Where Is The Love?

Today I made myself sit and stare at it. Just sit and look- see it more closely. Normally, I would flip past it, hide it and even become angry about it. Why did I have to see this? Why am I being tortured with the notion of having a seemingly mindless moment to only be flooded with memories of his face- HIS FACE!

But today, I just examined without judgement of myself or him.

I took a moment to wonder about the lives of those that did care about him, those that suffer because he is gone and remember that his (possible) children lost him for so long because of what I did.

Just a year ago my brother and perpetrator took his own life. My sweet sweet sister told me, I suppose knowing that I would want to know- but not exactly why. I looked at the message and slumped down onto the bedroom floor and began to shake with grief-relief. Maybe we call that griefalief? All my life I have been attached to this person whether it was in my heartache and rage as an adolescent to the rebirth out of the ashes of his abuse as an adult. I have learned how to carry him with me inside the story I tell, one of pain and loss; one of redemption and passion. Like my very own tiny tale of life and it’s my story- my ending.

Since that time, my sister, who shared a relationship with him ongoing over the years, has posted pictures of him on social media. The devil that it is, Facebook too offers us growth if we decide to accept it. And at first, I said, “FUCK THIS!”, had my verbal tantrums and avoided seeing his face like it would some how burn mine off. Like really Alicia- you give no one your power, why would a photograph get yours now? But his face……. Burned in my brain like the scar on my forehead. I thought I had done all the embracing of my story in his, but like all of life….there is always more to learn.

And as I cried on the floor, my daughter and husband sat on the floor to comfort me. They were confused as to why I would cry and frankly, so was I. And yet I realized his time of potentially haunting me at some future family gathering was over. I would not have to discern between my mental health and making my family happy. But I was also so very sad for him- unlike some- it was a shitty and fucked up existence from what I could see from a distance. Life had never really let up and he had no relief or redemption. And although I will never stop saying that the best revenge in this life has been my happiness, for him, it would have been a nice ending to hear he had gotten help or maybe just some relief.

All this may sound crazy, but I have learned more about his life. My mother told me about how he had come to live with her and my stepfather at a young age after being left in cars for hours as a toddler so his mother could party and gamble. He was locked in closets and hurt by other people…..abandoned by his own mother. He came into this world broken and the only thing he knew to do was break others. He often drank, smoked marijuana and did terribly in school. I was just another thing on his path of destruction.

I have grown so bold with my mother that I told her about how much it hurt to see his face invading my phone screen and how others’ kind and sweet sentiments about his life were like puke in my mouth. She was understanding and I was able to ask about him further. She gave me a gift in that moment. I asked her why she did not think to recognize his potential to hurt others? She told me of stories of how she knew to look for adults- she knew to be weary of the sweaty conniving men who may hurt and abuse little children, but no one talked about the cycle of sexual violence occurring from one child to another.

And that’s just it. Here we are once again crossing paths with the three-headed Dragon of Shame. It seems I am doomed to the role of broken record, pleading with people to see how our silence shreds through the option of healthy existence. And here with him and his face glaring at me through my phone, I am reminded of how we have the capacity to destroy one another. We pick one another off like ticks on mangy dogs inflicting as much pain as we can muster in the hopes that we can squeeze out our shame onto another human and rid ourselves of ours. Or worse yet, we cannot bear witness to the happiness and innocence of another human and instead whittle our way through their bodies until we successfully excavate their soul.

I suppose all that truth is a little harsh. We are not all by nature mean or cruel and I remain well aware of the fact that most of us would crash our cars before hurting that squirrel hurling himself onto the highway. And yet I demand answers. This is one of the reasons I say ‘WTF!’ to myself twenty times a day! When are we going to catch onto the idea that when we see ourselves as unworthy humans, it is not a play option to physically, emotionally, spiritually or sexually violate another? At what point in my lifetime are we going to stop failing ourselves? When are we going to get together as a collective and do whatever it takes to nurture, grow and create a sustainable world that promotes the FACT that there is NOTHING that removes us from our worthiness of love and belonging. NOTHING and NO ONE- not even my stepbrother.

