Mindful-fun-da-mentals

Explorations of mind, paths, and life

Sitting Outside

Posted on July 3, 2012 - Filed Under self reflect

Sitting outside at my Dad’s place, the wind turning the trees into giant waves and dips, I take in the way that the sky is filled with clouds and heat lightning is illuminating the world in bursts. Otherwise, I don’t see much and my ears stay more focused than my eyes. I hear the chirping of crickets and the lull of frogs, calling to their companions near the lake. Beyond that are the chants and antics of the summer camp across the way, the belting calls and bursts of laughter that carry over the water and dissipate into the brush. I feel quiet here…

Where I am…

Posted on May 9, 2012 - Filed Under self reflect

4/24/2012 (Visit to Wilbur Hot Springs, and a week with Monica… a collection of reflections)
I have been sitting bare and unprotected the last two days, collecting vitamin-D, warming in the sunlight, soaking in mineral springs, and sitting quietly amidst breezes and bird calls. I find myself in and out of brief naps as my body regains some sense of balance, the strong smell of sulfur and flowers moving in an out of me between deep sighs. Monica is busy working today, and I have been left to entertain myself; reading and soaking, watching the birds and lizards carry on their business while fat bushy squirrels forage and scurry under the trees. A yellow finch is busily weaving a nest amidst the fresh budding leaves of trees that have been asleep for the winter, a sure sign that spring has warranted a sense of cleaning out, cleansing, and industriousness that so often feels therapeutic. I find myself checking her progress as she flits back and forth, bringing new elements to her hanging nest.

What I may have found in a quiet moment a few years ago, is not what I am feeling. There would have been a resounding melancholy pouring from my soul in the past. Instead, I sense I am just listening. I haven’t felt like chatting too much, our walks a bit quieter. Under my skin is an enormous grin as I take in the astounding beauty of this quiet valley. As I take in the warm presence of my little sister despite the rampant discombobulation and darting exasperation as she tackles her days. As I take in the gift of having a break from my life… even for a few moments.

The stars in Wilbur are stunning, touching on my distant memories of stargazing in Colombia with a milky way that pours across the sky. The planets are blazingly obvious, like headlamps, and we are in a freshly waxing moon, just days from a new moon which still provides a wonderful depth of darkness to stargazing. We have taken a few late night soaks as well, gazing out at the upside-down colony of galaxies and stars, sighing between the comforting soaks in the flumes.

In it all I listen, a quiet, curious sort of attention. I remember the way my body behaved the last time I didn’t listen; spiraling into what felt like endless days of exhaustion and despair. Every blood test smiled at the doctors, an ongoing shrug from the medical industry that said, “You’re fine…” and yet I wasn’t. I am getting hints of that exhaustion and the last month or so, been a bit more conservative in my adventures, ensuring I don’t push that fragile boundary that could exhaust my adrenals… and here I am, watching the sky pass by,  and a soft hum of bees the only ongoing traffic noise. I am in a place of ongoing joy in my life. Gratitude for how well the universe cares for me, and somewhat stumped by the sudden roll of opportunity that is tugging on me for attention.

(Pause… I return home … still a bit inebriated with the trip)

It seems like ages that I have been wanting to live closer to Monica. Trips to California remind me frequently of the culture I miss, and she has kept life simple. I find myself, especially after this last move to Clearwater, wanting to pare down… what do I really need? What do I keep in my life and what purpose does it hold? Who do I want in my life? What do I want to do? Where do I want to be? It rides my mind almost daily, a flurry of dreams and ideas, a gentle pace along the current journey I am traveling. And here… Wilbur calls to me… Monica and Michael stand with arms open, knowing well the gifts I have, and open and eager to use them. I meet their new community, and Dr. Miller, and his daughter… and I see ways I might easily fit into making Wilbur grow… and feel accepted, encouraged, valued.

I find myself talking about Wilbur like I am there… with ownership and authority. I was describing one of my hikes and I heard myself say, “And in the place where I am, along this valley creek, is a rock like a fox drinking water…” Where I am…where I am.

It has been a tremendous adjustment coming back. I felt, coming home to an empty house, ripped from home… homesick. I struggled to hear my beautiful sister’s longing at the other end of the phone… my heart aching to support her in the transition she is making, to help manage the tasks and problems.  Wilbur calling me to keep falling asleep with the sparkle of stars through my window and a hot flume to cradle me.

