Parenthood is not for the faint of heart….

When I was a kid (I kind of chuckled at this, the joke is I never really was a kid) I used to love roller coaster’s and all thrill type rides. Later, probably after watching any of the Final Destination movies, it began to occur to me that these large machines were as capable of breaking as any, and I could be putting myself in danger. Let’s be honest I hit a point in my life where my imagination ran my world, and what it often told me is that death was somehow after me. So I recall after this occurred I would still try and push myself, but by the time that conglomeration of nuts and bolts reached it’s peak, inside I would want to scream “someone let me back down before something bad happens.” I would want to turn back and the only thing that usually prevented me from doing so (was probably my ego) was the fact that other people behind me were waiting and I would cause a scene. If it weren’t for fear of inconveniencing others I would have marched right back down the line and out to safety, never having plummeted.

*A present time update is that I do not ride those rides. I get dizzy, and also feel like the chiropractor is necessary after a single ride. I am officially “old” 😉

In my life currently with regard to parenthood I am going slowly up and up, imagining my impending doom, and feeling sometimes as if I want to scream, let me off this ride. When you’re a new parent you spend lots of time imagining what the heck people mean when they playfully warn you about the teenage years. I feel like I did not take those warnings seriously enough. What I have learned in my 16 years of parenting that IS comforting is that MOST everything (at least so far) is a phase, which means it does pass, you get a brief breath of fresh air, and then a new struggle will be laid out before you. Just as soon as you feel you have the parenting game figured out….. it changes. 

I used to get so scared and bewildered when caught in the moment that I could only intensely emotionally react to each part of the phase. When it was in its worst I thought I would never make it out alive, and when it resolved finally, I felt I would be safe forever. Both of those illusions can be very dangerous. The reality is that all things in life will ebb and flow, there will be good and bad moments throughout. It’s about making it through the difficult ones and how we manage that, and about enjoying the good while still knowing it will not be some constant state to try and grasp and keep forever. It’s like a flower that you can’t pluck and take with you for it will die. You appreciate that moment, take a snapshot in your mind, and buckle up for the next hurdles.

Currently my hurdles are compounded by my self-components : ADHD (this is a big one), being highly sensitive, Crohn’s Disease, Anxiety, running a full time practice doing a job that while very rewarding, can take a large tax on my available resources, which brings me to “being the type of person who constantly is spread too thin because of their sheer thirst for experience in life and inability to sit still, even for a second”, PTSD (also a big one), an ex-husband who does not really fall into the category of supportive (understatement), personal struggle with self-image including still feeling inside like I look like my 20 year old self and becoming terrified when I see my “nearing 40 self in the mirror”. I am sure there are more, but these serve the purpose for now.

At any given moment I burn at 1,000 KW hours (this probably doesn’t even make sense and I’m not going to fact check it, because if I do my thought train will leave the tracks, and my inspiration may be lost). I burn bright ok, strong and bright and I go and go UNTIL I drop. When I have dropped you WILL KNOW. If you see my drop you are most likely to be my partner or my kids. The drop can appear as ugly snoring on the couch curled up with Sig, but more often the drop appears with me being able to hardly focus on anything, and being very SHORT. Here I sit knowing I can show up day in and day out warm and friendly, an ALLY for my clients, and knowing that my children get what appears to be “the shit end of the stick”, the very worst parts of me. Writing this line even almost brought me to tears. They get me running on fumes, and we all scratch and claw and bite at one another at the end of the day.

And here is the epiphany fellow parent travelers who come across this: The great trick here is this is also what I get, “the very worst parts of them”. I said to my partner the other day in an adult temper tantrum moment, “but I don’t want to be the mom”. I came across a lovely woman on my travels to Texas. She is from Iowa and has a beautiful family that sounds like a dream. When I shared some vulnerabilities with her she said something to me, that I will keep, treasure, and now share with others. She essentially told me that our kids are for other people and not ourselves. We are home base, they come home and refuel, and pack up and go out into the world to others. I think I didn’t know, that I didn’t know, if I was ready to be home base yet or not.

When we feel safe and loved really well, our full selves are able to be present. This means also our selfish and mean selves, selves we have to learn to manage. I want to show up for my kids journey with this. *disclaimer this is not an excuse for blatant poor behavior and if you come up with some code for how to know exact lines around this please share it with me. Discerning how much wiggle room to give, and when being a parent takes priority over being a friend is a costant battle.

