Symbolism

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Tuesday night was the Stevie Nicks concert; by far and away best concert experience of my life. Far and away.

She was everything you expect. Her voice is unreal. Completely unreal. The whole experience was surreal.I was in the same room with one of my life long idols. The woman is a goddess. It was so good.

Aside from her voice and twirling and story telling (which was also unreal – she had stories about Tom Petty and Prince), there was so much symbolism with the images projected in the background during her show and even in her words as she talked to us.

During one song it was pixies sitting on mushrooms in the forest with rose petals blowing in the breeze. I was like rose petals and pixie dust.. Way to speak to my soul Stevie. Then during another song she was projecting the crescent moon in the background which is my moon symbol. I had a whole session around this symbol at the end of lost year. I am the crescent moon. Message #2 received. There was a lot of symbolism around light and darkness and shadows.. I have never felt so connected like this during a concert and I have been to a lot of concerts over the years.

I knew there was something kismet about the fact that I would be seeing my idol now, at this point in my life. It lines up with so much of what is happening in my life right now. She even was talking at one point about believing in your own magic even if no one else understands it. I literally was talking with my therapist about this on Sunday. Thank you Stevie for the messages, they came at just the right time.

I am really grateful for this experience. It was special. It was unlike any other musical experience I have ever had. I will never forget my magical night with the ever ethereal Stevie Nicks.

Strongest Women I Know

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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.

 

 

 

Rose Petals and Pixie Dust

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During all the truth speaking that was taking place last week something was said that I had multiple reactions to. One of my relatives made a reference to my truth that I has shared and referred to it as rose petals and pixie dust. I believe this reference was intended to add impact to their truth, not take away or diminish my own.

If there was a second hashtag that could have been added to the events of last week it would have #rosepetalsandpixiedust. That definitely became a thing after he made the reference.

Here is my truth about rose petals and pixie dust:

Truth 1: That is me. I am absolutely rose petals and pixie dust. When I caught wind of that statement my first thought was to laugh and say, Yep he has me pegged. Rose petals and pixie dust is not a reference I mind people linking to me.

Truth 2: The reference he made, whether intended or not, did attempt to minimize my message based on his tone. He took my truth and essentially called it frilly and nonsensical as a way to underscore his own message. His message came from a very masculine energy place, mine came from a very feminine energy place, both of our messages were valid and worth the same weight. Masculinity is not > femininity. In short, I am sorry to say but in my opinion his message had seriously sexist undertones. Truth speaking is not about being right or wrong, it is not about making judgement.

Although there are pieces of me that completely identified with the reference and other pieces of me that think the reference is funny, there are also pieces of me that wish that my relative would have just spoken his own truth without needing to use my truth as a boost.

I do not have hard feelings about this but there was a realization that took place here and it needed a voice. I am a magical woman, rose petals and pixie dust are part of my magic. My magic (love, creativity, authenticity) is what makes me special, it is not a flaw or weakness and it certainly does not make me any less worthy of taking up space in this world. That is my truth.

How to be Attractive

I logged into my Pinterest account today to grab one of my images for one of the other posts I was writing and there was an image sitting there waiting for me because apparently based on the other things I have been pinning Pinterest thought I would like it. I had a total WTF moment about it. Here is the image:

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What the fuck Pinterest? Really? Do you not know me at all?

I am sorry but my inner feminist could not let this one slide. I have been made aware that this utter nonsense exists in the world and for the next five minutes it is my mission to balance this garbage.

Luckily as if she somehow knew I needed something awesome in this moment my soul friend sent me this.

This awesome slam poetry serves to rip shame in half and give the finger to sexist agendas that aim to keep women small, neither seen nor heard.

Hear is my truth about feeling attractive and connected to myself: I do it for me not for anyone else.

