Love and Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graduation Surprise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honoring the In-Between

in-between

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making

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

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

Here is what we made:

fire place2fire place

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

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

door wreath

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

It was a good day. I am grateful.

Infinite Ways to Add to Nine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I cried and cried.

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

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

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

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

I did it man! I did it!

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

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

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

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

naan pizza

We made three pizzas:

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

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

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

date night in1date night in

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

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

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

 

Party Pants On!

So something pretty incredible happened today when I woke up and sat in the reality that I am graduating in a few weeks, I am done with my internship and assignments at the end of this week, and I now have a job locked down.. I felt calm.

I know I have been carrying a burden of anxiety this semester (mainly related to my lack of clarity in terms of future employment), I did not realize how heavy that burden was until I finally set it down and allowed myself to take a nice deep breath.

That is exactly what it feels like to.. It feels like all year long I have been holding my breath waiting for this to be figured out and now that not only is this piece figured out but I am now also at the end of this part of my journey, I can stop holding my breath and take a nice deep breath in!

I am so excited for so many things and I finally feel like I can put on my party pants and celebrate! Lets be clear, my party pants are tie dye yoga pants, and me celebrating is pretty much me dancing around my own living room with the dog, but Yeah man! Let’s do this!

There is so much to look forward to:

I am FINALLY done with school! Which equals NO MORE PAPERS!! I love to write but on own my terms. I am so freaking excited to be done writing research papers and personal papers etc etc.

I am about to have my freaking Master’s degree! Suck on that not-good-enoughs!

I did an awesome job at internship this semester, got nominated for a few more awards, and ultimately conquered some major fears/insecurities. I had the growth experience I wanted to have, that is a big win in my book.

Soul Camp is next week. All kinds of excited about that.

I get a month off to relax and transition into my new position.

I got a job, huge weight off my shoulders there. And it is not just that I got a job, I got the job I wanted. Extra points!

Hubs and I will be traveling in May. Sounds like we will be meeting his parents in one of the iconic southern towns in a neighboring state and having a long weekend. I am excited to see my in-laws and just excited to travel in general. If his parents are unable to go, there is a chance that could happen, I think we may just do a beach trip but that is still welcome!

In September one of my soul friends/my hubs best girlfriend from college is getting married!!!!! My joy for her is unmeasurable. That will be another trip as she is out of state. It will be my first time in the state she lives in, excited to explore and celebrate her.

It sounds like the next Soul Camp will be in October and this one is going to be around sex. It is going to be HEAVY. Sounds like rather than just one weekend it will be a week long retreat. I am not a guaranteed Yes on this one. The subject matter is certainly relevant for me, I have a lot of really difficult work to do in this area. I think it will just depend on where I am at in my life. October may not be that far off but a lot can happen in a few months.

Then November we have another trip planned. This is the one I am really looking forward to this year, we will be going to the mountains with Lu.

I am sitting in a whole lot of gratitude right now. There is a lot to be thankful for. There is a lot to look forward to. I don’t know how I feel about the fact that I was delaying my feelings of joy, I wasn’t completely aware I was doing it until after I stopped. My party pants are on now though that is for sure!

Counting Down to Soul Camp

shadow work1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Employed!

The interview went well yesterday; so well in fact that a portion of the way through she flat out told me that based on how things were going she already knew she wanted me. At that point the conversation changed to this is how things work, what questions do you need answered to feel comfortable accepting the position?

I am glad that she felt as sure about me as I did about the position. I knew going into it that I was interested, I really just needed to see if she was going to throw anything at me that was going to be a deal breaker, and she didn’t.

I know that this is the next step on my path. As unclear as everything has been up to this point that is how certain I am now.

I am not saying that this is my dream job or that I will do it long term even, I am just saying I know that is where I am meant to be right now on my journey.

The true underlying purpose of this internship I just completed was to put myself outside of my comfort zone and do work that I was scared of and intimidated by. I didn’t fully know at the the time why that was important, I just knew that was what I was supposed to be doing at that moment.

Now I know.

I had to do that for myself so I knew I could. I had to shut down fear, and self-sabotage, and my not-good-enoughs by standing in the middle of all of them and doing it anyway. And doing it was not enough. I had to show myself that I could be as successful in that place of fear and uncertainty as I am in my place of expertise.

I am realizing that that fear and self-sabotage and shame are going to show up when I am doing anything that allows me to step into my power and truth. I also recognize they are doing it to protect me because for a long time staying small and hidden felt safe. Now I am going to create a new place of safety and it is going to be on the top of the mountain, not down at the bottom hidden underneath a bridge.

I know what my end goal is and I know that this is the step I am meant to take right now to get me closer.

I am excited about the opportunity for growth I have in this position. I am also scared, but that is good, the kind of fear that is showing up tells me that I am doing something right.

