Shhhh…

Shhh

Image found via Pinterest.

Should and shame go hand in hand.

I should be thinner or weigh this number or fit into this size but I don’t so I feel shame.

I should have a book published by now but I don’t so I feel shame.

I should meditate more and when I don’t I feel shame.

I should drink less or not at all and when I do  I feel shame.

On and on and on.

All of these “should” create a constant cascade of shame within me. Brené Brown describes the difference between shame and guilt like this: Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is “I am bad.” Guilt is “I did something bad.”

I almost always focus on me rather than the behavior.

It’s not a coincidence that should and shame both begin with the “sh” sound. Both are used as way to quiet our authentic selves. To shut up the parts of us who want to stand out, that don’t conform to expectations.

Shhh…don’t make waves. Just follow society’s expectations of women being thin and smiling and nice.

Shhh…don’t you dare accept your body at the size that it is. Not when there are so many diets plans and books and pills out there to “help” you be thin.

Shhh…don’t ever think you are enough just as you are because then an entire industry build on selling you products to “improve” your body, your home, your life will be irrelevant.

It’s interesting and not surprising that the new wave of congresswomen are being shushed all over the place for speaking their truths that don’t conform with politics as usual. They are being shushed on-line and with threats.

Women are shushed all the time by being told they are bossy instead of leaders. That they should smile more because it’s obviously our job in life to make every single person around us comfortable and if we aren’t smiling then they are uncomfortable and we can’t have that.

Women are shushed when we are paid less than men for the same work.

So, how do we begin to escape the cycle of shoulding all over ourselves and the shame that follows?

I’m not exactly sure. I am still working on this myself.

I know it has to do with starting to accept myself as I am right now because if I can’t then nobody will.

It has to do with using my voice even when it shakes. In fact, espcially then.

It has to do with staying in my body, in the moment rather than getting my mind and emotions tied up in knots over how I think I should look or be.

It has to do with redefining and rethinking who and how I want to be in the world instead of letting others decide that for me.

As with everything, it’s a process. So, it also involves immense compassion and tenderness and awareness of when I slip back into old patterns of thought and behavior that are so deeply entrenched in my body and psyche.

Onward! (Liz Gilbert uses this to end some many of her posts and I feel it is so fitting for my life right now, so I am using it, too. Thanks, Liz!)

 

Learning to Lean into Joy.

content me

I posted this photo today on-line describing how content I am feeling.

Almost immediately this little voice popped up: Who do you think you are? Stop bragging. Enjoy it now cuz it’s all gonna come crashing down. How dare you be this happy when there are children locked in cages in our country.

And on and on and on.

The first time I heard Brené Brown talk about foreboding joy, every cell in my body vibrated with recognition. Foreboding Joy

It’s that space of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Or think you don’t deserve this happiness so it will soon be taken away.

2019 has been a good year for my family. Both of our daughters have graduated with their Bachelor Degrees. One is headed back for her Master’s on a full scholarship plus stipend as a Graduate Assistant. The other is getting ready to apply to an accelerated nursing program.

My daughters and I enjoyed an amazing 16-day adventure traveling to 4 different countries across Europe in May.

I came home to find my husband had bought me the perfect car.

We adopted a sweet puppy from Good Karma puppy rescue and her transition into our lives has been pretty seamless considering her background and how we were expecting it to go.

My BFF has almost completely recovered amazingly well from heart surgery.

I have stepped back into my role as yoga teacher after a month-long sabbatical in May and I feel even more at home in that role, connected to my purpose to create and hold space for my students to meet themselves where they are on any given day. A lovely student recently shared with me how much she has enjoyed watching me blossom into this amazing teacher and how much she loves my classes.

My heart is full with joy and gratitude.

And yet.

There’s this fear lurking beneath the surface. This fear that it will all change. All be taken away. That some catastrophe has to happen in order to even things out. No one person deserves this much joy, especially me.

That especially me is what Jen Pastiloff calls “my inner asshole.”

I am quite familiar with her. Luckily, I am also able to recognize her when she shows up. She showed up recently when my youngest (who is 22) chose to drive across the state on 4th of July to go to a party. My IA came out in full force. I felt this enormous anxiety about her safety. Drunk drivers on the road. Driving all that way then needing to drive back home. What if something happened to her while swimming? All these worst-case scenarios took up residence in my mind in technicolor details.

Then I recognized it for what it was. My IA and foreboding joy.

Brené Brown suggests using gratitude as an antidote when this happens so that is what I did. I called up everything single thing and person I am grateful for (it’s a long list). The sense of anxiety didn’t completely go away. But what did happen is that it created just enough space between me and that story. Between reality and fantasy.

