#365feministselfie – Near end of year thoughts

This is one of the first times – outside of NaNoWriMo, I think – that I recall being actively engaged and regularly following through on a challenge. And this one has been interesting. I’ve been participating in the #365feministselfie hashtag over on Instagram since the beginning of the year. I’ve blogged (a few times) about it, but realized I have not followed up since the first month was completed. Whew.

This has been such a learning experience for me, to see my face popping up in a social media space, over and over again.

ImageI’ve learned to appreciate my curly hair and its wild ways (who knows how many times I’ve used the hashtag #curlyhairdontcare).
I’ve learned that I am allowed and able to be seen in ways that aren’t always SUPER DUPER happy.
I’ve learned that community looks differently and I have the option to dive in, sit out, OR something in between.
I’ve learned beauty covers so many facets of this life.
I’ve learned to see myself as I am in the moment, and allow that to be enough.
I’ve learned the power of scrolling through and seeing that I am more than I think and that all of me is Enough.
I’ve learned that there is value in seeing myself and breathing into the moments of “I LOOK LIKE THAT?”
I’ve learned a deep breath and pause is invaluable.
I’ve learned the beauty of the women participating.
I’ve learned the value of finding my own language to describe how I feel, and the value of not having to say anything.
I’ve learned about the ways people define their feminism and how much feminism is still needed.
I’ve learned that my “fun” side hasn’t left me, and that there is value in the goofy.
I’ve learned that I am enough, even though I don’t look like those in magazines or on TV. I am enough.
I’ve learned the power in owning my own image and learning to love this face and body of mine, as it is.

Here’s to the final month and a half of #365feministselfie!

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One moment, built on many tiny other moments…

Over the past two months, I have been working with coach Mara Glatzel in her In Full Bloom course, and while there have been lots of breath-catching, heart-racing moments, I am marinating in one in particular… one that has been building over the course of a few months (years?) and that, today, sort of exploded.

selfOver on Instagram this morning, I posted my #365feministselfie with the following caption:

There is a bit of sass required when you make the choice to break some rules, play by your heart’s rules, and choose a new way. Because others’ rules for this game are not my way. I choose to do This with grace, love, and persistence. Because 80-90 hours a week, brankrupting my self care (and self worth), and following old standards for what makes the work “worth” something? Not my story. Not my path.

For a long time, my self worth has been tied to the work I do – especially as a student. One of the gifts of working at Starbucks (especially after the debacle when I moved) was the ability to begin separating myself from work – to see my worth outside of work. And yet, I continued to overbook, overextend, overschedule myself. If you’ve been around V+R for much time, you know that these aren’t new topics. It’s been a battle I’ve been fighting for what feels like a really long time.

Rewind a few months, when I was taking Permission Granted with Mara, back in May. During one of the conversations, she asked what it would happen if we broke the rules… whatever rules we happen to have for ourselves that keep us stuck. My response was “Anarachy, chaos.” And I could not see past that. Scary stuff.

Today, though? Today, I’m quietly choosing my own way, that I can do this PhD thing differently. That I can make my own rules and get through this on my own terms… because I’m starting to see the cost – already – if I choose to do it the way everyone else seems to think is the Right Way.

What I have to keep reminding myself is that I have a choice in this. And what keeps coming up is wondering how do I want to *end* the program? Do I want to be burnt out and unable to effectively do my work? And the anarchy and chaos that following down another’s “This is how this should be done” path, filled with rules of what makes one’s scholarship and efforst “worthy” of the degree at the end.

From this sassy vantage point, it’s a different question – it’s trying to take a bigger picture, one of sustainability and one of honoring my own humanity and what I personally need to thrive [it’s recognizing – after 33 years – that matters]. So, in many ways, this “breaking of rules” and this declaration is simply one more moment in a collection of moments… because I can declare all I want. But, how do I make good on that? How do I continue to show up in a way that honors thriving and wellness AND scholarship and productivity?

Because I know this isn’t about saying this is a better way, simply that this is a better way for me, and that I need [and want] to show up in ways that are not burnt-out, frustrated, and cranky… I’ve been living there too long.

 

An arrow to the heart: On the fruitlessness and tuning in

“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart…”  ~ Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are

There have been what has felt like a lot of arrows flying recently – not necessarily aimed directly at me, but affecting me nonetheless. And as I’m being reminded in the In Full Bloom course I’m taking with Mara Glatzel, there’s a lot of stuff going on energetically (full moon, Mecury in retrograde, lunar eclipse…) and so, Pema Chodron’s quote above settles me down a little bit, because I’m just as guilty about screaming, railing, whining… and it doesn’t help the fact that there’s a freaking arrow in my heart. It doesn’t help me calm down (in fact, it usually ramps me up even more, and I get more upset, and even less able to deal with the arrow in my heart.

