Let Your Soul Shine

This morning my husband woke me as he usually does on a weekday morning, by kissing me and snuggling into me before he leaves for work. He laughed this morning and told me I was making ridiculous faces right when I woke up. Well if he knew what he was waking me up from he would understand.

I was having a dream about a song. Immediately after hubs left I closed my eyes and remember the melody but it was gone. The words stayed with me though. It was a song that talked about being able to see the pain a person’s eyes and knowing the suffering that dwelled underneath. Then it built into this beautiful crescendo and the lyrics sang let your soul shine! Let it shine through for all to see!

I felt so at peace and filled with joy.

I have been sitting with some dread recently related to obtaining employment after grad school. I have already talked about my fear and worry a bit here, unfortunately these feelings persist. I am grateful for what has been put in my path AND I don’t know that any of it feels right for me.

I have been filled with a fear that my concern about being hired will result in me abandoning myself. I feel the song I woke up singing myself was a song of hope. It was a message about my purpose. Everything will work out so long as I do what feels true to my soul.

I have already turned down a position I knew wasn’t right. I have an interview later this week and I don’t know that it is the answer either but I am going to go with an open mind and see.

I keep reminding myself I have time. It is only January, I do not have to have it all figured out right now. There is time.

 

 

Brene and Cheryl and Glennon

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This weekend I read Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. I have talked about books on my blog before but this is the book. This is THE book. If you only read one book I have talked about here this is the one. Especially for all my female readers. Her whole story may not speak to you but some aspect of it will because she is telling the truth. She is telling the truth about what it means to be a woman. She is talking about dating, and hating our bodies, and the shame ingrained in us by society and religion and men and even other women, she is talking about sex, and motherhood, and being married, and infidelity, and addiction, and  many other aspects of womanhood and humanity. You will find yourself somewhere in her story, I almost guarantee it.

Her story made honesty and truth telling feel far less scary.

Her story made me think of the stories of other women I have read. Brene Brown, Cheryl Strayed and Susan Cain.. My modern day heroes.

Then I got to her acknowledgments at the back and she had thanked Cheryl and Brene. Thanked them for their honesty and their truth telling. I get it. These women are the women that are making this world feel safe to be vulnerable in. Their tenderness is their strength, their commitment to keeping the mask off is what makes them brave. You can be introverted, and vulnerable, and a mess, and scared, and quiet, and healing and it is all okay and there is a space for you too out there in the big noise of the world. A space that was designed and meant just for you, no one else can occupy that space, it is yours. I am beginning to understand that now.

So I would like to put my thank you out there into the universe. Thank you Brene, and Cheryl, and Glennon, and Susan. Thank you to all the women I have encountered, and whose books I have read, and lectures I have heard, who have brought me closer to my own truth. Thank you for showing the rest of us that we are worthy and we deserve to be seen.

This year I made a commitment to read the books I have been afraid to read previously because I was scared the truth would be too painful. It is painful, I was right about that, but some truths are. I will not be afraid of these truths any longer though. I will allow them to support me as I journey further inward to discover my own. Today after talking with my husband I ordered 9 more books. I cannot wait to devour them all.

Truth Telling

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Last night after my revelation I closed everything down and went back to bed. It was 4:22 when I climbed in next to my pup and my hubs; as I did he stirred and then got up to go to the bathroom. When he returned he asked if I was okay and what I was still doing up. I told him I was fine and that I was writing and that I have things I would like to tell him but that it could wait until morning because clearly it was late and we were both tired. He smiled and said okay, told me he loved me and I slipped into a deep dreamless sleep.

Five hours later I woke up. We all did. Each of started to stretch and look around at each other and cuddle. We let Lu out, got her breakfast, got our own breakfast, and then scooted back to bed to eat and talk.

I put on oils in the bedroom, a mix of peppermint and lavender for clarity and calm. I lit my candle, I have many candles in my home but one is special, it is my candle, it’s light is there solely to support me. Then we crawled back into bed, him with his oatmeal, me with my peppermint tea and we started a new chapter in our relationship.

I told him that I experienced a shift last night and that I understood things I did not understand before and that I wanted to share these new realizations with him. Before I started I explained to him what I needed from him while we talked and that was space to be honest without it feeling like too much. He did not think that would be a problem.

He listened as I talked and when I was done, before moving on to another part of my epiphany I waited for feedback or questions. He was on board with everything, all of it. He understood everything I was saying and was open to all forms of honesty in our relationship. I made sure he knew that the standing invitation that he had always held for me, I was holding for him too. I am going to honest with you, in all forms, please trust me enough to know you can be that free here too. Our love is strong enough to hold this for us, it will only make it stronger. We agreed. We will move forward in this relationship without editing ourselves for the sake of the other. We will be real, and honest, and authentic, and build a deeper love on this.

Then I did something I have never done. I asked for help in my dark place. My therapy is what my therapy is, we are still separate from that part of my work because only I can do it. But there are other things that could get better if I ever trusted anyone enough to ask for help. He has shown me I am not too much, I am not asking too much, I am lovable, and he is not only willing but wants to help me should I ever ask. So I asked and he said yes. He is going to help me with practical aspects of overcoming my PTSD. We are going to work together to try and make me feel safe in ways I never have before.

This request was my very first step towards taking him up on his invitation of honesty and love.

Our relationship does not come up often in therapy because he is not something or someone I have to heal from. I realized though that he could help me heal. And that by being open to accepting his help I would also be opening myself up to a deeper level of trust within myself and in the relationship. I am learning to trust myself and trust him. I am learning to love myself and allow myself to be loved.

This is big stuff. It makes me think about the intention I started the year with, transformation. That is what this is. It is transformation, it is a learning and unlearning of love. I have been planted and now I am starting to sprout and grow.

To Know True Love You Must First Be Honest

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It is raining and I am so grateful because the rain has always made me feel comforted and right now I will take any extra support with an open heart. It is 3 o’clock in the morning and I realized hours ago that I will be doing my sleeping when the sun comes up because I am experiencing a shift and I need to be present and bare witness.

There are multiple posts that will need to be written to capture the leading up to and aftermath of this shift. I will let each come as they feel ready. Now there is a burning inside of me, a story and an intention that needs a voice desperately so it can be released.

