We Don’t Have to Rush

This post is inspired by a memory that surfaced from elementary school;

Sometime during 4th grade, after the death of my Nana, Mom and I had a hard morning.

We were running late getting me to school. I do not know if my Mom was working at the time, so I am unsure if this feeling of rush and force was bigger than just me not getting to school on time, maybe there was more at stake than I knew.

Let me set the scene for you;

None of the clothes I want to wear are clean so Mom has forced me into a pair of jean shorts I am mortified to be seen in and some dumb shirt I do not like.

Here is the thing about these shorts;  first you should know when I was kid money was tight so Mom got resourceful at times. She had a talent for sewing, she made both mine and my cousin’s first communion dresses and you would never have known they were not some expensive store bought dresses like the other girls. What my Mom created for me did not always line up with what 9-year-old fashion was at the time.

These shorts had been jeans that I ripped the knees out of while playing outside the prior summer. We could not afford to throw away clothes that still fit so Mom attempted to transform them into shorts and the end product fell short. I gave it little thought because I had another pair of jeans and a pair of shorts I could wear and re-wear so no one at school ever had to see my Mom’s creation anyway.

This particular morning my Mom had decided I would not re-wear my jeans for what was probably the 11th time in a row, with no other clean bottoms to wear she told me to put on the hacked up shorts.

So I was already sitting in dread of what the day would hold for me, I would surely be a target in these awful shorts, while I frantically tore up my closet floor looking for my sneakers as my Mom yelled we have to leave now!

My sneakers were no where to be found! How was I going to go to school shoe-less? Guess I would just have to stay home.

My Mom was having none of it. She shoved my fancy white church shoes (which were covered in scuff marks from climbing on everything in sight) over my colorful tube socks and told me to head for the car.

I was stupefied. What was she doing?! My protests were fierce and immediate; Mom I can’t wear my church shoes, I have to wear sneakers for PE or they won’t let me participate and I will get in trouble!

She did not budge and with that I was off to school in my rag tag jean shorts, dumb shirt, colorful tube socks and fancy white scuffed up church shoes.

My Mom dropped me off and left. I was so ashamed my eyes were burning before I got out of the car. I did not know how I was going to face the fourth grade, I did not know how I was going to survive the day.

This was my first walk of shame. I was late, the car ramp was empty. Alone I walked through the vacant halls, the little heels on my fancy white scuffed up shoes clacking an echo all the way to the brown metal door of my classroom. I peeked in the slatted window on the door, everyone was in their seats, class had started. I knew the moment I opened that door all eyes would be on me.

It must have been bad because I lose my memory here.

I pick back up maybe 30 minutes later; I am at my teacher’s desk, I am crying, I am asking to go see the guidance counselor. I have become close with our guidance counselor this year, I have spent some time talking with her between Nana dying and my cousin and first best friend being removed from the family and living in a group home.

In the counselor’s office she listens as I cry. She knows my Mother and thinks fondly of her, she tries to balance my feelings for me. There is no balance to be struck, I am wounded and I have no room for whatever my Mother’s truth might be. In my mind she made me prey and then abandoned me  in the lion’s den that was the 4th grade.

The counselor has a pair of sneakers from the lost and found she offers me so I can participate in PE. They are only a small step up from my fancy white scuffed up church shoes. I see another pair, some black Keds with cool mesh sides, I ask for those ones instead – Maybe I can survive the day in those, maybe the kids won’t notice my Mom-sewn-shorts and instead they will just see my cool sneakers. The guidance counselor explains that those shoes are too small for me. I know she is right but I am desperate, I plead and she concedes. I wedge my tube socked foot into the too small shoe and blissfully ignore my cramped toes as I walk back to class.

I know that I do not know this story in full. I know what my scraps of memory tell me, I know what my feelings tell me, but I do not know what I am missing due to dissociation and I do not know what my Mother’s truth is. I can make conjectures and try to fill in blanks based on what I knew of my life at that time but to what end?

This was not one of my big traumas in childhood, it was a hard day. I think the reason this memory has stayed with me is to serve as a reminder now.

I am the adult, he is the child. What will moments like these look like for us?

There are so many times when I have a plan in my head for how the day will go, every minute for the next three hours planned out, then he wakes up from nap and takes an extra long time eating his yogurt because he really wants to work on holding the spoon today. Or we are going to the playground but a few feet outside the door he decides he would rather sit in the driveway and play with sticks.

