Here Comes DragonCon 2013

Find me with my Teal Ribbon on! Sending my love to all trauma survivors at DragonCon this year!!

Transformative Trauma

I am late to the party, no doubt. I have been participating in the glory of DragonCon for just a few years and just this year, I learned there was an underlying stink around the entire event. Many more than I, have been aware of the sex abuse allegations that have been haunting the DragonCon leadership. Not to mention many people have boycotted in an effort to make their voice of dissent known. Just a few weeks before the leadership was able to successfully disentangle themselves from all things Edward Kramer and his ongoing sex abuse trial, I wrote this piece in an effort to give voice to sexual assault survivors. Although there has been success in removing Kramer from a leadership position, I still believe what I wrote has merit in that those that deserve to be heard remain silent. You will find me at DragonCon wearing my…

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The Anonymous Comment: A Weapon of Mass Destruction

In the spring 2013, I had the honor of sharing my passion for ethics and my work in private practice during a professional marriage and family therapy conference. I spoke to a group of my colleagues from around the state about what makes me excited about being a therapist. Although one can never really arrive, this felt like a milestone on the journey. I was meticulous. I even attempted to sew lace on my socks because I couldn’t find bobby socks for grown ups with lace to match my silver-sparkly converse sneakers! 

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I go all in. I show up. I allow myself to be really seen. This meant talking about my most difficult ethical dilemmas and mistakes I have made. I was willing to allow others to process how they would deal with these same issues, knowing that their choices could be direct criticism of the choices I made! I spoke directly of vulnerability and read a piece from Brene Browns’ book, Daring Greatly. Her work illuminates our internal battle with operating from the belief that being weak meant being vulnerable. I wanted to communicate that behind our ethical process, we become good therapists when we take our own advice. If we learn to see ourselves as enough, not despite our flaws, but because of them, then our ethics will meaningfully follow the guidelines our professional organization expects of us. Reflecting back, I feel confident in many ways that I effectively communicated these hopes and can continue to grow in my ability to hone my craft. Many people came to me and lovingly shared their positive experience. One person even verbally noted how he loved my “Cindy Lauper like style” and I experienced both gratitude and joy.

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Interrupted cloud thought: When I decide on a piece to write about, I scribble little notes to myself to remember good thoughts to write about later……so my note to self for what comes next was, ‘then it goes black.’

Just a few weeks ago, I attended a quarterly board meeting as part of my duties as chapter chair for my professional organization. God had apparently already spoken, but I was NOT listening. I received multiple attachments in an email to go along with the meeting and one was supposed to be the reviews of all of the speakers from this last conference. That attachment did not come to me. So, I told everyone in the meeting that I did not see that and without a moments notice, a colleague graciously handed me the pile of reviews from every persons workshop. I went ALL lizard brain. My mind conveniently forgot that other professionals had horrible moments of falling apart over terrible things people said after their talks. Hell, my hero, Brene Brown, told us of some of the awful things people anonymously posted after her TED Talk! I knew better!!
My overall score, 4.29 out of a 5. That should have been good enough. Who could complain about such an overall positive report that every board member read about? Nope. I had to do it. I read every SINGLE anonymous comment left by my colleagues, all three pages of them. Of course, about 95% were wonderful. What do I remember?…and I quote, “It was ALL about Alicia, It was painful to watch.”
All the air was sucked out of the room. For a moment, it did go black and like all good trauma survivors, I disassociated and emotionally hung myself up at the corner of the room. Returning, the next breath was a sucker punch to the gut. I knew I had to take it, I had created this moment, but REALLY, “painful to watch???” I immediately fantasized about moving under a rock somewhere, never to be seen again. I ached with hurt, sadness and bewilderment. I was ashamed of standing in front of so many of my peers and sharing who I am as a human being.
I believe that without a doubt, I dream what most of us dream. I pray that my life means something. I want to believe what I have to say matters and that someone thinks I am wonderful. I just want my life to matter and that when I am rotting in the ground breaking new soil for the weeds, I want my words to have stuck with someone. I think I have something to say and it means something when someone else takes the time to read, respond and offer themselves in the process. An anonymous comment is not a meaningful offering.
I cannot begin the articulate how I can righteously stand on a soap box when considering a person putting an anonymous comment which they have no intention of owning. It’s like a free pass to take a shot at my head without giving me the opportunity to dialogue or even take a shot back! SHOW UP! Allow yourself to be seen!! Be Vulnerable!! I am fucking trying to – every SINGLE DAMN day! Its almost ironic, because what I was trying to communicate is exactly the opposite of what I received by that comment. I made a conscious effort to show up and what I got back from this one person was their troll from within. My best self says that perhaps- just perhaps, I touched something deeply difficult within them and the fear of not being good enough forced out that wall of a comment.
Even now, weeks later, I am sad when I think about this. I am even more afraid of telling anyone outside of my comfort zone, which tells me that I must. You may be wondering what is the best strategy to shake off the perpetual fantasy of rock finding?
To build shame resilience one must have a few people in their life who have truly earned the right to know your story – then you call them and cry and scream it all out. Brene Brown has a list, yes a list of criteria for those who really can make it into that inner circle. I read it sometimes to remind myself to not fall into some of the traps with my friends for whom I have been given the inner circle privilege.
So I called my BFF, Georgia. I screamed profanity like no one’s business and initially called myself stupid repeatedly. She listened for an HOUR AND A HALF. She knew it was bad when I started the conversation, “Please help me climb down off this wall.” See, I love all things about cats and I was so tense I could imagine myself gripping my claws into the ceiling. She was and is there for me. She does not criticize, she does not even stop me from my own name calling because she knows I need to go through the process. Her famous words from this moment were, “There’s always a troll in the room.” She was not intending to name call, just remind me that I cannot and will not EVER make everyone happy. The singer Michael Bolton had to once swallow this from a reporter, ‘5 million fans can be wrong!’ Yet, last I checked, he was living a sweet life even after cutting off his hair.
Know that every time we put ourselves out there, we set ourselves up to get hurt. But I beg you, do it anyway. When I began blogging just a short month ago, I had two thoughts: NO ONE is going to give a damn about what I say- look at all those people doing this. The next was- WOW! Look at all of those people trying to say something that matters to them and being willing to show up and be vulnerable! Ordinary courage, thats all I want. Then a weapon like the anonymous comment just becomes fuel for something else to write about.