I know this will never go away. It’s part of being human. But I know that I have the tools to see beneath the surface of the IA, beneath the anxiety and fears.

I have the tools to continue to lean into joy, day by day, moment by moment.

And I am not going to stop sharing my joy.

Or the vulnerability I feel at experiencing it.

Leaning in to Joy.

Things are going good right now. Great even.

My almost 30-year marriage is strong.

Our daughters will both be done with college by this time next year and are making their way out into the world.

I love creating and holding space for my yoga students.

I am connected to my writing on a daily basis.

I’ve lost over 30 pounds and feel amazing and strong and my back keeps getting stronger every single day.

My best friend of over 30 years moved less than a half an hour away so we get to play whenever we want.

I have a beautiful community of women to lift me up toward my best self.

I love our home.

So, it’s all good.

So, why is this there this sense of unease lurking at the corners of my life? This sense of don’t get too happy, too content because that’s when the rug will get pulled out from under you.

It happens. I know it happens. Loved ones die, marriages end, diagnoses are made.

It happens all the time so it’s only matter of time before it happens to me, so I better be prepared. Better be vigilant and not get too complacent or too smug in my life, in my joy.

The first time I heard Brené brown describe “foreboding joy” I felt chills. That’s me. I do that. all the time. Of course, I never connected it to vulnerability. I didn’t know that the antidote to it is gratitude.

Now, when I feel the shadow of foreboding joy hovering over me, I take a breath and practice gratitude.

I lean into the joy.

I make a conscious decision to choose joy in that moment.

choose joy

Image found via Pinterest.

Books Read in November + December.

“Deep Work- Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport

In the Swiss canton of St. Gallen, near the northern banks of Lake Zurich, is a village named Bollingen.

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This book popped up on my radar via Ben Percy just as my own attention was feeling frayed into nothingness. And I am really hard on myself about this. I feel like I should be able to just say no to social media. Just not check it. When I see another writer who I really admire and who appears to have an incredible work ethic struggling with the same kind of thing, I was intrigued enough to get the book.

Weaving together science, cultural criticism and actionable steps to take today, Newport makes a strong case for finding ways to drop deeply into your work whether it is writing, coding or gardening. He defines “deep work” as the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. He makes the case that work that emerges from this state is more valuable thus making you more valuable to your company, clients, the world.

At times, his advice seems a bit stringent but it works for him. The point is to get us to be able to drop into our work, have the time to mull and experiment and just be present without being pulled in a million different directions by others, by technology, by our own impulses.

Since finishing this book, I took the step of taking Twitter off my phone. A small step for sure but with huge benefits. I am not drawn into the 24/7 drama that sends me spinning off into a turmoil of rage or despair. I feel calmer, more focused, two thing that will help me sink into deep work.

A line I love:

The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower necessary to transition into and maintain a state of unbroken concentration.

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“Braving the Wilderness- The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to stand Alone” by Brené Brown

When I start writing, I inevitably feel myself swallowed by fear.

I chose this for the book club I facilitate at our yoga studio not knowing that much of the book was born out of the extreme division our country is facing. At first I was a little nervous about selecting this, about bringing politics into the space. But it was a perfect choice, a necessary and timely read for everyone.

Brown says, “It’s about breaking down the walls, abandoning our idealogical bunkers, and living from our wild heart rather that our weary heart.”

My own heart lit up at that. Yes! Exactly. My heart and soul have felt battered and incredibly weary over this past year. And it is so easy to stay in my tribe of like-minded, liberal leaning people who agree with everything I say, everything I post. But there’s a whole other world out there. A whole other part of the country that voted for this man, wanting something from him that they felt they couldn’t get any other way.

Brown guides us through her research and stories about belonging, not belonging, the need to belong, the need to stand alone out in the wilderness of our truth.

A line I love:

No matter how separated we are by what we think and believe, we are part of the same spiritual story.

And this:

True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.

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“When Women Were Birds- Fifty-four Variation on Voice” by Terry Tempest Williams

I am fifty-four years old, the age my mother was when she died.

This book had been on my radar for years. Recently, it began popping up a lot. Friends would talk about it, recommend it to me, I’d stumble across it on-line. One day I was writing in my journal about voice, using voice as a theme for my Poses, Pens + Inner Peace class that I teach when I saw that the subtitle of the book was “Fifty-four Variations on Voice.” Okay, okay, I got the not so subtle hint. I needed to read this book. So I ordered it, it arrived and I read it in two days.

I fell in love with every page, every word.

I read with a pen in my hand underling those sentences that made my skin tingle. Honestly I could have just underlined every single sentence.

