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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An arrow to the heart: On the fruitlessness and tuning in

“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart…”  ~ Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are

There have been what has felt like a lot of arrows flying recently – not necessarily aimed directly at me, but affecting me nonetheless. And as I’m being reminded in the In Full Bloom course I’m taking with Mara Glatzel, there’s a lot of stuff going on energetically (full moon, Mecury in retrograde, lunar eclipse…) and so, Pema Chodron’s quote above settles me down a little bit, because I’m just as guilty about screaming, railing, whining… and it doesn’t help the fact that there’s a freaking arrow in my heart. It doesn’t help me calm down (in fact, it usually ramps me up even more, and I get more upset, and even less able to deal with the arrow in my heart.

I’ve been wrestling with one aspect of school since the beginning of the semester. I’ve been unsure how to handle it (and how it would be received), so I have ignored it. Then, it was addressed earlier this week and boy, did it feel like that arrow was yanked, twisted, and pushed in further. My first inclination – and action – was to (internally) yell about the situation. Which, oh so suprisingly, didn’t make it any better at all.

There’s a part of me that wants to keep going on with my same patterns; it’s got to help at some point, right?

Right?

And yet, I find no relief. I’m just as cranky, just as frustrated, and there’s still that burning, turning, pointy arrow sticking out from my chest.

Today, when I ran across Pema Chodron’s words, I wondered, what would it do to stop railing about it and simply turn toward it and take care of my own stuff (to stay on my own yoga mat), rather than keep lashing out.

So I check in, asking what I need. I check in, feeling my feet on the ground. I check in, over and over and over, noticing that the arrow is there and yanking, pulling, trying to get rid of it is actually dangerous for me. How do I nurture myself and allow the process of removal – of turning my attention to the situation rather than just trying to block it out or make it go away? How do I understand the ways in which I do that, so I can keep coming back to that check in and truly listen to my heart and what it needs most to deal with this arrow?

And my goodness… it doesn’t make it go away, but it also doesn’t exacerbate the issue. It doesn’t take the arrow and twist it (or make me feel like a bad person for being so cranky).

It softens me. It allows me to be real. It allows me even a glimpse of what is really going on. It doesn’t “solve” it, but I can better see the situation, rather than just saying “You are the cause of this.” It requires a helluva lot more self-compassion, too… and that can be hard.

Perhaps today, we can each spend a moment recognizing the arrow we’re ignoring and then tending to ourselves the best we know how.

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]

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.

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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Bearing witness to the journey

Last week, I was reading a zine by a friend of mine that spoke to the power of having another bear witness to the journey we take around this planet. He wrote about the painful realities of losing that person and how little the surface evidence shows the depth of connection.

Since reading it, something inside of me cracked open around bearing witness, around having others bear witness, the power that holds, and the ways that we do (not) bear witness for ourselves… and the ways that shame saps our courage to show up and tell the story of the here and now.

How do we allow ourselves to be seen, even to ourselves? Are we willing to be awake enough to let the truth shine through? Because sometimes, that truth isn’t all too pretty, but it’s the reality of our lives. I’ve been working with Mara Glatzel through e-courses this summer and earlier this week, she (re)posted a blog post that was about finding the beauty in our daily lives – including the rough edges – and the power of building community around that truth telling.

meditation cushionAnd that’s the clincher – the ways that people come into our lives and help us to see, understand, and experience the world with us. Even in their own versions of it, they may be able to be closer to that truth than anyone else. There’s power in being able to show up to our lives… how much more powerful to have someone stand in that with you.

Perhaps this is part of all of the practices I hold and try to create containers for… meditation, writing, art journaling, yoga, running. To find ways to build space to bear witness and allow the truth of life to bubble up, rough edges and all. If I can’t show up for my own stuff, how much harder is it to do so for others?

Recognizing that this act of showing up, being honest – this is bravery in action. And that that is the practice I practice for. Because I can’t do it out of nowhere.

I practice to bear awake witness to what matters in this world. Myself, others, good things, hard things. This is practice.

The lessons in good-bye: Coming out of the shadows

I suck at good byes.

waving goodbye

Which is kind of funny, given that I’ve moved so much and that means good byes.

I’m finding that I suck at good byes because I’ve never fully embraced what they mean and the exchange that can possibly happen in the midst of leave-taking.

The past two weeks have been about good byes. Because I just finished my first year of clinical experience. I had three amazing supervisors who carry so much wisdom and who simultaneously created safe space to learn and also pushed me to become better at what I am doing. My supervision group was small, but mighty. My clients are amazing teachers, pushing me to really look at my role.

This round of good byes in my life has had to be done differently. Partly because of the role that leave-taking has with clients, but also, recognizing that saying good bye is hard for me means it’s something to become more aware of in my life.

In saying good bye to my individual supervisor that I realized how crappy I have been at this in the past. Because it’s usually something I avoid doing. And part of it is because I have not wanted to own the fact that my presence matters. Rather than take ownership of my role in someone’s life (as a friend, lover, co-worker, student), I try to duck out in the shadows. I don’t say anything until I can’t help but say something and then, it’s in passing. When I’ve left Starbucks stores in the past, that’s the tack I took, always surprised when customers were upset that they didn’t know and that I didn’t say anything earlier. “But, I’m just a barista,” I’d say. “I don’t matter.”

In this process, I have to own that what I do matters I matter. It’s not just what I do. I, as a human being, making a connection with another human being, whether for a moment or for an extended period of time, my presence matters. Good byes are a marker of the end of something, part of which is that connection one has with another.

In acknowledging good byes, and working to embrace that I matter to others, I work to acknowledge the ways that others matter to me. Not in gushing fake ways, but in genuine ways where I can be authentic and truly be in the moment and experience the deep richness of what has transpired.

How do you handle good byes?  Is it something that you’re good at?

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