Your frailty

Oh how we want to hide from the world.

You can be a teacher, a preacher, a counselor, a coach, a leader, a boss, a CEO. People look to you day in and day out to know what they are to do. People trust that you are going to come through.

At the same time, we are wracked with the stories we carry within. Some are super painful that we have given a ton of energy to keep shoved down into the darkest corners, like the little hole in the drywall at the back of the closet, where if we stuff just right, it goes into that hidden space inside the actual wall. Never to be found.

And this eats at us.

Fraud Syndrome. I’ve written about this before. Skimming the surface of something very real. Experts have written the books so I don’t have to. But I do get to work with you on your sense of fiction/fraud/falsehood.

But why on earth would we consider ourselves a fake?

We are very real. All of it.

  • the expertise

  • the confidence

  • the growth

  • the power

  • the wound

  • the secrets

  • the hiding

  • the frailty

This is a strong, all out invitation to you. Come and tell your secrets. My studio is a confidential place. That means I tell no one, unless I sense you may harm yourself or another. There is nothing you can say that will shock me. That will send me running. That will make me cancel your next appointment. Nothing. I have heard so so much. I have lived some of it. I have worked on my own shit, going for the bottom of the pile and not just skimming the top to feel better in the moment.

Let’s look at that last statement again. We can all work on our shite by going for the bottom of the pile until we’ve cleared it all. I’m a farm girl who has cleaned many a hog or cow stall. Even that ankle deep crap can come clean from the cement. If I take just part of it off, I still have a dirty, stinky stall. So the shovel scrapes through to that satisfying sound of cement. Shovel, pitch. Shovel, pitch. Clean.

David R. Hawkins, psychiatrist, writes about how when we suppress or repress emotions and wounding stories, we are not getting rid of them. Just because its not on our surface doesn’t mean it isn’t still within us. And if it is still within us, it is still harming us. When we express and emotion or tell a bit of the story, it is a removal of a layer. We feel good enough to think “Oh good, that is that.” and think its over. But we’ve just shoved it back to the crevice in the wall again.

This is an ongoing process. We tell the story again and again until we notice that there is less anger, less venom, less self incrimination. We go through the layers of pain because the only way to release them is to go through them again. Sorry. But it is the truth. We don’t get out of it. If a leg bone is broken and not set correctly, it has to be rebroken to do its true healing. Again. Sorry.

What is the outcome of this torture? This reviewing and reliving? Freedom. When we look the monster dead on, from all sides, when we can describe every blemish and greenish tint, when we can pop the pustules we’ve been avoiding…..we lose our fear. In losing fear, we gain indignation. In raising our indignation we find our courage. In our courage we can name what is and has been. In the truthtelling we free ourselves of the hate. And ultimately, we move toward forgiveness, compassion, understanding. First for ourselves. Then for the perp or situation.

You may need a therapist for this. But mostly you need a safe place where you are loved, heard, believed, accepted, respected. You need space that is unafraid of all you are afraid of. You need a space where the brilliance of you is seen from the very beginning.

Spiritual Direction is this space. You may have friends who listen, but it takes extraordinary friends who can listen well over and over and over and not get bogged down. The value of paying a therapist or spiritual director is that we come to you with 100% attention every single time. It is our job and we are very good at it. And if you’re with a professional who is not good at it, get a different one.

I am amazed at how swiftly the human spirit can move once they are heard and believed.

This is resilience. And I wish it for you. In fact, I more than wish it, I help you find your own resilience. Am I that good? The process is. Because loving kindness and compassion guide me, every minute I am with you.

I hear you. I believe you. I respect you. I see you.

With love,

Amy

Civility

I just witnessed a beautiful thing.

At my local coffee shop, I’ve noticed that it is a place that mentors often meet with their high school mentees, that business transactions are taking place, study is getting done, reading, talking, sharing, sipping. It is great. We have long tables with electric plugs that come down from the ceiling. It is shared space.

I came in today, and did a quick assessment for where I should sit. You know, getting that right ratio of human to empty space. Easy, I would ask the young person at the end of a long table if I could share space.