Children when they are young are very gratifying, they love the daylights out of ya. They give and give and give, and would fix everything if they could. Their warm light brightened the path for me to come back from years of a neglectful  and confusing childhood. My children saved me. I’ve struggled with, is this ok?, should I be guilty for this? Are they too parentified? So many things. The reality is though they are my greatest motivator, for which I would never have traveled this far. I need to keep this in perspective as I journey these treacherous paths.

So now I talk to myself as much as I talk to anyone reading…. now is my time to fully bloom into adulthood (my path with this has been affected by my personal story, and does not appear on a traditional timeline, if anybody’s really does) and to be their harbor and be patient with them while they go through the phase of selfish discovery, the phase I went through very latently. I went through it while they were young. This happened because I didn’t have the space they do with me. I have to always remember that fact. When I am lost I have to always remember that fact.

I need to find a way to reconnect with my 13 year old daughter. Some of that journey has begun by reconnecting with what my 13 year old self may have left unresolved. Some of it has a life of it’s own I can’t control. Some components I believe are genetic and temperament and some things are beyond the scope of being able to figure out. But I’ll be here keeping on… trying. Because it is what I know how to do. I don’t know how to give up. That is my one true gift. I didn’t give up on becoming a parent. I continue to become one every single day. There are always new lessons and growth to be had. The most I have ever learned in life is from being a parent.


Next time something bad happens, ask yourself “what is the best thing that could come of this”?

I seem to produce my best work whether it be in a therapy session or on the page when I am at my most vulnerable. I am also at my most uncomfortable during this time so it is extra challening to get my feelings out if I am judging myself or shutting down.

I was on a roll with the blog posts and then they slowed down, and of course the harpy critic was close nearby telling me this would be just like before, just like all the other times. Times I would get excited about something beyond my means to fulfill those goals and inevitably crash and burn. What I have learned about this these past few weeks is if you don’t give up when it gets hard, you get overwhelmed, when your self-talk isn’t kind, when you repeatedly do the thing you swear you won’t do in a moment of strength, that the payoff of that in the end is much greater than if you were to stop trying altogether. I have learned that little steps in the right direction are what gets us to our goals, rather than grand perfectly executed plans. We plan our lives that way right? On timelines, using flow maps and charts, having watched people we admire and hoping for our lives to be like theirs, and then the CURVEBALLS (the thing I wrote about several posts back). I used to be so sensitive to the curveballs and so fragile I would fall apart when things didn’t go as I expected or MY WAY. At this point I have learned that this very thing is not only inevitable, it also contains great mysterious GIFTS, that are almost impossible to recognize as such. So next time you are tempted to feel it can’t get any worse, as yourself this strange question. What’s the best thing that could come out of this?

I had a therapist do this bizarre exercise with me, and boy was I ready at the start to be resistant. You mean what is the best part about my unexpected $4000.00 vet bill? Are you serious lady? It turns out the best part was while it’s still on my radar and stressful, and a serious setback…. it allowed me the opportunity to see how many people cared for me, would have my back and show up, and how well my partner and I navigated it together (when in the past in my relationship we would have just taken out stress on one another). The best thing about that vet bill is that my life was not over. I am still able to pay my bills. I realized that in the past I would have taken the bill as evidence that my life and the large financial demands of 3 children alone, let alone student loans etc. was a burden on anyone I could possibly date, I would continue to behave as if I operated alone and inevitably push that person out of my life for good. I knew this time when we dealt with it gracefully and I allowed myself to be helped and to conquer those “being a burden fears”, that I was truly ready for all that love demands. A cheaper lesson might have been preferred here. I am hoping my next one will not cost $4000.00, however I am grateful nevertheless.

I didn’t intend to write that, it wasn’t how my mind started out. Maybe I needed the reminder myself, and sharing it with all of you helps with that. I am still learning how long I want each post to be. I have a tendency to go on and on. I have more to write, but I am tempted to leave this lesson in more of a nugget fashion versus a novel, and to continue my many thoughts on the next post.



My Journey with Crohn’s Disease

I write this first and foremost for those who can relate. My fellow IBD warriors, and I write it for myself so I may find some catharsis.