I commented, after my return home (cause that is where I am trying to finish not more than 8 days since my return) that being in the presence of Monica and Michael I feel significant. That isn’t to say I am not, because I feel as if I am in my life. However, the need to matter is so deeply met when I am with them. The unconditional sort of way they hold me in their space feels honoring and open, and I delight in it as if I was opening the best present I have ever gotten (other than Justin).

It has been hard to keep my eyes on how life holds me well in the spaces I keep in Florida. Work delights my problem solving skills, and yet there are pieces of how the company runs that is slowly draining my confidence in the powers that make decisions. I adore the people I work with, I enjoy the students, and locally, I have every confidence in a phenomenal team… but we are not the ones who inhabit the big decisions. I feel worried… and on my return my body has begun to complain about the drive, about the time, about the lack of support I sense, as if we are the illegitimate child of the bigger organization. This worries me, because I know how this can impact my health. And, I know I am not the only one who feels stunned by the blurred vision between state lines… I can feel the growing distress with peers who work so hard and put a tremendous effort in to make things work and are repeatedly left standing on shifting sand…

And so I listen, a quiet, curious sort of attention. I feel at ease (more over the last few days) as friends have loved and encouraged me to pay attention to my heart. They remind me of the conversations over the last 4-5 years, and the directions I have called to, asking for opportunity. I am grateful for the life I have here, dancing and doing art, making friends and beach hikes, sharing stories and late night breakfasts. I am grateful that I have choices. I am grateful for working with individuals who see my gifts and trust me with them. I am grateful for RadioLab on long drives, and for telephones that allow me to stay connected over long distance, and a kid who wants me to be happy and is easygoing, and drives me crazy, and fills me with love. And I look forward to my next trip…

Burbling

Posted on March 15, 2012 - Filed Under 2012, art, art therapy, Gary, self reflect

I have had all kinds of burbling at the recesses of my mind… those places that often don’t perk up until I do something quite unexpected and beyond my comfort zone. It ties in to all the ways I have experienced “Art” in my life, the ongoing messages, between my immediate community, my studies of art in the past, and my own self belief. (There she goes again, “Evelyn, what is it that you believe about yourself?” “I am getting to that bit in a moment!”) I took a huge step and submitted two of my pieces of art to the Tampa Nude Nite Exhibit, now on it’s 4th year in Tampa – its 15th year in Orlando. I paid the submission fee, half worried I was too “amateur” for any serious consideration, and fully expected that to pay for a ticket to the show after the rejection letter. Instead, I got this lovely greeting, identifying both pieces as passing the juried panel and gaining entry. With it, a fabulous little badge listing my name with the title “Artist,” and three additional tickets so that I could bring friends along each night of the three night exhibition.

There was a part of me that felt proud and couldn’t help to express excitement and showmanship about the upcoming exhibit. Yet, suddenly those burbles rumbled about all the ways I had somehow conned the jury into taking my work as “ART.” (Don’t you just love those little voices that struggle to celebrate the amazing things we do?) Compliments I failed to take in as genuine fell down amidst the dust of the warehouse. It was a mix of excited (and somewhat braggart) and fearful. What if people are just being kind?  What if I am perceived as not serious.  The 16 year old who drove to NYC with her dad, to attend “College Day” at Pratt,  tugged at my arm. The 16 year-old whose joy at being “creative” was smothered by a room filled with hundreds of young adults, carrying “Portfolios” of stunning art…  the burn of that 16 year old wearing a face of overwhelmed dejection, who hastily lost her courage and insisted they leave and go back home, hazed by the competitiveness and criticism that fogged the room. The disparaged anger of the  20 year old whose grade in an art class was dropped from an “A” to a “B” because she wasn’t “Majoring” and obviously wasn’t serious about art. Returning was the anxiety of her undergrad program (where she minored in Art) grating against that vulnerable young woman who had only gotten her first exposure to formal training her senior year of high school. And so, instead, Art became a hobby, a survival too. I used it to secretly speak my heart, or used it like a hard run, to let go of whatever held me… but what I “wasn’t” was an “artist.” All my work with my Creative Soulcare groups wavered – what I “was” or “wasn’t” tromping around amidst my vulnerability.  And then…

