Revealing: Where The Wild Things Are

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I've been on an odyssey of self discovery lately.  Some parts of the journey have been beautiful and enlightening, and some have been equal parts messy and terrifying. 

Here's what I'm learning: 

Abandonment is a huge trigger for me. 

It runs so deep you guys. 

Are we all afraid of being left behind? 

Also, I've learned that feeling unseen, unheard, or misunderstood makes me intensely angry, even to the point of rage.  

Rage scares me. 

Rage has always been a place I've avoided because it seems so WHITE HOT and... 

DANGEROUS.

But it can also be transformative. 

That is if you allow yourself to get curious about what's beneath...

Rage (often called fury or frenzy) is a feeling of intense, violent, or growing anger. It is sometimes associated with the fight-or-flight response, and is often activated in response to being in the presence of a threat. The phrase “thrown into a fit of rage” expresses the immediate nature of rage that occurs from extended exposure to a threat. If left unchecked, rage may lead to violence against the threat.

and then later...

Cases in which rage is exhibited may directly be related to cognitive dissonance in relation to an individual’s ability to manage the terror associated with death and dying..

Ahh... cognitive dissonance,  terror of death and dying. There it is.  

Recently we experienced a health scare in my home, and while everyone is ok, and it ended by being the best case scenario for an outcome, it still sent me whirling down a dark and ugly rabbit hole where my monsters live.

I found myself going through this strange cycle as I processed. 

First I was calm and concerned about the person I love.  Then, grateful.

"WHEW, that was a close one!" 

and then, "We have so much to be thankful for.."

A day later, I'm feeling a bit anxious and withdrawn, then I noticed that I was in fight or flight. 

"What the heck? How could we not have seen that coming, and what if it was worse, and..... ?"

Then the rage visited me, like a tsunami, and suddenly the person I love the most , who just narrowly escaped something that could have been horrible, was suddenly the object of my rage. 

Where was it coming from? 

Why was I so angry? 

Monsters.

I remember them well.  They lived in my bedroom at night and started to visit me when my life became confusing and scary. 

I recall that they were linked to all the thoughts I had about myself, the things that were happening to me, and when I considered losing or disappointing the people I loved most in all the world. 

The monsters became the faces of each new fear and before long, there were too many to count. 

After hysterically waking my parents night after night, my fight or flight fully activated, they became exhausted. Their way of finally dealing with it, was to lock their bedroom door.

I'll never forget the night I ran through the dark hallway like a bolt of lightening, only to splat flatly against their unyielding door while scrambling frantically to turn the uncompromising knob. I could hear my dad state firmly from behind the door; 

"ENOUGH! GET TO BED!"

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and then I knew for sure.. 

No one is coming for me. 

No one would save me. 

No one would hear my cries.

This must have gone on for quite some time because I recall developing coping strategies.

For example I had a strict policy for using the loo after dark. I would carefully adhere to this protocol as a prudent matter of safety.  If I had to pee at an ungodly hour, then I had to L-E-A-P from the bed to as close to the bathroom door as possible because then I could simply step on the tile because monsters can't work with tile, they dissolve instantly. My brother told me. 

I shudder to think what would have happened had I not known this critical fact.

IF, and only IF,  I managed to attend to my business without incident, I would then have to make the trek back. Obviously, I would need a running start to L-E-A-P back into the bed and burrow myself under the covers as quickly as possible, and then I would need to squeeze my eyes shut immediately while saying three times:

You can not see me, I am invisible. 
You can not see me, I am invisible.
You can not see me, I am invisible. 

It was a process to be sure.

As time went on, the monsters escalated, and seemed more threatening then ever, and no matter what I would do to try to sleep at night, they would bump and thump and grind their teeth and smack their lips, making terrifying and disgusting sounds. The circles under my eyes resembled the bruises on the bananas I peeled for my morning cereal, and Miss. Borrowski sent a note home to my parents to let them know that I had been falling asleep in class.

My mother tutted at me, and my father scowled as he folded the pink paper, referring to my night terrors as "utter nonsense". 

I became desperate to do something about it and knew that I needed to employ a bold new strategy. I found it quite by accident that night while lying in bed as a deep smoldering shame began to arise while thinking about my parents disappointment in me. 

I was tired of this. I was being a stupid baby! I was dumb for letting this keep me up at night and an idiot for letting everyone see how scared I was. 

This was going to stop. 

I sat up with gritted teeth and hissed my ferociousness to the monsters who lurked in the darkness of my room. 

"SHAME ON YOU FOR BEING SO MEAN!"

"PICK ON SOMEONE YOUR OWN SIZE!!" 

"YOU ARE AN UGLY BUNCH OF BULLIES AND YOU DON"T SCARE ME ANYMORE!!" 

I knew then, that I needed to show them that I meant it, so from then on, I walked deliberately to the bathroom completely disregarding the rules of engagement they had forced me to create. 

