Honoring the In-Between

in-between

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Girl and the Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

the girl and the sea

Don’t Drink the Water

I often have a cup of tea when I am creating, particularly when I paint, and this is tricky.

I have definitely put my dirty paint water mug up to my lips before and just barely stopped short of drinking paint water thinking it was tea. So naturally when I saw this today I laughed out loud.

dont drink the water

This is an awesome idea but let’s be real this would make zero difference for me. My power of observation is so poor it would still be a crap shoot even with properly labeled mugs. I mean, the paint mug I use is this ugly dark green plastic camping mug, it looks and feels nothing like my tea cups and I have still had a few close calls.

Something else I saw that I totally responded to was this:

doubt

This is so a thing it is unreal! haha.

This was my inner dialogue today when I was sitting on my floor cushion piecing together my wreath:

Yeah.. I got something here, this is cool as hell.

Wait.. That’s not quite right. Shit The glue already dried. Shit. Fuck.

What the fuck am I doing? This is crap. Absolute crap. Dammit!

Okay, now wait a second.. If I just.. Okay, okay, that’s better.

Hell yeah man. Not bad girl. You got this.

The creative process is literally just one long sequence of celebration, cursing, self-doubt, and euphoria. It is a confusing awesome roller coaster that I never get sick of riding.

Making

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

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

Here is what we made:

fire place2fire place

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

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

door wreath

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

It was a good day. I am grateful.

Infinite Ways to Add to Nine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I cried and cried.

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

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

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

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

I did it man! I did it!

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

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

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

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

naan pizza

We made three pizzas:

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

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

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

date night in1date night in

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

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

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

 

Counting Down to Soul Camp

shadow work1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

I Need Some Time to Take Care of Myself

I said this to my mother today after she said something to me that was an instant trigger. My mother knows how to push my buttons. Of course she does, she created them!

The moment I felt myself losing control I showed up for myself: I need to get off the phone. I am upset and I need some time to take care of myself. I love you, I am not mad at you but I am upset and I need to not be on the phone right now. We can talk later.

It was important to me that I spoke my truth and got off the phone as soon as possible. I did not want to be pulled back in, my mother often tries to pull me back in.

Mom: Well I don’t know how to respond to that.

Me: Yes, I understand this might be confusing for you and I am sorry about that but right now this is what I need. I have to get off the phone, we can talk later.

……Silence……

Me: Mom. I really need to do this for myself right now but it is important to me that I am not hanging up on you so can you please let me know that you are okay so I can go?

I look down at my phone. She had already hung up on me.

Jokes on you kiddo.

I stood there in my fury and rejection and cried. Here I was needing to take care of myself but still putting her first. I was afraid of how my just hanging up the phone would make her feel while the whole time she had already it done it me. I was trying to mother my mother who was not mothering me. The only person I needed to be mothering was myself. And that is just what I did.

A half hour later my dad was calling. This is typical. This is one of our patterns. Mom and I fight, Mom tells Dad, Dad smooths it over. Nothing is resolved, just ignored. Dad is the reset button.

No thank you.

I turned off my phone and spent the rest of the hour taking care of me and mothering my inner child that felt completely rejected and destroyed by her mother.

I do not know how I have the clarity of mind to even write this right now. My mother is tornado, her path of destruction is wide and I am often left in utter shock and confusion in the emotional wake of it all.

I still do feel a bit shell shocked but I this time I showed up for me and that made a difference.

inner child

You are a Wackadoo

This is what my husband said to me tonight when I demanded that he smell my book and stuck the open pages up to his face.

Me: What does that smell like to you?

Hubs: An old book! Get out of here man!

I am currently rereading one of my absolute favorite books of all time; On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt.

It was my mother’s book. It smells OLD. My husband was certainly right about that.

The book has a faded cover that was once a dark navy with a black binding. Now the edges are tattered and the binding is turning white from being bent too harshly over the years.

On the bottom left corner of the cover there is a drawing of a flower vine I created years and years ago as a girl when I first read the book.