… And then, the playful, delighted part of me found it curiously fun to watch people walk by and look. “Is it possible?” that scared, vulnerable part of me peeped, “… that all of them were WRONG?” That all that history is what GOT ME HERE? And where was it that I decided I couldn’t be an artist, and where did I trick myself back into goofing around with color and paper and ink and drawing again? And what if it truly is a gift – expressed in a way that is uniquely me – and has nothing to do with what anyone “thinks” about what it is, because none of that actually defines me. And… that burbling, after a good week or two, has settled into a new confidence in the parts of me that are beautifully creative. I PLAY with color, my story is sprinkled in little places between the layers and colors and lines. My nature, expressed in something I can put OUTSIDE of myself,  poignant memories, a marker of the moment of THAT creation. And so, that delighted playful part of me became spectator, commentator, spy, and “artist.”

I spent my three nights both mingling and watching. I discovered some similarity among spectators. Some would slide right by, apparently unmoved by my work. Others would stare at it a moment, then continue their artist revelry. There were observers who would take out their cell phones and take pictures of my work, leaving me to wonder how my image would show up in the world.  Then there were a small group of individuals who would look at it, back up… get near and after a pause or two (I could almost count) their head would drop to the left. The “head drop” would always stimulate curiosity in me, and sometimes I would get brave enough to approach and ask what caught their attention.  What I most loved about that experience was the story that would tumble out excitedly, or the observations being made about what the “artist” may have been trying to express. One woman, snapping pictures and bobbing her head back and forth, ear to ear, in observation, explained how she loved the piece because she loved Paris. She continued to explain that the woman was moving towards the energy of Paris, full of culture and music and art. Several people shared how they got curious about the article I had used for my dancing woman, wondering if there was some reason for it. One man tried to guess what paper I had been reading. Another couple, full of picture taking and discussion (and I later learned they were discussing whether they buy it or wait to check out my gallery for other possibilities. GALLERY- WHAT?) She shared how she was from NYC, and she had a fondness for the NY Times (which she had properly identified in my work, as I really love the compact-ness of the text). She described, almost like poetry, her experience on the subways, crammed in a car with others, and the process of reading her NY Times, folded like origami in her hands. She felt the city in my work, something I don’t feel at all, but took in, triggering my own memories of prancing through NYC with Gary and exploring amidst the bustle and noise. Others would find the messages hidden, and spend time searching for other pieces and parts of the “truth” in the piece.

As I picked my work up from the Gallery-Warehouse the next afternoon, wandering the space with my camera to capture the closure I was feeling, I felt a bit like it had all been part of some strange hallucination… my camera capturing evidence that somehow I hadn’t just woken up. I realize I could actually risk working bigger. That playing doesn’t have to happen in the safety of a bunch of my soulcare friends… Risks, again, add to the adventures I have been finding these last few years. Risks bring me back into being, being present really. The courage to send my two pieces to the curator, to show up each night, and even to talk to people in that crowded room full of stunning art, and seasoned artists, and not turn around and go home. I have come a long way on this journey… in ways that only bring me closer to knowing myself;  unraveling all the knots my experiences have created and essentially adorning myself with the new patterns of beliefs and experiences. What a gift.

Full Moon Thoughts

Posted on January 8, 2012 - Filed Under 2012, gratitude, JP, kid, life, Parenting, Rituals, self concept

I am curled up in bed, filled with delight and the warmth of heavy blankets pressed on my skin. I have a sense of deep gratitude moving through me. It has been an eternity since I have moved through my moon cycles and rituals, putting out to the universe what I would like to see in my life, and then moving through gratitude for the gifts that dance with me daily. I am grateful for being in my own bed, a space familiar and cocooning, soft and supportive. The full moon is bursting outside, and it feels good to take a moment to write.

I spent this whole weekend, moving easily with delighted eyes and inviting energy, relishing the flavor of my experiences and watching eagerly who I am in each of them. I feel patient, and, a bit lit up. All of this tumbling through me with ongoing waves of laughter and grins. I am grateful for the many successes I have experienced this week, for my part in them, for the opportunities to be part of them, for the deep sense of self I have encountered through them.

