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.

 

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What does it feel like to speak the truth underneath?

Do you ever have blog posts that you are like, this should be in my journal, but every time you think about it, it starts coming through in blog post format? This one is like that… it’s personal, but it’s also the type of thing that, kept in the dark? It builds. It grows, like the mold that shame is. Because, I’ve been struggling with self-worth the past few days. There have been a number of incidents – in and of themselves, they aren’t a big deal. But taken together?

It left me in a puddle of “Nobody likes me.”

I felt like Hermione from the first Harry Potter. Ron and Harry are walking through the courtyard after Charms class and Ron says something along the lines of how insufferable Hermione is, and “it’s no wonder she doesn’t have any friends.” She brushes past them, crying. If I could’ve, I would’ve gone to an out of the way bathroom. But, there might be troll, and we know how that goes.

Harry Potter Sorcerers Stone 1What caught me, though, in following through this line of thought is that Hermione is the one who takes responsibility for actions of Harry and Ron running after her, taking the blame. While on the one hand, that’s a really noble thing – but it also dismisses the fact that she was there because Ron was a jerk to her. For me, as someone who has often played nice, taken the blame, and pushed my own experience to the side in order to keep the peace, it’s hard to know what the “right” reading is.

Earlier this week, I had my first individual supervision session with my supervisor. At one point in the session, while she was asking about my goals, I commented that they seemed a pretty tall order and I laughed. Pretty common for me.

She paused, looked at me, and asked. “What did you just do?”

I stopped, thought. “I laughed?”

“What was that about?”

And, with a quiet voice, trembling a bit, I told her. I told her about the anxiety of doing this work, that there are times I still I can’t believe I’m doing it. We talked a bit about it, and then she paused again. “What was it like to speak your truth underneath the anxiety?”

That question was powerful for me and has been rolling around my brain. What is it like to speak the truth from underneath the anxiety? From underneath the shame? From underneath the possibly constant message that we aren’t worthy enough to tell our story, to speak our truth?

What would it be like to speak the truth that yes, Hermione was kind of the reason that Harry and Ron were in the bathroom with the troll to begin with… and to speak the truth that Ron was being a dick? Because it’s neither one nor the other – it’s both. Both are true and both are real and both are worth telling.

Even before this most recent experience, Hermione’s character resonated with me. What I have particularly appreciated and has caught me as I write this is how she grew into her own throughout the series. She wasn’t always willing to take the blame. She owned all of her qualities, even if it was unpopular, even if it meant there was trembling voice and perhaps standing in her own power.

It was enough that she learned to value herself and her skills, and to allow others to bear witness when things were not perfect. That is part of her strength and power.

It amazes me how much I still learn from the Harry Potter series, even years after reading and watching them.

Weekend Treats

Hunh, I had this saved, but not yet set to publish, because I hadn’t completed it. Here I am, two weeks later. Enjoy. (And, at this point, the blogs I follow on Bloglovin’ currently.)

Links to Share

White Supremacy & Fear: The Cracks In America’s Foundation No One Will Fix by Addye B at Butterfly Confessions
Deeply rattling, because of its deep truth and deep challenge to White America. So freaking powerful.

Brave by Anna Meade at if i had a voice…
A reminder that brave is not just about jumping willy-nilly into things.

Loosening the Tether of Perfectionism: A Note to my Younger Self by Mara Glatzel
This… so many times over.

Welcome the People by Mandy Stewart, writing at the Secret Rebel Club
A beautiful reminder of each person’s worth.

Voice Lessons by Brandy Walker at brandyglows
Reminders that sometimes, shrinking into nothing isn’t the plan. There’s more to it.

I Will Stand by Bethany at Midwife of Words
A deep reflection of empathy, right here.

Living with Intention by Mara Glatzel
Looking at the question of “What do I want from this life?” A hard, necessary question.

#AugustMoon14: Set an Intention by Jill at A Thousand Shades of Gray
A beautiful follow up to Mara’s post above, about being clear on our intentions and claiming then… even when we may not see it at first.

The Spiritual Art of Saying No by Courtney E. Martin at On Being with Krista Tippett (Blog)
This sends shivers down my spine each time I visit it. It’s helping me learn to cope with not being able to do everything.

This is Your Brain on Silence by Daniel A. Gross on Nautilus
A great reminder as we head into the latter part of the year, which tends to be stressful in so many ways.

