Personally, I feel I like I can tune in even more. I can do this by slowing everything down and being present. When I do this, I instantly receive information that tells me what changes are occurring within me.
One of the changes occurring was triggered when my daughter, who is an esthetician, asked to do eye make up on me. I told her to do something bold and bright— something I’d never do on myself. Here is the result:
At first, when I looked in the mirror, I had a two second identity crisis: who the hell am I? When I woke up the next morning, having removed the make up, I felt like it was the first day of the rest of my life. I realized there is big, full life out there for me to experience. Creating a new look on my face helped me to see how much I play myself down in order to not be seen. And this made me feel it is time to grieve the way I’ve been playing and let it go.
Sometimes what we think is our personality— the who we think we are— is actually a product of deep insecurities and fears. Once faced, processed and understood, we begin to see that beneath this—who we thought we were— is not really who we are.
What I am coming to understand is the person I thought I was expressed from an old tape of fear and neglect. Who I really am expresses from a divine intensity inside of me. She is a whole other person who lives, laughs and loves with that intensity— and maybe even wears bright make up.
To end, click on my video I posted today. I came out with no make up giving shout outs to those of us working real hard expanding our consciousness and self-awareness and finding the hope in that. Click here to listen.
For some, this month may make us feel we are in a strange time. This strangeness is not new, however. It’s just becoming more visible.
Strange is defined as “unusual or surprising in a way that is unsettling or hard to understand.” This is why the best guidance for this strange time is for us to be acutely attuned, present and aware as much as we possibly can. Further, not so much about what’s going on outside (we know that’s strange), but what is going on inside.
There are many subtle and not so subtle happenings occurring during this time. June holds the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The season is in full bloom, awakening from its winter sleep. We use our primary senses to notice this: trees are green, the sun is hot, the smell of flowers and fresh cut grass, the sound of birds and insects and children playing. These are the obvious signs a change of season has occurred. But what about the the less obvious signs that brought this change?
For example, the other day, after pulling some pretty intense weeds, I took a rest on my lawn chair under a tree. Ready to rest, read my book and soak in the sun, swarms of gnats from all directions came at my forehead, lips, hair, and glasses. They were relentless, and it was irritating. It was all too easy to get caught up in it all and just complain, which I did by sending my husband a text about it. But, there was another, deeper occurrence within me— I wondered why. I knew it was unusual to have so many gnats. I’d never noticed it quite like this before. There must be a reason. I thought about the winter, all the snow and all the months of it. Then the spring and all the flooding. I thought about how the river, which is near where I live, is still flooded. I googled “increase in gnats” and found some clues. And finally, I just opened my book and let the gnats do what they do.
There are reasons why things occur. We have a choice to pay attention or not. If we do not like the changes, we can choose to complain or dig deeper. We can choose to be a victim or be curious. And, we can always open to acceptance of what is.
Humanity is having a growth spurt, and it’s intense. When children have growth spurts, the rapid changes in their physical body can make them clumsy and awkward. If it’s a hormonal growth spurt, like puberty, then things can get really interesting. Shall we say, strange…..?
When humanity is having a growth spurt, life can look much like it has: chaotic, scary, and often shocking—having many of us shaking our damn heads or constantly rolling our eyes. Many of us are also complaining about what’s happening, and choosing to be victims and feeling hopeless, even apathetic. During this time we are also noticing constructive and creative happenings that make us say wow, bring a tear to our eye and give us hope. This is a time where it is all too easy to keep our primary senses engaged in the chaos and the construction. But, from what I am gathering, June needs to be a time to bring our attention within, on ourselves. To be engaged within, to be curious and dig deeper.
So much has happened “out there” lately. But what is happening “in here”, in us. How are we doing? How are we feeling? What have we gathered over these past few intense months, and maybe years, that needs to processed and metabolized. What of all of this can be used for growth and healing and what can be let go? Beyond this process, what is occurring right now, in the present moment, that needs our attention? Essentially, why are we where we are? And the answers are often subtle.
There are forces that create everything. We are a force and so I am asking us to get clear about what we are creating.
You see we cannot continue to get caught up in the outer chaos because we are at risk of losing our way in it and then find ourselves somewhere we really do not want to be, and strangely, if this occurred, ask ourselves what the hell happened— how’d we get here? LET US NOT GET TO THIS POINT. WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT.
Instead, let us use this opportunity of June to slow it all down, stretch it all out and use our curiosity to check in with our selves, our souls, our bodies. Let us wonder: how did we get here….what are the subtle and often unconscious forces that brought us here….and what are the subtle forces bringing us forward….? Let our inner wisdom provide us with guidance. Because we cannot afford to live unconsciously right now.