-To Deny my Own Experience was a Part of my Survival-

I have Crohn’s Disease. I was diagnosed in August of 2013, one year before I graduated with my Master’s Degree from Southern Connecticut State University. The journey leading up to my diagnosis is a memorable one. I was constantly going to the hospital for heart palpitations and chest pains. Sharp sharp chest pains that felt like the ending of my life must be immenent. If I walked short distances or even began mowing the lawn my heart would beat so hard I could hear it in my ears. The other thing I remember was the extreme fatigue. I felt like a lead block, and that even moving across a room or getting up from a seating position felt like a huge task. I had attacks where my face would get very red and hot and feel like it was on fire. My hands and feet would often tingle or go numb. My head would also throb and I would just feel absolutely awful. My heart would race and I would turn clammy and feel panicky. I thought these were panic attacks until I realized after I went to the bathroom the attack would soon after calm and I would be left freezing cold, lips purple, and shaking like a leaf… barely able to hold my body up. I would have night sweats and migraines. What I would later realize was a depletion of B-12 would create an anxiety like you cannot imagine. I wouldn’t even go somewhere if I didn’t think there was good medical care nearby. I got to the place where I almost wasn’t even living anymore. I had an important therapeutic journey that I hope to make a post about, that helped with this.

Now is any of this sounding like Crohn’s Disease to you? I did not have frequent bouts of diarrhea. Though I will say the way it does effect me is when I am flaring and often with no rhyme or reason things “go straight through” if I don’t get to a bathroom immediately I definitely will not make it. There is no “holding it”. And in fact much to my great embarrassment I didn’t make it last week at my office during my last client of the day. I literally had to say I had to go to the bathroom 10 min before the ending of the session and I had been putting it off thinking it was almost done. Needless to say this situation ended up extremely uncomfortable. Mercifully there was not another person afterwards. It isn’t only my ego that is wounded during an episode such as this, these attacks come with extreme abdominal pain and exhaustion afterwards.

I had gone to every doctor imagineable: Neurologists, Cardiologists, Orthopedics (oh I didn’t mention the extreme joint pain), Naturopaths, General Practioners. By this time I was beginning to question my sanity, and was often treated like a hypochondriac. One of the worst aspects was is in my natural make-up it is very important to me to not be a burden and to “tough things out” so I denied my experience even to myself, and I still do this. I am in deep denial of my disease. This may be the most difficult aspect. And up until this point it has been easy to deny because after many nasty medications (including steroids), Humira put me into remission in 2014….. until now. The beast is rearing its ugly head again, and this will be an entire journey of emotions to manage it I feel. You see I have a relationship with this disease.

Let’s think about this word for a moment DIS-EASE. Whoever coined this term is absolutely brilliant there is no better way to describe. Feeling all of these odd little symptoms, even if it isn’t an issue of some extreme suffering every second, is distracting. This is probably one of the most painful parts for me. Someone who already has a hard time focusing then has this on her mind as well. It feels like it immobilizes me, taking over my mind space as if an alien has invaded and I am no longer my own. THIS is the most painful part for me. I become distracted and lost inside my head and my pain. Trying to be strong for everyone, not wanting them to worry about me. Trying to stay positive and have a good attitude, because that is the only choice. And when I crumple with exhaustion…. I have the awareness of how unpleasant I become. It is heart breaking.

Today I am writing about this because slowly, ever so slowly, the symptoms are creeping back up. Now since I was diagnosed I went through a whole wave of emotions. Relief I wasn’t crazy was quickly replaced by terror of the true reality. My mother has Crohn’s Disease and I watched her bleed constantly, have surgeries, vacillate between heavy and so thin you could see her spine. I watched her blow up like a balloon on steroids, and then shrink like a skeleton. I watched her suffer. And this whole situation becomes the most confusing because it was always her reason to never become a mother. She never became a mother. I think at this point in my life I know that she wanted to if she could have. I do not think she was capable. But for so long I thought it was the disease doing this and I felt so strongly that I wanted to care for her and fix her. Thus a lifetime of confusion of learning how to be cared for, and that I deserved that, and sorting out where Crohn’s Disease and mental illness collided and divided. Sorting through the mess.

So my relationship with Crohn’s Disease is a tricky one because it is also an emotional trigger for me. This being another one of the most difficult aspects. 

