Sacrificing My Silence

Wahoo! I’ve caught up with the rest of the Tracking Wonder pack! Today’s Quest prompt is from Scott Barry Kaufman. He’s asking a doozy, especially for a girl like me with her head in the mythology clouds.

What is one major personal sacrifice you are willing to make this year in the service of the greater good?

A sacrifice is an act of offering something valuable to the divine. In ancient times that could mean food, livestock, or a loved one. In some cultures it meant offering up the life of the King himself.

I often sacrifice money to the greater good. I don’t mind living simply to be able to give to others. This is a gift of something of value to the larger will of the order and chaos of the universe.  That’s not going to cut it, I think. Not given the prompt above.

What I Value

In order for the sacrifice to have meaning, for it to be worthwhile to the gods, it has to be deeply valuable to me.

sacrifice

I value lack of conflict. I value peace. I value my inner sanctuary of weird little thoughts being protected from the critical eye of the outside world.

I value my silence.

I feel a little like Gollum muttering “preciousssss” over the Ring when I think about sharing my inner world.

Image result for gollum you can't have it

What Do the Gods Want With My Words?

In the past month, I’ve had more than one person respond to my vulnerability with messages of relief. Every time I break my silence, I heal someone. I create new connections.

I’ve long thought that the only thing we can really do in this world is show up and be as wholly ourselves as possible. Reciprocate inspiration. That’s all.

That means I no longer get to hoard my thoughts and feelings. It’s time to speak.

The Power of Questions

I’m a few days behind on the Quest. when I received Dacher Keltner‘s prompt on Thursday, it felt like too big a question to answer immediately.  It required simmering time. Here’s what he asked:

In your work life, your personal life, and in your community, how will you use power as a force for good, and empower those around you in specific acts that make up your day?

I happened to have management training at work that afternoon. When I see the phrase about empowering others, I can’t help but think of my relatively new role as a people-manager at the office. I definitely want to empower and encourage the people on my team. but the question above is about the how more than the who

How will I empower those around me? I’ll ask more questions. 

It is an eyeroll worthy understatement to say I’m something of a know-it-all. Hermione Granger is my spirit animal. I am also very decisive, and I want to get things done quickly and efficiently.

This means that I often dis-empower those around me by making a decision without asking any questions.  I’m not giving them room to have their own ideas. I’m not giving them room to understand or own a project. I’m just dividing up tasks and moving on.

Questions give room for other ideas to emerge. For better, different solutions to arise. Questions are open, and full of curiosity.

Questions share power, and invite others into power.

Questions take longer. They require patience and time – neither of which I’m particularly known to have. And they are worth the investment.

How will I use power as a force for good? I’ll respond, rather than react. 

Another thing that takes longer is to let myself fully think through an answer and to give myself time to really come up with a response.  I have a high-volume, high-stress, fast-paced job. I’m constantly being asked for solutions, recommendations, ideas, and answers. Some things can be answered with a “shoot and move” approach. Most can be answered that way, and shouldn’t be.

My boss continually gives me the feedback that I need to slow down, think through things, and then offer a full recommendation. I don’t think this just applies to work.

To Empower Myself? Avoid Decision Fatigue.

The first time I really understood the deteriorated thinking and bad choices that are part of decision fatigue was during my wedding planning process.  I answered so many questions, and I was so damned tired of making decisions, that I didn’t realize I was making decisions that weren’t mine to make. Instead of asking questions (see above), and instead of slowing down to really think and respond,  I was saying “yes, no, yes, yes, no, that one, this one,” in a neverending stream of choices. I practically made decisions in my sleep.

This lack of judgement, time, care and energy resulted in one of my dear friends misunderstanding my intentions. I had six or seven people asking me what they should wear to the wedding , and one of them was the friend I’d asked to be my biggest, girliest help in the wedding. I wasn’t going to have bridesmaids, but I did need help, and I trusted her taste and opinion utterly.

When the day of the rehearsal came, she asked when she needed to be there – and it was then – the day of the wedding rehearsal – that I learned she thought she would be my bridesmaid, and she learned she wouldn’t be.  I hadn’t asked enough questions. I’d answered her questions about her dress without thinking. I’d reacted, not responded, and I’d moved right past her intentions into “Yes, that one, fine.”   I also hadn’t communicated and reiterated my plans with her. Needless to say, it was upsetting for both of us.

