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.

Righteous

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

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

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

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

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

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

She emailed me back the following:

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

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

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

My second thought has to do with pureness and goodness.

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

spicoli

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

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

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

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

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

Wrong.

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

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

righteous

For now I found this and it felt true.

 

A Glorious Mess of Color and Noise

drum

A little over a month ago I shared that I attended a meditation/sister circle that ended with a drum circle. Let me tell you about this drum circle.

After we concluded our formal meditation we went outside. Set up around a stone fire pit were 8-10 hand drums set in front of a circle of corresponding chairs. Each drum had a slightly different shape, some were more squat and wide, others taller and more slender. They also had different designs, some were plain without much color, others had elaborate detail and were wildly colorful. Each of us took a moment to decide where to sit based on which drum spoke to us. I ended up choosing a squat drum with a colorful pattern.

Once we had chosen our drum we were encouraged to get acquainted with it. We all took this to mean different things, some people banged on their drum to familiarize themselves with the sound, others rubbed the top and sides to see how it felt, I grabbed mine around the middle and hugged it.

After this moment spent with our drum the real fun began. We were guided at first, we were taught the different ways to hit the drum in order for it to make different sounds, we were also taught how not to hit the drum in order to avoid finger injury. After a few moments of practice it was time to begin. Our leader got us started, she began her beat and the way it worked is that when she felt ready she would look to her right indicating that she was ready for that person to join in, this went on all the way around the circle until everyone had joined in and we had many different sounds playing all together.

During another point our leader brought out all kinds of fun hand instruments for us to try. Some opted to stick with the hand drum, others sounds that joined in were that of a wooden hand instrument that when played sounded like a frog, there was a high pitched bell similar to a wind chime, there were bells more similar to what you would imagine on a reindeer harness, I played an egg shaker during this time, there was a cow bell as well. All our different unique sounds played together made a glorious mess of noise.

At first all of us were intimidated. I think only one of us, other than our leader, had ever participated in a drum circle before and there was a fear of doing it wrong. I have said before that it is a very vulnerable feeling to allow yourself to be free and create in front of others, the trepidation at the beginning of drum circle speaks to that very truth.

What if I cannot keep the beat? What if I sound stupid? What if everyone looks at me? What if I am too loud?

5 minutes in all that fear washed away. We played with our eyes closed towards the beginning so we could focus on the sound instead of each other and that is when the connection happened. That was the meaningful take away from this experience, the connection. To be able to make your own unique sound that is just yours and is not swallowed up by the noise of any other but to be able to also connect with the collective noise. I was just one drum, just one shaker, just one person.. but without me the group would not have sounded the same. There was no right, there was no wrong, all that mattered is that my sound was heard.

creative

This brings me into the next part of this post. I have been incorporating art into my practice with my clients. I cannot call the work I have been doing art therapy because that is something you have to be certified to do and I am not, but I am creating a space for my clients to express themselves creatively in order to help them with some of the work we are doing together. Art therapy may be on the horizon for me at some point.

One of my focuses with this internship is to give myself space to figure out what kind of therapist I am going to be. What unique thing do I bring to this field? How will I let my unique light shine? Art is certainly part of that because it is a very big part of me. One thing I have learned about myself while in this internship is that I am the kind of therapist that quotes Bob Ross. haha. (Yes I just laughed at myself, I do that. Often.) When I have been leading a creative arts group or working on an art project with a client during individual session I have definitely quoted Bob Ross on more than one occasion. Of course I have. That man knew what he was talking about:

There are no mistakes just happy accidents.

If you don’t like it, change it. It’s your world.

You need the dark in order to see the light.

I mean, yeah. He got it.

Creating this kind of outlet for a person allows them to get out of their head and be free for a moment. It allows them to put down their judgements about themselves and the world and let an inner voice speak. In a world full of black and white ideas about how things are art allows us to step back, call the world on it’s bullshit, and play with the full spectrum of color. Because life is a glorious mess of color, black and white is a myth of existence.

I am grateful for the personal lessons I have learned through allowing my own inner voice to be heard through art, and music, and other creative outlets I make for myself. I am also grateful that this is an area where my light is turned up and I can share my truth with my clients and help them to find their own. This is what makes this work special, this is what makes life special, it is all about finding your own unique voice and knowing how important your contribution to the collective is.

 

Shine a Light

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

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

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

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

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

shine-your-light

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

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

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

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

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

Reprieve!

Today I was given a gift by the county in the form of time. I had jury duty today and was dismissed early after never being called. This left me with a free afternoon which was much needed and appreciated!

The day was not a bed of roses by any stretch though. Here is how it started..

I woke up early, packed a bag of activities (text books, my latest novel, two coloring books, a journal, colored pencils, markers, pens..), packed a lunch (PB&J with apple slices and a granola bar) and kissed hubs on my way out the door. I was running early but I was nervous so I prefered to run early. Nervous about what, I honestly don’t know.. Finding parking and figuring out where I needed to go I guess.

So I am on the road leaving the neighborhood and I notice the car is making a very faint squealing noise.. Then I come to a stop sign and when I set on the brakes the car begins to jump and shake. What fresh hell is this?!

I immediately made a right turn and circled the block back to our house. Hubs came out to investigate and I was sitting in the driveway in a jumping, shaking, squealing car. He popped the hood and announced it was probably a slipped belt.

Well that was that. I was not going to be driving to the court house. Plan B – I hitch a ride with hubs. On our way out of the neighborhood I called my soul friend to see if she would be around later to possibly drop me home if not I would call a cab. Cabbing it is no big deal, from our house it is only a 10.00 ride.

Traffic was absolute mayhem on the way to the court house and took three times longer than usual but it was okay because I had been running early so there was time built in and we were together. We chatted until hubs dropped me off then I was on my own to figure things out – that part was seamless and a complete nonevent.

