What was said; What I heard

I read something that had a pretty big impact on me at a pretty important time which has led to the inspiration for this post. I have not spoken to my mother in a week. This would not generally be note worthy but this time it is. The last time we spoke ended badly and the space I thought I needed to take care for myself expanded from a half hour to multiple days to now a week.

During this week my Dad showed up in his normal role in our family: peace maker/mother fixer. My Dad picks up the messes of others so everything can stay neat and tidy and we can all pretend there is no mess. Dad also takes care of Mom, Mom comes first. Always.

The space has been painful. I feel like a terrible daughter, I feel like I am the problem, I feel like I am breaking my mother’s heart, I feel guilt, I feel shame, I feel like I will be a terrible mother. I feel self-doubt. I worry that my actions are manipulative, I am constantly second guessing myself. I feel unstable, out of control.

As the space has gotten bigger so has my truth; I feel rejected. I feel used. I feel blamed like a scapegoat. I feel resentment. I feel more stable. I am starting to gain clarity. I am starting to truly understand how much bigger than me this is. I am learning how to care for myself since the focus is not constantly on caring for her. My heart is aching. I feel let down.

Yesterday or the day before, I honestly cannot remember now, I was reading a blog that I have been following for a long time. It is a blog similar to my own; personal, searching, honest. I appreciate the honest part most. I admire and appreciate people who are willing to say out loud that life is hard, families are hard, relationships are hard. I see enough posed photos with perfect smiles, sometimes I need the honesty of how devastating losing a pet can be. This blogger shows up in her truth.

So I was reading this post that true to form was painfully honest and I definitely identified with parts of it. My truth is different from hers but I saw myself, my childhood self, in some of her writing.

I wasn’t sure I had the courage to be so honest but right now seems like the time. The only way for things to be different is to do things differently. That means honesty and stepping out from the shadow of denial. Last week my mother and I broke another vase, metaphorically speaking, and despite all his efforts my father was not able to sweep these pieces under the rug like so many broken pieces before it. So now I am going to stand here in the mess I helped make and accept Alma’s invitation to be seen in my truth.

What was said and What I heard:

Calm down: You are acting crazy. You are crazy.
This isn’t going to work: You can’t do this. You made a mistake. You did this wrong.
Your mother is really upset: Your mother is really upset and it is your fault. You need to apologize to your mother. Please fix this for me. I am scared.
Your brother _____________: I love him more. Your accomplishments, life, words, ideas, problems, are less important than his.
Mother-daughter relationships are hard: This is what it is, get used to it. Stop trying to change things. Stop upsetting the apple cart.
What is most important is that we love each other: Do you still love us? Are we good parents? Please don’t leave us. Family comes before everything, including your emotional well-being.
*Silence*: Fuck you. You are the worst. I will not bend. You will give me what I want. Who do you think you are? You owe me this. You are not stronger than me. Don’t make me angry. How dare you. I do not love you.

What I needed to hear:

This started long before you.
This is not your fault.
I own my part.
Take all the time you need, I will be here.
I am ready to really work on this.
The truth, the real honest truth.

 

There are a lot of ANDs that exist in this space of pain but this time I am going to keep my ANDs to myself. I know what they are and that is what matters. I do not feel compelled to make this mess pretty to make myself or anyone else more comfortable. Not this time.

mom

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

Counting Down to Soul Camp

shadow work1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Spiritual Bypassing

spiritual bypassing

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

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

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

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

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

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

shadow

Honoring My Inner Child

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

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

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

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

I made that little girl proud. I did that.

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

magic

Quirks

I still only have the energy for surface level writing currently. I have my next post planned out and written in my head in relation to the shadow work I have been doing but I just do not have the energy to expend on it right now. I have to be in the right frame of mind for that kind of writing and right now I am spiritually and emotionally exhausted. No deep stuff.

Today was a self-care day, Mondays often are. Mondays are my day off this semester and I have been soaking them up because soon enough days off during the week will no longer be a thing.

Today I finished up an assignment that I did not enjoy writing so once it was over I allowed myself to relax. I researched fun stuff for future plans on the horizon. I watched a romantic movie that took place in Italy. I ate kiwi and strawberries and sipped coconut water. I worked on a craft project..

