Connection · shared stories

They say

Who understands me but me 
when I say this is beautiful.
When the path looks crooked and torn
with rocks, stumps, roots and uneven ground.
I take the first step.

They say I should be afraid 
and not wander out too far,
not go out of my comfort zone:
the safety net that has become a leash
tethering me to this spot
training me to be okay with this small plot.

They say I am reckless, foolish
and asking for trouble.
I lace on my sneakers and head out the door.
The sunlight streams through the tree branches
A lighted beam pointed toward freedom:
Freedom from thinking small
Lighting the path to discovering my own voice
and inner strength.

They say the path is dangerous.
Its twists and turns unknown
to an untrained eye.
I do not need a compass in my pocket
to show me the way.
I have always known this journey.

I may return to it again and again
Reminding myself of my true worth.
My true north is an innate part of me.
It cannot be scared, beaten or numbed away.

I will always resurface
and be a companion and a guide
to my own suffering 
and fears of being lost,
Filled with doubt or shame,
Guilty for taking the first step.
I am in my corner.

They say it is for my own good.
It is uncomfortable to go against the grain.
I show up again and again
Not only to prove them wrong
But to show up for me.
I am on my own side
and free to be me.

shared stories

Our stories bind us

Community is the thread that
Keeps humanity tethered.
It reminds us we are one.
We are not separate or alone.
Our struggle is not just ours
Alone to bear.

We all share this one blue, green planet.
And luckily we get to
Share the same day and year.
What troubles you
I have been there.

Although your story is 
Uniquely your own 
by your own experience
and senses,
I have felt that too
On my own life’s journey.

It can feel hard to open up
To share our struggles
Without fear of burdening another or
adding more to the stress 
of everyday life.

And when we put up blinders
Or put up a protective guard,
We become impenetrable to
Another’s suffering and
Inadvertently build walls of separation.

I want to know what lights you up.
What life lessons have you learned? 
What cherished memory do you want to remember?
What do you wish you could forget?
What do you wish you could hold on to 
And linger there for just a little longer?

Our stories bind us
And remind us
Of our common humanity:
Our fears, our woes,
Our aches, our loss, our love
Our ecstasy, our shame
Our joys and pain.

Our authentic truth
Must be shared.
The truth comes out eventually.
Why not share some common ground
And held space for one another?

Today can we be present and listen
Without agendas or distraction?
Our presence is the present
We give to each other
Each and every day.




shared stories

Being still with fear

What do we do when
we feel discomfort?
Do we run away?
Do we distract ourselves?
Do we ignore and pretend
A doubting of reality?

Where do the feelings go
when they are repressed
and not fully expressed?

Do we digest them
through our pores
and with our breath?
Do they alchemize into
Our cells, our inner makeup
Only to resurface again later?

Am I okay if I sit here
With the fear, 
the doubt, the unknown?
Will I somehow lose myself
and be completely consumed and
transformed by it, 
as fear would tell?

What if I sit here for 10 seconds?
Surely, I can do anything
for just 10 seconds.
No big deal, I tell fear
after the time’s run out.

And, well, I’ll be.
I’m still me.
I didn’t fall of the cliff.
The earth didn’t
cease to rotate
because I sat with
the doubt or uncertainty.

Still the earth rotates
on its axis
and I became one with
the fear and found my way
to the other side,
To home.

Confidence in myself,
My self-worth,
My inner being
was strengthened as a result
of just getting still
And being with 
the discomfort.

For just a moment in time
Heaven moved with the earth
And I came out unscathed
At having faced it,
Just for today.

shared stories

Each season

Each Season has a reason
A root cause
A call to Mother Earth
An honoring of nature’s rhythms.
I, too, can play a role
in this delicate dance.

A celebration with
Its own unique beauty
Its own story to tell
An expression of emotion
of life itself.
And all the stages
One not better than the other
All necessary and
Interdependent on each other.

Humans throughout time
Have heard the call
and took their rightful place
at the helm
at Mother Nature’s feet
Ruffling her skirts,
Smoothing the sheets
One role not more prestigious
than another.
All needed
in sharing the honor
of her presence.

Greeting her
at each stage
Arms open wide
Accepting the gifts
and the lessons
To make way for
Growth and space
For it all to take place
Together
Side by side
Hand in hand
Guided to her 
Beauty and sorrow
Each day a change to begin anew.
shared stories

Jealousy

As I started this blog topic today,
I noticed lousy is in the word jealousy
And the final feeling
when all the rage, anger,
blame, guilt and shame
has settled down,
the end result is
I always feel lousy.