So today I sit and write about this topic close to my heart as this will thrust me into another period of growth. I will be tasked with handling the emotions and the physical aspects of this. A benefit of this coming back the way that it is is that I can finally know it wasn’t just stress, I couldn’t probably just fix it naturally (though I debate this a lot), it isn’t something I have caused myself or somehow my fault, and it is VERY REAL. There was some confusion with my diagnosis. I was in my Treatment class, one of my last in my program at Southern, and having the sharp pains. I ended up going to my doctor who pushed on my stomach and I nearly jumped off the table. She thought I had appendicitis and sent me to Advanced Radiology. Already feeling sick I had to drink 2 large bottles of barium 🙁 ICK. I walked around for an hour trying to distract myself: listened to Tina Fey Bossy Pants on audiobook. I can still remember every single thing about that day. Each moment. I remember the sounds, sights, and smells. I remember everything floating through my head as I walked around and around the building outside to keep fresh air and keep from throwing up the solution. I got a call a couple of hours after the test and they said that they couldn’t be sure but they think that I have Crohn’s Disease. I had 7 centimeters of blocked and inflamed terminal illeum. This is where my DIS-ease resides, right where I absorb my nutrients.

My GI later called me back and said that all of my tests came back acute and not chronic so that perhaps it wasn’t Crohn’s afterall. I was so relieved. She later reneged this and said that given my history and results of my colonscopy I definitely had it. This small piece is very important because once I was feeling better I tended to be concerned that I was taking a medication that could kill me, and cause all sorts of other things, and what if I didn’t have it? I still can say I have been unsure. At the time I was having a lot of stress in a relationship, a lot of stress with trying to balance school, work, and internship. A lot of stress as a parent. A lot of stress financially. A lot of stress overall. So I was SURE that my stomach issues were caused by stress and once I got healther mentally that perhaps that was the main key. It obviously is highly correlated with Crohn’s.

So here in the present after 4 hears on Humira (which terrifies me) I am beginning to flare. I have little symptoms still. Sometimes I’ll wake up with nausea or be extra tired. I used to be afraid they would become a flare, but then I realized, or now I realize for sure they were not. Because present moment finds me knowing in my body that I am flaring. I went and saw a movie with my person a couple of days ago and had an attack. My heart rate nearly 100 bpm while sitting in the theater, just sitting. My face red and hot and painful. I tried to hold ice on it for relief. It was not very easy to concentrate on the movie. There is no warning on these attacks they just come, and they suck the life out of any activity.

I woke up this morning feeling totally wiped out, every single part of me. My joints feeling swollen and in pain, my head throbbing behind my eyes, and just icky overall. It is so disheartening to a determined spirit. However I am a fighter. I have always been a fighter. And the second I become engaged in a session in my office doing what I was made to do… for those hours of the day I forget how badly I feel. I am so very fortunate for this. I have created a career for myself that so naturally commands my spirit and presence to attention that everything else becomes smaller. Even my DIS-ease. I refuse to be defined by this monster that rages behind every activity and dream of my life. I REFUSE.

So here I am today on the brink of what could be a very exhausting journey to relief again. Though I am delighted to have a career that does this, by the time I come home I crumple. My life does not have room for this. I don’t want to be irritable and cranky with those I love the most. So then comes the next aspect of the fight. Figuring out the best treatment. There are so many overwhelming questions, and the stakes are high. Do I go up on my Humira to weekly (this terrifies me)? Do I start steroids (also not something I want). Do I attempt to kick this as naturally as possible? This is romantic and I like the idea, but the effort it takes is unimaginable, and my GI would argue. My inclination is natural and holisitic, but my natural background is Western Medicine and it tends to be what I lean to trust. While you can read beautiful articles about how people have healed themselves (see Dane Johnson I’ve been admiring him lots lately and my person did get me all the ingredients for the elemental shake), my GI warns she has seen many of those appear as if they are doing really well for a long time, and then end up with a colostomy bag. A deepest darkest fear…. so I have to make big adult decisions, ones that effect my entire family, and ones that can leave my life hanging in the balance.

All of this is primarily invisible to the average witness of my life. This is why folks to be careful the things we say to others, or the judgements that we make. I am quite sure I am the mom who is talked about for taking more resources than I give within the PTA and in the soccer clubs. When I lose lots of weight due to being sick, well meaning folk congratulate me, having no idea of the daily battle I am fighting. Note: I no longer pay someone a compliment on their physical appearance, unless perhaps it’s you have beautiful hair or something. Never about their weight though. There are million other compliments you could find about their personality.

