We first have to understand ourselves before we can understand how the world functions and communicates with us. In another enlightening episode, Adam Markel talks to Dr. Erica Risberg, Ph.D. host of the podcast, All Things In The Name Of Love. Dr. Risberg shares her greatest pivot in life and defines her experience with resilience. She also explains how trees are great models for humanity through the power of interconnectedness. Erica also shares how rituals guide you and provide a level of continuity and support throughout the day.
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Connecting With Your True Purpose With Dr. Erica L. Risberg, Ph.D.
I’ve got a great guest. I’ve got somebody that I’m excited to chat with. I never met her before us. This is through some mutual friends and my beloved Randi has already gotten to get a sense of this lady. She’s somebody spectacular. I’m excited about the conversation we’re going to have and to take a deep breath in gratitude right now for this moment. It never gets old. Gratitude is an antidote to exhaustion, headache, people who annoy you, clouds in the sky, pretty much anything that can bring our spirits down a little bit, change our mood and impact my attitude. If I get grateful and I mean grateful, not just a gratuitous nod to it but feel it, I’m very blessed and appreciative in the moment. It changes many things. I hope in those few seconds that everybody had a little bit of transformation. I gave myself that gift. I’m being selfish.
The amazing guest that I have on the show is Erica Risberg. She is a doctor. She’s a PhD. Erica has been curious since childhood, which set her on a lifelong quest to obtain knowledge about culture, what prompts revolutions and the nuances of radio programs to try to understand humanity at a deeper level. She didn’t know this at the time, but she was on her soul’s calling to uncover what connects all of us and share what she learned to help others. At age 40, Erica ended her job to pursue her passion of storytelling as a voice over talent. She is focused on sustainable living. Erica’s podcast, All Things In The Name Of Love, is her way to share her journey and the spiritual journeys of others to help her audience on the path to self-discovery. What I love is that it’s lyrical. Erica, what’s not written in what I’ve shared that you would love for people to know about you right out of the gate?
What I would love people to know is that joy is at the center of my being. Since I can remember, I always felt connected. What I mean by that is I can feel the energy of trees and I hug them. I talk to them. They’re my friends. I know it looks weird, but it’s true. When I was little, I walked into a gaggle of geese at our family cabin. They surrounded me. They were my friends. I did not see them as anything other than friends. My parents were freaking out, but I knew they were my friends. I was taught separation. I never felt it. That’s been the deeper quest. It’s like, “How do I get past that? Why is that separation there? I don’t understand it.” I thought I could get it intellectually, which is why I did the pursuit of the PhD. It was like, “I got to figure out how I can get past that person so I can connect with them.”
You weren’t trying to become Dr. Doolittle?
No, although that’s probably an eight.
Do you remember that movie when you were a kid?
I do and I feel that with the animals. They’re just in different bodies.
I was getting that sense. I was making a little bit of a joke, but there’s also an element of real truth in the communication that’s possible with nature, animals included. It’s profound. I heard it once and you tell me if this is something you’ve also heard or experienced, that the connection and the network between trees in a forest is measurable. There is communication that is happening between these trees.
It’s amazing because we perceive in our heads that we’re the only ones that are sentient beings. It’s an illusion that we have. Honestly, there’s a cedar at the community garden I manage and I can feel that energy. I’ll go up to it and I can hug it. It’s not tangible. I can’t show you, but I feel that I have a connection with this tree.
Is that called the mycelial network?
Yeah, it’s the network of the fungi that interconnect the trees so that they communicate.
They take care of each other. I don’t want to go too far afield especially I know little about it. We had somebody that was one of our attendees at a speaking workshop. She was working on a TEDx Talk about the communication that exists between trees. I’m still fascinated by it because it forms a great basis for connection, support and the lack of competition. Community is maybe the better word to describe how these trees are in relationship to one another. Is that fair?Trees are great models for humanity because each of them is different and unique yet work together for each other. Click To Tweet
Yeah, it is a great model for humanity because each tree is different and unique. They work together to provide a sustainable environment for each other and they are not competing. On some level they are because there’s only a limited space for which they can grow. It’s like the saplings, probably not all the saplings grow, but overall there is this sense of community and interconnectivity that support one another and we could find some good models out of.
