Love and Support

In a few hours I leave for soul camp. I felt the need to write once more before I go because I know I will not write over the weekend and am not sure when I will start writing again once I return. Last time I had plenty of inspiration when I got back but I was so exhausted I couldn’t do it; not right away at least.

I was packing the other night and walked out of the bedroom to get my face cream, when I returned I found Lu standing over my suitcase with a toy in her mouth. I watched from the doorway as she dropped her toy in my suitcase and walked off to lay down.

Lucy can definitely sense when something is up, especially when we are getting ready to leave. She gets anxious and paces usually. I about died when I saw this. It was her favorite toy right now, a stuffed carrot we got her for her birthday in March. I guess she wanted me to be comforted while I am away. What a sweet girl.

Then this morning my husband came into say goodbye and had a love note for me to take to soul camp. It talked about how he and Lu would miss me but that they know I am doing all the good work and that they support me.

When I got up this morning I felt myself starting to self-sabotage already. I felt my walls going up, I felt myself backing away from what I know my work is right now. I felt myself shrinking. Soul camp is a big commitment to deep work for an extended period of time as well as a commitment to allow yourself to be seen by others. As much as I look forward to soul camp, now that it is here I am scared. There is a fear that once I start speaking my truth out loud for others to hear you I won’t be able to take it back. I won’t be able to go back to the place of comfort and denial that existed before. I don’t even know if that is actually true or not; I mean really I can backslide all I want, no one can make me do the work but me.

I am way too inside my head right now. It is going to be fine. I have this incredible support system to return to after the weekend is done. It is going to be fine.

Graduation Surprise

I was sitting on the couch when my husband came home tonight. We were discussing this and that when he told me that he had one of my graduation presents for me. He left the living room and came back with a box that had been delivered the day before, he had told me that he ordered new books so I assumed nothing of it when it was dropped off.

He gave me a pair of scissors and I opened the package to find a laptop. I was a bit stunned honestly. It was very unexpected. We talked about him getting me a double frame for my diplomas, I thought that was that.

Up to this point I have been using his old laptop from when he was in college 10 years ago. It works fine and I have been quite content, I would have never guessed he had this planned for me.

It is very nice. It is smaller than the 10 year old laptop, lighter too. It is a laptop/tablet hybrid which is neat but maybe a bit more than I need. The main thing I like is that it starts up quick and has a nice keyboard.

Being the engineer he is he apparently spent quite a bit of time considering all my needs and getting me a laptop that he thinks will meet them. I appreciate the gift, what I really appreciate though is the effort. It is a very thoughtful gift and one I am sure to put to good use through all the writing I do for myself and the writing I will be doing for my new job as well.

I have had a lot on my mind and heart this week as I prepare for soul camp. The fact that I still have not spoken to my mother is weighing heavy on me as well. This was a welcome distraction.

He’s sweet man that man I married. I am grateful for the meaningful gift, I am more grateful for him.

What was said; What I heard

I read something that had a pretty big impact on me at a pretty important time which has led to the inspiration for this post. I have not spoken to my mother in a week. This would not generally be note worthy but this time it is. The last time we spoke ended badly and the space I thought I needed to take care for myself expanded from a half hour to multiple days to now a week.

During this week my Dad showed up in his normal role in our family: peace maker/mother fixer. My Dad picks up the messes of others so everything can stay neat and tidy and we can all pretend there is no mess. Dad also takes care of Mom, Mom comes first. Always.

The space has been painful. I feel like a terrible daughter, I feel like I am the problem, I feel like I am breaking my mother’s heart, I feel guilt, I feel shame, I feel like I will be a terrible mother. I feel self-doubt. I worry that my actions are manipulative, I am constantly second guessing myself. I feel unstable, out of control.

As the space has gotten bigger so has my truth; I feel rejected. I feel used. I feel blamed like a scapegoat. I feel resentment. I feel more stable. I am starting to gain clarity. I am starting to truly understand how much bigger than me this is. I am learning how to care for myself since the focus is not constantly on caring for her. My heart is aching. I feel let down.