On the inside written in cursive are the words Carlton Arms. This was my parents first apartment complex that they lived in together as newly weds in their early 20’s, it makes me wonder if my mother stole this book from some little library they had at the complex. Ha! I literally solved the mystery of where the book came from right after I wrote that sentence. There is a brown piece of tape at the bottom of the very first page under the cursive inscription. I held the page up to my lamp to see what the tape was covering and underneath was a ink stamp that reads: Library Winter Park Memorial Hospital.

Maybe my Mom was a little crook after all. She worked at that hospital and that is where my brother and I were born. One way or another sounds like she snatched the book. I am glad she did, I would never have read this book if I hadn’t run out of my own books to read when I was younger. With no other option I read one of my Mother’s books and this title intrigued me.

I have many favorite books. This is primarily because I have a very hard time picking singular favorites. The best I can do is pick top 3s or top 5s. Never a definitive this is my one true favorite though.

Every few years I read this book. I never get tired of the story. Every time I read it I learn something new about both the story and myself based on my current phase of life. I don’t think I will ever stop loving this book and while I don’t have a true favorite when it comes to my books, this one is special.

So many books I read have a deliberately weathered look with pages that have been tattered by some machine to give them interesting texture. This book came by its distress honestly though. This book has been loved hard. It smells like dust and aged paper, it is fragile and some pages are close to falling out. You can’t get this feeling from a kindle. This book has had a life, a good one. It has been loved.

I am excited to come back to something familiar and precious. It feels like the right time to revisit a story that fills my heart with all the good stuff.

Okay little Lenchen, give me your best.

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.

Basket of Dreams

basket of dreams

Some girls grow up with a hope chest. A chest filled with hopes and dreams for a future filled with love. I did not. No chest of hope for me. When I started the social work program 3 years ago I did have hope though, hopes and dreams of a future as a healer. I took those hopes and dreams and started filling a basket with them.

Over the years I have found pieces of a future I am trying to manifest, they all went into my basket. Symbols and sounds and textiles that all meant something to me and that I knew would one day have a place in the healing space I would be creating.

While I was in the Capitol we stopped by a store where I found a few more items for my basket. When I got home I took inventory of what I have collected over the years. Just a few things but all very much filled with hope for a future filled with love.

No one made a hope chest for me when I was a girl. I was not granted that consideration. I created my own hope, I started collecting pieces of my dream, and one day my hopes and dreams will live in a space of my own making and I will know I did this. Me. All by myself.

Highlights from the Capitol

The trip to the Capitol had some absolute high points. For starters, it is a beautiful city. There are many cute cafes and boutiques, there are Live Oaks and Magnolia trees all over the city which makes it feel less like a concrete jungle. There are a lot of darling details. Not to mention our hotel was fantastic. It had just been remodeled and they paid close attention to the finishing touches, it was something to behold for sure. This post will be a photo recap of some of the highlights from the trip.

I have to start with the pool because that is where we hung out most of the trip.

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6

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The pool was on the 4th floor of the hotel so it had a pretty spectacular view of the city and was the best spot for sunsets.

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In general the views from the hotel were impressive. At night the Live Oak trees around the hotel would light up with twinkle lights. It was magical.

8

The first night in the Capitol we went for a walk to the Capitol building by way of one of the many urban parks in the city.

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The second day in the city we went to a local bookstore and cafe for lunch. After we were driving back to the hotel and happened upon this awesome little wooded area. The city is full of mature trees, I really loved that. We got out of the car and walked around for a bit, it was serene. There were birds chirping and everything.

I know I had A LOT to say about the difficult social component of the trip in previous posts and there were parts that definitely were difficult but there were times that took my breath away as well. In the end it actually was a pretty well balanced trip. Sure I wish I did not have to experience some of the awkward interactions and am still processing where I could have led from a more compassionate place but this trip also helped me practice a lot of important things. Self-care, boundary setting, assertive communication, self-compassion, remaining flexible, professionalism.