Sitting around today was not the worst thing that could have happened. It was a forced life pause because everything stops when you get a jury summons. It was an opportunity to catch up on some reading, let my mind wander and be creative through coloring and drawing, and just think in general. It was really nice.

Over the lunch break I found a few really lovely quiet areas where I could enjoy the cool breeze in the shade of some truly gorgeous trees.

Upon returning to the jury holding area I plopped on a couch near a window and read an old readers digest I found until we were dismissed. It was not a bad day at all.

I did end up calling a cab but that was also a non event everything went as expected.

When I got home in the afternoon Lu and I went to the park, I cleaned the kitchen, caught up on laundry, picked up the main living area, and am getting ready to work on a paper for a while. Typically I would be on break between classes right now and getting ready to go into a class that keeps me on campus until 10pm. Between jury duty and the car breaking down I will not be doing school today so the rest of the night belongs to me and my little family.

Yesterday I wrote about how jury duty was coming at the worst possible time. Today brought with it a new perspective; jury duty could not have come at a better time. Instead of seeing it as a hassle I am so grateful for the pause it provided for me at a time when a deep breath and hitting the reset button really made all the difference.

perspective

Fight, Flight, Total Freak Out

All the bad energy I have been talking about for weeks came to a head this afternoon as I was driving home from internship and it was terrifying.

There is a point on my drive home from internship where the road I am on merges with oncoming traffic. I am usually timid as I make this merge because typically there is a lot of oncoming traffic and the ptsd I have related to a previous car accident keeps me cautious when I drive. So I got to my merge today and there was a lot of oncoming traffic, it was a Friday a 4:45pm so this was not surprising.

I was slowly inching down the merge lane waiting for my opportunity to get in when the car behind me started blaring on their horn. This alone was really startling for me, I wasn’t sure what they were honking for. I looked in my rear view to see the lady behind me screaming (I am not exaggerating here, she was screaming) and waving her hands around in a motion that I interpreted as her wanting me to go. Go where? There was a solid line of at least 4 or 5 cars, there was no where to go until this clearedShe continued with his behavior and laying on her horn until finally there was break in traffic and I was able to finish merging. While I was waiting for traffic to clear I waved back at her trying to signal that Yes I hear you, I will go when I can. It was no use, she was unrelenting.

I was rattled. Her behavior was over the top. My nervous system kicked into over drive.

Once I was able to merge she let off her horn and I thought it was all over. I was wrong. She proceeded to tailgate me down the road, practically sitting on my bumper. All I could think was please don’t cause an accident. Please don’t hit my husband’s car.

My turn for home is not far from that merge area so soon enough I was in my turn lane, again thinking I would be done with this lady and the whole situation. Wrong again. She was turning left too. Then I thought Oh crap. She is one of my neighbors.

When I turned left there was a car coming but I had time to turn, the lady behind me turned left in front of the car cutting it off. I drove down a few blocks and she continued to tailgate me, staying dangerously close to the bumper of my car. I came to a four way stop sign, I needed to go straight but something told me not to go straight home. I turned right. Almost without stopping she turned right as well. I then turned left, she stayed with me. At this point I called my husband. I was not far from home and I did not know what to do. Should I go home? Should I call the police? Was she following me or was she a neighbor?

While explaining to my husband what was happening I decided to pull over to the side of the road to see if she would pass me. She didn’t. She pulled up behind my car. I immediately started driving again. That was all the confirmation I needed. I was around the corner from our home, I asked my husband to come outside, that I thought we would need to call the police but that I wanted to get her plate. I made my left turn at the last stop sign before home and instead of following me she hit the gas and went straight.

I was only partially relieved.

I got home, parked, and immediately went inside. I was shaking so hard my husband had to hold me. I laid on his chest and mimicked his deep breathing until I was breathing normally again. I did not stop shaking for 20 minutes.

After processing it with my husband what we think happened is she saw me on my phone and after the maneuver I did to confirm she was following me she assumed I was on the phone with the police. She made sure to drive off fast and in a direction where it would be very difficult for me to get her license plate information.

As my husband was walking back through the whole situation with from beginning to end I found myself trying to make sense of everything. Why did she do that? I just do not understand. My husband tried to explain that she probably had a bad day and was taking it out on me through her road rage. Ok, but I still do not understand what about me and the way I was driving set her off. There was literally no where for me to go. If I had gone forward like she wanted me to I would have caused a massive accident.What did she want? What was going on inside her head?

I have never been involved in road rage before. I am a very cautious driver, I always let people in, I do not speed.. I just do not see myself as an obvious target for someone’s aggression in this way, especially in this specific situation. I mean if it was what my husband said and she was projecting her anger on me that is scary. This woman allowed herself to get so wrapped up in it that she was following someone home. What did she think she was going to do once I stopped? Was she going to confront me? Was she planning to get out of her car? I mean to what end was she planning to take this situation? And again why?

This all just goes back to the really bad energy stewing our there right now. It does not matter how zen I try to be or how committed to keeping balance and perspective I am.. I cannot control the rest of the world.

Let this scary situation be a voice in the back of all of our heads the next time we feel ourselves feeding into negativity.. To what end? Why? What am I hoping to accomplish with this? 

We are all in this (surviving life) together folks. Lets not make it harder on ourselves or each other. Be kind. Show love. Forgive. Take a breath. Be patient.

It all may sound cliche and recycled but this woman forgot all of it today. We are capable of getting caught up in our own negativity or the negative energy swirling around out in the world. We all have the potential to forget. So be mindful, be kind, and be grateful whenever you can.

Although this lady sent me into a full on ptsd episode I still trying to find compassion. I know it is hard, I am sorry you are struggling with whatever it is you are struggling with, I am sending you light.