How does that inform your work now? How has that informed the decisions you’ve made in the past?
I’ve always been curious. The pivot for me was when my dad died several years ago and I started getting deep with my spirituality. I knew there was something going on. I didn’t know what it was because I felt him leave his body, which was amazing. It was this beautiful experience and feeling his soul burst across the universe. I knew that wasn’t my imagination. My head wants to say it’s my imagination, but my heart knows it wasn’t. That’s the first start of, “I got to find out what this is. I got to dig deeper.” A few years ago, I took a vow of peace because I was so overwhelmed by the violence in our society and I had to do something.
It was like, “I can’t take this anymore.” I did what I thought was the easy thing and I divested myself of news, movies, action books. I was like, “I’m done with violence. I am good.” That was the beginning. Through that, I have opened myself up to my spiritual connections and seeing that deeper interconnectivity with people. When I meet them, I can feel their energy. I can navigate because my cultural history part is, how do I find that puzzle piece? My heart-centered space is, how do I bring love into this so I can give them a safe environment that they can open up and I can connect with them?
Your podcast, All Things In The Name of Love, opens up the space of almost infinite possibilities. Where do you take your guests on that show? What’s typically discussed?
It is very organic. I am guided with my questions. It’s a gift I have. I feel the resonance with somebody to be on my show. I ask them to come on. I read their bio and I feel the questions. It’s not an intellectual process for me. It’s where the spirit wants me to go and what does spirit want to have revealed on this podcast. It’s a fascinating process because I don’t have any preconceived notions of what’s going to happen. Invariably I get these fascinating conversations because I’m open to them and I’m opening space for the person I’m interviewing to know that they’re safe. I have this energy of safety for others. They feel comfortable enough to open up and share their journeys with me.
You trust in the process too.
I definitely trust in the process. I didn’t want to do the podcast.
I was thinking there are a lot of people out there that would love to do a podcast, but they probably told themselves a story of, “I don’t know what I’ll ask anybody. I don’t know if I have the interviewing skills. What if I run out of things to say?” and other versions of those kinds of stories that stopped them from ever doing it. What you’re describing is a podcast that you didn’t necessarily want to begin. I want to find out more about that. Ultimately, as you’re doing podcast, you’re being guided. You’re following guidance and you’re trusting in the process. You’re creating a space and allowing that space to be filled, which is the natural way of the universe anyway. It’s all handling itself in a very graceful and elegant way.
You definitely nailed it, that’s it. A few years ago, I was called to do a podcast. I’ve done voice overs for ten years. I worked at the Maine Folklife Center for six years. I know how to do interviews. I have the skills to do a podcast. It’s like, “This is easy.” However, my ego got in the way. I’d record thoughts I had and sent it to my friend. I’m like, “Here’s my podcast for the weekend.” That was for a year. My spirit team gave me the name of the podcast. They did not come up with all things in the web. That was given to me.
In January 2019, they’re like, “We weren’t kidding. You’re doing a podcast.” There was more hemming and hawing. Finally, I’m like, “I’m the one that’s stopping me.” I have all of the skillsets. I have all the heavy equipment. I didn’t have to buy anything. I have everything. It’s me that’s stopping me. What is part of me that’s keeping me? It’s fear of being judged. Who’s doing the judging? I am. Part of what I do on my daily stuff is I sit with myself. I tune in to whatever I have as a limiting belief or fear. I give myself space to sit with it and feel it because if I fully feel it, then I’m not carrying it anymore. Through that process, I’m able to show up as who I’m supposed to be as opposed to the fears that lead me.
I love the fact that you took a vow of peace and in part because taking a vow is a sacred thing. It’s a special thing. I married my beautiful and adorable college sweetheart, the love of my life at the time, but I was young many years ago. The vow has been a very important thing for me in that regard because marriage isn’t easy. I’m not saying anything about sometimes a marriage should dissolve, that people aren’t meant to be together. My parents split up after almost 24-plus years. I get that. Outside of the context of relationships, vows are important. It’s a word that has a deep rich meaning to it. You vow to be peaceful. There are a lot of things that potentially don’t fit in that way of being at that time. My question to everybody that’s reading this, what would you be willing to make a vow about? I don’t know what that even looks like. I’m going to consider that myself. Don’t make a vow that you’re not going to hold as sacred.