Having a disease like this changes the way that you live your entire life. I already felt like I was trying to outrun the clock on my available years to produce work that touches the lives of others. Now this process is just accelerated. So in my personal world I have little time to keep up appearances in any way possible. I am already exhausted I cannot be further exhausted by concerning myself with surface level interactions, or being concerned with what others think. And yet…. as a highly sensitive person I will always be aware of each of these things, be aware I live very differently (or it seems so) than others. I am aware, but I literally run out of the resources to give to anything that saps my energy that is not terribly important. So I live in a different and new way. In this way I am thankful for my DIS-ease, because it allows my life to be more rich in genuine interaction.

I live to turn my pain into my passion, and to share with others who are seeking this how to work towards it. Here is another piece of my story. I hope that you get something out of it.

My greatest strength is those that love me so well. It is during this time I think often of my friend Danielle, who came with me to many of my tests, and who was a rock during my time of intense FEAR. She is always close to my heart even far away. Her love for those close to her practically seeps out of her pores, and during this time it was a warm blanket for my soul. I can’t imagine having gotten through that time without her.  It is my wonderful person and my family that keeps me above water, when the weight in my heart feels like it will sink me. I am grateful every single day.

Oh and practical helps are long epsom salt baths with aroma therapy, ginger tea, hooded sweatshirts and comfortable clothing, and snuggles. <3


Blogger revealed: parenting struggles and vulnerability

One of my greatest struggles with making a blog is what to include and what not to include. How personal to get when I know that clients especially can read my blog. The stance I think I will always take with this is that if I cannot show someone how to be a raw and real human being, in the number one way that we all teach (by example), then what am I really doing here anyway.

I don’t think that my style will ever be well polished articles (though I usually dream of being like “those other people”, whoever they are ;)), because those fail to show the process of becoming. My life has been a process of becoming, and I have so much that I could share with the world about this. The number one thing that possibly prevents this is the light speed at which I move onto the next adventure and onto the next. I move in my life at a dizzying pace. This alone is terrifying to most I feel, and difficult to understand. And the most important aspect (you’re not supposed to begin a sentence with and are you? I so need to brush up on my grammar etc, but again it keeps me away from my point and my truths, and I refuse to let anything do that) that has been affected in my life by this is my children. Due to the fact that I am propelled foward by an almost alien drive, that even I do not understand at times, I drag my children through life at my pace. I am sitting here this morning as I bask in some of the consequences of this and reflecting.

I have hit a point with one of my 13 year old twin girls where we are very disconnected. This has been the number one thing on my mind. It short circuits all other processes. I cannot just be out in the world experiencing adventures and writing about them if one of my most core connections is suffering. I have felt as if I am banging my head against a wall trying to untangle “the answers” to this puzzle. How much space is the right amount? It is normal for children to branch off into privacy (in fancy therapy speak, individuation). But then also how do we keep them safe in this day of age when technology makes everything beyond their maturity level available.

Trying to crack this code on “the right way to parent” is like trying to decode Mandarin. There is a truth in here that is important. There is not one right way to parent (or do anything for that matter), there is only what works for an individual, taking into consideration their unique path and wiring. This is what we most often do not do. With all of the should’s, templates, and everyone’s well meaning advice on a life well lived. I think some of the truths about this are revealed in the letter I wrote to her. I think I will share it later, when I am not trying to squeeze this in during this magical window of inspiration. Which means I am forgoing getting ready for my day full of clients and will as usual look “comfortable” today 😉

So this morning I woke with my mind so abuzz that the only thing I knew how to do, the one thing I have always been able to do, is to write. I ended up writing her a 7 page letter in long hand. The words poured as if from my soul straight to the page, my most satisfying brand of writing. A brand that once you experience, you become almost unwilling to accept any other kind. This is so rare in my life though. The stars aligned this morning. Which basically means in my world that the dogs after their morning walk chose to nap quietly this am rather than play and make all sorts of noise. It means that the rest of the house was still asleep. I spent a good two hours this morning writing my daughter. I am sitting in here in some self-judgment about that. Thoughts like: “if anyone were to read this they would think it’s way too advanced for the understanding of a 13 year old”, and “why can’t I just be normal”. I said this to my partner the other day. “Why can’t I just be one of those parents who bake the fondant cakes and decorate for every holiday, and their entire focus is their children.” I so badly want to be “those parents”. The ones who do all the external supposed to’s that make their children feel treasured and loved. I am ever envious of those parents. The fact that I am not naturally made this way makes me constantly have my parenting in question. Not that I already didn’t…..