Friday I got off internship and called hubs. He had the day off so he was home waiting for me. When I called I asked him how his day was and then asked him what was for dinner. His answer made it clear to me that he had given dinner no thought and this led to a heated discussion wherein he may have accused me of be patronizing and I may have said there was sexism in our relationship.

This is a post unlike others I have written  because I do not discuss our relationship in this way publicly. This is true for a number of reasons. The first being that my husband and I have check-ins periodically about our relationship, similar to the state of the union addresses, where we take inventory and see if anything needs attention. Another is because an actual issue arising that would lead to heated discussion is few and far between. And third because my husband is private and although I write openly about my life I try to be considerate of how I include him.

The thing is, this is such a massive shift taking place within me that I feel the need to document it and this is where I do that. The purpose of this post is not to highlight this tiff my husband and I had but to use it as context for the shift that is taking place.

So we both said something that was honest but hurtful to the other person and when I got home we sat and talked and found common ground and hugged and hugged some more and then had some dinner. An understanding was reached and commitment was made to a change that was needed.

When my husband and I were having this talk on the couch my husband said something to me that he has been saying for five years. It has to do with how we communicate differently. My husband will let me know when something makes him uncomfortable as it is happening. He usually does so without emotion, just kind of an FYI situation so I am aware and we can either talk about it or I can just be more mindful. This probably takes place every other day or so. He has learned over time that if he is going to mention things this often he has to have a gentle approach because otherwise it is stifling, if he were overly critical or annoyed when delivering these FYIs it would be too much because of the frequency. This works for us.

I do not do this. I am a bit more easy going, he would agree with this assessment, and I tend  to let things and people be. He is who he is and I love him as he is. I only mention something if I am supremely bothered by it and I do not tend to get supremely bothered. Every once in a while though something will happen that I am not comfortable with and then I might realize, hey wait a minute I don’t like this and it keeps happening. I may not have been fully aware of my discomfort with it the first 10 times but this time I am and this has to be addressed now. I am emotional when I bring it up because that is who I am as a human and I almost always catch him off guard, understandably so. The entire time we have been together I have maybe done this a handful of times so it is again, not an issue we worry ourselves with, but when it does happen it is no fun. When I get emotional on that level I get swimmy headed and I do not articulate well. I usually start off okay, I am rational and calm. If the conversation goes on for more than 10 minutes though my emotional levels build and I get lost. I just want to tell my truth, have it be understood, and move on.

When we were talking the other night we did okay. I had a moment of emotional lostness wherein I identified sexism in the relationship (to be clear I did not call my husband sexist. I do not believe that for one second. I also do not believe that he would ever do a single thing intentionally to hurt me. The situation in my eyes was sexist though and because of his perspective I believe he was not even aware of it). After that moment I came back down and we talked like we normally talk.

Where my shift comes in was after something I read this evening. My husband is asking me to let him know on a more regular basis when something that is happening makes me uncomfortable so it can be addressed and it does not build leading to a situation like what took place Friday night. I know this would be a more effective way for me to communicate my needs the problem is, and I have shared this with him, I may not notice it the first 10 times. I notice it the 11th time and when I do it suddenly occurs to me that it has happened 10 times before as well and I am upset. I explained, as I have in the past, that I don’t know how to make myself notice it the first time or the second or even the seventh. I don’t notice it until I notice it and sometimes it is after it has been going on for a while.

So tonight I was reading something and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Two things: 1. I am not being honest with myself in my relationship. and 2. By not being honest with myself I am not being fully-present and authentic in my relationship. Both of these realizations made me feel awful. Awful on so many levels. Awful that I am abandoning myself in my relationship, not intentionally but it is happening all the same. Awful that by not being honest with myself that means I am not being honest with my husband and that breaks my heart because ironically honesty is the most important thing to me in a relationship. Awful because my husband is, I shit you not, the most honest person I have ever met in my entire life. Awful because by not being honest I have not given him the opportunity to love me fully for the person I actually am.

None of this feels good. I cried silently while he and my sweet pup laid next to me in bed fast asleep. I gave myself my moment and then realized it is going to be okay. I realize it and I love myself enough to be honest. I also trust our love enough to be honest. We are both strong enough to withstand my honesty. AND my true self, the one who I have not been honest about is worthy of my love and his. AND I know in my heart he will agree.

When I say I have not been honest it is me realizing that all this time that I have been “laid back” and just letting him be him and not making a fuss, I have been abandoning myself. Not all the time but some of the time. My husband hates to cook and so I leave it be, that is just who he is. Right there, I abandoned myself. Sometimes I don’t want to. Sometimes I just want to come home, change my clothes, flop, and eat because dinner was already ready when I walked in. I told him all of this when we talked the other night and he totally got it. The thing is though if I am being honest with myself, I have felt this way from the beginning. Why I am just now saying something 5 years in?

Here is my unfortunate truth about that. It is because of what I learned about love through out my life from other men. Don’t ask for too much, don’t complain, stay small, stay silent, be agreeable, be easy, don’t fuss, don’t nag, make their life easier, help them, don’t ask for too much, don’t let them see you.

I realized after I finished writing that part that I wrote Don’t ask for too much twice. That tells you how embedded that message is inside of me.

I married my husband because from the very beginning his way of loving felt truer, more honest, safer, less conditional. He is my friend, my partner, he is not afraid of my strength, my emotions, my depth, my mind. He has been encouraging and supportive. My path to healing started 5 years ago, he has been walking it with me from day one. I have peeled back my layers and shown him my darkness and it has always been okay.

This whole time I thought this relationship was different. I knew there was this old piece of me that would show up on rare occasions but rarely, not nearly as often as every other relationship I have ever been in. I am sad that I am just now realizing how I have been editing myself. What makes me even sadder is that he has always been asking me not to. He would prefer I just be honest, he has always sensed that I was holding back. Why couldn’t I see it when he could see it so clearly? I think the answer is because it is my truth, not his, and you can’t see your truth until you are ready.

I see it now though and although I am sad that it took me this long and I am also relieved. He has given me the standing invitation from day one to be honest and be my whole self in this relationship. I am now not only ready to accept that invitation, I know how. I am accepting an invitation to be more present in out relationship and in my life. I am accepting an invitation that will bring me closer to myself and the person I love most. By accepting this invitation I am accepting myself on a whole new level.