  1. I smile when I feel like it not out of obligation to the world. Sometimes I feel swallowed by my emotions and smiling is not a thing, I am no less attractive because I experience more than one emotion.
  2. I smell the way that I smell. It is my smell. My smell is usually lavender and lemon oil, it may not be for everyone. I am not open to anyone else’s opinion on my smell.
  3. I wear clothes that feel good and make me feel like myself when I look in the mirror. No outside opinions needed or wanted in that area either.
  4. I will educate or shelter myself on and from the world as I see fit. I am no less intelligent or worthy of taking up space based on my decision in this area.
  5. I can kind of get behind this one honestly. I do not speak kindly of myself though, that is doing it for other people. I speak kindly to myself because I do it for me, not for you.
  6. Have whatever kind of hobby you want, screen or no screen. Or if you prefer don’t have a hobby at all. Your interests are YOUR interests. They belong to you, do what feels right.
  7. I do value education, that is my truth. I also thought that college was out of reach. You are no less worthy if you did not get past the 8th grade. You do your life in the way that feels right for you and do not accept anyone else’s judgements or opinions based on some classist bullshit like higher education.
  8. Make time for yourself and anyone else you feel drawn to give your time to. Our time is an enormous gift, we deserve it as much as the rest of the world. You are still a good  and worthy person if you never volunteer a day in your life.
  9. I like the piece about saying thank you because one of my own personal truths is deeply connected to daily gratitude. I do not believe in obligatory reciprocation though. You reciprocate when you feel compelled to and do not allow others or society to guilt you into doing favors you are not comfortable doing.

These are my truths about being attractive based on the list provided. They may not be your truth, maybe you like the original list. That is alright. Personally, it was not for me. I am more in line with Olivia Gatwood and her Ode to the Resting Bitch Face.

You owe the world nothing. Focus on you, figure out what unique brilliance you bring to the world and do not allow others to tell you that you are less than because you did not conform. Radical self-love my friends. Embrace all aspects of yourself as you are not as others believe you should be.

 

 

Philosophizing with My Husband

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Hubs and I were sitting on the couch eating vegan ice cream tonight, watching the final installation of The Hobbit series when something occurred to me.

I don’t like the last movie in the series as much as the others in the series because it is all centered around the battle which does not interest me. I do not like war movies, I don’t like action movies with too much violence, I don’t like “epic battle scenes”. I am not interested.

As we were watching it occurred to me that in these movies the cast is primarily male. I then turned to my husband and said You know that if women ruled the world there would be no war, right?

He bit on my line and next thing I knew we were debating this theory.

Hub’s theory about my claim is that because of human tendency towards greed and because of both the perception and reality of scarcity on our planet even with female world leaders there would be war. His counter claim was that “it would only be a matter of time before someone did not have enough resources and decided to take from someone else”. He related greed and this action of “taking” back to evolution and survival of the fittest.

I disagreed. My rebuttal was that if we are talking about evolution then we have to look at woman’s role in society from an evolutionary stand point. Women have never been takers. Women, historically, have never been in a role of power to even have the opportunity to be takers. Women are givers. Nurturing, maternal, givers. My thoughts are that if women ruled the world there would be more compromise, more cooperation across the globe. Instead of taking from others in times of scarcity women leaders would look to their allies for help and help would be given.

Hubs then followed my theory but punched a whole in it saying that just because women are in power across the world does not mean that men vanish. If men are takers they would still be taking even if they were not in a leadership position. The actions of men, based on his proposal, would then force the female leader’s hands into conflict and war.

To this I simply quoted my husband’s favorite author: It appears that Mr. Crichton had it right then, “Dinosaurs eat man, woman inherits the earth”.

It is the only way to live in peace.

To Know True Love You Must First Be Honest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We Should All Be Feminists.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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http://www.hdnicewallpapers.com

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Don’t Mind Us, We just Live Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Coming Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Future is FEMALE

feminist

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

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

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

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

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

Women’s Rally Link

Martyrdom is Manipulation

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

Martyrdom is a form of manipulation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

martyr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

martyr

Sacred Femininity

divine

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

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

transformation

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

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

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

dali-lama

 

Shine a Light

This morning hubs and I woke early. Truth be told I don’t think I was ever fully asleep. I went to bed earlyish last night because I realized with the direction the vote was going in there would be a good chance I would not sleep at all if I heard the results before bed. This measure to protect myself from bad news and attempt to get a sound nights rest was somewhat futile unfortunately.

