I Am My Father’s Daughter

Me and Dad

I have his hammer toes. One, two, a toe in the middle of each foot. Crooked over, a knuckle reminiscent of possible ape ancestors. Human evolution skipped my feet. I have Dad to thank for that.

Broken skin, forgetting my phone in the refrigerator for the second time this week, forgot to lock the back door. Absent minded professor, I walk around inside my own head only half conscious of the outside world. Just like Dad I am a walking bruise of forgetfulness and day dreams.

A yes man who bends corners and break rules. He is a walking paradox of eager to please and unwilling to conform. Just like my father I ruffle feathers and attempt to smooth them down all at the same time. We do not follow blindly – we respectfully ask questions.

The only two in our family who could whistle through our gaps growing up. I have my father’s teeth. The dentist told me I had a big mouth when explaining that even with my gaps there was still room for my wisdom teeth to grow in without having to be removed; I said thanks, I get it from my Dad.

Dennis the Menace and Calamity Jill our nicknames say it all. Trouble makers, tricksters, telling a joke, plotting a scheme. I am my father’s daughter.

Today driving home from a client session I realized again just how much I am my father’s daughter. For 20 years he worked from his car, going out to client’s homes to perform his job as a public servant. He enjoyed the freedom and resisted being shackled to a desk 9-5. I am my father’s daughter, paving my own way, enjoying the freedom, bucking against the traditional 9-5.

There is no getting around it. I am the apple, he is the tree. I am my father’s daughter.

 

 

 

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I Choose Shadows AND Light

shadow work

Last night I was having a conversation with my husband and this morning there it was, my exact feelings put out into the world by another. You can read the post I am referring to here.

I strongly identify with this writer’s perspective on spirituality and life in general because what she is talking about is the AND. I had a hard time in my younger years with my experiences in formal religion because there was no AND allowed, even then I knew that was not my truth.

There are times even now where I struggle in interactions with individuals who claim to be spiritually enlightened. I show up with my shadows AND light and I feel shunned. I have been made to feel on occasion that there is only one right way to experience myself this way, and again, I know that is not my truth.

My version of spirituality, my whole life, will always include both. I will always choose my shadows AND my light. All parts welcome, no parts left behind. That is how I will love and how I will heal and that will be my life’s work.

Expressive Arts Therapy

Expressive arts therapy/expressive therapy has been a very big part of my own healing journey and it is definitely part of who I will be as a therapist as well. I have a few personal truths about why this approach to therapy is so valuable, that is a post for another day I think. Today I want to share visually what my own healing journey through art has looked like.

I created 4 new pieces over the weekend and rather than put them away to explore deeper with my therapist when I see her again I decided it was time to put everything together. I took out every piece I currently have in my home, some pieces are in outside of my home, and put them together to see what it makes.

healing art

It is a beautiful patch work quilt made of passion AND pain AND healing AND loss AND inspiration AND frustration AND intuition AND love AND nature AND wisdom AND shadows AND spirituality and the list goes on and on, all stitched together with “ANDs”.

This is me, me and all of my beautiful parts, all that have desired to be seen in this way up to this point at least. This picture is not complete and never will be because there will always be more to express in this way.

I feel whole when I look at this picture. I felt whole when everything that came out of me laid together as one in front of me. I see my growth, the depths of my love AND my pain and I think it is all beautiful. I am capable of such amazing things.

I am capable of amazing things.

Self-Love Can Survive Any Drought

self-love can survive any drought

Over the weekend I spent a lot of time in quiet meditation creating. From that came the inspiration for a piece I painted this afternoon.

Cactus came up during my creating over the weekend and when I started thinking on what symbolism I see, this is what I came up with.

Cacti are like all other plants in that they need water to survive, that need looks different for them compared to many other species of plant however. Cacti are able to survive barren conditions and drought thanks to their ability to self-sustain by storing water inside. Cactus are not only able to survive these harsh conditions, they grow. They grow in conditions that would cause most plants to wither and die.

