Meet Madelyn Soldner Sullivan
What is your name, location and what are you up to right now?
My Name is Madelyn Soldner Sullivan and I currently live in the home my grandparents built by hand in Aspen Colorado, and while I live in the mountains where I am from, my heart is always with the ocean.
I'm in the middle of a metamorphosis at the moment. A few years back when I was living in California, I decided to take my passion for making custom sandals and give it a shot as my full time gig. It was such an exciting time for me as I explored the unlimited possibilities of what building a life for oneself might look like, while honing a skill and finding a way to make a living adding meaning and value to the world. I was deeply obsessed with the symbolism of sandals/footwear at the time and taught classes where I would tell folktales and myths that had shoe symbolism in them. I would invite participants to consider the meaning of their feet/shoes and offer them a space to create a pair of sandals with the intention of how they'd like to walk their path in life.
Sandals have always been a way I have grounded and anchored myself in the world. They have so much to do with the root chakra, and our ability to walk a balanced path in life as we navigate the duality that is inherent in all of existence. We experience this in our bodies as our left and right feet that are literally opposites that we must find a balance between in order to walk. On top of the symbolism--making something real with my hands that is both useful and beautiful was deep medicine that brought me back into my body, into the earth.
However, the whole time this grounding, rich, sensual sandal making journey was underway, there was a deeper undercurrent of a calling that was growing louder to become a healer. As I healed from my own life experiences, it was becoming clear that helping others do the same would be my path.
In many ways, as it has been pointed out to me now by others, I was already a healer. And in other cultures, or in more ancient times, there was an understanding that Story is Medicine, that Story Tellers are Healers.
I consciously decided to begin training in the healing arts last spring and through the deepening of my own commitment to that path it became clear that I would need to put sandal making (and a lot of other things!) aside if I truly wanted to give this aspect of myself a chance to grow and become something meaningful for myself and others. So my life changed quite rapidly, but ironically, it felt as if I had dropped into a much deeper, slower current. I no longer felt I needed to orchestrate plans for my future like I used to, and immediately felt I could trust this steadier rhythm to guide the unfolding of a new becoming.
I packed up my life in CA and moved home to Colorado where I am currently in the first quarter of a Biodynamic Craniosacral Training. This specific form of Craniosacral therapy is more energetic than manipulative, and helps the body, mind, spirit find reconnect to the breath of life that formed us all and from this place of connection and stillness, healing happens.
I'm loving the sensitivity to my own system that I am developing in this training and as a direct result of that sensitivity an ability to both discern the other person's system and support them, is naturally arising. This foundation of grounding and being present to myself, and then to another will give me the skills I'll need as a trauma therapist when I embark on the Somatic Experiencing training, which is my main goal and focus. I'm thrilled to be on this new journey. It feels so good to live a small, quiet, simple life right now.
I'll be curious to see if and how the sandals come back into play. There are many other creative endeavors calling my name including water color painting, poetry and music making.
How do you know when you are listening to your inner knowing?
When I feel stable in my core--even when it hurts my heart. When my gut feels good and when I am able to stay with my own sensations/in my own body. The second I start to go outside of myself to fix something/grasp something it is a signal to me that I am not listening to my inner knowing. I use my body/gut to check my intuition/inner knowing. There is usually a voice accompanied with it as well that has gotten louder over the years and more black and white--as in, your intuition is not something to ignore!
Was there ever a time you didn’t listen to your intuition? If so, what did you learn?
Oh man! So Many times. So many gifts. I learned I have to trust my intuition or I'll end up wasting my time and others, or end up with a broken heart, or even end up in extremely dangerous situations.
Unfortunately, we aren't taught to trust our intuition in school. The over culture doesn't value intuition, it values logic and reason. Intuition will challenge logic in a way that logic cannot handle. They operate on two very different --but equally real--planes of existence. Learning to use both has been a part of my journey to becoming a well integrated human.
I've learned that my intuition demands my utmost respect. if I want to live a life that is truest to me and most helpful to others. Even when my heart and mind don't want to go along with my intuition, I've learned to surrender to this deeper connection. Doesn't mean it's easy to follow it. Especially if following my intuition means making others uncomfortable. But I've learned the hard way on that one too. I'm now more able to handle the discomfort of others to stick with my own truth. In the end it's the best for all, even if it doesn't seem like it in the moment.
In what way are you helping to create a new future for us all?
This is a beautiful question. Thank you. I want to ask myself this more often.
It's funny, the first thing I think about is what is new anyways? My story telling brain goes on and in the Mythic world the New or the beginning is usually just a rediscovery or something more ancient/old. The cycle of the end being the beginning and visa versa. The new future that I want to be a part of feels like a more ancient future to me.
I am absolutely passionate and thrilled to be getting the training I need to bring the kind of healing that has helped me the most in my life to more people. There is so much that we deal with on a day to day basis in modern life and the tools that have helped me heal I know can help others lead more joyful and resilient lives too. I'm excited to be exploring myth and story through the lens of the rest of the body--no longer just the feet!-- and weaving the archetypal world into my process.
I hope I am contributing in some small way to our future way by living into my own values and my own healing. By creating a space for people to just be. It's a rare experience to encounter each other fully with no agenda, and this is the only space from which healing is possible.
Specifically I am interested in bringing some of this work to mindfulness traditions and life coaching world. There is so much emphasis on the mind and too little understanding of the body. There's lots of talk out there right now about how "life works" that it all starts as a thought we think that turns into an emotion that becomes an action. But this is not always true. If your nervous system gets activated the body will hijack your thoughts. In my own experience, life coaching techniques and meditation practices largely didn't work well for me until my nervous system was more regulated.
I have a feeling there are tons of people out there with similar experiences who think there is something wrong with them. That they are weak somehow. Or are failures because they can't change their reality with their thoughts. I want to be able to work with these people and tell them, it's absolutely understandable and ok! That our bodies are so wise and far more powerful than we give them credit for. There are many situations where an unconscious nervous system response in our bodies is going to over ride any thoughts we try to think to change our reality. The modalities and techniques that I am learning--especially through Somatic Experiencing---are able to address these kinds of situations and help people's nervous systems begin to become more resilient. And then, it does become possible to use our thoughts to change our reality!
Finally, share a personal quote (from you!) Words to live by and to inspire.
Hold fast to the wild, untamed parts of yourself. They are the sacred ground of your being upon which only you can stand.
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