At one point I decided it was time to have my daily cookie and as I returned to my movie, chocolate cookie in hand, I laughed and wondered what people would think if they knew that in our home we ration cookies.

The reason for this truth is less funny, I previously struggled with disordered eating. I say previously but anyone who has struggled with any kind of eating disorder knows that it is an ongoing thing. Good days, bad days, on the wagon and back off again. What has helped me in this area is doing my best to let go of my judgement towards myself. My truth may not be everyone’s truth but for me personally it has been more about working on my relationship with myself and less about the relationship with food. When I am okay with me the rest of my life normally falls into place as well. When I am struggling, that struggle has a ripple effect.

So that particular quirk has a bit of a darker back story but not all my quirks do. To keep this post somewhat surface level I thought it would be fun to share some of my more surface level quirks to see if anyone else can relate.

  • I really hate showering in the morning. I love to shower at night. At night I am like a duck in water, I don’t want to get out, I could stay in the hot water with all my soothing soapy smells for hours. The morning is a different story, I am like a cat with water – frantic and furious. Furious is really the word to emphasize, I am straight up pissed off when I have to shower in the morning. For me it is not refreshing, it does not help me wake up. I am standing there, tired as hell, mad to be awake, and even more mad to be wet. It is awful.
  • I get my best sleep between 5am and 8am. Those three hours are like my power window. I sleep so hard the apocalypse couldn’t wake me. Hubs usually wakes me as he is leaving in the morning and I am able to start shaking the sleepies off but waking up before 8 is painful for me. I can do it but ugh I do not like it.
  • For someone who hates waking up and hates showering in the morning, the morning is surprisingly my favorite time of day. Once I have had about a half hour to get out of angry alligator mode and am feeling a bit more human I am a delight. I love the morning sun the best, I love the bird song and all the goings on that are happening in the world. I love the chill that is still hanging in the air. I actually love mornings, just on my terms.
  • I hate stepping on tile floor with wet feet from the shower. I will stand on the rug from the shower and scoot myself into the bedroom to get dressed if I have to. Anything to avoid wet feet on tile floor.
  • Sometimes I forget to swallow when  am drinking. I am in my head a lot, I am a true  blue dreamer with my head in the clouds and I forget about things like remembering to swallow so I don’t choke. As a result I sometimes choke on what I am drinking when suddenly I come back down to reality and realize there is liquid still in my mouth.
  • I am funny about walking between a tree and any object near to it for fear of encountering a spider web. If you watched me in the morning getting into my car, which is parked next to a tree near our driveway, you would probably wonder what was wrong with me. I flap my hands in front of me as I walk towards the driver side door in an attempt to knock down possible spider webs.
  • As much as I do not  like spiders I cannot kill them. My husband, who also hates spiders, has had to take on the role of spider hunter in our home. I cannot kill insects. I can trap and release but I cannot kill them.
  • Every few months I completely reorganize the books on my book shelf. Right now they are arranged by genre. A few months ago they were arranged by color, that was fun, my shelf looked like a rainbow. I have arranged them by author, by title, etc. I am a creature of constant change, I don’t like things to feel stagnant.
  • I don’t have good emotional boundaries with my dog. True story. If she is stressed I get stressed and visa versa. One time she twisted her foot wrong and she and I were reacting to each other’s energies to the point of panic. My husband separates us sometimes as a result. We’re sensitive creatures what can I say?

I don’t feel as connected to this surface level writing but it fulfills my need to write and keeps me in a comfortable place while I allow myself to come up for air.

 

 

 

Reclaiming Righteous

mask

It was as if a flood gate opened in me yesterday after I wrote about my intention to work on my relationship with my shadow pieces leading up to soul camp. Suddenly a million voices rose ti my surface ready to accept my invitation to be seen. The first in line, self-righteousness.

Apparently some of my shadows are very open to a relationship, it was just up to me to send the signal. So I spent the day with self-righteousness yesterday listening to my own inner wisdom and exploring my truth a little deeper.