He has never been afraid of me. Not my darkness, not my strength, not my depth, not my mind, not my emotions.. He will not be afraid of my honesty, he will embrace it the same way he has always embraced every other aspect of me.

Here is the real truth, since we being so honest, it was never about him. I am accepting an invitation to be honest with myself. To speak my truth. To be an equal. To be seen, and heard, and to ask for more, and to know I am worthy of it.

By being honest in this way I am finally able to shuck off the lies I learned about love from men throughout my life. Honesty is love. I cannot know true love with myself or outside of myself without a deep commitment to honesty.

It seems so clear to me but things always do in the after. The before is where things are tricky. Continue reading “To Know True Love You Must First Be Honest”

Hiring Process

I heard back from multiple possible future job sources today. I did a phone interview that went well, an in person interview should be taking place next week or the one after. I applied for the counseling position at my internship in a different department, we’ll see what happens there. I also was approached about a part-time per diem position facilitating groups.

This new opportunity that has been presented would involve facilitating a psychoeducational group two nights a week for two hours initially with the opportunity to do more as needed. Even if I take one of these other positions I could still potentially do this as well because it takes place in the evenings after normal business hours.

I also reached out to my friends at Hospice to check in and see if they have a need as well because I would love the opportunity to go back and work with them in a clinical capacity.

I am again very thankful for so many opportunities popping up, we will see what comes of it all, if anything.

Whole Hearted Authentic Practice

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It is really important to me that I am being true to both myself and my clients when in a therapeutic relationship. I have talked about this before when discussing how me doing my own personal healing work will only help me become a better therapist. Also I will not ask my clients to do work that I would not be willing to do or am currently doing or have done previously myself.

I have been thinking about this throughout this week because I am finding that many of the clients I have had recently are bringing me some of my work. What I mean is they are mirroring back for me work I have either already done or versions of the work I am currently doing myself. It is interesting.

Today I had a whole session with a client around body positivity and unconditional love. The client made a comment about how unconditional love does not exist, this client is currently struggling with feelings of abandonment. I helped reframe that statement discussing how in our outside relationships with other people there will be boundaries and that boundaries are how we maintain healthy relationships with others because it allows us to love others and feel connected without having to abandon ourselves. The client was framing conditions in a negative light so I attempted to reframe conditions as boundaries and help the client see how boundaries create healthy relationships. I then used my “I voice” to share my own opinion around unconditional love.

I explained that personally I do believe unconditional love can exist and that it is how we love ourselves. Unconditional love, unconditional acceptance, that is what we strive for in our relationship with ourselves. We explored this a bit and I asked the client where they feel comfortable starting on this journey towards self-love. The client came up with an idea for a chart where they will set an intention, or choose a positive word, or do an affirmation everyday that is a message of self-love and then track how many times throughout the day they are able to use it to balance any negative self-talk they experience throughout the day.

I was really impressed with my client and decided that in solidarity I will do this same exercise for the rest of the week privately. This also helps me keep with my intention of not asking my clients to do work I would not be willing to do myself. This is something I do pretty regularly anyway but it is not a consistent everyday practice. I will be curious to see how many times I will need to redirect my own thoughts back to my intention of the day if they start to get negative. I am looking forward to feedback from my client and to see how they do with it as well as tracking myself and seeing how difficult it is for me to be mindful in this way.

 

Exploring My Options

Last week my former intern supervisor reached out to me about a job opening she had caught wind of. I told her it sounded interesting and before I knew it she had talked me up to the hiring manager/lead social worker. I am sending them my resume in the morning and will be returning their phone call after.

I am grateful she is thinking of me when she hears of openings. I would not mind going back to the population I was working with previously, I love this population, I got a minor in undergrad relevant to working with this specific population. I am curious to hear about the job itself though. My concern is that it is primarily case work versus being a clinical position. I don’t mind case work but in order to get my hours towards licensure I have to be doing some clinical work. Not to mention I want to continue to grow my clinical skills.

I also still have this other clinical option where I am currently interning.

Although I do not have anything nailed down in the way of employment post grad school it is reassuring that I have a few agencies looking at me. If I do end up wind up having to apply other places as well because one of these options does not work I at least have this little confidence boost as I start my search.

We’ll see what the next few months bring my way.

 

I Have Found My People

A year and a half ago I remember sitting in my therapists office asking Where are my people? It was in reference to a specific aspect of my story we were talking about which I will not disclose here because of the stigma attached. I share this piece though because I know I am not the only person that feels this way due to stigma.

This past weekend was a big weekend for me in many ways. First was the women’s march, which I already shared some about. That was certainly a moment for me that answered that question. I rounded that corner downtown and felt my soul sing, Oh here they are.

Attending that rally and being physically and energetically part of this piece of history was so important for me, not just as a woman and a feminist, but as a survivor, as someone in recovery from a lifetime of trauma that is uniquely female, and as a possible future mother to a daughter.

We went back and forth that day about whether or not to go. Our introversion almost talked us out of it because the crowd was going to be so large and that is a nightmare for us. I knew though, deep down in my gut, that I would not be right with myself if I did not do this. I did not just want to be there, I needed it for my own personal healing. As my husband and I talked about it after we left one of things we discussed was how this is something we will be able to tell our children one day we did. We were part of history and before they were even born we were thinking of them.

The next day I woke up early. I was set with nerves because I had plans to go to a spiritual service with a friend from school. I felt good about the spiritual community I found for us to visit but the idea of entering any kind of religious/spiritual building and attending a service made me feel torn between wanting to cry and vomit.

I am taking a spirituality in social work class this semester. I decided on this class because of my own personal need for growth in this area and because I want to be a well rounded therapist who is able to discuss all aspects of a person’s identity with them when working together.

If you have been following my writing for a while then you know I have only started walking down my path towards spiritual awakening in the last year or two. Before that I identified as atheist, and before that I was suffering under the burden of Catholicism being forced down my throat by my well-meaning family.

My friend from class, who come to find out is also a recovering Catholic, felt as terrified about this task as I did. One of this assignments from this class is to attend a religious/spiritual service that is outside of your own religion and then report about what you learned.