Dis-CONNECTION

unplug1

Last night a line was drawn in the sand. It all started when I was sitting on the couch writing. My husband was watching a news program, probably 60 minutes, and the reporter began reporting a very specific violent act, I immediately told my husband to change the channel. His response, they are not showing it, which was his way of telling me not to listen and just focus on what I am doing. Okay, Yeah fine BUT I cannot completely turn my ears off AND why do we need this information? I could have gone my entire life without knowing this very specific information – it was being reported on for shock value.

Later we turned on The Walking Dead.. Anyone who watched this show and watched last night episode might already know where I am going with this based on what I just shared above..

We have been watching this show from the beginning and there are absolutely times when I have had to skip a week because the episode was too violent. When this happens Todd will usually report the highlights to me so I can be caught up for the next week while editing out the parts he knows I cannot handle. Last night was different though.

I know there are probably people who would have things to say about my objection to the level of violence portrayed and that is fine. I think we all have a line though (at least I would hope most people do) where they say Okay that’s it, too much, I am done. I only saw a few seconds of the violence the show portrayed, normally when a violent scene comes on in a show or movie I close my eyes/ears. Even the few seconds I saw though was too much. And per hubs, it only got worse so it is a good thing I left the room when I did.

Admittedly my threshold/tolerance for this kind of thing is very low, like 5 year old level. So between what I overheard on the news and the little bit I saw on the show, I was a mess and went to bed crying last night while hubs comforted me and tried to remind me of all the good in the world.

I woke up this morning and did not turn on the news. I proceeded to unfollow a lot of my political feeds on social media and am taking other steps to insulate myself from the darkness of the outside world. That’s right, I am going full on ostrich-head-in-the-sand.

I have felt the toxicity of the outside world seeping into my bloodstream for a while now, a big part of it is all the coverage of the upcoming election. And regardless of what anyone thinks about this, it is what I know I need right now. I cannot sustain going on this way. I need a break.

Sometimes we need to disconnect in order to feel connected. I think it is healthy and essential to unplug every now and then.

Every single day we are exposed to so much pain that we become desensitized, some of us less so than others maybe. I can feel my nervous system buzzing with negative vibrations and the thing I fully recognize the stuff rattling around in there does not belong to me. I have to cleanse myself.

I am no less of a feminist, or social worker, or activist, or concerned citizen, if I take a time out to take care of me. In fact truthfully, I should probably do it more often.

Do you know what happens over the weekend when we are far less likely to watch the news? The world keeps going just as it would if we were tuned in AND we get a day or two of emotional/spiritual/mental peace and rest. Self-care exists on many levels – emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, social.. So of course we (referring specifically to my hubs and I) feel rested after the weekend because we have unconsciously spoken to many self-care needs just by having this habit of less technology and news on the weekend.

In my twenties I used to love Sex and the City, I found super relatable to many of my relationship issues etc. I watched it a lot and as a result I can still quote many of the episodes. There was one episode where Carrie was meeting a man for a first date and he teased her for running late and not wearing a watch.. Carrie’s reply was a tongue in cheek comment about how she does not need a watch because finds someone will always tell her the time, which is exactly what her date had just done.. That is kind of how I feel about all of this right now. I am not going to miss some huge world event because I “stop wearing a watch” someone will let me know, I will hear about it. I do not have to subject myself to all this negativity, it is okay to unplug.

So this week I am allowing myself to do just that. I have decided to go online only to write on this blog and as needed for my internship/school. No social media though and no mindless internet time. I am taking a break from NPR in the car and instead will stick to my more soothing Pandora stations. No news this week, no violent TV shows; in fact the only TV I plan on watching is my two favorite shows which are both artistic in nature and prerecorded so I can fast forward through toxic political commercials.

We will see how I feel come Sunday. I may find that one week was enough, I may discover the disconnection felt better than the alternative and stick with it longer, we will see.

Either way this is my way of giving myself space that I need and right now that feels super important to me.

unplug

Oh My Aching Heart

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

yes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being Mindful of Our Power

mother earth1

I have been sick all day and as a result I am now unable to sleep. I laid in bed, slept for an hour, and then was woken up by my symptoms. I laid in bed for another hour awake and then decided it was time to get up and go to the couch until I get tired again. I have my book and plan to read for a bit, that usually makes me groggy, but first I wanted to write this post because I had been brainstorming it all day.

This morning Todd got up before me, I took medicine for my symptoms last night that made me sleepy and left me with an enormous exhaustion hang over this morning which is why I chose not to medicate again tonight. So he got up and was feeling ambitious. He kissed me goodbye and headed out into the world to run errands. When he returned 20 minutes later I had moved from the bed to the couch but that was the extent of my ambition for the morning. Todd was still on a roll though, he decided today was the day he was going to get on the roof and cut back branches from our Live Oak and Camphor trees. As it stands both trees had branches that were hanging so low they were laying on the roof. And last week the Live Oak dropped an enormous limb onto our neighbors garage causing enough damage to warrant repairs, it was time for action before this happened to us.

I accompanied Todd to the backyard to ensure he made it safely on to the roof and hand him up his tools and then came back in to rest. We had a system where I would come out every 15 minutes to check on him and if he needed me at any point he would pound on the roof 3 times. This went on for two hours.

