I’m excited to add microblog posts to my wordpress site and intrigued by the microblog community macgenie spoke about at Macstock. Also thank you for the extended trail period! Already I love you guys!
Guess what? My practice is moving to The Exchange Building, room 408! It’s a beautiful space with large windows and plants, and it’s perfect for both coaching sessions and emotional clearing/energy work. It manages to feel cozy while being large enough that I can use the space to facilitate small groups. I’m beyond excited and can’t wait to show you!
As excited as I am to move into this space, I’m also very tender about my practice leaving Infinity Wellness Center. Though it’s not real cause for sadness as I am still helping to manage the yoga studio and teach there several times a week, it still feels like the end of an era.
As right as this move to my own office in the exchange building feels to me now, I am remembering the same excitement over joining the Infinity team as a coach years ago. Dr. Kristin Noble, the founder and one of Infinity’s physicians has helped me so much over the years with my own health needs and she’s been an amazing friend through some big life changes. Her support is evidenced by how supportive she was of this move as well.
I am happy to announce I’m currently booking sessions in my new space. And I’m looking forward to celebrating this move with you!
When I put this image and quote together, I thought this would be an easy post to write. It was something 17-year-old me would have loved, which is appropriate since Grace Marks was 17 when she was tried and convicted of murder. So without giving it much thought I began writing about how I would have loved a poster like this to hang next to my mirror, how I would have related to the dark balloon for a head threatening to float away, taking my mind with it. The “all” who would be hanged for the thoughts were my people.
It was cathartic, actually, writing about this period of life, and how on the inside I was depressed and feeling very dramatic over having to grow up and deal (or not deal as the case may be) with real life stuff. My alcoholic father was in the end stages of dying as I was heading off to college. I pretended to myself I was all tough and I rocked a rough 90’s goth vibe, internally… my outer appearance remained one that comforted my mother, a wholesome girl-next-door look, nicely tanned from a summer lifeguarding and braces flashing through my nervous smile. My relationship with myself was clearly even more fractured than the one with my father.
“If I am good enough and quiet enough, perhaps after all they will let me go; but it’s not easy being quiet and good, it’s like hanging on to the edge of a bridge when you’ve already fallen over; you don’t seem to be moving, just dangling there, and yet it is taking all your strength.”
― Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace
As interesting as this was for me, as my self-imposed deadline for this post came and went I was increasingly uncomfortable comparing my white middle class teenage angst with Grace Mark’s world as an Irish immigrant in the 1840s. Though my cover photo is bravely declaring we’re not on trial for our thoughts, my writing was blocked by good ol’ fashioned self-criticism. Perhaps I had let too much of my 17-year-old self out on the page!
Unlike my potentially bright future, Grace’s best case scenario was being a servant in a household where she wasn’t abused much. But instead Grace is imprisoned for murder. She was invisible because of class and gender, then infamous for a crime. She wasn’t hanged, but only because the jury was convinced she was crazy or an imbecile.
“I think of all the things that have been written about me – that I am inhuman female demon, that I am an innocent victim of a blackguard forced against my will and in danger of my own life, that I was too ignorant to know how to act…”
—Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace
The most interesting thing about this book for me is Atwood’s ability to let us empathize with Grace without ever finding out if she killed her employers or not. The facts of the historical case aren’t changed but the gaps have been filled in with fiction. In getting to know Grace, in her daily life and through her story which may or may not be reliable but is still telling, we relate to her. She can’t be purely labeled innocent or guilty, mad or sane. She is complex and human.
Finally it’s impossible to write about Alias Grace without admitting that of course I was inspired by noticing that Netflix had released a series under the same title.
“It’s tempting to think of this series, like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” as especially timely, with today’s revelations of sexual abuse in places of power. But to say that would suggest that there have been moments when these ideas would not be timely.”
–James Poniewozik, New York Times
This is what I’d like to say to 17-year-old me while giving her that poster she would have loved: eventually you will be someone you love, and you’ll be able to see there are people in the world that need your help. You’ll play drums, you’ll secretly write erotic poetry, you’ll get the counseling you need, you’ll feel better, you’ll find your self-esteem, your work will help people… trust me, by the time you’re 40 you’ll even like how your ass looks in that swim suit.
You will always belong anywhere you show up as yourself and talk about yourself and your work in a real way.
— Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging
Despite my last post, sharing Brené Brown quotes wasn’t my plan this week. I’ve just finished the spiritually sensual Redvelations by Sera Beak, and Red Clocks by Leni Zumas, and I have an enticing stack of Margaret Atwood library books sitting next to me on my desk as I write this. But this week my mind has been on connections, relationships, responsibility, vulnerability and the tangled web of humanity. So, of course, I’ve been craving Brené Brown. Don’t worry, I know this is way too broad and expansive a topic for a blog post, or at least a post that gets to any kind of point. But perhaps I am learning that making a point isn’t the point of bookcrush posts.
Here are a few threads of thought weaving through my life.
My sweetheart’s last podcast heavily featured conversation about how important connection is for people with ADHD and also how difficult it can be for them to find it. Brett has ADHD, and believe it or not, I don’t. So we’ve had a lot of trials and errors in the communication department as our relationship deepened and we spend an inordinate amount of time unraveling snarls we get into.
A fish and a bird may indeed fall in love, but where shall they live?
— Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed.
Darling, we found a place to live!
Bretts asks me who is the bird and who is the fish. Obviously I am the fish since his preferred conversational style consists of repeated visits to the surface of ideas which are, to me, not the same but delightfully adjacent, and though I can swim near the surface I thrive when I can grab an idea and plunge into the depths. Sometimes even simple conversations can entail intentional maneuvering, him diving and me leaping, each of us out of natural elements, more or less willingly.
No, Brett says, I don’t like being a bird, I’m totally a fish. For a moment I badly want to argue that clearly this isn’t how the metaphor works. He accepts that I love this metaphor so much that I write a “bird” “fish” on a piece of paper and draw a x/y axis circling the place where they meet to symbolize where we live, and hang it in our shower. I can accept that he likes to see himself as a fish.
After listening to the podcast, I asked Brett if he experienced belonging and connection in our relationship. He answered that he felt like we were both so weird (true) that we just don’t expect to belong with each other, but he feels connected to me and accepted which is more important to him. Perhaps this lack of expectation to belong accounts for free I feel in our relationship. OK, maybe I am the bird.
You are only free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.
— Maya Angelo
After yet another comedian’s abuse towards a woman comes out, I casually mentioned that I was glad I didn’t have to worry about that kind of thing from a particular trio of comedians I follow, and Brett responded, “well then don’t google ____.” Damn. Of course I immediately googled him.
His response to the rape accusations consisted of a barely veiled threat to sue for defamation of character, a lecture on rape culture, references to things he does to support women now, and asking us to feel bad for him because this accusation would effect him the rest of his life. I suppose he means that people like me who admired him would eventually read this response and lose respect for him. I don’t even feel angry, just tired and sad. On the plus side, I’m totally not jealous of the people who get to work for him anymore.
Netflix’s description won’t prepare you for Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette. Watch it anyway because I want to talk to you about it, but you need to watch it first.
Is there a response I would have accepted from the man in the story above? I don’t know. Honesty and vulnerability seems like a good place to start.
How does someone who has made grievous errors get on with their life? I type “I just got accused of rape what do I do now?” into my search engine, hoping I will find something helpful. I don’t. There are ads for lawyers, and angry bloggers talking about women falsely accusing men for their own career advancement. Notably, I can’t find any information for women wanting to use victimhood to get ahead in their careers.
Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.
— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
I remembered an incident from first grade where I was the hugest of assholes and I very likely emotionally scarred someone. I’m not ready to write much about it yet. I wish I remembered his name. I wish I knew whether it would make it better or worse if I apologized.
I contemplate my ancestral lines going all the way back to the first humans. They branch out and connect with other lines until they aren’t lines anymore at all, but rather a tapestry with threads of violence as well as wisdom, and love as well as malice woven through it. I find myself acutely aware that I must certainly carry the DNA of rapists as well as their victims in my blood.
I spend time with my shaman counselor friend. She reminds me of all the people all over the world doing the work of healing. We’re in this together.
Once upon a time two women met and saved each other’s lives over and over again.
— Me, describing a certain kind of friendship.
Okay yes, I’m using Brené Brown’s quote while simultaneously finishing off my bookcrush series on The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer. To be fair Brené Brown is quoted generously in The Art of Asking, and even wrote the forward. You would also be correct in assuming that soon you will be seeing quotes from Brené Brown, as her work has been instrumental to me in the last several years.
