Why I Don’t Do New Year’s Resolutions

It’s February, and aleady many of those New Year’s Resolutions (NYRs) have gone out the window! Have no fear, there is another way………..

Please don’t get me wrong; I totally get the desire to improve and be better. It’s when the ‘Not Enoughness’ drives these resolutions we continue to perpetuate the self deprecating behavior that feeds our inner hatred. Be Thinner. Be Fit. Work Out Every Day. Eat Perfectly. Sleep 8 hours.

Stop Whatever. Start Whatever. It is this kind of dangerous mind game we tend to play that makes a resolution just another way to emotionally degrade ourselves and the inner voice (I call her ‘The Bitch in the Back’) gathers fuel to corrupt our future ability to try much of anything new- potentially even healthy changes that can be beneficial to our overall well-being.

Instead of listening to the dark voices, there is a little wisdom I continue to come back to time and again. If we spent more on Self-Acceptance and less of badgering ourselves with endless self improvement- all that Start Whatever, Stop Whatever stuff would just organically show up in our lives and not arbitrarily because the date flipped a number or two.

I am not in the habit of pretending one just flips on a switch and Wha-La!- SELF ACCEPTANCE BABY! (You must say this to yourself in a burlesque dancer voice). The process can actually be long and at times painful. But there are meaningful aspects of our makeup that can transform the fabric of what it means to be You. Let’s try on an example.

I will never hang back so far in a work environment that I won’t be asked to take on some project. It’s in my DNA to get in and get messy (in my own way). Even when I fall back and be quiet, I just don’t. I am still learning and leaning into accepting this as part of me.

An even better example is how I will never be a physically small person. Even my head is Amazonish in selfies next to the little people! As part of my self acceptance, I train 3 days a week at the gym, teach yoga two days and try to take one or two classes a week. Has it shrunk my pa-dunk-a-dunk ass? NOPE. Not even a little. Secretly, my trainer has been working on making it hold a glass like it’s a side table I think?! Despite these things, I have learned what keeps me motivated is not some strange ideal that I just will not be- but instead, loving myself as I am.

So this year, I will remain focused on what matters. I don’t want to be a better mother, spouse, teacher, therapist (pick a hat, any hat). I want to enjoy the fact that I love and am loved. I wish to remember to appreciate all the joy and gifts I have in my life. I want to remember more often to stand back and relish in all the growth I have done. And for me, most importantly, it’s growing in love with the person I am. I want to recognize myself in the mirror as being the person I choose to actively reflect in the world.

And this is my wish for you. We will not be redeemable with a better body, nicer children, more friends or stopping whatever crappy habit we picked up. You already are the most magnificent beautiful human created from the dust of stars.

Let Me Repeat Myself………

YOU. YES-You are ALREADY the most MAGNIFICENT BEAUTIFUL Human created.

The trouble is we often don’t believe it in our bones. We may say in our head, ‘I am a good person’ but it does not translate into the core. I believe that if we inched towards the acceptance of ourselves there would be many things that would naturally fall out and change within us in just a season of our lives.

Here are a few:

  1. Bitterness would die. The plants- or perhaps trees of hardness that force you to drink vinegar while you are not looking would disappear like a red solo cup at a party. That bitterly scowled expression expecting to be rejected and hurt could begin to wash away and perhaps for once you could choose which well to drink from.

  1. Anger would slide off your body like an oil slick. Of course, it would continue to show up, but you would see the fear and pain that anger piles on and not allow it to be covered or cower from the struggle that honest emotion brings.

  1. Judgement would no longer belong to you. If you were naturally not judging yourself- it would seem all the more inconsiderate to judge others. We could recognize more and more that acting like others are “doing it wrong!” is just another form of self hatred and an honest reflection of our own lack of self acceptance.

  2. We will become more accepting of others. It becomes so much clearer how we are ALL just doing the very best we can. Perhaps someone else cannot escape the patterns of the past and all of the so called help and judgement will not change this. But more love for ourselves will.