I have smiled at endless amounts of strangers this week. I have danced 6 of 8 days since my return. I have enjoyed good meals with people i appreciate. My bills are paid. I have a new Garmin to help me find my way. Two jars of Pennsylvania special homegrown mustards sit on my counter, brought as a thoughtful gift. My hair is trimmed into a playful boy cut, my nose adorned with a diamond I have been waiting for for over a year. I have friends in this new town, inviting me to chill, and a Jag club full of people who now know me well enough to kiss my cheeks when we reconnect. My dog is back home with my dad, and when I visit I get to snuggle with him.

The Moon - 1/9/12 - Kansas CityThis afternoon I sat with my son and his cubing mentor (sometimes mentored), Chris, and I got to enjoy Justin’s humor with the resounding playful laugh that poured out of the three of us at the table. I listened to Justin talk and realized that he carries on our talent for storytelling, stretching the truth for the playful potential it carries, and the adventurous journey it creates in the minds of the listeners. I had opportunity to see his perspective in the ridiculousness that bumped and jived through our consumption of each tale, and I grinned. I grinned from the core of my being that this kidlet beside me, with a moppy unwashed head of curls, and big expressive eyes, has evolved into a playful, sharp, well-meaning young man, reflective in many ways of my father, my mother, Monica, and me. In the moment, as I listened and watched I was fully in love with all that he is, and felt somehow privileged that I get to be in his world like this; that I can joke and dance with his stories just as easily as he concocts them, and in that way we connect.

Undoubtedly, I curl up under these blankets, and I am in love with my world. Gratitude whistling while it walks through my day. Enthusiasm doing cartwheels, down-hill, in the grass, with bare feet. And me, a whirling, twirling, dancing, full-of-grace kind of woman, contentedly snuggled into this new space on a full moon.

Gathering my Shoes

Posted on November 26, 2011 - Filed Under beach, fear, feelings, JP, memories, ocean, self concept, self reflect

The avoidance detrimental, really. A quiet, shifty eyed, uncertainty sitting under my skin, under the happy and work, under the smile and respites on the beach or on long drives. Some things have hit a state of hibernation in my core, and I ask myself to bring them forward, but I think I am afraid of the potential tumble backward into beliefs I have worked hard to unwind and sort out. So, in the quiet space that is my blog I coax them forward – perhaps give them a voice for just a moment – in hopes that I can return to some of the habits I was finding most healing before May; Writing, Art, Working out.

I never imagined the impact of my son’s time in the hospital last May – the fear numbed for the sake of the strength I felt I had to carry forward each day. The disappointment in ways my community of friends failed to show, and the deep gratitude for the few whose faces came forward to lend a shoulder and keep me from falling. The layers of alone that curled around me each night on the hospital couch, the deep tired that was so challenging I couldn’t hold my journal up to voice my pain and fear. The journal I abandoned; the journal I had consistently written in for almost a year, every morning, working through all that was happening in my life. I was afraid to even lend a voice to the tired and fear, certain that would leave me incapacitated. And the resentment of the system, of my struggle with Justin’s dad to provide help, of the way that those I believed would be there were not, of the little voice that is always murmuring that I will always be alone… doing the hard work alone. I want that voice to go away.

I took a long walk on a local island yesterday, with a guy I have been dating. On our return, we took a moment to sit on a bench  and gather our shoes. I leaned back into his arm, his warm sturdy body, my head resting on his shoulder, staring off into the softening light and waves. My core began to collapse in that space, wanting just to exist there for an hour, until I had my fill, until I felt somehow replenished and not so alone. He has no idea what that space felt like in my body or heart. I question if that is what I am really seeking right now, a place to feel supported, held up when I am tired. I am not sure he will do that in my life, in the emotional connected sort of way. I have not found that at all in the meandering dating I have done. To feel almost like a child, wrapped up in the space of another, peering out and knowing it is safe out there, someone important has my back. “Well, shall we get going?” he asked, reaching down for his shoes. “No, just give me two more minutes here, please.” He paused. There was no kiss on my forehead that says, “I see you.” There was no squeeze of the shoulder, or light touch of my hair. He simply leaned back, looked at his watch, and said, “we can do that.” And I wonder what he feels there. Weighted? Tired? Eager? Uncertain?  I take a breath, and resume my gaze through the wavering grasses out to the sea. I am trying to implant that feeling so i can take it with me later, when I am alone and uncertain, and need to know the feeling of being nestled in the clement shoulder of another. I am blatantly aware that I don’t know, at any moment, who I am to him, what I mean, what I feel like, but I impose the belief, for just that moment that this space is what I need.  I assign it the meaning I need, regardless of where he is.  It is only later that I realize that it feels confusing, and creates uncertainty that I am not sure I can manage with regards to his emotional reserve.

