That Wasn’t My Best Me

energy

This last week was not one of my best and I certainly did not show up with my light turned up. Between bad energy at internship, Thanksgiving not going according to plan, and then hubs and I both getting the flu over the weekend.. I have not been at my best emotionally, physically, or mentally.

I am so close to the end of the semester and having a break from internship, there is piece of me that is tempted to just sit in this place of anxiety and negativity until the break. Why though? Why would I deliberately put off feeling better? Because it would be more work to actively try and feel better while I still have work to do and assignments to complete rather than just allow myself to give into what feels easy, this negative energy.

I had been doing so well with my intention of turning up my light. I am disappointed that I was so easily derailed by other people’s energy, illness, and just life in general. How committed was I if it was that easy to give in?

I think it is good though. It causes me to reflect and realize how easy it is to forget our purpose. This is not something I can be passive about. It is something I have to be actively engaged in everyday. Waking with intention, going to bed with gratitude. I admit I have been doing neither for last few days.

I can give myself space though, I have been ill and in a medicated delirium. Now that I am starting to feel better though I would like to get back to having mindful intention and gratitude. I have felt incredibly unbalanced the last week or so. That is how it goes sometimes though. I can try to show up as my best self everyday but the truth is I am human and sometimes I am going to show up in very human ways which may not feel like my best spiritual self.

So tonight as I am getting ready for a very big week that I know I have underlying anxiety around I would like to show my dark pieces love. My sick pieces, my vulnerable pieces, my scorned pieces, my jealous and angry pieces, my very human and beautifully flawed pieces that show up in painfully honest ways.

I am doing my best and my best looks different depending on the day. Today my best was taking care of body while it healed from the flu and giving Lu a bath after she rolled in the dirt even though I was completely exhausted.

Yesterday my best was making a conscious effort not to puke on my husband.

Tomorrow I will start my day with whatever intention is awake inside of me and I will give the day my best, whatever that looks like tomorrow.

Martyrdom is Manipulation

Martyrdom: a display of feigned or exaggerated suffering to obtain sympathy or admiration.

Martyrdom is a form of manipulation.

Parents use it to guilt their children into doing what they want. I gave birth to you! After all we have done for you! Enter the martyr.

It is a used in relationships. I would do anything for you and you can’t bring yourself to do this one thing for me! 

It is used in religion as a way to shame followers into submission. He died for your sins.

It is used at work as a means to increase productivity without incentive. Look at Sue she works 10 hour days and weekends and never comes in late, why can’t you be more like Sue?

Manipulation at its simplest is about control. It is about getting needs met. It usually refers to negative, underhanded ways of getting needs met, but at the core that is what manipulation is.

Martyrdom is an exaggerated form of manipulation that uses guilt trips, and shaming, and extremes, and generalizations to get these needs met or exert control.

martyr

In my life I have personally been the victim of this kind of manipulation and I have used this kind of manipulation in past relationships. I am not proud of that fact of course but it is true and I am at a place now where I can show that piece of myself love.

This form of manipulation is very triggering for me none the less. It reminds me of times I have been hurt and times I have hurt others. Neither are memories I like to go back to.

Martyrdom is a thing in social work. It is not only a thing, I feel that it is glorified. I feel it used against us as a way to keep us down. To keep accepting low pay, and high case loads, and long hours, etc. etc. These things become expected and we become the martyrs.

Part of what took place in supervision the other day was manipulation. We listened to a long story of martyrdom and were told that we were not as good because we were not doing it this way.

I was triggered for two reasons mainly, for a moment it took me back to the absolute worst employment experience of my entire life.

I worked for a company for 5+ years that was completely toxic because I loved the work and the population. I finally left after my papa died. That is when I realized I had totally lost sight of what was important in life. The night he died he was surrounded by his family. I was not there. I had worked a 12+ hour day and was too tired to make the drive to hospice. He was stable, I would go to him first thing in the morning. He did not make it to the morning.

Following his death I took no time off to grieve. I was in charge, I could not take time off. I thought my job was the most important thing. I realized after experiencing prolonged complicated grief that I had that all wrong. It took me a long time to forgive myself for the time I lost at the end with him. He was more important. I don’t even work there anymore. How could I have ever thought that work, no matter how noble the work I was doing, was more important than the people I love?

The other part of the trigger for me has to do with my mother. Growing up and even into my twenties my mother used martyrdom, shame, and guilt to control me and get her way. It took years for me to recognize it for what it was. It was not until I recognized it in myself that I was able to see it in our relationship. She no longer has that power over me but the pain is still there. It takes a while to heal that kind of wound, especially when you are trying to learn to love and forgive yourself at the same time.

Social work is a primarily female field. Guess which gender struggles the most with work-life balance in general? Guess which gender is the most over-worked and underpaid? I think it is sad that we do not see this as the feminist issue that it is. It is true that many of us, myself included, do not enter this field for the money but that does not mean that what we do is not valuable and I do believe that we should be advocating for ourselves here. It is not just social work either. I feel the same way about teachers. It is another field that is heavily populated with female workers and is very demanding and treated in a similar way.

As women we are programmed by society to feel shame for wanting to be heard and seen and to have a place at the table. How are we supposed to break the glass ceiling if some of us do not even see how we are being manipulated and controlled by those who would rather keep it in place?

Martyrdom is manipulation. I will not believe anyone who tries to convince me I am not worthy of being seen, and heard, and that I have a place at the table. I will not be a martyr, I will be an advocate for myself and minorities like me who are being manipulated into believing we deserve less.

martyr

Back in My Day: In Defense of a Generation

When I first started this blog I was 28 and returning to college for the first time in over 5 years. Most of my time back in the classroom has found me surrounded by people 10+ years younger than myself. My best friend at school is 12 years younger than me. At first I had a lot to say about the way these  millennials did things. If you go far enough back you will find multiple disparaging posts about these annoying millennials and how the way they do things is wrong and the way I do things is right.

I was an ass. I was still operating from a place of dichotomous thinking, there was little to no room for gray in my life back then. This is an area where I personally feel I have experienced much growth in the last 4 years. Now instead of leading from a place of judgement I generally lead from a place of celebrating differences.

This leads into the purpose of this post. This week brought with it some negative energy. The negative energy was not a huge shocker, that is just where our nation has been this year unfortunately. It feels like every week I am trying to balance negative energy and protect myself from allowing to get beneath the surface. This week was different though. It was not negative energy being spewed at me from the news, or social media, or even people in my cohort.. It came up at internship. At the end of supervision we were addressed as a group and comments were made about “work ethic” and “expectations”.. The word “entitlement” came up. It was unexpected and left a lot of people on edge.

Shortly after supervision I met with my supervisor for my end of semester review. I got high marks across the board and plenty of complimentary feedback. My supervisor ended the review by making it clear I was doing an excellent job and supervision was not about me. I was grateful for the good review, obviously that is important, but it did not change the way I felt about what took place in supervision.