In the Aftermath of Ferguson, Stay Angry and Stay Woke by Kara Brown from Jezebel
Reminders that Ferguson is one incident that, sadly, is not uncommon. It’s vital to stay woke.

Blessing for the Jaded Healer by Brandy Walker at brandyglows
This speaks to my heart, and is something I need to bookmark for when the going gets tough.

Musical Interlude

This is probably one of my favorite songs by Florence and the Machine. I have never seen this movie, nor really know anything about it. But Florence Welch’s voice? Gah. Gets me in the gut every time. (Drumming Song made its own visit more than a year ago. It’s worth a revisit, if you’re so inclined.)

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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This world makes no sense to me: One of the reasons I tell my story

I’ve been thinking about what matters in our culture and what it means to be open to the hard stuff that goes on in this world. I’m taken back to a conversation I had with some clients when Phillip Seymour Hoffman died of an overdose. I was in charge of leading group that week, and the news had hit earlier that month. So, I brought an article, which ended with the statement that addiction is not inherently selfish, that there are a lot of factors at work. I wanted to talk about what they thought about that, given their own experiences.

What comes to mind now is the comment from someone that people die from overdoses every day. That just because Hoffman was famous didn’t make him better than the struggles other people faced. In the moment, it was a sense of “Yes,” but also my own struggle to “stay in control,” to go back to what I had meant to talk about in group (which, as an aside, you learn in Counseling 101 – don’t do that. It’s not helpful.) And yet, that thought keeps coming to mind today – of who is allowed to matter, what is allowed to count, and how we talk about the hard things? Who do we give voice and attention to? And what happens to every day experience, when there are those who struggle with the same thing(s)?

And I’ve been thinking about Robin Williams’ death in similar terms… but there’s more than that. I think one of my friends on Facebook said it eloquently, that part of what resonates is that the story (depression, suicide, hopelessness) is not one unfamiliar to so many people. It’s getting press coverage because of someone famous – but we also want to say, “Me too!” because it’s important stuff and perhaps, this is a time we get the forum.

And when it hits close to the heart (if you’ve read even a few of the posts, he was beloved of many – probably because he DID make us laugh and see the world in new ways), we reach out toward our own experience. It’s our way of understanding… it’s a way to make sense of the fact that someone who was best known for joy and laughter was feeling such pain and struggle. There is no sense in that. We pull in closer to our experience, to share so that others might not feel as lonely. Because depression, thoughts of suicide – all of that is a lonely, hopeless place to be.

And so, we hold on to the things that we can – our experience, our loved ones, the ways that our story does matter. To share our own experiences and bring to light the ways that we have shown up on this planet, whatever that looks like. We tell stories to make sense of a world that is so senseless – with children being taken, unarmed people being shot and killed, with good people dying and taking their own lives. Stories help us feel connected, whether to others that we know or that we don’t. It allows us the opportunity to find even a sliver of hope.

Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
– Stephen King (Rita Hayworth & Shawshank Redemption)

 

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.

Finding community in diversity

Holy two months away from blogging, Batman! I won’t apologize for the absence, because I think it was necessary, on many levels. But, boy, it is good to be back. Here’s hoping for a while!

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All different, all together, being ourselves, allowing others to be themselves.

One of the things that I have been thinking about a lot recently is community. I went to a professional conference last week and, upon coming home, everyone is asking “HOW WAS IT!?”

A fair question to be sure.

The answer that bubbles to the surface quickest is “Wonderful. I found my people.” And I usually get laughter and asking what I mean.

Again, a fair question.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, but there has been a lot of feeling like I am floundering in a lot of areas of my life, not knowing what direction I want to go in (and oftentimes, wanting to go in ALL directions). I’m learning that is not sustainable.

So, when I was sitting in a presentation that combined some of my interests, and people were talking together about different ways of healing and knowing and understanding… I felt heard and seen. No closer to having Answers, but closer to feeling more settled in myself, because I was not alone.

I’ve had multiple experiences like that recently, where there was a sense of groundedness in being able to be with those who are different – yet we are all in the same place and able to have conversations with compassion.

Having that experience of being able to be seen and have compassionate conversation has reminded me of pieces of myself that have been quieted over the past (nearly) ten years. While there is wondering where it went, there is also compassion that that might have been the choice I needed at the time.

And yet, as I walk through this year of unfolding, there are real implications and imploring to embrace all parts. What still fits? What do I get to keep? What no longer serves?

I’m learning unfolding is as much about discarding as allowing… all in gentleness and all in curiosity.