Are we all emotionally reserved? Do I ask too much? Do I create distance, by the nature of the way I am. Do I look like I don’t need deep, meaningful, consociate connection? Does my smile not bring safety, for an opening, or does it have nothing to do with me? And there is that little voice that is always murmuring that I will always be alone… doing the hard work alone. I want that little voice to go away.

Navigating life beyond work, dancing, and photography… navigating the connections, the frustrations, the questions, the uncertainty of what I am really ready for. Do I have pain beyond what I know with regards to my divorce that makes this harder? What to make of the disappointment? Am I afraid of being disappointed again? Is there something out there that matches where I am at? What am I really seeking?

On the trip out to Caladesi Island, the boat drumming up salty breezes amidst the pound of soft wakes, I watched a family of 6 children, close together, limbs and fingers tangled on the benches between parents. A mother held her second youngest, with his thumb shoved firmly, contentedly, in his mouth, while they rode out the cool breezes. As goosebumps rose on his skin, he curled deeper into her embrace, her chin resting on his sand-dusted hair. I could remember easily, holding Justin’s half naked body against mine when he was tired from a day at the beach, his head pressed into my breast, my heart calling, “Thump Thump, Love Love” under his face. I remember the sensation of skin, touching skin, and the immense joy that filled me to the brim, that I could love with ease this creature. His moppy curls and brown eyes, the inferno his little body could create against me, his giggle. I watched this mother, and could not recall a memory of being in the arms of my own mother – but somewhere in the depths of sensation I know. I could not know that peace without having had it. It was there, I am sure.

Perhaps this was a trigger for my own desire to “sink in,” to feel my skin braised by the heat of another human touch, when I spend days upon days, untouched. Perhaps that is part of my delight when I dance, converse sneakers snug on my feet. Opportunity and delight that I am held, sometimes close, in a whirlwind that leaves little room for thought. A hand on my back, different smiles, fluctuating ardor, and the invitation – “would you like to dance?” Would you like to move with me through this moment, to this beat of hearts, palpitating with the fervor of swinging feet and arms, through this song, and these touchstone smiles? And I pay close attention to the feel of different hands, to the different texture of skin, sometimes young, sometimes aged, and the smells that different dancers carry on their skin… and then I reset, and rest, eager for the next invitation to connect. I am sometimes so trusting on the floor that my eyes close and all that moves me is the music,  the waves of energy that turn me, shift me, push me out and in, and spin me again.  I get connection within the boundaries of the dance floor. And, is that the only place I will find connection – one I walk away from until next Tuesday, or Saturday? Until the next visit, or walk on the beach?

And I gather my shoes and feel the pace of  walking in the sand, sunset at my back, wonder and uncertainty riding my shoulders, clinging to me like stubborn children, tired, and that little voice …

 

Last Day…

Posted on August 8, 2011 - Filed Under self reflect, teaching, thoughts

Today I wrapped up my Orlando working life – driving as usual from one thing to the next – in an effort to make room for a very new working life in Largo-Palm Harbor-Spring Hill.  It was sort of an uneventful, unemotional, almost disappointing working day (with smatterings of “wrapping up” everything ELSE and I must say that the Artist Way part of my day NEVER disappoints; goodbye to that too). No good-byes from the college other than a few people who knew me personally enough to recognize me. I had to find a few myself to say farewell. No one really hugged me (other than Daphnie – gracious woman that she is, and a few fabulous students). I wrote my own farewell letter to the school, appropriately noting what little recognition adjuncts get for the impact they have on the students and school daily, and thanking the school for exposing me to a population of students that has met my need for mattering in the world. A few instructors popped in to thank me for the note, a few students hugged me with full pouty lips, and then I drove away – I drove away wondering how it is that I could invest so much of myself, be a highly requested instructor, and yet never get a thank you from the college after almost nine years. Yep, I guess it did hurt a bit. What I know is that I HAVE had an impact, and I did matter in my classroom, for a good run, and ultimately the students, the ones who really matter in the game of education, are the ones who get to carry that experience with them, as I have with regard to all of them.