I’ve been wrestling with one aspect of school since the beginning of the semester. I’ve been unsure how to handle it (and how it would be received), so I have ignored it. Then, it was addressed earlier this week and boy, did it feel like that arrow was yanked, twisted, and pushed in further. My first inclination – and action – was to (internally) yell about the situation. Which, oh so suprisingly, didn’t make it any better at all.

There’s a part of me that wants to keep going on with my same patterns; it’s got to help at some point, right?

Right?

And yet, I find no relief. I’m just as cranky, just as frustrated, and there’s still that burning, turning, pointy arrow sticking out from my chest.

Today, when I ran across Pema Chodron’s words, I wondered, what would it do to stop railing about it and simply turn toward it and take care of my own stuff (to stay on my own yoga mat), rather than keep lashing out.

So I check in, asking what I need. I check in, feeling my feet on the ground. I check in, over and over and over, noticing that the arrow is there and yanking, pulling, trying to get rid of it is actually dangerous for me. How do I nurture myself and allow the process of removal – of turning my attention to the situation rather than just trying to block it out or make it go away? How do I understand the ways in which I do that, so I can keep coming back to that check in and truly listen to my heart and what it needs most to deal with this arrow?

And my goodness… it doesn’t make it go away, but it also doesn’t exacerbate the issue. It doesn’t take the arrow and twist it (or make me feel like a bad person for being so cranky).

It softens me. It allows me to be real. It allows me even a glimpse of what is really going on. It doesn’t “solve” it, but I can better see the situation, rather than just saying “You are the cause of this.” It requires a helluva lot more self-compassion, too… and that can be hard.

Perhaps today, we can each spend a moment recognizing the arrow we’re ignoring and then tending to ourselves the best we know how.

Weekend Treats

Links to Share

Okay, okay… weekend treats for the tail end of the weekend. School is currently kicking my butt and I’m keeping my head above water… what sometimes feels like *barely* … but, I’m still swimming. I’m sowing up, doing what I can, and learning lessons about it all. In my down time, I check out a my Bloglovin’ feed and send myself emails of stuff that resonates.

Here are some great links I’ve discovered since the last Weekend Treats.

Know of something you think I’d love? Share it with me!

Tall Poppies, Comparison Compulsion and Worship Wisely by Tanya Geisler
Hat tip to Mara Glatzel for this one, as it is a link shared in her REWIRED class on Comparison. So. Good. (Both are, really.)

Ampersands & Otherselves (Or, Your Contradictions are Your Brilliance) by Tanya Geisler
Beautiful follow up to the link above.

Approval by Anna Meade
Wow. This struck me in the chest (and, thinking about it, resonates with the two links above). All about learning to NOT compare.

What I Don’t Want to Talk About by Jill at A Thousand Shades of Gray
One of the (many) things I love about Jill is her ability to shoot straight, honestly, and with such love and compassion.

Friday’s Confession: I’m Not Here to Save You by Tiffany Han
So. Freaking. Powerful.

On choosing our adornment by Susannah Conway
Beautiful words about choosing, inhabiting, and owning one’s self.

Three Truths and One Wish by Jill at A Thousand Shades of Gray
This resonates deeply as I continue forward in doing the work I am training to do.

Staying Put by Mandy Steward at Secret Rebel Club
Beautiful “emergency self care” and when you need others.

How 15 Minutes Per Day Can Change Your Life by Claire De Boer at The Gift of Writing
Always a good reminder of the power of a small chunk of time.

On “processing”: you don’t have to work so damn hard by Esmé Weijun Wang
Sometimes, I get so tangled up in “getting it right,” or in processing it well. Sometimes, I make it harder than it has to be.

a new season of {enough} by stargardener at the right brain planner
Love love love this.

The urge and the practice. by Hannah Marcotti
I appreciate the honesty in this one… it resonates with me about this space here at V+R.

where am i going? by Krissie at my radical commitment
Love the imagery, the way this one plays out and speaks so much truth.

Brave Love e-course with Mara Glatzel
I cannot say enough good things about working with Mara. I’m super excited about this course and wanted to share it. Starts November 1.