 

 

Yoga For the Body Disconnected

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When we are body disconnected, we find ourselves thinking to much and possibly being told we are “in our head” most of the time. As Americans, we fall into the category of extreme body-disconnect. Do you feel clumsy in your body and experience yourself in a way that leaves you feeling awkward and well…disconnected? This lack of mind-body connection is a core struggle that leads to many other life problems that we can experience. A simple ache can grow into an injury as well as the common cold become a major illness. If we view our selves as a whole system, it is imperative that we connect with every aspect; from fingers to toes. Our lack of respect for our bodies can leads us to participate in unmanaged damage that could have life altering effects. 

To begin, get out of your head and take a deep breath. Yes, breathe in the deepest breath you have taken today. Some research says that the simple act of holding our breaths, especially during times of stress, deprive our mind and body of the necessary oxygen we need just to slow down, think and be present with ourselves. So, yes, breathe and breathe again…..
Next, Move, but with INTENTION. Sometimes when I am experiencing more body disconnection, I am one bruised up girl. I run into walls and chairs that I swear are jumping out at me, but have not moved from the exact spot I put them in years ago! So moving with intention is key. It is true that you can practice most any kind of movement with intention, being mindful of what and how your body is behaving. For the beginner body connector, or if you are like me and can loose the connection easily, I recommend slow, steady consistent movement that focuses on the breath, such as YOGA.
For many, the idea of trying yoga can be extremely daunting and uncomfortable. The truth is Yoga is for Every-Body. So many myths abound around yoga. Some believe that yoga can only be practiced in the context of a particular religion; while some believe that only the truly fit body can be an avid yogi. The truth about yoga is that it can be practiced by any person regardless of fitness level. Yoga is the type of mind-body practice where you are encouraged to listen carefully to what you need and modify your movements to meet the bodies limits. I have learned this can easily change from day to day. Some days a simple pose like the ‘downward dog’ is easy while other times I can’t wait for the teacher to instruct me to move on to the next pose! Yoga is often seen as a spiritual practice, it is not, however, a practice that purports a particular doctrine or dogma. Instead, yoga suggests that our bodies are sacred and remembering to connect with them in a meaningful way can have so many positive effects.

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If we return to our four pillars of health: emotional, physical, sexual and spiritual, we are reminded that without these four pillars, we become a lopsided, three legged table. Without finding a meaningful way to connect these four aspects of our health, we are not whole. Yoga can be the glue that allows us to connect to our Whole Selves and offer everyone regardless of our fitness level, spiritual background or fitness history an opportunity to remember the awesome connection we have within ourselves when we simply carve out time to breathe and move with intention.
So, Yes- Take another deep breath. Feel your chest expand as your lungs fill with the happy gladness that only oxygen can provide. Find a Yoga practice that is right for your body and eliminate the disconnect.
Recently, my eight year old daughter went to her very first yoga class after she was told by our pediatrician that she needed to increase her flexibility. Afterwards, I asked her how the experience was for her. She said she really enjoyed it and when asked why, she replied, “I liked that it reminded me that (looking down her toes) my feet are on the ground and I will get better at touching them with my hands.” With that, she wriggled her toes, looked at me and smiled.

Be Well and LiVe OuT LoUd.

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