Sure, there was an incredibly long time I would have rather stabbed his eyes out and there is no doubt justice was never served. But then again, who am I to actually be angry at? Can it really just be him? For myself, the answer is the Dragons of Shame. I am not bad and neither was he. The people in my life who did nothing were responsible, but who gave them a sword of vulnerability to be the Dragon Slayer? How far back in the generations do I go seeking a courageous people? It is so risky to show up in our lives and even more risky to turn up the volume on vulnerability. I can only imagine what it would have been like for my brother to have had the freedom to say that he was ashamed of his existence. Perhaps he would have not made me feel ashamed of mine.

So just for today, I stared at his picture. I stared without judgement of myself or him. And for the first time, I realized there was a time he was somebody’s baby. Maybe he earned being a shell of a human for all he did, but since our stories will never be separated, perhaps he can finally live in peace in my story.

I will never forget. But I forgive you brother. I forgive my people for passing up the swords of vulnerability lodged in the stones of life. As Maya Angelou said in her most dignified God like voice, “We do what we know until we know better”. I know better and I will do better. I will not be silent and no matter how heavy the words of vulnerability, I will practice taking the risk as often as I am able.

I AM ENOUGH. Broken but Whole–glued back together with the sticky, messy words of vulnerability. And this is MY Story- I get to decide how this will end. I do not have to live inside generations of shame before me. And guess what? Neither do you.

LIVE.OUT.LOUD.

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Regret is a Bitch of a Teacher

Remember when that teacher just stayed and stayed on you to work through a task feeling like a hot sticky hell only akin to the deep south? And perhaps there was a part of you that just wanted to reject what they were saying for the sake of being a rebellious pain in the ass (and a heaping side of avoidance)? And then you did just that? If this has ever been your experience, this is what regret can feel like. Sometimes I stay stuck in the awkward yoga position until I chew down through all the pieces of the puzzle my brain has not figured out.

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And if I have ever had regrets, its in my friendships that suck the most. I find that trying to be a friend can feel like endless attempts at recognizing that I need to be brave and say stuff I am struggling with….and I just don’t. I have come to realize that when I decide I want someone to like me, I will break rules in order to be liked. I will also do the opposite; when I need to NOT forge a relationship and I know it. I will push down many of the signals that are saying ‘there is no glue here, what ARE you doing?’

I have some REALLY incredible friends, ones that love me with a kind of generousity that surpasses any expectation one can verbalize. Occasionally I say to myself that since I have these friends- why would I need more? And truthfully, I don’t. I guess I am an adventurist and want to not shut out the possibility of someone fabulous, but when it doesn’t work out…GAWD! The gremlins are unreal and I hop right down that rabbit hole of ‘who do you think you are, someone who needs 100 fabulous friends? You should be so lucky to have three?’

Once again, I am learning and regret is a fabulous, albeit a taskmaster of a teacher. We have not lived if we have no regrets, but I won’t lie, rumbling around with them is my least favorite part of being an emotionally awake human being.

So here is what I want to live better: I want to take a deep breath and say out loud the struggle I see in front of me without judgement or unkindness and not allow it to build or stuff it down. Brené Brown talks about different ways we can off load hurt- chandeliering can sometimes be a terrible favorite of mine. There are many kinds of ways we can vomit up all the tiny cowardices we did not speak. Each have the potential for devastating consequences in relationships. We wait to long and well, we may have just waited too long. Chandeliering just leads us to hang from the ceiling screaming (I imagine you get the crazy here.) But what if understanding that reality of hurt is just unavailable to us until many? Many. MANY. Moments have passed by? What then? Will that other person be willing to stay present with you and work through that recognition, still owning their part of the story that may have led to the disaster that is before both of you? Unfortunately, my experience is that this does not often happen and makes me terribly sad. If you realize that you have been stuffing and stuffing and attempt to express anger around that- do you deserve to be shunned or turned off? I genuinely would hope not- but there it is, a cranky, invisible demon living inside of you that you had no idea was eating your lunch- like a bully. And now you just got to talk about the pain that has been building, but its like a fire cracker to the other person who may have been sleeping when you let the vomit out.

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I believe this is a space where courage beyond grit rests. If we discern that the pain is real and sit through that, even if it still means the end of the relationship, new growth sprouts. When we shut down or shut out the conversation the moment for growth can get lost. And perhaps every relationship is not worth this, but I can say that WE are worth the work. So if I have to be fully honest with myself, the suck lies in knowing that I don’t get to work that all the way out with another person. I am left doing that on my own and at times, can only be left with questions unless I want to make up a confabulated story with more holes in it than the Eiffel Tower.

