Victim Mentality

victim mentality

As I take the next month to prepare myself for soul camp I thought it might be a good time to really sit down with some of my shadow pieces that I try to deny and ignore and get to know them better. I have been doing this for a while; I have gotten to know my manipulative piece pretty well and in doing so have found love and gratitude for her which has resulted in her not having to work so hard. I have also been doing a lot of work with my entitled piece, that relationship is a work in progress but there is progress so I am satisfied with that. I am finding the same truth with each shadow piece I work on/with; the more attention I give my shadow pieces the easier it becomes for me to find compassion for myself in these dark places. In addition I realized the more compassion these pieces get the less I need them.

This is what wholeness looks like for me, talking openly about my darkness and showing it light by not keeping my shadows as dirty little secrets that I am ashamed of. There is no reason for me to be ashamed of my shadows, everyone has them, everyone. Your shadows may show up differently but they are there, just beneath the surface, just like mine.

One shadow piece that I am aware of but have had trouble building a relationship with up to this point is my victim mentality. This is my piece that allows me to be innocent and untouched by the events of my life. This is the piece that keeps my hands clean and points the finger. “It wasn’t my fault, he was a habitual liar”, “I was the victim, I had no control”, “This happened to me, pity me”.

I have made some progress with this shadow piece over the years, the truth is though it has been slow going and I have been stuck for quite some time. The first step towards showing this piece light and love came roughly 5 years ago when it finally sunk in that I am the common denominator to everything that has ever happened in my life. I do not get to have clean hands when it comes to failed relationship after failed relationship, I do not get to have clean hands when jobs do not work out, I do not get to have clean hands in regards to why I struggled in college my first go around. I do not have clean hands. My hands are dirty.

Taking accountability for how I show up in relationships was a huge step forward for me. I credit this epiphany for the success of my marriage thus far. My husband came into my life just as I was starting my journey into self-discovery and from the beginning he has been on board with all that comes with my process of rebuilding and putting my pieces back together. By me taking accountability for how I show up in our interactions with one another he has been willing to do the same. We don’t have relationships all figured out by any means, although owning our stuff and recognizing when we are projecting or trying to play the victim is part of what has made this relationship different and healthier for both of us compared to any relationship either of us experienced previously.

Aside from holding myself more accountable in my social and intimate relationships I have to admit I have experienced very little growth with this shadow piece. There are relationships where I know I still play the victim, like with my family. There are parts of my past that I still view through the lens of victimhood, unwilling to take any accountability. I recognize this to be true, it does  not mean I have any insight into how to pull back that curtain and show these shadows light though. I am stuck and I know it. I have been for some time.

One of my intentions for soul camp this time around is to absolutely work on my relationship with this shadow. She has been surrounded by darkness for a long time and I would love to bring her the light and remind her the goodness and fullness of love. I know I will continue working with my entitled shadow piece, and my self-righteous shadow piece as well as any other shadow that rises to the surface ready to feel the light again. I say again because I believe that every piece of me was born in light and love. The process of loving my shadows is a process of guiding long lost family members home.

soul work

Sometimes You Just Need a Day

This morning I woke up and rolled over to this face:

need-a-day

That was all the convincing I needed. I am staying home today, the dog needs cuddles. So I rearranged my schedule, sat in my gratitude for having a flexible schedule that allows for these kinds of changes, and got to cuddling.

After a sufficient amount of time cuddling it was time to get up. It was early and I had the whole day ahead of me with nothing on my calendar. Nothing. I love the way that word sounds when used in the context of my schedule.

I had my tea and meditated in the silence of my home. Once my intention for the day was set it was off the the art supply store to polish off the rest of my gift card money from the holidays.

I have a few different art projects on my list right now. Some are for me, some are for loved ones, and some are to do with my clients.

I got all my supplies for my various projects and headed to the check out line. I was standing in line admiring the art supplies that the silver haired woman in front of me was purchasing when the magazine rack next to me caught my eye. What caught my eye specifically was the piece on the front cover of a magazine that read: 70 Everyday Bits of Magic Worth Celebrating. In my head I started compiling a list of my own everyday magic. I looked back at the magazine; another piece on the cover read: Living an Intentional Life.
Okay magazine you made your point. I proceeded to put it in my basket and check out.

I spent the rest of the day on the art project I plan to do with clients. We have adult coloring books at our agency that many clients use as a coping tool. Recently my supervisor and I brainstormed an art project that takes the coloring pages a step further into a therapeutic art project. This came after my supervisor bought a bunch of canvases on sale at the art store and came to me asking what kind of project we could do with them.

I took myself back outside today to create because it was another beautiful day. Not to mention that the clean up is way easier when I don’t have to lay a drop cloth.

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I lit my candle for creative inspiration, colored my coloring page, grabbed my paints and created a colorful background on my canvas. From there I modpodged my coloring page on to my canvas and added odds and ends for pizzazz. (That word is weird right? Pizzazz..)

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When I was done with my art project I cleaned up my supplies, did a few chores, and then because I was feeling really domestic today I even made a berry crumble for after dinner. I always keep rolled oats around just in case I feel like baking something easy.