I related this back to inside love versus outside love. We have no control over the love we receive from others, much like plants cannot control the weather and when it will rain. In times of emotional drought/disconnection those who depend on that outside love and validation may struggle while those who can self-validate and experience love from within/self-love will not only survive these times of solitude, they will continue to grow and bloom because of the love they are able to show themselves.

In this way self-love is this self-sustaining property that allows us to operate with little fear of outside disconnection for we know all we need to thrive and grow lies within us.

For a long time I was much like Gerbera Daisy, finicky in every way imaginable and very dependent on my environment to provide me with everything I need to feel love and connection/survive and grow.

Now I know I am evolving into my own breed of cactus. I still enjoy being showered with love AND when drought comes my way I am able to self-sustain with my own inner supply of love stored up just for me, my own special gift from within.

My prickly spiny exterior is equivalent to my boundaries and assertive attitude, protecting me against all who would mean to harm me.
My root system underground is my way to connect with others who are willing to go deep rather stay merely on the surface.

At the end of the day what keeps me going is me. I am the love that keeps my heart beating, I am the love that will help me grow. If water is the source for life to grow and love is equivalent to water, I am the source from which my biggest growth takes place.

Getting It Wrong: Shadow Work

A week or so ago I wrote a post that I was so embarrassed by after the fact that I deleted it. First time ever in all my years of writing that I straight up deleted something. This is not the first time I have felt embarrassed by myself after the fact.

I have a whole other blog that holds five years of writing and you better believe I evolved quite a bit in five years, the early stuff is embarrassing to the point of nightmarish. I never deleted any of it though because that is who I was at that time and I will not dishonor that girl by hiding her, that was my truth at the time, I own that, for better AND for worse.

So fast forward. I got it so wrong the other week and I was almost so completely destroyed by how wrong I was that I deleted a post. I started to go in and edit it to correct my mistake but I realized that didn’t feel right, I also realized that I was not comfortable leaving it up as is SO I decided to start from scratch, write it over with my new truth included.

So a week or so ago my husband called me in the morning after he left for work to inform me that there was a gopher tortoise in the road that needed help before it was run over. I immediately started putting pants on.

As I walked outside, still on the phone with hubs I asked him if he was sure it was a tortoise because I know better than to mess with turtles, some are mean, especially the snappers we have here in Florida. He was reasonably sure it was a tortoise and when I saw it I knew for sure it was NOT a soft shell snapper (which are no joke with their aggressiveness) so I went along with this assumption of it being a tortoise.

The thing is, I wasn’t just going along with the assumption of it being a gopher tortoise, I convinced myself that it was a gopher tortoise and that it was a sign from the universe because I had just had a meditation a few days prior where I identified the gopher tortoise as my animal totem for my root chakra. Now suddenly one was appearing before me a few days later (after I had not seen one since I was a child). I got so caught up in my spiritual place the truth is I was not actually experiencing this interaction with this animal from a place of grounded realism.

I was able to help the little guy over to the park next to our home, which was the direction he had been heading, and once we got there he was trying to get past the fence that circles the pond so I helped him get there and he quickly scooted off into the pond.

Here is where I got it wrong, devastatingly wrong!

  1. My sign from the Universe was not in fact a sign from the Universe. This was not a gopher tortoise, it was one of the painted water turtles that live in our pond.

Now this is an absolute blessing and I am BEYOND grateful for this fact because:

2. Gopher tortoise cannot swim!

Legit, if my turtle friend had been a tortoise than my “helping” would have literally killed him.

I have never EVER been so fucking thankful to get anything wrong in my entire life. The way I figured all of this out was a few nights after helping my little friend I started thinking about the gopher tortoise’s from my childhood and realized: Wait a second, they live in burrows in the ground, I never saw one near the water, can they even swim?

A quick google search confirmed what the shadows of my mind already knew: no, they cannot.

My brain exploded.

Oh my God I killed it! It drowned and it is all my fault!

I was beside myself. I was sick with shame and guilt.