One of the wonderous places I have the privelege of witnessing this very experience of everyday courage is in the couples I see. Often, the regret is like a sea of green sludge that is above their eye balls, making it feel almost impossible to even witness their partners actual presence. And yet, it is possible to get yourself dirty and sit in the filth that has been mutually created in that relationship. It is possible to wake up to our lives and dig our way out of the mountain of regret. It is painful and so excruciating at times that most will not.

One of the leading researchers in the country on couples,John Gottman, formalizes the threshold of regret and trust that a relationship cannot return from. It is true that some cannot make their way back and so I do not want to apply some false hope that with just enough courage every relationship can return to glory and beauty. I, however, wonder sometimes if the exercise, even if it ends, is not worth the immense growth? I inform couples that if they are not willing to do the work here, they run the risk of simply finger wagging at their partner as the problem and then run to the next relationship. They often believe their problems are all solved because they left that son/daughter of a bitch and now are free from the conflict. What really happens is that we are clumsy and fall into the lap of some chump who has a different name, smiles at us brightly and we start the pattern all over again. Once we realize that…..That is the real Bitch. Or as my beloved Dad would say, ‘Isn’t that a biscuit eater?’

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So here’s a potential pattern to chew on. For some of us, we spend an inordinant amount of time trying to undo the patterns of intimate relationship failures of the past. As I have fessed up to before, I come from one very long pattern of marriages and divorce- each three times going back three generations. As you might imagine, I had little thought that I could undo a wicked curse, but so far, 19 years and counting with my partner. However, what I did not realize was that the struggle would ooze over into another area of my life. So, I continue to battle the pain of poor choices in relationships, just in another area of my life. Consider the person who grew up in an alcoholic family that vows to never be nor marry someone who has an addiction to alcohol…..Oops, they wake up one day and realize their partner has an equitable addiction, but perhaps to work, pornography or the internet. The depth of the necessary work to break from patterns is daunting. Discovering this makes me half relieved because I know I can change it and the other half wants to say ‘Fuck It!’ and crawl under some big squishy covers and NEVER come out again!

Whether in an intimate relationship or friendship, when the struggle to maintain connection gets lost, the threshold of trust can detrioriate at such a staggering rate, it cannot return. A relationship is just that- an awkward dance of emotions and one must attempt to stay emotionally aware of both ourselves as well as the other. Lots of toe stamping and perhaps dancing alone on the other side of the room can occur. I imagine myself sometimes a little like Elaine from Seinfield. I want to dance, I want to get things started, but LAWD!- there are not many who will dance to beat of that drum! If we are lucky enough to find life long friends/partners who will, keep them. And know that sometimes, there will be regret, the teacher like no other. May the regret not outlast the courage to try, try, and try again.

LIVE.OUT.LOUD.  AGAIN & AGAIN ❤

This Weather is Trying to Murder Me

I cannot decide, but I think this weather is trying to murder me in my desire to constantly be still or stay asleep. I recall putting in my southern weather order that it not amount of multiple days like Seattle, Washington. I would say I feel almost stabby (props to Jlaw for that one) but it would be more like one of those dull knives at the bottom of your grandma’s cluttered kitchen drawer. I am sure someone would try to tell me this is my shitty first draft, but really, drive with me at night in this crap and we would all wonder how it was legal.

I am not sure how many of you struggle with the darkness that flows into winter, but it can truly take me out for a bit. No amount of light therapy, vitamin D or new lipsticks seem to slow the negative thoughts in my brain. And if you only knew the level to which I wear my judgy pants, you would realize how crazy I was, slowly back up, hands up and say, “Okay, lady, how’d you get to be a therapist?” And I swear I’d wonder it too for a few moments……and then I have to constantly remind myself that just because I would like something to hijack my brain today, perhaps tomorrow will be better….or the next….OR the next…..