I started my relationship with this piece here, where I explored my initial reactions to the word righteous. Towards the end of the post I spoke about reclaiming the word righteous, and I still have that intention; getting to know my own self-righteous piece has helped me understand there is more work to do before I am able to get to that point.

First things first, get out of victim mentality. I wrote that post with an outside perspective. “I am uncomfortable with this word because of others”. That is true, but it is a partial truth. A fuller truth is I am uncomfortable with this word because of my own sense of self-righteousness. I have to be able to see myself in all of this to fully embrace this shadow and reclaim this word.

Here is where I am going to start..

When I started this blog 5 years ago I was absolutely caught in a trap of dichotomous thinking patterns. I was judgemental of others while unwilling to process the source in myself where the judgement stemmed from. Therapy helped me with this, so did being in the two social work programs. I recognized something though while I was spending the day getting to know self-righteousness; while I may have moved away from black and white thinking and judgement into the gray area of AND there is still room for judgement to exist here in the form of self-righteousness.

This kind of judgement might even be more toxic actually than the judgements I was casting previously. I remember when I first started back in college I was making observations and judgements about all kinds of stuff, “these millennials and there addiction to their cell phones”, “her clothes are not professional”, “that professor isn’t qualified”. My professional piece is a pretty judgemental piece I admit. I really had to reign her in.

Now as I have been waking up to my higher spiritual self and my own truth I cast aside these judgements and have been much more open to different ways of doing things and allowing each person to be as they are rather than as I think they should be. At least I thought I was doing this.

Apparently my spiritual piece has some shadows as well; enter self-righteousness. I sat in front of a man the other day who was caught up in his own victim mentality and I judged him for it. That is my truth whether I want to see it or not. My thoughts were not “this guy is bad or wrong”, no my self-righteousness does not pass those kinds of judgements. My thoughts were “this poor man doesn’t even realize he has the power to change this”. My self-righteous piece passes judgement disguised as pity.

I look around and see a world full of people that have not woken up to this thing or that thing that I think they should be waking up to and I pity them. I pity them from my place up here on the top of the mountain of enlightenment. And while I just tried to say it is not a judgement of right vs. wrong or good vs. bad, that’s a lie. It totally is. I am up here and you are down there, and I am right and you are wrong.

This is why people do not like to do shadow work. It is not fun to be this honest with yourself. We like to let our happy flag fly, and our freak flag fly, and our I’m-a-great-mom flag fly.. However, we certainly don’t want anyone to see our judgement flag, or our manipulation flag, or our I’m-over-here-being-a-jerk flag.

Well that is the flag I am flying right now. I’m over here being a jerk.

My truth belongs to me. It makes me feel good and centered and connected. The things that makes me feel this way may feel like utter torture to others. I do not need tolook at others and pity them or judge them in order to feel sound in my truth. If the words I am speaking are truly my truth they should make me feel this way on their own.

Old habits die hard. I thought I was shedding judgement and instead I was just dressing it in new clothes.

I am grateful that my own self-righteous shadow piece rose to the surface and accepted my invitation to build a healthier relationship. I will definitely being working with this piece while at soul camp. I am curious to see what a little unconditional self-love will do for my self-righteous/judgement pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victim Mentality

victim mentality

As I take the next month to prepare myself for soul camp I thought it might be a good time to really sit down with some of my shadow pieces that I try to deny and ignore and get to know them better. I have been doing this for a while; I have gotten to know my manipulative piece pretty well and in doing so have found love and gratitude for her which has resulted in her not having to work so hard. I have also been doing a lot of work with my entitled piece, that relationship is a work in progress but there is progress so I am satisfied with that. I am finding the same truth with each shadow piece I work on/with; the more attention I give my shadow pieces the easier it becomes for me to find compassion for myself in these dark places. In addition I realized the more compassion these pieces get the less I need them.

This is what wholeness looks like for me, talking openly about my darkness and showing it light by not keeping my shadows as dirty little secrets that I am ashamed of. There is no reason for me to be ashamed of my shadows, everyone has them, everyone. Your shadows may show up differently but they are there, just beneath the surface, just like mine.