He accomplished a lot, he swept all the leaves and debris from the roof and cut back many low hanging branches that could have been problematic in a bad storm. At one point during one of his breaks to drink water I was talking with him from my spot on a bench in the backyard and I made an observation about some of the limbs he had already cut that were laying in front of me. I was noticing all the signs of life in these branches and I started getting really sad. Some leaves were chewed up and were clearly a food source for the tree’s inhabitants, some leaves had little seed pods/egg sacks on the back of them showing again how this tree gives life to the world around it. As I was expressing my sadness over the fact that were wreaking havoc on an ecosystem Todd mentioned how he had made similar observations while he was working. He said that there were lots of insects living in the leaf debris laying on the roof, he was essentially catapulting all these creatures along with their home on to the ground when he swept. He also mentioned that as he sat on the roof pitch talking to me there were two squirrels on the roof with him that were trying to get into the tree from the roof and he was realizing he had just removed their access by cutting back the branches. The squirrels did manage to get into the tree but still, we both were very aware of the impact we were having on a lot of life with our actions.

This was hard for me to sit with. Even as I was dragging the massive branches across the backyard to throw in what is becoming a bit of a compost pile, I was thinking about the life I was disturbing as I crossed the yard. It has been a very wet week in Florida thanks to Hurricane Hermine and as a result our backyard is littered with mushrooms of all shapes and sizes. I certainly destroyed a few as I did my work today, although I did my best to avoid as many as possible.

When it was all said and done I felt torn between gratitude for the hard work and commitment my husband had given to the upkeep of the home we share and melancholy over the impact we had on our backyard’s ecosystem. What repercussions will our actions have on the life surrounding our home?

This is my INFP self all the way. I realize there are people who do their yard work, or maybe hire others to do it, and do not think twice about what any of it means on a broader level. I do though. I also realize that I do not pay much attention to things like the cost of gas, while others are maybe a bit more mindful in areas like that. There is no judgement in any of this, it just highlights differences in perspective.

I spent a good part of the day laying on the couch being sick and thinking about what this all means and how I feel about it. I don’t have it all figured out yet, it relates to a bigger theme I am working on in my life right now having to do with my impact on the natural world around me. What I will say though is I am ultimately okay with the actions we took today because for us it was a matter of safety. I do not want my family to be one of those families on the news who had a tree destroy a significant portion of their home. As home owners we have to do what is needed to tend to our property and keep it from falling into a level of disarray that could be potentially dangerous. With that in mind I also feel it is important for us to be mindful of the power we have to destroy and sustain life while we do what is needed to keep our home safe. There are a lot of fragile living beings on our property and it is important to me, and Todd too I think but maybe not in quite the same way, that we are mindful of our impact on their existence.

I feel like there is more I can be doing in terms of protecting the life on my own property as well as on a more global level but I feel even being mindful in this way is a good starting point.

As I finish this post I am thinking about my gratitude. I am grateful for my connection to nature and the earth. I am grateful for a heart that sees things my eyes alone cannot. I am grateful for a life partner that gets it. I am grateful for safety and being with someone who goes out of his way to make me feel safe. I am grateful for time to rest and reflect. I hope that the life we disturbed today is able to bounce back, and if some of it is not I am sincerely grateful for the sacrifice that was made to keep my family safe.

mother earth

Casually Heroic

casually heroic

I stumbled upon this a few weeks back and was a little surprised by the entry for INFPs. Heroic? Doesn’t seem to fit. Not too long ago, sometime over the summer, I wrote about how my Dad called me brave. I didn’t know what to do with that because I just do not see myself that way at all. I am afraid of the dark, and some shadows, and sudden unexpected anythings. Pretty much anything can be scary to me given the right set of circumstance. Brave? Heroic? No. Not me.

I sat with the whole brave thing for a few weeks after that exchange with my Dad, trying it on for size, seeing if it fits. You know what, it does. In my own way I can be very brave. It is quiet though, it is under the radar so it doesn’t feel like BRAVE the way most of us think of it. It is though and I am and I know this now.

I have been doing the same thing with this. Casually heroic.. I have been trying it on or size, trying to see if it fits. It does. I think using casually as a qualifier is what makes it fit. Like if Dad had said you are brave in a quiet, under stated way I would have accepted that a lot quicker. I do not see myself as capital B brave, but lower case brave, Yeah. Same with this. I am not capital H heroic but lower case h, casually heroic, Yeah I guess so.

Bravery for me is speaking my truth when I know I will not be validated in it. It is making a decision I know is right for me even if no one else will understand. It is being constantly focused on growth opportunities and not allowing fear and anxiety to hold me back. These are brave acts, especially when acted out by a girl who is afraid of many things.

Heroism for me is taking care of myself. It is body slamming a dog who is attacking my dog, the hell with the consequences. It is giving my boss the Heimlich when he is choking on a french fry, I kind of saved his life. Here is the thing about all these heroic acts, I did not want to do any of them. I wanted someone else to take care of me, I was afraid of that dog, I did not know how to help my boss who was choking. In each of these moments of crisis I did it because I had to, because there was no one else. Casually heroic to me means showing up in the critical moment and doing what you know you have to do to help.

Recently I have presented with all these new ways to look at myself. I am not a coward, I am brave, I am heroic. I am not broken, I am healing. This all part of letting go of messages that no longer serve me and inviting in new realities.

So Small in a Very Big Place

astronomy

4 years ago I left the professional world and returned to school full-time. It was a big left turn in my life, one of the biggest (best) leaps of faith I have ever made. My first semester back in school I arbitrarily signed up for an astronomy class because I needed a science credit and I thought the class would be interesting. To this day, and after all the other wonderful classes I have taken, astronomy is still at the very top of my list as one of my favorites.

I was thinking about my astronomy class and professor last night when Todd and I were leaving my parents home. My parents live in what is considered the country for our area, lots of cow pastures, no street lights, some paved roads, some dirt. One of my favorite parts of visiting them is leaving in the evening, and as I typed that I realized how bad it sounds! Let me elaborate, I enjoy leaving because at night in the country you can see so many stars, much more than we can see downtown, and they shine so brilliantly! Last night the sky was clear and full of bright white star light, it was stunning. I stood there outside our car for a few minutes to take it all in. This is when I thought of my old professor and everything he taught me about how vast the universe is.