Yesterday or the day before, I honestly cannot remember now, I was reading a blog that I have been following for a long time. It is a blog similar to my own; personal, searching, honest. I appreciate the honest part most. I admire and appreciate people who are willing to say out loud that life is hard, families are hard, relationships are hard. I see enough posed photos with perfect smiles, sometimes I need the honesty of how devastating losing a pet can be. This blogger shows up in her truth.

So I was reading this post that true to form was painfully honest and I definitely identified with parts of it. My truth is different from hers but I saw myself, my childhood self, in some of her writing.

I wasn’t sure I had the courage to be so honest but right now seems like the time. The only way for things to be different is to do things differently. That means honesty and stepping out from the shadow of denial. Last week my mother and I broke another vase, metaphorically speaking, and despite all his efforts my father was not able to sweep these pieces under the rug like so many broken pieces before it. So now I am going to stand here in the mess I helped make and accept Alma’s invitation to be seen in my truth.

What was said and What I heard:

Calm down: You are acting crazy. You are crazy.
This isn’t going to work: You can’t do this. You made a mistake. You did this wrong.
Your mother is really upset: Your mother is really upset and it is your fault. You need to apologize to your mother. Please fix this for me. I am scared.
Your brother _____________: I love him more. Your accomplishments, life, words, ideas, problems, are less important than his.
Mother-daughter relationships are hard: This is what it is, get used to it. Stop trying to change things. Stop upsetting the apple cart.
What is most important is that we love each other: Do you still love us? Are we good parents? Please don’t leave us. Family comes before everything, including your emotional well-being.
*Silence*: Fuck you. You are the worst. I will not bend. You will give me what I want. Who do you think you are? You owe me this. You are not stronger than me. Don’t make me angry. How dare you. I do not love you.

What I needed to hear:

This started long before you.
This is not your fault.
I own my part.
Take all the time you need, I will be here.
I am ready to really work on this.
The truth, the real honest truth.

 

There are a lot of ANDs that exist in this space of pain but this time I am going to keep my ANDs to myself. I know what they are and that is what matters. I do not feel compelled to make this mess pretty to make myself or anyone else more comfortable. Not this time.

mom

Honoring the In-Between

in-between

I am sitting in the middle of a glorious in-between and I did not want to let this time slip by without showing it the appreciation it deserves.

The in-between is such a special place, it is a place where all things are possible. It is a place of both certainty and uncertainty. You know where you have been, you know what came before but there is no promise of what comes next, just hope.

We can become so focused on the getting there without truly acknowledging the beauty of the in-between.

In thinking of the in-between my mind is gravitating towards a client I had at the beginning of the year..

She was with me much longer than most. Towards the end she was struggling, she was in her own in-between and wanted desperately to arrive. I came in for my shift at the beginning of one week to discover she was gone. I was overjoyed. Good for her, she made it, something worked out, she is going to be okay now, she is on the path towards love and healing. It was the best way to start my day, I was on a cloud.

Then one of the other therapists came in and shared with me the details of the client’s discharge.. I was no longer in my hopeful in-between, I had arrived at the truth and started to descend from my cloud. My client had AWOL’d. More came out about possible human trafficking once she was on the street and a break from reality.

This is why it is so important not to overlook the in-between. Although this was hard for me to hear and reality can be cruel, for a moment I got to experience a different reality for this client wherein she was safe, and loved, and everything worked out as she had told me she wanted it to. For moment all things were good.

Reality is not important in the in-between, just hope. Hope lives its biggest life in the in-betweens.

So as I sit in all of my in-betweens right now I send the universe a note of gratitude.

Thank you for my in-between before soul camp, and before my new job, and before becoming pregnant, and before all the exciting plans I have made for this year. Right now all good and amazing things are possible. Reality will come and I welcome it too, but right now I get to have this magical time with hope and I am grateful.