I am pretty introspective by nature so I know I will be processing all of this for weeks to come and realizing deeper truths about myself based on how I showed up on this trip. I hope that everyone else who went on the trip takes the same opportunity. It is okay if I did get it right the whole time, what is important is what I learn, how I grow, and the love I am able to show myself when I know I got it wrong.

 

NF Types Managing Conflict: Part V

Everything went well at the Capitol. We got into a meeting, took our notes for our corresponding assignment, saw some friends and professors, and then headed back to the hotel to leave the city and head home.

When we got back to the hotel our friend was still not feeling well and blaming the new med. I had my own human reaction to that as well, why would you start a new antipsychotic med while you are our of town?? The truth is I was struggling with compassion because my frustration over violated boundaries was so intense. I am not proud of this but it is my truth and although I had trouble finding my compassion for the friend in that moment I can still try to show myself compassion when I have human reactions and struggle showing up as my best self.

So in order to make her comfortable for the car ride home we agreed to flip the third row of my SUV up so she could lounge back there alone and rest during the ling ride home. The agreement we all made when this decision was made is that everyone would have to take some of the luggage from the back up in their seat/row with them for the ride home because when the third row is up I lose almost all trunk space. We were able to fit one suitcase and a few small items in the trunk and the rest was displaced around the car.

I went to the lobby to check out while the girls solved the puzzle of where everything would now fit in the car and when I came back I was shocked to find that the second row had been filled to the brim with luggage and bags. The friend in the back took NO LUGGAGE. Um, excuse me princess, we had an agreement. Some of this shit is yours, you need to hold it back there with you.

Of course my sweet ENFJ friend had ended up with all the luggage next to her while the other two (who were both nursing hangovers but trying their best to disguise it) took nothing. NOTHING! I was pissed. This was just one more inconsiderate move from these two and I was over it.

For the sake of time I let it go and we got on the road. I was driving for roughly 45 minutes when my navigator/hung over friend up front decided to inform me that I was on my own in terms of navigating the GPS because she needed to take a nap. NOPE.

I immediately pulled over and made her get in the second row crammed into next to all the luggage and brought my ENFJ friend up front to navigate for me. We were both well rested as we got a solid 9 hours of sleep the nigh before, I was not playing games with the other two. It is a good thing too because we encountered bad weather the entire ride home and my ENFJ friend was not only navigating for me she was keeping updated on the weather radar and accident reports so we knew what was happening ahead of us. At one point we drove through a weather system with tornado warnings, I was thankful to have an attentive friend up front helping me navigate us safely home.

The last bit of nonsense from this trip actually occurred when we arrived at my home. The trip was over, everyone unpacked and left except for my friend from the third row on the pysch meds. She is not allowed to drive right now because of all the meds she is taking but she did not bother to arrange a ride home for herself. Apparently she was planning to either squat at my house until someone could come for her after work sometime or she was planning to put me on the spot and ask for a ride home. If she had discussed any of this with me at any point over the three days we were away or even before the trip I would have been more understanding but she never said a word. We got home and suddenly she didn’t have a plan and I was stuck with her.

I was exhausted. I had been dealing with her nonsense for days, I had just had a packed day, and driven four hours! I wanted to let my dog out, take a hot shower, start making dinner, and flop on the couch for a much deserved nap. I told her I had things I had to do and that it would not be convenient for me if she stayed. I told her she was welcome to call a cab or an Uber.

I left her in my drive way for a moment to figure it out while I went inside to let Lu out of her crate and take her potty, when I came back she had a plan. She said her boyfriend works 5 minutes from my house and he was on his way to get her. Great. I told her she was welcome to wait in my garage until he arrived. I know that seems cold, I didn’t even invite her in but after all that had happened I was not willing to take chances. She had taken advantage and tried to take advantage in so many ways with her behavior. I was not going to let her in my home so she could squat. It was easier to not invite her in than to invite her in and have to ask her to leave after she over stayed her welcome. She had already overstayed her welcome as far as I was concerned.

25 minutes later her boyfriend was no where to be found. I asked her what happened and she acted shocked that he still wasn’t there. She started texting and then said how he had gotten caught up and it would still be a while. I offered again the idea of the Uber, I really have to get on to these things I have to do, this is a bit of an inconvenience, no offense.

