#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.

Waxing, waning: Honoring my own process

School has begun. In all honesty, it started about two weeks ago with getting geared up at my graduate assistantship, with leaving my part-time job, with my new internship orientation. All signs pointed to the beginning.

And I looked honestly at my life and realized that there are so many ways that I lose time – through Facebook, through randomly surfing the web. I realized that one of the things I need to be this coming term is much more focused. In face, that’s kind of a meditation word for me right now. Honing myself in on what it is I am pursuing and what it takes to do that. (One of the posts I will share in tomorrow’s Weekend Treats has really spoken to me: The Spiritual Art of Saying No. Good stuff.)

Focus in on the goal(s). What is my intention? What is my focus?

It’s meant looking at my own patterns and learning to do things a little differently. I deleted Facebook off of my phone and iPad. I have logged out of Facebook on my laptop and have a complicated password I have to look up any time I want to log on. My time on Facebook is now becoming more intentional than it was before. I have started cutting down on the number of people I follow in Instagram.

It’s amazed me how much time and space has opened up. How I’m trying to trust my own voice and intuition, rather than seeing what’s most popular on my feed. It’s meant less wandering around the internet, but when I do? It’s more intentional. It’s more focused.

I’m entering a new phase of life – personally, professionally. I am learning to stand in my own power – my own intuition, my own knowledge – and trust that. This is part of the unfolding this year holds for me. I am not unwilling to hear others – I am less likely to brook bullshit, in some ways. I am more willing to make waves – even a little bit – which is huge for me.

There is a shift, and part of that is recognizing my work patterns and my world has a rhythm that I want to learn to listen to. That rhythm includes this space. Because I want to learn to balance Everything Ever… and yet, I have to be able to be present in ways that are fulfilling and encouraging my work – not detracting from it.

So, in that turn – I will not be on Facebook (personally or through V+R) much. I will blog when I feel it’s appropriate and in service. My intention is to give my all when I show up… and allow things to rest when I can.

Leaning into the waxing and waning of this life, and embracing it, rather than fighting it.

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Finding a way to center: The labyrinth has a resting place

books

 

When your course work meets your soul work and gives meaning to your heart work.

I’m in the midst of finals… finals meaning one final paper and a final presentation left. The final paper is, for all intents and purposes, the beginning of what would be my masters thesis (if I had to take that class… I don’t, since I’ll be transitioning into the PhD, but if I were, it would be). It’s looking at how my path has led me to this program, in this moment, and what my previous hats, roles, and experiences have taught me and how will they help me become a better counselor?

The assignment is laid out as a list of questions in the syllabus. We’re to write an 8-12 page paper, working to integrate the answers, our experiences, and some of the career theory that we’ve been learning about this semester. Because, on the one hand, this seems so big, I’ve been putting it off. On the other hand, because I really am curious to see where it will go (and I’m working on that whole procrastination thing), I’ve been working on answering the questions, at least haphazardly, typing in responses to the questions and not thinking about a structure.

Labyrinth_at_Chartres_CathedralAs I was typing answers to the last few questions this evening (hitting the six page mark and knowing there is a lot to flesh out in the paper), I realized that there has been a larger purpose to some of the challenges. That there is a larger purpose to what has seemed like really strange things.

I’m reminded of a conversation I would often have with one of my best friends when I lived in Madison. I would bemoan the fact that I wasn’t doing what I had spent so much time in school training for – I felt like a failure. She reminded me that paths were not often straight, and that there was value in not taking the “normal” route to get where people thought I should go. She is living testament to that; it’s one of the many reasons I’m glad she’s a part of my life.

And I realize that the image mantra I’ve had of the labyrinth for the past ten years is pretty accurate. That it’s twisty, winding, and yet, I am finding center. That, on some level, I have had to trust a process that I’m still learning to engage with. I hate that there is no safety net in this process, just the moving forward that’s required, like on a bicycle. To keep balanced, you have to move. There is no standing still.

In the midst of wanting to stop having to dig so deep, I asked Sarah “Can’t I just be shallow?” She told me I could. For a brief second, I considered it. And realized, no, I can’t. I can’t short change myself (or my current and future clients).