Here are some things I know;

The first is that I have something now that my Mother did not have when I was 9, security.

Financial security that allows me to be home right now and not working on someone else’s schedule where our mornings would be rushed and potentially stressful.

Security in who I am as a Mother. I am so connected to my truth of infinite enoughness, his and my own, that no part of me can be shaken into believing we are less. Even when I get it wrong I know I am enough. When it is  hard, we are enough, this is enough, all of it is enough. This truth goes beyond my role as Mother, it is woven into every part of my being. This level of security within myself keeps me from falling into places of scarcity where I would value being on time over him or our connection in a moment. It keeps me from valuing “doing” over “being”. It keeps me right here where I am meant to be, in the moment with him.

Of course there are times where we make plans and try to keep a schedule and of course I balance what is going on with him with that schedule. I would not dishonor someone else’s time because he wants to continue playing blocks. What I am very clear on is this; if one day my nine year old child is having a hard morning because we are running late and the clothes he wants to wear are not clean, and he cannot find his sneakers, and maybe I am even running late for work or another important adult commitment… I will pause.

I will be with him, as long as it takes for us to find our way through and out the other side. We will take the time to find the shoes and we will talk about his feelings of anxiety or disappointment, if any, around not being able to wear what he wanted to wear to school. I will put everything else down if that is what it takes to hold space for him.

The way I, together with my husband, love him is the way he will learn to love himself. And if I am willing to do this for him, I have to be willing to do it for me too. That is the other thing I know, my Mother has never fully known how to hold space for me because she does not hold herself sacred.

We, all of us, you, me, our babies, our parents – we are ALL worthy of time. The world will continue to tick away while we exist inside of our pause taking care of ourselves and each other.

I am grateful that my inner nine-year-old has been sitting here next to me riding shot gun and guiding my heart as I parent this sweet soul who chose me.

I am grateful for all the ways my Mother failed me, therein giving me so much opportunity to build the resilience needed to become the human I am meant to be.

I am grateful for my ability to hold space for myself, it creates capacity for me to hold sacred space for those I love most, which is sometimes the stranger walking next to me and sometimes my sweet little boy.

Holding space for myself tonight meant writing this story down because this is the moment it was ready to be shared. Holding space for myself tonight meant asking my husband if he would be willing to hold a little space for me tomorrow by getting up with little bubby so I could catch up on the sleep I will miss to be here with myself and share this story.

As I close I am holding the energy of deep gratitude is for my husband, who holds space for me with so much love, and for every other person in my life who holds space for me and allows me to feel what it is like to be held sacred.

Creating the Path

Now that I have performed all my rescue missions and I am on the other side of the hurt, it is time for the RISE.

This bird has created a nest of safety and now she is ready to LIFT and see just how far these wings can carry her.

Through my visions I have seen some of the road ahead. The places where the path are clear make goal setting easy, this is good AND I am not looking for easy. My focus now is on the challenge.

I have been writing my story since I was 9. I have been sharing my story since I was 28. The time is coming for how I will fully OWN myself, and my story, and all of my sacred truths OUT LOUD. It is time for me to pick up my brick and carry it down the path. It is time to lay it down and take my place in the collective stories of women who have risen when their souls called out for it. I have to take my place where it has been saved for me. My brick will call the next woman to carry hers. We cannot get to where we are going, we cannot return to love without these bricks, without this path.

The time is coming and I am making myself ready.

On the other rise of trauma therapy is about the rising. It is about clearing the way to follow my truth home.

With my hand at my heart I thank you for being here, if these stories have touched you I am grateful – now go pick up your brick.

Belonging

There are places you belong, where you will find your belonging. It will be in arms, in love, in hope, in security. Sometimes it will be in people, sometimes in places. One thing is clear – you NEVER belonged there.

You the know the there I speak of – the place where the pain is.

In the bed of the man who raped you. In the hands of your brother as he attempted to squeeze the breath from your body. In the church that told you every Sunday how wrong you were. In the car bleeding. The clinic having life removed forcefully from your womb.

You NEVER belonged there.

Yet there you were. Putting on your brave face. Struggling to survive it. Abandoning yourself to save yourself.

There is no shame in our efforts to survive.

I know where I do not belong now. I will not go back to those places now that I am finally saved from them. I will not stay anywhere I am not meant to belong. I was never meant to be long there – I have already stayed too long; in my pain, my shame, my struggle. Too long.