The space I seem to need to keep landing with this is that everyone’s path is uniquely their’s. There is good and bad in everything and we all have choices. One of the toughest is to see our mistakes as they are unfolding and be willing to face them. I look at my mistakes. I used to be so hard on myself that I couldn’t bear to see a mistake, which means that I couldn’t work on anything. I was fragile in my make-up. Since then I have cultivated some Velveteen Rabbit esque values that have helped me to learn to sit in discomfort and own my story, especially with it’s flaws and failures. Flaws and failures are an essential part of our personal map, so why do we do anything to avoid them? Woven within my writing will probably be lots on this.

I guess in this blog you will watch my process of becoming a writer who is able to clearly lay out her truths, the gems she has found in life. I am not there yet. You are going to see poor writing, and grammar mistakes. You are going to have to sift through the confusion and the disjoint for magical nuggets of truth. However I do believe they will be within here, and that you may learn something in the process of reading. I believe this because it is my greatest passion. Sharing knowledge with others. Staying connected in a land of a great disconnect. Looking at our unique types of suffering and finding what alleviates it. The whole process is so beautiful.

As always I wish I could have gotten onto the page more eloquently this rush of inspiration from this morning. As I said I think I will share the letter later, if nothing else so you can see an example of raw vulnerability in it’s process state. One of my favorite things.



A Heart so Raw: Remembering Michelle Vo and Honoring Kody Robertson

This morning while I was having my coffee I came across an article about one of the victim’s of the Las Vegas Massacre. Two Strangers Bond over Country Music and Beer. Then the Gunshots Started.

*I am waiting for people from a tag sale site to come and pick up some items that they purchased. This is a most unreliable event to be sure. I am in the process of purging many lingering items that have been collected over the years. I am wanting to re-make a space that holds many memories, with some fresh energy of the self I am now, and of the journey in partnership that I am currently taking. A blog post on this soon. For now I cannot seem to unburden myself from this current pain.

I have an interesting relationship with trauma. I have the ability to stay focused, calm, and to be a protector… a healer…. I can do this very well when called to arms or faced with extreme need. However, when I am by myself, in my processing, it can bring me to my knees with pain. Since I attended school for psychology it has always been a learning game to figure out how much to delve into the news of these events. You see the news is just a headline, often about almost unbelievable events. Things you can easily imagine happened in some far off planet that may never touch you. But when I read the true accounts of people’s personal experiences that is when it truly comes to life for me. So this morning, quite accidentally…. I am raw with pain.

I have clients most of the day today. In my earlier days of being a therapist I would be concerned that I would be too drained from my own heavy feelings to do the work as well. My more experienced self knows that when I am at my most raw and vulnerable I do my best work. The trick is to stay with the meaning of the feeling, but be careful about the stories that we tell to make sense of it all. For example: if we decide to believe the world is a place with danger lurking around every corner it can become difficult to be in large social events without anxiety. If we delve too far into thinking that the world is filled with more bad than it is good then there is real trouble. I can never allow myself to believe this, despite the increasing amount of evidence. In my mind, even if it just a foolish belief: good will still always outweigh evil. This is the only way I can process through such events and stay upright and continue the fight.

As an empath and a highly sensitive person this event this time is like a weighted blanket constantly sitting on me. I actually have kept myself not dwelling or even peeking at the news too much for fear that it entirely crushes all the air out. This morning however, I had to read this article and let a little of the pain burst forth. With my writer’s imagination a story from a personal account like the one I posted above makes the entire event come to life in staggering technicolor. This story brought me right there to the scene.

There is no sense to be made of such a tragedy. There is only the increased need for immense love to be spread. My always mission is to keep myself in such a way that I can continue to do that. My dear friend Chip who has his own struggles often writes me e-mails about small acts of kindness that have been bestowed upon him, that he then pays forward. These always brighten my day. Anyone can be a hero. This man in the article was the Vo family guardian angel. I hope in such an event I would be like him.