Musical Interlude

This song has been in my head … a lot … recently. Seems appropriate. [Melissa Ferrick sings Closer]

Weekend Treats (Mid-week!)

It’s amazing, how much good stuff is put out into this world. It’s not that I’m not finding it in order to do Weekend Treats weekly… it’s more finding the time to pull them together. Because, seriously? My Safari on my phone was a bit out of control (again). So, in honor of clearing out the tabs and sharing some really great stuff with you – weekend treats on a Wednesday!

Share with me some of your own that you’ve found?

Links of the Week

Repossession by Amy Oscar
Oh so heartbreakingly gorgeous… if there’s only one link you click? Please let it be this, and allow yourself the space to truly feel it.

So fragile, but so enduring by The Bloggess
Another, with the beauty and the heartbreak. Beautiful look at legacy.

Take it Easy by Jill at A Thousand Shades of Gray
A real life look at what being gentle and honest with oneself looks like.

Self-Soothing by Miriam Hall at inside space
There’s been a lot in my world about self-soothing, recently. And this? This is a wonderful, real-time look at self-soothing.

Coming Out of the Closet About Following Your Intuition by Danielle LaPorte
Love the honesty in this, that sometimes we try to rationalize what isn’t always so rational.

Beginning [and a giveaway] by Anna Meade at if i had a voice
The giveaway is over, sadly, but reading about Anna’s story to art journaling is lovely.

Allow the Journey by Anna Meade at if i had a voice
A fantastic follow up to her beginning… this is the continuation.

A Heartbreaking Simple Truth (and what to do about it) by Laura Simms at Create as Folk
This one was kind of like a (gentle) smack in the gut.

what do I really want by Krissie at my radical commitment
This was another one that was sorta like a smack in the gut (again, gentle, but powerful).

Friday’s Confession: I’m figuring it out by Tiffany Han
A great reminder of the power of commitment and action.

5 Ways to Know (& Honor) Your Rhythms from Curvy Yoga
I love the gentle reminder that these ways are simply experiments… let’s see what happens when we pay attention.

An Open Love Letter to Cheryl Strayed by Jill at A Thousand Shades of Gray
I love Jill’s honesty and truth about her experience – both with Wild but also with her appreciation and love of Cheryl Strayed. (And apparently, Strayed say the post and tweeted Jill about it, too!)

Wholeness by Anna Meade at if i had a voice
A beautiful honoring to/of growth.

“I did it!” vs. “It was worth it!” (There’s a Difference) by Alexandra Franzen
Total reframe of successful work, right here.

What I Instagrammed vs. What Was Really Happening, or My Entire Life is a Lie by Olivia Muenter at Bustle
Hysterical and oh so true, in so many ways and/or variations.

What I really want to say by Tiffany Han
My guess is this is a link from her mailing list (which I have just added myself to); it was a nice swift kick (in a gentle way). Not sure where I picked this one up from, but whoever it was? Thank you.

Permission to find a different way by Krissie at my radical commitment
A vulnerable, honest, and truth-filled post about when we keep trying for something, when what we want is underneath. And one way forward.

Comfortably Uncomfortable by Mara Glatzel
This is a great reminder amid the swift kicks and smacks in the gut this week… that there is space for comfortable and uncomfortable. It’s not necessarily an either/or.

Let yourself be loved by Hillary Rain at spirit soul earth
This: “Let yourself be loved. Let yourself, beloved. Isn’t it the most vulnerable? To be seen, to allow, to receive? It’s hard and it’s holy.”

BEFORE you start writing: Four pracitces to help you get focused & clear … and stick to the point by Alexandra Franzen
A great tool to help focus writing.

Something Good by Jill at A Thousand Shades of Gray
I don’t know how she does it, but every single week, Jill brings really wonderful links to her readers. It’s where I find a number of my own Weekend Treats gems. Here’s a taste.

Seven Questions to Overcome Overwhelm and Find Your Next Right Step by Brandy at brandyglows
Mmmm, lovely questions to guide forward.

the courage to be sacredly unapologetic by Kate at Your Courageous Life
A really straightforward look at what unapologetic looks like (and doesn’t look like).