So while I wear little to no emotional armor and make better attempts at staying clear with my values, I realize that some of my past emotional armor may have not been quite as detrimental as some choices I could have made. I continue to try to integrate them into my whole Self and use them wisely rather than just stay stuck in being raw and judgy. It’s ugly up in here- promise. Let me give you some honest examples to illuminate (while the sun continues to hate on me and run off with another woman).

I can compartmentalize appropriately. Although at one time, it was a choice type of armor that was used like a daily chore, today I can struggle and still have the capacity to say to myself, “Allie- you can and will return to this, but for now, it’s time to put it away and be present with someone else’s struggle.” I dunno, perhaps being in someone else’s head and getting out of mine helps in of itself.

I will spend the time allowing myself to have all the feels I need. The past looked like weeks of a sticky hot mess only Madonna could master. Now, it does come with the weirdo consequences of the Imposter Police (Gawd, I hope they are not reading this) but, it does not last like it once did. I worry that sharing my real Self just makes me look like a weak and ineffective therapist, mother, partner and certainly writer and all the I.Police will come and strip me of every title I have been gifted. Still, I will stay there and work it out. Most of the time it means journaling and emotionally throwing up on my BFFs -but thankfully they love my kinda kook and live in my world with me.

I will yoga. It makes me feel like some new agey weirdo when I talk about how much yoga has saved me, broke me and rebuilt me…..and yet that is exactly what it has done. I have managed to move through some of the most difficult mountains in this last year with the help of one rubbery purple mat and great yoga teachers. I also have a yoga trapeze for funness and have some plans for a yoga circle thingy (they call it a wheel) just to up the play and joy. There is just something sacred about getting my mind and body to connect and reconnect in a way that feeds. I can do nothing but be in my breath and listen. It brings a kind of quiet I just cannot achieve anywhere else.

I will continue to practice Acceptance. I am a feeling being who does not always do the best job in getting back in my thinking brain. BUT…..I have a much better map than my original. It is likely in the Snow Leopard phase of life, with new upgrades to come, I hope. I do my best to love the me as I am. It is not uncommon to find me grumpy and weepy for no reason and I accept that its part of being me.

So although my dull stabby self would like to crawl under some blankets and hibernate for the winter. I will buy a few lipsticks, watch some My Little Pony episodes (highly satisfying in 25 minutes or less) and work it out in my head and on my mat.

  What works for you?

Until the sunshine returns my peeps…..LIVE. OUT.LOUD. ~and Big LOVE to You ❤

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Reflections and Lessons on Turning 40: 10 Lessons that Light My Way

I had no plans for life, much less bliss. It wasn’t always a conscious choice, but I recognize I didn’t intend to make it very far in this life. It was so painful and sometimes felt like I could not remember to breathe, much less live. Often, it seemed taking my own life would just be better. Then the awakening occurred and although much of it was like wrestling through a cocoon of boogery goo, the rebirth has been a blissful (although very messy) internal discovery. As a result of the recognized mess, the lessons I reflect here remain in flux. Some days I completely loose my way and others it seems like there is a special flashlight shining on my path, just for me.

Number One:

I have learned the art of severing foreboding joy’s snakey head. This lesson has been one of the main gifts from immersing myself in Brené Brown’s work. Put simply, the definition of foreboding joy is waiting, even expecting bad things to happen. Worse yet, while experiencing something beautiful, we take it away from ourselves by rabbit holing our minds into scenes from the Walking Dead or Game of Thrones.

Creating a gratitude practice is a one way ticket out of the insanity of waiting for everyone to die. Until I started talking about my foreboding joy, I thought I was a nut job! But guess what, other people spend an ungodly amount of time sending loved ones to the funeral home too! Oh, the sweet relief from shame. Thank you baby kittens everywhere!! Stealing your joy can end with a real life practice of ‘thank you’ (just like I did right there thanking kittens around the world). Gratitude jars, journals and consistent acts of kindness are the salve of imaginary and frankly cuckoo-ka-roo death.

Like fo-realz people, I used to not sleep cuz a gang of machine gun wolves were going to bang up our house. WHAT. (Maybe the whiskey drinkin’ wolves from Bugs Bunny were bad for children after all).