Well in a way this assignment is easy for the two f us, because when you do not believe in anything specific all the doors are open as far as where you can go to learn about something new. The part that made it difficult and a bit terrifying is that both of us have the same aversion to religion/church as a result of the heavy handed judgement we experienced at the hands of the Catholic church growing up.

So in order for us to feel safe to do this assignment I did research, a lot of research. After a week of lots of digging I found something that not only did not feel icky but actually sounded kind of good, Unitarian Universalists. The website spoke of their commitment to inclusion, and social action, and love, and community.. They have seven principles that are directly in line with the social work code of ethics that we practice by. When I saw that I thought, this is a church for social workers!

So plans were made and Sunday morning at 9:30 am my girlfriend met me at my house and we set off together in my SUV to go see about a church. We got there early and sat in the car for 15 minutes working up the courage to go in, we were scared, both of us. We finally decided it was time to make the leap and we both got out of the car. We started walking towards the building and an older woman with short silver hair walked by us wearing a I Stand With Planned Parenthood shirt. She welcomed us as she walked by. My friend and I looked at each other after she passed and agreed that that was a good sign. I have that exact same shirt but I would have never dreamed of wearing it to a church service! That was pretty cool.

We walked in the front doors which were wide open letting the fresh air in and we were greeted by two more women. They gave us name tags and we explained that we were social work grad students from the University that were here to visit and observe a service. They were over the moon to hear this! Something that happened immediately after introducing ourselves that my friend really appreciated is that one of the women explained that one of the leaders of their group is a retired psychologist and this woman is also a retired LMHC.

My friend appreciated this woman saying this because it proved to my friend that this woman understood what we do. So many people still think that social workers are all DCF case workers who remove children. The field is so vast and this woman identified us as mental health professionals which was nice.

She walked us into their facility explained a little but about the service so we knew what to expect and then offered to give us a tour after and talk a bit more if we were willing to hang around, we willingly agreed and thanked her for her gracious hospitality.

The service started, we sat in the last row trying to be inconspicuous, it didn’t work. It is a small group (not too small but much smaller than the hundreds that we are accustomed to at a Catholic mass) and it is clearly tight knit so new comers stick out. The thing is though, that was okay. We stuck out but we did not feel like outsiders at any point. Everyone was so welcoming and accepting, it was a wonderful feeling.

The service started with the lighting of a candle by a child and only got better from there. This group does not worship a specific deity, they do not follow any specific religious scriptures. All faiths and belief systems are welcome. They do not pretend to have any answers, it is more about asking questions and bringing in multiple perspectives and philosophizing together. There is no right, or wrong, or good, or bad. It is all GRAY.

I was home. For the second day in a raw after years and years of searching.. I had found my people.

The woman who gave us a tour after shared that she too was a recovering Catholic, and she agreed that she was called to this group of people because for the first time in her life she felt safe to experience her spirituality her own way without losing that sense of connectedness and community. Everything about this service spoke to me. I am not going to go into further detail because this post is long enough, if you are still reading send me your address and I will mail you a sticker of appreciation.

I could not edit this down though because it was too important. The last 6 months, starting at soul camp and my monumental shift that took place there, have brought so much clarity to an area of my life that for so long has left me feeling lost and alone. I have found connection in ways I never thought possible. This past weekend was a huge jump forward in my work and my healing and I am profoundly grateful.

My friend and I were so excited and comforted after our experience with this group that we have decided to go back next Sunday. We want to go a few times together still just she and I before we bring both of our significant others in to check it out. I think because of our past experiences with organized anything in terms of religion/spirituality we are afraid and hugely skeptical of anything that feels remotely related to a church. We need to make sure this feels right on all levels before we make any decisions.

It is hard not to get ahead of myself though and keep from jumping in with a both feet. They have a social action committee that plans activism opportunities for the group.. I mean, how do more social workers not know about this?

“We Should All Be Feminists.”

These are the words my professor uttered a few semesters ago after a classmate stated, Well I don’t personally identify as feminist.

I don’t know if my professor meant we as social workers, or we as women, or we as liberal minded individuals, or we as in every single person ever (I personally lean towards the last option). And I know that professors “should” remain objective but I sure am glad she said it! I know I am not alone either.A lot of my friends in the class breathed a visible sigh of relief when the professor spoke up.

Every time I hear someone, specifically women, renounce feminism I feel myself hold my breath. Suddenly I don’t feel safe because if you are telling me that you do not identify as a feminist it makes me wonder if there is an aspect of equality that does not speak to you? And if that is the case then yeah, back to what I said, I kinda don’t feel completely safe around you.

This exchange led to a really awesome conversation. This professor is a huge feminist and very open about it. We discussed why some people do not choose to identify as feminist, some people in class spoke up to share their reasons.

The reasons ranged from: I don’t know enough about it, to my dad would kill me, to but I don’t hate men, to feminism is not inclusive, to I am not political, to I just don’t believe in it, to feminists are always so angry and I am not an angry person, to I’m not much of an activist.

My professor and some of the rest of us helped illuminate the discussion by explaining some misconceptions and answering questions.

So I wanted to share a little bit of the discussion for anyone else that may still think feminism is a dirty word.. Let’s brush some of that dirt off.