A few minutes later her boyfriend arrived and she got in the van leaving me with all her luggage. She literally left her luggage in my car for me to load for her into the van. That is IT! I showed her boyfriend where her stuff was and he loaded it for her. That was that.

I need sometime to get over the downs of this trip. Feelings were hurt, I personally felt disrespected and I know I am not the only one. I do think a few relationships were damaged beyond repair in terms of maintaining a friendship but I know professionally it will be okay. I don’t feel good about how I showed up at times but that is my NF piece that hates dealing with conflict. All this boundary setting that had to happen and use of assertive communication, it was so uncomfortable. I am not usually very rigid but when I feel violated I absolutely go into self-preservation mode. I know my friends are dealing with a lot in terms of personal issues but I do wish they would have practiced better self-care for everyone’s sake.

Of course there is room for bright spots in this and a big one for me was the level of bonding that came between myself and my ENFJ friend. We were both so uncomfortable and I think we both did a good job of being kind but firm and supporting each other in this as it was hard for both of us. I also feel proud of how I stood up for myself. I was not a doormat but I was not overly harsh either. Although I did not like being put in a position where I had to set boundaries and use assertive communication I think I did well overall. I was drained emotionally when she finally left yesterday though and did end up going to bed early after plenty of family cuddles as a way to take care of myself.

NF Types Managing Conflict: Part III

While on this trip one of the topics that came up was MBTI. My one friend, the one who had never been in crisis, just recently took the test for the first time and discovered she was an ENFJ. We all talked about our different types together. I am INFP, another is INFJ, this friend is ENFJ, and the last friend said she has never taken the test but I am pegging her as an INTJ.

My ENFJ talked about our similarities at length regarding our two types since we are both NFs. One similarity is that we both abhor conflict and avoid it all costs. We are both peace keepers. One of the things she was processing with me over breakfast when it was just the two of us one morning was how she has trouble boundary sometimes because she is very self-sacrificing and does not want to hurt others. I get that. I have struggled with that as well and I have other ENFJ friends who I know have sacrificed their own emotional well being at times for others. Some of my best friends over the years have been ENFJs, including a few of my current soul friends. I think NFs are naturally drawn to each other because we process the world similarly.

These talks we had helped both of us support each other over the trip as we did have to start setting some pretty rigid boundaries with our friends on the trip.

The first boundary came when they were buying alcohol. My ENFJ friend and I knew we would not be drinking. We had to be up early, look professional, we would be in front of our professors and colleagues from the program not to mention elected officials, and then we would be in the car for four hours. It was going to be a long day. My ENFJ was not willing to risk the hang over. For me this was a no brainer because I stopped drinking all together last year.

We made it clear to our friends that they could do what they want but the plans were what they were for the next day and we would not be changing plans if someone was not feeling good.

We then decided to move my ENFJ friend into my room for the night so she would be able to rest and not get caught up in any possible alcohol induced shenanigans. We did not mean to assume the worst about our friends but they way they were talking at the store was not encouraging.

That night after I had called hubs and checked in for a while I invited my ENFJ friend into my room. We took turns in the shower, talked for a while, watched the amazing light show put on by a lightning storm out our window, and then read our books in bed together until bed time. We were asleep by 9:30.

It was a nice evening. I felt as comfortable with her as I do with any of my people that I am close with (family, soul friends, my husband). I know it is because of our similar personalities. Even our E and I are similar. While yes, she is an extrovert, she is an extrovert that needs quiet alone time because she gives so much of herself when she is out in the world. And while yes, I am an introvert, I am a social introvert because I spend so much time lost in deep thought that it is necessary for me to come to the surface and be social in my own way in order to maintain balance.

The one area we realized we differ is when it comes to our J and P parts. She talked at length about her need for control. Not in an overbearing, manipulative way. It is more of just needing to have a plan and be prepared for possible outcomes. She is very on top of things (hence her arriving 15 minutes early to my home on the day of departure). Where she struggles is when things do not go as planned or she does not have options in situations meaning that control is lost.