So we woke up this morning with the anticipation of two children on Christmas morning only this was not a joyous anticipation.. It was the anticipation of two children who knew they would not be receiving gifts this Christmas but hoped against hope that by some miracle Santa had come and delivered presents to their home. I am sad to report that Santa did not visit America this election season. There were no overnight miracles just the sad sinking in of our new reality. A reality that many of us, myself and hubs included, are not ready to see.

You want to see what forcing an idealist to come to terms with reality looks like? I started my day in tears. I cried for myself, I cried for my future children, I cried for every single person in my country and in the world who has even more reason to mourn today than I do. I have certain amount of privilege that will insulate me from any havoc this new reality may wreak, I know many who have far more reason than I to cry this morning.

So I gave myself space this morning to have my reaction. My hubs had his as well and we supported one another through it. There were a lot of unanswerable questions. There was a lot of reassuring. There were lots and lots of hugs and snuggles.

The truth is I didn’t really want to get out of bed. It was hard to find the motivation. I wanted to stay in that negative frame of mind and dwell.. Then I was scrolling through the mournful reactions of my friends on social media I saw something that reminded me of my truth..

shine-your-light

My whole perspective changed in that moment and I remembered who I am and what my life purpose is. I am a badass idealist who sees what can be not what is. I am a light in dark places and sometimes “the real world” can be a very dark scary place. Yes, I got dropped kicked in the face by reality this morning and yes for a moment I felt shattered. What the outcome of the election has showed me though is right now my light is needed.

There is a reason there has been so much negative energy brewing lately and a lot of us, again myself included, thought that after election day that energy would finally clear.. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. That doesn’t change me or my life mission though. I could not feel stronger in my resolve as an idealist in this moment.

Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, Bernie Sanders, John Lennon, Rosa Parks.. All of the heroes of the world who stood up for something bigger than themselves were idealists! They saw beyond what was to what could be. They believed in the goodness of the human spirit and what the world is capable of through love. They shined their lights so bright the world could not ignore them.

So today take your moment. Mourn, or celebrate if this is not a sad occasion for you, or get angry.. Do whatever you need to do for you then go out and be a light for others. Show our brothers and sisters your humanness, your ability to love, and to meet negative energy with pure kindness and compassion. Be example. Shine so bright that it is lights up the dark and blinds those whose lights are turned down.

While I was in the shower thinking about all of this and meditating on my truth and my own mission in life I started singing. Without realizing it at first I was singing a song from my childhood.. When I was little, 6 or 7 I think, Disney came out with Polly. It it a favorite movie from my childhood, it bestowed on me valuable lessons. My gift to anyone reading this is this song from the movie… Now go out and shine your light today. Be the reason someone does not lose hope today. Help remind the world what love feels like. It is time we turn up our light.

Branded

emma

I try not to over identify with any of the my life labels because I know as I grow and evolve I may no longer identify with some of these labels at all. There are exceptions of course, I do identify pretty heavily with my introvert/HSP/INFP label (as this blog has illustrated time and again).. With many of the others I am a little more leery.

For example, growing up I identified as Catholic. I identified this way because my family was Catholic and I was forced to go to church and Sunday school every week. It was not until I was older that I had the courage to say out loud, this label actually does not fit and I don’t believe in any of this stuff.

Another example, when I turned 18 I registered Republican and even voted Republican a few times in my early twenties. Why? Because I did not follow politics and Dad told me we were Republican. Again, as I grew I eventually discovered what my truth was and gave my father’s truth back to him to keep.

Some labels are placed upon us by the outside world, some we explore on our own. On the whole I often find labels limiting though and that is what this post is all about.

I do identify as a feminist. That label means a lot of different things to a lot of different people which is tricky to navigate at times depending on the point of reference for the individual who might view me just through this lens. The thing about my identifying as a feminist is that it is not the entirety of my identity, just one little fraction, and I get to define what my feminism is.

Here is my struggle of late.. I have developed a reputation in certain circles for my feminism. I am not ashamed of this in any way. I feel at times it is like shining a light in dark places, it can be a good way to see things we would not otherwise see, to have conversations we may not otherwise have..Where I become frustrated is when this reputation comes with an expectation.