See what I saw: small, skinny, dark hair, ah-yes…female, black clothes, face deep into their phone. When I asked to share, she looked up and with a very friendly tone said “Yep, sure!”. Great. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Just as I was doing my complex set up (laptop, stand on chair to bring down the hanging outlet, get my charger out and hooked up, put coffee on napkin just so, phone to the left of the laptop) an adult Woman came in. She went right to the seat across from my table mate.

“Whats up.”

Oh, ok. A private convo in public. So I added “get earbuds out” to my set up list.

But in close quarters, even earbuds do not block the noise. It does provide a polite barrier from blatant public listening. I heard it all.

The Young Woman, spoke fast and clear about an altercation with a coworker. She was full of energy, a bit of anger, but I was very impressed by her telling that kept to the facts. She did not blame anyone else. She did not play the victim. She was clear about who was involved and who was not. She corrected herself once when the Woman asked for clarity.

The Women asked short, clear questions. The Young Woman answered in clear responses.

The adult asked about witnesses, statements, corroboration etc.

In the end, the Woman said “Thank you for telling me your side of the story. I’m sorry this happened. You were let go because you became physical in the altercation. HR is clear about that. I can’t take you back.” The Young Woman responded. “I know. I understand. Thank you. “ The adult Woman left, and the Young Woman typed into her phone then she left, too.

Why am I telling you this story? Because I was so proud of both of them.

I was so proud of the adult Woman who kept her role clear, supportive, present, warm, engaged, mature, serious, undramatic. Her energy was receptive and deep for listening. When it was time for her to make her final statement. She made it simply and clearly.

I was so proud of the Young Woman. She told the story she had to tell, and accepted the outcome as it was simply told.

How do you show up?

  • Do you show up in public when in turmoil full of drama and blame? Why do you think that is?

  • Do you show up in public after being fired with venom toward “the man”? Who are you really angry with?

  • Do you show up with friends or self with a full blown story of “their fault” or do you recognize that you had a role too? Do you understand that the other person has a whole life that is happening unrelated to you?

  • Do you understand your role?

  • Do you cower in self hatred? What is at the root of that behavior?

  • Do you know how to express yourself with equanimity, even if you are full of energy?

That conversation I witnessed was not easy for them, or for me. My compassion radar was on full ping. I kept myself from being triggered by my own stories of being in either role, and injustice done to me or that I had to hand out. The Young Woman was the only one who got fired because she responded physically to an aggressive situation toward her. Once again, the bully keeps the job, while the one doing self defense pays for it all.

But we all do pay for it all. Even the bully. Even HR. Even bystanders who are listening in. Just in different, more subtle ways, chipping away at our integrity, self-esteem, sense of power.

Are you showing up the way you want to? Let’s work together on that. I hold my clients accountable with loving kindness, and compassion. I’m not your punisher. I am your encourager so that you can be who you truly are.

Showing up for you,

Amy

Scab Picker

I know, kinda gross. But you know what I mean.

The other day, I was looking at a sore spot on the back of my right hand. My mind said, “Look, it is healing.” And then something darker said, “So, let’s pick that scab and let it be an open sore again.” And that is what I did. The rest of the day, my attention was pulled to that newly awakened wound.

Move this to our spirituality or psychological growth. We are on the move, growing, becoming, healing, understanding…..and then a little corner of the past pops up and we pick, just a quick swipe, until we’ve pulled the new and vulnerable healing off.

I do this. I’m writing about it just to galvanize this reality in my brain and being so I can stop.

So.I.Can.Stop.

So I can do better.

So I can be a partner toward my own healing instead of to my own destruction.

When we have well polished stories and mantras, and we live with other people, it is easy as the other person grows themselves that they are going to trigger us into picking. We may even say, with a little stomp of our foot, “I thought I was over that.” This is victim mentality and it never gets us where we want. An alternative is to stomp the foot and say “I’m triggered again. But this is not where I am now. The scales have tipped into a new way and THAT is how I’m going to respond.” We then either respond from that new way or we apologize for already reverting to the past.

Our growth is not dependent upon the growth of another. They are never the reason we hold ourselves back. We are our own reason we pick the scab open to rewound.

The wound is so known. Our pity is a comfort. It being someone else’s fault is empowering. But it won’t ever get us to where we want to be.