I related to her when she was talking to me about this. I think everyone has this piece. My control piece may function differently than hers and may not be as prominent but it is there.

The next day our concerns were confirmed and I have to say I think the two of us did well in supporting one another while we both tried to maintain control over the situation, be flexible when needed, and deal with conflict through boundary setting.

 

NF Types Managing Conflict: Part II

So continuing with this story..

The morning of arrived. I booked my own room at the hotel and then went about my morning preparing for my friends to arrive. I started packing the SUV and got all my essentials together for a road trip: first aid kit, lots of bottled water, health snacks, my tea and tea cup..

At 11 my friends started showing up. First came my friend who was not experiencing any kind of crisis. She was 15 minutes early. We sat in my living room and caught up while waiting for the other two. Next came my friend that had been in crisis the night of the concert. She seemed good. Bright eyed, bushy tailed, excited for the trip. That was a sigh of relief. It’s not like expected her to show up and be a mess but I had not seen her in a while and that was a scary last interaction we had so I was just glad to put eyes on her and know she is okay.

While we waited for our last friend we all talked excitedly about graduation and our internships. I was starting to feel hopeful about the trip, maybe I was worrying for nothing.

Our third friend showed up and the energy shifted. The moment she showed up we wanted to get on the road. It was a long drive and we wanted to get there in enough time to get dinner and catch sunset by the pool.

She came into my house and sat down and held everyone hostage for 15-20 minutes talking about her mental health status. I was pacing around asking everyone if needed to use the bathroom, sending all the nonverbal cues that Okay, let’s go..

Finally I interrupted her and asked her if she was going to need to use the restroom because we needed to go. While she went to the bathroom the other two piled into the car.

The next four hours consisted of this friend giving everyone her entire families mental health history. I understand this is a big thing that is happening in her life right now and she needs to process it, it was the way she went about it that was brutal. It was a verbal explosion that just kept coming. She threw so much at us that my brain started to go numb. She was not breaking to take a breath. It was nonstop for four hours. Plus, it was TMI. We are all surface level friends. We know each other from school. The stuff she was sharing was way too personal and it was uncomfortable.

By the time we arrived I was so glad to be in my room. The room had already paid for itself in terms of saving my sanity.

I got into my room opened the curtains to look out on a beautiful view of the city and then flopped on the bed and called my husband.

After a little while we all left for dinner, had a nice meal, and returned to the hotel for sunset at the pool. It was a nice evening. We had an early night and I spent the rest of the evening skyping with my husband, reading my book, taking a nice long hot shower, and watching the goings on of the city at night from my window.

The next day had more ups and downs starting in the evening. The trip was planned as a relaxing end to our 3 year journey through the social work programs. It was also a trip related to school though. We were in the Capitol for advocacy day. One of the days we were in the Capitol we would be going to the Capitol building to sit in on committee meetings and meet with our elected officials to advocate for bills and policies relevant to the populations we serve. We went up early to make a vacation out of it but there still was some responsibilities we had to attend to as well on this trip.

The night before our big day at the Capitol we were at a store picking up a few snacks and a game to play at the hotel that night. We knew bad weather was heading our way and that we would be stuck at the hotel so we got what we needed to have a nice night in. For two of the girls this included booze. Myself and my friend who had never been in any kind of crisis before were not drinking and tried to gently remind our friends about how early we had to be up the next day for our day at the Capitol and that we had a long car ride home after. They were resolute in their decision saying things like “I can hold my alcohol” etc. I am sure you can, do you need a whole bottle to yourself though? I ended up telling them that they are adults and I am not their mother, they are responsible for themselves.

That was me setting my first boundary in regards to this particular situation. More boundaries had to be set from there.

 

 

NF Types Managing Conflict: Part I

I got back from my girls weekend yesterday afternoon and I have a few posts I would like to share. I am starting here because I have not uploaded any of my photos yet for the other posts I plan to write. There is a lot for me to process so this post will be broken into multiple parts.