An expectation that I am here to speak out every time and right every wrong and hold everyone accountable for what they say and do. No friends, that is not why I am here AND that sounds super exhausting. No thanks. I’ll pass.

In school many of my peers have started looking to me in this way and I have had to correct this misconception. Yes, there are times where I will speak up about something – when I choose to. And that is the key thing people miss – I have a choice. We all do. I have a choice to open my mouth or let it slide, whatever IT is, just like the rest of us do. I am not the social justice police here to rid the world of all social injustice – that is a big ask people.

Because I have spoken out against sexism and other isms before I find that people look to me now rather than speaking up themselves. We should all be holding ourselves accountable though. It is not fair to make it one persons job and I refuse to carry that burden so the rest of my cohort can avoid conflict. Conflict exists whether we choose to address it or not, I just choose to at times. I think a big reason many of my peers remain silent and look to me is because they want to be liked, they want to get along with everyone, they do not want to rock the boat.. Well I have flipped the boat over a few times and the real kicker is I still am able to get along with everyone, I am still liked and respected. I have not made a single enemy because of how I approach these situations that arise where I do choose to speak out. If anything my outspokenness has aloud for a dialogue between me and other colleagues that would otherwise not have happened and where tension and resentment may have started to fester instead.

Like I mentioned I have had to set a few people straight on this whole look to Jillian to deal with this for us thing recently. My boundaries are set on this. I will speak up when I want to because I have something to say. I will not speak up because I am the token feminist and you think I should handle this. I do not owe anyone anything. I am not the educator of those who are still learning. I am not the scapegoat for conflict. I am not some “angry feminist” who has something to prove. Sometimes I just get uncomfortable and am comfortable enough to say so and have a conversation about it. That is it.

I hope my boundaries and the behavior I model encourages others in the program to step into their truth as well and maybe even speak when they feel so inclined. Conflict resolution is a big part of our job as social workers so right now is a really good time to start embracing it and working on it. If not now when?

For a Moment I was Free

creation2

I used to be afraid to have a daughter. I was afraid because I was not strong enough as a woman to raise a woman. I was afraid because of the generational trauma that has been carried down through the female relationships in my family. I was afraid because of all the trauma I have experienced in my short life specifically as a woman at the hands of men… I used to say this world was not created for girls. That was to say, it is still after all this time not safe to be female in this world of men. We are not valued, we are not seen, we are not heard, we are not equal.

This world was not created for girls is no longer my truth. My truth is that this world was created by women. We ARE the creator.We are the divine. We are infinite. Creation is female therefore our creator is a Goddess not a God.

This weekend I bore witness to infinite enoughness. I sat with the definition of strength. I shared space with the ethereal. I saw with my heart how our capacity as women to hold pain  at indescribable depths is our power. I saw pieces of the universe sparkling and reflected back to me in this circle of immeasurable strength and resilience.

I cannot tell you about some of my experiences from this weekend because as human beings we have not evolved far enough to have language for some emotions and experiences, it is just a knowing, that is the best I can say. And something I now know with every fiber of my spiritual being is that women are the key to the universe. We are the portal between this world and any other. We are divinity. We are the question and the answer. I now know the truth and that is there is nothing more pure and perfect than the sacred strength of femininity.

AND not only am I no longer afraid to be the mother of a daughter, I welcome that divine spirit into my life with an open heart and a knowing that she will be everything.

creation

Oh My Aching Heart

Today was not a great day for humanity. I sat in on a TIC training that turned into an open forum for the floor staff to bash the therapeutic staff, AND air grievances about how the clients are lazy, bad, and destined for prison. There was also a 45 minute segment devoted to rants about transgender individuals as well as other gender and sexual minorities.

yes

My heart left severely bruised. I am not going to go on a feminist/social work rant about diversity, acceptance, compassion, and inclusion because I need to set a boundary on this. If I absorb the toxic energy that was spewed all over us at the training today I will burn out before this semester is up. This stuff does not belong to me. My truth is my truth, theirs belongs to them. All I can do is my part within my role and hope that it is enough to counter balance whatever toxic messages my client may be receiving in other areas.