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I snarled at them over my shoulder: 

"I DARE YOU TO TRY IT!"

My heart would beat it's loud whooshing in my ears while I feigned boredom at them so as not to arouse suspicion. 

Never let them see you sweat. 

This anger tactic seemed far more effective in controlling my monsters, and eventually I would fall asleep believing that I had created a fortress of powerful explosive energy around myself. 

The Wisdom here
is that YOU have to be more ferocious
than the MONSTERS themselves,
to make them stop. 

Fast forward, and after my fit of rage the other day, it occurred to me that all these years later, I've been employing the same strategy.  

When I feel betrayed, invalidated, locked out, terrified, ... I lean into rage as a way of coping with my deep fear of being abandoned, left alone, or feeling inadequate. 

In some ways, the health event provoked the perfect storm of opportunity to go deeper into My Revelation Project, to see my reaction more clearly.

Anger and rage has become the mask I wear for the situations that terrify me or threaten my feelings of safety.  Unconsciously,  I've been baring my teeth to the darkness, to keep the monsters away. Except that I'm not a child anymore,  and these rituals of self preservation no longer serve, they only keep me from the truth of what's really happening: there are things I can't control, and this is scary.

These days, my monsters, while still hidden in the shadows, seem less threatening overall. That is, until I'm triggered by some deep, unconscious fear that's still rooted in my past.  The confusion comes from having to reach back through all those layers to reveal the true source of my upset.

It's surprising to me that there in the center of all of the swirling confusion, rage, & chaos is a very frightened and vulnerable little girl, standing barefoot, in a cotton nightgown, right where I left her.

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We don't realize the moments we toss our own selves out of the garden of belonging to ourselves, but we do it.  Usually based on an experience that brings us shame, or a sense of powerlessness.  We begin to loath ourselves for not being strong, brave, smart, worthy or lovable enough. We think we are deserving of our alone-ness. 

No one is coming for me. 

No one will save me. 

No one will hear my cries. 

Everyone gives lip service to this concept of "The Wounded Child", and I get it, but it's hard for me to see my own, and how entrenched she is in some of my less then stellar adult behavior.  

In this moment, however, I can see her so clearly:

She's lonely, confused and going through some big things. She's keeping secrets and and she's just not capable of putting language around what's happening. She's lost her sense of security and belonging, and she's utterly terrified. She's abandoning her true self for a mask that will hide the inadequate pieces of herself so that she can endure. 

As I sit here, I can taste the salt of my tears as I realize how separate I've needed to be from her pain in order to survive to this point.  I can see her standing there alone, so small, so innocent. 

From this vantage point, as an adult woman, I think of my own daughter at that age and so easily my instincts kick into gear ( it's so much easier to rescue everyone but ourselves!) 

Suddenly I'm running toward her as fast as my legs will carry me. 

"WAIT,  You are not alone... I'M HERE!"

My life seems like a hologram in these moments.  This is vaguely familiar, over the years, collecting the parts of myself I've left behind, betrayed, or disowned along the way. I've learned that these parts of our disembodied selves never stop calling out to us to bring them home. I just don't think I've known this version of my child-self, the one who uses rage to keep anyone from seeing her fear.

I allow a vision to surface:

My strong, courageous, kick-ass, grown-up woman-self is here now, and I can see that she's cradling the small scared version of my child-self in her arms.  As I pull her to me, I whisper the words she's been needing to hear from me all these years, and as I do, I release her from her prison of shame and isolation:

I SEE YOU.

I HEAR YOU. 

I LOVE YOU. 

Then I tell her that she's not alone anymore.

 

 

Truth is the Birthplace of Self Love

My first indicator that I have a hard truth to tell happens in my chest. 

It starts getting tight, and uncomfortable, and starts creeping toward my throat making it constricted and hard to breathe.

I use the tightness in my chest as an indicator along with a simple metaphor to locate myself because it’s easy to get lost in fear when I feel it happening. 

An example would be when someone I care about is projecting something upon me that I’m not in agreement with, or who tells me something about how I am, or how I am feeling or “should” be feeling, when I’m not that way or feeling that way at all.  In other words, it’s not my truth.

Speaking the truth can be risky because it separates us from being in agreement with what’s true for everyone else, and it’s ok for our own truth to be different from everyone else’s.  In fact, it’s our birthright. 

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Our survival instinct kicks in to belong and to be loved and accepted. It's so strong in us, that it will often have us sacrifice or side step our own truth to preserve harmony, but we do so at the cost of our own freedom and autonomy.

So back to the chest getting tight;

Right before I’m about to tell a hard truth I think about a metaphor I call "The Swimming Pool" because it helps me get my bearings. My chest tells me that it’s time to get out of the deep end of the pool where I’ve been swimming, and go back to the shallow end where I can find a place to stand and feel my footing beneath me.