Decision fatigue can be devastating. Knee-jerk reactions can be devastating. My best way to reclaim my personal power is to take time and really let myself ponder and respond.

Synthesis

quest-1

  • Hypothesis
  • Thesis
  • Antithesis
  • Synthesis

This is the structure of an essay or a novel.  It’s also the outline of the learning process. These four steps are the way ideas move from lightbulb moments into fully-fleshed concepts.

The Tracking Wonder  team provides some tools for our Quest, one of which is the sheet of paper I’ve scribbled on in the photo above.  In many ways, the three prompts for the week, are our theories about an idea, the concept itself, and then its opposite – thus to create at the end the melding of all of the aspects of the idea.  The center of the Venn diagram is the synthesis. Or as Jeffrey Davis likes to call it “the wonder zone”.

In case you have ever seen my blog posts and scratched your head about how, exactly these thought exercises actually help guide New Year’s Resolutions, there’s a perfect example.

Because my calling is to be a storyteller, because loving means working, and because boundaries aren’t a bad thing,  my week one synthesis is:

Setting healthy boundaries to give myself time and space to create and hone my storytelling skills.

That sounds like a pretty solid start to a plan for 2017.

Masks Unmasked

When I woke up this morning, the last fluttering thought from my subconscious was Make Peace With Masks. It was something in a dream. Something I was supposed to remember. I scribbled it in my journal, then fed the dog.

Then came today’s Quest2017 prompt from Kristen Noel:

Where are you going to go deeper this year, where can you be brave enough to bring forth even more of yourself — to infuse your work, creativity and business with that which is uniquely YOU, thus inspiring others to do more of the same? What could that look like in 2017 for you?

I’m happily resting in the complex place between that last dream-thought from this morning’s snooze alarms, and this question. To me, there’s an answer between them. A big one.

Authenticity – doing things and saying things that have internal consistency between thought, faith and feeling – this is a deep, ongoing urge of mine. Until this morning, I have thought of authenticity and masks as antithetical.  Right now, as I make my breakfast and think about what to wear to work today, I can live in the idea that maybe they are not.

I’ve written before about protecting new creative ideas – about the process of keeping ideas safe from my inner critic and from outside influence until they are strong enough to stand alone. When I want to share these ideas, I only want to share them with the people who have well-tended, tender ideas of their own.  This is not a matter of masks, or personae, but one of boundaries.

There is a part of me that wants to blah blah blah blah everything to everyone. That lacks self-control and good judgement. For a long time, I gave her reign because I thought that this meant I was being honest – I was being authentic. And it’s true, I was being authentic. I was also lacking finesse. I was a TMI-machine, and living up to my Appalachian Trail trailname, I was a Tank. I had no boundaries.

I thought that meant I wore no masks. 

Ha ha ha hahahaha

The prompt this morning is about creating space. It’s a challenge to infuse my world with more of that authentic self, and how I can do that.  To an extent, I think the answer rests in making peace with masks. It means doing some hard work:

  • Acknowledging that I still wear masks, and that’s okay.
  • Dispelling my inner lie that blurting things without boundaries is more “authentic”
  • Reframing and renaming those things I call masks

How does this work help me infuse my endeavors with what is uniquely me?  

The metaphor that pops into my mind is my 970 sq ft house. When friends come over, they tend to end up sitting with us at the dining room table.  It does not make me a bad hostess that I don’t invite them into the bedroom. It doesn’t make me a bad hostess if sometimes, I even shut the door to the bedroom to suggest that this is not a space for them.

Is it a mask to shut the bedroom door?  My bed is made, it’s not that messy a room. I don’t have anything to hide. So why close the door? Because it is my space. Because it is the corner where I curl up with a cat and a book. Because it’s the inner sanctum of my introverted world. Because that space is worth protecting.

This is where the task of reframing and renaming comes in. Until today, I’d have probably considered that kind of self-protection, this curation of a sanctuary space, as a mask.  It’s not. It’s a boundary.

These kinds of boundaries are necessary and vital to the creative process.

By allowing myself this space – mental, metaphoric, and physical – I’m able to dig deeper, experiment more, and wander farther.  If I go to those unseen realms, I’m bound to bring something back to share with the world.

What will this look like for me in 2017?

Giving myself permission to create an inner circle of trusted creators and thinkers to share the crazy, nascent ideas with.

Flexing my boundary muscles more.

Noticing places where I still think of “masks” as a bad thing, and reframing and reusing those perceptions.