The Girl and the Sea

Once there was a girl who had been holding on too tightly. This was a girl who had always been afraid of losing; losing what, she never quite knew. Her mind, her heart, her self, her future, her favorite doll.. There was just always this nagging feeling that the world was not safe and so she needed to hold on tightly to make it through.

What this girl did not understand is that not everything can be held so tight. Holding too tightly can  make what looks like love feel like suffication. Holding too tightly can leave you white knuckled and arthritic, a body cannot withstand the constant pressure to hold on so tight.

This went on for a long time and for all her efforts she still experienced devastating losses. She never loosened her grip on the things she cared about or needed to hold on to but it did not keep her safe from losing like she had hoped. Still the girl held on too tightly because she knew no other way.

One day the girl went to the ocean and was invited to step out into the crashing waves. With trepidation she followed the leader and felt overwhelmed by the power. She could not hold on out in the current, she had no control. She grasped at the sand on the ocean floor but it slipped from her fingers.  She reached out for her leader and together they were tossed by the incoming tide. She realized there was nothing else she could do so finally she let go.

For a moment she let go of everything she had been holding too tightly and watched as the ocean washed it away; in it’s place she opened her hand and found an acorn. The symbolism she did not understand at the time.

That day the girl learned that when she let go of the things she was holding too tightly her hands were then open to receive what she was truly meant to hold.

the girl and the sea

Making

This morning I slept in and woke to the sound of music. My husband and pup were in the living room and kitchen listening to Pandora and waiting for me to join them.

We spent the day together quiet and creating. It was my favorite kind of day.

Here is what we made:

fire place2fire place

My husband promised a while back to make some kind of candle display for our fire place because we live in Florida and never have a real reason to use it. Today he delivered on that promise and I could not stop kissing him. I think it is stunning. Tonight we lit up all the tea lights while we spent time in the living room together, it changed the entire feel of the room. It feels more like a home, our home.

My creative inspiration came from one of my own personal truths around the word AND. I have discussed many times how looking for the AND in life has been a big part of my personal journey towards healing. The AND represents the gray area, it represents the space where all things are possible.

door wreath

This is the third wreath I have made but the first I have made since living in this home. It certainly has deeper personal meaning for me than any wreath I have created previously. I look at this as the welcome sign on our door letting all souls who cross our threshold know this is a safe space to show up just as you are.

It was a good day. I am grateful.

Infinite Ways to Add to Nine

You’ve heard the expression More than One Way to Skin a Cat?

Well I hate that expression. So a long time ago I came up with my own version. I say: There is more than one way to add to nine.

I say this when I reach an impasse with someone where we are unable to find common ground. I say this with clients who get stuck in black and white thought patterns. I say it often.

My point is simple: there are lots of options out there and none of them are wrong, they are just different.

Fun fact: My favorite way to add to nine is 5+4. That was until tonight..

Today I finished the last paper of my college career. It was a research paper about the effectiveness of guided visualization, I could not have planned that better if I tried. I feel like I went out with a very authentic bang!

All morning while I was writing my paper and taking breaks my sweet husband was scurrying away trying to find something special for us to do once I finished. He wanted to celebrate me tonight. He would come in while I was writing and present a menu for a new restaurant for my review. Nothing was really appealing to me. A lot of restaurants think having a salad menu is enough of a vegetarian option, I whole-heartedly disagree.

On one of my breaks we came up with a plan. We found our own way to add to nine.

When I finished my paper and clicked “submit” I began to cry. I caught myself off guard, apparently it had been sitting there just beneath the surface waiting for me to finish this one last thing.

I went and found my husband charting out his math equations in the bedroom and I flopped down on top of him and let the tears flow.

I did it. I can’t believe it, I did it.

I completed a graduate program. I am a woman with a Master’s degree. I am the first woman in my family to attend college and I now have a Master’s degree.

I cried and cried.

I just cannot believe it. I can’t believe it. I did this! I DID THIS! I DID IT!

Then I started jumping on the bed and laughing and throwing blankets everywhere!