I imagine that I’m standing there, just up to my shin’s in the pool, all vulnerable in my bathing suit (no hiding that shit) exposed, but also stable.  There is no need to tread water in the shallow end, and there is plenty of air when you don’t have to work so hard to stay afloat.  This is the place I imagine taking a deep breath before moving back into some deeper water to do the work.

Just like when I was a child, I imagine looking to see where the sun is located in the sky above me. That way I know which direction the light is in, so that when I go under and while I’m below the surface, where it’s hard to breathe, I can still locate it’s presence.  It’s a trick I play on myself to orient myself before I go to the truth telling place.

It helps me.

The Truth Place

If we are raised to do the proper thing, the right thing, the "good" thing, and told to be a certain way, we are often cut off from our own truth. It happens endlessly from the time we are children.

I’ve noticed that by the time we enter adulthood, few of us know how to hear our true voice anymore. It’s can be hard to locate where the truth is when it sounds like everyone else’s voice but your own, but if you pay attention and listen for it, you’ll start to hear it’s hum.

The truth place can be a messy place when you begin,  but it’s also a birth place.  Thinking back to my pregnancy, and the delivery of my first child, I imagine nothing can be more messy and brutal than that, and then, there she was, in her "true form", and her beauty was blinding. 

That's what truth does. 

It makes us beautiful.

Truth can be be painful, chaotic, ugly, upsetting, and unbearably messy…and then beautiful.

The expression:

"The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off".

True that.

Why do we expect that life’s truth is any less messy than our own?  Why do any of us believe that we can just skim along the surface of our lives always making it pretty, without the brutiful parts?  

I’m thinking of what we are requested to oath before a lawful hearing that’s dependent at times on life or death:

"I vow to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God."

Yesss. Help me GOD to tell this hard truth I have to tell because otherwise,  I die a little more inside each time I deny it.

Please stay close with me as I tell this hard truth because I am so afraid that when I say it out loud, that I will risk belonging and love.

And God, Please be my witness as I go back into the deep water to do my work, and help me tread the waters and weather this storm without forsaking myself. 

Please be the constant sunlight through the darkness to greet me after I dive deep and come back to break the surface, reborn in my own true and radiant self. 

Amen.

 

The Trance of Captivity: How Women Unknowingly Internalize & Perpetuate Misogyny

OK Ladies, listen up. 

In full transparency, I'm feeling frustrated so I'm sitting down to type it out so that I can access some freedom for myself around this topic.  I have this way of becoming so impatient when I see something at play that no one seems to be talking about, and in this case it's around the unconscious way women tend to treat themselves (horribly) and other women (not so great either). 

My frustrations come from what I'll call "the trance of captivity" and how this plays out for us as women who have been raised inside of the patriarchal culture, and don't even really know what that means or how it impacts us in the world, but before I launch in...

Can we agree that Elephants are pretty powerful creatures?

They are, right?
They weigh in at around 24,000 pounds, and can stand as high as about thirteen feet.

 Blog Post : The Trace Of Captivity How Women Unknowingly Internalize and Perpetuate Misogyny and Sexism.

Blog Post : The Trace Of Captivity How Women Unknowingly Internalize and Perpetuate Misogyny and Sexism.

Their trunks are agile enough to pick up a single blade of grass, and strong enough to rip branches from tree's or uproot one if so compelled. 

Despite their enormous power, elephants can be chained in captivity. But how is that possible?  What chain is strong enough to "captivate" an elephant? 

You have to start conditioning early, from babyhood. 

The baby elephant will struggle, but eventually it will realize that it can’t break the chain, so it learns not to struggle. It accepts that the limit imposed by the rope or chain is permanent, and that there is no use struggling against it.

There is an elephant inside each of us – as women, we posses enormous intelligence, capability and power. Just like the elephants in captivity, we don't realize our power to break the chains. 

How does this happen?

When women are born into Patriarchal society, from a very young age, they are conditioned to believe in the limitations and messages that get passed to them from society from a very young age (these are chains, by the way).

Girls and women, boys and men hear the sexist messages (lies and stereotypes) about women over their entire lifetimes. They hear that women are weak, emotional, passive, manipulative, with little capacity for intellectual pursuits or leadership. They are fed messages that compare their worth to impossible and insignificant ideals of weight, beauty, motherhood, professionals, and are told through thousands of tiny paper cuts, that they must fit inside a certain role or ideal to be acceptable or worthy as women (myth, bullshit, just NO).

Internalized sexism is defined as the involuntary belief by girls and women that the lies, stereotypes and myths about girls and women ARE TRUE.  Internalized misogyny is women themselves doubting, disliking, and disqualifying other women from their pursuits, or undermining their abilities because they are not aware of their own negative attitudes about women (themselves) or where they come from. 