The trip had it’s ups and downs. I guess that is just reality because all things do but I was not expecting there to be as many downs as there were. I mean we were on vacation, you don’t go into it expecting issues.

This first post will give context for the second by giving background information leading up to the trip.

It all began a week before the trip. I was getting ready for the Stevie Nicks concert, my Mom and Aunt were on their way to my house and then one of my friends who was going on the trip texted me and was in major crisis. We are friends but she is not one of my people who I share any parts of my own personal struggle with, I was surprised she was reaching out to me. My surprise quickly changed into concern based on what she was saying in the texts, they were dark. I kept encouraging her to reach out to her therapist or at least her Mom or boyfriend. Whoever her people are they needed to know what was happening. She finally agreed to reach out to her boyfriend and we left it at that. It did not sit right with me though so the next day I followed up.

When I spoke with her the next day she tried to minimize the whole thing. I wasn’t comfortable with that. She had a plan, that is all I will say. I was pretty assertive about her needing to speak with her therapist so finally she agreed. I did  not ask to be involved in this but if she was going to involve me I was going to cover my own butt and hold her accountable for taking care of herself.

As our trip grew closer my anxiety began to grow..

What if she has another emotional crisis while we are 4 hours away? What will I do? I don’t want to feel responsible for her. I don’t know what her triggers are. Is it fair to the other girls going that they are in the dark about all of this?

I called two of my own trusted people to process what happened and ask for advice. How do I get through this trip now that this has happened?

My people both advised me to call the two other girls coming on the trip and fill them in so that way we are all prepared if the one goes into crisis while we are away. I did not feel good about this. It felt like I would be breaking the first friend’s confidence if I told the other two. My people convinced me though that it was necessary because it was a safety issue and it was to not only keep our first friend safe but to give the others a chance to consider what they will want their boundaries to be on this trip knowing this information.

I called both of the girls a few days before we were scheduled to leave and I shared just enough information so they had a heads up without actually sharing anything that was said. The first friend was understanding and we agreed that this trip was supposed to be a relaxing trip and that we would both do our part to keep things light and positive while away. The other friend dropped a bomb on me when we spoke.

After I briefly filled her in she said that she was glad I called because she had something to tell me. Apparently she is in the process of being diagnosed with a severe mental health condition and would actually be starting a new anti-psychotic med while we were away on our trip. She assured me that she was stable and was not concerned that any of this would be an issue for the trip. Her assurances did little to ease my anxiety however.

I was not worried about the diagnosis. I believe all things are manageable with the right interventions. My concern was that she would be starting a very heavy medicine that she has never been on before while we are out of town. What if she has a negative reaction? The possible side effects are extensive.

This was just another layer of anxiety to add to the trip for me. I felt responsible for these girls in a way because I was driving. I would be their only mode of transport while out of town. If something were to happen I might have to be taking people to the hospital etc. etc.

This bomb was dropped one day before we were scheduled to leave. This friend explained that she planned to tell the other two so I felt no obligation to warn anyone like I did with the first friend’s issue. I was becoming less and less excited about the trip itself though. This was not shaping up to be the relaxing trip I had hoped for.

The morning of departure arrived and I woke up early still riddled with anxiety. After weighing all my options with hubs I decided to book a second room at our hotel so I could have my own space. One of my big concerns was that it is so a long drive and I was going to need to be relaxed and well rested for our return trip. Having my own room would help with that. It was not an easy decision to make though. We had chosen a nice hotel for this trip. While the rooms were affordable split between four people it was a small fortune when I was paying for it myself. I kept telling myself that I am worth it and that my sanity and self-care is worth it.

I was right. That room saved the entire trip. If I had it all to do over I would pay twice what I paid for the room because having my own room was priceless.

Avoiding Our Mirrors

mirror

This week I have started working with two new shadow pieces that have popped up; blame and denial. As I work with all these shadow pieces that are surfacing (entitlement, self-righteousness, blame, denial, judgement, manipulation) I am fully aware that they are all connected to something bigger: victim mentality. Victim mentality seems to be the big one, at least right now, and all of these shadows I am getting to know and learning to have compassion for I think are bringing me closer to my real work which is around my own victim mentality.