As June moves on and I open to more subtleties of the energy of this time, I will share them. But for now, stay attuned, awake and aware to what is just below the chaotic surface of our existence. This is where we can fully sense what is occurring and not only be a part of the shift, but create our own for the betterment of humanity and our planet.
This week I’d like to start by sharing a poem I wrote while in the midst of some buried trauma and pain around validation seeking.
I wonder if this is how children feel…
Who is listening? And who is there to talk to?
Who is there that isn’t too drunk? Too high? Too distracted? Too wounded? Too insane? Too selfish?
This deprivation turns to desperation. And then to rage.
Who is listening? Who is there to talk to? Who has space for me?
We are all in the same boat. Violently rocking. Or barely hanging on. Or with a stiff drink in our own hand thinking: this is the life.
But is it?
Do I need you to see me to know I exist? To know my experience matters? Do I need you to hold my space?
Where am I in this? Can I do it without you?
Is it too much to ask a wounded mother and father to do this?
Is it appropriate for that same wounded mother or father to ask their child to do this?
Who is listening? Who is there to talk to?
This poem could go further. I thought it might. But, turns out I had to live it through a little deeper in my own life in order to finish this piece on validation.
What I now understand is that poem is from the old story. Old does not make in now invalid. Instead this story is valuable, essential and leads me to where I am now where it is old enough to gain perspective and understanding in order to let it go and make room for a new story.
I cannot proclaim to know all the pieces of the new story yet. The new story is unfolding. But here are some pieces that I have gathered so far….
Piece One, The Repair Journey: On my walk this afternoon, I listened to a Super Soul podcast of Elizabeth Lesser. She spoke about her book, Marrow: A Love Story and the work she and her sister did together to repair their relationship. She posed the question: Who do we need to clean up space with so we can truly connect? Who have we hurt? And, then ask and listen.
We hurt people in many ways, often stemming from our wounds of neglect and trauma. One of the ways we hurt people is by expecting them to meet our needs and to validate us.
Piece Two, The Spirit & Soul Journey: Maya Angelou said, beware of the naked man who gives you his shirt. She also said she doesn’t trust anyone that says I love you when they don’t love themselves. I remember my mother telling me to look in the mirror and say: I love myself. And, my mother didn’t, and doesn’t love herself. It has been a strained relationship, but in many ways I took her words to heart. It framed a life, my life. I have been on the self-love journey this entire time.
To begin Repair: As we step into our reflective practice on seeking validation, let’s be curious about which relationships in our lives need some tidying up. Who can we do some repair work with? Who have we hurt, and then ask and listen, defenses down. Also, consider is this person safe, willing and ready to begin the process. There are some people who, at this time, are far too wounded and therefore will be too defensive to clear space with.
To begin the Conscious Spirit & Soul Journey: Consider that you are on a self-love journey, no matter how low or how badly you feel about yourself. Do you believe this to be true? Then, where do you think you are on this journey? Are you the kind of person who is naked, but giving your shirt away? Or do you have so many shirts and won’t consider sharing one? Either behavior shows there is an imbalance within the relationship with yourself. What if you looked in the mirror and said: I love myself? Notice what you feel. What you think. Do you believe it?
Which brings me to the next piece…..
The New Story
This weekend, while journaling, I understood that a new rhythm unfolds inside of me. The Voice Inside says to me gently: let it happen. No need to figure it out, alter it, halt it. Let it occur.
This new rhythm is of my own making. I no longer beat to the drum of my old childhood wounds and buried trauma. There is a new sound coming forth.
Here is the poem of this new sound:
There is a new rhythm coming forth.
It is of my own making.
Why would I do anything to disrupt and disturb it.
It is coming together to create a new dance in all of my relationships. In the relationship with myself.
It comes with a trust toward my eternal and steadfast vision of the person I want to be, the person I know I am.
It is not a head path or the old wounded way.
It is a soul path, a heart path.
And it is unfolding, and I am watching, noticing and gratefully looking forward to what is transpiring.
In this new rhythm I begin to understand I am fully nourished by Spirit, by my Soul’s Journey. My my very own Self.
As always, I am here to help you investigate this topic because sometimes it’s a lot to do this on our own. If you have questions about this week’s practice or have insights to share, please contact me. For deeper, more concentrated work, I am available for tele-therapy.
To learn more about me and my services, click here. To reach me for questions or to share, click here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Validation: “recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile”
A child is sitting alone at home after school. The dad comes home from work and doesn’t say hello or ask, “How was your day?” The dad doesn’t even make eye contact with the child.
