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.

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Spiritual Bypassing

spiritual bypassing

As I am getting to know my shadow piece around self-righteousness something that has come up for me is spiritual bypassing which is directly connected to this shadow aspect. Spiritual bypassing, in my mind, is when we (I) attempt to deny our shadow pieces exist (enter: self-righteousness). Spiritual bypassing is me wanting to stay in my “love the world, heal the world” space without acknowledging my “I want to burn this shit down” piece. What grounds me is remembering my AND. For me to be balanced it cannot just be peace, love, and happiness.. It has to be peace, love, and fuck this day I am taking a nap. or peace, love, and leave me the hell alone. or panic attack, accidentally break a plate, and curse in front of a child. Sometimes there is no peace and love to balance my darkness and my humanness.

I am not some enlightened spiritual being, that is not my  truth – as much as I wish it were. I am human. I am light, and dark, and gray. I am pixie dust, rose petals, and dirty words at inappropriate moments. I am painting, and empathy, and judging some guy for all that cheese he is eating. There has to be room for my light, my darkness, and my absolute humanness.

It is strange to think that something like our spirituality can actually have a shadow aspect, it can and it does. Everything is made up of both, that is the AND.

My truth is I am not without my judgements. I don’t know that I ever will be. That would be a pretty enlightened place but I am not sure I will ever get there truly, not during my human life at least. So rather than have judgement about my judgements I am trying to start by just acknowledging their existence. Once I am able to do that I try to get to know them a little better, like a new acquaintance; what can you tell me about yourself self-righteousness? You tend to pity people, okay, tell me more about that.

Judging my shadow parts does not make them go away, it really seems counter productive. I just have to be honest with myself and stop worrying about what everyone else will think. Ultimtaley this work is not about the world accepting my darkness, it is about me accepting me. Whose to say my darkness is any less special or beautiful than my  light? Me that is who. I am the only person I need to be listening to.

I am getting there. Slowly. But slow progress is still progress.

shadow

Soul Camp Part Two

soul camp

I got the email today confirming the second soul camp and it was like a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Soul camp takes place right after I finish internship and it is that something extra to look forward to as I wrap up my time as a student.

This time around we are focusing on shadow work which means we will be embracing or dark parts, our manipulators, our liars, our pieces that maintain victim mentality etc. I am sure it will be a struggle for all of us. I wouldn’t even be surprised if less women sign up this time around. I went to a workshop last year where we were processing our relationship with money and how shamey it can feel, of all the people that originally signed up only myself and one other woman showed. It ended up being one of the best workshops I have been to. At the beginning of the year I did another workshop where the same thing happened.

We were doing vision boarding and processing the barriers we create that stand in the way of us meeting our goals (it was essentially about self-sabotage). Only two of us showed. I get it. The dark stuff is scary and most people do not even want to admit they have darkness, let alone spend a day with it, or worse yet an entire weekend where you are being held accountable for engaging with it.

Shadow work has been where I find my truest self, my deepest truths, my purest love for myself. Personally I love shadow work. I love shadow work AND it is super painful. It is absolutely more thorns than roses but they are all part of the same being. You don’t get the rose without the thorn so learn how to love that thorn.

Here is the other thing I am learning about shadow work and learning to love my darkness; it is not scary when you get to know it. I am less afraid of the dark now, literally and figuratively speaking, than I have ever been in my life.

I am can’t wait for everything on the horizon and the fact that day by day that horizon is getting closer.

Righteous

The word righteous has come up three times so far this year. I do not remember this word coming into my life once in the last ten years.

Yes Universe, I am listening exactly what message are you trying to send me right now?

Two of the times this word came up was in the context of two completely unrelated people “acting self-righteous”. My skin crawled a bit each time that judgement was used but I moved on.

The third time it was my mother telling me that I am kind and righteous in the form of a compliment. I know her words were well intentioned but that word being used to describe me took me from skin-crawling to feeling completely covered in slimy shame and disgust.

Apparently I have a problem with this word. I have been sitting with this truth for weeks in order to understand it better.

I emailed one of my soul friends at one point and asked her what the word meant to her and what her first reaction to the word was.

She emailed me back the following:

First thought, used today as old-school surfer slang. Second, of or pertaining to goodness. Third, negative connotation related to disparaging accusations like “self-righteous”.

I emailed her back and agreed those were my thoughts and reactions to the word as well but in reverse.

My first thought/reaction is the judgement statement around being “self-righteous”.

My second thought has to do with pureness and goodness.

My third thought takes me to a Jeff Spicoli type character riding a wave in California.

spicoli

I guess it is a matter of perspective, and the experiences guiding the perspective of myself and my soul friend are different so it makes sense that we would come at this word from different directions.

