Are You Safe? Decision Fatigue.

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I was at a training last week and it was held at a facility next to the psychiatric hospital. A person came up to me and asked “Have you ever been in that place (the psychiatric hospital)? I’ve heard horror stories about what goes on in there” I nodded and responded that I had, in fact, been in that place but did not go into details as to why. That story is long and winding and not appropriate for that interaction.

But, if you follow this blog at all, you know that my life is replete with mental illness. Psychiatric hospitals don’t scare me. I think once you have spent a few Christmases in certain places, they lose some power over you.

I talked to a friend later that evening and told her that I often get mistaken for “The white girl that had a pony” Before I go on, I know that having a pony does not mean you had a good, perfect, or even okay life. It’s just an expression or joke that fit the conversation.

What I also learned at this conference was the concept of decision fatigue. This is not the decision fatigue associated with what to wear or what to watch on television. This is the type of decision fatigue related to “Are you a safe person to share these parts of me and my story with?” “Are you going to judge me if I tell you about me?” These questions are constantly swirling in my head because there are real life consequences to sharing something with someone and having them think differently about you.

I know this from experience.

When I learned about this concept I had a profound “Aha” moment. I am constantly assessing the people around me for safety. I have been known to ask directly if someone is safe to share information with. The truth is, it is human nature to make assumptions about the people we share time with. It is also human nature to judge people based on their life experiences.

I have stacks of letters related to my grandmother’s struggles with mental illness in the 1960’s and make no mistake, she was a warrior. The horrors she endured due to ignorance were unbelievable, barbaric, and inhumane and many of these treatments are still happening today.

One could guess that being a therapist was the only real logical place for me in the world.

I know that I was born to tell the truth. my truth. It is the way I make meaning out of the things I’ve experienced, learned, and endured. I stopped trying to figure out why I am built the way I am and now I just flow with it. Telling my truth is when I feel whole and connected to my divinity. It is also why self-censoring is so unbelievable exhausting for me.

I did not have a pony. I’ve spent a lot of my life in prisons and psychiatric hospitals. Those places do not scare me because those places are filled with humans, just like you and me. I think sometimes we forget that.

This is part of my truth (an abridged version) and as the great Brene Brown says:

“When we can let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness—the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness—that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging—lives inside of our story.”

I Don’t Know Where My Mom Is.

“You Are My Sunshine”

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You never know, dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away
One of my earliest memories was my mother rocking me and singing “You Are My Sunshine”. It’s no wonder that last night’s episode of This is Us made me cry so hard I landed right into a panic attack (life imitates art, much?). I’ll let you watch the episode and you can figure out the tears pretty quickly.
I haven’t had a mom for more than half of my life. I once told a client this and she immediately started crying. I never shared that with a client again. I realized that my reality was much too heavy for some people people to bear.
My mom isn’t dead or at least I hope she is okay. This is not a rant or rave about being a motherless child. I spent too many years in that place and that’s not healthy for anyone.
Things are as they are and I’ve accepted that reality.
A relative told me she was my greatest gift and I rebuffed such a suggestion. Now I realize what she was talking about and maybe she was right. I had to do a lot of life without the safety net of parents and that has made me chase my dreams like I have no other choice – because I did not have any other choice.
I created a beautiful life, full of beautiful people, and full of love. I have a partially self-manufactured family of my dreams. Bryan and I had a dance party the other night celebrating another accomplishment in our lives.
This is my glorious life.
I think of my mom all the time and I miss her more than I could express. I don’t hate my mother at all, I just wish things could have been different with full knowledge that they can’t be, It makes me deeply sad sometimes – like last night. More often than not, I hope my mom is as loved and as safe as I am. I hope she knows that she gave me wings by taking the rug out from under me and without knowing, gave me one of the greatest gifts in life – bravery.
The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamt I held you in my arms
When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
So I hung my head, and I cried

She Loved It All.

A few years ago, I read a story that hit me in my guts. A woman, about the age I am now, was dying of breast cancer and her husband was documenting her fight through photography. In the pictures you could see the pain, suffering, and fear in her eyes…but you could also see how much he loved her by the way he captured her experience.

One of the last days of her life, her husband asked her what her favorite part of her day was. This being a day spent in intractable pain in a hospice bed staring death in the eyes. She answered “I loved it all”

I loved it all.

