When shame and the desire to hide meet #continuouspractice

IMG_6314Yesterday, I was reading at clinical and this sentence stopped me in my tracks.

Alienation is shame on steroids. It is the extreme, unshakeable feeling of being “less than” and unlike normal people. (From It’s not you, it’s what happened to you: Complex trauma and and treatment by Christine Courtois)

It’s something that rattled through me like a freight train, and I was considering throughout the day.

Fast forward to today, when I’m sitting at my kitchen table, staring at my journal. You see, I haven’t done my #continuouspractice writing in over a week… and I felt shame up to my eyeballs. Questions about my self-worth, my ability to do this (and it’s interesting to note how quickly the “this” spirals out to include everything in my life, not just practice), about posting on Instagram and having to acknowledge that I hadn’t been writing… I nearly set my journal in the pile of stuff next to me and start doing my homework. Why continue? You’ve already messed up, it’s been more than just one missed day. It’s NINE! You’ve screwed it up.

And I told myself that I didn’t have to write, but that I missed it. That I could do 20 minutes then start work. And so, I did. And in the space of writing practice, I realized that this throw-my-hands-up-and-run-away response is not unfamiliar; nor is the stream of put-downs about that response. It was a wake up call how quickly shame responses lead me to alienate, to pull away and pull back. To make myself invisible, as though that will make the shame go away.

Usually? It doesn’t. It just becomes a ghost that haunts me, about why I can’t do something (anything), and it freezes me in my tracks.

In practice, I reminded myself I have a choice. I don’t have to continue doing #continuouspractice. I can continue. I can start back at day one or keep going from where I was. I can choose to hide. I can choose to be honest about these feelings or I can shut down and try to ignore them. There are many ways to go. I have the power choose.

So today, I chose to show up to myself and my practice. To show self-compassion {yeah, it’s been busy and you haven’t made time to do this} and accountability {don’t run away from this, even if it seems “easier” right now – show up}, recognizing self-compassion and accountability are not mutually exclusive.

I can choose to hold both.

Beginning again, again: Revisiting Visible and Real

mindmapI’ve been thinking about this space a lot recently (I’m seem to say that a lot). I’ve been thinking about what to do, whether to stop writing here, or what’s keeping me from that process.

One evening, while I was driving, I wondered what my connection to “visible and real” is, and why I couldn’t either jump in or let go. Thoughts and ideas poured through my head. Once I was parked, I started mind-mapping it out, with my journal draped across the steering wheel.

Clearly… there is connection and thoughts.

And then, a friend on Instagram asked about using visibleandreal as a hashtag, but knowing that I have a connection to that (it’s also my user name over there)… I again got to thinking about what it is this space means to me, and how the connection she has to the phrase is in the same spirit as why I started this blog and this adventure.

There have been a lot of reasons I’ve held back. Lots of wondering what others would think if I changed things (yet again) on the blog; what does it mean that I had such a hard time rallying people in the very beginning (so much so I couldn’t give away spots); why should I even try?

And yet… I’ve been participating with Saundra Goldman in her #continuouspractice invitation the past 26 days (only missing one day so far), and being able to get a little bit of space in my head to really sit with all of this (and everything else that comes up) has been really helpful. I’m able to acknowledge the brain weasels, as one of my friends calls them, without getting as wrapped up in them.

I have to remember I don’t have to do everything, all at once. This transition – this newness – can come as it feels appropriate. That I don’t have to restructure everything, or post every day, or or or. Those are ideas, they aren’t required. They are simply ideas.

I have a choice in how to proceed. I can do it on my own terms, at my own pace. There is freedom in knowing (and practicing) that.

* Also, Saundra has done a follow up on four reasons #continuouspractice is helpful and you can start now.

Honoring process and product

In some ways, I see the irony of this post as a “milestone” post (number 300!), when I struggle so very much with the process of this blog. The negative self-messages of what a “horrible” blogger I am, because I am not posting new content all of the time. Yet, I also work to make sure I have something to say before posting.

20141210_183839000_iOSOver the past week and a half, I’ve been working on what is my last master’s paper for my program. It’s a doozy, really. It’s essentially the culmination of the last three years of learning, formation, and experience, wrapped up in a metaphor. This is the earliest I’ve ever started a paper, honestly. But, I knew that it was important and would take thinking, integration, and lots of edits.

I’ve been doing most of the work on my computer, because it was to be 12-15 pages and while I type quickly, I didn’t want to get to the end and be typing frantically and have lots of typos. Plus, I tend to do most of my academic work on the computer. It’s a different way of thinking for me.