Let’s talk about what you’re picking at. Let’s look at the color, weight, location, texture, name, shape of that wound. Let’s know it so thoroughly that it can never sneak up and surprise us again. We’ll know all of it’s tricks. We’ll be the boss.

Here’s to your inner boss.

Amy

Fraud Syndrome

Perhaps I repeat myself.

But this is what I have to say today about Fraud Syndrome. You know this syndrome; that moment when fear that everyone around you will notice that you don’t have the chops, or ability, or expertise that is on your business card. Or worse, that they may think you’re a nice person but you know what you’ve done and what if they find out?

What if they find out?

That is always the question that rises with a constricting panic inside of us. It makes our hearts race and we might sweat. When we dodge being found out, there is relief for a time.

I had a friend in high school who was an amazing basketball player and was also super skinny. He made the skinny jokes first. Everytime. I asked him why he did this once, and he said it put him in control of the situation. Skinny jokes were going to be made, so why not make them himself so he didn’t get caught by surprise.

Brilliant strategy.

And this is the strategy for Fraud Syndrome. Get out in front of the very thing you fear others will discover. If you are indeed a fraud, then go get help. If you’ve been hired and promoted beyond your actual knowledge and ability, get training. Own it with your bosses. Own it with those beneath you in a way that shows that growth and achievement walk hand in hand. For myself, I can’t do math. I’ve written about that before. I got out ahead of it. I owned my inability to do math well; adding, percentages, whatever. I was recognized for what I could indeed do well, so when I needed to ask for mathematical help, there was zero derision. And then, my boss began asking me to look over letters she had to write because that was not a strong suit for her.

One person identifying a deficit with confidence, led to another asking for help with ease.

I think Fraud Syndrome is like a puff of air at the eye doctor. You feel it, but its gone. You can’t touch it or organize it. It comes and goes. Fraud Syndrome is a figment, a fiction. It is never true. What may be true is that you need to help your training catch up to your promotion. What may be true is that you are a real person who has lived a real life and what you are living now is an outgrowth of that.

And this may be where I want to arrive at: Our whole lives are one step at a time leading us to our now. This very instant. Our acts of childishness, insecurity, bad decisions, excessive partying are points for us to learn something about ourselves. That learning from reflection is what gets us the promotion and keep it. If we are selling something we are not, then we’ll lose the privilege after a while. There will be discovery. And then that is a point of learning as you continue.

But most of us are just good people with certain skills and a desire to do well in this world. Our past should not invalidate our present if we have learned and moved on and upward. Our past should not be a melodrama that we have to present time and again in order to pacify who we are today.

So, go for it. Claim it. Let your story, your learning, your vulnerabilities be present in the fullness of your life. You are not a fraud. You are you. And that is amazing.

With belief,

Amy

PS…if you do want to take a bounding leap beyond where you’ve been, that is possible. Let’s do that together so that you can redefine what it means to be an expert in your own skin.

Truest Self

We read many thoughts and suggestions about being our best self.

But what is that? How do we know? And, goodness, it sounds exhausting. It sounds like work.

I want to offer a radical idea. When we are our truest, it comes with ease. It is not work.

Truest Self.

Now, there is a concept to engage. Best implies competition, evaluation, judgment. It implies that I’m not my best now, and how will I ever know when I’ve achieved that?

Truest Self.

This is a concept, an idea, a truth. It is the unveiling of who you were created to be. This is determined by you. Not by culture, family, age, belief system. It is determined by you. “Finding Myself” is a thing. But not because you’ve gone out to the streets and are lost. It is more like the environment going ice skating as a group and you have chosen to be the coat pile. Everyone else is out there having fun and there you are, underneath the pile of coats that don’t even belong to you, protecting something so no one rips anyone off.

But you are the one being ripped off. When we make our self determinations based on

  • cultural trends (if I just learn to like bourbon or a hoppy IPA),

  • religious shoulds (love Jesus/Allah/Buddha enough),

  • professional practices (well, everyone is doing it)

We set ourselves up for moveable targets of success. The strongest is the material markers of success and self: car, house, vacations, clothing, etc. These are fine material things. But they do not point to who you are and why you are and even how you are.

So who are you? Who do you say that you are? What are your own lists of “I am”s? What words of strength do you attribute to yourself? When you feel yourself being taken over by a stronger personality, what is it you’d really like to say or do? These are all such important clues. Not toward a narcissistic self protectionism.