One shadow piece that I am aware of but have had trouble building a relationship with up to this point is my victim mentality. This is my piece that allows me to be innocent and untouched by the events of my life. This is the piece that keeps my hands clean and points the finger. “It wasn’t my fault, he was a habitual liar”, “I was the victim, I had no control”, “This happened to me, pity me”.

I have made some progress with this shadow piece over the years, the truth is though it has been slow going and I have been stuck for quite some time. The first step towards showing this piece light and love came roughly 5 years ago when it finally sunk in that I am the common denominator to everything that has ever happened in my life. I do not get to have clean hands when it comes to failed relationship after failed relationship, I do not get to have clean hands when jobs do not work out, I do not get to have clean hands in regards to why I struggled in college my first go around. I do not have clean hands. My hands are dirty.

Taking accountability for how I show up in relationships was a huge step forward for me. I credit this epiphany for the success of my marriage thus far. My husband came into my life just as I was starting my journey into self-discovery and from the beginning he has been on board with all that comes with my process of rebuilding and putting my pieces back together. By me taking accountability for how I show up in our interactions with one another he has been willing to do the same. We don’t have relationships all figured out by any means, although owning our stuff and recognizing when we are projecting or trying to play the victim is part of what has made this relationship different and healthier for both of us compared to any relationship either of us experienced previously.

Aside from holding myself more accountable in my social and intimate relationships I have to admit I have experienced very little growth with this shadow piece. There are relationships where I know I still play the victim, like with my family. There are parts of my past that I still view through the lens of victimhood, unwilling to take any accountability. I recognize this to be true, it does  not mean I have any insight into how to pull back that curtain and show these shadows light though. I am stuck and I know it. I have been for some time.

One of my intentions for soul camp this time around is to absolutely work on my relationship with this shadow. She has been surrounded by darkness for a long time and I would love to bring her the light and remind her the goodness and fullness of love. I know I will continue working with my entitled shadow piece, and my self-righteous shadow piece as well as any other shadow that rises to the surface ready to feel the light again. I say again because I believe that every piece of me was born in light and love. The process of loving my shadows is a process of guiding long lost family members home.

soul work

Soul Camp Part Two

soul camp

I got the email today confirming the second soul camp and it was like a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Soul camp takes place right after I finish internship and it is that something extra to look forward to as I wrap up my time as a student.

This time around we are focusing on shadow work which means we will be embracing or dark parts, our manipulators, our liars, our pieces that maintain victim mentality etc. I am sure it will be a struggle for all of us. I wouldn’t even be surprised if less women sign up this time around. I went to a workshop last year where we were processing our relationship with money and how shamey it can feel, of all the people that originally signed up only myself and one other woman showed. It ended up being one of the best workshops I have been to. At the beginning of the year I did another workshop where the same thing happened.

We were doing vision boarding and processing the barriers we create that stand in the way of us meeting our goals (it was essentially about self-sabotage). Only two of us showed. I get it. The dark stuff is scary and most people do not even want to admit they have darkness, let alone spend a day with it, or worse yet an entire weekend where you are being held accountable for engaging with it.

Shadow work has been where I find my truest self, my deepest truths, my purest love for myself. Personally I love shadow work. I love shadow work AND it is super painful. It is absolutely more thorns than roses but they are all part of the same being. You don’t get the rose without the thorn so learn how to love that thorn.

Here is the other thing I am learning about shadow work and learning to love my darkness; it is not scary when you get to know it. I am less afraid of the dark now, literally and figuratively speaking, than I have ever been in my life.

I am can’t wait for everything on the horizon and the fact that day by day that horizon is getting closer.

Gratitude Upon Gratitude Upon Gratitude

This morning I opened my email and soon after felt the familiar trickle of tears down my smile worn cheeks.

I mentioned that I am submitting a personal writing piece with the hopes of having it published in a magazine for women that I read. When I made this decision to step into this place of vulnerability I did so with the love and support of some of the women in my life. Before submitting this piece I knew I needed this support. I sent my writing to 5 friends whom I trust with my heart and asked for honest feedback.