When I did it, it was because I numbed myself out because being a historian, that’s what you do because there’s so much violence.
Your doctorate is in history.
Yeah. I had to numb myself out from a lot of low vibrating things I had to read. I don’t want to get into that. For some reason when the Paris bombings happened, there’s something about that and I don’t know what it was because I’ve been asked, “Why not 9/11?” I’m like, “I don’t know why not 9/11,” but there’s something about Paris that just I snapped. I was like, “I can’t pretend that this doesn’t matter anymore.
It was a personal tipping point for you.
I listened to a meditation. At the end of the meditation, I remember it clearly. I was like, “I don’t know who’s listening, but whoever’s listening, I am taking a vow of peace. I have no idea what that means, but I have to take a vow of peace.” I was shocked that I was feeling and committing myself to what I now know is my spiritual team and going, “What did I do?” I don’t take vows lightly. Vows are a big thing. Immediately what came in was get rid of the action books, stop watching the news, stop watching any movie that has violence. If you live in the United States, you know that’s hard.
It’s tough everywhere in the world. The internet has leveled or I don’t know what it’s done to the playing field. Maybe instead of leveled, it’s lowering the playing field. It is absolutely an issue that everyone in the world is facing. This is inundation of a certain type of information flow, much of it is marketing as we know. Sometimes it’s disguised as something else, but it’s marketing at its core. It’s propaganda. It’s designed to create a certain behavior on the part of the people who are consuming it. Whether it’s to keep your eyeballs on it or have you do something about it or whatever it is. We are assaulted in that way without our consent pretty continuously. To take back an element of control to vow as you did and ask yourself, “I don’t even know what this means. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that.” What you feel and what you’re led to be thinking about is, “Maybe I’ll stop watching and consuming some of that stuff, whatever that stuff is, wherever it’s coming from and see how that feels.” Tell us about what that journey was like for you.
I went cold turkey because that’s what I do. I’m not anymore, but at the time I was like, “We’re done.” I didn’t know what to read for about six months. What that forced me to do was go within, meditate, journal more and be with myself because I didn’t have the distractions. What it’s morphed from, and this is fascinating, is all of a sudden, my body decided it didn’t like different foods. I had to go through the whole process of divesting my ego of the identity of me being a coffee drinker or a hamburger eater. I’m plant-based now and I’m gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, soy-free, coffee-free.
A few months ago, I was eating chicken and fish. I’ll have fish once a month now and I’m fine. I’m healthy. I don’t want to say it’s because of me thinking there’s violence from my decisions, but my body was like, “You don’t need this anymore.” How I shop is different. I go to the farmer’s market for my food. I’m eating seasonally now. I have three TerraCycle boxes in my house to re to recycle the plastics that I have. I try to buy clothes from companies that help the environment. As I become more and more in tune with what I am doing with my purchases, I have to show up differently.
It’s a major pivot to vow something and to not say it, but to allow for the next steps to take place. You didn’t know. That’s the wonder of that pivot anyway. We’re unaware of where that all leads. When I wrote that book with that title some years ago, I talked about how being resilient as an element of the pivot. What I realized now as well is that to be resilient, you also have to be a serial pivitor these days. You can’t make small changes and by pivot, for those that haven’t read the book that don’t know the definition that I’d share with people, you have this capacity to innovate or improvise. You have this capacity to make small changes in direction. To do that, there’s a lot of it that comes from guidance. A lot of it comes from your instincts and your gut feeling about things. Clearly, you followed a lot of that guidance along your path.
It’s fascinating. A perfect example is a few months ago, my body decided I was done with chicken. My tongue had consciousness and it sounds so weird, but my tongue was like, “I don’t like that anymore. We’re done.” I’m like, “This is so fascinating tongue. I didn’t know you could communicate like that.” I didn’t realize it. It was awakening in terms of how much my body communicates with me if I choose to tune into it. Our bodies are constantly talking to us and they will guide you. That’s how your intuition comes through. Mine is very emphatic right now because I’ve been practicing this for so long. My body is like, “We’re done with this.” I have to go because I know what’s going to happen is I’m going to have to deal with physical pain if I don’t change.