There’s more here. Something tells me the quest will unearth so much more in this regard. Stay tuned.

Loving Means Working

Today marks the second prompt for Quest 2017  – and we’re already digging deep. Here is this morning’s prompt from Susan Piver:

Do you love yourself enough to stop working on yourself yet? 

Who would you be in that case?

I’m going to pour myself a big cup of Italian roast before I delve into this one, because it’s going to take some unpacking.

Loving Means Working

The title of this entry is my gut-level response to this prompt. I work on myself because I love myself. I work on my marriage because I love my husband and our life together. I work on my creative projects because I love the vision and want to bring it to fruition to share with others.

Love is not a pitcher of water that you fill up.  It’s not a checkmark on a list. It’s a process of growth, discovery, pain, commitment, challenge, forgiveness, and rebirth.  Love takes a hell of a lot of work.

Work is not a bad thing, in my opinion. It’s not always fun. It is most often what’s necessary.

In my previous post, I talked about my calling. My calling is to tell the hungry stories. To be the person who challenges others to grow in new ways. As a catalyst, I’m often the crone at the gates of hell holding up a torch and some tools for the road. I don’t go in with anyone. But I do tend to show up when it’s bleak and dark, and remind them that they already know the way out. I’m called to serve the role of Moana’s grandmother. Obi Wan Kenobi. Glinda.

It’s my calling to say  “Look right there. That’s work you need to do in order to become more wholly, awesomely you.

I do this with myself more ruthlessly than I do with anyone else. My husband jokes that I do more work in my journal before he wakes up than most people do in a week.  The reason I can serve this role for others is because I’ve worn the path into myself to smooth sand. I know the way in. I know the way out. I can guide others.

Love demands work. I will add that work demands love. To do deep soul-work on oneself demands that you love yourself enough to commit to seeing it through. It takes courage and trust and vulnerability.

If you think trust and vulnerability are easy, please let me know, because I would like to learn from you.

Who Would I Be If I Didn’t Need Work?

If I didn’t need work, I would no longer be a human being.

I don’t know whether that’s Susan Piver’s goal in asking this question. (She is a Buddhist teacher, so that’s my hunch.)

Loving Myself vs My Ideal Self

The other way you could interpret this question is one of the ideal self.  There is a question about who we are striving to become. Where is the finish line? Clearly, I don’t believe there is one.

I was originally going to post Amanda Palmer’s official video for the only song I can play on my ukulele, but decided instead, to go for trust and vulnerability. So here I am, with a messy house, no makeup, and frowsy hair – singing the only song I know.

I’m Questing Again! #Quest2017

I’ve joined the Tracking Wonder quest groups for a few years now.  It means answering a series of prompts throughout the month of December to envision the coming year. The Quest has become a part of my annual journey and planning process. It’s not too late to join and connect with an incredible pack of artists, entrepreneurs and ordinary, authentic, messy people.  http://quest2017.com 

Last year was one of dissolution for me. My Quest last year was largely private, and often angsty. I was not sure of who I was, or what would come of 2016.  That turned out to be prophetic for the way 2016 has gone in general.

In the last few weeks, you’ve seen more blog posts here than I’ve posted in the entire year prior. As I skim my last several blog posts, the tone and voice of them had already shifted. It is heartening to see that I’ve been becoming someone all along.

If I’m going to do this, and if I’m going to keep writing healing posts, if I’m going to step all the way into my story, then it can’t be a secret. I have to own it. I have to go there. There is a lot of fear that comes with this vulnerability. There is a part of me that would prefer to keep my secret self safe and free from scrutiny or critique.  There is a larger, louder part that is demanding recognition.

Buckle up, buttercup. It’s about to get weird.

Today’s prompt is from visionary, author and speaker, Krista Tippet. Krista asks:

What is your vocation, your sense of callings as a human being at this point in your life, both in and beyond job and title?

I’ve always had a strange mix of things that attracted me. I wanted to be an astronaut, a college professor, a marine biologist. I wanted to be a rock star, an actor, an author. I wanted to be a diplomat, a linguist, a traveler. Lately, I’ve explored the desire to be a docent, a student, a scholar. What I am is a storyteller, a healer, a catalyst. 

To really understand this calling, you need to read this excerpt from the introduction of Martin Prechtel’s The Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun.