After the training a story was shared with me that also hurt my heart. It was about one person’s divisive behavior and the pain it had caused. There is a post I have been holding that I want to share so badly that is related to this, but this is the one time since I started this blog that I feel truly unsafe doing so. I will write this truth at some point in the future, for now it will have to wait.

Finally I got home and was having a mindless moment on social media when I saw that a friend from the program was being bullied over a political post she wrote. What is worse is that apparently the bullies were her actual family. Let me say that again in case you missed it, Her family was bullying her on social media. I messaged her with a short word of not committal encouragement just in case she needed to see a bit of good in humanity today like I did. Apparently it was the right move. In her response to those degrading and patronizing her she was open and respectful, this seemed to inflame the situation though rather than temper it. It was like they were mad she wasn’t reacting and meeting them in their place of aggression. She and I had a short conversation about living in our truth and the joy that comes with belonging wholly to yourself without that need for approval from others, including family.. I think it was what we both needed. I am glad we were able to show up for each other and ourselves like this.

There is a lot of really bad scary energy moving around out there right now and people are feeding on it like a feral cat over a rodent. It is frightening but that is just it.. All of this negativity is rooted in fear. So all I can do is wake up each day and do my part to meet it with love.

So here is where I am at.. For the staff that struggled in the training today: I was able to take a perspective about what they were saying that helped me understand where they were coming from. It is in part culture, it is generational, it is tradition, it is pain, and it is fear. It also probably much more, but for now that is where I am stopping and I can have compassion in all of those places. I can have compassion, understanding, and appreciation for cultural differences and for generational differences. I can have understanding and make space for a person’s beliefs and for tradition. And I can absolutely have deep compassion for pain and fear.

yes2

For the divisiveness that led to the emotional pain of another. Again, I think this was in large part cultural. There is a piece of me that earnestly believes the divisive individual is not being deliberately malicious or hurtful, I think that is a cultural barrier present. There are other things at play here as well but part of my truth in this moment is that this individual and this situation was sent as a test from the universe to make sure we(who are involved and impacted) are doing our own work.. Our soul work. So I thank this person for what they are bringing me personally and I know the person on the receiving end of the pain will rise up to meet her lesson in this as well because that is the kind of person she is.

Finally my friend who was verbally and emotionally assaulted by her family. I send you light and love tonight dear soul. I know how hard it is to step into your truth possibly at the cost of family. Your journey is not for them though, it is for you. You are right, you have NOTHING to apologize for, and I applaud you for figuring out in your twenties what took me 30+ years to recognize.

My wish for all those I wrote about tonight is that we are able to all move forward on our path living unapologetically in our truth. My your soul find peace, may your mind rest, may your weary heart feel comfort. It is the best of times and the worst of times, just as times usually are. Tomorrow in a new chance for amazing things, I am grateful for that truth and the opportunity to live in it.

“Lists of How NOT to Treat Me” – A Self-Care Project – Part One

list

A perk of my current placement – no early mornings. Well, I still wake up at 7 every morning but I am not expected at internship until late morning/early afternoon so I have hours to myself in the morning and it is everything!

Sometimes I wake up and watch the news and have a dark cherry greek yogurt smoothie. Sometimes I hit snooze and cuddle with my family longer. Sometimes I wake up make green tea and do yoga to crystal bowls in the living room. Sometimes I take a little time to check in with friends. And sometimes I write.

This morning was a decaf coffee, cold veggie pizza left-overs, watching the news, checking in with my soul friend and writing kind of morning.

While on social media this morning I found a list (this post is all about lists) of local coffee shops that are well rated. I sent the list to my soul friend and suggested that we have girlfriend dates at some of them – this started a bigger conversation.

One of the reasons I love this particular soul friend is because she is a creative soul like me. She is a poet (my favorite, I call her the poetry queen), she paints with me (she is one of the first people I ever painted with because it has always felt so vulnerable to me), and she gets the deep emotional stuff. We have conversations that most people would never go near because as a society we like to numb not feel.