I am excited to be on my own for so many reasons:

They train me as I go, not before. I will be jumping in with both feet. That is going to be a huge place of growth for me. Of course I would like to be fully trained and prepared before ever taking on my first client. This might be a little painful at first but it is going to shoot my confidence level through the roof once I get through it, and I will get through it.

I will have support if anything comes up where I need it but I will not have a clinician with me at all times for me to check in. Essentially no safety net. Another tremendous growth opportunity!! I am going to have to learn to trust myself and my clinical instincts. This is self-reliance 101. I am scared and thrilled all at once.

I am responsible for diagnosing, and filing with insurance, and getting all the proper forms signed, and I will have hard deadlines for documentation if I want to get paid. This is all going to prepare me for when I am doing this completely on my own.

A lot of what scares me about running my own show one day is going to come up organically in this position I have accepted. I am have the opportunity to face and conquer these fears right out of the gate! I am still afraid of them but that is okay. I am going to do this work and I am going to be good and it is all going to be okay.

Like I mentioned before there are some clear downsides to doing contract work. It is not a steady income like being on payroll is for one. Ultimately though, for me, the experience out weighs any negatives. It is strictly clinical, I am making my own schedule, but most importantly this work is going to prepare me for my ultimate goal in a way no other position can right now. These are the fears I need to overcome right now and this job provides space and opportunity for me to do that.

I am grateful. I know I am exactly where I am meant to be right now and DAMN! Does that feel good!

yes

Sweet Spot

balance1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Bye Tour

the end

I was watching Girls yesterday – I have a love/hate relationship with that show but with that said I do watch it religiously- and the episode was called the good-bye tour. This fit so well for where I am personally at right now. Sending my gratitude letters to professors for their guidance and leadership, making my thank you gift bags for the social workers I worked with at the agency, scheduling lunches with friends from the program.. It is the good-bye tour.

I am finally at the finish line ready to cross. This moment has been a light in the distance for so long it is still hard to believe now that I am standing inside of that light finally getting to bask in the glory of accomplishment.

Another part of the good-bye tour is saying good-bye to this writing space. I was undecided for a while about the fate of the brain work blog, having this space ended up being so important over the last 5 years, more so than I could have ever imagined when I began writing. I did not know how to say good-bye, or if I even wanted to. I had pretty much made up my mind that I would just keep writing; but now that I am here I know the answer. I will be saying good-bye.

I will wait until May when I am officially done so I have a space to process all my feelings about graduation and the next life stage I am stepping into; but then I will close up shop and move on to the next thing. I don’t quite know what that will look like yet but yes, I will be writing. I have been writing since the age of 9, it is part of me, I will always be writing.

I know this is the right decision because every fiber of my being is telling me it is time. Time to make room for what comes next, the next big adventure, the next phase of life, the next stage of growth. Whatever is coming I just suddenly know that it does not belong here among the pages of my last five years, it needs it’s own space that it gets to define for itself.

I am both excited and sad. Good-byes are often bitter sweet. Saying good-bye to this blog will be much harder than many of the other good-byes I will be saying on this good-bye tour because this blog has been my true constant companion while on this journey. It has held space for me in a way no one else could.

I am so grateful to my old co-worker from the hospital that first suggested I start a blog when I was leaving work to return to school full-time. The idea she planted grew into one of the most important gifts of my entire college experience. Here I am, every version of me over the last 5 years. At any time I can come back and visit the parts of myself that still live on these pages. I could not be more grateful for that. This blog is my time capsule.

Soul Camp Meet and Greet

shadow work

Friday night one of my soul friends stayed over. She painted her nails while I laid across the guest room bed and we talked. We talked for hours. We talked about relationships and shadows and projection and writing. I had missed her so much, it was so good to be in the same room with her.

Saturday morning she left early, before I was even up, to get to a wedding out of town. I woke up, had my tea, and headed off to my therapist’s office where she was holding a meet and greet for everyone attending soul camp at the end of the month.

We did some light shadow work to prepare us for what we would be doing the weekend of soul camp. The two shadows that came up for me were self-sabotage and victim mentality.

shadows

I literally laughed out loud (so did my therapist) when these cards came up because this is exactly where I have been stuck.

I know this is where my work is right now, that does not mean I know what to do with it. It will come to me when it is meant to that, I trust that.

So I will be sitting with this leading up to soul camp and more than likely while I am at soul camp.

As for the rest of the meet and greet, it went well. There are a few new faces and a few familiar. I will be sharing a room with my roomie from last time so I am excited about that.

There is one new person who based on my limited experience with her at the meeting I can tell is bringing me some of my work. She reminds me of parts of myself I do have great a relationship with. She shows up the same way I do when I am nervous and while I can have compassion for that, it also makes me uncomfortable because of how I feel about this part of myself.

I think it is good she will be at soul camp because she we hold me accountable for working on the relationships with parts of myself that I prefer not to have positive relationships with.

