#continuouspractice – A month and a half in {with a message}

20150124_135956000_iOSAs I mentioned last time I wrote, I’m participating in #continuouspractice with Saundra Goldman this year. Today was day 46 (of 365), and I thought I’d check in briefly.

The top question I’ve been asked is where I get my prompts. I’ve kept a writing prompt notebook for the past 8-9 years, collecting lines and phrases from others’ writings, books, poetry, songs… any turn of phrase that captures my attention at the time. Natalie Goldberg has suggested keeping a running list in the back of your journal, as a way to jump start your brain/writing any time you need it.

I’ve also been noting how interesting it is to show up for the exact same practice – just about every day (I’ve missed two days so far) – to see how it is that *I* change through the course of practice. How these twenty minutes sometimes are a fight, sometimes a wide open space to see where my brain is. Sometimes, it’s fiction; sometimes, it’s the past; sometimes, it’s the future. Always, it’s something that needs to pour through me.

Today, I went for a self-date to Barnes and Noble. I had already done my writing practice, but I wanted to work on a draft of a blog post for a friend’s blog. And I wrote. It was a stop-start beginning, but I started just writing, getting out of my own way. And, toward the end? Toward the end, it felt like words were pouring through me. They were not of me – but they came through me. I needed to hear some of it; perhaps someone else out there does, too?

Voices rising into a song of truth, fire and ice, burning away the unnecessary, freezing the stereotypes that we might join in collective smashing – burn it all down, forget whatever they say is “normal” and acceptable, allow truth to reside in your heart, show up for yourself, let the transmissions flow through, don’t shut your voice down, know there is possibility in it all.

You don’t need to center your chakras, or keep calm, or listen to everyone else’s voices to hear your own. You need to write that story, you need to tell your truth, show up for what matters. Allow it all to spill on the page, with abandon, without caution. Let yourself simmer in the truth, let yourself see what is truly there, and then release it. Do not hold too tightly, because none of this is yours. This is all truth. Find your way home. Know you’re home now. Know your truth is valuable, necessary, rich. Show up. Show up. Show up. Allow yourself the chance to heal, because you are worth it.

In deepest gratitude for this gift.

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Breaking silence: When bravery has nothing to do with “fine”

(Note: Unlady-like swearing for heartbreaking national news.)

So often, I allow my desire to not make waves get the best of me. I wait wait wait until things are at a breaking point to express what I’m feeling. That’s rarely helpful or pretty. In honor of brave, in honor of truth-telling, you get today’s post.

My heart is breaking over here. There are the news reports from Ferguson, Missouri about 18-year old Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American male shot to death by police… and the police response when the community understandably protests this. And all that comes up when thinking about ALL of the non-white population that lives in fear of this, because the presence of racism is real.

As hard as it is, I will admit that current events like this are not often on my radar. I see them on Facebook, I know the headlines, but I rarely talk about it. I don’t want to think about it, because it’s HARD. And so, I read the eloquent status posts of friends, and then move on. Because I can’t be that eloquent. I can’t think about it – and yet, there is so much pain and uncertainty… because this shit goes on every. single. day. And not engaging with it is as much of the problem as the actions that are happening – because not speaking about it, not engaging? I bear silent witness to it and my silence is my consent.

I’m tired of consenting to the shit that happens, on a daily basis, and think that my silence has no consequence. Because I recognize myself in a friend’s perplexed status asking “I get that Robin Williams’ death is sad, but where is the outrage for what is happening in Missouri?” and knowing the layers of meaning behind my silence.

And, probably like everyone, there are the overwhelming responses to Robin Williams’ death, including the potential for suicide. The thought that someone who is one of my favorite actors is no longer in this world. That there are so many people who are hurting out there – who have dealt with (and continue to deal with) depression, and dammit, we don’t talk nearly enough about mental health. Or, if we do talk about it, it’s in unhealthy terms about trying to “fix oneself.” (Great web comic – If physical disease were treated like mental health)

There is stigma around what is felt to “someone’s own problem,” and the ways society (myself included) are sometimes so fucking unhelpful. I think about times my own depression got the best of me and my own ways of trying to cope with it (healthy and not so healthy). I often say of those experiences that I learned so much (about a lot of things) but would never ever wish that on anyone.

And this is a stark reminder of why I am going into the work I am, and yet, reminds me of the weight of it. Silence, my friend, you are no longer helpful in these situations.

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I am, by nature and personality, someone who wants to make everything okay. I want to wrap everyone in a great big hug and shout – STOP IT! I want it all to stop. I want so badly to not see these things, to know these things. I want to not think about them. I don’t want to understand the status updates going around Facebook about what a lying liar depression is. I don’t want to admit any of this. I want to put on my super happy face and say “Things are FINE!”

And yet… they aren’t. They are so fucking far from fine. These two are only a drop in the ocean of the heart-breaking realities of this world.

And just as I start to pound my hands on the table, as soon as I start allowing the heartbreak in, I distract myself. Then I come back. This is part of the practice. The coming back, when it is so hard.

This is the back and forth of learning how to be brave. Because brave is not just “I am fine.” Brave is showing up, snotty nosed and full of bubbling emotion, and knowing that it has to go somewhere. I can’t keep letting it build until I explode.

It is choosing to tell this truth, rather than hide underneath the covers, rather than hide behind the other post ideas I had for today. It is showing up and saying things that are hard… that racism is alive and well and I have participated in it – at the minimum via my silence… that mental health needs to be talked about, and I am just as guilty as others in not responding compassionately, which breeds more stigma. It’s time to own my stuff and live from place that feels truer to who I am and want to be.

{This brave shit is hard. And so so necessary.}

If you are struggling with the bravery of staying in a world that is hurting so much – please reach out.

Lifeline is always available, including a chat function if you’re like me and don’t like the phone.

1-800-273-8255