There are two logical, predictable consequences of a lifetime of such messages 

  1. Boys / men will grow to believe many of the messages, and treat women accordingly. They will be thoroughly indoctrinated into their role in sexism, protecting their male privilege by colluding with the perpetuation of sexism.
  2. The same messages also stick to girls and women, resulting in internalized sexism / internalized misogyny. Women and girls are taught to act out the lies and stereotypes, doubting themselves and other females (AKA: horizontal hostility) This is the way women collude with the perpetuation of sexism and misogyny. 

An example of what internal misogyny looks like in a way most women might be able to relate: 

 Photo from Your Story is Your Power: Free your Feminine Voice by elle luna &susue herrick

Photo from Your Story is Your Power: Free your Feminine Voice by elle luna &susue herrick

For our sexist system to be maintained and passed on to the next generation, we all must believe the messages (lies and stereotypes) to some degree, and collude with it by performing our assigned roles.

Most human services or social change organizations or even progressive companies who are all about making a difference in this area recognize that their mission cannot be completely fulfilled until all forms of oppression (racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, anti-semitism...) are addressed, HOWEVER, many of these same organizations do not recognize the forms of internalized oppression that interfere with accomplishing their missions because so much of the behavior is ingrained and unconscious by the very women who "support" their mission. 

Women’s organizations, in particular, have to become aware and take conscious action to recognize, acknowledge and interrupt internalized misogyny and sexism as it affects individual women as well as the organization as a whole.

We all need to start ZOOMING OUT and looking at ourselves through the lens of the observer, paying careful attention to the "story within the story" of where we are as a society and how we got here. As women, we need to encourage other women to recognize and examine the harmful impact of a lifetime of sexist messages and how they have shaped their own self image, as well as their attitudes toward other women. 

The impact of exploring and revealing your own hidden attitudes about women,  is the first step in noticing the trance of captivity and breaking it (there is no chain holding you, you powerful, beautiful beast!).

As women, we are in the trance of believing that women (ourselves) are not enough and we continue to seek approval from others instead of offering it to ourselves.   The very first thing we need to do is affirm ourselves and each other as capable, deserving and equal. 

Only then can we challenge internalized sexism and misogyny in our own lives, the lives of our children, and in our pursuit of a fair and equal society for all human beings. 

Please hit "like" below and share this with your people if you feel so inclined, and as always, THANK YOU, for witnessing me, I'm so proud of every one of you who is up to the task of revealing more... 

Exploring Potential Over 50+ Years Old

At what point in our lives do we take the foot off the gas and say...

"That's it, I'm too old, weak, fat, tired.."

When do we put the breaks on and stop exploring our potential, or trade in our dreams, or goals for a routine day with nothing much happening.  

I don't want to ever stop exploring my potential. I never want to stop growing and becoming, because each year I get better, wiser, stronger, more in tuned with my dreams and more inspired by my potential.  

There is no end to our potential.  That's a myth. 

Keep believing, keep dreaming, keep growing. 

Life is a revelation. 

Just click on the little You Tube logo below this video and it will take you to the site to play...

What If The Pain Never Ends?

Lately, I've been coping with more pain than usual and trying in vain to find some relief.  I've noticed that by the early afternoon, I'm exhausted, tight lipped and short.  My only escape from it has been to sleep.  

My Dad, the original cynic, used to tell me that:

"Moniker, pain builds character, ... for more pain."

If I am left to interpret his prophetic statement, then I'll assume he means that it's a given, like paying taxes and breathing, it's part of life.  As pain continues to have it's way with my psyche, the fear burrows into my dreams. In middle of the night, last night, I recall sitting up and asking Austin in a panic..

What if the pain never ends? 

oh, my Dad would have a good laugh at that one, deeming it rhetorical, no doubt. This morning I considered canceling my appointment with my coach, Jessica, because I knew "pain" would end up being a topic, because, that's how we roll. 

I discovered that exploring pain is even more painful then the pain itself, but it's also productive in providing relief.

Some ground we covered: 

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Being with pain: What is that like for me? 

  • Sometimes it feels too big for me to handle or hold.
  • It makes me feel powerless, trapped and imprisoned. 

What does this feeling of prison bring up for me?

  • It makes me think about my life and having come so far in terms of being free from some pretty heinous emotional pain, only to now be plagued with physical pain. WTF is THAT all about? 
  • Feeling like a pain free life is always somehow just out of reach for me.  (Just you Monica!  everyone else has a pain free life!)
  • Feeling like the self-compassion well is dried up, or like the last drop of self- compassion essential oil has been used up, it's essence, GONE. 

If pain had some geography what would it be? 

  • A Wall. 
  • I just come to a place where there is a wall of pain.
  • There's just me against the wall and I'm so tired of coming up against "the wall".

What else? 

  • The pain makes makes me ashamed, it makes me needy, and I fear being seen as if I'm somehow broken and useless.
  • That this pain is being "done to me" or perhaps I choose the pain in another life (lol- because that's the sick twisted thinking you can count on me for!).

What would pain be if it were something to practice being with? 