While my crumble baked I caught up with two of my soul friends by phone. One of them is coming to stay with me at the end of this week and I am over the moon. I cannot wait to be in her presence.

After everything else was finished I curled up in my blankets on the couch and read my magazine. It has been a long time since I have bought a magazine. The last one I purchased was an art magazine. This felt a little foreign but this magazine is very me from cover to cover.

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It was a good day and sometimes you need one of those.

Healing Through Art

Yesterday when I received the email from my relative I mentioned that I did not read it, only the first line. This is true but that first line was enough to leave me shaken, quite literally.

I have been taking good care to protect myself from the negativity of the world for some time now. It started with my decision to no longer watch violent TV, then I stepped back from watching the news everyday, then I made the decision to remove myself from social media, then I started to became mindful of how I spend my time and made the decision to be selectively social.

In order to be able to wake up to my own truth about myself and love and life and everything beyond these things I had to turn down the volume on everything else so I could hear my own truth and inner wisdom.

This has worked for me. I have had more epiphanies in all of these areas thanks to my solitude and silence than I have ever experienced previously in my life.

I will not go on this way forever. I may continue with some of these decisions such as my absence from social media and my decision to filter out the media and violence but socially I know that I will not remain a hermit long term. What is point of these epiphanies if I cannot build connection through sharing my truth with others and those I love?

For now this where I am at and I know with my whole being it is where I am meant to be.

These choices I have made have in essence been like a spiritual cleanse. An emotional/spiritual detox of sorts. A resetting of my soul and being. Because of this I have noticed that my level of emotional sensitivity has become heightened.This truth is what made my relative’s email so unbearable for me today. It is the reason I only got through the first sentence before I said to myself, No. I will not expose myself to this poison.

We receive invitations all day long through our interactions with the outside world. What is important to remember is that we are not obligated to accept these invitations. When my relative wrote that email he was essentially saying here is this darkness I have that I am not able to hold, I am bringing it to you so you can hold it for me and I can feel better. I knew immediately I could not grant this request for him. I declined this invitation and chose not to read the email as an act of self-love and emotional preservation.

That first sentence I read was like being bit by a venomous spider. I had a physical reaction. I began to shake. I recognized immediately the reaction I was having and stopped. I will not suffer to ease someone else’s suffering. I do not owe anyone that. I will not burn to keep someone else warm.

I took sometime to recover. Took a deep breath and wrote my truth in my response. After I felt better. I also sent a separate email to my extended family to offer them love and support and healing energy I felt they all might need to balance any difficult emotions they may be grappling with after the initial email from our relative.

Once I had done what I felt comfortable doing for those I love it was time to take care of me. I knew what I needed today: light, gray, AND, nature, painting, and writing. This is what that looked like for me..

  • I changed into my favorite gray clothing to wrap my soul in my own truth: that the world is not black and white, it is beautiful shades of gray where everything is allowed to exist together.
  • I lit my gray candle for healing and two more tea lights to bring light and love through the amethyst stones that held them.
  • I grabbed my art supplies and headed outside to set up shop among the leaves that blanket my backyard.

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I spent the afternoon in the company of Lu, the squirrels, the leaves and trees, and gusting wind that would occasionally blow pollen and leaves into my paint and down my shirt. The afternoon was gray and overcast and I know the Universe did that for me because today I needed to feel the all consuming comfort and healing of the gray.

Lu looked on as I released the toxins from my system by slapping and spattering paint on to my canvas and across the leaves that served as my back drop. Gray and black and white and every color of the rainbow came flying off my paint brush and from my fingers in a mess of color and pain and love and surrender.

Then I began to write. I gave voice to every AND that was banging around in my soul. I bled it all out until I felt clean again. Until I knew it had all been heard, and seen, and released.

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As I look at this piece on my book shelf I have unending gratitude. It is holding so much for me and it does so without needing anything from me in return. This is how I know I am on a path of love and acceptance and healing. I did this for myself. I took my pain and I made something beautiful with it. In this way I AM THE ALCHEMIST.

This is a representation of the AND I am always talking about. This is life. It is messy AND confusing AND dark AND colorful AND light AND love AND GRAY.

There is room for everything here. The pain I felt when I read the first line of that email AND the clarity I felt in the message I was meant to send. The rage I had over what was said about someone else I love AND the compassion I felt for my family member who is clearly sitting in the middle of their own pain. The ability to express my own truth in that moment AND make room for others to express their own truth as well.

This is not easy work to do. I have not come to any of this in ease or grace. It is only through willingness to embrace my own darkness and shadows and love them fully that I have been able to wake up to my truth and share it so earnestly.

I am still working, I think I always will be. I know what took place here was important though and I wanted to make sure to give it recognition. I think it was another small step towards my something bigger, whatever that may be.

Emotional Arsonist

emotional-arsonist

I was weary and ready for sleep tonight when it was time for lights out. I did not write yesterday because the words had not yet come to me. Then magically they appeared in the middle of the night as they sometimes do like a song stuck in my head. The longer I lay there trying to ignore them, trying to wait til the morning, the louder the song grew. Until there was only one choice to make, it is time to write.

