The Girl and the Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

the girl and the sea

Wild Geese

One of my soul friends sent me something that instantly brought tears to me eyes. I feel compelled to share it so others can feel whatever it brings up for them and so I will always know where to find it.

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The very first line spoken aloud caught like a hook in my throat.

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees.

Let those healing waves crash over you.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air are heading home again.

Home. A tear falls from my eye.

The world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like wild geese..

I see those geese flying in my minds eye. I see the blue sky, I feel the breeze. I read these sacred words and know I am okay. We are all okay.

Thank you for this my kindred soul. It meant more than you know.

Healing Through Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

healing-and-arthealing-and-art1

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

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

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

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

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

I Encourage You to Write

A month or so ago I mentioned that I had been sought out by a few people as a mentor. That has been a nice experience and I have actually taken on another mentee since that original post. I have even had the opportunity to write my first letter of recommendation for another person, which truth be told I am still working on because I want it to be exactly what it is meant to be.

So something that has come up a few times now is the part of the mentor-mentee relationship where I am being asked for tips/advice on this or that as it pertains to whatever thing we are discussing. I realized I have two tips/pieces of advice that are universal no matter who I am speaking with.

  1. Start seeing a therapist
  2. If you don’t have the funds for therapy then start writing until you do and then keep writing once you do.

That is it folks. That is my sage wisdom about life, and becoming an authentic healer/helping professional, and feeling fulfilled and whole.

The see a therapist part is important because you need to have one person in your life that has no other role in your life than to listen. To listen to it all. Anything you have that needs to be heard that is your person across the board.

This is coming from a woman who has a solid relationship with family, a husband, soul friends, girl friends, trust worthy co-workers, mentors.. I have a lot of people in my life that are here to listen. It doesn’t matter. None of them can hold it all for me. Not even my husband.

And here is my truth about that: I would never want them to. Again, not even my husband.

My therapist is my person that helps me with my relationship with myself so I can learn to listen to myself and be the one person responsible for holding all of my stuff. My truth is that if there is any aspect of myself that I am asking someone else to hold because I don’t want to then I am doing it wrong.

There is nothing that my husband, or friends, or family, or co-workers, or mentors can do to make me feel better about something if I am not first willing to hold it for myself and help myself feel better about it.

So I say again: Tip #1: Get a therapist.

Tip #2 is of equal importance. Start writing.

I realize there are a lot of reasons/excuses that are out there for why you aren’t doing this.

I am not a good writer. My grammar isn’t great. I don’t have time. I don’t have a computer. I don’t want anyone to read it and judge me. I don’t know what to write about.

Keep making that list folks. Write down all your reasons/excuses so every piece of you that is fighting against writing has been heard and then START WRITING.

Start writing right now. Don’t even feel pressure to finish reading what I am writing. You have my full blessing to close the window to my blog right now. Just start writing.

Write about whatever you want. Start making lists. The first list can be that list of reasons you don’t want to write. Make your grocery list. Make a list each morning of who you want to be today. Make a list of your heroes and what draws you to them. Write anything just write. Write everyday until you get to the point where going a day without writing feels like going a day without air.

This is how you get to know who you really are. You are not processing your thoughts and feelings with anyone but yourself. You don’t need anyone else’s opinion or input on your life, you only need to be with yourself. Write.

Write and learn who you are. Write to find yourself. Write to learn your own truth. Write to be heard. Write to heal. Write to get it out.

Writing gives you time to be alone and quiet so you can hear your own inner wisdom about your life.

It does not matter how you start. Write on napkins. Write on whatever is next to you, as long as it is not living because that would be problematic. Just write.

If you do only one thing today I encourage you to write.

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Stepping into a Dream

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Last night hubs and I went to see Wicked at the performing arts center downtown. He told me he got us good seats but I did not realize what he meant until we arrived and were being shown to them. We were just a few rows from the stage. I was in shock. I have never had such good seats for anything. It meant so much to me that he did that for us for this show of all shows. This story, Oz, it had such special meaning in my life.

We sat down and I was in awe as I took in the scenery and the time dragon that was ominously hanging over the stage.When the curtain went up and Glinda came floating down in her bubble I began to cry. It all came crashing over me, how much it all means to me. Oz has always been my safe space in a life that has not always felt safe. Suddenly I was there, this is the closest I will ever be to stepping inside this world, to crossing over the rainbow, to being in this place that has always made me feel so safe.

I am so glad that I saw the show now. At this time in my life. When I am finally with someone who makes me feel safe, when I am doing work on myself for myself to heal that hurts that made me want to escape to Oz in the first place.

As the scenery would change between Shiz and the poppy field and Munchkin Land I would cry, and then it happened.. The curtain came up and everything was green and glowing. We made it, we were in Oz. I cried throughout the entire show. It was so special.

For some this is purely entertainment, for me it is a validation. I made it. I am okay. I finally made it to Oz and I realized that I don’t even need it. I don’t need to escape anymore. My reality is finally safe and not just safe, it is good. Good in a way that I could have never dreamed of before. I don’t need to escape anymore, I am living my dreams. Being in Oz was proof of this. I am living my dream.

 

What is it Going to Take?

The question was raised this week in therapy, what will it take for me to do this work? The question was asking what do I need to do to support myself through this next phase? How is taking care of me going to look different right now while I do this?