While talking I invited her to this art show going on next week because *Breaking News*: I am thinking about submitting a piece at this show next year. That is a whole other post though.

This in turn led us to talk about her art as well (poetry) and open mic nights. She is interested in going to more and I am certainly interested in supporting her in that. She was sharing with me a new inspiration she had about poetry in list form. She was at an open mic recently and one of the poets apparently read something like this and my friend was inspired. She shared with me her latest piece, a list poem, which was amazing, and then she said something I was so inspired by I nearly jumped out of bed. (Yes, I was totally eating cold veggie pizza and drinking decaf in bed while chatting with her – don’t judge me).

Our conversation went like this:

Soul Friend: I wonder what it would be like if people wrote lists of “how not to treat me” as a self-care project.. It could be from a parenting, romantic, friendship, or work life perspective.

Jillian: Yes!!!!! Sorry friend, I am stealing this as my next blog post! I will give you credit!

SF: Please do it! Even better if you or someone else is able to write something from it. I really like it for emotions that can be strong and scary to delve into like fear, hurt, grieving, anger – all things that take over but need to be addressed.

J: Right, it gives a bit of detachment like you said.

SF: Like a grocery list or to-do list for emotional preservation. I knew you would get it!

J: I more than get it, I love it! I am inspired!

Here is the thing, a list like this is not be rushed. I was struck by her stunning emotional brilliance a half hour ago, I certainly do not have my list formed yet. So this post is just setting the stage for the greatness that will come next. I hope everyone reading will take sometime through out the day, or week, or any length of time needed to consider this proposal…

What would your list look like? Who would you give it to? How would you hold others accountable for respecting your list? How would you hold yourself accountable? These are all the things I will be mindful of as I go deep and think/feel about my list(s). Remember you do not have to create just one list for everyone in your life, you occupy many roles, you may have multiple lists for your different identities.

With that I wish you all joy and abundance and I look forward to writing more on this as it forms for me.

I Owe You Nothing

owe-you

Guess what kind of post this is going to be…

Before I get started I would like to take a moment and go back to yesterday’s post about how I think it is important for clinicians who want to do therapeutic work to do their own work first or at the same time.. Here’s the thing, after I wrote that post I thought about for the rest of the day. Something wasn’t quite sitting right with me about it. So I just wanted to circle back and say again that I recognize not all clinicians do their own work, that does not mean they are going to be bad at their jobs or harm their clients in anyway. This post was born from a discussion that took place in a class. When talk of therapy came up, once again some people had a negative attitude towards the idea and that really does baffle me. Anyway, sometimes I write a post in my emotional voice because something has hit a nerve, I am not going to stop doing that – in fact the post I am about to write will absolutely be in my emotional voice. What I will do though is continue to process whatever it is that set me off in the first place because sometimes when we (I) are/am emotional and reacting to that we (I) get it wrong. And when I get wrong I like to circle back and say so. I absolutely feel the way I feel about the topic, I stand by the post in terms of it being my opinion on the matter. I wanted to be clear though that my opinion is just that, my own opinion.

So, my emotional feminist voice will be writing this post. My super awesome feminist friend at school wore a shirt yesterday that I loved. On the back it said, I owe you nothing. She said she wore specifically for me, I loved it. Loved loved loved. What is funny is that it turns out that was the exact message/reminder I needed later in the night.

I was in groups class, the topic of group was transference/counter transference, and towards the end of group the person who had us perform the sexist activity a few weeks prior put out a question to the group that had nothing to do with the topic of group. He was talking about how he was called sexist in his last internship over something he said and he wanted the group to validate for him that he is a nice guy (his exact word was chivalrous) and not in fact sexist. He looked right at me and even called me out about it, like he wanted my input. Um Nope. I am not touching that buddy.