I woke initially with a pain in my shoulder which makes sense because I am carrying a burden. A burden that weighs heavy on my heart and heavier on my soul.

Before I go further I would like to offer background for this post:
The Unraveling of a Family Tie
and
Boundaries are Hard in Families
will give some context to this post for anyone that wants it.

Out of respect for my family I have been doing what I consider shadow writing on topics related to family issues up to this point. For now I plan to continue to write in the shadows, I may feel differently about this as time goes on, that is yet to be seen.

So in these previous posts I have mentioned a long brewing issue that one family member is at the center of. In recent months another family member has become involved and when this took place a small flame was lit. A flame of negativity and malice, of confusion and mistrust. This small flame has resulted in a raging fire of destruction and disconnection that threatens to engulf my family.

Previously I mentioned that I am not the fire department and I hold no power to extinguish this blaze; that is still my truth. I am one person with a bucket though and today was the day I decided it was time to pick up my one bucket and use it before it was too late.

Up to this point this flame has been somewhat contained. There are two family members who started it and they have been trying to add small pieces of kindling but the fire has burned away from most of the rest of the family so we have been able to remain uninvolved with collective hope that this fire would burn out on its own given enough time. Today a flame from that fire licked my face and that was too close to comfort. It was time to set a hard boundary.

What took place was that my relative who is one of the fire starters emailed the entire family to speak their truth about another family member who they have a waged character war against. This was done as a way to further discredit this person and lambast their integrity. On this issue I remain neutral, this is not my quarrel. What I will not do however is accept any kind of correspondence that will cause further injury to my family. I did not read more than the first line of this person’s email, that was enough for me. From there I took a breath and decided to respond. My response was as follows:

_________________ ,

Please know that as I write this email I bear you no ill will. I believe that you feel that you are doing what you think is right.

With that said, I did not read your email and I will not read any further correspondence that means to further injure our family. When I say family, that includes everyone. You, ______, and _______ will always be part of my family and I will always have compassion for all of you, as I do everyone in the family.

I feel as though you have lost your way and I send you light and love during this difficult time.

As for  __________, there is nothing that anyone could ever say that would convince me that he is anything less than good hearted.

I hope we are able to heal as a family. The disconnection we are experiencing is hurtful and it does not have to be.

I am sending you love and forgiveness.

 

This was my bucket of water. This was my offering and my hope is that the healing energy of love and compassion would act as water to the flame. If not, I have at least set the boundary in an assertive way to let them know I will not accept this kind of correspondence going forward.

This person’s email was entitled “The Truth” and they spoke their truth. I took this as an invitation for the rest of us to speak ours.

I have remained silent and neutral up to this point, as the rest of my extended family has, for reasons I have listed before: hopefully this will blow over, it is none of my business, etc.

This is not blowing over, the flames are growing larger and the moment my relative sent that email to the entire extended family this situation went from being none of my/our business to this person making it our business.
There is a time for silence and a time for action and for me the time for silence ended the moment this person hit the “send” button and spewed this venom on the family.

I still remain neutral on the overarching issue because I do not believe it is my place to pass judgement on who is right or wrong. I might have my private feelings about that but I do not have the authority or the right to pass that judgement openly. I also do not believe that doing so will help me meet my ultimate goal for an outcome which is the healing and preservation of my entire family.

Judgement and anger and other negative emotions would only further insight this fire. To put out a fire you have to introduce a new element: sand, water, etc. Love is my water. Unconditional forgiveness  and compassion are my water. An invitation to heal is my water.

When I sent my response I replied all. No one else in my family had responded to this relative, this is still true. My hope is that I was able to set an example of love, an example that my family will have the courage to follow. My hope is that my family will see me here with bucket and join me with buckets of their own healing truth to share with this family member in an effort to extinguish this flame.

In the end we cannot control this person or their reactions. We are not the fire department and we may not be able to put out this inferno. I will not stand by with my bucket and feel useless though. I will not watch my family burn and do nothing when I have a bucket I can offer. My family may be doomed to burn either way but at least I know I did my part.

Tonight I send out love and light to everyone in my family, we all are hurting in the wake of this crisis. My hope and intention is the light I am sending out be the light that guides my family back to a path of love and connection. We have to come back to each other in love and connection to heal and be whole again.

 

An aside: When I got out of bed to come and write I did what I normally do when I write in the middle of the night. I lit my candles to bring light and love to darkness, I lit my salt lamp with the same intention, and I made myself a cup of tea. Then I took my tea and nested in blankets on the couch for comfort. The tea I often make for middle of the night writing is a brand that has what I think of as “love notes” on the tag. When I looked at the love note on my tea it was as though the Universe knew what I am trying to do with my healing bucket of water and was sending me support and assurance in its own way.

cosmic-support

 

It’s All Here. It Always was.

answer

This morning I woke before the sun, 4:40 a.m. to be precise. Something woke me. A smell, a sound, a feeling.. I can’t be sure. I decided since I was partially awake I would go to the bathroom before drifting back off. As I got out of bed Lu decided this was a good idea as well. So, I escorted her outside, took care of myself, and then we both crawled back into bed to for a few more hours of snuggly sleep.