  1. Feminism is not about hating men. That is a totally different thing called misandry. Some Feminists may personally identify as misandrists but that is like some may identify as lesbian or Christian or Latina or male. You can be all of these things and be feminist but they are not the same. So to be clear: Misandry = dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men. Feminism = the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. NOT THE SAME THING.
  2. Feminism is all inclusive. Malala Yousafzai defined feminism as a synonym for equality and I personally agree with that definition. Now, this misconception is a fair one, but I would like to clear it up all the same. There are different branches of the feminist tree and some are less inclusive. For example, radical feminism has a history of discriminating against trans folks. Some radical feminists do not believe that trans folks belong in the movement. That is not the feeling of the majority however and feminism as it exists currently is very clear about its commitment to intersectionality and inclusion. Feminism has multiple branches, Liberal, Social, Radical, Womanism.. etc.. If you would be more comfortable getting super specific then I recommend doing the research and pick which one feels right to you. Or define it for yourself, that is a totally acceptable alternative as well.
  3. “I’m not political/ I am not an activist”. Cool, me either, but I am still a feminist. There are no rules to being a feminist, you get to define it for yourself. Let me repeat: THERE ARE NO RULES, YOU DEFINE WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU. I would not typically attend a protest personally because that it not usually the energy I want to put out into the world, that does not make me care any less about equality and women’s rights. I am also not super political. I think our political system is a joke and have very little faith in our elected officials. That does not make me any less a feminist.
  4. Not all feminists are angry. That is like saying all social workers work for DCF (my social work friends will get why that is such a cringe worthy statement), or all Christians are anti-gay, or all white people are racist. Those are pretty heavy accusations to make and THEY ARE NOT TRUE. Sure, some feminists are angry, and they have a right to be, consider what we are talking about here; protecting the rights of a group of people who have historically had their rights infringed upon based on their sex/gender. We have a right to be angry. And yes, some feminists bring that masculine energy into the movement, especially at protests. That does not mean all feminists are angry. Personally my brand of feminism comes from more of a earth-mother- nurturing place and I lead with a much more feminine energy. Again, there are no rules, you get to define it. Feminism belongs to you, and to me, and to everyone. We make the decisions about what it means to us. And I would like to make the statement one more time before moving on that there is nothing wrong with being angry. To focus on the emotion in a negative light like that serves to minimize the experience of the individual. People have the right to be angry, we all have the right to feel our feelings. There is nothing wrong or bad about that.
  5. My family/friends/significant other/social circle/kid/employer/grocer/dog/bus driver wouldn’t understand. THAT IS OKAY. This is not for THEM, it is FOR YOU. The things we believe in BELONG TO US. They are personal, they are sacred. No one is required to understand them and WE DO NOT OWE ANYONE AN EXPLANATION.

I am going to end my list there and address the last reason separately, I just don’t believe in it. To me that is a cop-out. That is shutting down the conversation because for some reason you are scared. It is like when I used to identify as atheist because I knew if I said that when someone tried to talk to me about spirituality the conversation would die and I wanted it to die because spirituality was a scary place for me for a long time. My question is WHY? What stops you from believing it? What is holding you back? What are you unsure of?

If you do not believe in equal rights then say that, say I do not believe in equal rights that way we know where you stand. But to say I don’t believe in feminism without a reason is just putting the movement back and that is not doing gender minorities any favors I can tell you that. Saying I don’t believe in feminism is like saying I don’t believe that Black Lives Matter. Saying I don’t identify with the feminist movement is like saying I don’t identify with the civil rights movement, or the LGBTQ+ movement, or any other social justice movement.

Understand this: Being feminist is not about being better than anyone else, it is not about excluding anyone, it is not about hating anyone. It is about equality and the very fact that feminism is still considered a bad/dirty/scary/negative word to some people proves that the patriarchy is alive and well.

Now more than ever it is IMPERATIVE that you stand up for what you believe. That you openly identify with those beliefs. WE NEED YOUR HELP. If nothing else, please do me this favor, do the movement this favor.. If you can’t get past the label for whatever your reason maybe 1. Please reconsider and 2. Please do not renounce feminism. We are trying to change the world and make it safe for all people, every time you renounce us you are setting back time. Please,please, please if you can’t get past the label at least find it in your heart to be our ally. And as our ally please do not do or say anything that would negatively impact the positive work we are striving towards.

If my passionate advocating has not convinced you, give me one last chance: here are a bunch or celebrity feminists who get it, maybe they will change your mind. I mean who doesn’t love Will Smith?

 fem8fem7fem1

www.hdnicewallpapers.com
http://www.hdnicewallpapers.com

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Did You Hear That?

ptsd

One last post tonight to put myself at ease and to experience my own unburdening with the hopes of then falling into a restful sleep.

I have been sitting alone in the living room for the last hour writing. Normally I enjoy this quiet time; just me and the house and my tea and my thoughts. Normally. Sometimes though when I sit alone at night in my living room my PTSD creeps up on me, an unwelcome guest crashing my party, here to terrify me until I can barely breathe.

It started with a noise.

Was that a knock at the door? It can’t be, what time is it? No it’s much too late.. Then what was that noise?

Get up, heart pounding, stomach has already dropped out, adrenaline pumping. Walk into the bedroom;

Babe? Was that you?..
Oh it wasn’t? Then did you hear that?..
Oh you didn’t?.. Well I am sure I heard a knocking..
No but you don’t understand, I am sure I heard a knocking..
Okay, you’re probably right..

Return to my nest on the couch. Continue writing, but not without first enlisting the company of my trusty guard dog.

It was nothing. It was nothing.

Check to make sure the doors are locked..

It was nothing. You are safe. You are alone. You are safe. It was nothing.

Sit back on the couch continue writing.

Hear a knocking. Look at the dog. She didn’t react.

It was nothing. She would have reacted. She would have barked. It was nothing. You are safe. You are alone. You are safe.

You are alone. You are alone. You are alone. It is dark. You are alone.

You are okay. You are okay.

Continue writing.

Feel a bump on the couch. All systems on red alert. Heightened sense of hearing and touch. Aware of every inch of your surroundings. Listen… Listen…. Listen… Nothing.
Look at the dog. She didn’t react.

What was that? I am sure I felt something. Is there a monster under the couch?

You are not a child. Monsters are not real.

How do you know?

Try to convince the dog to come sit on the couch by you.

Come here baby.. C’mon.. Come here honey.

Give up. She is not moving. Continue writing.

No more noises. Heart rate back to normal. Menacing thoughts silence. Ability to focus restored. Sense of safety restored.

Normally I enjoy this quiet time; just me and the house and my tea and my thoughts.

Normally.

 

 

Find Me, Dear Heart: An Ode to Infinite Worthiness

worthy

Tonight I checked in with a friend. I am glad I did, she apparently has been struggling and I was not aware. I know it took a lot for her to even be open with me about her struggle. I am glad that I have done enough for our relationship to feel safe for her to share even a little bit, I know how scary it can feel to be honest during dark times. We talked for a while and her pain hurt my heart. It was not just her pain, but the shame she was unknowingly expressing.

