Sometimes You Just Need a Day

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

need-a-day

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.

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Emotional Arsonist

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I was weary and ready for sleep tonight when it was time for lights out. I did not write yesterday because the words had not yet come to me. Then magically they appeared in the middle of the night as they sometimes do like a song stuck in my head. The longer I lay there trying to ignore them, trying to wait til the morning, the louder the song grew. Until there was only one choice to make, it is time to write.

I woke initially with a pain in my shoulder which makes sense because I am carrying a burden. A burden that weighs heavy on my heart and heavier on my soul.

Before I go further I would like to offer background for this post:
The Unraveling of a Family Tie
and
Boundaries are Hard in Families
will give some context to this post for anyone that wants it.

Out of respect for my family I have been doing what I consider shadow writing on topics related to family issues up to this point. For now I plan to continue to write in the shadows, I may feel differently about this as time goes on, that is yet to be seen.

So in these previous posts I have mentioned a long brewing issue that one family member is at the center of. In recent months another family member has become involved and when this took place a small flame was lit. A flame of negativity and malice, of confusion and mistrust. This small flame has resulted in a raging fire of destruction and disconnection that threatens to engulf my family.

Previously I mentioned that I am not the fire department and I hold no power to extinguish this blaze; that is still my truth. I am one person with a bucket though and today was the day I decided it was time to pick up my one bucket and use it before it was too late.

Up to this point this flame has been somewhat contained. There are two family members who started it and they have been trying to add small pieces of kindling but the fire has burned away from most of the rest of the family so we have been able to remain uninvolved with collective hope that this fire would burn out on its own given enough time. Today a flame from that fire licked my face and that was too close to comfort. It was time to set a hard boundary.

What took place was that my relative who is one of the fire starters emailed the entire family to speak their truth about another family member who they have a waged character war against. This was done as a way to further discredit this person and lambast their integrity. On this issue I remain neutral, this is not my quarrel. What I will not do however is accept any kind of correspondence that will cause further injury to my family. I did not read more than the first line of this person’s email, that was enough for me. From there I took a breath and decided to respond. My response was as follows:

_________________ ,

Please know that as I write this email I bear you no ill will. I believe that you feel that you are doing what you think is right.

With that said, I did not read your email and I will not read any further correspondence that means to further injure our family. When I say family, that includes everyone. You, ______, and _______ will always be part of my family and I will always have compassion for all of you, as I do everyone in the family.

I feel as though you have lost your way and I send you light and love during this difficult time.

As for  __________, there is nothing that anyone could ever say that would convince me that he is anything less than good hearted.

I hope we are able to heal as a family. The disconnection we are experiencing is hurtful and it does not have to be.

I am sending you love and forgiveness.

 

This was my bucket of water. This was my offering and my hope is that the healing energy of love and compassion would act as water to the flame. If not, I have at least set the boundary in an assertive way to let them know I will not accept this kind of correspondence going forward.

This person’s email was entitled “The Truth” and they spoke their truth. I took this as an invitation for the rest of us to speak ours.

I have remained silent and neutral up to this point, as the rest of my extended family has, for reasons I have listed before: hopefully this will blow over, it is none of my business, etc.

This is not blowing over, the flames are growing larger and the moment my relative sent that email to the entire extended family this situation went from being none of my/our business to this person making it our business.
There is a time for silence and a time for action and for me the time for silence ended the moment this person hit the “send” button and spewed this venom on the family.

I still remain neutral on the overarching issue because I do not believe it is my place to pass judgement on who is right or wrong. I might have my private feelings about that but I do not have the authority or the right to pass that judgement openly. I also do not believe that doing so will help me meet my ultimate goal for an outcome which is the healing and preservation of my entire family.

Judgement and anger and other negative emotions would only further insight this fire. To put out a fire you have to introduce a new element: sand, water, etc. Love is my water. Unconditional forgiveness  and compassion are my water. An invitation to heal is my water.

When I sent my response I replied all. No one else in my family had responded to this relative, this is still true. My hope is that I was able to set an example of love, an example that my family will have the courage to follow. My hope is that my family will see me here with bucket and join me with buckets of their own healing truth to share with this family member in an effort to extinguish this flame.

In the end we cannot control this person or their reactions. We are not the fire department and we may not be able to put out this inferno. I will not stand by with my bucket and feel useless though. I will not watch my family burn and do nothing when I have a bucket I can offer. My family may be doomed to burn either way but at least I know I did my part.

Tonight I send out love and light to everyone in my family, we all are hurting in the wake of this crisis. My hope and intention is the light I am sending out be the light that guides my family back to a path of love and connection. We have to come back to each other in love and connection to heal and be whole again.