I DID IT! I FUCKING DID IT! I DID IT!!!!!

It was great fun, really it was, until I landed on my husband’s hand. He was okay though so I kept laughing and punching the mattress.

I did it man! I did it!

I left my husband to his math for a while longer and honestly I don’t even know what I did. I was so happy I was incoherent.

Later hubs and I started our master plan for the evening.

We headed to the grocery and picked up produce, ginger beer, ricotta, and naan. Then we came home and got to work.

We celebrated by making vegan/vegetarian naan pizzas with all of our favorite ingredients, our favorite cock/mocktails – the Moscow mule, and set up our dining room table like an trendy/artisanal restaurant. We brought the romantic dinner to our home.

naan pizza

We made three pizzas:

  1. Hummus, kalamata olives, plum tomato, artichoke hearts, sauteed onions and green peppers, basil.
  2. Tika Masala sauce, cumin sauteed garbanzo beans, mango, purple onion, mint.
  3. Ricotta cheese, blackberries, basil, black ground pepper.

We also made a pear salad which ended up being delicious but over kill, we had plenty of food.

When our dinner and cock/mocktails were ready we set the table and put on our Ben Howard Pandora station for mood music.

date night in1date night in

Over dinner we talked about our past, present, and future. We talked about my growth over the last 6 years that we have been together, and our growth together. We talked and talked and it was wonderful and romantic and just good in a very honest comfortable way. At one point I said what I often do about adding to nine in reference to how I went about earning my degree, I took the rode less traveled you could say. Then my husband said, it is more than that. It’s not just that there is “more than one way to add to nine”, there are infinite ways to add to nine.

There are infinite ways to add to nine because the options are endless. The options are endless. There is no right or wrong or good or bad, there are just infinite options, there is no limit to what is possible. Each person has there own unique path towards their own personal truth, the options are endless.

My path looked different from the paths of others, that is because it belongs to me and I walked it just as I was meant to. My mathematical husband helped me stand firmer in one of my own personal truths today.

 

Counting Down to Soul Camp

shadow work1

I am about one week out from Soul Camp and I cannot wait. I am not going to lie to you, I am more excited about Soul Camp than I am about finishing internship or graduating. This is what I have been looking forward to most about the end of the semester. I swear it is coming at the perfect time too. I am finally done with college and here Soul Camp is to catch me. Gratitude for that for sure.

So I have mentioned that this time around soul camp is about shadow work. I have been doing shadow work since November so I arrogantly thought Oh this is going to be easy..

Then I got dropped kicked in the face by my truth. While the work I have been doing is important and for some might feel deep, for me it is completely surface level. It is part of my work but it is not my TRUE shadow work. My true shadow work is deeper and darker and I don’t even feel like saying more about it because my truth is I would rather just leave my blinders up and not do the work at all.

I’ll just stay up here and work on my relationship with entitlement ignoring what lies beneath..

I am not at all happy about this revelation I have had but I know that is where my real work is right now and I am going to try my best to show in my truth at Soul Camp. I did that last time and although it was AWFUL in the moment I think it brought a lot of the other women their work and gave them an invitation to be messy and awful as well.

I already know two things I can, and really need to do, in order to commit to doing this work while at soul camp. The very thought of it brings up deep feelings of grief for me.. I’ll keep processing it and see where I land.

I am really am so grateful for the timing of soul camp this time around, it is so right. I will be done with something huge and going into a major life transition so the extra support will be awesome. Plus I will be coming back to absolutely no commitments. I do not start my new job right away so I will have ample downtime to process whatever comes up while at soul camp. THAT is the real gift.

 

Sweet Spot

balance1

I have been sitting in a lot of gratitude this week, particularly around bedtime and when I first wake up in the morning. This gratitude is coming from the balance I have been able to keep these last few months. I do not take it for granted and since I know that in the near future things stand to change I would like to take a minute to give thanks for what I have right now.

I am grateful that my current schedule has allowed me to have time in the evening with my family while still getting to bed at a reasonable time.