So, what I am learning about blame and denial so far. What I have found as I work with my shadows is that when they first pop up it is easier for me to get to know them by projecting outwards first. After this projection I am able to clearly see where I exist in all of it and how I use these shadows in my own life. I did this as I was getting know entitlement, I did this as I was getting to know self-righteousness and manipulation. It is hard to bring these shadows home and embrace them. If I speak in generalizations first I think maybe it is easier for me to see them objectively and then I can invite them in and make it personal.

When I first started working with denial I thought about everything I have learned in terms of triggers. Often we become triggered by some outside stimulus and want to blame the stimulus for triggering us rather than take any accountability for our own feelings and the work we should be doing around these triggers. This is denial, right? This is also blame.

Our triggers are our mirrors. Denial is refusing to acknowledge the mirror exists. Blame is acknowledging the mirror but refusing to see ourselves in it.

I know this to be true because I manipulation, and entitlement, and self-righteousness were some of my big triggers and I can see where I personally followed this pattern of denial, and blame, and victimhood throughout my life when it came to these shadows.

This is all I have so far with denial and blame but I am sure as I continue to work with these two shadows more will surface that will bring these two shadows home.

 

 

 

Tomatoes from the Vine

It has been our favorite kind of weekend: quiet. Saturday we spent time with family. In the evening I stepped out back alone and wandered through my parents garden sniffing basil leaves and picking small red tomatoes sweet from the sun. As I flicked a tomato into my mouth I looked up to see a group of birds flying over head away from the sunset, I decided it might be a good time for a walk.

Hubs and I took Lu and my parent’s pug Scout for a walk to the lake near their home. On the way I loaded the pockets of my overalls with rocks and stopped to pick flowers. When we got there Lu on the shoreline while hubs threw rocks across the lake and Scouty sniffed the clovers. I love watching hubs throw rocks across the lake. He has a good arm from all those years playing baseball, he would disagree with me but that’s what I think anyway.

Today we went to the grocery early and got the makings for black bean burgers and vegetable orzo soup this week. When we got home I set myself up with my sketch book and got to work. I have been wanting to finish my Thickety painting since I stepped away from it but I have never drawn or painted a deer, I was nervous that I was going to mess up my beautiful forest with any attempt I make. I tried a few different drawings in my sketch book before I finally started painting on my canvas.

Truth be told I like my sketches better. It is a solid first attempt though and although my little deer did not come out as I had planned I do not think it ruins anything either. What I really like about him is how I was able to mirror the diseased fungus that plagues the rest of the thickety. In the book it describes so vividly how every living thing is covered in the moss and rancid fungus.

thickety

Next weekend I am going out of town with a few girlfriends from school for our last hurrah before graduation. I am looking forward to laying by the pool and relaxing for a few days.

Spiritual Bypassing

spiritual bypassing

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

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

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

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

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

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

shadow

Honoring My Inner Child

One night I walked into the living room of the house I grew up in and announced to my mother that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. She turned off the TV, turned her body towards me.. I had her full-attention. I explained my business plan for the restaurant I was going to open where all the food would be free so no one would ever be hungry.

I was 10 years old, I was an idealist, and without knowing it I was taking my very first unconscious step in the direction of my future: social work.

When I think back about the girl I was (and still am in many ways) I know I have made her proud.

I know because I never got too old to pick flowers, and never too cynical to see my flowers as weeds. I know because I never gave up my dream of healing the world and never stopped believing I was capable of spreading love on that level. Proud because I took deliberate action towards creating that healing space in the world through my direction with social work. Proud because I went back and picked up all of my pieces and started my healing and vision of love with me, as it should be. I know because I feel the warmth of that little girls sunshine still beaming from my body.

I made that little girl proud. I did that.

May I walk through the rest of my days as certain in this truth as I am now. That little girl had a plan to heal the world, and I know I am making her proud.

magic