Sleep did not come though. Instead I was met with an explosion of ideas and personal truths. Yesterday I cleared some blocks and anxiety I have been experiencing related to my future, as a result I believe I created room for things that were bubbling underneath my surface that I could not hear over the deafening hum of my own fear and worry.

As I lay in bed I started jotting notes and ideas that were coming to me. Then whole paragraphs, then whole pages. Next thing I knew it was time to really write, this was more than just a middle of the night inspiration.

I am doing some if not most of this writing in my other writing space that is just for me because these are inspirations and ideas and personal truths related to my future both spiritually and professionally; and as I have mentioned before I am choosing for now to keep these things private. I may write a little more here later if I feel struck to do so. For now I just wanted to share something I already knew to be true but that the universe reminded me of this morning: All we need lies within us. What I am looking for, the answers I seek, they already exist within me. I just have to quiet my mind and my fear so I can listen to my own inner wisdom.

Truth Telling

truth

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

honest

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”

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.

 

Where Am I?

When I returned to school I had a very clear plan:

1. Get BSW degree
2. Get MSW degree
3. Get job in healthcare
4. Get Licensed
5. Get job at Dream job at UF
Health Cancer Center

There were a bunch of sub goals I set for myself as well. Like 1A. Volunteer and gain experience with Hospice. 1B. Make a name for myself in social work circles. etc..

And up to this point I have no complaints. I have met and exceeded every single goal I have set for myself. What I realized along the way though is that maybe I wasn’t dreaming big enough. With each goal I have set I have pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of which tells me I have been underselling my abilities all along.

This is a really awesome realization, don’t me wrong, but the truth is now I feel a bit lost. Lost in the right direction for sure, but lost none the less. My end goal has changed, it is much bigger than anything I would have ever allowed myself to dream of previously, which is exciting! The thing is though, I am not there yet. So what next?

I applied for a position I was recruited for and if that works out I will let it, I do not want to try to control my direction too much right now. I am in a “whatever comes let it come, whatever goes let it go” mindset right now.. With that being said I still do need to be proactive to some degree though. I plan to apply for other positions as well and then just see how things fall. But I just don’t feel pulled towards anything specific right now.

I have done so much to prepare myself for this next great leap and I have loose plans that will ensure my continued growth in whatever direction I take but I just do not feel like I can see what is ahead of me right now.

When I was making my vision board last weekend the area around my professional direction in 2017 was cloudy. Words like clarity and be clear and insight were coming up for me.

It feels a little scary and that makes sense because the mental/emotional block I am experiencing in the area of professionalism is fear of success. Fear of truly stepping into my power, my greatness. Truly allowing myself to be seen and going after what I know my true life’s purpose is.

So I guess the intention I want to put out into the universe is that of clarity. I want to make a deal, if the universe makes deals, I won’t try to control the outcome if you provide me with the clarity needed on the next part of my journey towards my ultimate dream.

Usually something feels right, even if I am afraid, and I know that is the direction I am meant to go. But right now nothing is speaking to me, I don’t even hear a whisper. Well that is a lie, a total lie in fact. I do hear a whisper, I just do not know what it means. If this whisper holds the key to the door please give me clarity so I know.

The Sacred Pause

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We have been taking pauses our entire lives. When we are children it is yelling time out!! during a game so someone can get a drink of water. We take a break to go to the bathroom. We pause the TV or a movie to answer the phone or get a snack. We allow ourselves to be interrupted by coworkers and loved ones and to respond to the basic needs of our bodies. We pause without true recognition of the pause.

At the agency I am working and in the field of social work in general we talk about the importance of self-care and how to practice practical self-care daily. One thing that comes up is taking breaks during the day. Take time for lunch, don’t eat at your desk. Or Step away from your computer once in a while. Or Take a moment to get up and stretch.

I consider these mindful pauses. We are being deliberate in this action. We are taking purposeful action to take of our brains and bodies by giving them a break through out the day. What if we, as a society, were committed to taking that mindfulness a step further. Transform that mindful pause into a sacred pause.

To me the sacred pause is the true answer to intentional self-care, it encompasses not only taking care of the body and mind but the heart and soul as well.

For example:

Take that break to step away from the computer by going outside and sitting on a bench and let the mind wander or rest quietly.

The stepping away is not enough to constitute a true sacred pause (in my opinion), you have to allow for solitude when you can throughout the day and for your mind to rest. If you are stepping away from your computer to go speak to a coworker about work, that is only speaking to one aspect of self-care, the physical. What about all the other parts of you that could benefit from that break. Challenge yourself to step away and leave whatever you were doing behind both physically and energetically. It is not a true break if you step away but are still running lists of things you need to do etc.

The sacred pause speaks to our need to reflect and  to reconnect with ourselves, to be at peace in a moment of stress or chaos, to show ourselves the kind of love we show others by making all aspects of our own well being a priority daily, even for a brief moment.