She talked of the burden. The burden we all have felt at some point. The burden we carry that we will not allow others to shoulder for fear of burdening them. We don’t want to be too much, we don’t want to ask too much, we don’t want to risk running others off with our darkness. We don’t feel worthy of the comfort, and love, and connection that can come from allowing others in and trusting that they will want to stay and hold our hand through it.

I gave her my words, I tried to make her feel heard and loved and understood. Ultimately I know from my own experience that you can never feel connected with others and truly allow yourself to be unburdened until you begin to work on the relationship you have with yourself. Until you love yourself you will never feel worthy of the love and comfort that can come from others because you will not believe you are worthy of it. It is an up hill climb and it is a long road she is on, but I know she is on it and that gives me hope.

I am no poet but tonight I want to close this post by sending a message out into the universe with the hope that my friend will feel it and feel comfort..

Find me, dear heart.
I know the pain you carry.
The pain of I cannot burden another person with my load.
The pain of I am not worthy of your time, your consideration, your love.
The pain of the awful voices in your head that torture you with hurtful untruths about yourself.
Find me, dear heart.

I see you.
I see your greatness.
I know what bubbles beneath your surface.
I know because what dwells in your soul dwells in mine as well.
I am darkness too, your dark does not frighten me, it is not too much.
And like me, you contain the brightest light, a light that is uniquely and magnificently you.
So find me, dear heart, and let me be your mirror.

A mirror that can reflect for you the love, and connection, and wholeness you are worthy of.

Emotional Residue

im-tired

I was going to write about something completely different tonight. I was looking up the lyrics to a song I love that speaks to the inspiration I had when I clicked on a youtube link that I thought was that song. I was wrong. It was another song by that same artist. It was a song I have not listened to in a very long time. It is a song I do not listen to anymore. It started playing and it was as though my guts were being ripped out.

One time a girlfriend of mine was going on a date with a new guy, I think they were going to a concert or something. All I remember was thinking, man that is risky. I mean what if it doesn’t work out? You have just shared music you love with this person, their residue is going to get all over it  and possible stick.

Have you noticed how that happens? A relationship ends and suddenly you stop listening to a song you used to love, or a whole album, or everything by that artist?

Before my husband I dated multiple musicians. Talk about having a song or artist ruined for you.. Imagine if the person you used to love sang that song to you? It is emotional residue on a whole other level. It’s not just Oh we used to listen to this song together, it’s that every time you hear that song now you hear that person’s voice singing those lyrics to you. Musicians, at least the ones I dated, you music as a way to express things they maybe cannot with words conversationally.

There is this song I love by the Wannadies, it’s called You and Me. One day I showed up at my ex’s house and there was a note on the door, come to the garage. I walked out to find his friend behind the drum kit and him on guitar, he started playing the song, just for me. He and his friend had learned how to play it to surprise me because he knew how much I loved it. Whenever I hear that song I am transported back to that moment, sitting on a stool in his garage. That memory is not so painful, but some are.

If I was to make a play list of all the songs that have been ruined for me because of the emotional residue of my musical ex’s it would look something like this:

Three Libras – A Perfect Circle (my all time favorite song in high school)
You and Me – The Wannadies
Remember to Breathe – Dashboard Confessional
You Could Be Happy – Snow Patrol
No One’s Gonna Love You – Band of Horses
Stars – Humm
Maybe I’m Just Tired – As Tall As Lions
Tear You Apart – She Wants Revenge
Like Knives – City and Colour
What Would You Say – Dave Matthews Band
Angeles – Elliot Smith
Go Easy – As Tall As Lions
Me On Your Front Porch – Criteria
Miss You – Coconut Records
Orestes – A Perfect Circle
Tisbury Lane – Mae
Closer – Tegan and Sara
Ape Dos Mil – Glassjaw
This Ruined Puzzle – Dashboard Confessional
Hey There Delilah – Plain White Tees
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
Mainline Life – Criteria
Passenger – Deftones
Dreaming My Dreams – The Cranberries

The thing is emotional residue from love and friendships past don’t just attach to songs, they attach to spaces and inanimate objects.. Every part of life is vulnerable. Emotional residue is really sticky, it can permeate all kinds of surfaces and ruin things that you used to love. The relationship ends and you lose not only this person you loved but all these other things you loved as well. Books, places, other people, parts of town, clothing, times of day, days of the week, words..

What I can say, from my own experience, is that with time the residue seems to wash off in some cases. Some things were covered a little too thick and they may never come clean, some things will always hold the energy of that person, that time in your life. In some cases though eventually the love of the song or place or book or part of town proves to be stronger than the love of the person who ruined it for you and you get it back. Or at least it doesn’t hurt when the memory pops up.

stars

 

Don’t Mind Us, We just Live Here

Tonight hubs and I chose to stay in and have a quite night. We had a nice dinner together, played some games, and now we are both enjoying our introvert time – separate but together.

He is watching a documentary on the tablet with earbuds so I can read in silence. It was a nice idea, to spend the night reading in silence, in theory. It hasn’t quite worked out to be the quiet evening I hoped for. This is thanks to living so near downtown.

The outdoor stadium is not far from our home. It is common place for us to go to bed listening to fire works, or announcers announcing soccer scores, or crowds cheering the distance. These noises have become the noises of our home, much like the train that goes by in the night, we have become used to their presence in our home, they are welcome and comforting in a way.

Tonight is different though. There must be a monster truck rally going on or something. The music is obscenely loud, I can hear every word. I guess it would have to be in order to be heard over the deafening noise of the trucks.

We live a few miles away and it is as though this event is taking place in our backyard. Lucy has been pacing and whining, it is all a bit much. But I guess that is what we get, we knew the stadium was this close when we bought our home. It comes with the territory, literally.

This post is not about me though, not really. The people I am really frustrated for are the people of the community I did work in a few semesters ago.

When our city decided to take on a professional soccer team with it came the plans to build a new soccer stadium for the team. It was decided that this stadium would go smack in the middle of the community I am talking about. Right in the middle of this residential community’s downtown.

As a result, in solidarity with this community, my husband and I have never attended a soccer game. We will not support anything connected to the gentrification taking place in this community.