But a way toward the truest you.

As I see and interact with those who have tapped into their truest self, they know when they are choosing and creating life based on their own alignment and when they are aligned with culture or someone/something else. No judgment here. But really, it is work when we fit ourselves into someone else’s mold.

What does your mold look like? The one you have created yourself based on your own interior wisdom? Based on your own sense of truth. Now, here is where the work really is. Satisfying work. Self determining work. Self disclosure. I will tell you that this is not easy. It is hard work. You are pulling up your truth from the dregs of pain, wound, numbness, check-out living. Talk about draining the swamp. Yep. This is what we do. And we do it the rest of our lives, but instead of our whole exteriors being covered in sludge as we spit out the sludge from inside in the beginning, its more like every now and then seeing that we’ve got dog poo on our shoes. Quick clean, but clean we must. The rewards are amazing, full, creative, relieving, easy, and joy-filled.

And here’s a hint:

When we are in our truth, we are always led to the good of the whole. Always. If what we call “our truth” stops with our own well being, then it is not truth. It is likely fear based, insecurity based, other based self protectionism. Or as Brene’ Brown says, we’ve “gold plated our grit” and hang on to our lesser selves like trophies. But it is not our truth. We are all linked together in an organism of humanity and my well being and the meeting of my truest self causes me to look up and see everyone around me. Their well being becomes linked to my own. Love expands the bubble of awareness and compassion leads to understanding. Let go of tragic patterns you’ve always carried and have mistaken as your truest self. See what is being revealed. It is life. Life for you. Life for all. That is how you tell.

In the end, the only thing we are here to do, is to be our truest self. We can trust when we do that, we are meeting the needs of others who are around us in some way. Just as those who are living their truest self impact our well being. We feel it when they walk into a room. We feel it when words or concepts of high vibration are heard or spoken.

May you be a hearer and knower and speaker of your truest self. This is everything as we raise the consciousness of humanity toward an ethic of love, compassion, and linked togetherness.

With you,

Amy

Protracted discernment and transition

I think one of the greatest ways to bring creative and deliberate change to your life is over months. Months and Months.

For example: I began my spiritual direction practice in 2012. It hummed along, building slowly. My growth as an administrator and the practice’s growth as an organic energized being all its own was in tandem. As things increased, I was ready. In February 2017 I was creating a new website. I loved my sweet little Hapax Spiritual Direction website that a friend crafted for me to express my first foray into the professional world. Yet, after 5 years, I was a different spiritual director and my practice was evolving. I was in Daytona Beach on my hotel room balcony when I realized that the website I was creating was for a full time practice. My sole focus. That caused a pause within, and I closed my laptop and just looked out into the surf and sand and broad horizon. It was a bit of a cause for alarm because I loved my full time gig at the seminary. I loved the students and reveled in the learning that I myself underwent each day as I applied myself to tasks I was a rock star at, and those that needed someone else to review before it went live.

I brought 2 people into my circle of awe and discernment; my husband and my business coach. Neither were surprised, both were ready for 100% of this change. So, I sat with it. for months.

Months and Months.

I knew I needed to tell the prez of the seminary at some point. He needed to hear this from me. But I couldn’t do it until I was certain. In September I mentally thought I was ready. But I was waiting for my whole system to say “Go”. That moment came in November. In a private meeting, I knew he knew before I even said anything. My boss was the next person to be told. We sat on things till the first of the year to be sure sure. To be certain. To be absolute. Interestingly, this is almost the exact timeline back in 2001 when I was asking my spiritual director “when do you know its time to leave when things are going well?” And then it was and I knew. Because of the nature of an academic year, I planned to make my leave taking after graduation. It didn’t go quite as planned, but 3 months after graduation, just before the start of a new academic year, I left.

19 months of discernment and decision.

I will say, 6 months into this new and next, that the transition to sole focus on spiritual direction and coaching was only about 2 months. I’m sailing now. Sailing, because I was not afraid to take it slow, to move with the pace of this particular change.

Because I had a spiritual director and coach all along the way, I never felt adrift. I never felt like I was making a mistake. They asked the important questions so that I was not putting off the tough stuff. I went deep into the muck and mire of change whith groovy hip boots on.