I am grateful that my current schedule has allowed for me to soak up 9 restful hours of sleep a night, which I have found is my sweet spot for productivity during the day.

I am grateful to have found a morning routine that starts my day on the right foot. It is a combination of waking up with the sun (not an alarm clock), and still having 2 or 3 hours to myself before having to start my day. I get to have a quiet morning of writing or meditation or anything that suits me (normally it is writing though). Time that belongs to me before I ever have to interact with the world. Starting my day this way has made all the difference for me. In the past my day started with turning on the news and scoping out social media while rushing around my house to get ready for the day. It was stressful and it was self-inflicted at that. I am thankful that I made the needed changes to find my balance and start my day in a positive energy space.

I am grateful for the time change that now gives my husband and I daylight at the end of our day to walk the dog or lay in the hammock. Even if we just go about our evening routine as usual it is nice that we are home together before the sun sets; it does not feel like we have spent the entire day away when we come home and the sun is still up.

Finally I am grateful for my husband who has everything to do with this all being possible (except for the time change of course). His support both emotionally and financially created space for me to walk this path and do so in a way that has felt right to me. I am grateful for the security and stability he brings to my life. I am grateful that my happiness and well-being has always been such a high priority to him. I would never normally say this because of the religious connotation but the truth is, I know I am blessed. I am the one that has made my life into what it is but he created a safe space for me to do it and the support I needed to see it through. Of all the things I am grateful for that I want to be mindful of so I never take them for granted, he will always be at the very top of that list.

The Marvelous Mundane

When my husband got off work today he called, as he always does, and we talked, as we always do.

How was your day?
Update me on this..
Oh hey! Guess what..
I have news..
What’s for dinner?
I can’t wait to see you.

I have so much gratitude for the stability I experience in this relationship. I never knew someone like me, a creature of change and unpredictability, could find so much joy in the little everyday goings on of life. He is was makes the difference, it is in him that I find the joy.

I would rather discuss how his conversation went with the fence company than do anything else with anyone else.

My gratitude for tonight is for him and our life. He has brought love and joy to everyday chores like cleaning the bedroom and going to to the grocery. He has brought laughter and ruckus to tasks that previously felt tedious like washing the car or doing laundry.

I am grateful for our everyday moments. Conversations about this and that, plans for the weekend, updates on this situation at the office, creating a grocery list.

My friend and I were talking about how sometimes you feel yourself slipping into that nothing is ever good enough place, that place of comparing your life to the highlight reels of those around you.. She said something beautiful about how even when she falls under a cloud she knows she is okay because she can still see the beauty happening around her. Yeah! I totally get that.

I fall under my clouds or get lost up inside of them from time to time but I am still able to find love and joy in the everyday goings on of the life I created with this other person. That is how I know I am okay because as much as I would like to have it all figured out and perfect I can look around me and be so in love with a moment where we are just chopping vegetables together.

Strongest Women I Know

woman I am

I was fully prepared to do some more shadow writing tonight. I set up my candles, including my candle that is special for my shadow pieces. It is gray and smells of the ocean. I burn it specifically for my shadows to send them light and love.When I sat down to start writing though the only thing I could think of was my calendar and my excitement over everything that is coming up in the near future .

Soul Camp is on the horizon, in two weeks I am going on a weekend trip with three of my girlfriends from school as a last hurrah before we graduate, and next week is Stevie Nicks with my Mom and Aunt.

I am sitting hear in gratitude for all this amazing female energy I know I get to soak up over the course of the next month. I will be surrounded by all these strong females; my family, my fellow social workers, and my soul sisters at camp. Not to mention the Queen Goddess herself, Stevie.

I am looking forward to all of it. I am looking forward to quality time with women I can be my truest self with. I am looking forward to singing, and dancing, and laughing, and crying, and exploring, and both giving and receiving support. I am looking forward to memory making, and ocean waves, and deep talks, and honest truths, and being able to breathe.