There are places I want to be long – there are places I want to be forever. I am off to find my belonging and I am sure at this moment it is deciding that it is off to find me too.

invitation art

I am a Leader

Here are a few words that have been used to describe me as a child; willful, tenacious, ring-leader, bossy, strong willed, stubborn.

Not all of these words have a natural negative connotation so let me be clear; they were absolutely meant as criticism.

Any attempts to get me to conform were met with fierce opposition.

I bucked every Sunday at being forced to attend church. I refused to get out of bed, I hid from my  mother who chased me with a hair brush, I squirmed and screamed as I was forcibly stuffed into tights and a lacy dress. If my parents were lucky I slept through mass; otherwise I spent my time sitting on the floor between pews poking the feet of the parishioners in front of us, or banging the song book against the wood of the pew.

My parents were relentless week after week, as was I. This was an ongoing battle throughout my entire childhood.

My willfulness did not apply exclusively to my resistance to religion. This energy carried over in other areas garnering me further unwanted attention.

The boys of my youth did not like my loud, decisive way of being. The specific group of boys I am referring to were raised strictly along the gender lines of boys will boys and girls will be ladies.

Well no one has EVER accused me of being a lady.

So once again someone who insisted I be something other than what I am attempted to (literally) beat me into submission. Submit I did not, taking the beating I did.

I come back to reflect on all of this now because motherhood is teaching me many things about myself and one of the things I recently discovered is that I am a leader.

While on so many levels I have always known this, it is also a truth I have run from.

Being a leader is something for BIG people and when I was playing small this label terrified me. As a child I was a leader, I refused to follow, refused to give in, refused to be shoved into a box of someone else’s making. I refused until the pressure became too much. My inside resolve temporarily crushed by the outside force.

Now, coming home to myself and rescuing that bad-ass little girl, I call her Scout, I am able to speak my truth: I am a leader.

I know this is true because;

I bristle at the idea of self-help books, I will not be saved by someone else’s truth. Even if my truth ends up mirroring the truth of others, and I know it will because I am not the only person experiencing my awakening, I still have to come to it on my own.

I do not belong in religion. Religion to me = Rules. My relationship with my creator has no rules. Love and connection are the language of the Universe, as long as I stay in tune with that Sacred Truth I experience spiritual alignment.

I do not belong under my mother’s control. Or anyone’s for that matter. I will not play small to fit in to boxes that would serve to suffocate. I will not willingly put on shackles and restraints to comply with familial expectations/social norms.

I do not belong in a box of anyone’s creation, I do not belong in restraints.

I release all the lies that I believed about myself.

I reclaim my truth: I AM strong-willed. I AM tenacious. I AM a leader. I AM strong willed. I AM stubborn when it counts. I AM the BOSS of me. I AM my own.

These are my truths now and I embrace them in love, not shame.

I am not small.

I am BIG. I am POWERFUL. I am a LEADER.

I am the hero of this story.

I am a leader

 

Sometimes You Have Someone to Rescue

I was just hit hard by something I read, it relates to everything I know about experiencing a shift and not being able to go back to the smaller version you once were.

Hazel had read enough books to know that a line like this one is the line down which your life breaks in two. And you have to think very carefully about whether you want to cross it, because once you do it’s very hard to get back to the world you left behind. And sometimes you break a barrier that no one knew existed, and then everything you knew before crossing the line is gone. But sometimes you have someone to rescue. And so you take a deep breath and then step over the line and into the darkness ahead.

The book I am reading is not a self-help, it is not spiritual or philosophical, it is not a book that makes you think or question (at least I do not believe that was the author’s intention). It is a young adult fantasy. I read mainly fiction and inside that genre I read mainly fiction that contains an element of magic or make believe. Part of my survival growing up depended on my ability to disconnect, my ability to create beautiful alternate realities where home was safe, siblings were fun, and mother’s loved their children. My imagination has always been one of my greatest powers; it protected me from harsh truths my delicate pieces could not handle.

To this day I love stories with whimsy, imagination; stories that are magical where realities can be bent and you can count on the world around you to come alive and help you. Whether it is a talking animal or being held and comforted in the maternal arms of the Oak.

I know this has much to do with my artistic leanings towards fantasy landscapes – I like to create worlds that you could step through the canvas into. My little pieces like to have places to go when reality feels like too much.

Coming back to what I read –

This spoke to me. It is how I feel after experiencing a shift. My heart is bigger on the other side of that line I crossed and I cannot go back to the before, the place where my heart was smaller. She is right, you do have to think carefully about that decision because there is loss involved in stepping over a threshold like that.