We were saying that resilience is a big part of how it is that you are able to pivot and also was part of being resilient. If you haven’t yet embraced the skills, these are tools for making quick changes, small changes even, the kind of changes you can make in ten seconds often as a person. I’d love to get your sense of what resilience has meant to you. How have you cultivated resilience?
It’s interesting because resilience now feels like tuning into what my soul truly needs and not being swayed from it. It doesn’t feel hard. Sometimes it’s a practice like some mornings I’ll get up and I don’t do my daily meditation and I feel it. The resilience is tied to practicing and bringing more awareness into the communication that I’m constantly receiving and less to what my head thinks it wants to do. My head loves to talk. My mind loves to talk.Resilience is tied to practicing and bringing more awareness into the communication that we are constantly receiving. Click To Tweet
Your definition or experience of resilience has a lot to do with listening to your body and these more subtle forms of communication that you can tune into when you’re present and sticking with it.
If my body says, “You’re done with coffee,” and I still want some coffee, I’m going to deal with the consequences of it. Staying aligned with that piece of me that is calling me to a higher sense like, “You’re going to be having white and green tea chai that you’re making.” It’s showing up every single week in making that and changing that behavior.
“I didn’t know I was going to be doing that. Thanks for letting me know.”
There’s ego fighting because you have change and it’s big. I could say that I’ve given up what in American society are big food groups. I only have plants and that’s not a lot according to that old thought process. How many thousands of plants are there that I can eat now that I didn’t even know existed because I was too busy focusing on the American diet?
Rituals are a big part of how we stick to things. As you said, staying with something is not as easy as it might seem. As we’re leading or being led into the end of the year and coming back to that same beginning point, which is beautiful ending and a beginning all at the same time, that people will set their intentions. They’ll make those resolutions that they won’t keep for very long. Studies are different but by the end of January, some ridiculous percentage of the people that made a resolution have already broken it. You go, “That’s a recipe for insanity because every year you expect it to be different, but you do the same thing.” Share with us if you could, how it is that you’ve ritualized some aspect of your day or any other area of your life that you go, “That’s helped me.”
I want to share that in 2018, I didn’t set the intention for the year. One of my friends challenged us to look at something that was in our purview for 24 to 48 hours and paint it. Portland has this amazing band of crows. There are thousands of crows that fly around the city. That weekend the crows were hanging out in my neighborhood. I saw thousands of crows and I was like, “I guess that’s a sign.” I ended up painting a Pacific Northwest version of a crow. That reminds me regularly that I chose to listen to the sign and the spirit animal of crow is spiritual. 2019 has been incredibly spiritual for me and it’s sitting across from my couch so I see it every morning. That’s my morning reminder. My daily ritual is I have my morning chai and I pull my cards and I do my daily readings.
I meditate and over the course of the day, I do a practice called tapping my cortices, which is balancing your left and right brains. It’s something that my mentor taught me. It balances your left and right brain. It gives you a sense to get out of your head and into a calmer state. I also put my hands on my heart and take a deep breath in and out when I feel like I’m grounded. I have a grounding pad under my desk to make sure that I am grounded regularly so I can hear things. I perform a morning ritual, blessing the land and in the evening at night, I use this a sage incense pretty regularly to clear out any negative energy I might be having. At night, I do a very long gratitude list before I go to bed. It keeps you centered. Whenever I feel like I’m getting out of whack, I do my practices. My hands on my heart, I’ll tap my cortices and set the intention of being present.
You return to those. The rituals became very much a support. That’s what is intriguing to me about them as well. They provide a great level of continuity and continuous support so you can go back to them again and again. They don’t have to be the same ones all the time as you pointed out. Different things will come up during the day. Something here or there might take you out, it could be physical, emotional or something in the head. It can be anything. Having series of things that you can go to, ritualized things that you’ve done before and that you want to be doing, make you feel better in the moment. It’s powerful. For example, something as simple as if you can feel that you’re a little not all in your body or you’re not grounded or you’re feeling anxious or it does not feel great, you could pause for a moment, put your hands on your heart, take a few deep breaths and feel grounded immediately. It’s a fairly instantaneous thing that happens. I also think it’s something that people ignore or are unaware of.