A new employee has just been hired. The boss takes her around the first day, introduces her to people and shows her to her desk. The boss then leaves her alone indefinitely.
A husband and wife lie in bed. The wife stares at the ceiling. Her husband is on his phone.
I often hear people say, mostly women— particularly younger women, that they need validation. I’ve never thought: me too. In fact, I’ve thought validation does not matter to me.
Until recently, when it occurred to me that I received so little validation as a child that how could I know to want something I didn’t know existed. This occurrence uncovered a deep wound of deprivation— deprivation of words, of energy and attention, of presence and acknowledgement from the caregivers and other taller people around me.
Instead of wanting something I could not have, it made sense to push that need deep, deep into the darkness— into a dark room and shut the door. But, the door to the dark room wasn’t sealed. Over time, the stench of that need for validation, created a belief: I am not worthy. I do not matter. It may have even gone so deep that I wondered: did I even exist?
Most things, I am finding, are on a spectrum. I believe the vast majority of us were neglected as children, of at least one fundamental need, and that experience of neglect lies on a spectrum. I was bathed, fed, read to. I have memories of my father rubbing my temples after a hard week with mom. I have fewer memories of my mother’s validation.
I also remember my grandmother Lillian. We sat on her gold sofa playing Uno. She handed me $20 bills. Her eyes lit up when she saw me. I called her my pal. I remember my Aunt Flo who lived in Chicago, where I visited at least once a year. Walking through her door was immediate love and acceptance by her pinch of my cheeks and the twinkle in her eyes. I cling to the memory of these two women. They saw me. They showed me I existed and more, could be loved.
Can I venture to say, we all carry the deep wound of neglect somewhere inside of us….?
Sadly, when the stench of unworthiness takes up space in our being, we attract all the people and experiences that show us we are not worthy. More sad, if we do not see these experiences as opportunities to heal, we create a story and our unworthiness sets in like a stone corpse. It’s concreted now: we do not matter.
I write this today because I don’t want any of us to concrete the belief: I don’t matter. If we have, there’s still time to break it apart to the point where it becomes dust and can be blown away by our own breath.
We matter. And depending on where we are on the spectrum of neglect, it can take many years of uncovering this wound, allowing it to heal, and recreating a life, not of the stench of unworthiness, but of the fragrance of mercy and the pure delight of our existence.
The self-reflective practice for this week is to do some investigative journaling and mindful reflection. Notice if you seek validation. To help, notice where you have a story about something or someone. For instance, in the example I gave above about the new employee and the boss: he may have had complete confidence in her abilities and that is why, after showing her around, he let her be. However, if she isn’t sure about herself and her own abilities, she might start looking for him to validate her. She won’t ask him to- because who does that, right- especially with a boss? Then, she might start creating stories, talking to her co-workers, and eventually might become paranoid of her position or resentful of what she perceives as neglect from her boss.
As we can see, this can get very complicated. When really, it is quite simple. But I won’t get into that for this week. First, we need to notice where we are on the spectrum of seeking validation. Where we are on that spectrum will point to where we are on the spectrum of neglect, often from childhood.
I am here to help you investigate this topic because sometimes it’s a lot to do this on our own. If you have questions about this week’s practice or have insights to share, please contact me. For deeper, more concentrated work, I am available for tele-therapy.
To learn more about me and my services, click here. To reach me for questions or to share, click here or email me at email@example.com
Next week, I will unravel this complicated validation journey and share ways toward self-validation and ultimately, self-love.
Yesterday morning I stayed in bed until 1pm. I wasn’t in a state of rumination. I wasn’t in a state of worry. Mostly, I just was. Inside of me there was lots of space.
This wasn’t always the case. I was filled up with worry, anxiety, unprocessed traumas, emotions and experiences. The space I experience now is still somewhat foreign, sometimes bordering on what seems like boredom–– but, I welcome it. Truly, I earned it.
For nearly 30 years I have been consciously doing what I now call Soul Work. It’s a lot of internal digging and discovery. It takes curiosity, presence and commitment. It caused many dark nights of the soul and countless internal shifts. This has brought me a life of continuous growth and change.
Today, with the new moon, I am launching my new business. The vision of this venture is to provide a space for growth and transformation through soul work. In doing so, I would work as guide/coach.
I am also a licensed social worker, working toward my clinical license. Through my education and work experience I have gained skills in assessing and knowledge of interventions and theories.
These two elements have aligned with my strong desire to be a helper in the areas of self-discovery and growth. Not much matters to me more than this because when we know our selves, we know everything. Further, in knowing ourselves, we push our human evolution as a whole, forward. In light of the times, THIS IS NEEDED.