Everyone I work with on the clinical team is doing an excellent job in my eyes. We all give 100%, we each have our own unique talents we bring to the team, we are all mindful of self-care and model for our clients everything we are talking about with them when in session.  I have worked with jaded cynical people in the past, I have compassion for them, burn out is a very real thing, but this is a team of highly committed clinical workers who care about our population.”Entitled” is not a word that would cross my mind when describing the group of women I am privileged enough to learn from and with. It was all a bit puzzling and left quite a few of us very uncomfortable. None of us could figure out what triggered this. It was not explained. Had we done something wrong? I definitely did not see it.

At the end of my review my supervisor shared with me that after our site visit a few weeks back our seminar instructor shared with her that some of the students from the younger generation were “entitled”. They did not feel they needed to work long hours or weekends, this kind of thing. I started to wonder if this message that was relayed was even for us. None of us have given any trouble about the hours expected of us, we all work weekends without complaint.

This was all disappointing to me on many levels. I was disappointed that someone from the school was engaging in what felt like gossip when it was relayed back to me. I was disappointed that my supervisor took this information and made negative generalizations about an entire generation of people as well as casting negative judgments about the younger generations work ethic just because it might look different. I was disappointed that a moment of negative talk between two professionals seeped into supervision and had a negative impact on the clinical team. This could have stopped at any point but it didn’t. That is how energy works, it just keeps growing until someone breaks the cycle, until sees it for what it is and consciously makes the decision not to engage, not to let it in.

I am not going to lie to you it took me a day or two to get to the point where I felt I could break the cycle.

I have had the opportunity to process this with a few people, hubs was ultimately what helped me balanced it. I know people like to shit on millennials, especially the prior generations. They are called vapid, narcissistic, selfish, out of touch with reality, lazy, entitled.. so on and so on..

I remember when I was child my dad’s dad would tell me stories about how he walked a mile in the snow to get to school when he was a child in Wisconsin. My mom’s dad told us about how during the depression he caught squirrels and bull frogs on the farm in Missouri and that was dinner most nights.

The point they were always trying to make: you have it so easy. Not just me either. Your parents had it so easy, you have it so easy, and your kids will have it so easy too. They griped about the decay in moral fiber, groaned about how baby boomers have no work ethic because my parents would take on vacations – how dare they take time off work. 

This is how it goes. The former generation is always looking down their nose at the upcoming generation saying “you are doing it wrong”. You see this cross-culturally as well, this is not something we have trade marked in America. It is part of the human condition to think your generational cohort is/was the best. I can’t disagree either, mine is totally the best we have The Labyrinth and The Goonies.

What one person may be looking at and calling “entitled” another person may be calling self-care or work/life balance.

This is progress, this is what it looks like. It is a shift in thinking, it is a change in work ethic, technology, attitude, ideas.. Change is constant no reason to be afraid of it. No reason to call names. There is room for everyone.

Even though it was made clear this message was not meant for me it still made me very uncomfortable because I just do not agree with it. Over time of getting to know all these beautiful people who are 10+ years younger than me I have personally learned that yes, they do things differently (sometimes I feel super old working with them because they know things I don’t know and do things I don’t do), and that is not bad or wrong or any other negative judgment one may want to attach to them. I am just as open to learn from them as I am to learn from my mentors who are 10+ years older than me. Both generations have a lot to offer in terms of their approaches to the work and their life perspectives.

I do believe in work/life balance. That does not make me entitled. I will practice self-care and I will also make my clients my top priority when I am at work. I will have boundaries and I will say no in my personal life and my professional life and that does not make me selfish. My approach to social work practice will be my own and it will not be any more or less valuable than any other’s, it will be mine though. Our differences are what make this a great profession, I thought that was a given, for some maybe it isn’t. I do not hold any of this against them, I just see it differently.

work-life

A Calamity Jill Thanksgiving

dirty-dog

It does not matter how much we plan or how high our expectations soar, when it comes down to it sometimes we have very little control over how things will turn out. Quite often we have next to no control really, a post for another day – the illusion of control.

Leading up to Thanksgiving I had all these wonderful ideas about what the day would be; sharing our gratitude as a family, coming together for a meal, quality time.. All of these things happened of Thanksgiving but not in the way I had imagined.

It started not long after I finished my Thanksgiving day post to this blog. I put on the Thanksgiving day parade and started cooking. It was not a complete disaster by any stretch but I did manage to burn the pecans I was toasting so they were not able to be part of one of the dishes I was making, oh well.

Then the carrots took longer than expected leaving me less time to get ready than I thought I would have. I had this grand idea of wearing a nice outfit and going through the trouble of make-up but when it came down to it I picked out my favorite comfy artsy top and no special details with make-up and hair. That was not a big deal either, I felt more like myself anyway.

Then we were finally on the road. We arrived at my parents house and settled into a comfy spot on the couch while Lu played in the backyard. We were in mid-conversation with my parents when we looked out the back window and saw Lucy looking in on us covered in mud! Her front paws which are normally white were caked in sticky black mud, there was mad on her neck, and her mouth was completely black with mud. Absolute mud mouth.

We were all baffled. How did she get into mud? It has not rained.. The sprinklers had not been on recently.. Hubs and I opened the back door to check her out and clean her up and were almost knocked backwards. The smell! Oh the putrid smell! She smelled like a mix of cow and rotting death! We immediately slammed the door shut while letting out an enormous sigh in unison, LUCY!

She had dug up cat turds in the backyard left by my parents outdoor cat. She had not only been eating cat turds, she had been rolling in them. She created her own mud by drooling cat shit all over herself. Is this story gross enough for you yet? If not, don’t worry it gets grosser.

We had been at my parents for all of 15 minutes at this point. Thanksgiving was really starting off with a bang. Hubs and I went outside with soap, rags, and bucket and started scrubbing the yuck off our girl. After 15 minutes of heavy scrubbing she smelled a little less like death but still kinda like cow. We left her on the back porch for about a half hour to dry off and then let her in. She was inside for maybe 10 minutes before she proceeded to barf up cat turds all over my parents newly installed cream carpet.

We had not been at my parents house an hour and had already cleaned up cat turds twice. Luckily my parents love our disgusting baby and were totally cool.

After all was said and done hubs and I curled up in a recliner and cuddled until we felt better.

My father was sick on Thanksgiving so he was not able to join us for dinner to his fever poor guy.

All in all it was a wonderful day. I played with the big kids and the babies all day. The food was great and there was plenty. We shared our gratitude, I really liked Isaac’s honesty, he was grateful for no school, no homework, junk food, vacation, Daddy, Uncle Todd, and baseball. Emma-Lou and I created a new game where Emma jumps on Aunt Bean and Aunt Bean tickles her while quacking in her ear until she runs away. She played this on repeat for over an hour. Cassandra jumped in a few times as well. It was a tumble of babies and Aunt Bean.

There was quality time, especially for hubs and I, he helped me balance something I felt stuck on the day before and was still thinking about.

There was gratitude expressed and love shared.

And at the end of the day we did come together and share a meal, even Daddy when he felt well enough. Lu even got a little turkey in her kibble.