These 5 friends were chosen quite deliberately. Aside from trusting them, I knew they would each bring a unique perspective. 2 of my friends have degrees related to literature and writing, all of my friends are well read, they all have a conscious mindset towards growth and self-love, they all fall in different places on the MBTI spectrum (ISTJ, INFJ, ENFJ, INTJ etc), and they are all creatively inclined in their own way. I have gotten meaningful, much appreciated, feedback thus far. For this alone I am grateful because I kind of sprung this on my friends last minute.

This morning I opened my email and found an email from one of these friends about my piece. I assumed it would be her feedback but it was so much more than that. This friend is a high school English teacher (almost all of my close girlfriends are either musical, social workers, teachers, or writers – I am clearly attracted to a certain kind of woman). The email she sent me was her student’s critiques of my work. I was so moved by this. She presented my piece to her creative writing class and asked them to critique and give me feedback as an assignment for class. Some of the feedback was so touching. I am not going to lie though, I was even touched by the student who only corrected a grammatical error. It was the fact that she allowed me to be part of her classroom in this way, she made something I created part of another person’s learning experience. And moreover, some of her students appeared impacted by my words.  This is what abundance feels like my friends. To make something that means something to you, that you have a deep personal connection to, and then find that it meant something to someone else as well.

At this point even if my submission is not accepted I am still so grateful. This has been a beautiful lesson in receiving.  Allowing myself to ask for support, that was almost as hard as making the decision to submit the writing in the first place. Then to allow myself to be open to the support I received in return, in all of it forms.. I am humbled. I am grateful. I feel infinite and loved in this moment. Thank you for that my friend. You touched my heart with this simple act.

Some of the feedback I received:

student feedbackstudent feedback1student feedback2

 

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.

wild geese

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.

Hold Me

ocean healing1

I am exhausted. Physically. Emotionally. In my soul. It was a challenging week. It was also a really good week. I feel proud of what I accomplished this week. Even in that truth, I am exhausted.

Something that I talk to many of my clients about is different ways to release difficult emotions so they don’t feel like they have to hold everything all the time, allow yourself to be supported. For my writers I encourage them to let the paper hold it for them. For my artists I encouraged them to let the canvas or clay to hold it for them. For my athletes, let the court or the ball, or the track etc hold it for you.

It is easy to be consumed by our feelings, the energy they create. It is okay to feel them, it is also okay accept support.

Right now I am open to support. Hubs and I have decided to go to the beach this weekend. I am grateful. I look forward to being in the ocean, allowing it to support me, allowing it to hold everything I am feeling so I do not have to hold it by myself.

Once the decision was made that we would get away this weekend I felt instant relief. It gave me the boost I needed to finish out my week.

I am at the beginning of what I hope to be a long career of meaningful work supporting others. To do this work I also have to allow myself to be supported.

ocean healing

 

Little Fish Big Pond

free

I just did something that feels both exciting and terrifying. A little piece of truth I have never shared: I have a secret dream of one day being published.

This dream is not one I share openly because I have a lot of not-good-enoughs around this that are still keeping me small and quiet. Something happened recently though that presented a door. I am not sure what it is on the other side of that door or if I am even meant to open it right now. Today  I  took a risk and knocked on this door. We will see if it opens and if it does we will see if I meant to walk through.

If this door does open and me walking through it leads to some of my writing being published then that would be a dream. I am managing my expectations though and reminding myself that this is just a little step. Something to get my feet wet, this is not everything, this is just a step on the path towards everything.

Regardless of what happens next that was a scary first step to take, knocking on that door. I definitely feel like a fish out of water. It is scary stepping into the light and allowing yourself to be seen. It is scary to be open about the things you want in your life, especially the big things. It is vulnerable. I feel like even as I write this I am exposing my delicate pink underbelly to be ripped apart by criticism.

I did it though. I took that step. I exposed myself. I allowed myself to be seen. I spoke my desire to the universe. Now it is a wait and see.

 

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.

healing-and-art2

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.

write1

Entitlement and the Illusion of Scarcity

One of my early morning epiphanies had to do with something that took place back in November. You can read the full back story on this event here. For the purposes of this post I will give a quick recap.