Musical Interlude

I recently put this song on a mix for friend who was moving across the country. It’s been in my head a lot since then. This is a fan made video, with some beautiful imagery. [We are Giants by Lindsey Stirling feat. Dia Frampton]

Singing together: Lifting one another up

Yesterday, I was talking with a professor about some challenging family things going on, just to let her know in case I wasn’t in class, or had to be called out of class unannounced. She commented that, if I wanted, I could ask the class for prayers, good intentions, whatever for my family – that there is strength in being able to bring someone (or the family) into the light of good things. That prayer, good intentions, good thoughts – they are a way of surrounding others and ourselves with positive light and strength, to hold the challenge and remember we aren’t alone.

Yesterday, I was singing along in the car on my way home from class. Music loud, voice getting lost in it. Music is a form of therapy for me, sometimes. To allow myself that voice, that loudness – it opens me up in different ways. I wasn’t thinking about what my professor said when I later posted it as my #365feministselfie on Instagram. At the end of the comment about the post, I requested prayers. When I looked back a few hours later, there were people who had added their voice in the mix, praying, lifting my family up with good intention.

Today, as I was driving into work, thinking about all of this, I realized that the circle of light we create when we lift each other up is a song unto itself. It is a way that I am consciously choosing light over dark, of remaining present with the difficulty without hiding or running away. The lilt of the voices around me, who also care, who are asking for specific names to hold us in prayer and good thoughts?

Another musical balm for my aching heart.

This isn’t just about faith or religion or spirituality. It’s also about meeting each other (and ourselves) where we are. It’s about being real and being present – choosing awake over numb.

May we each find light (or hold that light for others) in the midst of darkness – not to push away the dark, but know that we can sing together and hold the present (in all its messy beautiful), as it is.

Please leave a comment (anonymously if you wish) if you also need or want voices to join in your own song of holding the present.

Weekend Treats

So, with my intentional Facebook use, I find I’m on a whole lot less. Which means that I don’t always see the links shared there (which is one of my favorite, though rabbit-hole, parts of social media). Most of these were pulled from my Bloglovin’ feed, which I have trimmed down tremendously. If there is a blog you think I would love, leave a comment (yes, even [especially] if it’s yours).

Links of the Week

When Too Much is Also Not Enough by Mara Glatzel
Yes, there’s always at least one post from Mara. It’s because she hits the nail on the head, each and every time. (What would be your first step to return to yourself? Such a powerful question.)

What if Your Passion Becomes a Chore by Laura Simms at Create as Folk
This really spoke to me, especially as I (still) sometimes beat myself up about not teaching contemplative writing, etc. But, recognizing that my passion was in a different space gives much more space (and compassion).

To Be White and Reckon with the Death of Michael Brown by Courtney E. Martin at On Being with Krista Tippett (Blog)
A call to White folk to keep unpacking your knapsack of privilege and what that means.

Intent vs. Impact: Why Your Intentions Don’t Really Matter by Jamie Utt at Everyday Feminism
A powerful look at why saying “I didn’t intend to hurt someone” isn’t a valid excuse… and some possibility of what to do.

Living the Subtle by Miriam Hall at inside space
This: “That’s the kind of subtlety I am talking about. Seeing the whole picture, watching, looking back with wide eyes and open glances, with as little blame as possible to see how we arrived here.”

Praying for My Life by Mara Glatzel
How do you measure success in your life? What does it mean to you? Again, powerful questions.

What You Really Mean When You Say “I’m Not Motivated” by Laura Simms at Create as Folk
A powerful reframe of motivation, as well as a gentle kick in the pants to do what is important.

The Creamy Kung Foo of of Writing True Stories by Laurie Wagner at 27powers
A reminder to me about the power of stories to create community and reflection.

Open for Business! by Heather at Heather since November
A lovely ode to what makes our art OUR art and why we must do it. Also? Her jewelery is beautiful. Take a peek at the shop!

An Announcement, an Experiment, and a Contest by Brandy Walker at brandyglows
Talkin’ about quests, their importance, and a fun contest (contest entry ends Sunday at midnight PST)

9/11 Thoughts by M. Fenn at skinnier than it is wide
Some of the words M. Fenn wrote in 2001 about 9/11; haunting in how they still ring true today.

Reboot or Die Trying by David Roberts at Outside
Powerful powerful experiment of going offline, socially, for a year.

Healing Self-Doubt by Tara Brach
Powerful dharma talk about self-doubt from last fall. An hour long, but so worth it.

Why One Life Hack Can Change Everything by Tamara Star at elephant journal
A really interesting look at the phrase “How you do anything is how you do everything.” Gave me some food for thought.

Musical Interlude

This is becoming my anthem for when I feel worthless, when I feel like there is nothing that I can give that is worth anything. A way to bring me back to myself.