Something happened to me after I took that class, it changed me a bit. I learned so much and some of it was pretty overwhelming. I remember feeling so insignificant and small the day I learned about how big the universe is and that fact that it is still expanding, I wrote about it in a post called A Smooth Sea Never Made for a Skillful Sailor.

That class made me claustrophobic in a way. Since learning everything I did about us in relation to the enormous everything that exists beyond us there have been times when I look up at the sky and feel like the planet is too small, I do literally feel a bit claustrophobic. It seems silly right? The sky is so high above me, how could it feel like it is closing in? Well it does. When you think about how big everything is beyond the sky suddenly the planet feels like a marble in a open field that has no ending point.

I think it is okay to feel this way sometimes. It gives me perspective when I get hung up on a baking disaster or any other conflict, how much does it matter in the grand scheme of things? I try not to dwell to long either though because it can kind of make me feel like what is the point of anything too.

Last night was a gorgeous night and I felt small as I looked up at the asterisms and planets above me. I considered how far away they must be, and wondered what was way out there where they exist. Sometimes just looking at the night sky can reset whatever dialogue you have going in your head, or make you rethink the importance of your latest dilemma, I know that is the case for me at least. I look at the night sky and I feel small and infinite all at the same time.

neil

Day One on the Books

I did it. I made it through first the day of school. I made it through the traffic, finding a parking spot, trekking across campus and waiting in a 45 minute line to get my new parking decal, making it back across campus to class on time, and then trekking across campus once more to leave. There was a certain Tolkien-esk quality to the day with all the across campus nonsense, it felt like some epic journey and I felt like a hobbit at the gates of Mordor thanks to the blistering Florida heat!

I did it though and now day one is behind me. Roughly 240 days to go!

My crusade to find parking and cross-campus expedition isn’t really the story from the day though. The story is something I noticed in class. I met up with my BFFAS (best friend forever at school) before class and we were talking about how we both looked online at the roster for our class today and noticed that it was all female. That has not happened once since I started undergrad. There are not many men in the program but there are enough that there has always been at least one or two in every class I have taken. I personally was kind of excited to have a class with all women. I was curious to see how the energy would be. My feminist self had this grand vision of sisterhood and easy relatability right off the bat. Shocker #1, I was being SUPER idealistic. Shocker #2, day one was not sisterhood-y or fem-bonding at all.

The energy was actually kind of tense and uncomfortable. I noticed it right when my friend and I walked in. We were the 4th and 5th people to walk into the classroom. We found seats in the middle of the room towards one side that we were comfortable with and plopped down to enjoy the A/C. As all the other women filed in there was a very clear division between the BSW, now advanced standing MSW clinical students and the Generalist MSW, now MSW clinical students. It felt like a them and us situation. The room was literally divided. All of the previous MSW generalists were on one side and all of the former BSW students who recently graduated were on the other. The whole atmosphere felt off to me.

I noticed it in my two classes over the summer as well but it did not feel as evident as it does in this class so far. I worked with multiple new people who were formerly MSW generalists over the summer and am thankful I had the opportunity because it was great growth for me and new perspectives.

I hate that it feels like a line in drawn in the classroom, the separation feels heavy and deliberate to me. On my drive home I was thinking about what I know about how groups form and how once groups are formed how these groups perceive outsiders. I don’t believe that either side of the room has malicious intentions towards the other side, I just think people are comfortable with what feels (and who feels) familiar and right now we are all choosing to stay in our comfort zones. It is my intention to push myself out of my comfort zone and explore/grow as much as possible in my last two semesters so I am hoping I will have plenty of opportunity in this class to get to know new people, it seems like I will. I hope everyone is as open to learning from one another.

We will see how the semester plays out.

day one1

I Hate This Cornmeal!

i hate this cornmeal

Those were the last words I sputtered before launching myself onto the couch in the sun-room this morning. I had this grand plan for breakfast that not only did not go according to plan, it literally went up in smoke. Todd came and found me face planted in the couch and snapped this shot to show me how ridiculous I look. After laughing about it together I decided this was a great writing inspiration, I was absolutely having an I show myself love when moment.

Last night while Todd and I were reading in bed I announced that I was going to make arepas and over easy eggs for breakfast in the morning. I was very pleased with myself. I have not made arepas in years so I double checked a recipe online and settled in for the night with thoughts of delicious runny eggs and warm arepas with butter running through my head. This diet is so restrictive that to have a meal to look forward to is a luxury in my life right now.

This morning Todd and Lucy woke me up with snuggles and puppy kisses and Todd transcribed while I dictated the grocery list. Once our list was complete we headed off to the store.

I found the cornmeal I was looking for but upon reading the ingredients on the back I realized I cannot have it after all. There was another cornmeal next to me that had an ingredients list I could work with so I grabbed it and scooted off to finish the shopping.

When we got home is when the trouble started, the next series of events have Calamity Jill written all over them.

I was unloading and putting away groceries when I heard a crash behind me, I turned and found my spoon/ladle holder on the ground shattered. I must have knocked it off the counter some how when I was moving groceries around. I felt my heart drop into my stomach. I really liked this ladle holder. It was one of the first home items I bought for myself when I lived alone in my one bedroom apartment. I remember feelings like such an adult. Plus it had this colorful mandala design that spoke to my inner artist. There it was, all of its beautiful colors sprayed across the kitchen floor. My eyes began to well up as Todd stopped putting away groceries to help me clean up the plaster shards.

A few minutes later I was back on track for making arepas but not very happy with myself. Not long after I broke the spoon holder I said to myself I show myself love when, as a reminder to be nice to myself – it was an accident. So I was now on to making arepas and being mindful of the inner dialogue I had going on.