 

An aside: When I got out of bed to come and write I did what I normally do when I write in the middle of the night. I lit my candles to bring light and love to darkness, I lit my salt lamp with the same intention, and I made myself a cup of tea. Then I took my tea and nested in blankets on the couch for comfort. The tea I often make for middle of the night writing is a brand that has what I think of as “love notes” on the tag. When I looked at the love note on my tea it was as though the Universe knew what I am trying to do with my healing bucket of water and was sending me support and assurance in its own way.

cosmic-support

 

Truth Telling

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Last night after my revelation I closed everything down and went back to bed. It was 4:22 when I climbed in next to my pup and my hubs; as I did he stirred and then got up to go to the bathroom. When he returned he asked if I was okay and what I was still doing up. I told him I was fine and that I was writing and that I have things I would like to tell him but that it could wait until morning because clearly it was late and we were both tired. He smiled and said okay, told me he loved me and I slipped into a deep dreamless sleep.

Five hours later I woke up. We all did. Each of started to stretch and look around at each other and cuddle. We let Lu out, got her breakfast, got our own breakfast, and then scooted back to bed to eat and talk.

I put on oils in the bedroom, a mix of peppermint and lavender for clarity and calm. I lit my candle, I have many candles in my home but one is special, it is my candle, it’s light is there solely to support me. Then we crawled back into bed, him with his oatmeal, me with my peppermint tea and we started a new chapter in our relationship.

I told him that I experienced a shift last night and that I understood things I did not understand before and that I wanted to share these new realizations with him. Before I started I explained to him what I needed from him while we talked and that was space to be honest without it feeling like too much. He did not think that would be a problem.

He listened as I talked and when I was done, before moving on to another part of my epiphany I waited for feedback or questions. He was on board with everything, all of it. He understood everything I was saying and was open to all forms of honesty in our relationship. I made sure he knew that the standing invitation that he had always held for me, I was holding for him too. I am going to honest with you, in all forms, please trust me enough to know you can be that free here too. Our love is strong enough to hold this for us, it will only make it stronger. We agreed. We will move forward in this relationship without editing ourselves for the sake of the other. We will be real, and honest, and authentic, and build a deeper love on this.

Then I did something I have never done. I asked for help in my dark place. My therapy is what my therapy is, we are still separate from that part of my work because only I can do it. But there are other things that could get better if I ever trusted anyone enough to ask for help. He has shown me I am not too much, I am not asking too much, I am lovable, and he is not only willing but wants to help me should I ever ask. So I asked and he said yes. He is going to help me with practical aspects of overcoming my PTSD. We are going to work together to try and make me feel safe in ways I never have before.

This request was my very first step towards taking him up on his invitation of honesty and love.

Our relationship does not come up often in therapy because he is not something or someone I have to heal from. I realized though that he could help me heal. And that by being open to accepting his help I would also be opening myself up to a deeper level of trust within myself and in the relationship. I am learning to trust myself and trust him. I am learning to love myself and allow myself to be loved.

This is big stuff. It makes me think about the intention I started the year with, transformation. That is what this is. It is transformation, it is a learning and unlearning of love. I have been planted and now I am starting to sprout and grow.

To Know True Love You Must First Be Honest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whole Hearted Authentic Practice

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It is really important to me that I am being true to both myself and my clients when in a therapeutic relationship. I have talked about this before when discussing how me doing my own personal healing work will only help me become a better therapist. Also I will not ask my clients to do work that I would not be willing to do or am currently doing or have done previously myself.

I have been thinking about this throughout this week because I am finding that many of the clients I have had recently are bringing me some of my work. What I mean is they are mirroring back for me work I have either already done or versions of the work I am currently doing myself. It is interesting.

Today I had a whole session with a client around body positivity and unconditional love. The client made a comment about how unconditional love does not exist, this client is currently struggling with feelings of abandonment. I helped reframe that statement discussing how in our outside relationships with other people there will be boundaries and that boundaries are how we maintain healthy relationships with others because it allows us to love others and feel connected without having to abandon ourselves. The client was framing conditions in a negative light so I attempted to reframe conditions as boundaries and help the client see how boundaries create healthy relationships. I then used my “I voice” to share my own opinion around unconditional love.

I explained that personally I do believe unconditional love can exist and that it is how we love ourselves. Unconditional love, unconditional acceptance, that is what we strive for in our relationship with ourselves. We explored this a bit and I asked the client where they feel comfortable starting on this journey towards self-love. The client came up with an idea for a chart where they will set an intention, or choose a positive word, or do an affirmation everyday that is a message of self-love and then track how many times throughout the day they are able to use it to balance any negative self-talk they experience throughout the day.

I was really impressed with my client and decided that in solidarity I will do this same exercise for the rest of the week privately. This also helps me keep with my intention of not asking my clients to do work I would not be willing to do myself. This is something I do pretty regularly anyway but it is not a consistent everyday practice. I will be curious to see how many times I will need to redirect my own thoughts back to my intention of the day if they start to get negative. I am looking forward to feedback from my client and to see how they do with it as well as tracking myself and seeing how difficult it is for me to be mindful in this way.

 

Where Am I?