It was not the Thanksgiving I expected but I loved it all the same. The cat turd Thanksgiving story will go down in infamy and we had what mattered most – love and family.

Giving Thanks

Can I just say again how much I love Thanksgiving. I love that there is a day devoted to gratitude.

thanksgiving

My day started with gratitude for the man I get to wake up next to and puppy cuddles. Lucy and I are watching Charlie Brown Thanksgiving now (my favorite Thanksgiving program). In a bit I will put on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to be playing in the background while I start making our contribution to Thanksgiving dinner, roasted brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes with pecans, and dill carrots. In the afternoon we will go to my parents house and I will be in charge of the Thanksgiving day craft project with the kids. Yesterday at internship we made the gratitude tree and it came out great so I have decided to do the same project with my family today.

Yesterday after internship my two friends that I interned with came over and we had dinner together and watched Good Will Hunting. It was nice sitting around my kitchen table with them, sharing a meal and processing lots of different things. I am grateful for these two amazing women I get to share this experience with.

This morning I am reflecting on how grateful I am for this life. Being married to my favorite human, the home we share in a community we absolutely love, our sweet fur baby, the relationship I have with the kids in my family, being able to have the day off to be with my family today, the success I have experienced so far in the program, all my soul people who are like family to me.

It is going to be a great day and I am thankful for the abundance in my life.

Peace, Quiet, and Painting

I woke up this morning and was not feeling great. It was right on that border of Do I push it, do my day, and hope for the best? and If I over dot it I may not be able to do my day tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a big day at internship. We are making the gratitude tree in group and after internship my two friends I intern with are coming over for dinner and to watch a movie as an impromptu Friends-giving. I knew I didn’t want to risk feeling bad tomorrow so I gave myself the day off today in hopes I just needed a day of rest.

Since I was home I did house work, making sure not to over do it. Once I felt good about the state of our home I set up at the fire place and started painting.

Over the weekend when we were with the kids Moo gave me this sweet Thanksgiving card she made for me at school. I about died.

moomoo1

I am so glad I went through the trouble I did on that Cassiopeia costume. Kids feel it when you put into them, it is why I devote time to just playing with the kids however they want when  I see them. Plus, I just love playing with them.

So when my chores were done I had time for me. I decided it to use it doing one of my favorite things. I am out of canvases so I painted rocks for a while. I painted two for me then one for Maddie and one for Isaac.

peace-quiet-painting3

When I was done painting rocks I decided to recycle some of my old pieces that I never fell in love with. So I took some time painting over the original piece with white primer, then got to work on two new pieces.

peace-quiet-paintingpeace-quiet-painting4

When I was finished I put them both up for display. The mountain piece I framed and put on the mantel, the gratitude piece I hung in my walk-in closet with other pieces that make me happy when I open my closet every morning.

peace-quiet-painting1peace-quiet-painting2

I am glad I gave myself a day to rest. There were a million things I could have been doing, and I did some of them but I drew a line. I am always going to have things I should be doing, I have to be a priority in my life too though. When I feel myself needing a break and I know I can take one without wreaking havoc on my life I am almost always going to take it.

Grateful for the day. It was a good day.

Self-Sabotage

self-sabotage

This afternoon in class our professor asked us to break into groups of three and share a few words that speak to each of our individual life stories. It had to do with an exercise around narrative therapy. I got with two other classmates and initially we just stared at each other. This felt vulnerable. Then one of them started; the first words out of her mouth was self-sabotage. I was thinking man, that is fucking honest, good for her for being so real. Her authenticity gave me and the other group member permission (and a feeling of safety) to show up in our truth as well.

A little while later I linked up with two different classmates for a role play on solution focused therapy. Neither of the women I was working with wanted to be the clinician so I agreed to. I know this is an area I need practice anyway. I use parts of solution focused theory with my clients currently and did so with my clients from my last internship on occasion  as well. It doesn’t really speak to me on the whole though because it is very “now” focused where as I lean more towards psychodynamic approaches which focus on the roots of issues. I think it is good for acute issues but long standing challenges I think are better addressed through deeper work.

So I opened my text to the solution focused chapter so I had an outline to keep me on track and we began. I was not sure I was doing too well because I was so focused on not diving too deep with my classmate playing the role of client. I paused and broke character once or twice to keep myself on track and make sure I was staying with the theme of solution focused. Each time I did my classmates I was working with were super complimentary of my style. I appreciated the validation. They both gave my professor wonderful feedback about how I incorporated different techniques. After class one of the women I worked with told me I was so good that she wanted to bring me her actual problems to get my insight, she was just paying a compliment and was not serious but that was pretty cool.

I had a meeting with my professor after class and was on a high after the class going so well. We talked about certification opportunities and how to search for them. She gave me contact information for some professionals locally that can help me towards certain certifications. She also gave me information about national institutes that do yearly trainings and certifications in case I was willing to travel at any point and make a trip out of it. That was kind of neat too.

So I got home and started doing research based on the information she provided and as I got closer to options I know I am definitely interested in I began to think of my classmate from today.. There is one certification I am really excited about and as I read about what is involved in becoming certified I suddenly felt terrified.  I can’t do this. I am going to fail! I can’t do private practice. I will just work for an agency for the rest of my life. I am not good enough.

The words self-sabotage flashed into my mind.

So I stepped back from my search and took a breath. There is absolutely a fear of failure associated with any step I take towards preparing myself for private practice. There is also a fear of success. There are pieces of me that still do not believe I am worthy of all that I have and all the things I want for myself in life. There are still pieces of me that do not feel good enough.

No amount of positive feedback from colleagues, no amount of validation by professors or supervisors, no credential behind my name is going to change this for me. It just shows me I still have work to do. The best thing I will ever do for my clients is the work I do for myself. Of course I need the degrees, and I would like some certifications just to make sure I am competent in certain modalities, but ultimately I need to be modeling this for them too. I should not be asking my clients to do work I am not willing to do myself. I know doing the work myself is part of what will make me a good therapist because I know the struggle involved in being committed to this work.

I can do this. I am doing it. I have been doing it. I have not just been doing it, I am doing well. It will all come as it is meant to and I feel confident I will succeed in all of it. I may have moments of doubt along the way and I will be gentle with myself in those moments. I will get there though, I know I will.

courage

You Look Beautiful in That Light

sunday

Today we woke up to beautiful weather. There was a chill in the air, I felt it the moment I slid the back door open for Lucy to go out. Sun beams were peaking through Nana’s branches and dancing on the leaves scattered across our backyard, there was a crispness in the air, in the distance I heard dogs barking and children playing. The world was awake and reveling in this glorious day.

I got my decaf and stepped out onto the front porch to retrieve yesterday’s mail. I paused for a moment to feel cool breeze and take in the day. Our street was busy with activity; neighbors biking by, dogs on leashes, cars being washed, lawns being mowed, youth playing basketball at the park. Everyone wanted to be outside and part of it, I was no exception.