Each of these relationships allow me to feel supported in unique important ways. I am grateful for all of the different outlets for support that are built into my life. I am grateful to have women in my life who I can speak openly with about my shadows and know I will not be shunned but instead understood.

With that thought came another. I was just reminded that I am also meeting my mentor in a few weeks for dinner. I last saw him and two other friends/colleagues right after the election and we all cried together as we processed the outcome. I am again brought back to my gratitude. I am grateful not only for the women in my life who support me with their healing energy but also the men in my life who lead with nurturing supportive energy and make me feel safe to be seen. My mentor is absolutely one of those men. He is a wonder and I am honored to have him in my life.

I know I have more shadow writing to do, I can feel entitlement and manipulation just waiting their turn to be truly heard and seen. I am eager to give myself room to explore but tonight this is where my heart was.

 

 

 

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

Wild Geese

One of my soul friends sent me something that instantly brought tears to me eyes. I feel compelled to share it so others can feel whatever it brings up for them and so I will always know where to find it.

wild geese

The very first line spoken aloud caught like a hook in my throat.

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees.

Let those healing waves crash over you.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air are heading home again.

Home. A tear falls from my eye.

The world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like wild geese..

I see those geese flying in my minds eye. I see the blue sky, I feel the breeze. I read these sacred words and know I am okay. We are all okay.

Thank you for this my kindred soul. It meant more than you know.

You and Me

you and me weekend

Hubs and I decided to have a You and Me weekend. Just you, me, and the dog (and sometimes not even the dog).

Last night we watched a movie and cuddled on the couch and then I read my book for hours before falling asleep. This morning we laid in bed and talked for a while before getting up and taking Lu for a walk in the park next to our home.

The park is always a lively place in the spring. Hubs and I spent a long time walking around the pond counting the different kinds of fish and turtles we saw. There were millions of tadpoles all plump and blissfully unaware of how close they are to losing their tails in lieu of little frog legs.

We came home from our family walk and I spent the next few hours writing a paper for school. I did so begrudgingly but I will admit I learn some new things from my research.

In the late afternoon hubs and I went out for an early dinner. He teased me about being an old lady and made a reference to the early bird special. Hey man, if the shoe fits, I’m hungry.

Over our early dinner hubs and I talked about gender norms, for some reason we had been exploring this topic from different angles all day. On the way home we decided to linger near our old street and visit our favorite place to sit and be together in our community.

We got out of the car and saw two boxers on the shore line we laughed as they played in the lake and scampered on the beach. I balanced and hopped on tree roots of an old live oak tree while telling hubs all the best parts of the book I am currently reading. ..And all the creatures of the forest are covered in black mushrooms because of the dark magic, only the good witch can save them… On and on I went as I circled the tree to the point of dizziness.

In our community we have a bench. We have been sitting on this bench together overlooking one of the lakes and the city since we first moved into our community 5 years ago. Tonight we sat on our bench and did what we do on our bench, talked about our life and our future. We make plans on this bench, we let this bench hold our hopes, dreams, and worries. This bench is special, it holds many sacred everyday parts of our love story.

As we walked by the bank of the lake on the way back to the car I picked flowers and danced on cypress knees, hubs held my hand to steady my balance as he often does in my life. We drove home with the windows down, dreams shared between us, my fist full of wildflowers wind whipped by my hand held out the window.

We came home and took a evening walk with Lu and watched the sunset over another lake in our community. We waved to neighbors and I picked more flowers for my bouquet. When we got home I placed my flowers in a jar of water.

Tonight I gave myself a pedicure in preparation for toes in the sand tomorrow at the beach. I spent my night writing for me to balance all the writing I did for others this week via documentation and papers for school. Now I will retire and read my book until my eyes are too heavy to continue because I know there is no better way to fall asleep than in the arms of the one you love with a book in your hand.