So, to note the day in my life, my Goodbye Letter (minus the school’s name):

“Hi —- family – I just wanted to take a few moments to share a goodbye with a college community I have been working with for the majority of my time in Florida. I have taken a position as a Program Director on the west coast of Florida at a small career college. The last few weeks have been filled with moving and transitioning, changes and goodbyes. However, it felt sad not to say goodbye to —-.

It has been a pleasure to be an adjunct instructor for —-‘s students for over eight and a half years. As an adjunct, the recognition is not the same as it is with full time staff whose faces are regularly in the halls, however the students and a core of Department Chairs and staff have reminded me of my significance to the learning culture at —-; and in turn given me a “place” within the lives of many many students. I have been deeply impacted by the students here, and will miss being part of their learning process and experience. I wish I could extend this good bye to them as well – as I have grown as an educator through my experiences with them, and I know I have had a tremendous impact on their own growth.

Thank you for the experience, the chance to be involved in adult education, and the confidence that has kept me moving year after year. I am excited about the new challenges and new population of students, and want also to acknowledge how —- has helped me move forward.

Warmly, Evelyn
—- Adjunct Instructor

Deep & Reverent

Posted on June 6, 2011 - Filed Under art therapy, feelings, healing, touch

I was eating dinner alone tonight, took out my new gadget and hunkered down to READ (instead of watch figures move around on a screen or distract myself with a game of solitaire) and stumbled upon this blog post on Kindovermatter.com that spoke to me right down to my whispered breath and tears. The article speaks to the deep desire to have one’s lover touch with kindness, a deep, cellular connection that speaks to being loved, cherished, respected, and connected with in a profoundly kind way. One way this showed up was in requesting, as her story goes, her lover to ask permission before touching her intimately… and I sighed with a level of “knowing” the significant regard that experience represents.

In my own journey – and effort – to find my sexuality, and regard my body as a “vessel” that is perfect in all its imperfections, that houses my soul and all that I am, I struggle to undo some early beliefs that would place me at peace with myself. What I desire, also, is to be regarded, deeply and reverently.  I do not want to be a warm piece of meat to be banged sexually for the pleasure of another, but rather want to be played, like an instrument, attended to with the awe and grace that surrounds sexuality. I am finding that sex is such a deep intimate act, and I do not easily open up to all it could be, lacking the depth of trust that I will be safe – not necessarily physically, but emotionally and spiritually, in that space.

I have had, in my early lifetime, some deeply confusing and dishonoring experiences regarding my body and sexuality. Some of those experiences are visible only on the surface, much like a reflection on water that hides what swims below the gleaming visuals on its smooth surface, and  those swimming pieces remain unaccessed. As an adult, I struggled with a belief my lack of interest in “sex” was because I was somehow frigid – disconnected. I have spent endless hours crying over the loss of my desire, unaware that my lack of desire really tied in more to not wanting to be vulnerable in a space where I was not emotionally or spiritually safe. In a place in which I felt like an object (of desire) rather than a partner in dancing through the breaths and touches of being intimate. Being now divorced, and moving in and out of the experience of knowing other people, sometimes on a more intimate level than others, I feel, in my body, desire, and am somehow deeply dissatisfied with my inability to access a connection that is honoring, tender, and connected. “Are you here?” I find myself asking, both of myself and others.

Recently, I was deeply saddened by a connection with someone that offered the potential for a fluid sort of partnership, and yet, as the weeks went on, there was a quiet vacancy in the way we connected intimately. I found myself struggling with feelings of rejection, and thrown back into the resentful struggle of my sexuality and the injuries that have caused me shame and distress. I was refused touch in some ways, and this vessel – that holds all that I am, was regarded as temporarily damaged and not part of that intimate dance. For weeks I tried to make sense of it all – on the surface some very logical parts, but under it all, some deep gouges in the landscape of intimacy. I went through cycles of acceptance, negotiation, grief, and anger, and eventually, exhausted, I kissed him tenderly, took in a deep breath of his scent and presence in my life, and stepped away.  Once again, uncertain on the terrain of my sensuality what this has meant “about me” or what space it keeps in my already blossoming but sometimes uncertain sense of my own sexuality.