I followed all the directions from the online recipe but did not get the desired result of a sticky dough, not by a long shot. I had water with separated cornmeal and salt in it. Ugh! That is when I realized this cornmeal was not meant for making arepas. I tried to keep my cool. I dumped my mixture that was unusable and decided to come up with a plan B. I looked at the back of the cornmeal container to see what the suggested uses were and one jumped out, cornbread! Great, I can do cornbread. I checked to make sure I had all the ingredients, I did, so I was ready to go. Cornbread and over easy eggs, sounds good! The pep was back in my step, I was not going to let these road blocks hold me down!

I followed all the directions, 3/4 cups if this, 1 teaspoon of that, and viola! Not really though. I expected to have a runny batter which I would then pour into my glass dish for the oven but what I had actually resembled the arepa dough. WTF? I was not going to be swayed, this was going to make cornbread damn it! I plopped the dough into the dish, mushed it around and until it was evenly distributed and prepared to stick it in the oven for 20 minutes.

This whole time the oven had been preheating to 425 like instructed by the recipe, when I opened the oven door I was almost knocked backwards by an ENORMOUS cloud of black smoke. Now choking and eyes burning I threw the dish into the oven and slammed the door shut. I stood in my smoke filled kitchen, eyes filled with water for two reasons now, and decided I had had enough!!

I hate this cornmeal!!!!! I whizzed through the living room, past Todd who was reading on the couch, and catapulted onto the couch in the sun-room. Trepidatiously he and Lucy approached, like you see soldiers approach a grenade in the movies when they are not sure if it is live or not, easy does it – we do not want to set it off. Next thing I knew I was being womped by throw pillows and whipped by puppy tail. Does this help? He exclaimed. I started to laugh.

I aired all my grievances about my morning to which he listened sympathetically before doing all the things he knows to do to make me laugh.

I was sure that when I took the cornbread out 20 minutes later it was going to be a charred mess, but I was wrong. I also realized what I had done wrong. I was so upset because I followed the recipe exactly, I could not figure out why my batter was so dense. Well, I didn’t actually follow the recipe all that closely. I substituted white flour for coconut flour and buttermilk for coconut milk. Of course my batter was going to be different. The cornbread was good though and even though I broke one of my yolks while making the over easy eggs, and we didn’t finally eat breakfast until noon, it was a success.

It was a success because I recovered. It was a success because I had loving support from my family and myself (however delayed). It was a success because I did not let all the set backs and failures get in the way of the end result, breakfast with my family and a lesson learned.

So here are my lessons learned:

Baking is a science and you can’t just change everything and expect the same outcome (I kinda knew that, which is why I don’t bake).

Broken things are replaceable but unkind words you say to yourself in a moment of frustration can be damaging.

It is okay to ask for help when you are having a hard time.

AND remember to laugh at yourself and the situation, it is called perspective!

Labels

My soul friend has arrived!

Yesterday evening Todd and I went to the airport and picked up his best girlfriend from college who also happens to be one of my favorites. My soul was dancing inside my body the moment she joined us. We immediately began talking about books, and life, and all other things that felt good and right in the moment.

When we arrived home Todd and Lucy went to bed, he still has to work this week, but she and I stayed up. We talked all night until today became tomorrow and my heart felt full.

Our conversation was everything I love about a good conversation, it was deep, it was authentic, and it was limitless. One of the topics we broached had to do with how labels are problematic and how we both struggle with their existence.

It is the idea that instead of saying someone is a bad person it is often more accurate and kind to maybe say they had a bad moment. You did something bad, that does not mean you are bad. One is probably most compassionate just not to make the judgement at all, to maybe say nothing, or if you must say something let it be some form of I love you.

As a person who has been prescribed many labels without my permission I am well aware of how problematic labels can be. That does not mean I am always as mindful as I  could be though when it comes to placing labels on others.

Last week I deleted two people from my FB account because in my head I labeled them. Here is what is maybe closer to the truth in both of these cases, neither of these people are racists or homophobic, they did express privilege and prejudice that was a problem for me though. It was more than I could sit with. But still it is recognizing the difference between this person is a racist and this person is struggling with prejudice thoughts.  And the truth is maybe they are not struggling with their thoughts, maybe it is me that is struggling with their thoughts.  All I can do is be honest that those thoughts and comments made me uncomfortable on a level that was more than I could tolerate and rather than look at them as a problem I need to look within myself for what opportunity for learning and growth exists in this place of discomfort.

This is absolutely a growth piece for me. I say that in my career as a social worker I am not comfortable with diagnosing clients and that kind of centers around this idea of not wanting to label people but then here in my personal life I may do it without much consideration. I do not know that I will ever be completely without judgement, it is a lofty goal, but it is one I will work towards.

I will try to make a conscious effort to be more mindful of labeling which means recognizing that the men I encounter in life may not be sexist as much as they may hold some gender prejudices, and people on social media who I have previously looked down on as narcissists or vapid ninnies are just regular old people who hold different values than I do.

I guess that is what this really comes down to. People hold different values than I do and for some reason that makes me feel that I have the right to label and judge.

You are sexist. You are a narcissist. You are a bigot. You are homophobic. You are wrong. I am right.

I need to step back from this pattern of thinking. How can I really have compassion for others when I am playing this narrative in my head? I know I have made major progress in this area but there is always room for more growth. I think many of us have room for growth in this area if we are willing to look critically at ourselves rather than remaining critical of others.

I will be honest that this may be an uphill battle for me at times. I am an activist and a feminist and I have a tendency to get fired up and want to call things out. If I can learn to channel that energy in a truly positive way I bet there would be no limit to what I could accomplish.