I can’t change that this work is part of the process. But I do have a choice of doing it.

I can acknowledge that it is hard.
I can acknowledge that there are specific reasons I am doing it.
I can acknowledge that, if those things still make sense to me, I keep walking.

If I keep walking, then…

I can acknowledge that I have a choice – to live and work with authenticity or stop doing this digging.
I can acknowledge there is a choice to doing this work, and that I make the choice to do it to the best of my ability.
I can acknowledge the self-care and gentleness that are often required, and allow for them.

Are there parts of your life where you need to remind yourself the why? What might you need to acknowledge today on this current journey?

I would love to hear from you.

Dreaming big and keeping on

2014-01-21 09.59.26I’m supposed to be working on a case presentation report.

I’m having a hard time focusing today (this week).

I think there are a lot of reasons, but one major one? The excitement of starting the semester is over and reality of taking three classes, working part time, doing clinical, participating in two research groups, and trying to maintain some sort of practice(s) in my life has come crashing down (along with hormones, but that’s another story).

Overwhelm, of a slightly different flavor than I’ve previously talked about, abounds. But, the same sort of emotions come up. If I’m honest? It comes down to truly doubting what I have to offer this world and if I can do all (any) of this, because I’m letting the overwhelm elbow out the energy of Beginning. At the start of things (including a new year), I tend to feel a huge surge of I CAN DO ANYTHING! I dream big. I dream and make a whole list of what I want to do.

In my experience, it can be anywhere between a few hours, days, weeks, or months later,  but evening, reality and the realization that expectations I have are super high. It’s not that I can’t do it – but I can’t do it all at once and get where I want immediately. The dreaming big settles into questioning, doubt, fear. The reality of getting the work done hits me, and I am frozen with uncertainty.

I have to laugh in that knowing way, because if you’ve ever participated in National Novel Writing Month, you know how hard week 2 is. The freshness and excitement of week 1’s start is over, and you are stuck in the middle slog of Why am I doing this, again?

So what I find myself asking in the middle of this all – how do I keep going? How do I hold on to that fire while plodding along? How do I keep myself from freezing out of uncertainty and fear? And I think, sometimes, it’s a different answer for each project, for each person. Acknowledging that this is part of the process is helpful. That I go through this, a lot.

And the recognition that when I let fear stop me, fear wins. And that?

That is not what I want. Fear never gets to win, in the long run.

How do you keep yourself going during long-term projects? How do you keep fire for what you are doing?

2013 turns to 2014: Trust and Unfolding

There is something powerful about when I feel a sense of freshness, newness. And yet, I also know there may be other messages underneath the resolutions of the new year.

Throughout the final weeks of 2013, I spent a fair amount of time thinking about an intention word/feeling for 2014. I had a running Note file on my phone with possible words. And there were some good words on there. Powerful words. But, nothing really stuck, nothing jumped out and said Me me me!!!

Then, one evening, close to the end of the year, I had an evening of quiet. Sarah was on her computer, I was reading for next semester. We were surrounded by boxes, but not caught up in the whirlwind of our most recent move. And there was a little word in my reading that made me pause… with its quite nature, I realized that it embodied a lot of the intentions I had sitting in my Note file, but with less flair and pizzazz.

It makes sense. My intention of becoming more myself, of walking out in trust and faith in myself and in humanity… it’s a quiet process. It’s also a process to dig in deep and find what’s underneath the layers, what treasure trove I’ve been hiding from myself and the world. (Thanks to my therapist for the image of the layers.)

2014, I welcome you with the intention of continually unfolding myself, of unwrapping, of continual discovery of just what I am capable of and what I have to offer this world.

2014, I welcome you with the intention of unfolding the coverings and cocoons that I have kept myself wrapped in, to allow an open heart and authentic living.

2014, I welcome you with the intention of allowing what unfolds to be as it is, which includes the quiet nature of this process.

2014, I welcome you.

2014: A year of unfolding (background by Beth Morey)
2014: A year of unfolding (background by Beth Morey)

Have you set an intention of 2014? What is it?

#sschallenge Check In: Running, Resetting/Revising, and Renewing

RunningShoesToday, I went for a run.