I finished my decaf and got dressed to meet a girlfriend at a local cafe. We found the perfect spot to tuck away and chatted over tea and quiche. She was the one who named my joyous bell stick Marge so I caught her up on the progress Ive made, showing her pictures of Marge’s ribbons. We worked on some assignments and chatted some more and then called it a day.

When I got home hubs and I spent time with Lu in the backyard. I was collecting branches that Nana had dropped that could be used for the Gratitude Tree we will make at internship this week. Nana provided me with four different size options which is perfect because I do  not know how many clients will be with us this week and we may want options. As I hunted for the perfect branch Lu assisted, occasionally picking one up for her own puppy purposes and walking off to chew on it in a sun beam. By the time I was done Lucy have developed quite a little pile of branches and sticks herself. After I chose my branches I brought them to hubs who was sitting on a bench near Nana and together we would plucked off the existing leaves so we were left with bare branches to hang paper leaves on. As we plucked I said a silent thank you to Nana for providing for us.

Later in the day we made dinner together and then watched Harry potter while I painted at the hearth. Before starting the next Harry Potter movie we paused so I could lay in a hot bath. Hubs talked to me while I soaked; and as he talked I drifted for a moment. I thought about the day and my best parts, collecting branches, tea with a friend as we worked on a term paper, painting.. Then I came back because I realized I was missing one of my best parts, sitting in the tub talking with hubs.

Now I am working on my contribution to a group project that is due next week and sipping tea with biscotti.

Sundays are the best days. I love that I was able to reclaim a day that used to bring me such pain. Sunday is now one of my favorite days of the week quite possibly my favorite. I love the lazy ease of Sundays. The way the day moves so slow and feels so comfortable. I love that our first day of truly beautiful weather this season came on a Sunday, it is as it should be.

I am so close to being done with the semester. Just a few more weeks, just a few more assignments, just a few more classes. Today I am grateful for today though. It was a day well spent doing things I love in the company of people I love and for me that is about as good as it gets.

Sacred Femininity

divine

I need to start by saying that after my last post I was sitting in a bit of a vulnerability hang over. It is not easy to not only see your own darkness, but to sit in it and then allow others to see it as well. My ability to not only acknowledge the existence of my shadow pieces but to give them voice when needed and love them just as they are is what healing looks like for me.

This kind of ties into my current inspiration which is the healing power of feminine energy. Feminine energy to me is nurturing, it is creation, it is love, it is divine, it is pure and unending, it is acceptance on every level. I just finished my latest painting and it has to do with creation, and transformation, and evolution, and how all things are connected, and the power of feminine energy. There is a lot of symbolism in this piece. It was also in part inspired by the female body.

transformation

It felt so good to be painting again. After I finished it I kept seeing more and more symbolism in what I had created, even beyond what my initial inspiration was.

It felt really good to sit in this healing feminine energy after the darkness I allowed myself to sit in and share, after weeks of being exposed to toxic energy out in the world.. I have been talking for a while about how to balance the negative energy that exists in the world right now this goes back to that. There is balance in everything; darkness is balanced by light, negative and positive, hate and love, destruction and creation, masculine energy and feminine energy. In the middle of each of these extremes is the balance, the gray area.

My light is aflame and I am embracing my own sacred femininity because my truth is that the sacred feminine energy that each of us possesses is what will save the world. The Dali Lama said the world will be saved by the western woman, some thought that meant Hillary, some think it means western women as a whole, I think it has to do with being in tune with our collective feminine energy. That nurturing, maternal, infinite loving energy. That is what will save the world. I am stepping into that energy in my own life and am seeing the impact it can have. What would happen if we all led from a place of love and light?

dali-lama

 

A Soft Place to Land / A Bed of Nails

I am very tired but as I lay here trying to drift off there is a piece of me who desperately needs a voice and I feel compelled to give her a platform. I keep a notebook in my bedside drawer for inspiration that comes to me at bedtime, it happens often, but this one does not feel it can wait until tomorrow morning.

                          Sometimes dark stories prefer to be written in the dark.

When I was sharing the story earlier today about my elevator encounter I mentioned my ex for a brief moment when I was calculating the math since the last time I had talked to this ghost. With out realizing it I think I triggered someone deep inside of me who now needs to be heard. She is piece who holds a lot of my darkness from that time.

My ex and I brought each other darkness. We had dated a briefly a year prior to when our true relationship began. He re-entered my life in the  middle of one of the biggest traumas of my life. At this time I believe he was in a dark place as well although at the time he was more focused on my crisis. We started in crisis and that is also where we ended. There is something tragically poetic about that I think.

A few months in the turmoil was already present. It continued through out our 3+ years together. It was apparent at this point that we were dealing with our own darkness and we were inviting it into our relationship, and I believe with my whole heart that at the time neither of us had insight into what we were doing to the other person. I may have been able to see his pain, and he may have been able to see mine, and on some level we may have been aware we were both personally struggling but not enough to step back and truly acknowledge it. On occasion his pain would bubble to the surface in a moment of vulnerability and I would do my best to be there with him and give him a gentle place to land. Occasionally I would show up in my pain in a vulnerable moment and he would console me and attempt to give me a soft place to land. More often than not though we were more like a bed of nails to one another, magnifying the ever present pain we were both experiencing. The root of our suffering was not grounded in each other at all, it went much deeper than that, it was present in each of us before either one even knew the other existed. Our relationship was a long process of two hurting humans suffering together. Unfortunately instead of healing each other’s broken pieces, more often than not we amplified the other’s suffering.

Our relationship ended in a explosion of glass and emotions quite literally. I took him to his emotional edge and he scared me to a point of no return. I have never held this moment against him but it was very clearly the end. Or so I thought. So we both thought I am sure.

A month or so went by and we reconnected very briefly, this too went up in flames. Then many months went by. I had the best year of my life up to that point. I was single for the first time in a long time and after a little of mourning the loss I realized that single is my happy place. I was so much better on my own. I know now it is because I was suffering and it was much easier to hide that suffering when there was not another person always around reflecting it back to me.

Fast forward to a few weeks before my birthday that year, he reaches out, and I faltered. I thought I was past him, I thought I was in a different place. It was one of the biggest back slides of my entire life. With one text message we fell right back into each other. This went on for a while until it stopped once and for all. Our final breaking point came in light of the largest betrayal I have ever experienced by any human being in my entire life. In that moment he brought me a darkness that took years for me to overcome.

I did though. And in time the hurt began to hurt less. And even more time I began to see my part in it all. And in more time I no longer saw him just for his darkness. And in more time I started to recognize my own. And even more time I was able to find compassion and love for both.

I have many regrets about the time I spent with this person. Most have to do with pain I know I caused. I have since forgiven him for his part. I know we are good people at the core who were hurting and did not know how to heal at the time. I hate that I made that time in his life worse for him, I hate that he made that time in my life worse for me. I have gratitude for light in that time that we both brought each other because it was not all dark. We were never friends though. That is the only relationship I have ever been able to say that about. I have been friends with every person I ever dated except for him. During our relationship we were never friends. We were just two lost souls sharing space.