Can jealousy be my teacher
or at least serve as a guidepost
that a boundary perhaps
is being crossed?

Other times jealousy arises from
the actions perceived or real
by a stranger, someone unknown,
and it’s not personal.
But I feel recoiled, wounded and protective.
It opens up old scars that
I thought I’ve gotten over,
long healed and moved on.

Today, I got to work a little late
so my usual parking spot was taken.
It’s not mine. I don’t have a claim,
a sign, a right even to that parking spot. 
It’s just convenient.
I could always park one level up
and be on the same spot.
It’s all perspective,
claiming ownership over something
that isn’t mine.

Today it was a reminder of impermanence and 
the inevitable change that must occur.
And again suffering is optional
and at my own making.
I can leave feeling lousy.
And instead of starting my day on the positive, 
I’m feeling thrown off kilter, 
uncertain and grumpy.

When was the last time you felt jealous?
Connection · shared stories

Saying goodbye to nice

“She’s so nice” “almost too nice.”
What the hell does that mean?

From childhood we are nice girls
when we help mommy
and are not too rambunctious or loud. 
Nice when we are using our imagination 
on domestic endeavors.

I’ve grown up being called nice
and the good girl.
The dependable child.
Always available, helping
with minimal complaints or drama.

How did this disposition become so ingrained 
into my identity that I don’t remember 
where it originated from?
And when did I choose to
embody the spirit of nice?

I was in a long-term relationship
in my early adult life.
I played by all the rules
and was proud of my accomplishments 
and all that I did and strive for
despite my challenging upbringing.

But I gave away my power so easily. 
Particularly to my partner.
And I still have this tendency in my marriage.
The weight I give him takes precedence 
over my own beliefs and interests.

If I speak up, I feel selfish
and like I’m being self-centered
and there’s something wrong with me
for voicing my opinion and concerns.

I’m making waves.
It’s always easier to just play along,
go with the flow.
But soon the scenery changes
And the calm river is now rapidly moving towards downfall
and I lost my footing, my way,
my own heart’s calling
and loving what I love because it fits me.
I am cast off.

So I need to make waves
if anything for survival
and self-preservation.
I am not going to lie there
without taking an active role.

But these feelings of
I should just go along,
it’s easier than using effort
when life can feel so exhausting.
And “we have to choose our battles“
but then I’m left with a shell of
what could’ve been.

Connection · shared stories

We all carry a little trauma

We all walk around with a little trauma in our back pocket.  Sometimes we forget it’s there. Sometimes, unbeknownst to us, we pull it up and it’s in our face without any warning.  How we experienced the trauma is individual and unique:  what happened, how we dealt with it or didn’t deal with it, our own personal experience of the trauma.  We were innocent one moment and then the event rocked us to the core and that is something we all share.

We’d like to pretend it never happened to us.  Why talk about such negative things that don’t affect us now?  The event shaped us whether we’d like to admit it.  We can choose to acknowledge this trauma that we’ve been carrying around for far too long.  Perhaps we’ve grown tired and exhausted from the heaviness of that burden.  And it has metaphorically created a hole and fell out of our pocket.  However it happens, the opportunity lies before us.

Do we quickly scoop it up and bury it once again?  Do we distract ourselves and hide it, ignore it or stuff it?  Or can we just for a moment accept our common humanity that trauma unfortunately happens.  It’s a part of the journey of life.  But it doesn’t have to control us any longer.  It happened, for sure.  It sucks.  Who wants to rehash unpleasantries?

But once we acknowledge our common human experience, our trauma, something shifts.  Our burden lightens.  We see that we are not alone in our suffering.  It is okay.  We are not justifying what happened, but right now in this moment can we feel safe?  Can we take a breath?  Can we sit with this feeling for just a few moments?

Here’s what I would like you to do right now.  Don’t engage in a dialogue with the trauma.  Just be the listener.  Write if it helps you to sort out your thoughts on paper.  Treat yourself gingerly, with the softness and tenderness as you would a small infant.  You were innocent when it happened through no fault.  Can you see what “trauma” is showing you?  Is there a message?  A nugget of wisdom that you can explore?

When you’ve listened to what has to be said, put your hands on your heart and just breathe for a minute.  Counting breaths helps.  I like to count to 10.  One, inhale; one, exhale.  Two, inhale; two, exhale, etc.  I promise you any fear, anger, or other strong emotion you feel will dissipate if for just a moment you can let it out.  It’s been bottled up for too long.