I am also excited about some of what is being planned. All the work will be meaningful in it’s own way but it was shared that we will be doing a drum circle and I can’t wait. I loved the last drum circle we did, it was so healing after the negative energy that surfaced after the election.

Today I finished my last big paper for my policy class and by the end of the week I will be finished with all my assignments. Next week is my last week at internship. I met my hours the week before last but I decided to stay on until the end of the month so my clients experience a smooth transition going from me to the other counselors.

I do have a few interviews set up in the upcoming weeks but my main concern is just getting through these last few assignments and wrapping up at internship.

I am so grateful to be here, at the end after all this time. In a few weeks I will have my Master’s degree – I never ever thought I would be able to say that.

I am glad that I am ending my time in college with a retreat weekend. I think it will be a great way to release energy I have been carrying all this time. I think it will give me a place to process the shame I have carried all this time that made me feel like these were goals I could never meet.

Gosh this all feels so good.

The Marvelous Mundane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Symbolism

stevie2

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

woman I am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Gratitude Upon Gratitude Upon Gratitude

This morning I opened my email and soon after felt the familiar trickle of tears down my smile worn cheeks.

I mentioned that I am submitting a personal writing piece with the hopes of having it published in a magazine for women that I read. When I made this decision to step into this place of vulnerability I did so with the love and support of some of the women in my life. Before submitting this piece I knew I needed this support. I sent my writing to 5 friends whom I trust with my heart and asked for honest feedback.

These 5 friends were chosen quite deliberately. Aside from trusting them, I knew they would each bring a unique perspective. 2 of my friends have degrees related to literature and writing, all of my friends are well read, they all have a conscious mindset towards growth and self-love, they all fall in different places on the MBTI spectrum (ISTJ, INFJ, ENFJ, INTJ etc), and they are all creatively inclined in their own way. I have gotten meaningful, much appreciated, feedback thus far. For this alone I am grateful because I kind of sprung this on my friends last minute.

This morning I opened my email and found an email from one of these friends about my piece. I assumed it would be her feedback but it was so much more than that. This friend is a high school English teacher (almost all of my close girlfriends are either musical, social workers, teachers, or writers – I am clearly attracted to a certain kind of woman). The email she sent me was her student’s critiques of my work. I was so moved by this. She presented my piece to her creative writing class and asked them to critique and give me feedback as an assignment for class. Some of the feedback was so touching. I am not going to lie though, I was even touched by the student who only corrected a grammatical error. It was the fact that she allowed me to be part of her classroom in this way, she made something I created part of another person’s learning experience. And moreover, some of her students appeared impacted by my words.  This is what abundance feels like my friends. To make something that means something to you, that you have a deep personal connection to, and then find that it meant something to someone else as well.

At this point even if my submission is not accepted I am still so grateful. This has been a beautiful lesson in receiving.  Allowing myself to ask for support, that was almost as hard as making the decision to submit the writing in the first place. Then to allow myself to be open to the support I received in return, in all of it forms.. I am humbled. I am grateful. I feel infinite and loved in this moment. Thank you for that my friend. You touched my heart with this simple act.

Some of the feedback I received:

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This is What Abundance Feels Like

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

via The Harvest of An Idealist — Everyday Poet

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

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

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

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A Day Spent in Gratitude

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

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

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

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

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

My gratitude for today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sometimes You Just Need a Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Healing Through Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Came Back.

I had lunch with my best friend from elementary school Monday. This is the second time I have seen her since she has come back into my life and I can’t explain the feeling of having her back.

I remember dancing to Madonna and the Beach Boys in the living room. I remember having the same day beds in our bedrooms and wearing the same shoes and the same clothes and pretending we were sisters because neither of us had one. I remember selling purple cool-aid on her street corner because we didn’t have lemonade. I remember our brothers being best friends too and us both thinking they were nerds. I remember sleepovers every weekend, I got pink eye for the first time because she had it and I wasn’t willing to be away from her.

This girl is a big piece of my good memories. It feels good to have something good from that time in my life come back to me.

Not everyone comes back. There are a lot of uncertains in life. My brother walked out a door one day to go off to boot camp and there was no certainty that he would come back. It took 10 years before he was back for good. I walked out of room one day thinking I had more time not knowing that was the last conversation I would ever have with my papa.

People move. Relationships end. Lives end. You make promises about one day.. One day.. But the truth is you don’t know and you can’t control it.

To have someone so important and so good come back after so long.. It just hit me how rare and special that is.

Sitting across a table talking about big girl life with my best friend from childhood is a dream come true for my inner 8 year old . We were together then talking about our dreams and we are together now talking about our dreams.

The holes people leave in our lives may get smaller over time but it wasn’t until she cam back that I realized they never really go away. She cam back and suddenly I felt a bit more complete, that hole was once again filled.

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