During group supervision one day.. Let me pause for a second because it just occurred to me most of my readers are not social workers. A quick side note for my non-social workers; supervision is when the entire social work/clinical team comes together to discuss cases, ethical concerns, and all other pressing matters at the agency and that impact our clients.

Okay so at the end of supervision when the clinical team was getting ready to leave our supervisor asked us to stay for a moment longer so she could get something off her chest. She then spent the next 10-15 minutes pretty much berating the team for not being fully committed to the work and our clients. She even went so far as to call some of us entitled. This lecture came without warning, there had been no issues that any of us were aware of at the agency that triggered this. It also came with no explanation or clarification. She made it clear that she was not talking to everyone but what does that matter?

The truth is she was talking to everyone. Literally. Everyone is here. You are talking to all of us. If this message is not meant for everyone then it seems pretty inappropriate that you are sharing it with everyone. If you need to have a private conversation with someone then by all means but right now, you are in fact talking to everyone.

There was a lot about this incident that bothered me. It felt incredibly passive-agressive first of all. If you have something to say then say it, to the person, directly. This whole talking in shadows to the entire group as a way to shame one person into submission did nothing but spew that negative shamey energy all over everyone.

Second was the use of the word entitled. Apparently that word bothers the shit out of me and I did not know this about myself until it was being thrown at all of us from left field.

I have been sitting with that word ever since to explore what exactly it is that bothers me. I have processed some of my feelings in prior posts but this morning I feel like I finally put my finger on it.

That day when my supervisor pulled the rug out from under us in the way she did, I believe she was operating from a place of scarcity. Scarcity has a direct connection to shame which is why we all felt covered in it after supervision that day.

The definition of scarcity is:

 noun: scarcity; plural noun: scarcities
  1. the state of being scarce or in short supply; shortage

It is the idea that there is not enough to go around. We all like Brene Brown here right? Right. What does Brene teach us about shame? Shame thrives on the feeling of not enough.

shame

 

Now lets look at the word entitled, what does that word even mean?

en·ti·tled
inˈtīdld,enˈtīdld/
adjective
adjective: entitled
  1. believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment

So that day my supervisor told us a story based in the illusion of scarcity. And followed it with a shame chaser by calling us entitled. As a result here are the messages we received that day in supervision:

Scarcity: What you are doing is not enough.
Shame: You are not worthy/not good enough.
Entitled: You are asking for things you do not deserve.

Here is the thing about shame, there is only one way to balance it: with love. Loving all parts of yourself. Believing that you are worthy. That you are enough, what you have is enough, and what you give is enough.

That is why the word entitled bothered me so much and this whole incident was hurtful. This might be her own truth, but it is not mine.

The work will always be there. There will always be more to do. It will never get done. There is no finish line in social work or pretty much any profession, there is just wrapping up one thing and starting the next.

I give of myself every day while I am with my clients and I know that what I give is enough. That is my truth.

I do not ask for special privileges. I know my worth though and I honor myself the same way I honor my clients, by making myself a priority in my life. I deserve my time and attention as much as any other person in my life. That is my truth.

When you find yourself operating from a place of scarcity and shame I encourage you to look inward and listen. What is your truth in this moment? What voice needs to be heard?

I am grateful that I have been open to having an honest relationship with the parts of myself that have been struggling lately because in doing so they felt heard and as a result they quieted so I was able to hear something else, my truth.

scarcity

It’s All Here. It Always was.

answer

This morning I woke before the sun, 4:40 a.m. to be precise. Something woke me. A smell, a sound, a feeling.. I can’t be sure. I decided since I was partially awake I would go to the bathroom before drifting back off. As I got out of bed Lu decided this was a good idea as well. So, I escorted her outside, took care of myself, and then we both crawled back into bed to for a few more hours of snuggly sleep.

Sleep did not come though. Instead I was met with an explosion of ideas and personal truths. Yesterday I cleared some blocks and anxiety I have been experiencing related to my future, as a result I believe I created room for things that were bubbling underneath my surface that I could not hear over the deafening hum of my own fear and worry.