  • Patience. Oh how I hate you. 
  • Patience can be a useful practice when one is healing. 

What can "be" in the meantime? 

  • Rest
  • It's ok to rest when I can't do anything else. 
  • It's ok to be tired of the pain.
  • It's ok to be pissed off about it. 
  • It's ok to to be afraid.

Still in pain with no resolutions, and yet somehow, I'm feeling way better than I was. 

MASKS : Are You Wearing One?

Authenticity and transparency are buzzwords in the Coaching Industry, Corporate America, and Political culture. And, there is no doubt there is tremendous value in honing the skill of showing up "real".  But- it's not always that easy.

As human beings we learn at a very young age how to morph into what ever will serve us, protect us, give us more attention, make us more seen or less, make us more likable, lovable, valuable, cool, smart, attractive, acceptable, and enough. We are trained in our formative years to work at “fitting in”. This is when we begin to build our repertoire of personalized masks. Growing up I had slew of them. I had the giggle mask, happy mask, fearless mask, capable mask. As I grew older I added the apology mask, daring mask, I got it all handled mask (a step up from the capable mask).  I had a plethora of masks to choose from and they served me well, until they didn’t. I found myself feeling hollowed out, insignificant, which of course motivated me to create more masks, until my life hit a wall and I was smacked down by my own in-authenticity. My non-transparent, co-dependent nature had created so much exhaustion, and such a deep profound loneliness, that I was breaking out in hives and becoming physically ill. My marriage was the mask of all masks and I was suffocating under it, my Being was dying a slow death. This may sound dramatic but I kid you not, it is how I felt.  I had de-selfed, detached from who I was, so much so I couldn’t remember who I was. That is what happens when we use masks to show the world what we think it wants from us, instead of Being who we are. It is no wonder that often times I will have a client show up to a coaching session with the expression, “I don’t know what I’m feeling, or how I feel about that, or what I want.” It gets tricky to identify what feelings are authentic and what is a projected feeling from what we think the world wants from us. 

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How do you choose to show up?

Are you wearing a mask or are you being transparent?

Are you using your authentic voice or saying what others want to hear…

The way to begin to identify if you are wearing a mask or being “real” is to notice if there is another conversation going on within your Self, while you are performing on the outside. Notice how you feel when the conversation is over, and what thoughts you are having about the exchange. It is that simple, it’s simply noticing where you are in your body. Are you feeling exhausted or energized is another indicator. Even a fierce conversation (Susan Scott, founder of FIERCE, https://fierceinc.com/about/leadership) can leave you feeling energized when you are authentic because you are speaking from your truth, instead of making up stuff that is in-authentic and has nothing to do with who you really are.

Ask your Self to step away from the mask, and dare to be you. Train the world to be in relationship with you, instead of the world training you to be someone else.

 

The capitalized words above are not an editing error.  

You Start Dying Slowly

Last year, was my year of YES. 

I was intentional about it because I'd gotten to the point where I felt like I was slowly dying inside.
I mean it, I had become so bored with the same old, same old and I was restless for something different but had no idea where to begin to make changes. The only thing I did know was that I had to start saying "YES" when opportunities crossed my path, even to things that were outside my comfort zone.  

Being intentional has it's perks because magically, new opportunities did begin to appear .. except Instead of saying YES, I would say "maybe".. at least I was getting closer?

Because, I hadn't quite let go of my reasons...

It's too expensive to do anything big, I need to save for college! 
I can't leave the kids.. 

My husband will miss me..
It's too much disruption.
Who will let the dogs out 3 times a day? 


and yet the real reasons were:

I was worried I was selfish to want more. 
I was afraid to fail at doing something adventurous.
I was afraid of wasting time and money on something that I said yes to.
Doing something "different" felt too far out of my comfort zone.
Doing something big while also being alone.. how can that be fun? 
What if I disrupt my relationship? 
and then there was this whisper that would say : BUT what if???
 
What if being selfish is a good thing? 
What if you don't fail? 
What if you have wild success and intense fun at doing something adventurous? 
What if going somewhere or doing something different is exactly what you need? 
What if doing new things enhances your relationship vs. disrupts it? 
What if disruption is exactly what it's all about? 

Disruption. 

It seemed to make sense that I would need to look at disruption in a whole new way. Maybe even as a magical ally that could be my ticket into positive change. I mean, lets be honest, what was I really disrupting? 

The status quo.
The routine.
The monotony. 
The same old same old.
The comfort zone. 

Ahhh... there it was.  The curse of comfort.  My comfort zone kept me from wanting to change because deep down, I was scared of the unknown.  I think that the longer I lived inside of my predictable and routine life, the less confident I became about my capacity to grow and shift again. However, I was also noticing that comfort itself had become wildly uncomfortable, and I was restless for more. 

Being content does not evoke change.

Being restless does.