There are stories, other stories and still different stories; there are myths, legends, fairy tales, folk tales, and many others. …this story and others like it are not regular stories. They are not the easy stories; they are not folktales. Perhaps they are mythological, but on the other hand, they’re not that either. They are the special stories.
What can be said about them is that they are alive, and being alive they are not just told at any time, but only in the dark.  Though everyone by a certain age knows a version of these living stories, only certain people, those accepted storytellers, can tell them and will admit to their knowledge of them, for it is in the telling only that these stories live, and being ancient, big and hungry, they must be brought alive well.
Another thing we could say is that these stories are from the other world, the invisible world, the world of life-giving spirit out of which these types of stories come clicking and clanking as bare bony frames of themselves until the storyteller the “word maker” Bney Tzii, refleshes each story, “re-membering” it back to life using the everyday life of the village world to dress the bones.

What is my True Calling?

I’m a Storyteller. I remember the big, hungry stories. And they remember me.

Attention Matters: An Addendum and a Twist

In 2011, I wrote a blog post about Attention that has been shared and discussed many times in the last 5 years. It even got reposted on Rebelle Society a year or two ago.

I still believe it.

All of the things I said in the original post still resonate as true to me.

Attention matters.

The people we love, the dreams we want to grow and feed, the pets and places we care about. All of these things demand and deserve our conscious, concerted, undivided attention.

We “pay” attention just like we “spend” time. It costs us energy to pay anything attention.

Addendum: On Attention and Privilege

I prefer to not watch the news. I prefer to keep my head in the clouds (or the sand) when it comes to the vagaries of day-to-day ratings-chasing.

When someone commented on the post on Rebelle Society that it was a belief based in privilege, I had to own it. My comment back was “You’re absolutely right.”

I’ve been sitting with this fact for months, and while I watch our national attention focus on vastly different things depending upon our beliefs, I’m honing this stance.

Sometimes, it’s important to see what things everyone else is paying attention to.

It can be even more vital to pay attention to what everyone else is not paying attention to.

The stations that play news for a given audience don’t cover the same topics as the others. Fox News and CNN don’t cover the same topic from different angles. They send their reporters to completely different stories.  They cover completely different things.

I don’t want to give either of those channels my valuable attention, honestly. But sometimes, we can’t afford to ignore the things we would rather not give our attention and energy.

Now For the Twist: Attention and Action

I’ve already said that it’s totally okay to feel complicated.  The stages of grief are real, and a lot of people are experiencing them. Other people are a little confused about that response.  It’s good to sit with your ands, to cook with your emotional juices brewing around you. That’s the path to transformation and growth.

But I’d like to challenge you to this thought: It’s 100% completely possible to be consumed by feelings and still act.  Not only is it possible, it’s quite likely the best way for us to collectively move forward.

Fear is paralyzing. So is grief. So is surprise. Get off your ass anyway.

I have a dear friend who lost her 43-year-old husband suddenly this year. She’s got two small sons and has been thrust into single parenting in the midst of her own grief. Fear. Shock. Did she want to curl up in a ball and quit? Sure. But she couldn’t. She had kids to feed. She had work to go to. She had a dog to walk.

If widows and widowers the world over have figured out how to keep moving through their grief, you can, too.

Now here’s the tricky part. What are you going to do?

I recommend circling right around to the beginning of this post – attend the people, places, and things that you love.

….but that’s too big….

My mind and thought patterns tend toward the big picture and the long-term.  When I was a little kid, that meant I nearly always had a sense of complete overwhelm when faced with a project or idea.

My mom wisely taught me the Serenity Prayer in response to this tendency. I use it to this day.

What can you change?  There’s your to do list.

As for me, and my house

I’ve been quiet on social media lately. Partially because I felt like I had nothing to add. Partially because I’m still sitting with a lot of my ands and anger. I’m truly trying to live out what I’ve been saying – compassion and empathy for everyone – and honestly, it’s not easy. Empathizing with people who trigger me is really damned difficult.

Discerning the broader picture behind current events is also hard for me right now. The Hamilton thing feels like a distraction from the Trump University settlement. I’m irritated that one side of news is only talking about hate crimes on at-risk groups of people, while the other is only talking about people rioting without any context or historical perspective. If their audiences heard both accounts, it would be very helpful for Americans at large to understand one another.

And I really don’t wish to pay attention to any of that shit. I’d rather just finish writing this novel and buy pajamas for the cats (this year’s Christmas photo is going to be EPIC). I’m balancing the fact that I don’t have the luxury of keeping my head in the clouds, and the effort of paying attention to the things I hold dear.