I think the sacred pause also helps with CONTROL. I capitalize this because for those of us (yea, I am absolutely included in this statement) that have issues with control we know very well that control can feel like this, big and all consuming. The sacred pause allows us to practice letting go, even for a moment. That can be a really important baby step.

This morning I was awake before the sun. I am leaving shortly to continue my two day workshop experience about setting my intentions for the year and recognizing the blocks that are present that could lead me to self-sabotage or just generally stand in my way of manifesting these intentions. When I woke up this morning I lay in the darkness of our room and words started coming to me..

Reawaken. Reconnect. Connection. Love. Suffering. Disconnection. Rediscover. Discovery. Reclaim. Roots. Wings. Foundation. Earth. Build. Truth. Sacred Truth.

The work I do with my clients is sacred, it will always be sacred no matter where or how I practice. The same is true for the work I do with myself. I am doing sacred work to discover my own sacred truth and the sacred pause is an extension of that that I can incorporate into my daily life. I wake up every morning with the unspoken but very present intention of having my light turned up for the world, I now understand that by making myself a priority I am allowing myself to feel the warmth of my light as well.

sacred-pause

What is it Going to Take?

The question was raised this week in therapy, what will it take for me to do this work? The question was asking what do I need to do to support myself through this next phase? How is taking care of me going to look different right now while I do this?

I had an answer in that moment and we discussed it but I also knew I needed to sit with this and go deeper to answer it fully. This ties into the permission I will give myself during this time but it is different.

My initial answer to how I will support myself was my books. Reading has always been part of my self-care routine but often I use it for escape. I read fairy tales as a way to escape the occasional ugly of everyday life and balance the darkness of humanity for myself. Books will still support me in this way but right now it is bigger than that. I am open to receiving and I am seeking out the books I have been timid to read up to this point because I was not ready for their message. I am reframing that fear I have held and instead of being afraid of the message I am going to allow it to support me. I will read and feel comfort knowing that what I am experiencing has been the experience of others as well. I will find connection and community in these books.

Since the initial discussion around what it will take I have been stewing on this and realized that I had already started taking steps to set up my support for this work. I have mentioned how my boundaries will look different as I do this work and that I am giving myself permission to be with just myself when I need to without feeling the need to live up to any social expectations.. Well the boundaries I am setting go beyond just my relationships and I have been working on them for quite sometime now.

After the election I stopped watching the news, that has not changed. I am still anti-news because I have found that I feel better physically, emotionally, and mentally when I do not allow that energy in. If something big happens I will find out, otherwise I am out.
This boundary came late October and has extended past just the news now, pretty much in general with TV I am out. I have one show I watch every week otherwise the TV is off. We have moved away from watching the TV in the evening which has led to us spending more meaningful time together either doing our introvert things or playing games or just talking. It feels better so I know I am on to something here.

I have also set other media boundaries, I am once again off FB. I kind of knew this was coming. When I stopped watching the news in late October I also took a break from social media, I had a feeling that break would result in a more permanent detachment, which it has. My husband is not on FB and still manages to keep up with all the relationships he cares about from IL. If he can do long distance friendships and networking without social media, I can maintain my relationships that are not long distance without it. I went years without FB in the past and it was good, it was time to let go again. I still maintain that FB is not real and while it can be a great way to feel connected, I also think it can act as a distraction from true connection. That is my truth, it does not have to be everyone else’s.

I think the best thing I will be able to do for myself while I do this work, aside from these steps I am taking to create a calm environment, is to be honest as often as possible. Be honest with myself about how I am feeling and not push myself to do things that feel like too much and also be honest with those around me. Expectations are set based on prior behaviors, tradition, essentially the past. I am in a new place therefore I need to have new expectations for myself and I need to be honest with others about what I can handle so their expectations are managed as well. I have found when having to do this kind of thing in the past that people are actually very understanding when you give them the opportunity, we often feel so reluctant to even bring this kind of thing up though. So I will be honest with myself and others and give people a chance to support me as well by managing their expectations of me during this time.

This weekend I am doing a two day workshop that includes identifying the blocks that I have that could impede me meeting my intentions for the year as well as vision boarding what my intentions for the year are. I am glad I have had this time off to reflect and build deeper insight and just be. I think it will serve me well when life gets busy again.

time-for-me

Preparing for Body Work

I don’t know what to call the phase of my therapy I am going into so I have been calling it body work because the focus is on how my body experienced the traumas of my past. I had my first session of the new year with my therapist and we discussed what I have been dealing with the last few weeks. She helped me realize where the feeling of panic is coming from and what I can be doing to help myself with it. What it comes down to is that I have to give myself permission. Permission to truly surrender to this part of my journey and fall apart.

Over break I have spent quite a bit of time thinking, processing, writing, and meditating over my next phase. This is dark work I am graduating into and it is hard to go from being in the depths of this to then pop back up quickly to go to the grocery store. We talked about how for the next few months I may be showing up differently in my life and in  my relationships and that in order to avoid my own suffering I need to give myself permission to let this happen. I will not be a bad friend if I have to take time off from socialization. I will not be a bad wife if that load of laundry is not done right this second. I will not be a bad family member if we do not see family every weekend for game night.