I had an answer in that moment and we discussed it but I also knew I needed to sit with this and go deeper to answer it fully. This ties into the permission I will give myself during this time but it is different.

My initial answer to how I will support myself was my books. Reading has always been part of my self-care routine but often I use it for escape. I read fairy tales as a way to escape the occasional ugly of everyday life and balance the darkness of humanity for myself. Books will still support me in this way but right now it is bigger than that. I am open to receiving and I am seeking out the books I have been timid to read up to this point because I was not ready for their message. I am reframing that fear I have held and instead of being afraid of the message I am going to allow it to support me. I will read and feel comfort knowing that what I am experiencing has been the experience of others as well. I will find connection and community in these books.

Since the initial discussion around what it will take I have been stewing on this and realized that I had already started taking steps to set up my support for this work. I have mentioned how my boundaries will look different as I do this work and that I am giving myself permission to be with just myself when I need to without feeling the need to live up to any social expectations.. Well the boundaries I am setting go beyond just my relationships and I have been working on them for quite sometime now.

After the election I stopped watching the news, that has not changed. I am still anti-news because I have found that I feel better physically, emotionally, and mentally when I do not allow that energy in. If something big happens I will find out, otherwise I am out.
This boundary came late October and has extended past just the news now, pretty much in general with TV I am out. I have one show I watch every week otherwise the TV is off. We have moved away from watching the TV in the evening which has led to us spending more meaningful time together either doing our introvert things or playing games or just talking. It feels better so I know I am on to something here.

I have also set other media boundaries, I am once again off FB. I kind of knew this was coming. When I stopped watching the news in late October I also took a break from social media, I had a feeling that break would result in a more permanent detachment, which it has. My husband is not on FB and still manages to keep up with all the relationships he cares about from IL. If he can do long distance friendships and networking without social media, I can maintain my relationships that are not long distance without it. I went years without FB in the past and it was good, it was time to let go again. I still maintain that FB is not real and while it can be a great way to feel connected, I also think it can act as a distraction from true connection. That is my truth, it does not have to be everyone else’s.

I think the best thing I will be able to do for myself while I do this work, aside from these steps I am taking to create a calm environment, is to be honest as often as possible. Be honest with myself about how I am feeling and not push myself to do things that feel like too much and also be honest with those around me. Expectations are set based on prior behaviors, tradition, essentially the past. I am in a new place therefore I need to have new expectations for myself and I need to be honest with others about what I can handle so their expectations are managed as well. I have found when having to do this kind of thing in the past that people are actually very understanding when you give them the opportunity, we often feel so reluctant to even bring this kind of thing up though. So I will be honest with myself and others and give people a chance to support me as well by managing their expectations of me during this time.

This weekend I am doing a two day workshop that includes identifying the blocks that I have that could impede me meeting my intentions for the year as well as vision boarding what my intentions for the year are. I am glad I have had this time off to reflect and build deeper insight and just be. I think it will serve me well when life gets busy again.

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Preparing for Body Work

I don’t know what to call the phase of my therapy I am going into so I have been calling it body work because the focus is on how my body experienced the traumas of my past. I had my first session of the new year with my therapist and we discussed what I have been dealing with the last few weeks. She helped me realize where the feeling of panic is coming from and what I can be doing to help myself with it. What it comes down to is that I have to give myself permission. Permission to truly surrender to this part of my journey and fall apart.

Over break I have spent quite a bit of time thinking, processing, writing, and meditating over my next phase. This is dark work I am graduating into and it is hard to go from being in the depths of this to then pop back up quickly to go to the grocery store. We talked about how for the next few months I may be showing up differently in my life and in  my relationships and that in order to avoid my own suffering I need to give myself permission to let this happen. I will not be a bad friend if I have to take time off from socialization. I will not be a bad wife if that load of laundry is not done right this second. I will not be a bad family member if we do not see family every weekend for game night.

That last part was important for me to hear and mull over because there are absolutely expectations placed upon me by my family based on what has been tradition in the past. The thing is though, as we evolve in our lives traditions have to evolve right along with us. Every weekend no longer works, too much has changed. Too much has changed with me, too much has changed in my brother’s family.. We, as a family, are trying to force something that no longer wants to occur naturally. I know better than to do that. I do not believe in forcing things in life.

So the first conversation I had about my new boundaries while I am doing this work was with my mother, the head of the family for all intents and purposes. I explained that I am making myself a priority and that while I am doing this kind of work I know I will not have the capacity to show up the way they are accustomed. My decisions about how I show up and when will be based on how I am feeling at any given time, they will not be based on my love for them. I love them enough to be with them all the time, this is not a question of loving them, it is a question of loving me too and giving myself permission to come first right now.

With my friends this will be easier because as of right now none of my close friends live in the same city as me, the pull for my time will not be as hard. Plus I know my close friends, my soul friends, will understand because they too are committed to their growth in life. I know they will be supportive and understanding.

I did talk with my hubs but that is a post for a different day. In truth my relationship with him is the  only one I ever try to protect, all my other relationships come second. I was worried about exposing him to anything that might spill over as I take this deep dive. My therapist helped me so much with that and the conversation I had with him helped ease my mind as well.

So now it begins. The word for the year is transformation, one of the first intentions: I will give myself permission.

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