Yesterday, my birthday, I was surrounded by so much love it took me out. I talked to my dearest friends on the phone, received beautiful texts, and Facebook oozed with love. But, one person made me feel badly and that brought me to tears. It’s crazy how powerful perceived rejection or dismissal can feel even when I was saturated in such love.

I called my brother – a warrior. He is the only person that can talk to me in the way that he does. It’s magical. The love I have for him is beyond unconditional – it covers all space and time. He is my courage and my heart.

I told him how I was feeling and he reminded me, in his way, that more than enough people love me. I immediately stopped crying – he was absolutely right.

I am loved beyond measure.

I danced my heart out later that night with people I love beyond measure.

And, about yesterday, I loved it all.

 

This Is Not My House.

“I’ll never know and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” – Cheryl Strayed

When I don’t have the words to convey how I’m feeling, I scour the world of my literary heroes and swim through poetry and prose. I had a dream last night that I was living a life much different than the life I have. It has me reflecting on how one choice leads to this and one event leads to that and how the winding road of life with it’s twist and turns lands us in this place.

It’s curious how that happens. It can begging someone to love you and they tell you no and you think in that moment you will be broken forever and a few short weeks later realize that their “no” was the greatest gift you’ve ever received. It can be one seemingly inconsequential choice of walking down a hallway at a certain time and you meet the person that holds your heart. It can be answering a text. It can be deciding to go to the bar. It can be deciding to drive. It’s all the seemingly inconsequential choices that make the greatest impact on our lives.

We just never know how one thing leads to another and how one turn this way leads that way. What if just one of the million of decisions and events had went differently.

We’ll never know but sometimes it’s curious.

The Blue House – Tomas Tranströmer

It is night with glaring sunshine. I stand in the woods and look towards my house with its misty blue walls. As though I were recently dead and saw the house from a new angle.

It has stood for more than eighty summers. Its timber has been impregnated, four times with joy and three times with sorrow. When someone who has lived in the house dies it is repainted. The dead person paints it himself, without a brush,  from the inside.

On the other side is open terrain. Formerly a garden, now wilderness. A still surf of weed, pagodas of weed, an unfurling body of text, Upanishades of weed, a Viking fleet of weed, dragon heads, lances, an empire of weed.

Above the overgrown garden flutters the shadow of a boomerang, thrown again and again. It is related to someone who lived in the house long before my time. Almost a child. An impulse issues from him, a thought, a thought of will: “create. . .draw. ..” In order to escape his destiny in time.

The house resembles a child’s drawing. A deputizing childishness which grew forth because someone prematurely renounced the charge of being a child. Open the doors, enter! Inside unrest dwells in the ceiling and peace in the walls. Above the bed there hangs an amateur painting representing a ship with seventeen sails, rough sea and a wind that the gilded frame cannot subdue.

It is always so early in here, it is before the crossroads, before the irrevocable choices. I am grateful for this life! And yet I miss the alternatives. All sketches wish to be real.

A motor far out on the water extends the horizon of the summer night. Both joy and sorrow swell in the magnifying glass of the dew. We do not actually know it, but we sense it: our life has a sister vessel which plies an entirely different route. While the sun burns behind the islands.

 

I Met Someone.

“And jump in
Oh well whatcha waiting for
It’s all right
‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown
(So let go) yeah let go
And just get in
Oh it’s so amazing here
It’s all right
‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown” -Frou Frou

I made a new friend.

I often hear people say that it’s hard to make friends as an adult. This has not been the case for me. Wait for it…

I understand that I don’t have kids and that gives me a lot more time which is usually the immediate and reflexive response when I say I like to make new friends.

I am genuinely interested in other people. I LOVE hearing peoples’ stories and why they do what they do. I ask a lot of questions and listen intently to responses. I want to know more – always. I want to learn about you, the universe, the brain, and anything else that the world offers up to me. Please, tell me everything.

A Sissy Beard reader and commenter asked me “Why not let go?” after I wrote the I Hate You? post. I thought about that comment a lot over the last few days.

Basically, it’s hard to let go of people and relationships. I invest my heart and soul into my people and pulling out of relationships takes a great deal of consideration and contemplation. However, these last few months have offered up a lot of valid reasons to pull back. Politics are personal to me. I have spent my life dedicated to teaching compassion and love. It is why I do what I do.