That last part was important for me to hear and mull over because there are absolutely expectations placed upon me by my family based on what has been tradition in the past. The thing is though, as we evolve in our lives traditions have to evolve right along with us. Every weekend no longer works, too much has changed. Too much has changed with me, too much has changed in my brother’s family.. We, as a family, are trying to force something that no longer wants to occur naturally. I know better than to do that. I do not believe in forcing things in life.

So the first conversation I had about my new boundaries while I am doing this work was with my mother, the head of the family for all intents and purposes. I explained that I am making myself a priority and that while I am doing this kind of work I know I will not have the capacity to show up the way they are accustomed. My decisions about how I show up and when will be based on how I am feeling at any given time, they will not be based on my love for them. I love them enough to be with them all the time, this is not a question of loving them, it is a question of loving me too and giving myself permission to come first right now.

With my friends this will be easier because as of right now none of my close friends live in the same city as me, the pull for my time will not be as hard. Plus I know my close friends, my soul friends, will understand because they too are committed to their growth in life. I know they will be supportive and understanding.

I did talk with my hubs but that is a post for a different day. In truth my relationship with him is the  only one I ever try to protect, all my other relationships come second. I was worried about exposing him to anything that might spill over as I take this deep dive. My therapist helped me so much with that and the conversation I had with him helped ease my mind as well.

So now it begins. The word for the year is transformation, one of the first intentions: I will give myself permission.

permission

Best of 2016

This morning started off on the wrong foot. More specifically, it started off on the poop foot and the glass foot.

Let me first give a little bit of a back drop for this story by explaining who I am as a human in the morning. I am not at my best, I am actually more of a beast first thing in the morning. I wake up angry. It does not matter what time I wake up, I am usually upset to be awake. I recover quickly but this has been who I am for as long as I can remember.

In recent years I have found ways of easing into the day gracefully that work for me. I start with quiet time, which is most important. No talking, no noise, just me wandering around in the silence of our home. Tea helps too. Stretching first thing in the morning really helps. Meditation, soft music like crystal bowls, and sitting in sun beams. Long story short, peace and quiet is the best way to get me out of my morning grumps.

I actually love mornings. They are my favorite part of the day usually. I just have a hard time shaking off the sleepies.

So this morning I was awake for all of 5 minutes when things started getting hairy. I had my green tea, I was sitting in a sunbeam in the sun room drawing, the house was quiet..

I had the back doors open to let the breeze in. I was enjoying bird song and the sound of the train going by when Lucy came running in from the back yard. She ran over to me to say hello and I noticed a little leaf fragment on the side of her butt. I flicked it off for her and was horrified to realize it was not a leaf at all.. it was poop! Damn it Lu! I got up to wash my hands and called hubs in to see if she had poop on any other part of her. Low and behold, her back foot was covered in it. Time for a bath little girl.

This was not how I wanted to start the day.

I helped scrub her down and then left hubs to finish. I walked into the kitchen to get Lu a treat, she always gets a treat when she gets a bath, and felt a sharp pain in my foot. I looked and realized I had a minuscule shred of glass stuck in the ball of my foot. Oh that is just great.

We finished Lu’s bath and then I sat on the kitchen floor and hubs plucked the glass out with tweezers.

It normally takes me about a half hour to adjust to being awake in the morning and transition from beast mode to my human self. At this point I had been awake maybe 20 minutes. I was a bear.

Time to clear this energy. I sat  back in the sunbeam for a while and continued drawing and then thought about how I wanted to end the year, because I certainly did not want to end it in this energy.. I knew the answer instantly. In gratitude. I want to end the year in gratitude. I pulled out my phone and texted all the people I love and admire and expressed my love and gratitude for them while wishing them a happy new year. I instantly felt better. Then I went and sat in hubs lap for a while and cuddle with him and our clean pup.

As this is the last post of the year I decided I would do a true review of the year and share my personal favorite posts from the year. My year on this blog started in February as last year I was dealing with some heavy emotional work and had been on a break from writing when the year began.

So here we go, the best of 2016 from The Brain Work of an Idealist as chosen by the idealist herself:

February 2016: Acceptance

March 2016: I Built a Bridge

April 2016: Two Years Later

May 2016: Getting By Without a Mirror

June 2016: I Don’t Believe in Monsters

July 2016: Sacred Truth

August 2016: I Love Myself Most When

September 2016: I Am ——

October 2016: Now I Know Why I Am Here

November 2016: Letting It All Out Part III

December 2016: Hugs and Chickens

And my personal favorite of the entire year:

Constant Gardner

With corresponding art work for the post found on:

From Walls to Fences

Thank you to everyone who walked this path with me this year. Thank you for reading, thank you for responding, thank you for your support in all its forms. I hope everyone has a safe New Year’s Eve that finds you surrounded in love, comfort, and connection.

