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.


Weekend Treats Returns!

Has it really been almost a year since I’ve done one of these? Holy macaroni!

In honor of trying to be more present, in honor of building community and bearing witness to the journey for each other, I am hoping to spend more time engaging with and sharing the great reads that I find throughout the internet. I’m hoping weekly. We’ll see how it goes.

Links to Share

Everyday Acts of Courage by Beth Morey (via Secret Rebel Club)
I love the reminders that, a) things don’t need to be perfect for us to start, and b) showing up every day requires its own courage.

Signing Off, Broken Process, and a Writing Experiment by the Jotter’s Joint
Oh, this one hit home… definitely got me thinking about process and persistance.

Fiercely Being by Jonathan Fields (h/t to Jill for sharing on her Something Good post)
An interesting look at how we might measure our lives – not about what we are building or becoming, but something a bit deeper than that.

31 Benefits of Free-Writing by Cynthia Morris
A good reminder on why writing practice/free-writing is so important (and why I want to re-incorporate it more regularly into my life).

On Illness, Belief, and Saying Yes by Andrea Gibson (via The Body is Not an Apology)
This poet always has an amazing way of framing (and reframing) the world. This is no exception.

What I Would Say if You Were Here with Me by Jennifer Louden
This one? After I read it, I printed it out and pasted it into my journal. That good.

Spinning, Sauntering, Stuck, Still: How to tell if you’re doing enough by Carla at Living Wild and Precious
This was a wonderful reframe of how the same activity may actually be doing different things for you… and learning to recognize it.

This cookie “makes” me feel by Krissie at My Radical Commitment
This was a really accessible way to understand “intuitive eating,” and has given me a practical way to work with food.

Hot Palms Pressed to Today by Mady Steward at Messy Canvas
You know that talk about showing up and being awake in one’s life? This is a post that shows the beauty of that process.

Musical Interlude

My love affair with music has been returning. It’s time to start sharing some of the gems that are getting a lot of play time for me right now.

This is the group Mediaeval Baebes, a wonderful medieval music group I have seen a few times at the Maryland Renaissance Faire. This is my current favorite by them. So much fun.

What links or music have been lighting you up? I’d love to hear!

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



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?

When resolutions are overwhelming…

Dear friend and blogger, Beth Morey, has been running an incredible series this holiday season called Hurting for the Holidays – writers of all stripes coming together to share their experiences during what can be a really painful time of the year.

I was honored to have her ask if I would write a piece; little did I know that what came out what exactly what I needed to hear about this time of year – when I start to feel overwhelmed by all I am not, all I have not done…

Join me in conversation over at Beth’s blog.
I’d love to hear from you.

A list and an update.

Has it really been nearly a month since I dropped in and let you know I’m still kicking?

The last month has been full of wonky schedules, digging in, reading, and freak outs. (Minor ones, but, still.)

  • I’ve gone from working early morning to closes to mid-days. I’ve been learning new routines and strategies at work.
  • We’ve started half marathon training, which includes joining a gym and running more this month than I have in a long while.
  • I’ve been appreciating my new therapist and the hard (important) work that we are doing.
  • I’ve been digging the Inheritance trilogy by N. K. Jemisin. Hopefully getting the third one this weekend.
  • I also am nearly done with The Cuckoo’s Calling, the book J.K. Rowling wrote under a pseudonym. Definitely interesting and hooked me in.
  • In one week, I’ll be halfway through my orientation at my clinical site, which means that much closer to working with clients. Hence, freak outs.

I also have started a daily before-bed gratitude practice, which has been reminding me of all the small things I tend to forget when I freak out or get overwhelmed. Like the black and blue butterfly whose outstretched wings were the size of my palm. Or having two hours granted to me yesterday of free time, with nothing but a book and some iced tea. Or the way that I hit every single green light on the way out of the city last week.

My schedule for the fall is just about set, and that makes me happy. I’m going to be learning from some amazing souls, and moving forward on some research and, perhaps, starting some more. There is goodness in every day, even when I’m tired.

I don’t know what posting here will look like moving forward. I’ve had some ideas kicking around the last few weeks. It’s just a matter of getting the time to write them…

What about you? What has the end of summer looked like for you?