Knowing ourselves is a process. The help I offer is not gimmicky or for most of us, quick. If this is something of interest to you, if you find yourself in a consistent state of anxiety, worry and overwhelm, perhaps it is time to tip- toe toward the soul and find what’s there.
Go to this link to learn more. After looking, if you have questions, please let me know. This will help me clarify my service for people. After looking, if you are interested, fill out the form or send me an email and we can begin.
For my graduate social work program I chose to do my research project on self-refelctive practice using myself as the both researcher and the one being researched. So far my work has been downloaded from universities and people all over the world.
When we look for a therapist, it is important that the therapist, know thyself.
Typically, in a social work graduate program, students are taught human behavioral theories, methods and interventions, ethical practices, policy and cultural competence among other areas. The primary tool used by social workers are themselves. Therefore, it is important the social worker is competent. The academic curriculum ensures that professionally, they are. However, how much does a social work graduate program ensure the social worker is competent personally? Theorists and current literature express the importance of a therapist possessing selfawareness— that essentially to know oneself is to know others. In this autoethnography, I aimed to enlighten the importance of self-awareness by participating in the self-reflective practices of clinical supervision and self-reflective journal writing during my graduate year as a social work intern and student. I took this data and interwove it with personal history and knowledge from social work literature and education. Through the process, I discovered the importance of the therapeutic relationship and its ability to provide relational repair, along with personal issues such as insecure attachment surfacing in order to be acknowledged and begin to be healed. Ultimately, I experienced the reason why self-reflective practice is essential in being a competent therapist. Self-reflective work brings self-awareness. Self-awareness brings self-knowledge. And, self-knowledge enhances the therapeutic relationship and increases a therapist’s overall competence and confidence.
At middle-age, which is where I am, I have been at the edge of the unknown a few times. I have taken myself there deliberately, and I have been mysteriously taken there without warning. I am at the edge of the unknown again. I am going through the shift of no longer being a woman who can conceive. I am going through the shift of no longer being a mother whose duties are nearly every minute of my existence. I am going through the shift of who I am as a wife, and realizing I want to be a partner, not a role. I am going through the shift of being full-time mom, to full-time student, to do-I-want-to-be-a-full-time-employee when really all I want to do is go-deeper-into-my-authentic-nature-and-immerse-in-whatever-is-my-soul’s-intent.
The possibilities of this time of life seem endless. The freedom of this new space sometimes takes my breath away. It’s a time of great unknown and seemingly instability where I don’t know how or where my next steps will unfold. It is also a time I know and trust myself more than ever before— and that is proving to be everything.
I went for a forest walk this morning. I entered, expectant. Further along, afraid. What twists and turns might I face? As a woman, would a man try and hurt me? As a human in mid-life, more feelings of loss? As a spiritual being, enlightenment? The wondering passed and my feet on the path continued. The journey felt far, and at times I felt tangled within it with no escape, like that branch above (1). As the path turned I found a paved path. It led where I began. The return was so close, and had always been (2).
Nature can be used as a metaphor for our personal/spiritual journeys. It can be symbolic of our relationships with ourselves and others. Today for me, feeling entangled in the forest, and then to find the paved path to where I began, was a metaphor of my journey. Within the journey are many twists and turns, moments of being snared and entangled, to then being pushed into a clear open space. There is darkness. There is light. There is mess, debris and branches and old leaves everywhere (3). All of this tricks the mind that I have gone too far from myself, from where I began, and will not make it to where I am trying to go. But— my feet continue to step. The path leads to where I began and I see I was never far away, I was really never far at all, ever, and will not be again.
Below are the images and metaphors from my forest walk. Tip: if you’re feeling stuck creatively or worried about where you are on the journey, take your own nature walk. See what you see, how it reflects where you are and how it can be used to provide you with some expression and guidance.
This instantly brought tears to my eyes. I see two trees meeting together at the root, joined at the heart and growing individually as one.
Change & the touch of Autumn
(3) The mess of the forest and as it should be: as it is.
Moss: how I love thee. Had I known I could have made a career studying moss I might have changed my major. Seems to me studying moss may be more enjoyable than the study of people and relationships. #IAmASocialWorker
Hello September! It is the time of the In-Between. Have you noticed where you are in your life often aligns with the seasons of the year, and the transitions between them? Do you pay attention to the signs in nature that a season change is coming? What about you— what are your signs that change is coming? What’s your expression of change?