It bothers me a little bit that I am coming back to this. I moved past it quite a while ago. I guess there are still pieces of me holding this pain somewhere buried deep though. Tonight I show them love and light. I send the parts of him that I injured love and light. I send the younger versions of ourselves who caused each other so much pain love and light.

There are things I regret about that time in my life but I would not change any of it. That darkness was meant to be. I hate that this is my truth but it is. We all have to show up in our darkness at times in our life to truly get to place where we are in our light. I grateful for his part in my journey and my part in his. I think we both moved on to better places of true love and comfort and that is all I could ask for either one of us.

 

Making the Block

moment

Tonight I shared space with my mentor and two other women I admire and it was so good. It was also sacred so that is all I am going to share about it.

As I was driving home my favorite song by Ben Howard came on my Pandora station. It started right down the street from my home, so I decided to make the block. Sometimes you are just not ready for the moment to be over. As I drove and enjoyed every chord, every word, all the feelings that rose up in me, I thought about mindfulness and being in the moment and how great it is when you are really committed to it.

I admit it is not always easy. I am very inside my own head a lot of the time. I am known for walking out the door without something I need for the day or walking into a room and not remembering why. I at times operate in a state of fog because my consciousness is not in the moment but in my dream world instead.

I can do it though. I can be intentional and mindful and present. I love both spaces, the here and now and my dreamy place.

I am feeling like I am in a list making mood so I am going to share some of my favorite moments of mindfulness.

  • When you are with someone and they are telling you a story and you are all there experiencing every piece of it with them. I get to do this with friends, clients, family, colleagues.. Sometimes  even people I barely know. It is so remarkable, you are literally transported into their reality and can feel, and see, and smell, and hear all the different things going on around them in their story. Those are moments I live for. I love stories.
  • Meditation. Being able to feel every part of my body and listen to it. The slight tinge in my back from my posture, the growing numbness in one butt cheek from holding a position too long, the feel of my mala beads rolling between my finger tips as I breathe in my intention, my breath – the air filling my lungs so full and then release, every little pulse going on inside of me. Sometimes meditation feels like a super power, to be that tuned in to your own body, it is a spiritual experience for sure.
  • In nature. Whether I am walking a trail far away from humanity, or sitting outside a crowded cafe some of my favorite moments of full on mindfulness take place in nature. There is a table I like to sit at on campus when it is available, it is right next to a patch of green – grass, bushes, a few little saplings.. I sit there with my ear buds in to drown out all the human noise taking place around me and I just watch. I watch the way each leaf moves in the breeze, I watch tiny spiders dancing across blades of grass occasionally throwing a little web if the distance to the next blade feels to far, I look at the color of the different leaves on the bushes and wonder why some turned and not others. I see it all taking place right in front of me, I am immersed in something it seems like no one can see, but here it is all happening right in front of them.
  • Music. Music is a vehicle, you can climb inside of it and get lost for hours. Radiohead is a great example of this for me. When I first listened to the OK Computer a million years ago I remember getting lost in it. Particularly Paranoid Android and Subterranean Homesick Alien. I would rock while I was listening, I would sing, I would bang my hands on my legs in tune with the beat. I was transported, I was lifted from my bed, out of bedroom, and into another space and reality this music created. The power of music is otherworldly.
  • Creating. This is one of my favorite ways to experience mindfulness. Being completely consumed by my creative process is my ultimate answer to the question of self-care. When I am holding my pain brush it becomes an extension of my body, the cold feel of paint on my finger tips is a feeling of renewal I have no words for.. Experiencing each step of the creative process is spiritual for me; laying the drop cloth – spending a moment to take in all of the colors present on it and how beautiful my messy splatters are, setting up the canvas – taking a moment to relish its emptiness, setting up my paints – choosing each color with intention and leaving the drawers open that hold my paints so each color not chosen knows it is still invited into the experience, the physical act of painting – I have no words, and stepping back occasionally.. Coming to the surface for perspective, to tell my family I love them, to witness my progress. Creating allows so much room for so many things. It holds space for me in a way few other things and people are able to in life.
  • Writing. I am here right now present in this moment. Choosing every word I type, sometimes sitting with my choices before I move on.. Does that feel right there? Is this what I actually mean? What is the absolute perfect word for this sentiment? Writing is another part of my life that holds space for me in a very special way. It is more than special, it is sacred. I am able to give myself to the act of writing in a way I struggle to with many people in my life. I have a few soul people who experience me in the way I show up on this blog but few truly know my depth.

If you are someone from my real life who I have invited in to this place please know how much that speaks to what I think of you and how I feel about you as a person. I may not show up fully in this way with you in real life but you were invited to a sacred space where I allow very few “real people” from my life and there was a reason I let you in.

I could continue with this list. I am growing tired though and I even while I am in this moment of writing I am still listening to the needs of my body. The one last thing I would like to add to my list being in moments of true emotion. When something touches me, when something impacts me in some way and allowing myself to feel it without a filter. I am often moved to tears and I often let them come. I am not uncomfortable crying in public spaces and if I make others uncomfortable with my vulnerability I think that may speak to their disconnection from their own – that is not a judgement statement. I really do love allowing myself to feel things though and not having to sensor, I feel much more alive when I can show up this way.

I have no fancy ending for this post. This is all I have for you. I hope it gave you something, I know it did for me.

Taking the Stairs

I ran into a ghost recently as I was riding an elevator and it is from this encounter that I have decided I will never ride an elevator again!

Of course I am kidding but let me break this down for you.

  1. I am not a huge fan of elevators in the first place. All the weird creaky noises they make freak me out.
  2. I am certainly not a huge fan of running into ghosts. Small talk is painful with people I like, small talk with a ghost – I would rather have eye surgery.
  3. This is not the first time this has happened to me. It is not even the second. THIS IS THE THIRD TIME IN MY LIFE I HAVE BEEN STUCK ON AN ELEVATOR WITH A GHOST!

I mean this would be a lot of people’s worst social nightmare right?! It is like the awkward social version of the naked in public nightmare. And I feel fairly certain that most people could go their entire lives and not have nightmares like this ever realized.. But not me. Oh no not me. I am apparently a magnet for awkward social encounters.

So I was riding the elevator, the doors open and on walks my ghost. The last two times this thing happened to me I noticed the person before they noticed me, this time I did not notice my ghost at all. They look different from when I last saw them. I was trying to do the math, I think the last time we talked was February of ’08. I was in crisis over a situation with my ex, the “relationship” was ending for like the third time and I definitely remember this person being there for me through it. Looking back it, I kind of hate that the last time we talked was associated with that situation, I am so thankful they did not bring the past up.

So there  I am staring down at my phone, I was reading an email, and all of the sudden someone says my name completely snapping me out of cell phone induced daze. Huh? I looked up and in front of me stood this person who I knew that I knew but they looked just different enough that it took me a second to register. The whole thing was super disorienting.Once I figured out what was going on I realized they were talking to me, asking questions, waiting for answers. Oh yeah yeah, wow, great to see you. Um yeah, I’m married. No, not working now, finishing up grad school. Yeah, thanks, social work. How about you?