  1. He was attempting to derail group and I was not going to help. That was not relevant and I thought it would be unfair to the two students co-facilitating to help him hijack their group. (Although in real life, this type of thing totally happens in groups, it has happened to me when I have co-facilitated groups in the past).
  2. Most importantly though, I don’t owe you anything dude. Just because I have been identified as a feminist does not mean it is my job to teach you about it.
    1. It is not my job to protect your frail masculinity. Oh no, someone called you out and now you need a woman to reassure you that you are actually a nice guy. Um, No thanks. Not interested.
    2. It is not my job to teach you shit. You could go read a book, or talk to a professor, or discuss it in supervision, or google that shit. But me being a woman does not mean that I am your walking encyclopedia on how to not offend women. Get real!
    3. I don’t owe you an answer. I do not have to talk to you if I do not want to. Just because you ask a question does not mean I owe you an anything. I am not required to engage with anyone I do not want to. Ever. Under any circumstances. Period.

Needless to say I gave him nothing. No acknowledgement, no answer, nothing. Two other women were clearly triggered and bit on that line. They schooled him on the bullshit idea of chivalry and how Yes, that was sexist. Then one of the facilitators even chimed in and that is how group ended. In a blaze of glory, completely off topic. Oh well, that is how groups go sometimes I guess.

Side note, I was triggered by what this guy  said no doubt. This illustrates my point about the importance of doing your own work though. When I am triggered, because it is going to happen, I realize it almost immediately and then I have a choice to make. I can choose whether or not to react to my trigger. Because I am doing my work through therapy and by having this blog as a way to release some of this stuff, I feel like I have better control over that which triggers me. That is not always going to be the case I recognize, sometimes your triggers sneak up on you and you are reacting to them before you even realize what is going on but I do feel more grounded thanks to the working I am doing on myself for myself.

And that is the end of that rant.

Awkward Shared Experience

I have about 20 minutes before I have to leave for internship so I decided to try to get this post out real quick because something interesting happened in school last night.

First I have to comment on awesome weather right now. Awesome is maybe not the word everyone would use to describe it, it has been raining for three days straight and probably will through the end of the week do to a tropical depression that is hanging out nearby. I love it though. I have my root chakra music playing and the rain is pounding in the background, I can hear it hitting the chimney and echoing down into the fire place. I think the only reason I ever didn’t love the rain was because I had long hair and rain/humidity made it impossible to deal with. Having no hair allows me to love the rain as I actually do, fully and with enthusiasm!

So last night I was in groups class where, you guessed it, we learn how to facilitate groups and everything about group dynamics etc. One of the ways this class is being run is that we, as a class, are holding group every week and two students cofacilitate the group. They have a topic for the group to focus on etc and it gives each of us a chance to both participate in a group and run one, lots of great hands on experience.

Last night was our first group, in my opinion it was a mess at times and super uncomfortable. The main facilitator, I say main because he did not allow the woman he was cofacilitating with have an opportunity to do her thing at all! So the main facilitator appeared to have A LOT of nervous energy that he did seem self-aware of at all and he did things that were perceived by me to be patronizing, sexist, and weirdly controlling. I thought it was just me, he definitely reminds me of a few men I have encountered in life that were problems for me so I was sure this was just an issue of transference. I was uncomfortable for the first 20 minutes but bit my tongue. 2o minutes in he asked us all to stand to do an exercise, he then proceeded to separate the men from the women (there were onyl two men other than himself so he forced – literally grabbed and forced- the professor to join group and line up with the men. Background information, this group’s topic was getting a job after school, we were supposed to discuss our concerns etc.
So he lines up all the men and then has the women count off from three breaking us into three groups. He then tells us, the women, to line up in front of the men based on the number he assigned each man and take turns shaking their hands while looking in their eyes passionately. Um.. What the actual fuck is going on??

He did not explain the purpose of the exercise, even after he did later it was not clear. It was perceived by a lot of people, men and women alike, myself included, to be an exercise where the men were teaching the women how to shake hands. My feminist pieces were freaking the fuck out. This was some sexist bullshit. Not to mention sexism already exists for women in professional environments, lets just go ahead and validate that by creating a sexist exercise that prepares us for the sexism we are in for when we get the job.