This morning I grateful for time for quiet reflection, I am grateful for my soul friend and the lesson she brought me last night, I am grateful for time off this summer to recenter, and I am grateful for my ongoing journey.

labels

My Highlight: A Lesson in Perspective

perspective

Todd calls me everyday around the same time when he is leaving his office to walk to the car. The conversation is pretty routine, “Hey babe, I’m on my way, what’s for dinner, how was your day, what was the highlight?” What was the highlight is my favorite part of the conversation. What went right today? Even if all you have is my ham sandwich at lunch was delicious, it is good to be able to identify a highlight.

Todd’s highlight today was he actually got a good bit of work done, yesterday he was in a bunch of meetings and that is not his favorite. He enjoys the work he does and does not like to be taken away from it.

My highlight today was unexpected.

Last night when I got home from school I felt a bit overwhelmed. I deliberately did not take a lead role on our class project this semester because I knew I did not have the time to take on such a big role. We are running a supply drive for a school in a low income area and there are a lot of working parts and pieces. Last night  was an important class because it was the class where we go over the logistics for our first major supply drop off with the school. Two of the three group leaders did not show up last night. I ended up coordinating the entire thing because I was the only one with enough knowledge of the situation to do so.

Ultimately I want to do what is right for our class and the school we have partnered with but this is a lot to manage on a week where I already have a full schedule.

So today started busy. I had emails to send, phone calls to make, I had make sure everything is in order for this drop off. Once I was finished I had just enough time to make myself presentable for a 2:00 meeting in the community my colleague and I are working in.

It has been a little while since I have given an update about the work my colleague and I are doing in the other community. This is primarily because there has been no information to share. Our paper has been shared with the director, the dean and other local leaders. The next phase of our research started today.

Today we met with the principal at the local elementary school who had been helpful during our first phase. We caught up with him, filled him on how well received our initial research had been and thanked him for the part he played in our success. He asked what this next phase looked like for us and we explained that we would like to speak with  more residents in the community this time around. He responded by saying that if we wanted to talk to people he would take us to meet some people. We thanked him and told him that would be really helpful. Then he said, OK then let’s go. We were surprised and thrilled. We didn’t realize he meant RIGHT NOW. He cleaned out his car, piled us in and drove us around the community.

It was incredible!! We met a family who lives just a few blocks from the school. They were very gracious and agreed to share their contact information so we could schedule a time to come back and meet with them. Next he took us to the housing projects near the school. When we interviewed him for our original paper he spoke at great length about this housing project. He talked about the impact of generational poverty and how close knit the community is. The family we met was very welcoming. They invited us in, we met all their children and talked for a little while. They also shared their contact information with us and invited us to come back and speak with them.

It was a whirlwind of an experience, all of this took place in less than an hour. It was amazing though. This principal is a man of action. He knows his community, he is involved. Everyone we met was so excited to see him, there was hugging and laughing. As we drove through the community men stood around on street corners and residents gathered on front porches, he seemed to know them all. With his window rolled down he would call out to them and they would call out to him. In a community that seems to be very skeptical of anyone viewed as an outsider he has clearly be accepted as one of their own. That is so powerful and I am so thankful to have this man vouch for us. He introduced us as his friends from UCF, they are here to teach social workers how to help. What he was saying is, I trust these people and you can too. I am so grateful for this man. He is so willing to offer his time, energy and help in ever way. He is an everyday hero.

That was my highlight. I woke up this morning grumbling because I had a lot on my plate and it was going to be a busy day. This man took time out of his day to drive us around the community, introduce us to residents and answer our questions. He had been at the school all day and had a doctor appointment when he was done with us but he still took the time. He did the extra and did not complain. He was willing and happy to do it. I needed perspective today and this man helped me with that.

I should never be grumbly about doing a little extra or having a busy day if it means the work I am doing will ultimately help someone else. The coordination I set up allows for the drop off day to run smoothly and for students and residents in need to be provided with goods. What am I grumbling about? It is easy to get caught up in the details and lose sight of the big picture, I think that is where I was when I woke up this morning. I end this day with perspective and a grateful heart.

The Things that Matter are Different for Everyone

I had the conversation with my classmate about establishing professional boundaries. They explained that they were not trying to put me in a compromising position, they saw their request as a friend helping a friend. While they said they understood where I was coming from in terms of the ethics they see things differently. They said they would always be willing to help a friend that needs help as long as it did not go against the student handbook code of ethics.

Personally I think some of what they have asked of me does go against the code but I guess they see the code as open for interpretation.That is fine. The way I left it with them is that we clearly view this differently and different is OK, it’s not bad. What is important is that we understand and respect how we both feel, which it seems like we do.

I have no way of knowing what next week in class is going to look like. Now that we have cleared the air I am feeling better and am ready to forget about the last month and move on. I cannot fault someone for not understanding me, they do not know me that well. Going forward I expect things to be different but everything prior to our conversation in my mind does not count.

Our conversation made me reflect on values though. Earlier this week my brother and I were yet again having a conversation about boundaries in the program. He apparently the entire weekend before helping two students with their papers for class, he was going above and beyond in my opinion and I felt like these two students were taking advantage. My brother is a helper, he likes to fix the bird with the broken wing if that makes sense. My whole life I have seen him be taken advantage of because of his gentle nature and his tendency to see only good in people. I hate to see it happen in the program especially because I am afraid his character will be called into question because maybe some of what he does is more than he should.

I think this way because I place such a high value on ethical integrity and while my brother does as well he places an even higher value on helping people who ask for it. My classmate appears to place a high value on loyalty, the kind of loyalty shared among close friends. This is what drives each of us, it is our moral compass that tells us right from wrong. None of us are wrong in the values we hold, they are just different.