When I was four years old I called my great grandmother a racist when she made awfully insensitive comments during Donahue. I literally followed her into the bathroom to talk to her about why what she said was hurtful. She asked me to leave the bathroom which was her right, I guess. But, she was racist and this conversation went on the rest of her life. I imagine that she delighted in our time together. Right, wrong or otherwise: I was born this way. No two ways about that.

Can I be a bit self-righteous? Probably my fatal flaw.

Compassion and Love are the most important values in my life. These values guide my decisions with conscious intention. I consider compassion and love when I decide how to spend my time and who to spend my time with. I teach a course in valued living. This forces me to be consistent with who I am and why I do what I do. I think we should all consider what we value and what matters most to us. When our values guide our life, we are much happier and more fulfilled.

That being said, I am letting go in the ways I know how. I appreciate the comments and readers. I started this blog with the intention of having conversations like this one. I think about the comments, messages, and texts related to blog posts. I think about them a lot. I appreciate any energy someone puts into reading my words.

Anyway, I made a new friend and we had a coffee date this week. She teaches mindfulness and compassion. She teaches courses on meditation. She asked me to sub and teach one of her courses. I really like her and I’m glad we crossed paths. I look forward to how our friendship will grow and how I will learn from her.

You guys, I met someone!

This new relationship reminds me that life comes together and falls apart at the same time and it is what you focus on that matters most. There are relationships in my life that are pulling apart and there are relationships that are coming together. “So it goes” – Kurt Vonnegut

Love.

Dear Josh.

Dear Josh,

This week has been tough. Honestly, it’s been hard since the early hours of November 9th. I’m worried about the world and the country we both inhabit. It was brought to my attention that I am focusing on the fear and not on the love. I did write a post about hate yesterday so there is some proof in that pudding.

So, today, I will focus on the love.

I have written to you on this blog before. This blog was largely inspired by you and our millions of conversations about the ways the world works. However, the previous posts were written about you and Nathan and you and Bryan but never just to you.

Meeting you changed my life. It’s curious how people are put on our paths. I know I’m much more spiritual than you but believe me when I say, you are my soulmate. Before I met you, I struggled so much with insecurity and trusting my own voice. In the first moments after meeting you, with your blonde hair and dew rag, I knew that something special was happening.

It happened instantly. We were best friends immediately. It’s like we knew each other our entire lives. I can’t even point to the moment where we transitioned from casual friends to best friends. Maybe it never existed.

How do you thank someone for seeing the real you and loving the real you or more, introducing you to the real you? Well, I’m not sure but thank you is all I have at this moment. To be loved for who you are is the best gift a person can give you.

I think you are phenomenal and courageous. I am so proud of you and what you’ve done with your life. I am a better person because I know you. I could tell the thousands of stories of the things we’ve done or the times we’ve shared but those belong to us. Honestly, those stories could fill a book more than a blog. I don’t have time for that.

Cheryl Strayed says “Let your friends save you” I do and you did.

Why am I saying all of this today? Because people think activists and feminists are angry and scared (well, sometimes). They think we stomp around in our combat boots hating men and screaming “Fuck the world!” (got me there)

But more often than not, we love hard. Activists love so hard and big that sometimes it takes our breath away. We believe in love because love has saved us and we know that love is the only way to be. We fight for love and justice.

To quote Cornel West “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

I am writing this with selfish intentions. I need to focus on the bonds that sustain me in these trying times. I need to focus on the loving connections and the people that accept me. I am writing this to remind me of the people I carry in my pockets and in my soul. I am writing this to refuel and recharge and to remind myself that even if this all burns we have our people.
On Sunday, Bryan and I walked by two elderly ladies getting out of their car to go to the rally. One was using a walker and the other was shuffling along next to her. I pointed to them and told Bryan I was looking at my future. I told him that Josh would be using the walker saying: “Seriously, Sissy do we still have to do this, it’s too cold for this shit”
I miss you everyday.
Thank you,
Sissy
Love.

I Hate You?

I don’t like the word hate.

I’m currently finishing a psychotherapy training and the current module is on forgiveness. This is decidedly the most challenging thing for humans to offer themselves and others. I’ve written about forgiveness before and I’m not going to go into that today.