When I worked with and interviewed families in this community I noticed something, when I would ask them about their feelings about what was happening in their community they did not even identify that part of their community as theirs any longer.

The report my classmates and I submitted with our findings is what got me the spot on the committee I sat on during undergrad. It was also circulated in certain circles associated with the work and continued gentrification of this community because others who have tried to come into this community and speak with the residents have not had much success, they will not speak with outsiders.

Unfortunately my work did nothing to impact positive change for this community. The stadium is moving along on schedule and now the very university I attend is planning to build a campus in this community. It is wrong but that is all I will say about it. I stand with the community, not those who would take it from them.

So tonight as I lament in my home over the noise pollution plaguing my quiet evening I think of this community I have come to love. I think of the mothers who will be trying to put babies to bed over the noise of a soccer stadium that is literally in their backyard. I think of families who will be plagued by the noise of the crowd, and of concerts as they choose between keeping the windows open to stay cool or close them to get some peace even though they do not have air conditioning. I think about how this community has been invaded, how they are being pushed out, how they have been told over and over that they do not matter, and their land is not theirs. They watch as their community is taken from them block by block and turned into a playground for outsiders. Stadiums and universities are built all around them while they know full well that even though it is on their land, they will never have access.

I may not like the noise, but I have options. What about those who don’t? I guess they don’t matter as long as everyone else is having a good time.

gentr

Coming Out

power

We just got back from the Women’s Rally downtown. It was incredible. We heard the music and crowd while we were still walking a block away towards the event, when we turned the corner and I saw the scene laid out before me I began to cry. It was like coming home.

It was so beautiful. There were families, and every different kind of person you could possibly imagine. I saw fellow social workers, and some of my professors, and even our PCP walked by us with cat ears on! It was so great to see so many people I personally know but also just the turn out in general. The messages people were carrying on the signs they made were love, pure love. Some were also sad, sad because of the truth they hold. I cried behind my sun glasses for the first ten minutes while we were there, I was so overcome by the energy of it all and what it meant to me personally as someone who has very real reasons to be afraid right now. I am sure I was not the only person who felt so moved.

We walked around and took it all in and then planted ourselves so we could listen to the speakers. The first speaker spoke of the importance of coming out and how the rest of the world could learn a thing or two from our LGTBQ+ brothers and sisters about coming out. She talked about the importance of coming out everyday; in the grocery when we see someone treated poorly, at our jobs when we are afraid to speak out against something we know isn’t right, in our families, in our relationships, in public, everywhere. We have to come out as the people we actually are and have the courage to be seen. She talked about coming out as feminists, and as allies, and in all these other ways. We have to be willing to come out and been seen as the people we actually are and then live in that power of wholeness and authenticity everyday. It is a big ask, I know this because as much as I was inspired by her words I was also afraid.

I was afraid for the same reason we are all afraid; how will this change my life? will being my true self negatively impact my life/work/relationships? what if _____ isn’t/aren’t okay with it?
An extra fear for me that has always kept me small is fear of my safety. It is a fear I know I share with many. Coming out means allowing those who hate us without even knowing us to see us. In the closet we are safe, those who claim to hate us can’t see us. Coming out means taking an enormous risk. For some of us the stakes are higher than just will this person stop being my friend? or will this family member disown me?
For some of us it is will someone try to hurt me?

I was inspired though in spite of my fear. And just being in the presence of all these amazing, open minded, loving people made my light feel all the way turned up.

I agree that we need to come out, it is the only way to accomplish real progress. We have to step out of our fear and into our greatness.

When I think about my own coming out I know I am still operating from a place of fear, but I am working on it, and maybe one day I will find that courage to turn my light all the way up.

The Perfect Schedule

alone

I have the next four days off. Pure bliss, that is what this feels like. I am sitting in the sun room, back doors open to let the breeze flow through the house, bird chirping, sitting on a pile of pillows, soaking up a sun beam, with raspberry smoothie in hand. Pure fucking bliss.

My schedule this semester is my favorite so far. I will always have a three day weekend and every other week I will have a four day weekend.

I plan to spend the morning writing, then complete an assignment, fax a document, pick up around the house, and then who knows.. paint, yoga, take Lu for a walk in this beautiful weather..

Tomorrow we have our plans. Sunday I am going to church service (shock I know – more about that after it happens). Then Monday is another completely free day of whatever I want (I am sure I will do some school work though).

I am overflowing with gratitude. This is the best way to wrap up my time in school, with one last great schedule before I get back into the professional world of 9-5, 5 days a week.

I am feeling like I need to count some gratitude..

I am grateful that I decided to take all of my classes online this semester to allow for this extra time.
I am grateful I had the foresight to take one of my electives last summer so I will have a lighter work load this semester.
I am grateful for the amazing weather we are having and that I am home to relish it.
I am grateful for this time in my life.
I am grateful for the last 4 years and all the experiences that have come from being in school full-time.
I am grateful for what comes next, I am ready to walk into my future and embrace fully.

Pen Pals in a Digital Age

pen-pal

I mentioned last year that one of my soul friends moved a few hours away. She is having her adventure and I am thrilled for her AND I miss her all the time. I don’t think either of us are big phone people so catching up has been something we have been navigating. I think we figured it out though. For a moment we apparently both forgot that we are both WRITERS! Luckily for both of us she remembered. And so it began, my soul friend turned pen pal in a digital age.

I got my first “letter” (email) yesterday. It was full of the fun details I miss so much as well as poetry, because my pen pal is the best pen pal – that is not an opinion, it is an objective fact.

I am excited to ask questions about what I read, give her my updates, and wait with giddy anticipation for my next letter.

This is my second pen pal presently. I am really on to something here I think. One of my friends from soul camp corresponds with me by mail. The girl sends me bad ass art in the form of postcards, she barely knows me yet she knows me so well. I reciprocate with equally bad ass art in the form of postcards. Have I ever mentioned I have a pretty extensive stationary collection? I do and I love an opportunity to use it.

I think as a society we need to bring letter writing back. It is a lost but totally awesome art. If you have ever received mail that was for fun and not a bill you know what I am talking about.

With that I think I will go get to it, I’ve got pen pals waiting on responses and I would hate to keep them waiting.

