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