We won’t know the length of time for your discernment and transition. It might be 22 months like mine. It might be 2 weeks because tragedy strikes and you have no choice. It can be at your pace, or it can take you over if you are not standing in awakness, ready to take the first step then the next step.

Hey, but that is what I do for folks. I walk with you. Casually or with deliberate goal achievement. But I promise to ask the hard questions so you don’t get caught off guard by what should have been asked in the early months. You don’t have to answer anything until you’re ready, because the energetic workings below our mental engagement goes to work and explores where our brains are not ready to explore.

What big vision do you have? What is the timing of that vision?

With love,

Amy

Pondering AI

Sipping my coffee from a local joint (who sources their coffee beans direct from farmers and roasts those beans themselves) while driving through newly plowed and piled high parking lots, NPR was playing “New York Times Radiohour”. The feature was on AI, Artificial Intelligence. A very earnest scientist was talking about how China and Silicon Valley have the opportunity to work in partnership for the good of humanity everywhere, rather than participating in a race for preeminent AI. He mentioned that when factory jobs, trucking jobs, farm jobs, etc are lost to people as AI takes over, the people will feel a sense of meaninglessness.

And this is what I want to ponder.

it assumes that work, any work, brings meaning to our lives.

Let’s get out ahead of this situation. AI is coming. So what if we subvert the dominant paradigm and have a meaningful blast while we are at it?

What do we truly find meaning in? Human interaction. Interaction with animals. Building things. Planting and growing things.

What if a post human-industrial movement gets us back to one another, back to the earth, back to our own hands for our own meaning making? Not to relive olden days of yore where we only had potatoes to eat. But a vibrant economy of doing and being?

I heard a metaphor a bit later this same day, that likened the human race to a finely woven cloth. When one thread is damaged directly, the whole cloth is indirectly damaged. When one part of the cloth is cared for directly, the whole of the cloth is cared for. I believe wholeheartedly in what I would claim as fact, as well as my strongly held opinion, that the individual must be healthy and that health wafts over to another and another until the whole enterprise is healthy and strong. The more the whole cloth is healthy and strong, then a more singular degradation cannot ruin the whole.

So, be good to yourself. And the whole will benefit. The whole can be strong for when a singular being cannot uphold their part. A circle. A cycle. A meaningful existence.

Seriously, this is what the holy texts all point to. i cannot be escaped unless someone is reading only part of the holy text. The holy text of nature points to this as well. All for one and one for all.

What is yours to be in this wide universe? Be that. Meaning is waiting for us to be……

  • bicycle builders

  • gardeners

  • writers

  • poets

  • bread bakers

  • house cleaners

  • artists

  • farmers

  • storytellers

  • house builders

  • atheletes

  • caregivers

  • blacksmiths and nail makers

  • home sharers

Let’s put lawns out to pasture, and invite the sheep and goats in. Let’s share resources of community. Invite others to live with you, share garden space.

It is idealistic. For sure. But what is the alternative? Complaining that robots are taking our jobs, as we settle in front of the TV, buying what robots are building, being told what to own, who to be, dismally caged in dark houses, fearful of neighbors. We don’t need the stuff the culture tells us we need. We need to love and be loved. We need to be who we were uniquely created to be. We do indeed need meaning.

The industrial capitalists want nothing more than for the people to buy buy buy all that the robots build and make. What if we don’t? What if we buy what has been made by someone’s hands, with a smile on their lips and a story on the tongue?

Peace and Contemplation,

Amy

Holding the Hope

It is the third week in January….what have you continued to be successful at since your new years resolution making? I’m proud of you for that! Success is hard work, but the sustaining of a new change often indicates the right timing of a thing.

What were you hoping to change but you screwed up the next day? Take note. Not of the screw up, but that something in you is preparing for a change but now isn’t quite the right time.

I think about all the times I’ve said “No More X” Only to put it in my mouth, or spend the money or repeat the old habit in the next breath.

Something….Something inside of me held a hope. And it will continue to hold a hope toward that day when it is the right time.

So, for every resolution made and broken, I say “Alright!”

For every new pattern thwarted by the old pattern, I say “Next Time!”

For every bite of something that our mouth tells us is comfort but our bodies weep from the inflammation, I say “Keep trying!”