The ideal sweet spot is the one in which the artist can freely share their talents and directly feel the reverberations of their artistic gifts to their community, and make a living doing that. In other words, it works best when everybody feels seen.
Lets expand on the idea of who is an artist. Some of us aren’t performing on the street or otherwise, some of us aren’t at home painting or drawing or making things that someday someone else might own. I do, obviously, write, but when I read this, I don’t think about my writing. I think about teaching yoga, facilitating, and coaching. The parts of my life that are interactive are also coincidentally my livelihood. This is where this dance of valuing my work and asking for enough happens.
I also know how easy it is for me the moment I feel stress to assume the answer is more money. I’m not saying money doesn’t matter at all; if you don’t have enough money for healthy food, a home, and clothes, then absolutely figure this out. Speaking for myself, when I’m stressed about money, I know that I have enough food, I am adequately clothed, and I have a home. If I step back and get super honest with myself, money isn’t my main problem. The usual culprits I encounter are: fear of the future, feelings of inadequacy, and the grossest of all, shame. Now, to be clear, these are things that deserve help, but they won’t be solved simply because I made more money. In fact, if I’m not caught up in dire predictions about my future, or feeling bad about myself, you know what I can do? Think straight, and get creative about solving cash flow issues!
I am not currently plagued by overabundance but I have seen how scary it can be for those who suddenly have way more than enough, and I have been a witness to the truth that being wealthy doesn’t solve underlying issues.
How much is enough without being too much? For people who struggle more with self worth it’s easy to get caught in a trap where it’s hard to accept income for our gifts, or hard to accept enough that we can live in ease. There’s wisdom in Palmer’s quote pointing to the sweet spot being one where we are able to “feel the reverberations of their artistic gifts”.
The answer to the question of how much is enough or how much is too much isn’t formulaic. It’s learning to feel for a sweet spot, where we spend our energy on our gifts rather than survival, and learning how much to give back to stay connected.
I also want to point out this can be true even if we don’t feel like we are directly making money using our biggest gifts. No matter where the income originates, we can have enough, we can feel known by our loved ones and community, and we can feel the reverberations of what our gifts have to offer the world.
I’m experimenting with sharing about my current read on this blog. As you can see I’ve started with my reread of Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help.Well, actually I started a few days ago with my first experiment putting together a quote and an image and sharing it with my friends on social media. I’ve included that below in case you missed it. But this is the first #bookcrush on my blog.
There’s a difference between wanting to be looked at and wanting to be seen.
When you are looked at, your eyes can be closed. You suck energy, you steal the spotlight. When you are seen, your eyes must be open, and you are seeing and recognizing your witness. You accept energy and you generate energy. You create light.
One is exhibitionism, the other is connection.
Not everybody wants to be looked at.
Everybody wants to be seen.
–Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help
Most of what I do professionally is witness other’s lives. There’s something profound that happens when one is deeply listened too. And of course sometimes I have opinions and advice. Strategic planning, and sometimes stress management is involved, but most of my work is giving people the space and safety to be really honest with themselves. So yes, I agree everyone wants to be seen. I would actually go as far as to say everyone needsto be seen.
However in a coaching/facilitation situation there’s not a performance going on. As much as I get from my work, my clients aren’t there for my benefit, they are there for theirs. So it’s a bit different from what Palmer is describing here as an artist wanting to be seen, but her words have helped me pinpoint a similarity between what I love about my work and what I love about some of my favorite performers.
For example, I consider how inclusive Tig Notarois of her audience. Sometimes interacting with them directly, sometimes putting herself in their position. There’s a feeling of inclusiveness that makes her not only one of my favorite comedians but one of the few famous people I’d love to be friends with. I mean, it seems like I already know her so well, once she gets to know me, we’ll probably be texting all the time… or that’s how it feels anyway. Ultimately this inclusiveness is a finely-honed craft on her part, but it rests on the foundation of honesty, trust, and being present in the moment.
In working with clients they bring as much honesty and trust as they can because that’s how this process works best. You could pay me to listen to your favorite lies about yourself, but why? I’m responsible for creating a space where truth can happen by bringing my full attention to the session. Truth sharing and witnessing are still present, it’s just as the “audience” in this case it’s my responsibility to set the tone rather than the other way around.
In thinking this through, I realize that what I’m drawn to in my favorite artists isn’t just their willingness to share a bit of their raw truth, but the transformational energy created by their ability to also bring their sense of presence and awareness of their witnesses.