As I lay in bed I started jotting notes and ideas that were coming to me. Then whole paragraphs, then whole pages. Next thing I knew it was time to really write, this was more than just a middle of the night inspiration.

I am doing some if not most of this writing in my other writing space that is just for me because these are inspirations and ideas and personal truths related to my future both spiritually and professionally; and as I have mentioned before I am choosing for now to keep these things private. I may write a little more here later if I feel struck to do so. For now I just wanted to share something I already knew to be true but that the universe reminded me of this morning: All we need lies within us. What I am looking for, the answers I seek, they already exist within me. I just have to quiet my mind and my fear so I can listen to my own inner wisdom.

Soulful Art: Part I

We did not make a single plan this weekend and as a result we have both been happy as clams with our shells closed tight. We watched a movie together, donated some items to red cross, took Lu on an outing, and then retreated for introvert time.

Hubs hid out in the office more than likely do math, and I set myself up on the living room floor to paint.

Yesterday I worked on an art project for internship. I cofacilitate a group every week with an MHC intern from my university. Every other week we take turns leading and coming up with the topic/content for group. This week was my week, I did boundaries. Next week will be the MHC intern’s turn and then the following week will be mine again.

I know for my next opportunity to lead I want to do an art project with the group to help them process the topic I have chosen. I am going to build on what I have started with boundaries and discuss the metaphorical masks we all wear in order to feel safe and accepted by the outside world. We will literally be creating masks. One side will be adorned with our outside self and the other side will be decorated with our inside self.

In order to stick with my intention of not asking my client’s to do work I would not be willing to do myself, I created my mask yesterday. I wanted to see what parts felt difficult for me, and where/how I felt stuck while working on it so I will be able to help my clients if they struggle in a similar way. I find that I am able to lead a more authentic discussion and processing after if I have done this work myself because I will have better insight based on my own experience with it and may be able to offer a different perspective for them.

For example, a few things I recognized while creating my mask were:

  1. The stuff on the outside is not always fake. Often when we talk about the idea of masks we are often referring to fakeness, they are not being authentic because they are not letting me see behind the mask.. I definitely thought this. It is not that our outside mask is inauthentic to the point  of fakeness, it is just not the whole truth. It is a version of the truth, the version we are comfortable showing. Almost everything on the front of my mask is authentic for me, it is just not the whole story.
  2. The stuff on the inside is not necessarily bad. I think that is another misconception we make, at least I know I have. It is easy to assume a person is wearing a mask and maybe only showing their highlight reel because the stuff they do not want you to see is bad. What I realized when I being honest about what I allow to be seen on the outside and what I keep on the inside on my own mask is that while some of it is darker and I hide it inside because of stigma and shame and not wanting to feel judged, some of it is really special and beautiful but I have traditionally kept it on the inside because it means so much to me that I keep it just for me and don’t want to share it.
  3. There is so much more beneath the surface. On the outside of my mask I put exactly what felt right to me, I only put what spoke to me and told me they were meant for the outside. I did the outside first and when I was done it felt honest, Yep that looks accurate. Then I did the back/the inside. I realized there was so much I wanted to include that I really didn’t have enough room on the mask for everything to be seen. I chose to edit and try to make it as honest as possible understanding that I would not be including everything due to space limitations. Again, the outside felt honest too but it was only a small fraction of the whole picture. We all have so much bubbling under the surface that the outside world may never see, save for a few trusted people.

That last realization really struck me on a deeper level. It helped me truly understand what people say about how You never really know a person or You never know what a person is going through etc etc. I mean seriously. When we interact with people it is like we are seeing just one star in a dark sky so we think that is all there is when in truth there is an entire universe that is constantly expanding inside that person but because we can’t see it we would never know. Fuck right?! It’s wild when you really think about it.

So here is the mask I created. Excuse the poor picture quality, the inside image came out blurry and I decided I didn’t care enough to take another shot.