Number Two:

I am still not sure I am a good therapist and I am sure I am a mediocre mother. However, neither worry or really bother me like they once did. Because I do know- I AM Enough. I couldn’t say that with confidence for like- EVER. Now, I try to stick to what I know best and I figure I will get called out for my ongoing fuck-ups. In the meantime, I will keep changing and growing the only thing I will ever be good at and that is myself. Our journey is all the control we will ever have and probably why the role of therapist and mother will always mildly allude me. Really, some other people think I know them better than they know themselves? Worse yet, my kiddo thinks I am the bearer of all the survival magic? Nope. Not this girl.

I will try to share what others have taught me and what I have learned in using myself like a life time human experiment with a smidge of theory just for sprinkles. But beyond my own milky way, hell, I don’t know.

Number Three:

Not knowing is okay. I am keenly aware that even after collecting thousands of rich and juicy stories – I still know so very little. I have always liked the myth that we are only using a small percentage of our brain because then I could imagine stuffing it with more crunchy goodness.

Most everything I do know, say or even write did not originate from me. Yes, perhaps I package my life in this particular way, but the glory goes to those before me, with me and even those who have lost all respect for me. My brain is full of other people’s stories, ideas, wisdom and theory. The wisdom I can impart is often built upon the lives of those I have come to love. Throw in some decent schooling for good measure and Presto!- out comes the words from my mouth. If you think my words are witty or clever, they likely came from another. I just decided their beauty had to be shared with you. Other people’s life and wisdom are often the vehicle for the next person’s growth. I am the compost and my existence relies on the squishyness of our lives being mushed up together. Sure, I may be the smelly one that some initially want to gag on, but those seeking change return again and again to make the ground fertile for new planting.

Number Four:

I am accepting the difference between genuinely making a difference and being a famous author. I would like to publish, but one trip into the book store is a scary reminder that I am not alone on this wish. It’s just not a big enough boat to fit everyone. I still struggle with the belief that unless I was the next canary singing Anne Lamott or Glennon Melton, I would never make a meaningful contribution. I am certain that if Kali could help me lop off this hunk of my ego, I would be a happier person. I have to maintain my corner slice of the world- stay in my lane as many of my clients say- and I can have an impact on those I can physically touch.

~And So Can You, making the domino effect the most brilliant part.

Number Five:

Being a trauma survivor is not a state of uniqueness. I get no prize for being the girl who survived sexual abuse. Now, showing up and being vulnerable about my trauma, bravely maintaining my trauma as a part of my whole, now that I give myself prizes for all the time. I believe being a survivor allows me to experience connection with others. I have come to believe (and yes, it is biased) that every therapist would benefit from having clinical expertise in trauma because it IS the red thread of humanity. It is a rare sighting of a human being to not experience some form of trauma. Perhaps that sounds horribly nihilistic, however, I believe in those moments of inevitable drowning, lies our own personal salvation. Yes, you like chocolate, cats and yoga just like I do, but to know your deepest heart is to be present with the shame of existing. I want to hold space and more space and EVEN more space for that which makes our hearts crack wide open. I believe holding space is our super power.

Number Six:

I know for sure the trauma of being invisible is one of the most painful to swallow. So many of my people grew up NOT getting the physical smack around or severe punishment with belts for breathing, but instead were treated as if they didn’t matter by the people that mattered most to them. Physical abuse may have been sweet relief from being touched by nothingness. And as I witness this on a larger scale, I sometimes loose sight of my own ability to do good. It seems sometimes the majority culture has adopted the belief that if you exist outside the norm, you are just invisible. Treating another human like the underside of garbage is a perfectly acceptable option. I can barely tilt my head in that direction and I certainly did not fully understand the culture of invisibility until my clients taught me how it exists inside the family system. Deprivation is real and it is a kind of mind fuck like no other. Whether found in the petri dish of the family or the discourse of the public, it is one thing that readily clenches my heart and lungs- leaving me fearful and breathless.

Number Seven:

I am pinpoint clear about what I love. I am totally oily on how to keep my focus on it, but damn do I know what matters to me. I struggle to be brave and rise from the stringy mess that I often create from my own stagnate emotional starvation. I am clear I know what water trough I am refusing to drink from. I see the beautiful marble at the bottom of the creek, but Damn! I will not go in after it! For example, it literally took me two years to get my shit together well enough to figure out my part in a relationship. The belovedness of my relationship never wavered, however, my ability to sift through the sewer of my mess paralyzed me.