This is the actual worst. I was so flooded by confusion and panic I could barely think straight. I am pretty sure they told me they had one or two, maybe 6 kids. I don’t know. They were focused more on asking me questions, that was probably because I was too stunned to reciprocate. Soon enough we had reached my destination and I jumped off with a quick mumbled good bye.

The thing is with this particular ghost, there is no bad blood there. We just lost touch over time. I am literally just this awkward. It’s not that I hated running into them, I just hated running into them like that. I hated the surprise component, I hated being trapped. There is too much going on that is out of my control and then on top of all of it I feel like I have to be “on” with no warning. I can’t go from reading an email and being in absolute introvert mode to social butterfly like that. I need time for transition, I need to build up to it.

The last two times this happened it was with my ex’s then girlfriend, now wife. Again, she and I do not have bad blood directly. She and I have never had any issues but he and I sure as hell did so that energy was present plus all this other stuff I can’t process – the element of surprise, the being trapped together in a small space. Shit man, I mean this is absolutely awful. How does this keep happening to me? -Please know I am laughing as I say this, I am definitely able to see the humor in all of it.

So yeah, I think I am going to avoid elevators for like the next 5 or 6 years just in case this is some kind of cosmic pattern that I am stuck in where every 5 or 6 years I get trapped in an elevator by a ghost. I mean taking the stairs is better for me anyway right?

Learn from my horror stories and be careful on elevators folks, you never know who is going to get on.

stairs

Sacred Work

I was reflecting quite a bit after internship today. I had a special moment at internship today and it made me reflect on the words of all of my mentors.

I thought of my former intern supervisor and words of encouragement she had given me in the past about my natural gifts in a certain area, I allowed her words to validate me in the moment. I thought about one of my professors and how she said she used to practice self-care early on in her career. I had gratitude for my current supervisor and her level of trust in my clinical skills. Finally I thought of my formal mentor and something he always says about how sacred the work we do is. So channeling all of these people I made the decision to leave internship a little earlier than usual for self-care. All my work was done, I could have done more to get the hours but today was not the day.

As I drove home I listened to Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros on repeat, windows down, sunroof open, fresh air running through the car, sun setting over the buildings downtown, me with my thoughts. I thought over and over about how honored I was to be part of what happened today. I thought over and over again about how true my mentor’s words are, this is sacred work. We get to bear witness to these significant moments in time, there is no other human word for it but sacred. I reflected back on how so many of the experiences in my life prepared me for this moment that I experienced today. I thought about other times in my life, not just in my short time in this field, but in my life where I have had the great honor of bearing witness to these kinds of significant moments.

Moments like the one I experienced today remind me of what is important. They bring me back to my center, the bring me back to gratitude, and life perspective, and remind me how fragile the human spirit really is. In moments like this so many other aspects of daily life seem to be so insignificant.

Today I am grateful to have learned (and to continue to learn) under some of the most amazing humans I have ever known. I am grateful for every person who saw my greatness and helped me wake up to it. I am grateful for every tragedy I have ever experienced. I am grateful for tenderness, and humanity, and the honor I have to bear witness to others.

Today I have gratitude for the darkness we are sitting in as a nation. As scary as it is it brought me the message I needed to turn up my light and since I have been sitting in that intention I have felt a shift.

Sometimes on the best days and on the worst I feel like I have to pinch myself, this is really happening. I am here, I am doing this thing that I thought I could not. I am walking in a light I thought I did not deserve.

It was a really special day. I am so full with gratitude and light.

sacred.jpg

 

Gratitude

Most of my posts contain a gratitude component because that is just how I operate as a human, this post is special though because it is specifically devoted to the topic.

My intern supervisor came to the other interns and myself towards the end of shift today and mentioned that next week the MHC student who usually runs group on Wednesdays will be out. In lieu of her absence she wondered if we would like to run group. She was of course met with an enthusiastic YES! from all of us. We have decided to do a group around gratitude. We are brainstorming the discussion we will facilitate and then will move into an activity or two. My contribution so far is the idea of creating a “gratitude tree”. I saw the idea on Pinterest and it spoke to me. We will create a tree from a mason jar and tree branch which is held in place by rocks and then have our clients write down their gratitude on different colored paper leaves to be hung from the tree. I am excited.

I have started to really focus on my gratitude, more so than usual, with Thanksgiving being a week away. I really hope to infuse the true meaning of the holiday into my families celebration this year. I do not know what that will look like yet but I know I will find a way to make it meaningful.

So with this being a post devoted entirely to one of my very favorite topics I would like to take a moment before bed to count my gratitude in this moment:

  • I am grateful for my journey, all parts, as I am learning the true significance of my personal story.
  • I am grateful for love. Love in my relationship with my hubs, between my family, between my friends, and even my special furry girl.
  • I am grateful for kindness. I am grateful for everyone who go out of their way to remind us all of our light.
  • I am grateful for this time in my life. The experiences I am having, what I am learning, my growth.. All of it.
  • I am grateful for balance and the fact that I am able to make balance a priority in my life, understanding this very simple act is in fact a privilege so many do not have.
  • I am grateful for all the things I am not able to give a voice to in this space either for purposes of privacy or because I recognize this list has to have an ending point but that does not mean my gratitude does.

I know gratitude is a really important part of my life. I look forward to sharing it with my clients and seeing how each one interprets the message. It is my deep hope and wish that none of my clients will have to spend Thanksgiving with us but the reality is, some might. I am hopeful that sitting in gratitude with them will give them something special to hold onto over the holiday and going forward. I certainly thankful for the opportunity to do this work that holds such deep value to me.gratitude

Hope

hope

This lyric is playing in my head as I sit and think about something hubs and I were talking about earlier this evening. It is from the song What Sarah Said by Deathcab for Cutie. It is one of my hubs and I’s favorite song by that band.

I was thinking about it because we saw something on TV which prompted a conversation about our future children and the future of our future children. As I am laying here mulling it all over again in my head  I started thinking about hope. I am thinking about how much hope he and I have to dream about things we want for a future. Hope is what allows us to imagine a future. Hope is what allows us to look past this moment and trust that we get to experience the next.

And that is when it came to me, this lyric and what Ben Gibbard meant by it. I have always known what he meant by it but I am understand it on a deeper level. My husband and I have plans for our future, we believe that we will get to have a future, we believe we have children who will have a future. We are able to look so far into our future and imagine all the possibilities.. That takes courage and it takes hope.

It made me feel better in such tense times to recognize we have not lost our hope, it is sitting right here next to us just as it always has been.

Sharing My Light

light

I have mentioned previously that in my groups class we take run an actual mutual aid support group made up of the members of class and every week to class members get to co-facilitate the group together with a predetermined topic. Last night was our last night of group and it also happened to be my night to co-facilitate. Our topic was loss.

When I initially was assigned to be the last group and given the topic of loss nothing about this rattled me. I was doing the group with a close friend we had both done groups before, and I was well versed in the topic of loss thanks to prior experiences.. it was going to be fine.