Addendum: It occurred to me after I had already published this post that maybe “I didn’t care enough to take another shot” is not the whole truth. Maybe my inside self did not actually want to be soon 100%. Maybe this is the real reason I didn’t take a second shot to clarify the image and maybe on some intuitive level, without being fully aware I was doing it, I took a quasi-blurry photo on purpose. There is a whole expanding universe bubbling beneath my surface, it is quite possible I don’t want you to see more than a few of my more noticeable stars. 😉

Brene and Cheryl and Glennon

giants

This weekend I read Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. I have talked about books on my blog before but this is the book. This is THE book. If you only read one book I have talked about here this is the one. Especially for all my female readers. Her whole story may not speak to you but some aspect of it will because she is telling the truth. She is telling the truth about what it means to be a woman. She is talking about dating, and hating our bodies, and the shame ingrained in us by society and religion and men and even other women, she is talking about sex, and motherhood, and being married, and infidelity, and addiction, and  many other aspects of womanhood and humanity. You will find yourself somewhere in her story, I almost guarantee it.

Her story made honesty and truth telling feel far less scary.

Her story made me think of the stories of other women I have read. Brene Brown, Cheryl Strayed and Susan Cain.. My modern day heroes.

Then I got to her acknowledgments at the back and she had thanked Cheryl and Brene. Thanked them for their honesty and their truth telling. I get it. These women are the women that are making this world feel safe to be vulnerable in. Their tenderness is their strength, their commitment to keeping the mask off is what makes them brave. You can be introverted, and vulnerable, and a mess, and scared, and quiet, and healing and it is all okay and there is a space for you too out there in the big noise of the world. A space that was designed and meant just for you, no one else can occupy that space, it is yours. I am beginning to understand that now.

So I would like to put my thank you out there into the universe. Thank you Brene, and Cheryl, and Glennon, and Susan. Thank you to all the women I have encountered, and whose books I have read, and lectures I have heard, who have brought me closer to my own truth. Thank you for showing the rest of us that we are worthy and we deserve to be seen.

This year I made a commitment to read the books I have been afraid to read previously because I was scared the truth would be too painful. It is painful, I was right about that, but some truths are. I will not be afraid of these truths any longer though. I will allow them to support me as I journey further inward to discover my own. Today after talking with my husband I ordered 9 more books. I cannot wait to devour them all.

Find Me, Dear Heart: An Ode to Infinite Worthiness

worthy

Tonight I checked in with a friend. I am glad I did, she apparently has been struggling and I was not aware. I know it took a lot for her to even be open with me about her struggle. I am glad that I have done enough for our relationship to feel safe for her to share even a little bit, I know how scary it can feel to be honest during dark times. We talked for a while and her pain hurt my heart. It was not just her pain, but the shame she was unknowingly expressing.

She talked of the burden. The burden we all have felt at some point. The burden we carry that we will not allow others to shoulder for fear of burdening them. We don’t want to be too much, we don’t want to ask too much, we don’t want to risk running others off with our darkness. We don’t feel worthy of the comfort, and love, and connection that can come from allowing others in and trusting that they will want to stay and hold our hand through it.

I gave her my words, I tried to make her feel heard and loved and understood. Ultimately I know from my own experience that you can never feel connected with others and truly allow yourself to be unburdened until you begin to work on the relationship you have with yourself. Until you love yourself you will never feel worthy of the love and comfort that can come from others because you will not believe you are worthy of it. It is an up hill climb and it is a long road she is on, but I know she is on it and that gives me hope.

I am no poet but tonight I want to close this post by sending a message out into the universe with the hope that my friend will feel it and feel comfort..

Find me, dear heart.
I know the pain you carry.
The pain of I cannot burden another person with my load.
The pain of I am not worthy of your time, your consideration, your love.
The pain of the awful voices in your head that torture you with hurtful untruths about yourself.
Find me, dear heart.

I see you.
I see your greatness.
I know what bubbles beneath your surface.
I know because what dwells in your soul dwells in mine as well.
I am darkness too, your dark does not frighten me, it is not too much.
And like me, you contain the brightest light, a light that is uniquely and magnificently you.
So find me, dear heart, and let me be your mirror.

A mirror that can reflect for you the love, and connection, and wholeness you are worthy of.