Number Eight:

I like being on the fringe of normal. One mentor said, “We gotta learn the rules so we know how to break them.” I wanna go my own way and although you may find me bitching about being found out as the ‘different’ one, I recognize that I prefer it. I would benefit from following along when it’s in my best interest and I continue to seek out balance. I do tend towards weed whacking my own path when the declared one may be useful. So I keep my colorful hair and personal style both in life and in the therapy chair, but I am learning to listen a little more to those wiser than me.

Number Nine:

I am in the frightful stages of stopping myself from sounding like a know-it-all. I believe others need our love and support and especially our presence, but only when asked do they need our advice. I totally get that as a therapist I am by default being asked to share some possible wisdom, otherwise, I gotta learn to shut it. I trick myself into believing I am being helpful. People generally already know what is best for them. Hell, I honestly believe being a good therapist is the simple act of reflecting back a person’s best Self. Really. Everywhere else, this lesson is still bitter on my tongue. I still throw up my fancy fix it words and worse, when someone else does it to me, I am irritated! And why? ……Because when we do this unsolicited diatribe of pretend helpfulness, we are judging the other person pretending “to help” and are essentially saying that they are too dumb to know what you magically do.

Swallowing the bitter pill and shutting up…..to the best of my ability. Perhaps I can report some more growth here at 50.

Number Ten:

I have come to believe there is no greater gift than being emotionally awake. To be able to stand outside of myself and know I may not be like living at the Ritz….Hell, I am sure my partner would disagree it was like living at the Holiday Inn some days~ Still, I get me and I am full of gratitude for being able to get into the balcony and watch myself interacting in the world. It is why it remains the ONLY thing I can confidently write about. All Other Things. Just Fuzz.

The glorious part of not designing your life at such a young age is the ability to forgo having to tear down a shallow house. I never dreamt about being a rock star or saving the planet. Sure, I have vision now, but perhaps some can be simple reflections in the water. Some may grow into the painting of my life. Others will ripple on by. I do know; the story is not over. Maybe, just maybe I can be a lantern on another’s journey and offer my light as a reminder that their story isn’t over yet either.

Here’s to beautiful 40 and possibly 40 more years of wisdom to come. Here’s to all of us who have chosen to stay and say ‘the story isn’t over’.

 LIVE.OUT.LOUD.

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In Thanksgiving: Meet The Jesuit Volunteer Corps of the North West

How many times have you heard from earlier generations, ‘Today’s young people’…..followed by some diatribe about the loss of everything that was once good in the world? Well, spend a little time with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps of the North West (JVC’s) and your spirit will be renewed.

Recently, I had the distinct privilege of sharing the Daring Way™ along side my friend in Washington with these courageous young people. We traveled to remote cabin camp grounds at the base of a mountain. Picturesque- to say the least.

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Of course, if you are traveling with Me- You WILL get lost. At some point we ended up in a national forest faced with the decision to cross into private property or an area that was so wooded the truck would not fit. My friend wanted to stick to a moose siting story, but getting lost appears to be a part of my everyday plan. I think it also reduced my anxiety about glamping (glamour-camping) because being closer to civilization than originally thought was not as scary.

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Facilitating the Daring Way™, utilizing the work of Brené Brown, is a gift unto itself and with JVC’s was no less special. Each time I am suppose to come to the table with my gifts as a facilitator, I always feel sure I gobble up WAY MORE than I give.

The JVC’s have made the decision to give a year of service in communities through out the North West and work tirelessly with underserved populations. The JVC’s are a subsidiary of Ameri-Corps, which works through out the entire United States in needed communities everywhere. My days as a member of Ameri-Corps were challenging, but the development of character and wisdom do not compare.

The commitment and drive to be present and show up for those that so many have forgotten or want to pretend do not exist is at the epitome of love and grace.

If you have lost your way- have forgotten what is good and beautiful in this world, perhaps am unsure of what to be grateful for today, spend just one day with these glorious spirits and you shall be renewed. I watched as they broke bread in their simple abundance of presence. Pure- crystal clear presence….smiling and dancing in this joyful grace together.

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At times, I was envious. There may never be a time again where such a connection exists. I did everything I could to simply remain present in their joy…..but it was impossible, at times, to not want to bottle it up and keep it in a sparkly sniffing jar for later.