However, during the meditation part of the module the thought struck me that I struggle because I want some people to be different than they are so they can stay in my life. Culturally, we’ve entered a season where our values are brightly colored on our sleeves. We all feel right in what we believe. The rifts are growing. The violence and fear are turned all the way up. And, some relationships are being tested in ways they’ve never been before.

I read the comments on news articles and squint as if it will change the words I’m reading: You think all Muslims are terrorists? How can that be? You think that LGBT people should be turned away from business or care? That can’t be the case? You want to close our homes to the suffering and dying refugees? I don’t understand this.

I scratch my head at the idea of giving up an already weak public education system to a person that is categorically unqualified.

I tilt my head as my dogs do when I give them an unfamiliar command.

Are you sure we want to live this way?

I cannot fathom continuing to pillage the earth when she is telling us, not so quietly, to stop or we will soon be without a home.

I look at social media and think “Is our president really calling the country haters?”

I do not know how to talk to some people anymore. Literally.

I hate you? No.

I hate this.

I resent them for being who they are, when I ask to be accepted for who I am. I feel anger towards them and towards their values. This is hypocritical of me. I cannot expect that we are all going to fit together in times like these. I was confusing things. I don’t hate these people. I hate that because of who I am and who they are, we can’t be what I want us to be.

I have this image of life as it should be and it never quite maps onto life as it is. This discrepancy is what causes me pain. This discrepancy is what I hate. I think that might be true for most of us. I wish things were different but they are not. I wish that we all fit together but we do not. I wish we agreed but we do not.

I still believe in basic human goodness. I will always believe that whatever the question we should continue to try our best to find our way to love and be love.

But, I think fear is driving the boat and that’s never good.

How can we work on forgiveness and healing? I don’t know that yet.

Under the hate, under the anger, and under the rage, is a deep sense of sadness. A dark cavern of grief for the way things are. It feels eternal and it whispers, “I don’t recognize you anymore”

My Hand and My Heart Meditation

I’m preparing to teach an eight week mindfulness course at the end of the month and I write my own meditations for the course. I finished this meditation this morning. The course involves more than just meditation but you would have to sign up for all the goods.

(also, because I’m still chapped about the person that stole my work, please don’t steal my work, it’s not nice and it’s illegal)

Many meditations begin the same because we have to be in this moment before we can do the other work. If you find that you have a hard time being here now, try just focusing on the breath or counting breaths for a few moments. There is no need to rush these things, the point is to take your time and rest fully in who you are in this moment.

Just breathe.

Also, there is a term called back draft in mindfulness. Some people spend most of their lives, knowingly or unknowingly, repressing feelings. In these instances mindfulness practice can feel quite overwhelming. If this happens, please return to the breath and remind yourself that, right now, in this moment, you are safe.

Also, if you experience back draft, please, please, see a therapist to help you sort through those emotions. It is virtually impossible to do that work on your own and you don’t have to do it on your own. That’s why I have a job. I promise, sorting through the tough stuff is worth it.

Love.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Rumi

My Hand and My Heart Meditation

Let’s begin with a Be Here Now practice, this will help us be fully in this moment

Let’s take a few full deep breaths

First breathing in through the nose slowly, and out of the mouth very slowly

Pause

As you continue to take slow deep breaths

Please scan your body for any tension or stress

Pause

Starting from the tip top of your head all the way down to the very bottom of your feet

If you notice areas of stress, please try to rest and relax your body, slowly releasing the stress and tension in your body

Pause

As you continue to breath

It is as if the stress of your body is slowly releasing

Sometimes it helps to relax your jaw or roll your neck and shoulders

It may help to relax your stomach or shake out the tension in your legs

There is no rush,

Take your time and release all the stress and tension in your body

Pause

Continuing to take slow deep breaths, feel your chest and abdomen expand and contract

With each breath feel, your body becomes more and more relaxed

Pause

Sometimes it helps to remind yourself that right now, in this moment, you are safe

Right now, in this moment, you are safe

Pause

Try to rest in the feeling of safety and relaxation

Right now, in this moment, you are safe

Pause

Now please focus your all of your attention on your right hand

I want you to look at your hand as if you are seeing it for the very first time

Pause

Focus on the lines and small hairs on your hand

Be as curious as you can be about your hand

Feel free to take your left hand and feel the lines and creases on your right hand

Pause

Continuing to take slow deep breaths

Feel the weight of your right hand in your left hand

Pause

Continuing to take slow deep breaths

Notice the details of your nails and the skin that surrounds them

Pause

As you continue to breathe slowly

Feel how the palm of your hand feels differently than the back of your hand

Take your time noticing the palm first and then the back of the hand

Pause

Breathing in slowly and out even slower

Bring your hand close to your face, do you notice anything different when you look this closely at your hand?