I am realizing I struggle with this word for two reasons (there might be more than two reasons but so far two main reasons have risen to the surface for me).

  1. The Us vs Them mentality. What is the difference between myself, who my mother referred to as righteous, and the other individuals who have been labeled as self-righteous? My truth: very little. Compassion tells me that very little separates me from these individuals. These individuals are both righteous AND self-righteous, just as I am both righteous AND self-righteous, just as we all are both righteous AND self-righteous. Righteous is white light and Self-Righteous is black darkness, together the white and the black, the light and dark come together in truth: GRAY.
  2. Religious undertones. For me this word takes me straight to the church, it takes me to a place of pain and ridicule and otherness. My truth is that if this is a matter of Us vs. Them, I am on the Them side of that fence, not the Us.

The second struggle is my truer struggle I think. I already know my truth when it comes to Us vs. Them mentality, if that was my only issue I would have moved on quickly without giving it much thought because I am sound in my truth. The reason I was so triggered and felt myself linger in this place of feeling triggered was because of my second struggle.

Righteous is word that belongs to the church and I will never again belong to the church so that word can never ever be part of me.

Wrong.

I can reclaim righteous. I can reclaim it much like I reclaimed the word sacred. Sacred was another word that for a long time I felt like could never belong to me because of my experiences with the church. Then I found my own truth around spirituality and realized my truth was sacred.

I do not know what reclaiming righteous will look like for me. I do know it will have nothing to do with Us vs. Them, and it will have nothing to do with religious doctrine. These thing I know, the rest is yet to be seen.

righteous

For now I found this and it felt true.

 

Truth Speaking

truth-speaking

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.

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.

healing-and-art2

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.

healing-and-arthealing-and-art1

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.

Why Idealism

why idealism

I have been writing this post in my head for a very long time. I have this idea in my head on how I want it to be but my words have never quite come together the way I want. I found this picture recently and it spoke to me, I knew it was meant for this post. I also knew it was time to just start writing, let it come out however it chooses to.

This is what it feels like to be an idealist, an INFP, for me at least. I am writing this in my “I” voice, not speaking for all idealists/INFPs, just me. The world at times, often times, feels magic. The wind in the trees, the way it makes the leaves move, the noise it makes.. Magic. Old trees that have lived much longer than myself, they have seen the world change around them but there they stand strong and true.. Magic. Human connection, one soul finding itself in another.. Magic.

When I was a child I was all imagination. I played in the trees but they were not trees, they were castles. I pretended my backyard was a wilderness filled with gentle wild animals who wanted nothing more but to be my friend, I laid out carrots waiting for rabbits that would never come. I lived a life of joy and fulfillment playing in a world I created in my mind and my heart. I understand now that part of this was out of necessity. Idealism, imagination, rose colored glasses, being inside my own little world.. It was a way to feel safe when my environment did not. It gave me somewhere to go when I could not be where I was. Idealism is part of what helped me survive.

I have never grown out of my idealism. It allows me to see the best in bad situations, it allows me to find hope when all feels lost, it allows me to find compassion for those who would hurt me, it allows me to feel safe when the world feels scary.

I know there is a balance to be struck, especially as an adult, but ultimately at the end of the day I am still very much an idealist. Some may see this approach to life through a negative lens. My response to that would be before you jump to criticism and judgement think about what this world view might mean to the person. We do not become who we are arbitrarily. I am willing to bet that I am not the only survivor of trauma that has used my sense of idealism as a tool for resiliency. It is absolutely a strength, it helped me survive. I went through what I went through and never stopped believing in the world, and life, and magic, and beauty. That is strength. That is resiliency.

Why Idealism?

Because the world is going to be what it is going to be regardless of me so why not try to see the best whenever possible, it is there, keep looking.

Because The world is full of beautiful magic and I can’t ignore it. I cannot help but be in awe everyday I get to be part of it.

Because safety.

Because there is no right or wrong way to experience life and this is my way.

My husband is a realist, we balance each other, I lift him up, he keeps me tethered to the ground so I do not float away. I admire his perspective and respect what it means to him. I can also be a bit of a cynic at times because I am allowed to exist in more than one way in my life and sometimes social justice issues are too big and awful to see through my rose colored glasses. That is okay too. I embrace it all.

You don’t have to be all one thing all the time. You can exist in your life in many different ways. Life is not as rigid as we are told it is growing up. It is flexible and forgiving, we make it complicated with our ideas about right/wrong/good/bad and other forms of dichotomous thinking.

So where do you land in all of this? Idealist? Realist? Optimist? Cynic? Anarchist? And why? You are not who you are by accident. What got you there? There is no wrong answer and your story, whatever it maybe, is sacred.