Signs of the In-Between
Yesterday, I planted mums while my hibiscus still bloomed. I hung the fall wreath on the door, added the fall lawn ornaments outside, and decorated the inside with ceramic pumpkins. I did this while the air outside was hot and muggy. This is the time of the In-Between.
Here, in the Midwest, where the signs of the new season peak through and life continues to exist in the season that is leaving, can be quite vivid. The first sign I notice are the sounds during the day of the Cicada, the Locust and the Cricket. It occurs to me this is their final chorus before the air turns cold. In the In-Between, there are days that require a sweater or a light jacket and then back in shorts and a tank top. When the heat returns, there is an abundance of bugs: bees, boxelder and lady bugs— their final jaunt before the cold is here to stay.
It is the time when the deep, green leaves fade. Some begin to turn to their autumn color, and others dry up and fall to the ground. The grass does not grow as quickly, the sun does not shine as brightly, yet still brings warmth on one side of the body while the wind feels cool on the other. The days grow shorter, which initiates a sadness of the summer that is ending and the dread of a long winter. But before this happens, there is the excitement of fall and all that it brings: back to school, pumpkin spice lattes, walks in the woods— stopping to take pictures of the colorful leaves, taking a tag off a sweater that was too warm to wear in the summer, a trip to the apple orchard and making apple crisp, and the anticipation of the holidays that follow.
I am in the In-Between in my life. I am middle-aged. I am transitioning from a life of homemaking to a life of working outside my home. I graduated from college. After 3 months, I did find a job, but it is a temporary job. I am working, but also not for long. I am married, but I have changed. He has changed. We have changed. We find ourselves in the same bed at night, but little else is shared. It’s enough to still be welcomed to our in-laws, and enough to have a short fight. But it’s not enough to feel as in love, or as connected and fully together as we once did. We are in the In-Between.
The In-Between is difficult, and full of possibility. The In-Between means change. The activity of the squirrels, who run through the grass and up the trees, remind me it is also the time to prepare for the changes ahead. The squirrels understand the necessity of storing their food in various places to be retrieved in the winter. The In-Between cannot last, but sometimes it can feel like it will never end. Sooner or later, new life does unfold. The changes we desire and the ones we fear do occur. Our body and soul know this. They also know if we are prepared for the changes or not.
If you feel like your life mimics the time of the In-Between we are in, take a moment to tune in to your body, to your self, your soul, your life. Are there changes you want for yourself? Are there changes you fear coming? What does this feel like in your body? Do the changes, the unknown of this time in the In-Between, make you feel anxious? Excited? Calm? Do you feel you are prepared? If not, how might you prepare?
My Expression of Change
I have been anxious during this time. I feel the anxiety in my belly. I experience myself gripping and clinging, as if I’m trying to stop the changes from happening. I notice my thoughts, which try to control and analyze what is occurring. I also know these patterns. I have been here before. I know change is coming, and it’s coming fast. I know letting go and allowing is the antidote to the clinging and gripping, the controlling and analyzing. I know the transition is happening as it should and soon I will be in new territory. I take deep breaths, get still and consider some of my anxiety could be an indicator more preparation is needed, that I must gather my nourishment for the winter to come. I then begin to seek and gather this nourishment to prepare.
Soon the sounds of the Cicada and Locust and Cricket will fade. The landscape will be less green, and instead flourish with gold, brown, red and orange. Fall will be here. I will gain knowledge and new understanding. I will find resources through relationship and experience that will awaken and strengthen me in this new space. The nourishment I gather will be plenty. Eventually, I will thrive. Just as the snow will accumulate in January, so will my confidence. And in the Spring, change will come again.
I wish you wisdom and serenity during the changes in your life and in your self.
If you feel a need to have assistance and guidance during your time of transition, please contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Together, we will create a space of support and a plan toward greater awareness and understanding. For a list of services, visit here.
My latest article as the Mental Health writer with The Volk Magazine (3 min read):
In the current state of affairs, it is all too easy to wake up empty and frightened. To wake up this way is often also an experience of people experiencing mental illness. The past four years I have lived and breathed social work, learning in school about mental health and social justice. The learnings have made me even more aware of the issues facing humanity, while creating a certain kind of rigid mind set needed to manage the academic work in order to attain a degree. I’ve also stayed up nights and woke up mornings reading one troubling news story after another. This combination has caused anxiety, and at time bouts of depression, making it difficult to, as Rumi says, take down a musical instrument. Taking down a musical instrument is a metaphor, which invites us to seek the beauty, even in the struggle. Continuing this article, I will share two experiences where I lived Rumi’s words. The article will conclude with suggestions of how you, the reader, can find your beauty in the struggle. So come along toward the Beauty Way.. Click here to continue.