I spent the next I don’t even know how long researching every kind of tortoise/turtle that resides in the central Florida area. It was apparent almost immediately that my little friend was not in fact a gopher tortoise, nothing about the shell shape, texture, and coloring matched (thank goodness I took photos of him so I had something to compare to the pictures I was finding). This fact did little to ease my mind however. I needed to know that whatever he was he was able to swim. It wasn’t just that I didn’t want to kill a gopher tortoise, I didn’t want to kill anything!

I finally found my match and with relief my husband confirmed my picture to the picture online. The little friend I helped was in fact a turtle, a turtle that swims, the same kind of turtle that lives in the pond next to our home.

The moment I was able to finally breathe knowing that I had not contributed to the drowning of an innocent creature it was time for me to take a hard look in the mirror and address how wrong I got this situation and how to be more mindful and aware in the future.

  1. As well intentioned as I was in helping the turtle get to where I thought he wanted to go, I should have stopped at getting him out of the road. That was enough. Getting him to safety was enough. I should not have interfered past that point.
  2. This speaks not only to my shadow piece around arrogance but also to my shadow of denial and spirituality. I know, and have always known, that gopher tortoises cannot swim, I grew up next to their burrows, I know they are land dwelling creatures with claws for digging, not fins for swimming. Yet I allowed my “spiritual moment” to completely cloud this knowledge I possess because I thought I was having this profound moment with this animal.

Wake the fuck up girl and do no harm! This is a perfect example of why it is important to have your enlightenment and spiritual awakening AND keep yourself grounded and tethered to the earth/reality. I was arrogant to not only be so sure I knew it was a tortoise just because I wanted it to be because if it was that would mean something, but to also ASSUME I knew what was best for the animal. I was in denial to not make these connections sooner; that tortoises do not swim and that is wasn’t even a tortoise. And this is all true because of my shadow around spirituality. Lesson learned.

I clearly do not have a well established relationship with my shadows of arrogance, denial, and spirituality because now that I am facing these truths I am sitting in shame. I was in an absolute shame spiral when I did start to put all this together. I got this so wrong and I am absolutely ashamed of myself. The phrase that keeps flashing across my mind is: You should have known better. That is the worst!

I really need to have a I show myself love moment right now.

I show myself love when I get it fantastically wrong.
I show myself love when I feel ashamed.
I show myself love when I do not want to see the truth because the truth is painful.
I show myself love when I dare to be honest about my mistakes and failures and be seen as the imperfect being that I am.
I show myself love when I am doing my best to love my shadow pieces and invite them home.
I show myself love when my good intentions fall short and injure others.

You are okay girl, you are doing okay.

all parts welcome

 

So Sure So Wrong

Have you ever been sure of something? You were absolutely positive about something, your mind was made up, this is the way it is. Have you ever been wrong? I have. A LOT.

When I was 6 or 7 I was absolutely certain that I had the ins and outs of human digestion figured out. I remember standing in the dining room telling my brother while he ate his lunch, See this is how it works; you eat your food and then it travels through your body down to your knee where there is a trampoline, the food bounces off of the trampoline into your tummy and that’s the end. Then my Mom walked in the room and complimented me on my vivid imagination as she explained how tummies actually work. I was quite disappointed to learn there was no food trampoline in my knee, my body seemed so much more exciting with a secret knee trampoline.

I just asked my husband, who is laying in bed next to me doing his math art on his laptop, if he had a funny anecdote about getting it wrong he would like to share. He reminded me of a situation that took place not too long ago.

A few months ago my husband had a so sure so wrong moment regarding the blankets in our home. My husband is from Illinois where they have real winters. When he and I moved into together I realized this man comes with a lot of blankets. They are all from back home where in the winter they are needed, here in Florida where it can get in the 90’s on Christmas, not so much.

So a few months ago, on a particularly cold day, my husband and I were making our blanket burrows on the couches and getting ready to watch one of the Harry Potter movies together. My husband comes strolling out of the bedroom with my quilt at which point I immediately objected; Hey man, lay off my quilt, I was going to use that for my nest. My husband proceeds to tell me that it is not my quilt, it is his quilt, as he begins making his burrow with it.