Pause

Now pull your hand as far away from your face as you can, what do you notice when you look at your hand from this distance?

Pause

As you continue to take slow and deep breaths

Please place your right hand on your chest over your heart

And then place your left hand over top of your right

Feel the rise and fall of your chest with each breath

Pause

You may rest your eyes

Let us rest here for a moment

Holding our hands over our hearts

And feeling the rise and fall of our chest slowly with each breath

Pause

When you are ready you may return to the group.

The 35th Year: My Eggs Went Bad!

“Kind people are brave people. Brave is not something you should wait to feel. Brave is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.”
Glennon Doyle Melton, Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed

I’m on call for the month of February. This means I’m stone sober all month. It’s been a minute since I’ve experienced life in technicolor. And, it’s in the early part of the Trump regime so there’s that. It hurts all over.

More importantly, I’m heading full speed towards 35 years on this blue orb and with each day, I learn more about me and more about life. It is glorious.

When I turned 30, my supervisor at the time told me that 30 was great but 35 was her favorite. I see now why she felt that way. With each passing year of my thirties, I grow more confident in who I am and what I want out of life.

Growing up, 35 felt like a scary age to be a woman. This is the age where our baby bearing years are “high risk” and we should have made that all important decision of starting a family by now. Lucky for me, I’ve started my family and it does not involve invasive tests and long needles. I will not be having babies so 35 is not going to be an at risk year for me. I think (good and loving) mothers will save us all but I am not part of that tribe. Actually, my tribe includes some wonderful mothers but being a mother is not required for admittance.

Thirty-five Years

The biggest lesson of my life thus far: You do not get to be in my inner circle if you do not make me feel safe and valued.I  teach people about healthy boundaries all day. They look at me wide eyed when I show them the rings of trust around me and them and where people belong. To be in my innermost circle, you must demonstrate that you are safe, loving, compassionate, and trustworthy. If not, you get moved to an outer circle and moved to another outer circle and so on.

My space is sacred, and so is yours, and we should all treat it as such. My time is the most valuable asset I have and I will not waste one minute of my limited time on this planet convincing you that how I feel matters – you get or you do not.

I will not mince words on human rights or my own worth.

The next lesson I’ve learned: Tough times make you tough and the tougher the times, the tougher you get. My skin is leather. If you think you can put me in my place or shut me up because we do not agree on something – you can keep moving. Trust me, you cannot say something to me that hurts more than what was dished at me not too may years ago. Or, there is this interesting thing people do, they try to withhold their love in an attempt to get me to change my mind or quiet down – I see you and I know what you are doing. This does not work, ever. Because love is given freely and unconditionally or it is not love. Please take yourself to an outer circle or right on out the door.

The final and most beautiful lesson: My inner circle is filled with the most beautiful souls. I love you and will fight tirelessly for you. I will give you all my kisses and all my hugs. I vow to love you unconditionally as you have done for me during the darkest hours of my life. I will continue to laugh with you until my stomach hurts. I will not judge you or give up on you. I will hold on to you for dear life and you can do the same for me. I value each of you as I value my own breath.

Finally, I am super in love with Glennon Doyle Melton right now. You should check her out and Rupi Kaur, nayyirah waheed, and Yrsa Daley-Ward. I rub their words on my wounds and they leave beautiful scars. The world is a mix of dark and light.

In conclusion, my eggs may have gone bad but my life is oh so good*

Love.

“I didn’t leave because
I stopped loving you,
I left because the longer
I stayed the less I loved myself.”
Rupi Kaur

*save for all the terrifying political shit going on

We Are Divine

 

We are divine

We are not Christian, Muslim, Mexican, Hindu, Chinese, American or Human

How they try reducing us to words

As if, it could be so simple

We are a gathering of stardust organized just right

We are a miracle of science floating on a rock in an infinite universe

We are loving consciousness

We are divine

It us our divinity that unites us

It is love that binds us

It is our stardust that makes us sparkle

We are divine