Well a lot had changed since the beginning of the semester. For starters my friend was no longer in the class so I had been assigned a new partner, someone I had never worked with before and whom I did not know at all. On top of that we were going the week after the most contentious election in recent history.

My new partner was fabulous. I could tell the moment I met up with her to discuss a game plan. We were going to work together just fine. We came up with ideas for questions to fall back if needed we started brainstorming about ice breakers and how to close the session out. The ice breaker was particularly tricky.. a lot of my go-to ice breakers had already been used earlier on in the semester by other co-facilitators. I even went so far as to read a book about ice breakers for ideas.. They all felt so forced and cheesy to me though.

The concern about having to go right after election week really started to grow over the weekend.. I had not been on social media much as I was giving myself a break from all the negativity so I did not know that a rift was beginning to form within our cohort online. Apparently a few members of our cohort had voted for Trump, totally their right, and one in particular seemed to becoming more and more vocal with their opinions about how the rest of the country, who did not vote for Trump, was responding to his win. I am sure a lot of people saw this kind of thing happening on their feed, FB has become a bit of a trash can since the election unfortunately.

So this person was apparently making comments on other members of the cohort’s posts about protests that are going on, or articles they would post.. It didn’t sound good. One of my friends that I went to dinner with mentioned that this person had started making unwanted comments on one of her posts and was not backing down. This person in question is known for being outspoken, personally I have always seen this as a strength because I have never seen them take it to a negative place, but it seems like right now it was getting very negative and hostile. I would brush all of this off as none of my business, and did for the most part, my only concern is that some of this people that now seem to be feuding a bit are in my groups class. I started to get nervous..

Is this going to bleed into class? Is this going to bleed into the group I have to co-facilitate? Do I feel that I am able to hold space for a discussion that could come out of this? I did not know any of the answers to these questions.

So our anxiety leading up to the day of class was our lack of an ice breaker and not knowing what the hell to expect from the class. I mean the topic is loss, many people are feeling a definite loss associated with the outcome of the election (myself included), we could be in for a heavy conversation. At this point I did not know how I ever felt so confident at the beginning of the semester.

Then I woke up yesterday morning and had a moment of clarity in my morning meditation.

What have I been saying since last week? Turn up your light, be an example of love, do whatever it is you do – sing, dance, paint.. Paint. That is what I do. I am an artist. That is one way I can turn up my light, suddenly I knew exactly what to do for the ice breaker and it would also address the negative energy that might be present.

I called my partner, shared my idea, we brainstormed together and both agreed this was a great way to go. I thought about bringing in my own art supplies but decided I did not want everyone using my personal stuff and getting their energy on it. So I ran by the art store, got some cheapo acrylics, brushes, and a canvas.

At the beginning of class we invited everyone up to the front of class where we had set up the canvas, paints, and brushes. We asked everyone to paint a little something on the canvas that speaks to how they are currently feeling, the energy they are bringing to group tonight, or just a little something that they feel represents them.

It was great! Everyone was laughing and painting. Some were very thoughtful and used lots of colors, others made a little mark and were done. Everyone responded to it in their own way, which was great because it created such diversity on the canvas. There were peace signs, flowers, hearts, suns, inspiring words like “empower you” and “breathe”.. The group member who I was a bit concerned about, the one who seems to be struggling with other members of the cohort, painted something that I thought was very telling.. It was a big “equal” sign with a line through it. It was a bold red and was by far the largest symbol painted on the canvas.

At the end of group we processed our painting and what everyone thought. Some people asked questions about some of the symbols they were seeing, a question was asked about the big red symbol.. The group member who painted it blurted almost explosively that it stands for “unequal” because that is how they feel about society right now essentially. That group member did not participate in group last night but by opening the floor to creative expression at the beginning we were still able to give that member a voice, maybe in a way that felt a bit safer for them to express themselves. I feel good about that. I also hope that all the peace, love, and flowers present next to their symbol helped it to feel balanced, and in turn helped this person feel balanced.

Politics did not bleed into group. Group went well. At the end was passed around self-care stickers for everyone to pick from, they were a big hit too. I cannot control how everyone experienced our group last night but I know I turned up my light. I realized that being able to hold space for others starts with being able to hold space for yourself.

In a little while I will be leaving for internship. I am walking into this day with continued commitment to turn up my light and be an example of love.

Letting It All Out: Part III

self-care2

In continuing with the weekend’s theme of clearing energy and self-care I attended a meditation sister circle Sunday night. We processed our feelings about recent events, supported each other in our fears, shared stories that needed a voice, and sent out sparks about how to raise our light.

One woman made a point that speaks to my intention of shining my light and being an example of love: She said that if Hillary had won we, the light beings of the world who are in tune with our light, would probably remained in a place of complacency. Yes our lights are on but during times when progress is naturally occurring maybe we are not shining to our full-potential because we do not see that it is needed. This fear of darkness so many of us are experiencing gives us this awesome opportunity to “stand up and stay standing”. It gives us the opportunity to see what we are really made of, to step into our greatness, to see what we are truly capable of, to SHINE OUR LIGHT SO BRIGHT IT CANNOT BE IGNORED!

One woman lamented on how Trump’s election and his entire run for presidency has resulted in people giving themselves permission to show the ugly parts of their soul. Many of the stories we shared spoke to this very phenomena that has been happening. Another woman responded with such insight; if Trump is giving them permission to show up this way what is it giving you permission to do? If these people, whoever they maybe, are giving themselves this permission slip to do and say whatever it is they are doing and saying, what permission slip will you give yourself? How are you going to show up, how are you going to be real?

I sat with this for the rest of the night, through meditation, through drum circle, on the car ride home, and while I was writing last night. What permission slip will I give myself? How will I show up? Without having the specific words to answer this question I can say that I can already feel it happening. It is in my shift of thought, it is in my shift of feeling, it is in who I am growing into, it is in how I will continue to grow.

Another woman when challenged by a group member on what can she do about the world and the state of things responded by saying, but I am just one person.

That’s right you are. AND SO IS HE. He is just one person but look at the energy that has been created around him. I am going to reiterate a point I know I have already made twice, but until I know it is heard I will continue to play this same broken record: MLK Jr. was just one person, Brene Brown is just one person, President Obama is just one person, The Dali Lama is just one person. Anyone you have ever looked up to in your entire life was just one person; one person who made an impact. We have the ability to make an impact, we all do, every single one of us. It is in the way we think, the way we interact with the world, the way we feel about ourselves, the way we show up in our life every single day.

I was inspired by my experiences last night with these women. I was inspired by our collective light, I was inspired by our ability to show up with our humaness and our own darkness and let it all be there, every part of how we are processing this got to have a voice. The part where one woman called Trump supporters mouth breathers and the part where we were able to show love to Trump himself. We are not so different, we all are made up of both darkness and light. It is all swirling around mixed together inside us until we are beautiful beings of gray.

I leave you with this: Going back to the question that was raised, what permission slip will you give yourself? How will you show up in this? In what way will you stand up and refuse to sit back down? How will you turn up your light?

self-care1

May the light from our sister circle be a light for you as well in dark times when you feel your own light fading.