What I know about how I experience partners is that in the space of intimate connection, my hands touch with a soft vibrant energy, exploring a hand, a wrist, soft hair, the curve of a chin, the warmth of skin… and when I feel most akin to another, my skin becomes this permeable sort of blanket that feels and knows nothing and everything all at once. A part of me feels joy in the energy of being seen, and another part uncertain that I don’t know myself enough to capture that connection and hold it tenderly for just that brief moment. I long to keep it, sacred, for when I most need it to fill me, so that I am not alone. And a part of me grieves that I can not hold on to anything, other than myself.

Regardless, what I want, as Julie Daley describes, is a deep and reverent tenderness, just as I know I offer in the godly act of connecting with others – regardless if the person I am with is a partner or a friend, a student or a colleague, a client or a acquaintance. Regard for the beauty found in each person on my path, the flaws that give them the character and grace to move through their journey, the breath and beat that celebrates the life energy they hold. And on a passionately intimate level, the deep and reverent tenderness that lets me know, “I am here.”

Who am I?

Posted on May 24, 2011 - Filed Under counselor, Evelyn, FAQ, fear

I bumped into a post by The Fluent Self, a wonderful post that got me thinking about my own crazy stuckness. I am in a place where the world is pushing me to change my path to making money. As much as I grit my teeth about what I can do, and dig my heals in about shifting, I can see I am hitting a bump in the road that simply wont tolerate my stuck. The article observes how we identify… and the ways we deny ourselves a piece of identity… in Havi’s (article here) brilliant way of making that self discovery a playful, judgement free sort of thing. I had to share it with my creative soul care groups… Because that is just what I spend 8 weeks, 5 times a year, doing: helping others identify those pesky internal gremlins and lay claim to the wonderful pieces of themselves that are so often denied… And yet…

I struggle to say I am a counselor. I do it every day in my classroom as a teacher, in my creative soulcare groups as a facilitator to self awareness, as a volunteer for long personal empowerment workshops. I am not officially “earning licensure hours,” somehow fearful. The truth is, regardless of the masters I worked so hard to earn, despite the encouragement of professors who have confidence I me, regardless of the students who ask if I can counsel them (and I sadly turn them away but offer a sympathetic ear), in spite of the feedback I get about helping others move towards a sense of awareness and self appreciation… I get scared to use the label because I’ve held my “registered marriage and family therapist intern” license for 4 years, without logging hours or seeking supervision… Believing “I don’t have the money,” “I will be eaten alive,” “I will possibly have a negative impact.”

When someone says, “oh, YOU are a counselor.” I hiccup, spin twice in my head and look behind me… “you talking to me?”

I’ve unraveled my artist, my photographer (who doesn’t know half of what she is doing with her camera… but knows what she sees), my technology geek, and I am certain I am a teacher… But this one I haven’t figured out. What keeps me from doing something different… From living bigger in my own skin… I guess the answer is simple: FEAR.

Fear holds me hostage to a series of beliefs about what that will look like.
– I will have to struggle financially with the high costs of supervision
– I have to work with an institution with a salary that puts me back to my original teaching wages, unsurvivable
– What if I have a negative impact on the world, what if someone leaves more confused than they started, what if I think I know what I am doing and I don’t REALLY know?
– What if I am so busy I can’t breathe again?

I just want to teach. I just want to facilitate and nurture and be part of the growth process with the world. I don’t want to be stuck at a desk writing cliff notes about the lives of a dozen and a half people I see each week. I don’t want people telling me how my desk should look, or what hours I have to work, or the population of individuals I should work with, and how they should be diagnosed, and what reports need to follow so funding is distributed. I just want to do what I do best. Simple.

But I don’t even try. I live doing something I love in quiet un-acknowledged kinds of ways that don’t help me financially (and oh, how I need that), and the world encourages me to do more in bigger ways and I curl up and stay small. I don’t get myself sometimes, and I don’t know where to start, or what to do different to change this, so as the finances dwindle, I feel more and more panicked about what happens next. Who am I? Looking at my resume there is a lot there that I am, why does this feel so uncertain?