As we continue to barrel down 2016, I wish you health and happiness. I am confident it will show up in all our lives as we grow in the connections we make towards the acceptance of US. May you love deeply, especially the sweet gift of You.

                                                          LIVE.OUT.LOUD.

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Baked in Gratitude

My most recent Daring Way™ group, The Daring Survivors (yes, somedays they could be one of those ole’ timey all girl doo-wop bands) and I were lighting the way into the arena. We were gaining clarity on our values and making decisions about what we are going to take into the arena instead of the swords of emotional armor.

One group member piped in and asked what was Altruism? It was a difficult idea to explain in terms of a value, especially since I obviously could not keep my opinion to myself about how I felt about the concept. I did my best, but did say I worried saying ‘we are coming from a completely selfless place’ because I do not believe that is really possible.

We are humans and therefore we need connection. We cannot do this alone. We need a tribe.

Hell, sometimes I need more than one. So if we give knowing that it will bring us Joy, I would argue that it is not- nor does it need to be- from a selfless place.

And honestly, nothing has been more meaningful then the work I get to do with my fellow trauma survivors. Yes, some just come and go. But when we stick, its kind of like Mod Podge- we are gonna glue some shit down permanently. And no matter how you try to bake, it is NOT an altruistic endeavor.

I have the honor and privilege of holding space for my fellow trauma survivor. And as they plow through, trudge straight up hill- sometimes holding heavy weight for some time; I gently keep pushing on those edges of comfort and ask, ask and Ask Again to Wake Up to this life. Be Courageous. Do the hard thing- because if I can, You Can.

The transparent truth is this, I push for many important reasons, but as I watch the world shift, sometimes a life saved; I hold it dearly on those dark days. When someone does the work and moves from victim to survivor it gives me hope that WE can do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. Their work has a ripple effect that they will never see. Sometimes I won’t even see.

So, from my perspective, there is no such thing as altruism. I am a hard ass about the work once I know your level of commitment. I have been known to straight out call people a fucking liar when their own personal honesty is lacking and I hope ONLY when I have earned it. Giving the gift of a whole hearted life to yourself is the most important and meaningful thing you will ever do for yourself. I will then carry your authentic Self with me ALL the days of my life. And no matter what the challenge, I WILL HOPE. I will keep dreaming of another. And another. And another SURVIVOR.

The only thing we can ever really do to make a difference in this life is to change ourselves. My fellow tribe pushes me to keep growing. I push them to keep moving towards Survivorhood.

Yeah- Survivorhood: its a place where the courageous go to lay down their emotional armor and change the world by changing themselves.

Come. Come and Go with Me.

                                                                                 Thich-Nhat-Hanh-Peace-In-Oneself-Peace-In-The-World

LIVE.OUT.LOUD.

We Say Farewell with Gratitude to one of Our Beloved

Outside of the privilege of being a therapist, I decided that part of my giving back to the community was to mentor other therapists to do private practice well. Today we say farewell to one of our beloved and send her off to do good work in her own practice. Wish her well. Send her love and light

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December 2013

Dearest Angie,

It seems like a million miles ago we met on that fateful day in the Child and Family Guidance office.
You were blazing in from somewhere in the field talking about the next live music show you were
going to and which one you had just left from. You showed me pictures of your kids on a social media site and spoke fondly of the life you lived. I can’t say why I knew, but I knew we would cross paths many more times. That was almost nine years ago.

When I started private practice about seven years ago, it was a whirlwind of falling down mistakes. I realized early this was like getting another graduate degree and I made a vow that if I could really figure this out and learn how to do it well, I would pay it forward and not make someone else have to suffer through the process alone. Do you remember me calling you several times to bug you about taking that second exam so we could get started? I remember realizing quickly that doing this together would be one looooonnnnnggggg experiment and we would both learn how to be mentor, colleague and friend.

And goodness has it been a ride…..

I have learned so much about myself in this process. I realize I still have a lot to learn about being a mentor, but I hope I have guided and been honest about my shortcomings. I most appreciate your willingness to do this together so I can go on and do it again, continuing to improve my skills to prepare the next person to be in private practice on their own.