But sometimes you have someone to rescue. And so you take a deep breath and then step over the line and into the darkness ahead.

I have stepped into my darkness so many times to perform rescue missions. I know the rescue is worth anything that could be lost in the process. Finding a piece of yourself in the dark, picking her up, carrying her home to the light… Once you’ve done it you know. You know you would be willing to put down every single person and every single thing that you thought was important if that is what it would take to pick that piece of you up.

I am grateful for this reminder of one of my very sacred truths tonight. It is validation of the path I am walking.

I am not afraid of the dark, some of my deepest truest loves were rediscovered in the darkest places. I will continue to venture into the dark unknown until I my heart tells me that all parts of me have been welcomed home. I will not leave any piece of me behind as I walk my path forward, we all go together.

the swamp

Creating My Web

All of the dysfunction with my family of origin, my experiences so far as momma, and the dreams I keep having, have led to a pretty incredible vision board this year.

I vision board every year. It helps me to have a visual of the path I am on, even when the path is not clear. Vision boarding is an intuitive process, I do not always understand everything that comes out when I am creating but by the year’s end all becomes clear.

Because I am done playing small this year I knew I needed to go big with my board. If I am saying that I am BIG I need to see that truth visually represented. Not to mention being BIG is hard work, there is a lot that goes into it, I needed plenty of space for all the hard that I am mastering.

When I finished the board, to the degree that it is finished, I saw so much symbolism in the shape I created.

I see a flower, its petals occupying the negative space on the board. To me this represents growth. I was once a seed planted in the dark in the mud, now with all the healing I have been experiencing I am finally breaking the surface.

I also see a spider web. This symbolism came about after discussing with my therapist that I had been seeing spiders everywhere. She said that she had been seeming them as well and when we looked up the symbolism behind the spider it had to do with creating your dreams, making them realities. She also felt that the web was significant because in my board I have a very clear center, that is me. Without that dedicated center the web does not hold up. Essentially, in order for me to do all this BIG work I have to be firmly connected to myself or it does not hold up.

In two short months I have accomplished things in my relationship with myself and in relationships with others that for years has seemed impossible.

I know now that impossible was just another lie I used to tell myself when I was small.

On my vision board there is a section left incomplete. That section comes later this year after I attend a healing retreat that I know is going to knock down and shatter my final wall. On the other side of that wall is EVERYTHING. On the other side of that wall is my life’s purpose and my work going forward. I will complete the last section later this year and it will lead to bigger intentions going forward.

I am grateful for connection.
I am grateful for a visual reminder that helps me to feel supported and purposeful in this work.
I am grateful for my path and even more grateful that I am finally walking it.

vision board 2019

In the Way of Beauty

Little bubby and I take a walk everyday, weather permitting. It allows a few things to happen at once; exercise for momma, outdoor time for both of us, quiet time for both of us, and connection.

I was thinking of my husband today as we walked; when we walk we take the long way – the super long way. My husband would say our route is the most circuitous and would think it completely impractical, he would not be wrong.

Cheryl Strayed talks about putting yourself in the way of beauty in her book Wild. That is what our walk is all about. The beauty of being in my body and feeling good, the beauty of being outside together, the beauty of the quiet, the beauty of connection. Knowing this, my question is, why rush it?

We walk one block too far on the way home on purpose because this is where the yellow house is with the hanging orchids and wind chimes. We love the sweet tinkle of bells and to see which bloom has popped, so we put ourselves in the way of beauty.

We turn one block too soon because that is where the bare oak lives with the little bird’s nest. We hope one day to see little babies resting secure inside, so we put ourselves in the way of beauty.

We don’t turn right and instead go down another block because on that same street is the sage house with the coral door. We love to feel the peace radiating from this home’s foundation, so we put ourselves in the way of beauty.

We turn left at the next block so we can walk by the old house with no fence surrounding the backyard. We love to gaze in at the millions of azaleas bursting off the bushes, so we put ourselves in the way of beauty.

Then we arrive at the park next to our home. Sometimes our walks run over and it is time for the next thing on our schedule, be it bath, or baby food, or story time. Somethings cannot be rushed though; like the sun setting on the pond, or watching squirrels eat their dinner in the grass, or listening to the mockingbird sing his song. The grass calls to us, invites to sit and stay a while, and we do, so we can put ourselves in the way of beauty.

in the way of beauty