Connection · shared stories

I am a contradiction

Sharing my story heals myself and others, and at the same time I am not my story.  Yes, my story is my past and has shaped who I am.  I am grateful for my past.  It has brought me to here.  Now.  This moment.  Yet my story doesn’t define or shape this very moment that may someday become “my story.”

How can that be?  I’ve learned from my story.  I’m able to fit life’s experiences into a nicely labeled box or manila folder to be tucked away into my memory.  Those lessons have been integrated and shape my view of myself and the world.

I am more than my story: than my past, than my teenage angst, than my mistakes, worries, future trips, to-do list, career, roles, and lifestyle choices.  Each part is not a stand-alone entity because for this moment it’s on the front burner of my psyche.

However, as with all contradictions, each integral part is a part of me, responsible for who I am, who I was, who I will be.

shared stories

Uninhabitable for human life

I almost lost it all. One moment of self-doubt could have turned to tragedy.  It couldn’t really be carbon monoxide.  It must be faulty batteries, not a faulty furnace.

How I doubted myself.  How it could have ended everything for me, for my life, for my neighbors in the building.

What I could have lost and missed out on:  motherhood, adventure, marriage.

All lost in a moment if I didn’t move.  If I didn’t follow through.  If I didn’t make a phone call.  All could have ended.

The earth gone black.  Death by choking.  Death in my sleep.  Death all alone.  Death all heartbroken.  Leaving everyone I knew’s heart in pieces too.

Luckily, that’s not where my story ended.  It was a rebirth.  A renewal.  A tangible bona fide appreciation of life.

How fragile it can be.  How temporary it is.  That every day is a gift.

My neighbors survived.  My life was given new meaning.  I am forever grateful for the lessons and cherish each day.

That basement apartment off of Gano Street?  The final verdict:  uninhabitable for human life.  I called it home for a short three months.  And it could have cost me my life!

My first time on my own.  Living the dream of being an independent woman.

And I was afraid.  I was lonely and heartbroken.  Alone for the very first time.  Unsure of what to do.  Doubting my choices to leave, layering on guilt and remorse.

It could have all ended.  But thank the stars it didn’t.  My life is amazing these 14 years later.  The beauty and gift of this one remarkable life.

Connection · shared stories

Our wild and unruly thoughts are not the whole story

We are all hurting. If there’s one thing we share in common, it’s that we all experience pain and/or suffering.

Our thoughts can hold us hostage and sabotage our present moment. For example, when I got my new job, my husband suggested, “Let’s spend some time celebrating!”  In an instant my mind shifted into forward thinking.  There’s childcare needs, a new wardrobe to purchase, and a general fear of the unknown.  That moment to celebrate was ever so brief.  Sweet but not fully experienced, not completely felt.  In hindsight, perhaps I should have taken a moment to savor the excitement and opportunity and let a feeling of gratitude set in.

It’s over too quickly and we can’t get it back. I had a similar experience when my 19-year old cat Max died.  My mom and I never followed through on our plan to memorialize him.  We were in a state of grief and I had to take care of my toddler.  We didn’t get the chance to properly mourn him.  As a result we suffered on our own and grieved alone.  Instead of holding each other, we kept it inside.  A few years have passed since then.  And I don’t know if we will ever be in that space again.

Our thoughts can run wild if we let them. They can rob us from the rich and healing experience of being fully present:  to how we are feeling or what is happening in this moment.  Now I try to pause when I notice my mind going rampant or rehashing the same story over and over.  I take a deep breath and think, “I’ve already spent enough time, space and energy on this.”  I soften and I take a moment to notice my surroundings.  “How is this story, forward or past thinking distracting me from the NOW?  Is it causing me undo stress?”  Of course, it is.

Then I ask the question, “How do I want to feel instead?”  Usually I want to feel relaxed, present and connected to my family.

And the final question, “What can I do to make that feeling a reality?”  Usually it’s taking a few box breaths or utilizing one of my self-care tools.  I’m a work in progress.  There are days when I forget my tools and I get lost in thought and distraction.  I lose my grounding and connection to myself and the present moment.  I’ve accepted the fact that I’m continuing to learn and re-learn what works for me, and I will always continue to do so.

Now it’s your turn. How do your thoughts affect you?  Are they distracting you from what’s going on right now?  Are they causing you undo stress?  If so, how do you want to feel instead?  And what can you do to make that feeling come true?

I send you peace.