And what was the whole thing about looking them in the eyes passionately? When in a professional environment should we ever be looking anyone in the eye passionately? What were learning from this? It was so awkward and sexist I could barely breathe. Oh and one more thing, once we were all done being passionate and learning how to shake hands we, the women, were told to rate the men’s performances. Holy fucking innuendo Batman! Does this guy seriously not get how weirdly inappropriate this is?? Jeezo!

So after this debacle of an exercise we all returned to our seats to continue group. The energy in the room had changed, it was tense. No one was making eye contact, it was like we were all covered in shame or something. The facilitator was clueless, he could not read the room at all and pushed on calling on people who were volunteering to participate in the discussion etc. I was so triggered I shut down. I was done with this group and this dude. He apparently did pick up on this in me and called on me deliberately, I passed because in a group you can always pass there usually is not forced participation. My pass cracked open the group and things got real for the first time all night.

One of my colleagues I know well and who knows me well could read what my pass was about so she started the ball rolling. She raised her hand and shared that she was uncomfortable with the exercise we had just done. The facilitator seemed a bit dumb founded. I then raised my hand and explained how I felt (definitely using my I voice) that it was sexist and it spoke to sexism that already exists in professional spaces. I felt like the facilitator get defensive, I braced myself for a confrontation I had been trying to avoid, but before he had the chance to respond men and women alike were chiming in about their shared discomfort with the exercise. It led to a very meaningful conversation about sexism in the workplace and what women experience. There was lots of personal sharing of stories and insightful dialogue with the other men in the room.

For the record I still do not think this guy, the facilitator got it. At the end though the professor did say that the conflict my friend and I opened up about led to the best moment the group had. He said that was the only time we acted like a real group. Yay feminism.

Quite a few of us were still processing the whole thing after class. I am glad my friend shared, I am glad I called the sexism that was happening out. I also made sure to check in with the facilitator and make sure he and I were okay. He is hard to read, I am still not sure he understood any part of what happened. That is his journey though, he will get there when he is meant to or not at all, not my concern.

Letting Go of What Does Not Serve Me

borrowed identity

You know that voice in your head, the “not good enough” voice, the bully?.. Where did that voice come from? Who gifted you the negative messages that you play over and over? Does your truest self actually believe these negative things or are they someone else’s words or actions that you absorbed and have turned into your own personal torture device?

Maybe it is a little bit of both (most things are after all). Our internal bully can be made up of social messaging from society, messages received in close relationships, and things we say to ourselves that have a foundation in one of the first two.

Listening to one of our clients in group yesterday made me think about this. What the client was sharing made me wonder, Where did they first receive that message? As I was processing the day on my way home I was thinking about some of my own messages I have internalized over the years and who they came from. I had some major I show myself love moments on the drive home and have decided it is time to release some of these messages because I no longer believe them and they do not serve me.

I am crazy. That was a gift from a former intimate partner that could not cope with my depression and grief after the death of a loved one. I was in pain, a pain so deep it scared him. I release this message. It is not my truth and it does not serve me.

My body is not good enough. This was also a gift from a former intimate partner. My body belongs to me alone and I know she is worthy of my love. That is my truth. I release this message. It is not my truth and does not serve me.

I am manipulative. There were times when this was other’s truth about me. I recognize times in my life when I was without and did what I needed to make myself feel safe and loved. I am grateful to the pieces of myself that took care of me during that time. I send love and light to those I hurt with my actions when I was trying to take care of myself. I release this message. It is not my truth and does not serve me.

I am not deserving, I am not worthy. I release these messages. They are not my truth and do not serve me.

I am unlovable. This was one of my most painful messages, and one that I have had the longest relationship with. This is not my truth now because I love myself. I am worthy of love and I show all the pieces of myself unconditional love. I receive love from without and within. I RELEASE THIS MESSAGE. IT IS NOT MY TRUTH AND IT DOES NOT SERVE ME.

I know my truth. These messages can no longer hurt me. These words no longer have meaning in my life and no one will ever be able to use them to hurt me again. I am stable and safe, my body belongs to me and I am in love with it just as it is, I have everything I need to take care of myself, I deserve to be here and I am worthy of the goodness of life, I feel love, I give love, I am love.