Fast forward and I'm in the habit of continually adding things to my calendar that I look forward to, and I'm pleasantly surprised by the results of saying YES, and finding new things to do that inspire me. It's taken some adjusting for my family, but everyone is the better for it. I find that by taking time for me, everyone wins. 

I've got energy and a sense of purpose.  
I laugh more and think differently.
My relationships are more alive. 
My income has grown. 

Which brings me to this point:

It's important to invest in ourselves in a way that gives us a return on investment.  I remember that one of the first things I said yes to was more expensive than I was used to spending on myself, until I realized that I wasn't spending; I was investing.  By investing in myself, I've been rewarded over and over and I think it's because I actively have more confidence, energy, and inspiration than I did before and so people hire me more often and I'm more clear about good opportunities that come my way.  

I see now that women withhold from themselves all the time. They short change themselves nurturing everyone except themselves.  Remember that tale by Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree?  

I bet you thought that was a beautiful story. All I know is that she gave and gave and gave that boy everything, and in the end, all she had left was a stump. 

All she had left was a stump. 

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In one year, my life has become filled with joy and excitement.  I've done so many things this year that I never would have imagined and it started with that first BIG "YES". 

You know the saying : 

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” -  Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

This has been my reality. I do believe that when we put our best foot forward and take a risk toward become who we are meant to be,  that we create an energy thats fueled with possibility and where literally anything can happen. 

So, when is the last time you did something for yourself that made you feel alive inside? 

When is the last time you said "YES" to something that will grow you? 

Here's a poem that spoke to me right around my YES time last year: 

You start dying slowly
if you do not travel,
if you do not read,
If you do not listen to the sounds of life,
If you do not appreciate yourself.
You start dying slowly
When you kill your self-esteem;
When you do not let others help you.
You start dying slowly
If you become a slave of your habits,
Walking everyday on the same paths…
If you do not change your routine,
If you do not wear different colours
Or you do not speak to those you don’t know.
You start dying slowly
If you avoid to feel passion
And their turbulent emotions;
Those which make your eyes glisten
And your heart beat fast.
You start dying slowly
If you do not change your life when you are not satisfied with your job, or with your love,
If you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain,
If you do not go after a dream,
If you do not allow yourself,
At least once in your lifetime,
To run away from sensible advice…
Pablo Neruda

If you are not sure where to start; start here: 

Say "YES" to being with a wonderful group of women in Kennebunk Maine at the end of April for a weekend of disruption.  Take time for you by saying "YES" right now, and stop being so damn sensible.  Ask your friends for help with pets or with the children and tell you husband you know that he's wildly capable of handling a weekend without you.  Now whip out that credit card to claim your space. 

It's just that easy.  

Don't Have Dead People's Goals.

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Tough emotions are part of our contract with life.  We don't get to have a rewarding career, a life filled with amazing adventures, or an intimate relationship by racing for the emotional exits. 

Striving for an absence of difficult emotion is to have dead people goals. 

Don't have dead people goals. 

Emotions are the indicator lights of our hearts; they are here to direct us, not to define us.

Emotions reveal the essence of our personal truth and negative or painful emotions are simply an indicator of where our values are misaligned with what is happening.

If we are angry inside, does it mean we are an angry person? No. It's an indicator that we have been living with a situation that is misaligned with how we have been treated, or how we are living.  

If we are sad or in a state of despair, does it mean we are the depression we are feeling? No. Instead, it indicates that we have not yet fully processed something that has had a deep impact on us.

Avoiding emotion isn't going to help us enrich our lives. It's the emotion itself and exploring the emotion that offers rich and fertile ground for a shift, or for new awakenings to grow. 

Discomfort is our price of admission to a meaningful life. 

Speaking of having a meaningful life: please don't delay in registering for our weekend retreat this coming April in Kennebunk Maine. 

Dreams in Queen Anne's Park

On Friday evening a friend of mine asked if I wanted to write a letter as part of an art project that her daughter was doing at college.  For some reason, I dove right into the request to capture the images that started to come into my mind. They were of Queen Anne's Park which was right around the corner of our house in Newport Rhode Island while I was pregnant with my daughter. We lived there until she was four and she is my inspiration for the poem below:

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Dreams in Queen Anne’s Park

Dear Daughter,

I stopped to rest beneath our Sycamore tree.
In the park, near the house, where you were born.
I remember sitting on summer grass at the same place, years back.
While your presence formed. Unaware of how you’d change me.
Your tiny hands would challenge every misconception.
Every constancy I’d ever known, exchanged for love.
The prodigious force that multiplied.
Entwined with you and I inside.
Delivered to each other like unexpected twins.

Each birthday flickered holograms, of candles on your cake.
The holy moments. The only moments.
While you count cartwheels in pink tutus.
Lasso monsters in dress-up shoes.
You keep rainbows in a jar.
And I, captivated by the prisms of your laughter.
Like the ones we hung near windows, by your pillow. In your lemon-yellow room.