Because the next time might be the right time.

Have you put down someone else’s attempts to improve their life? Go and apologize. You were not a truth teller. You were a wet blanket putting out a fire.

Have you derided someone’s vision of themselves that is different from their current situation? Take a good look deep inside because it is likely you who desire the change but lacks the support.

Have you made fun of the Gillette commercials that are supporting a strong masculinity rather than a toxic masculinity? Then you are who the commercials are aimed at.

I stand with you in your personal terror toward change, in your hopelessness that keeps others down, in your pipsqueak of a dream that you can be your best self.

I hear the pip. I see you. Its what I do so you can do you.

Holding the Hope,

Amy

Self Care, revisited

I saw this today

“Self care is hard. It is not just face

masks and bath bombs. It is crying,

getting out of bed, sticking to your

goals, allowing yourself to open up

to others, not staying at home,

getting rid of negative people, Don’t

believe social media’s false

definition of self care.”

I love a good meme, and a powerful sentiment. Let’s get to it and live all the powerful messages out there. But this one, if we think this is the whole picture, will just keep us stuck in our sadness, our pity, our hurt. Here is another go at how this one might read……

Self care is hard. It is not just face

masks and bath bombs. It is crying,

getting out of bed, sticking to your

goals, allowing yourself to open up

to others, not staying at home,

getting rid of negative people. Don’t

believe social media’s false

definition of self care. …….

Do all the things, and then face the issues at root.

Put the face mask on so you can take on your deepest wounds like a warrior.

Cry to give voice-out-loud to what you’ve experienced.

Open up to trustworthy others, telling your most painful secrets so they are no longer secrets.

Heal at the root. Then self care blooms from within.

I believe this with all my heart. I’ve lived it with all my strength. I’ve raged it with all my body. Go for the root, that is where the power to change it all resides.

With you,

Amy

Day 6 No added or refined sugar

Odd that I’ve gotten here. I’ve watched my uber healthy experimenting hubz go without sugar. But me? Nah.

Yet, the other day I was meditating, and a thought wafted up from within. “reduce sugar intake.”

When I get wafts from below, I’m learning that it is from a fuller knowledge system within. It’s like little bubbles burbling upwards into my mind. I can tell when It is from my mind, and it feels different and without the bubbles.

I don’t know about you, but my mind is where my shoulds, oughts, trending graspings, fears, insecurities do a lot of talking. And the mind thinks it is the boss. It thinks it is everything. Because the body, emotions, and soul do not think. They experience. Often in metaphor, sometimes in words, always in truth.

If my mind had conjured a thought like “reduce sugar intake” I would have been successful for about 3 hours, until the next temptation presented itself.

But this is what I think is happening.

Food and I go way back. Food represents being in a type of need. Not physical need, my parents worked hard to make sure we had all we needed. But it represented an emotional need. And I just couldn’t get enough. Mom was a good cook and baker. The lack wasn’t in what she offered and taught us. It was within me. I had an emotional need that was huge.

Fast forward, say 50 years, and you’ve got an adult who has done her work. Still doing her work. Looking forward to 40 more years of doing inner work. And food doesn’t serve me as it once did. I love a good meal, good tastes…you know, the kind where you have to close your eyes, it’s just that good. But now, food does not have a role in my emotional well being. And my body knows it.

By bubbling up the invitation, it was effectively saying, “You’re ready.” Ready to move on. Uplevel. Engage life and myself from a new vantage point.

So it is day 6. I have not had one sugar craving. I’ve had to fight habits. But as soon as I get through the initial stages of the triggers of the habit, I’m fine. What have I done? I am starting with simply not adding sugar or anything akin to sweet. Nor am I eating the obvious things: cookies, those blueberry scones at Roscoe’s that I’m smelling right this second, hot chocolate or IKEA lingenberry jam on my meatballs. For now, I’m not worrying about the added sugar in processed foods because I don’t eat many of those. I’m not worrying about the carb/sugar thing for now. Just taking it simple and drinking my coffee bitter.

What are you feeling right now, reading through this? What is stirring within your within? Is it about food or is it about doing your work of becoming, uncloaking toward your truest self? Seriously, let’s do that together.

With you in bitter and in sweet

Amy