This is What Abundance Feels Like

This brainwork is a bed of soil A place she where she digs And I watch as her thoughts they grow I like to peek over the iron-wrought walls of friendship, fortresses and fear to see The things that grow beneath Her words fall Into the freshly-watered soil of a blank computer page To grow […]

via The Harvest of An Idealist — Everyday Poet

Yesterday my soul friend and I were emailing back and forth as we typically do at the start of the week. I was struggling in one of my relationships with a colleague at school and she had sage wisdom to help me with my boundaries. At the end of the email she informed me she had posted some new poetry for me to check out.

I was sitting in a parking lot outside of a Banana Republic, I was on the search for a dress to interview in. I opened her blog and read and then spent the next few minutes in my car crying. My soul friend is one who my garden gate is always open for and this is why. She understands the beauty and meaning in all my delicate emotions and can see the work I put in planting my seeds.

I am really touched by her piece, more so than I have words to express.  I am very grateful for all of my people and moments like this bring me back to my gratitude. Thank you poetry queen, you touched  my heart.

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A Day Spent in Gratitude

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I got up this morning, sent my resume out to a few agencies, had some tea, and then read for a bit. I picked up around the house, started chopping the veggies for the soup I am making for dinner, and then settled in to write for a bit. One problem. Nothing to write about.

It is not that I am without inspiration, it is more that none of my current musings are fully formed. I have a future post I am still working on in my head around a word that has been coming up recently. I have another that deals with symbolism. Then another about self-care. None are quite ready to launch though.

So there I sat with the need to write in order to feel balanced but no real sense of direction. Then I looked down at my tea cup and thought, Of course.

The tea cup I chose this morning was my gratitude tea cup. The message on my tea bag this morning was from my favorite artist and it spoke about one of my great loves, nature. It was all right here in front of me. Gratitude for the things I love and hold dear.

Because I write about gratitude so often I thought I would do something a little different to set this post apart. This will be more of a visual post.

My gratitude for today:

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I am going to start my gratitude from the foundation where it begins, love. Self-love to be specific. This photo was taken in my mid-twenties when my true journey towards unconditional self-love began. I was single for the first time since I had begun dating and I was finally able to see that alone was not so lonely and that love could be found in all kinds of relationships, not just intimate ones. I am grateful I had that time. It was the best part of my twenties and the first time I felt connected to myself in a long time.

Next I want to continue in my gratitude for love. Love comes in all different forms in my life.

I am grateful to give and receive love in so many ways; through my close relationships with family, soul friends, hubs, and my fur baby. As well as in my everyday dealings with the world. I am able to speak my truth in therapy and out in the world and feel the unconditional love that can only come from within you; I feel deeply connected to myself. With my clients I am able to empower them to speak their truth and feel the rays of love that shine out of them when they are able to step into their own light and love. Love is all around me. I am love. My gratitude will always start with love.

I am also grateful for our home and the community we call home. We have become so attached to this wonderful place we get to live. I/we are grateful for it all the time. We know how fortunate we are to have found a place in this world that feels like home. Hubs was just saying the other day that a dream home anywhere else would not truly be a dream home because it wouldn’t be here. We are already living a piece of our shared dream and I am grateful.

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Today being my day off I am grateful for time. Time to read my books, and create, and make a nice dinner for my little family. I know my schedule will not always be so flexible, I do not take this gift for granted.

One of my biggest pieces of gratitude in recent years has been my personal journey of healing and self-discovery through therapy. I have no words. It has given me so much.

This was sunrise and sunset from soul camp last fall. I have learned to let the world around me support me as I walk this path and in doing so I have a deeper love and appreciation for my connection to everything around me. While at soul camp I accepted love and support from the wind, the sun, the moon, the ocean, the ground, light, darkness.. It may not make sense to some but it is my truth so it does not need to. Therapy has brought me to my truth and for that my gratitude has no end.

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I am grateful that I was able to listen to the whispers of my soul and follow my path back to school. I am grateful that I found my place in a field that feels like home. I am grateful for the support of my husband as I took time for myself to see this dream through. I have become so much more than I knew I could be. Now my greatness has no limits, I am open to every possibility that exists for me. That was not always my truth though and by taking this one step into the unknown to follow this dream I have also found myself.