With unending gratitude,

Jillian
The Idealist

 

Soap like Erasers

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The universe has been sending me a message for a while and I have known this but was not ready. It has been woven into my life disguised as the ordinary; a conversation here, a sign or symbol there. There were three major signs recently and that is what finally made me say okay enough, I am ready.

I was working with client recently and the conversation led to me using validation and body positive messages. After I felt good about the work we did together AND I felt like a bit of a phony.

A few weeks later I was with my love and he said something that I feel like all women want to hear (myself included) but the truth is it hurt to hear it because I did not believe him. It is not that I did not believe that he felt what he was saying, it was that I do not agree and I do not feel that way about myself.

2 days ago I was in the shower, the night before I had been painting and as per usual I still had paint on my legs and fingers. I took the bar of soap and rubbed it up and down my thigh until the streak of black paint faded into nothing and the water washed away the soap. This led to the literal inspiration of this post (although the larger inspiration has been building for some time). As I watched the paint on my leg disappear under the bar of soap I thought about how the soap looked so much like an eraser in that moment. It made me wonder.. How many times have I gotten in the shower and used the soap like an eraser to wash away pain?

We all do it. Showers have never been just for washing our physical body.

If we have a bad day we can step into the shower and wash it away.
If we are sick we step into the shower and let that hot water cleanse us and wash away the germs.
If our heart is broken we step into the shower and cry so no one can tell the difference between the water from the spout and our tears.

The thing about this though is that it doesn’t actually work. The shower is not some magical portal where when you step in it erases bad days or illness and last I checked it does not have magical healing properties that allow it to mend a broken heart.

Me using the soap to erase the paint from my body did not take away the fact that the night before I painted, it just cleaned the paint off.

Suddenly it hit me. All these showers I have taken over the years to erase awful things that have happened to my body have erased nothing. My shower is not a portal that can undo trauma my body has experienced. Until I go back and be with my body in these places of hurt I am not going to feel authentic when having a body positive conversation with a client, and I am never going to be able to believe my husband when he compliments me because I cannot see what he sees.

Something I have said for a long time is that is important to me that I am not asking my clients to do anything that I am not willing to do myself. Up to this point I have been not been ready to do this part of my work but now I am.

I know this next year will be transformative for me and I know with my whole being that this part of my work is going to play a very big part in that transformation. A very big, painful part.. And I am scared. I am scared to go back to some of these places with my body. I have gone back emotionally and started the healing process that way but this is different.

What I can do to help myself prepare for this next part on my journey inward is to remind myself of the progress I have already made in having  better relationship with my body.

I listen better. This shows in little ways like what I eat and when, taking breaks when needed, even in what I wear. Some clothes hurt so I have stopped wearing them. High heels for example, it they are uncomfortable I will not wear them. I set the intention a while ago that I will not cause my body pain for vanity sake. I can feel beautiful and be comfortable.

I am more accepting of my body as it is. I do not feel the need to wear make up or paint my nails for others. If I am doing either it is for me only and I have checked in with my body first. Personal grooming, I have talked about this before, I will not feel shame for the fact that my body naturally grows hair. I shave when it feels right and am not mean to myself when I don’t. My hair has a right to be there and I am beautiful either way.

This is a good start these two things but I know there is much work to be done and I am ready. I have to do things for myself so I know how to helps others in these same places of pain. You do not learn these lessons from the text book, somethings can only come from the soul.

I love hot showers, hot baths, the cleansing nature of water in general. I love the way it can wash over me and hold me and make me feel whole. I also recognize that by doing this work I may no longer need water for this and I certainly will not look to soap to act as an eraser any longer. What if I could hold me and make me feel whole. What if I had the power of water?

 

A Glorious Mess of Color and Noise

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A little over a month ago I shared that I attended a meditation/sister circle that ended with a drum circle. Let me tell you about this drum circle.

After we concluded our formal meditation we went outside. Set up around a stone fire pit were 8-10 hand drums set in front of a circle of corresponding chairs. Each drum had a slightly different shape, some were more squat and wide, others taller and more slender. They also had different designs, some were plain without much color, others had elaborate detail and were wildly colorful. Each of us took a moment to decide where to sit based on which drum spoke to us. I ended up choosing a squat drum with a colorful pattern.

Once we had chosen our drum we were encouraged to get acquainted with it. We all took this to mean different things, some people banged on their drum to familiarize themselves with the sound, others rubbed the top and sides to see how it felt, I grabbed mine around the middle and hugged it.

After this moment spent with our drum the real fun began. We were guided at first, we were taught the different ways to hit the drum in order for it to make different sounds, we were also taught how not to hit the drum in order to avoid finger injury. After a few moments of practice it was time to begin. Our leader got us started, she began her beat and the way it worked is that when she felt ready she would look to her right indicating that she was ready for that person to join in, this went on all the way around the circle until everyone had joined in and we had many different sounds playing all together.

During another point our leader brought out all kinds of fun hand instruments for us to try. Some opted to stick with the hand drum, others sounds that joined in were that of a wooden hand instrument that when played sounded like a frog, there was a high pitched bell similar to a wind chime, there were bells more similar to what you would imagine on a reindeer harness, I played an egg shaker during this time, there was a cow bell as well. All our different unique sounds played together made a glorious mess of noise.