Letting It All Out: Part II

pride

Saturday night once my paper was finally complete it was time for girls night with my social work friends. One of my girlfriends came to my home to ride with me to the restaurant downtown. I was still getting ready so they gave us an awesome opportunity to catch up while I did my make up and picked out earrings.

We chatted about school, and internship, and the election, and life. It felt like another nice deep breath, much like my time with hubs and Lu earlier in the day had felt.

At dinner my girlfriends and I caught each other up on life, and internships, and fulfilled each other’s general need for self-care through meaningful connection. Much as I expected sparks flew.

After dinner one of my girlfriends and I decided to go downtown for some dancing. The best of that decision is we caught the tail end of Pride. We watched the fireworks from the Pride festivities that had been going on all day and then danced among those who had spent the day celebrating. It was everything.

There were rainbows everywhere, everyone was dancing, it was the most joyful scene and my heart was so full. At the end of the night after dancing at multiple bars my girlfriend and I were sitting at one of my favorite bars watching everyone else dance and celebrate. My friend and I started commenting on how much hope it restores in us to see our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters be so free. A dark cloud is hanging over our nation yet we are still able to wave our rainbows and dance our dances and sing our songs and raise our collective light.

We will not stop dancing, we will not stop singing, we will not dim our light to meet others in their darkness. Love does conquer hate. Love conquers all.

Tonight as I drove home from drum circle I crossed a bridge on the interstate that leads me into the city. It was lit up with rainbow colors and from the bridge I could see multiple buildings downtown lit up with rainbows as well. I wish we could have the rainbows all year long as a reminder of love because in a rainbow there is room for every color just like in this world there is room for every person. Colors belong to everyone and this world belongs to everyone.

I am grateful for this amazing reminder of what love looks and feels like on a broader level.

pride1

Letting It All Out: Part I

smudge

I needed a lot of space for self-care this weekend. I think hubs and I both did. I do not think we were alone. With every interaction I had with the world this weekend I saw it around me.. I felt it. That need to be gentler, softer, to taking a deeper breath..

Negative energy was hanging over our home Saturday mid-morning. I was on a deadline all weekend and was feeling the anxiety associated with that. Hubs came to me because his anxiety was building over the level of disarray in the home. We could both feel this energy building and decided to hit the reset button. I took a break from my paper and we went for a walk with Lu. As we were walking I was helping him be in the moment using mindfulness. I was walking him through how to let go of the anxiety associated with our mess at home. We focused on the feeling of the breeze against our skin, the different colored leaves we were seeing all around us, we made sure not to rush Lucy and allow her to smell everything she wanted to smell – it was her walk too. We decided to walk up to the vegan tea shop and have lunch. We both ordered a tea and a light lunch and then sat outside with Lu reading various vegetarian and music magazines.

As we ate people came up to love on Lu, others stopped to chat about this or that. I bonded with the employee who took our order over the hat I was wearing, my HRC Love Conquers Hate cap, as it was pride weekend downtown. She was also wearing her rainbow ribbon in support. It was nice.

After our lunch we took our tea to go and walked over to the park. Lucy and I chased squirrels together and then chased each other around a pine tree until she decided to jump in a huge pile of pine needles, I followed suit. Hubs just sat back and laughed at us.

On the walk home I found a great stick I thought Lucy would like; turns out she was much too tired after our romp in the pine needles. I thought it was too great to leave behind so I added it to my growing collection of leaves and acorns I had been picking up along the way and took it home with us.

Hubs asked what I was going to do with the stick, I paused for a moment and then replied that I planned to paint it, tie ribbons to it, and glue on some bells. This way when our home has funky energy in the future we can use our joyous bell stick (I have decided that will be its name) and clear the energy.

When we got home hubs came up with a priorities list for what part of the mess bothers him most and we got to work. Before we got started I had him pick out an oil and a color he wanted the diffuser set to as well as an intention for the work we were doing. We both said the intention out loud a few times, I dropped in the oil he chose – serenity- and set the diffuser to light blue. It took us less than an hour to completely clear the negative energy from our home once we were home as well as get it picked up. Hubs said this was his version of smudging the house, I’d say it was pretty effective.

Here is the mid-point result of my joyous bell stick. It is painted and ready for adornment.

self-care

Collective Consciousness

collective

This has been a hard week for many. I thought to end that sentence with “in my country” but the truth is, the difficulty and struggle and pain being felt goes beyond the land mass I live on – far beyond in fact. Human suffering is far reaching, it is a universal language we all speak; if only more people recognized that sad truth and had any inclination to do something about it.

I walked through this week with my set intention of “shine your light for all to see, be an example of love”. It helped me while I was out in the world, I even saw the positive ripple effect which warmed my heart.. At home I struggled silently. I woke each morning and cried during my morning meditation. The words and thoughts that would come up for me about balance, and feeling grounded, and sending my spirit out with the intention of light and love each day  felt coated in a melancholic residue. I have allowed myself to sit with this, I have not tried to push past it or numb it out. I am mourning, we all are, and this pain must be felt. It means something, it must not be ignored. This pain, this heaviness, this burden, from it will come beautiful beginnings but only if we give into it fully first.

born

This Sunday I have been invited to a meditation circle where we will process our feelings about the election and then meditate with the intention to “send out peace to all”. After our meditation we will close with a drum circle. I am thankful, wholeheartedly thankful, to have this outlet. All I want in this dark time is to mourn and send out light, this space will allow for both.

This morning when I woke up I found that I have also been invited to another gathering that will be processing the events of the week as well. I am unfortunately not available to attend because of my first engagement but my heart felt so full when I began to realize that collectively we are doing this. We are coming together, not fracturing apart. People are gathering to process, and to collaborate, and to ultimately raise our collective consciousness. I say that last part about raising the collective consciousness because that is what happens when we come together in this way, that positive energy flows out and offsets the imbalance we have all been experiencing. This is what I have been talking about all along about turning up your light, and not meeting fire with fire, etc. This is what it actually looks like, it starts small with one person, then grows to small groups of people coming together, and from there it continues to grow until that light shines so bright it cannot be ignored.

Martin Luther King Jr. did not single handedly change the course of American history, but the movement did. The same is true of everyone else I mentioned in my last post. These people did not create change alone, it was the movement, the collective. But these people, they were the spark.

Tonight I am meeting my girlfriends from the program, in light of the events of the week we have decided to go to dinner rather than downtown – no one had the energy for celebrating in that way. With having a dinner it will allow us to have a conversation and undoubtedly sparks will fly. In a few weeks I will meet with my mentor and two other friends from the program to process and undoubtedly sparks will fly. These sparks we create are what light the flame, they are the light that will balance the darkness. The more we send this energy out the more we will feel the collective consciousness rise.

So gather, collaborate, process, meditate, sing, dance, cry, paint.. Do whatever it is you do to bring peace, to create sparks, to shine your light so bright IT CANNOT BE IGNORED.

light1