#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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#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!

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.

25 Things that take my breath away

Bethany is hosting a blog hop today, centering around the great question of what are 25 things that take your breath away… in light of hard things going on (come back tomorrow for some thoughts), this was a perfect way to bring my attention to beauty.

  1. Random acts of kindness
  2. Wheeking guinea pigs who clearly love seeing us come home
  3. When I learn new things about my partner
  4. Sunsets
  5. Cloud formations
  6. Taking time to savor decadent items (like expensive tea, good coffee, rich sweets)
  7. Watching birds fly above me
  8. Speaking/hearing someone speak from their truth
  9. Waimea Canyon
  10. The hushed silence surrounding great artwork
  11. Live music
  12. Watching Cirque du Soliel acts
  13. Laughing so hard my sides hurt
  14. Diving head first into a project, not knowing what direction it will go
  15. Thinking about the largeness of the universe
  16. Really great writing
  17. Reading poetry that resonates
  18. Long, interesting conversations with people I trust
  19. Dreaming big
  20. Sometimes, what technology can do
  21. Looking up into the sky at twilight
  22. Seeing a full moon
  23. The smell of the perfumed lotion I wore in high school
  24. Certain memories
  25. Connecting with others in real ways

How about you? What are some things that take your breath away?

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.)

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.

****

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