This was the first run I’ve been on in three weeks.

I got home from work and errands. I had two hours to run, clean guinea pig cages, and then go get Sarah from the train station. It was hot, but not as muggy as it has been recently. I’d promised myself I’d go today if I didn’t get up before-sunrise-early and do it before work.

So many times, I make that promise to myself, only to break it.

Today, I held that promise, even though it would have been much nicer to take a nap.

I’m glad that I went. It was a hard fought 3.5 miles. But, I ran/walked it. I got out there. I sweated my butt off, and I also listened to myself when I realized I hadn’t had enough water and instead of pushing myself beyond what I was able to in that moment, I started walking. I didn’t reach my randomly chosen “goal” pace, but I was out there.

Some days, that’s the victory.

***

I haven’t checked in with the #sschallenge in nearly a week. I stopped tracking points. Stopped tracking my calories. Stopped writing. Stopped sitting. All of the things that matter most to me, I stopped doing. Instead, I was knitting. Watching copious amounts of NCIS. Fiction reading.

I recognize there is sometimes a fine line between rest and avoidance for me.

I’m trying to hold myself accountable, while also realizing how much I was running my life by lists. A list of daily habits I want to do (and the utter guilt that comes when I stop doing them and see the red negative number increase). A list of #sschallenge goals to check off (and the guilt of seeing days of small numbers, some of which were default). A list of tasks to accomplish by the end of the day, week, summer. A list of books to read. Tracking things in lists and marking them down, making lists of what I was eating, how much water I was drinking.

No wonder I was feeling a bit exhausted.

I’ve taken the last week or so off from that. Purposefully. Spending time relaxing, sleeping, working, and trying to reset the inner compass. What matters to me? What renews and refuels me? What energizes me and helps me to be present?

These are the questions I’m trying to live. Not write about or think about too hard. But start to settle into, as uncomfortable as that may be. It’s a form of resetting and revising that makes sense to me right now. Thinking about all I carry regularly, it’s been nice to set some of it down… even for a brief while.

***

The past few weeks have been full of emotion that I’m trying to recognize, label, and allow. To not fight it or over-analyze it. Sometimes it works. And I know that this is part of the growing that I’m doing. Learning to renew myself, take care of myself in the midst of a busy schedule and getting sick. (Summer head cold; I’m almost over it.)

But also recognizing there are clear things that need to be a part of my life in order for me to truly be renewed. Like running. Like sitting. Like writing. Like connecting with people.

Not because these things are on any list that I need to cross off and “finish” to feel accomplished. But because it feeds my soul. Because these are things that help me find my inner compass, over and over.

***

In many ways, this has been the beauty so far of the #sschallenge – it has given me a chance to reset, to think about goals, but also beyond goals. To revise, to reset, to re-remember why what is on my list made it there in the first place. It also allows space for me to remove what no longer serves.

Are you doing the #sschallenge? How is it going? What have you been learning?

#sschallenge Check-In: Intriguing Findings

I know, I know, I’ve been away from here for a while. I’ve missed you all, and I’ve missed this space. Even thinking a lot about V+R and the changes that are evolving both here and in my life. Since I opted to stop offering classes, the page itself has changed. It continues to.

BusyAll that to say, you’ve been on my mind, and I will be back once I suss out some things.

But enough of that! The hash tag for #supersummer changed to #sschallenge, due to some cross-chatter on Twitter, hence the change here. And today’s writing practice brought up some interesting things.

First was realizing how easy it is to start, and how hard to continue. The first week, I rocked it out! Last week? Did okay. This week is pretty sad so far. I recognize that there are a lot of factors. I also know that it’s important to recognize how easy it is to fall off when the excitement begins to wane. (There are a number of things I’ll be working with to help get re-energized, one of which is planning what goals I want to hit each day.)

The second piece that I find interesting is how challenging I find it to take care of my Mind Points. To actually show up and make the commitment to self-care is one of the hardest things. I see it as “adding things in,” while the Body Points are seen as noble, as taking things out. Which isn’t true. But gives some major insight into how I’m seeing taking care of my body versus my mind… And the value I give to each.

Some ponderings as I look to a busy weekend and upcoming week.