream. And we all have that. Right. So that's wonderful. Yeah.  

Liz Clifton: So I love that part of your work. It's beautiful.  Shirley Riga: It is, it is an incredible part of my work and it satisfies me so very deeply.  Liz Clifton: Aww. And actually so that satisfies you, you know, on that, that spiritual and that heartfelt level. And what other things do you do to celebrate your wins, your own like joyful experiences?  

Shirley Riga: Well, I've gotten into flowers this year. I've never really, excuse me, appreciated the beauty of flowers. People give me flowers or, you know, a pot flowering plant. And usually I kill it because I don't know how to take care of it, but I haven't made, I really, I've been trying to figure out why this year is so, successful. And it's almost like I'm more comfortable with myself so that I'm more present and taking care of me. So that I can kind of be present for other things around me. So I am playing in dirt. I am, you know, I buy the little seedlings that have already started and I repot them into a plant into a pot. And, and I have them around the table that I eat at outside and it is just so beautiful. I also, what else do I do well through covid I became very, intent on being creative. So that I could use my hands, use my focus and create something, losing my, my awareness of the time. Because it was such a, a strange and challenging time.  

Shirley Riga: And so I, I started doing some arts and crafts things, and people were like, wow, I like those. Can you make me one? So that kind of took off. And, and I just do things for my physical body, to enhance the way my organs work. I do a practice using, what's it called touch for health. It's based on a book, of running my meridians. Because you know, Chinese medicine has been around for thousands of years, believes in the energy meridians of the body. That, help the organs work, help everything work, and they run it in a certain direction. And so I have learned how to trace my meridians on my body from, you know, here and there. And, it's a routine that I did now because I made the effort to learn it. And as I'm doing it, I am enhancing the energy in my body to be the best that I can be. And, and so sometimes I forget to do it. Other days, I'm remembering days in a row and then I forget, and I come back to it. And so it's a process. I don't beat myself up about it. I just think, oh yeah, geez. I haven't done that in awhile.  

Liz Clifton: Ooooh I love it. I'm inspired. I'm going to, I'm going to look at that. Yeah. I remember the king at the meridians, like, oh my gosh. Years ago when I very first had like, massages and things.  

Shirley Riga: Right and acupuncture, use them all the time. Yeah. I can get you the name of the book. I don't have it on me, but it is very much about, you know, treating the body, turning the energy body as well as the physical body.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. That's perfect. Sounds like it was a tie in beautifully with the Reiki. Thank you. Oh, and so a final question, on a day-to-day do you find that you, kind of consciously or subconsciously check in with yourself emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, or does it vary on a day to day?  

Shirley Riga: Wow. Well, it's a process that has grown over time because I have been meditating now on a daily basis for a year and a half. And so, there were times before that, when I was not aware spiritually of what I was sensing. I wasn't, I was at the mercy of emotions, just kind of coming at me without knowing where they came from. And I was at the mercy of, reactions of, things I hear see read, you know, things like that. And using mindfulness I've, I've become much more aware of, of what I'm sensing. Because, you know, I'm a very sensitive, I practice as a Psychic Medium, so I'm very, very sensitive to everything. And so I'm understanding more closely, what I'm picking up and not saying, oh, I'm not, you know, or I'm such, you know, what I can so easily label it, like I used to do. Instead of understanding what's happening.  

Shirley Riga: And so I'm making efforts to, to learn that more and more closely as I work with mentors that helped me and, practicing my awareness. And, I'm very aware of my physical body because I am doing energy exercises with both.  Because I have to use my physical body to do energy body and energy body work. And so I find that, my biggest challenge is when I am watching a TV movie and the scene comes on, that's triggering. And, brings me right back to the loss of my daughter that happened six years ago or something like that. And that actually happened last night. And it was like, wait a minute, where did this come from Boom, I'm slammed. I can very easily beat myself up. Why can't I be present for a movie. You know, the words start going. And, why can't I just sit there like a normal person and watch a movie.  

Shirley Riga: And I'm very familiar with these words because I've heard them so many times. And, and essentially what's happened is I have been emotionally triggered by a traumatic event. Which was the loss of my daughter after 32 years of fighting a chronic liver disease. And instead of beating myself up, I turned to the word gentle and gentle myself. I need to just comfort myself because it's pain, that's come up. And instead of, you know, labelling myself as bad. And putting myself in a prison inside, and you can't feel this feeling and you can never watch TV again. And all these things, I take the time to care for myself. Because, because what I'm feeling is real pain, it's a grief. And, and then I get through it and move on. And, so I'm very aware and I think it's really hard not to be aware nowadays. With everything that the world has just lived through. Because, we were jarred into awareness and everyone's learning something and they may choose to ignore it. But it'll, something will happen again. Or there are jarred into awareness. So  I hope that answers your question.  

Liz Clifton: Yes. Beautifully as always. Yeah. It's such a pleasure. And you're so open and honest and authentic and vulnerable. And thank you so much for all of that sharing.  

Shirley Riga: You're very welcome. People are so hungry to be around real, real words, real thoughts, real feelings. Instead of what looks good and what sounds good. And, I am 150% committed to that, you know. And, it helps me be happy and it helps other people grow. So that's my commitment. Yeah.  

Liz Clifton: And it's how we support is through all the different experience that we've each individually had.  

Shirley Riga: Absolutely.  

Liz Clifton: You know, the reason is to be able to support and lift others up so that their journey can be that little bit easier.  

Shirley Riga: Absolutely. Because no matter what catastrophe happens, there's something we learned from it. It may not be right away. It may be months later, but there is something. And no doubt, somebody else will go through something just as catastrophizing and, a helping hand is always helpful. So, yeah.  

Liz Clifton: Thank you.  Was there anything that you would like to share with the audience?  

Shirley Riga: Well, I have a pretty dynamic website,, and, I offer free videos of, of information. That can be helpful for people who are dealing with stress and anxiety. There's a free, handout on there that gives eight, stress-relieving techniques that are helpful immediately.  That people find really helpful. And, I run a meditation group on a daily basis, live on zoom every morning. I've been doing it well over 400 days. And I have people that help me know because it is a huge undertaking. And, and my blog is, has every one of those meditations and reflections from participants and we're international now. We have, we have participants from Canada joining us as well as most of the Midwest and East Coast. So, yeah, it's pretty exciting. And, you know, my wisdom with Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway comes through everything because it helps me with everything in my life. So, so, and I wrote a book of how to be, how to survive as a caregiver when one is dealing with, taking care of their loved ones and that's on my website. And that helps a lot of people because caregiving can come in any time of your life with, with a loved one. So thank you for asking.  

Liz Clifton: Oh, thank you for sharing. Yeah.  

Shirley Riga: And people. You're welcome to email me. My email is on my website and ask me a question. I, I welcome that all the time.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. Such a wonderful person.  

Shirley Riga: And you are too. With all the work your doing.  

Liz Clifton: Awww, thank you. It has been an absolute honor to interview you again. Thank you so much.