Now, it would be a major loss to not honor the strife and heartache that comes with giving up so much. Imagine giving up your home, the majority of your things and trade in your life for one where you live with a group of strangers, have no car and literally (dependent upon where you are placed) trudge in the snow during the winter. It can be extremely difficult to live away from family and friends, much less trying to decide who amongst six other people is going to keep the bathroom clean. Add in long hours and often intense work creates a kind of sacrifice that many would be unwilling to consider. But, a JVC makes a conscious choice to be a vehicle for change. To lay the compost, making the ground fertile for those who often live a life in barrenness.

There is no doubt the work is transformational. To witness it is a blessing and a reminder of Thanksgiving. So, if you have forgotten to face the sun- if you have forgotten about the youthful goodness that thrives in our world, just take a peak at the JVC’s of the NorthWest. Take a long deep drink of the spirit knowing there are people in the world doing the work of the people.

THIS ~This is what holds up the world when you think your house is burning down. Give of Yourself and YOU will be forever changed. May a moment of gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day be in gratitude to the JVC’s of the NorthWest and to all of those who choose to give of themselves in their lives. For myself, the JVC’s are transformation in motion ~what a stunning site. Today, I give thanks to the JVC’s for giving me a little peak into your lives and renewing my spirit in all of humanity.

NAMASTE

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http://jvcnorthwest.org

http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps20

                                                                        LIVE.OUT.LOUD.

The Trickery of Perfectionism

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I recently attended an event where I was faced with questions about my own worthiness. Could I walk into the room and remain present, be who I really am? Or would I slather on the paint of perfection? It can be seductive to make your life ‘look good’ to the rest of the world. Hiding mistakes and getting mired into the need to appear like you have it ‘all together, all the time’ is flat out trickery, both for you as well as others. The very idea that a road to perfection exists sounds more like hell than anything I have ever considered. Yet daily, I hear people fearing they did not do something perfectly, that they are not the perfect person and must continue to trudge away until they finally check off the box:

                                                       √   Perfection

When we attempt to follow the path to perfection, a core truth emerges. We see ourselves as not worthy of love and belonging. We fear so intensely that if anyone, even those closest to us, knew who we really were, everyone would believe that we are not worth being loved. So we hide behind pretty cars, perfectly manicured houses, sweet smiles and starched dresses at church on Sunday morning. We paint the perfect picture to everyone around us, even to ourselves, in an attempt to hide the fact that we are flawed, imperfect and maybe even worse, that we struggle.

It can be rather annoying as a therapist when others expect me to have the answers to every relationship question. I must have the “perfect family, perfect child and the perfect life.” Whenever I hear that, I stick out my tongue and feel like I must be swallowing vinegar. Perfectionism is an unattainable, magical place much like fairies and superheroes. Frankly, I want nothing to do with unattainable. Instead, it is healthy for us to find our way towards good enough. This does not mean relinquishing ourselves from goal setting or making plans about our future. But, if we do it with the expectation that perfection is necessary; we will inevitably be left feeling alone, unworthy and unsatisfied with our results.

You might be wondering what I did when faced with the question of fitting in? As adults, we are challenged to not shrink and become small, or race in and try to gobble up all the feelings of not fitting in, thereby forcing ourselves to become someone we are not, trying to be perfect. Well, the truth is, I struggled. I allowed myself to become small and wanted to just disappear. I did not remain present as my truest self. Although I actively work on seeing myself as good enough, that moment got away from me and I shrank. I allowed myself to operate from a place of unworthiness and my best self did not show up. I am imperfect and I struggle. When we see ourselves as good enough, a mistake does not lead us to place that puts our worth on the line. Instead, when I left, I emotionally chewed threw it with the people I love and reminded myself of these words I created that are now an art piece in my home:

In Our Home………

We Honor Vulnerability

Teach and Practice Compassion

We Cry, We Give BIG HUGS…….

We invite Beauty in being Ourselves

We are Imperfect

We are Good Enough……….

All Who enter……shall receive our GIFTS

May we each strive towards our best selves; flawed, sometimes troubled and full of struggle. You are good enough, just the way you are. You are imperfect and therefore beautiful, because you struggle, just like me.

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