When I returned to school I had a very clear plan:

1. Get BSW degree
2. Get MSW degree
3. Get job in healthcare
4. Get Licensed
5. Get job at Dream job at UF
Health Cancer Center

There were a bunch of sub goals I set for myself as well. Like 1A. Volunteer and gain experience with Hospice. 1B. Make a name for myself in social work circles. etc..

And up to this point I have no complaints. I have met and exceeded every single goal I have set for myself. What I realized along the way though is that maybe I wasn’t dreaming big enough. With each goal I have set I have pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of which tells me I have been underselling my abilities all along.

This is a really awesome realization, don’t me wrong, but the truth is now I feel a bit lost. Lost in the right direction for sure, but lost none the less. My end goal has changed, it is much bigger than anything I would have ever allowed myself to dream of previously, which is exciting! The thing is though, I am not there yet. So what next?

I applied for a position I was recruited for and if that works out I will let it, I do not want to try to control my direction too much right now. I am in a “whatever comes let it come, whatever goes let it go” mindset right now.. With that being said I still do need to be proactive to some degree though. I plan to apply for other positions as well and then just see how things fall. But I just don’t feel pulled towards anything specific right now.

I have done so much to prepare myself for this next great leap and I have loose plans that will ensure my continued growth in whatever direction I take but I just do not feel like I can see what is ahead of me right now.

When I was making my vision board last weekend the area around my professional direction in 2017 was cloudy. Words like clarity and be clear and insight were coming up for me.

It feels a little scary and that makes sense because the mental/emotional block I am experiencing in the area of professionalism is fear of success. Fear of truly stepping into my power, my greatness. Truly allowing myself to be seen and going after what I know my true life’s purpose is.

So I guess the intention I want to put out into the universe is that of clarity. I want to make a deal, if the universe makes deals, I won’t try to control the outcome if you provide me with the clarity needed on the next part of my journey towards my ultimate dream.

Usually something feels right, even if I am afraid, and I know that is the direction I am meant to go. But right now nothing is speaking to me, I don’t even hear a whisper. Well that is a lie, a total lie in fact. I do hear a whisper, I just do not know what it means. If this whisper holds the key to the door please give me clarity so I know.

The Sacred Pause

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We have been taking pauses our entire lives. When we are children it is yelling time out!! during a game so someone can get a drink of water. We take a break to go to the bathroom. We pause the TV or a movie to answer the phone or get a snack. We allow ourselves to be interrupted by coworkers and loved ones and to respond to the basic needs of our bodies. We pause without true recognition of the pause.

At the agency I am working and in the field of social work in general we talk about the importance of self-care and how to practice practical self-care daily. One thing that comes up is taking breaks during the day. Take time for lunch, don’t eat at your desk. Or Step away from your computer once in a while. Or Take a moment to get up and stretch.

I consider these mindful pauses. We are being deliberate in this action. We are taking purposeful action to take of our brains and bodies by giving them a break through out the day. What if we, as a society, were committed to taking that mindfulness a step further. Transform that mindful pause into a sacred pause.

To me the sacred pause is the true answer to intentional self-care, it encompasses not only taking care of the body and mind but the heart and soul as well.

For example:

Take that break to step away from the computer by going outside and sitting on a bench and let the mind wander or rest quietly.

The stepping away is not enough to constitute a true sacred pause (in my opinion), you have to allow for solitude when you can throughout the day and for your mind to rest. If you are stepping away from your computer to go speak to a coworker about work, that is only speaking to one aspect of self-care, the physical. What about all the other parts of you that could benefit from that break. Challenge yourself to step away and leave whatever you were doing behind both physically and energetically. It is not a true break if you step away but are still running lists of things you need to do etc.

The sacred pause speaks to our need to reflect and  to reconnect with ourselves, to be at peace in a moment of stress or chaos, to show ourselves the kind of love we show others by making all aspects of our own well being a priority daily, even for a brief moment.

I think the sacred pause also helps with CONTROL. I capitalize this because for those of us (yea, I am absolutely included in this statement) that have issues with control we know very well that control can feel like this, big and all consuming. The sacred pause allows us to practice letting go, even for a moment. That can be a really important baby step.

This morning I was awake before the sun. I am leaving shortly to continue my two day workshop experience about setting my intentions for the year and recognizing the blocks that are present that could lead me to self-sabotage or just generally stand in my way of manifesting these intentions. When I woke up this morning I lay in the darkness of our room and words started coming to me..

Reawaken. Reconnect. Connection. Love. Suffering. Disconnection. Rediscover. Discovery. Reclaim. Roots. Wings. Foundation. Earth. Build. Truth. Sacred Truth.

The work I do with my clients is sacred, it will always be sacred no matter where or how I practice. The same is true for the work I do with myself. I am doing sacred work to discover my own sacred truth and the sacred pause is an extension of that that I can incorporate into my daily life. I wake up every morning with the unspoken but very present intention of having my light turned up for the world, I now understand that by making myself a priority I am allowing myself to feel the warmth of my light as well.

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