I m still processing what I read and I will most definitely read it again. For now let me leave you with the blurb by Susan Salter Reynolds:

“Williams is the kind of writer who makes a reader feel [her] voice might also, one day, be heard….She cancels out isolation: Connections are woven as you sit in your chair reading—between you and the place you live, between you and other readers, you and the writer. Without knowing how it happened, your sense of home is deepened.”

That last line especially resonates with me. My sense of home has been deepened—home as the house I live in, the place I inhabit, the place in time, my body as home, community as home, writing as home.

I love the structure of the book, how one section echoes the one before it but takes you to a completely different and unexpected place. How she made the bold choice to have empty pages within her book. How lists are woven through the prose.

The writing, the story is simply stunning.

Some lines I love:

My mother’s voice is a lullaby in my cells.

Word by word, the language o women so often begins with a whisper.

She exposed the truth of what every  woman knows: to find our sovereign voice often requires a betrayal.

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“Little Fires Everywhere” a novelty Celeste Ng

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

The pace of this novel doesn’t slow down from that first line as we become enmeshed in the lives of the Richardson family and their new tenants, Mia and Pearl Warren. Mia is the anti-Shaker Heights. the city is a well planned, well thought out suburb of Cleveland, everything is orderly and rules are essential to the success of the town and the residents. Mia Warren is a n artist who doesn’t plan, her life is a pieced together to give her enough money and time to create her art. Her presence shakes the stars quo and the people of Shaker Heights up as alliances are made and broken and secrets come to light.

A passage I love:

She had never seen an adult cry like that, with such an animal sound. Recklessly. As if there were nothing more to be lost.

How about you? Why have you been reading lately?

The Practice of Core Desired Feelings

cdf-2017

I am a huge fan of using Core Desired Feelings to set intentions for the new year rather than resolutions that are doomed to be broken within a month—if that. If you haven’t checked out “The Desire Map” by Danielle Laporte, I highly suggest you do. It’s a game changer.

This year my core desired feelings are: Awake, Vibrant and Courageous.

awaken

Awake: This is such a critical one for me that I will be doing a separate post about it soon. I will awaken to my strengths and weaknesses, to my light and my shadow.To what is happening in the world locally, statewide, nationwide and worldwide. No more looking the other way, assuming that I won’t be personally impacted in my own little privileged bubble. I will awaken too what is happening in my body,mind and emotional and energetic bodies at any given moment. I will awaken to what I desire, what I need, what I need to give and what I need to receive. No more walk-in around with my eyes closed, head turned or numbed out to my feeling say what Glennon Doyle Melton calls my “easy buttons.” For me that are wine, sugar, mindless social media, TV, shopping. Awaken to all of who I am, to all of the world has to offer.

Vibrant: Feeling healthy, energetic. Again, not hiding behind my easy buttons. Allowing myself to shine and sparkle and saying no to anything or anyone who tries to dim my brightness.

courage

Image found via Pinterest.

Courage: I love that courage has its root in the word for “heart.” To me, it mean living, acting and moving from the true space of my heart, Speaking up when I need to. Using my voice politically. Writing the truth as I know it, as I experience it. Being uncomfortable or afraid but staying present and taking action anyway—going to new places, making that phone call, having that difficult conversation with someone or myself. It means being what Brené Brown calls “wholehearted.”

I created the image at the top of my core desired feeling to remind me daily of how I want to feel, then every choice I make is filtered through those feelings. I put it as the screen saver on my phone, printed it out and hung it in my office, in my yoga room.

How do you enter the new year? How do you want to feel? Feel free to leave a comment or a link to your post.

Happy New Year!

happy-new-year

Image found via Pinterest.

Time for Change

I’ve had to rethink this blog. Obviously, I haven’t been as engaged lately with so much going on this year, so I had to ask myself some questions:

Do I still even want to blog? Yes.

Do I want it to be strictly about writing? No.

Do I want to create an entirely separate blog? No.

photo-11

On my four-mile walk around the lake this morning, listening to the awesome Brené Brown, I realized that I no longer feel connected to the theme and title of my old blog, No Credentials Necessary. It felt like I was tying myself to scarcity, what I didn’t have, namely a few letters to go behind my name. I decided I didn’t want a lack of something to be my focus. So, I began thinking about what I do have in my life: writing, reading, art, yoga not to mention family and friends. And what connects all of these things is being present, and being present is a practice, an art. Aha…the art of practice.

So, here I am. A new focus, a new direction. It’s where I am now and that is something I am trying to honor daily, even moment by moment. It’s a practice, for sure. And it’s practice to stay open to what is possible, to all that is possible.