Our society is good at distractions.
There isn’t a lot of these kinds of practices or things in early childhood that we’re taught. When you’re feeling anxious, when someone or some situation has put you in a place where you are in fear mode, there’s a fight or flight response or you feel fear. There’s that old expression in that old book, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” There’s a thing that happens before doing it anyway. That is a moment like you say where you become present and you become grounded. You get to decide whether you’re going to do something or not do something. I don’t know that anybody wants to be reacting continuously from a place. I would say reacting is a response that doesn’t involve being grounded. Whereas when you’re responding to something, you are grounded. You’re making a conscious decision to do or not to. I appreciate you sharing that with us. These are easy things. I love it when it’s easy.
Maybe I’m partly lazy, but it’s also partly that anything that’s easy is you don’t have many excuses for why do something that’s easy. If you think it’s hard, your mind will find a great series of convenient excuses for not going after it. As we end this conversation, which I’ve enjoyed, I thank you so much. The waking ritual is like you put it, that you put so much gratitude in your conscious and your subconscious right before bed. I also love to wake and immediately plant those seeds and you probably do something quite similar, but I’ll ask you this question. Did you wake up today?
I woke up in a beautiful way. I felt all of my chakras spinning and it’s a practice I do to help the planet. I have all of my chakras awake and they spin faster and faster until they get to this white light. I feel that energy spread out from me eventually across the world. I feel the world increase that energy until it gets to a white-hot sensation. It feels like the ending in A Day In The Life by The Beatles where they have that violin upswing and they go boom and it has like the sonic boom. All of a sudden, they feel this entire planet covered with peace and love.
We got it right because we got to wake up. We were supported, loved and blessed in many ways just by reason of the fact that we got to wake up. That’s something that any of us, wherever you are in this moment. You’re reading means you’re awake, even though it might be that the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet. You’ve given up the coffee as Erica has. It’s the truth that we have a lot to be grateful for. I love these four words. It’s been a thing for me for a lot of years now, which I wake up and I feel that gratitude and then I say, “I love my life, I love my life.” Erica, do you love your life?
I do. I’m very blessed to have the life I have.
I feel that. Thanks for being a guest on the show.
You’re very welcome. Thank you so much for having me.
Our beautiful community, you’re out there. You know what to do. If you want more, please subscribe or check out other episodes and make that decision for yourself whether it’s something you want to engage in. We’ve got new episodes every single week, which is cool and a whole long list of ones that we love from the past as well. I appreciate your comments. If you’d like to leave a comment, go to AdamMarkel.com/podcast and leave a comment and I will respond. You can join us on Facebook at the Start My PIVOT group on Facebook. You can leave comments there as well. I am happy to receive them. Getting feedback is like oxygen and it helps us and it helps also to create that relationship. I will say ciao for now. Erica, thank you so much for being an amazing guest.
Thank you so much.
- Erica Risberg
- All Things In The Name Of Love
- Start My PIVOT group on Facebook
About Erica Risberg
Erica has, since childhood been a curious one. She connected deeply with animals and land at a young age. When she was 12, she received guidance that she would get a Ph.D., and then set on a quest to obtain it. She was always curious about what the ‘other’ was, and why there was a separation between men and women. She didn’t get it. She spent 14 years in college uncovering culture, what prompted revolutions, and the nuances of radio programming to try to understand humanity at a deeper level. She didn’t know this at the time, but this was her soul’s calling – to uncover what connects all of us and share what she’s learned to help others.
When she turned 40, her father died from a staph infection incurred while dealing with pancreatitis. That sent her on a spiritual quest. She up-ended her job to start her passion of storytelling as a voiceover talent. Four years ago, she had another awakening. Following a meditation that focused on healing the wounds from the Paris bombings in 2015, she took a vow of peace. She didn’t know what that meant, other than to eliminate violence from her life. For six months, she divested herself of movies, literature, and music that were her staples – all of which had elements of violence.
As she tuned in more to her inner knowing, she’s found that she’s been drawn to more sustainable living. She’s also found her food choices have shifted dramatically, and she is currently almost all plant-based. She developed the podcast “All Things in the Name of Love” as a way to share her journey and the spiritual journeys of others to help her listeners on their path of self-discovery.