Anyway, fast forward to this morning, 7:00 AM. I chose to sleep last night instead of pushing through like I had the night before. I still had anywhere from 2-5 pages to write, and then the editing to do. And yet, unlike most times, I felt a sense of calm about it.

This is my process.

ImageThis is what I do most of the time. It’s the eleventh hour (or pretty damn close), I’m not quite done, and there are books scattered around me, cups of water and coffee, piles of paper, and a hundred PDFs open on my iPad. It looks like chaos, sometimes feels like it, too. And yet… this morning, I trusted myself to print it up, get out my favorite blue ballpoint pen, and start scratching all over it. You’ll get to page count. You’ll know when it’s done. I start working, get up to stretch. Stop for a moment, think. Get up and grab a book from the piles on my desk. Start back with my blue pen.

I set an alarm for an hour and a half before it was due, just in case editing wasn’t done. I finished half an hour before that, giving me two full hours to do electronic edits and final reference touch-ups. And, with an hour to spare, I hit send and had a visceral experience of that pause just after the out breath and before the inhale.

This is my process.

When I stop fighting what it has to look like and instead honor what really is my own way of getting things done, there is less pressure and less anxiety. There is not the same welling up of OH MY GOD IT’S DUE IN TWO HOURS AND I’M NOT DONE YET!!! I’ve lived in that space most of my academic life, scrambling to finish. I often thought of it as procrastination and being a horrible student. While there is some of the former in there, this time I didn’t judge it. I just knew to start earlier so I had more going into the final push. That noodling around is just as much a part of the process as the scribbling with blue ballpoint pen.

When I stop fighting what I think it should look like, I can look around and laugh at myself in this crazy process. I can prepare what I need to beforehand, rather than frantically looking for my resources or having to pull together my reference page. (Which, really? Often takes a super long time.)

What would owning your process mean for you? What would letting go of what that process “should” be look like for you?

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

Links to Share

Okay, okay… weekend treats for the tail end of the weekend. School is currently kicking my butt and I’m keeping my head above water… what sometimes feels like *barely* … but, I’m still swimming. I’m sowing up, doing what I can, and learning lessons about it all. In my down time, I check out a my Bloglovin’ feed and send myself emails of stuff that resonates.

Here are some great links I’ve discovered since the last Weekend Treats.

Know of something you think I’d love? Share it with me!

Tall Poppies, Comparison Compulsion and Worship Wisely by Tanya Geisler
Hat tip to Mara Glatzel for this one, as it is a link shared in her REWIRED class on Comparison. So. Good. (Both are, really.)

Ampersands & Otherselves (Or, Your Contradictions are Your Brilliance) by Tanya Geisler
Beautiful follow up to the link above.

Approval by Anna Meade
Wow. This struck me in the chest (and, thinking about it, resonates with the two links above). All about learning to NOT compare.

What I Don’t Want to Talk About by Jill at A Thousand Shades of Gray
One of the (many) things I love about Jill is her ability to shoot straight, honestly, and with such love and compassion.

Friday’s Confession: I’m Not Here to Save You by Tiffany Han
So. Freaking. Powerful.

On choosing our adornment by Susannah Conway
Beautiful words about choosing, inhabiting, and owning one’s self.

Three Truths and One Wish by Jill at A Thousand Shades of Gray
This resonates deeply as I continue forward in doing the work I am training to do.

Staying Put by Mandy Steward at Secret Rebel Club
Beautiful “emergency self care” and when you need others.

How 15 Minutes Per Day Can Change Your Life by Claire De Boer at The Gift of Writing
Always a good reminder of the power of a small chunk of time.

On “processing”: you don’t have to work so damn hard by Esmé Weijun Wang
Sometimes, I get so tangled up in “getting it right,” or in processing it well. Sometimes, I make it harder than it has to be.

a new season of {enough} by stargardener at the right brain planner
Love love love this.

The urge and the practice. by Hannah Marcotti
I appreciate the honesty in this one… it resonates with me about this space here at V+R.

where am i going? by Krissie at my radical commitment
Love the imagery, the way this one plays out and speaks so much truth.

Brave Love e-course with Mara Glatzel
I cannot say enough good things about working with Mara. I’m super excited about this course and wanted to share it. Starts November 1.

Musical Interlude

This song has been in my head … a lot … recently. Seems appropriate. [Melissa Ferrick sings Closer]

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]

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.