Glimpses of far away planets remind me of impermanence.
Memories float like incense and linger in the air.
You are a constellation organized in a fistful of scattered seeds.
The growth patterns imperceptible.
The chances impossible.
You are a wildflower in technicolor.
And fireworks blooming in July.

My mortal hands reveal veins like patterns.
A map of traveled routes to the motherland you made of me.
The fertile land you blessed for me.
With open hands you gestured me.
While beaming your unicorn smile.

My pilgrimage begins at every sacred site of you.
I wonder at the sight of you.
The epicenter of everything that goodness ever made.
Taking particles of you with me.
Life hasn't dreamed the last of me.
I won’t carve the base of our Sycamore tree.
For the imprint of you {LOVE} is in my heart.

-Momma

(Monica Rodgers Jan 26th, 2018)

The Nassar Abuse Case, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina & The Power of Witness

The Nassar abuse case has struck a chord with us. The courtroom exposure this past week was heartbreaking as over 150+ women read their victim impact statements one by one while the American public watched and listened to each excruciating word.

I have a deep and abiding affection for Judge Aquilina who resided as a powerful witness to the women who came forward and I truly believe that what she did and how she did it will be discussed as a landmark event from this moment on, perhaps forever changing the way we think about helping the victims of trauma heal. 

Witness. It's not a noun, It's a verb. 

It's the action of being totally present to someone else without interrupting, needing to relate, take away their pain, offer advice, or fix them.  It's the action of keeping our mouths shut, ears and hearts open and being there for whatever gets revealed. 

The women who were victimized at the hands of Larry Nassar needed a witness.  They needed to feel seen and heard so that they could start the process of healing. I have no doubt that Judge Aquilina consciously made it her business to use her courtroom as a conduit for healing and I applaud her for it. 

To feel invalidated and invisible is at the very heart of our unresolved suffering as human beings. To offer someone the space to feel seen and known (REVEAL) is to allow them the space to process (HEAL).

What Judge Rosemarie Aquilina did.. 

Was to allow each woman a reclamation. She adjusted her schedule and cleared her docket day after day, even as the number of women to come forward more than doubled. She made time and space and then held that space for each of them while they addressed their abuser and did the work of reclaiming their voices, bodies & dignity.

She made their words a priority without rushing, hushing or rescuing and held space over her domain with reverence and compassion as they each had a turn to relay their experience of anguish, heartbreak and reckoning. You could have heard a pin drop as time and space seemed to vanish and I have no doubt that a multitude of victims at home were having their own version of healing as they watched the proceedings on television. 

People ask:  

"What does holding space for someone mean?" 

"Holding space" is to be aware and intentional about making a moment count while also being fully present to the experience of the moment however terrifying and difficult.  It's intending that the space you physically occupy or reside over in those moments have intention and significance for those who might be doing the work of processing or healing.  It's also knowing that you are connected to the source of that which creates safe space for someone to expose and even release their pain and suffering.  When I see a space- holder, I get chills down my spine because I know the work they do is sacred. 

"..and witnessing.." 

"Witnessing" is when we "be with"  another human being and truly see them while allowing them to have their experience without saving them, fixing them, or running away. What you do when you witness someone in pain is you offer them the gift of your presence.  Many of us falsely believe that this is the time to shift the subject or jump in with our advice. Instead what you might offer is encouragement & validation "I value you, I see you, I hear you, I believe you." or  "you are not alone, you are strong, you are brave, you are beautiful." 

If you feel awkward and inadequate at witnessing someone, know that just saying "thank you for sharing that with me" and sitting in silence with them would be just as powerful. 

I noticed that at the end of each victim statement heard in the courtroom, the Honorable Judge addressed each woman by name and acknowledged her courage and pain. She validated her suffering and her right to her feelings of anger and betrayal by those that failed to listen or act and most important she believed them.

She also called them by a new name: Survivor. 

As more and more women come forward to be truth -tellers, more and more space-holders are showing up to create the safe places for healing and reclamation.  We are blessed to be a witness to these changing times.

Thank you so much Judge Aquilina for modeling what it looks like to be the power of witness.
Thank you to the survivors who showed up as the embodiment of courage to break the cycle of silence and violence. 

Keep it coming ladies. Keep it coming.
We are revealing and healing and creating a new space in the world that can only grow in beauty and strength. 

 “Leave your pain here,” Aquilina said on one occasion, in one of the most powerful instructions ever delivered by a presiding judge. “Go out and do your magnificent things.”

For those of you still keeping your secrets, please know that your time is near and that you are more powerful than you know,  I invite you to read a recently published memoir  Meet Laura Parrott Perry and her new book:  She Wrote it Down : How a Secret Keeper Became a Storyteller.

"We live inside our stories, we make homes of them. When we decide those stories are unspeakable, when we attach shame to those stories, they become secrets and those homes become prisons. You know what the difference between a home and a prison is? It's just the ability to walk outside it to freedom.