My character may never be questioned but I may not be able to help as many people as my brother and I may not have as many friends as my classmate. And my brother might occasionally over extend himself or find himself in hot water for agreeing to a favor but he will always feel good about being able to help someone. My classmate may blur the lines of right and wrong but it would always be in the service of a friend which to him may be worth that risk, especially if he knows is friend would do it for him.

It important to understand where a person makes there judgement calls from. We can all help to balance each other.

This may sound cold but the truth is I have always put my principles and ethics before relationships. I have lost friends for this very reason. One of my mantras in life has always been I would rather be alone than in bad company. So yeah, I guess loyalty is not high on my list, not as high as moral character. That is not to say I don’t value loyalty, I have had the same 5 girlfriends for most of my adult life. I am able to sustain these relationships because these women are made of strong character. This very fact makes my loyalty to them impenetrable.

It is interesting to learn what makes people tick though. What drives them. Where their judgement comes from.

Not in the business of politics

spce

Is a little perspective too much to ask for? How about a level of courtesy or appropriateness? Politics became a hot button issue at work this week which to me seems utterly ridiculous because my job has nothing to do with politics!

Our owner has strong political convictions, this is immediately apparent when you walk into our office and hear all three TVs playing Fox News. We, the staff, are not allowed to touch the TVs other than to turn them on in the morning and off in evening after the last patient has left. If anyone asks for the channel to be changed, the volume to be turned down or the TV to be turned off we have to tell them no (this does not come up often luckily).  The bottom line is, the owner believes what he believes and stands up for his beliefs, I have never been able to fault him for that.

I am not politically minded at all. I do not care. I do not mean to sound complacent or indifferent. It is not that I do not care about what is going on in our country, I do. Especially when it concerns our relationships with other countries and certain social issues nationally. I do not care about the agenda of the two political parties though. My views do not fit neatly into a some predetermined mold and therefore I do not like the idea of being labeled and attached to a particular party. I do not think politicians (as a rule) care much about the population. They care about their jobs (specifically, keeping their jobs) so they pander to their party. I care about the issues, the real issues not the propaganda they try to scare you with on the news. I do not care for politics or politicians I also do not care to ever have a conversation about this topic. It is one area where, admittedly, I am a bit of cynic and that is not my norm. Anyway, the truth is, I find the topic rather dull.

This week we had a chatty patient in the office who kept trying to engage my co-worker and myself in a political debate. She was admiring the doctor’s patriotism as she called it and wanted to lecture us about how President Obama is going to be our nation’s downfall. Um no, not interested. Sorry.

It is a person’s right to do so if he/she feels so inclined, but I have never been interested in President bashing.

This patient, Miss Chatty Cathy, would not let up though and she would not take a hint. I kept politely smiling and occasionally giving a noncommittal response. She finally tried to put me on the spot and force me to engage her by calling me out saying something similar to ” You keep smiling and nodding at me but you have no idea the severity of what I am talking about.” Her tone was condescending as if I am just a child that does not understand the “real world”. (She was talking gloom and doom about the President’s healthcare policy.) I was quiet for a moment and then replied, “The world is full of problems, so to keep a level head I try to focus my energy on problems I can directly impact such as helping patients like yourself feel better.” She suddenly had nothing more to say.

I don’t care what the patient’s opinion is. Again, this topic does not interest me in the least and I am not easily offended by a person’s opinion on the matter because I have no horse in this race BUT.. I am always offended by blow hard’s that feel the need to force their opinion down everyone else’s throat. It’s ear rape. Get some perspective lady, all of what she was saying was based on opinion, not fact and what’s worse it was not even original thought. She was just spouting back what she has heard some other blow hard say.

 

“I” is not the only letter in relationship

Have you ever been in a situation where you haven’t talked to someone for a while because you were both busy and then when you do finally get a chance to catch up it feels like you are being blamed for the lapse in communication?

It’s all about perspective. To this person the time not talking meant something where as maybe to you all it meant was you were really busy. It doesn’t really matter what the reality of the situation is because each person has already accepted what their own reality is based on their individual point of view.

In life it can be really difficult to stay objective in the relationships we keep. I mean how much room is there for objectivity in a personal relationship anyway? It’s a pretty subjective thing. Objectivity is key when having a difficult conversation or involved in a disagreement for sure but what about just everyday interactions? When making plans for example, we are typically thinking of ourselves first, “How does this work for my schedule?”

I think it is human nature for people to be somewhat egocentric in relationships, not even in a selfish manner, I think as people we can’t help but think about how things affect us.

Conversations I had with two different pregnant women in the last week is what led me to thinking about this.

One of them is one of my best girlfriends and the other is a coworker. They both mentioned feeling a little overwhelmed by an overbearing friend or family member who is maybe just a little over zealous about the bundle of joy. In both instances the excited friend/family member isn’t exactly respecting boundaries and although they mean no harm by it, they are just excited, it’s still uncomfortable for the mommy’s in the equation.

I understand the excitement friends and family are feeling for these two girls, I am surging with excitement for my friend who is in the hospital as we speak getting ready to deliver. And Yea, I  would be thrilled to go see her and the baby at the hospital but I get that this special moment is not about what I want, it isn’t about me at all. It is about my friend.

I made it clear to her a week ago to just give me a call when she is ready for visitors and that I would not be bugging her before then. I know if it were me that is how I would want people to be.

Listening to these two stories that mirror each other in the last week just served as a reminder that in relationships and interactions with people it’s not all about the “I”. Instead of thinking about what I want, what I need, how I feel, what I think, how this impacts me etc, it is important to remember to look at the bigger picture.

Keeping perspective that is not skewed by subjectivity is crucial to being well-rounded. It is unrealistic to think we can be this way at all times in every moment of our lives but it is definitely important to take a step back every so often and realize how much of our reality is real and how much is just our perspective.