The Future is FEMALE

feminist

I was in my office yesterday furiously knocking out a pile of documentation when a counselor who works in another department stopped by to say Hi. We were catching up for a bit and he asked me if I was going to the Women’s Rally downtown Saturday.

The what? I hadn’t heard about it. He gave me the details and a link to the website, which I will share at the bottom of this post in case any of my local friends who follow my blog would like to attend, and I checked it out.

It is essentially a feminist rally, it will be my first and I am so excited.

There will be speakers covering a variety of important topics, I am the most excited about the representative from Planned Parenthood. I was walking through the main area of my internship earlier this week and caught a snippet of an interview she was giving on the news. I am really impressed by this woman and am looking forward to hearing her speak in person.

So tomorrow morning hubs and I will get up, maybe stop by the vegan donut shop because Yum, and head downtown to support women’s rights.

Women’s Rally Link

Distraction

Last night when I walked out of internship I felt great. I had just wrapped up a really good session where my client showed definite progress and this came after an abysmal family session with that same client earlier in the day. I had another session with a new client earlier in the day where the rapport came very naturally and left me feeling hopeful about the work we will be doing together. I felt a distinct sense of accomplishment and satisfaction as I was walking out at the end of the day.

When I rounded the corner to the parking lot I was in awe of the scene in front of me. I was just in time to see the sun setting a deep orange red behind the oak trees that surround the property. It was stunning. Suddenly my reflection transitioned from my clients to myself. Somehow that sunset brought me back to my center. It was great that I had such a productive, meaningful day with clients but now I was going home and it was time to focus on myself and my family and my intentions in those areas.

As I drove home I thought about what I wanted to get accomplished when I got there. My check list included take care of and spend time with Lucy who had been in her crate all day, make a nice dinner, clean up the kitchen, and spend the rest of the evening with my husband. I also reflected on where I was at personally. I checked in with my body, checked in emotionally, made sure that I felt connected and whole across the board. The word self-care came up for me when I saw that sunset in the parking lot. It occurred to me how easy it is to get distracted by things in life and lose focus. So easy in fact that you don’t even realize it is happening.

As a social worker I spend the day in therapy sessions working with my clients to heal emotional wounds and problem solve, at the end of the day I usually feel good about the work I have done. So good in fact that I could use the success my client’s are experiencing on their own personal journey as a distraction from my own personal work and growth. Do some clinicians use helping others with their problems as a way to distract from their own? Maybe..

Typically when I think of distraction I am thinking of things like social media or shopping or TV.. Things we do almost absentmindedly to numb or distract ourselves from facing things. I never considered that the very thing that helps give my life purpose could also act as a distraction. If you think about it, almost anything could act as a distraction if you are using it that way..

I mean for example, for a very long time I went from one long term relationship to another never allowing myself to be single for more than a few months at a time.. I did it because I was using these relationships as a way to distract from the work I did not want to be doing on myself. If I was alone for too long things would start to surface that I did not want to see or deal with. Even when I was single for over a year I made sure to stay busy with friends at all times. I could not allow myself to sit still. My relationship with my husband is very important to me but if I am not mindful I could fall back into a pattern where I allow my relationship with him to act as a distraction from my relationship with myself, particularly if there is an aspect of my relationship with myself that I do not want to focus on because it is painful.

Last night I got home, let Lucy out, made her some dinner, and had some puppy snuggle time. When I was done I made a delicious tomato soup from scratch. I cleaned the kitchen, sat with my husband and had meaningful conversation while we ate. After dinner we did not turn on the TV, instead we played a game together until bed time. Then we went to bed, cuddled, and read our books until we fell asleep.

I feel good about the night we had, I feel good about the day I had at internship and what I was able to help my clients with. I am able to say this though because I took time to check in with myself and make sure that I was okay and I was not using any of the other things going on in  my life (however positive and healthy as they appear) to distract from or neglect the continued work I am doing internally. I feel good about my day because I not only felt connected to everything that was happening, I felt connected to myself.

Stepping into a Dream

oz2

Last night hubs and I went to see Wicked at the performing arts center downtown. He told me he got us good seats but I did not realize what he meant until we arrived and were being shown to them. We were just a few rows from the stage. I was in shock. I have never had such good seats for anything. It meant so much to me that he did that for us for this show of all shows. This story, Oz, it had such special meaning in my life.

We sat down and I was in awe as I took in the scenery and the time dragon that was ominously hanging over the stage.When the curtain went up and Glinda came floating down in her bubble I began to cry. It all came crashing over me, how much it all means to me. Oz has always been my safe space in a life that has not always felt safe. Suddenly I was there, this is the closest I will ever be to stepping inside this world, to crossing over the rainbow, to being in this place that has always made me feel so safe.

I am so glad that I saw the show now. At this time in my life. When I am finally with someone who makes me feel safe, when I am doing work on myself for myself to heal that hurts that made me want to escape to Oz in the first place.

As the scenery would change between Shiz and the poppy field and Munchkin Land I would cry, and then it happened.. The curtain came up and everything was green and glowing. We made it, we were in Oz. I cried throughout the entire show. It was so special.

For some this is purely entertainment, for me it is a validation. I made it. I am okay. I finally made it to Oz and I realized that I don’t even need it. I don’t need to escape anymore. My reality is finally safe and not just safe, it is good. Good in a way that I could have never dreamed of before. I don’t need to escape anymore, I am living my dreams. Being in Oz was proof of this. I am living my dream.

 

Committed

growth

 

The last week came with a lot of different conversations about intention and growth.

Hubs and I had our annual check up with our PCP and got great feedback. We made some health goals last year and met them, no big deal. The talk with our doctor then moved onto, what next? We’ll just set a few more.

Hubs and I were talking about what comes next for me professionally and I realized whatever it is my main focus is on my growth. I asked for this internship because I wanted a big growth opportunity, this experience has not disappointed in that regard. I want to continue on this path of growth, I want to continue to have new (sometimes intimidating) experiences. I want to do what I thought I could not do.

Growth shows up in little ways, little everyday decisions that you commit to. Then slowly, over time, you realize things have changed. Or you met a goal. Or you are no longer the you that you were and instead of being scary that truth is really really exciting.