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.

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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!

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 (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.

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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#365feministselfie – One month in…

While I may not always be good with following through on challenges (or e-courses), I’m still trucking along on the #365feministselfie challenge for the year. I have been amazed at looking through the photos over on Instagram. It’s been amazing to see the reality of women’s experiences – both the highlights and the tough days.

imageOne of the things that struck me this week was how the selfie was able to catch sparks of something that I hadn’t recently had the chance to see… having the selfie allowed me to see myself from another angle. Don’t get me wrong – seeing myself daily has been hard. To acknowledge (and let go) of that voice in my head telling me that I am being narcissistic, selfish, blah blah blah. It’s been a challenge to notice it regularly. Because things, in general, have been hard. I’m finishing week 4 of school and feeling rundown (already… yes, already).

I know I’m stretched too thin. Sometimes, it’s been hard to be anything but glum in my selfies recently. But one of the selfies this week caught that little spark and showed it to me when I needed it. Even now, this is probably one of my favourite pictures from the year so far, because it captures something that hasn’t been a full fledged experience as of late. The camera was able to catch that joy-filled, kind of sassy, lighter, laughing Steph.

It was a needed reminder. One that keeps me trucking and reminding myself that I need to light that spark a little bit – in part through taking care of myself.

And somehow, it strikes me now, that taking care of myself also means showing up for myself  so that I can be reminded of other parts of myself… even when (especially when?) it’s hard.