At first I thought he was just being an ass and telling me to deal with it that he was going to use my quilt. My inner 5 year old started having a tantrum, she did not want to share her quilt, and my inner feminist was ramping up to verbally kick his ass; no man is going to take my shit and get away with it! When I opened my mouth again in protest I realized he wasn’t being an ass, he was being serious, he honestly thought it was his quilt.

In his defense this mistake could be easily made for someone who is not being super observant. My husband has a quilt that was made for him by his aunt which has brown, green, and tan box pattern on it. I have a quilt made for me by Target which also has a brown and tan on it. Mine however has turquoise as the third color and is a paisley design rather than the boxes and rectangles of my husband’s quilt.

So now I am explaining to my husband, No honey look at the pattern, this is my quilt yours looks like X,Y, and Z. He was not budging. He was absolutely adamant, so much so in fact that he did not even believe me that I had a quilt. He thought the two quilts were one in the same and that there was only one brown quilt and it belonged to him.

At this point I bet him a dollar that I was right. My husband knows what this means, most people who know me know what this means. I only bet a dollar when I am 100% certain of something and I almost never lose a dollar bet. For me the dollar bet is the equivalent of swearing on the bible. He knew I meant business. Usually when I pull out the big guns on a debate and bet a dollar he immediately folds because he knows he has lost, she knows the truth and I am only guessing, time to surrender. Not this time. The man was sticking to his guns.

I was done talking, time for action. We halted all prep for cozy movie day and I made him come with me as we searched the house for his quilt. While we searched I told him the story of how I bought that quilt online in my early twenties with two shams and a sheet set, he still was not convinced. Low and behold we found his quilt tucked away in the armoire in the guest room. Needless to say my husband was eating humble pie the rest of the day.

Sometimes we get it wrong and it is not cute or funny. Sometimes it is humiliating, sometimes it can be a very real problem.

Like being certain that it is clear and safe to change lanes when driving to then discover a car in the blind spot that we nearly collide with, terrifying.

Or any scenario where we are so sure and then so wrong in front of people we would never want to be that exposed in front of; like at work or with our in-laws.

There is certainly a shadow present with certitude and that is when our assurance of something crosses into arrogance. I was thinking about this when it comes to truth speaking. My truth is a mixture of belief and opinion, it is what I personally have decided is true for me in my life. When I speak my truth I feel liberated and bold, I am a lioness standing my ground. And this is all well and good AND it is always important for me to remember that my truth belongs to me. No one is required to agree or validate me in my truth just like it is not okay for me to assert my truth onto others with the expectation of this.

While in a group recently I noticed there was a lot of truth speaking going on which is beautiful AND it occurred to me that those standing in their truth may have actually believed that their truth, that belongs solely to them, was objective fact. I saw this as a sign for me to step back and acknowledge where in my life am I guilty of doing the same. I see my shadow of arrogance, I know where my work is with this shadow.

Always thankful for messages and mirrors that hold me accountable for my work. Tonight I welcome this shadow home, I am sure I will have much to learn while building my relationship with this part of myself.

So Good

Tonight I had some of my social work people over to my home for dinner. It was so good. The food was so good, the conversation was so good, the connection was so good.

We all got to share our updates in the social work arena and then we had time for real talk. It feels so good to have relationships in my life where I can be honest and just be. We are learning from one another and supporting one another and the connection is so real and so good.

Tonight I am grateful for connection and companionship.
I am grateful for this home that I am able to host friends in.
I am grateful for my husband who is understanding and flexible and gives me space to be with friends in our home.
I am grateful for time to clean my home, and cook a meal, and be with friends during the week.
I am grateful for honesty and willingness to see and be seen.

It was a really beautiful evening and I am feeling fulfilled. Tomorrow I will pouring from a cup that is over flowing when I hold space for my clients.

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