Finally I am grateful for nature and the world around me. There is beauty and magic blanketing our very existence and I am grateful that I am able to see that. I am grateful for a partner to travel through life with, both literally and figuratively. I am grateful that being outside consumed by nature is something that we share together. My definition of home is lost in nature with him.

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Truth Speaking

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If my family had a a hashtag right now, it would be #truthspeaking. The best part is I did that. Me. The girl with a thousand secrets, the girl with the constant shadow. I brought truth speaking home.

After the ordeal that took place in my family early last week I spoke my truth via email to my relative and then emailed the rest of my extended family to offer love and support as well as encourage each of them to speak their own truth in this moment. The title of the initial email sent was The Truth, it felt very ominous. This relative shared their truth and although I think they believe it to be objective truth I know that is not how truth works. So I took this as an invitation to share my own truth which I did. Now what I did not share with most of my family is that the truth I chose to share was just one piece. I have many truths about what is taking place in my family right now, I chose to share the truth that I thought would do the most good and bring the most healing which is what I believe is needed right now.

As a result of my emails some of my family members did choose to speak their truths as well. Their truths did not look like my truth and that is okay, their truths belong to them and mine belong to me.

After all was said and done the situation is no closer to being resolved but maybe it is on a path towards healing. You can heal without resolution, that is another one of my truths. Truth speaking breaks down barriers that keep us from healing. Once those walls come down it often becomes less about “fixing the problem” and more about healing the hurt.

So as I family I think the focus now is supporting one another as we apply ointment to the emotional wounds that were inflicted from this fire. I am sending each person in my family light and love as they take care of themselves during this time. I hope that as a family we are able to move forward in our collective and individual truths and feel connection and love as a result.

Sometimes it takes hearing someone else’s truth that is not our own to wake us up to what our truth is. I think my relative did that for my family last week. By speaking his truth he allowed each person the opportunity to wake up to their own truth in that moment and speak it.

And Then I Knew

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I was leaving the art store parking lot today when a mother and her young boy were exiting the store. I waited and waved them along to cross in front of me, she waved back and ushered her son along. I watched them as they crossed in front of my car, he was young maybe preschool age. They both carried little baskets with their goods from the store tucked inside. It looked like maybe the makings for an Easter basket or a related project. As I watched them walk by I teared up. Suddenly I knew, I can do that. I can raise a boy.

When I was a little girl I dreamed of being a mother one day. In this day dream I was always the mother of a girl. I wanted a daughter so badly. Then I grew up and things happened. Things that shouldn’t have happened. Over and over my life taught me how scary it is to be a girl in this world. With this my mind changed. I no longer wanted a daughter. My truth for a long time was that this world is not meant for women and I did not want to have daughters who were born to suffer knowing that I could do nothing but stand by while it happened.

My truth began to change again over time. My truth changed from This world is not meant for girls to Creation is female therefore this world was made by women. This world is absolutely meant for girls. With that truth I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was meant to be the mother of strong, unruly, fantastic females.

With this new truth that I feel so deeply I have often wondered and worried, but what if I have sons? Let me be clear, no matter what I have I welcome that soul with open arms. My concern for my possible future son(s) is the expectations society will place on him about what it means to be a man.

How do I teach that sweet soul about the power and goodness that resides in leading with feminine energy when our society will demand the opposite of him?

When I saw that mother with her little boy today something clicked. Suddenly things made sense again. I will show my son the love and healing energy of feminine energy through art and reading and nature and my love for those around me including him. Creation is female, it is feminine. Creating art, planting a garden, nurturing love in relationships. He will see it everyday in the actions of his mother and father.

I do not worry for my future children because I will be there mother and my husband will be their father and they will find balance and stability and goodness in our love.

I am grateful everyday for the messages I receive. They always seem to come at the right time. Of course they do.

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.

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