My challenge to you is what act of kindness will you do today? Know that it can be as simple as a smile.



Untangling my emotions about senseless violence…

There are a great many things I have been inspired to write about since my last post. Certainly there were more events during my getaway that were worth recalling and sharing. Also there have been many hurdles in the parenting arena for me to scale as of late. However, the thing I absolutely cannot just brush past to be able to access any of those, is this mornings newest episode of senseless MASS violence. My heart is aching audibly this morning. As I scan past the many different reactions from people on my social media platforms I am spending some time sorting through my emotions.

You see we have to make a choice about where we want to land with all our feelings and thoughts. I always say it isn’t the lengths or depths of where our mind takes us, but the choices about which thoughts to hold close and encourage, and  which to hold and comfort perhaps, but also let pass on. Which do we breathe life into, and which do we create space for but not want to hold too tightly or make a part of ourselves. Our thoughts can very easily become beliefs, and core beliefs are very powerful operants in our lives. Our ego can even subconsciously expend much energy in an attempt to fulfill these beliefs.

Quietly reverent I am here trying to sort through this mess. As an empath for me the easiest thing to do would be to separate myself from this altogether. To just remain far removed as emotionally, as I am physically from the event itself. This just seems unfair to those who are not afforded the ability to do so. As if my solidarity can be lent in the time I give of myself to imagine the suffering in the hearts of those directly and those of us indirectly affected. The truth is that this could have been any of us this is happening to. An even bigger question is how not to lump this in with the current political climate and become even more embittered.

There was a period of time in my personal life that I actually traumatized myself by “going too far into the shoes of those experiencing such events”. I was persuing my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the time of the Colorado Movie Theater Shooting. I was trying to experience the full spectrum of humanity and it felt disingenous to my degree to not explore the dark sides as thoroughly as the light. I poured over headlines and devoured anything on the topic I could find, My mind sought understanding around these events. In an attempt to walk myself through them I began to imagine what it might have felt like to think you were just going to a showing of a movie and suddenly someone get’s up and begins to shoot. What would I feel like? How terrified? Would I be brave or would I be a chicken? What might it feel like for a bullet to burn through my skin. I imagine even worse the anticipation that at any moment this could happen. I allowed my mind to play with all possibility, and as a result I couldn’t see a movie without having a panic attack for a very long time. I also couldn’t attend a fun loving event like a St. Patrick’s Day parade with my children in tow, without wondering if perhaps this time we would be the unlucky ones. What I ended up finding is that if you let yourself identify too much you can easily run the risk of never leaving your home.

So the question here is what does one do with events like these? How do we make sense of them? How do we offer up our care and concern, while also protecting ourselves? If we become too disheartened we cannot be helpful. My Grandpa always used to say “if you aren’t part of the solution then you are part of the problem”. I didn’t love hearing it then, but I often use it in my practice now.

It feels unfair that I can sit and contemplate my fitness journey and the fact that I made it to the gym this morning. It feels like it somehow pales in comparison. There are several hundred people (minimum) who woke up this morning with their lives deeply affected by tragedy.

As I sit with my feelings on this the answer the floats most closely to the surface seems to be focusing on the courage of people. At a more micro level for example, a session with a client who is celebrating the anniversary of a child’s death. Someone taken long before they should have been. I have a deep appreciation for the courage in human beings. Their brave hearts beat a decibel above the throbbing pain, somehow keeping it just manageable. We get but a series of profound moments in our lives, a collection if you will. My heart is deeply saddened that the people affected by this tragedy have added such dark ones to their’s.

Edit: And of course directly after this 2 important things happened. One: Courtney came for lunch with me and we laughed and played with Sig (my frenchbulldog). It got me out of my head. I am grateful. Two: The first thing I pulled up after our lunch date were lovely words from Brene Brown (one of my 2 main spirit animals). She says “1. Prayer + civic action are not mutually exclusive. Join me in both. 2. Step away from social media coverage and toward real people for support, action, conversation, and being with each other in collective pain. Keep informed, bud don’t stay glued. Our Secondary trauma will not make us better helpers – it shuts us down and sends us into self-protection and blame-finding.”

Absolutely lovely. This is basically what I was trying to say through my process.  Elizabeth Gilbert posted her words. In this way I am able to feel collective in my pain. My spirit animals are out there also in the trenches of this tragedy with me. My heart is comforted.