At first all of us were intimidated. I think only one of us, other than our leader, had ever participated in a drum circle before and there was a fear of doing it wrong. I have said before that it is a very vulnerable feeling to allow yourself to be free and create in front of others, the trepidation at the beginning of drum circle speaks to that very truth.

What if I cannot keep the beat? What if I sound stupid? What if everyone looks at me? What if I am too loud?

5 minutes in all that fear washed away. We played with our eyes closed towards the beginning so we could focus on the sound instead of each other and that is when the connection happened. That was the meaningful take away from this experience, the connection. To be able to make your own unique sound that is just yours and is not swallowed up by the noise of any other but to be able to also connect with the collective noise. I was just one drum, just one shaker, just one person.. but without me the group would not have sounded the same. There was no right, there was no wrong, all that mattered is that my sound was heard.

creative

This brings me into the next part of this post. I have been incorporating art into my practice with my clients. I cannot call the work I have been doing art therapy because that is something you have to be certified to do and I am not, but I am creating a space for my clients to express themselves creatively in order to help them with some of the work we are doing together. Art therapy may be on the horizon for me at some point.

One of my focuses with this internship is to give myself space to figure out what kind of therapist I am going to be. What unique thing do I bring to this field? How will I let my unique light shine? Art is certainly part of that because it is a very big part of me. One thing I have learned about myself while in this internship is that I am the kind of therapist that quotes Bob Ross. haha. (Yes I just laughed at myself, I do that. Often.) When I have been leading a creative arts group or working on an art project with a client during individual session I have definitely quoted Bob Ross on more than one occasion. Of course I have. That man knew what he was talking about:

There are no mistakes just happy accidents.

If you don’t like it, change it. It’s your world.

You need the dark in order to see the light.

I mean, yeah. He got it.

Creating this kind of outlet for a person allows them to get out of their head and be free for a moment. It allows them to put down their judgements about themselves and the world and let an inner voice speak. In a world full of black and white ideas about how things are art allows us to step back, call the world on it’s bullshit, and play with the full spectrum of color. Because life is a glorious mess of color, black and white is a myth of existence.

I am grateful for the personal lessons I have learned through allowing my own inner voice to be heard through art, and music, and other creative outlets I make for myself. I am also grateful that this is an area where my light is turned up and I can share my truth with my clients and help them to find their own. This is what makes this work special, this is what makes life special, it is all about finding your own unique voice and knowing how important your contribution to the collective is.

 

Light Workers

light-workers

I was watching a video recently about a young woman with cystic fibrosis and her message was all about being in pain and being able to see beauty. It was about life and death and not being afraid. The video ended with her sharing this pearl, the people who have been through the most are the people who have the most to give.

This morning my mother called to wish me a happy birthday. She asked what special thing I had planned for myself and I told her that today is my last day at internship this semester and I plan to meet with all of my clients and meet some goals with them. I have scheduled a busy day for myself. Up to this point I have not been able to meet with all of my clients in one day. My Mom responded by saying, well that is keeping in tune with who you are, you are going to spend your day giving of yourself.

Her words made me think of the young woman’s words..

I believe the light workers of the world have stepped into their truth because of the darkness they have known. I believe every great healer’s journey begins with healing themselves. It is the people who have been through the most who have the most to give back and it is because they understand on a deeper level how much what they have to give is needed.

I had another great week at internship. I am thankful for the clients I have been able to work with this semester. I am thankful for how we have impacted each other. I am thankful for a placement where I am given so many opportunities to learn and grow. I am thankful that as a country we have been catapulted into uncharted territories and that this has given the light workers this awesome challenge to turn up their light, to stand up and remain standing, to be an example of love every single day without falter.

There is amazing work to be done during this time in our world’s history, I am honored that I am living now and able to be a part of it. I am grateful to be waking up to my own truth, to be turning up my light and stepping into my greatness. I am thankful that by walking my own true path and I am able to help others find theirs and step into their greatness as well.

33 is going to be an amazing year. It will be transformative, and cleansing, a year of growth and truth, a year of greatness and great opportunities. 33 will be all of this and more, I can feel it.

My darkness is what has brought to this place. Dark times lead to deeper connections. A deeper connection to yourself, to humanity, to suffering, to love, to pain. Dark times lead to a love of light that you cannot know unless you have dwelled in a place where light did not exist. This is why those who have been through the most have the most to give. This is why it is so special that I get to spend my special day doing what I do, giving of myself and sharing my light.

Of course I would be happy to spend the whole day painting and reading and eating dark chocolate.. But this year this is what feels right. I love myself enough that if I did not want to work on my birthday I wouldn’t. This year I know this is where I am meant to be and this is what I am meant to be doing. The signs have been there all along. This is my special day so I am going to take all that light and love I feel for myself and that I am receiving from those who love me and want to celebrate me and I am going to share it.

healer

Happy Birthday to me. You’ve done good this year sweet girl. I love you and I know this next year will be one for the books.

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.

Sharing My Light

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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

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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?

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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 I

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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.

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