Most importantly, I have watched you become one of the best practitioners I will ever know. I recall your fear and trepidation in those first months, struggling to ask for your needs to be met in the big picture of the day to day of private practice, to today- listening to you carefully calculate how to best serve your community while remembering to take good care of yourself.

My heart bursts with sadness and joy! I have grown accustom to seeing you beautiful face every week and having time to just check in and be present with you. I will miss this terribly. But, knowing that you will drive less, spend more time with your family and create a lasting connection in your own practice brings me immeasurable joy.
Aurora Counseling for Healing and Change is the fruit of many, many long drives and nights away from home.

You may not know it, but you inspire me. Not many would put their trust in someone else to help
co-create their career. My heart is full of gratitude and during times of struggle, I will return to remembering your gifts.

I look forward to watching your practice evolve and learning and sharing with each other as the years move forward.

Thank you for traveling the journey with me.

In Gratitude

One place I struggle with expressing myself is in offering gratitude. I often think all day long about how some outfit looks great on someone or expressing my thanks to someone. It may seem odd, but it is a place of vulnerability. We often do not know if another person will brush us off or openly accept our gifts. I am working on this. So today, I share with you a letter I recently sent to my BFF and office manager in an ongoing effort to let her know how much I appreciate her presence in my life. Writing it has prompted me to consider other people who need to her my words of thanks. I think we often are gracious, but without intention. This is my way of committing to you my increased intentionality around my work with joy. Without gratitude, joy is difficult to experience. I challenge you today to take your gratitude work and create intention. I am working on my next letter and will share with you here soon……

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September 2013

 

Dearest Anne,

Four years ago, we chatted while I was in Tennessee at the Carnegie Hotel about the possible future of us working together. We were open and honest about not knowing what we could initially offer one another, nor were we sure about what the future would hold. We agreed to try it out and see if it made sense. Here we are, four years later, living in different states, have had three different therapists with us and a mound of insurance knowledge and struggle. I realize that my career dreams would not have become what they are without you.

Despite the fact that when all is said in done, I am (suppose to be) the “boss” and I know I can be a controlling tyrant in different moments, the truth is that you decided to take a chance on me. You agreed to play a role in the future of this business and with out fail, have given yourself fully. You agreed to buy into what could have been just another silly dream. You made the commitment to be apart of something that gives to all of us and our community every day. Every time I step back from what we have accomplished, I am in awe and experience such rich joy in knowing that we have collectively created something that is meaningful and thriving.

In the past, the idea of not knowing every aspect of this business made me want to jump out of my skin. Now, when Angie and Shaun ask me a question they think I should know, I don’t worry when I recognize that you have that piece of knowledge and I do not have to know every detail. I do not fret over the details of who is a best fit and how to make sure we maintain the type of reputation necessary for our work to thrive in a business that is driven by confidentiality and the need to create emotional safety.

You are the face of our business. Just in how you chose to work with every client makes my job so much easier. That initial call for every client is tough and what you do in those few moments you spend with them begins the process of creating the safe environment that we are all committed to.

Above all, we started out as familiar acquaintances, and today, I call you one of my best friends. When we started working together, we realized that we had the same kooky and dark sense of humor, could laugh at ourselves and with each other over silly things only we find funny. I am always grateful I can talk to you about what ever is on my mind without judgement or negative criticism. I am in awe of how we can so easily say to one another, ‘I wouldn’t do that shit if I were you’ and know that if we still do, we won’t make each other feel bad for it. 

How does one luck up on a business manager and a best friend? I am sure I don’t know.

 

I wish I could give you more: more time, more money, maybe one day, a real shredder……what ever you needed. But today, in this letter, I offer you what I consider my most precious gift: my confidence in you. I BELIEVE in YOU. Thank you for sustaining me as my business manager and as my friend. I grow in gratitude as the years go by.

 

 

In Love and Trust, 

 

Alicia G.