A lifelong secret-keeper, Laura Parrott Perry began the process of transforming into a storyteller when the dark secrets she'd been carrying around became too heavy and her life began to collapse under the weight of them.

Sexual abuse, eating disorders, alcoholism, perfectionism... Those secrets were all her story making itself known when she was unwilling to tell it. 

Bit by bit, story by story, the author began to shine a light into all those dark corners and tell the truth. She surrendered to the facts of her life and her past, and in doing so began to write a beautiful new future."

A Pilgrimage to Israel in Mind, Body & Spirit

At Midnight on the 2nd of January of this year,  Austin, my Mother and I boarded a flight to Israel where we would eventually meet our larger group. 

I'd received a call from my Mother 12 Months earlier when she had excitedly shared about an opportunity to go on a pilgrimage to "walk the path of Jesus" and I could tell from her voice that the trip would mean a lot to her.  I think she was totally surprised when I agreed to go and then it was my turn to be surprised when Austin agreed come with us. 

My faith has long been a concern for my Mother and I think she always holds hope that I will one day see the light.  It's hard for her to accept that I'm already here, standing in the light right along with her. I do in fact resonate with faith and spiritual practice,  my issue being I don't feel like I belong in any one place and after years of trying ( believe me, it's not been without tremendous effort and soul searching) that I've arrived at accepting myself for where I am.

This said, I absolutely loved the entire experience of exploring Israel as a welcomed guest with a group of 43 other beautiful souls who practice their faith as Catholics.  I loved the beauty of the daily services, the sermons given by Father Simeon Gallagher (an incredibly fun, tender-hearted and charismatic Capuchin Monk whom I'm endeared to for life) the prayers we said at the beginning of each day and at the end of each day, the churches we visited and the historical places that brought us to the very intersection of history, culture & the origins of the Christian faith; Jesus Christ.

To get a sense of Fr. Gallagher's sense of humor and his powerful style of speaking, watch the clip below.  I love this man so much.

Father Gallagher talks about his Irish upbringing, the value of community  & the family pub growing up.  Uploaded by Capuchin Franciscan Friars on 2015-11-04.

The city of Jerusalem was by far the place I loved most on our journey. Jerusalem holds great significance in a number of religious traditions, including the Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which consider it a holy city. Some of the most sacred places for each of these religions are found in Jerusalem and the one shared between all three is the Temple Mount.

Until I visited this territory, it was always confusing to grasp and make sense of how this land is considered to be holy to all three of these major religions.  The historical significance of this land and really all of Israel and much of the middle east is mind boggling. To know this territory is to know that It has been conquered, destroyed and rebuilt time and again, and every layer of its earth reveals a different piece of the past. 

Over the centuries all three of the Abrahamic religions have considered Jerusalem holy. The Jews because it was their capital before the diaspora and the home of the First and Second Temples; the Christians because it was the place where Jesus was crucified; the Muslims because it is where Mohammed ascended to Heaven. They have all built religious monuments there and the area is teeming with people who travel on Pilgrimage each year to pay homage to the origins of their faith.

To say that I was in people watching heaven would be an understatement and our tour guide, a massive 6' 4" Palestinian Christian named Ibrahim (whom I can not say enough about) was an incredible asset to us. This man's intellect and knowledge simply blew me away.  He was a wealth of information on scripture, ancient history, Jewish, Muslim & Christian religions and of course the current political climate. In addition he was a fun and formidable figure,  able to speak five languages and interact with the various crowds, security detail & navigate the streets of each of the cities & towns we traveled to including Bethlehem, Nazareth, Tiberias, Jerusalem etc. without a hitch.

This past year I've met two beautiful Women who hail from Israel, one of them is from Jordan, and one of them who grew up outside Jerusalem.  They too have encouraged me to continue to explore the Middle East as my affection for the history of what I was experiencing truly touched me at a soul level and the part of me that knows spirit when I feel it was completely alive and deeply connected. It's an incredibly special place and will live in my heart forever along with the people I met as one of my #1 most memorable life experiences.  

I've taken the time to write this post not only to encourage those of you that find the idea of traveling to this area appealing, but also to share with you some of the photographs I was able to capture along the way. I do love taking photos and I hope you enjoy them! Also- I cant say enough about the travel company we booked with; Illume, who offers educational academic and religious tours all over the globe.  We stayed in 4 star hotels, ate great food and traveled on the most impeccably clean tour bus I've ever seen. They are a top notch company and I highly recommend using them. In addition, I just learned that if you have a group of 20 people or more, they will assist at planning any type of tour-trip you can think of for your group and you'll get to travel for free.  In fact, I'm working with them now on designing a trip to Europe for The Revelation Project to celebrate women who changed the world through history ( artists, rulers, writers, poets, saints, sages, and revolutionaries) so stay tuned!