Vigilance

Posted on May 11, 2011 - Filed Under 2011, JP, kid, sick

I am sitting under the dim colorful lights of my son’s hospital room, moving through a few days of vigilance and exhaustion. I have been here pretty much non-stop since taking him to the ER Monday night, and broken away for about a total of 6 hours to head home with a list in hand of conveniences and needs, or for a few brief walks to get a meal and quietly watch the wind move the leaves around outside the hospital windows. A good friend has been coming toward the end of the day, meeting me for a light meal and a walk near the lake, which has been the extent of my social activity other than Facebook updates. I’ve also stopped at the Disney Pavillion to “pop bubbles” in their little mermaid – jungle book play area, well aware that the play area is for kids, but taking on the buggy simon-says or musical jewels to just play. I especially like Balloo – who I wish was real and could carry me on his shoulders for a while so I didn’t feel so heavy. On my drive back to the hospital today, and after a 15 minute rest in my own bed, the fan blowing on my skin and the smell of my bedding cradling me, I felt just how tired I am.

I don’t like to see my kid so sick, and worse, in pain. The underlying concern about him getting septic, the empathy I feel for his bloated tender belly, and the disappointment I hold about his aching legs because they don’t have a bed to really accommodate a 6’3″ teenager who is still a kid, has kept me vigilant. There is a growing tweak in my neck, and my gym routine broken down, I can feel my body asking for a bit more than just a nightly walk. At any murmur I am there to help him in and out of bed, to bring him water, to track down a nurse, to quiet the beep of another round of antibiotics, the ongoing smile I am carrying so he knows it is all going to be fine. I am feeling just how tired I am.

This is where I have found the biggest battle – the internal chatter that includes not recognizing how severe his belly ache was, the part of me that verbally expresses concern about the finances and the underlying awareness I know he has about that this last year. The awareness that maybe he has been dead set on doing all the exercises they request so he can “get out of here soon” in order to protect me. There is the piece of me that always insists on doing it alone, who is learning to ask for help and is battling the old tape that doesn’t want to inconvenience anyone.  There is that part that when I am not occupied talking to nurses, or checking my mail, or following up with clients, and get a moment to just sit with my body… my eyes fill up, wet and heavy and scared… and a little angry. Angry at the father that hasn’t helped with his support for at least 6 years now, angry that he has excuses about no work, but all he has to do is take care of himself.  Angry that I am not making more money….Angry that I didn’t go straight home and cancel my class earlier, angry at the FL Kidcare system for not communicating to me about my application for his support.

Then there is gratitude… for having family who loves us so much that I can ask for help if I need it. Grateful for all the friends who have checked in with me throughout the day to see what I might need, how they can help. Grateful for the staff here that have been sweet and considerate, for a room big enough to comfortably hold us both so I am able to sleep and stay close, for free parking, for Panera in the hands of a friend, for medicine that will speed his healing, for the calm breeze outside once the sun has gone down that reminds me of the gentle hands of my grandmother.

I am noticing how tired I am. I am not willing to leave him alone for too long. If I were to go home and sleep I wouldn’t do that well anyway – because I would be worried about his care and status. And yes, I know he will be fine, I know he is getting tremendously good care, I know the finances will work themselves out, I know that worrying doesn’t fix anything and expends energy… and I am noticing how tired I am – wanting someone to just wrap me up for a bit so I can just FEEL that support, down to my core, because that is the last place I seem able to take care of myself right now in an effort to make sure he gets better.

Outside

Posted on May 7, 2011 - Filed Under Art of Noticing

I wake each morning – often to the calls of the large Heron’s on the modest lake outside. My favorite time is the morning light that makes the lake blue, with a slight mist evaporating off the top. This morning, I opened the windows for a brief time to let in some air and take in what I am seeing. I seem unable to capture what I notice on my camera – but the air smells fresh and new, the sounds limited to the slight meanderings of finicky squirrels and birds making their way around for breakfast. Honestly, the first thing I often see is the end of my dachshunds nose as he reminds me it is time to make his morning run of puddle jumping and grass watering. I also spend this time curled up with my journal for my morning pages. Outside is my coffee – that first infusion of energy as I start my day.

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