Triggered Abuse Survivors

I have a giant list of posts and thoughts that I want to share that will help pull us all into the big picture a little bit. Today, however, I’m going to dig into a single topic that is very specific instead.

I’ve heard from more than one woman that this election triggered the hell out of her. When I talk about “triggering” – I don’t mean the internet idiom “made me feel bad”. I mean it in the sense of memories and emotions bubbling up and squishing out sideways as a result of unresolved or past trauma.  When a past trauma is triggered, our emotional response is often out of proportion with the real events or situation. Sometimes completely out of sync with it.

The people I’ve heard talking about being triggered by this election are domestic and emotional abuse survivors. 

You can read lots of analysis that’s way smarter than mine about how Trump uses gaslighting. About how he uses physical intimidation. About how he minimizes people by name-calling or trying to shame them into silence. There are lists. Many of them.

I’ve seen a lot of the emotional reaction to this election be caused by these tactics, and our by individual responses to them. Like other aspects of shadow work, this is not something that’s going to go away on its own.

For all of us, it’s better to face it and name it. To call it what it is, and then tackle healing it.

If You Are a Survivor of Abuse:

  1. It’s normal and sane to feel triggered by the events of this election.
  2. You are not the only one feeling this way.

You’re not crazy. You feel a little crazy because you’re aware that your emotional responses are out of proportion with actual events. But you’re not. What you are is triggered.  I googled to try to find a solid list of ways to deal with triggered emotions, and they are all fine. But none of them really work for me.

My first step is noticing when my response is out of proportion with the situation. When I’ve got a full flight or fight happening sitting at my desk.  Many of us are triggered by people talking about the election or by news coverage of the election.

My second step is to take a break. Take a walk. Take a breath. Take a nap. I don’t hit send on emails, and I disengage from the active conversation.  If it’s just running to the restroom, I will do that.

If I have to, step three is to find a safe person to blow my top in front of and then subsequently calm down.

The key for me is to identify where the emotions came from – what was being triggered? How does this current situation bring up something from my past?

The final step is to look at the actual situation again, without the emotional charge of my personal arc. And decide how to respond (if at all).

I am making my mantra right now “Respond, don’t react.

Image result

For The Survivors of Triggered Survivors:

We’re all swimming in a lot of emotional turmoil right now. If you feel like someone has responded really emotionally to a situation, please take a moment to recognize that there could be more going on under the surface.

Your first goal is the same – try to respond and not react. The worst thing that could happen in this situation is for you to take this personally. It’s not about you.  Take a deep breath, take the aforementioned walk.

If you can bring yourself to respond without taking things personally, the best course of action is to validate the person’s feelings. Listen. Practice reflective listening.  If this person is dealing with shame, try to offer empathy.

Honestly, deploying these tools in the interpersonal toolbox is very nearly always a best practice. In this case, however, these are really all of the tools you have unless you happen to be a therapist. You can’t fix what happened years before.

In reality, so many of the tactics abusers use are set up to make people feel crazy.  Just saying “You’re not crazy” can really help.

Why This Topic Today?

This topic has been written about for weeks by people with more knowledge and time to research.  Why have I decided that this was the most important topic to write about today?

I thought we could all use the reminder, for one thing.

The path  through feeling complicated is one of compassion and empathy.

What I’m asking of all of my friends and family is not an absence of their own feelings, but an honesty with them.  What I’m asking of people around me is to sit with the uncomfortable truths.

The fact of the matter is that this election is triggering people all over the place, and we need to acknowledge that and try to disarm it if we can.  Triggered people can’t behave with empathy or compassion.  They can only operate with old programs of fear and rage.

I’m not being all “love and light” right now, people. I think fear and rage have a purpose and a place.  I want it to be current and immediate fear and rage, not stuff from twenty years ago.  There is current fear and rage to be dealt with. To be acknowledged.

This is the first of many baby steps.

It’s Okay to Feel Complicated

This is a Facebook post I wrote at 1 AM:

Everyone is hurting. Everyone on my feed is unhappy. Everyone feels unheard and misunderstood and judged.

This is shadow work. Face what you hate in yourself. Look at it and understand it and own it. Face what you hate in your country. Face what you rejected – what you thought could never exist. Drag it into the light and look at it.

Dear friends who are usually even keel are flying off the handle. That’s shadow work. Look at your anger. Look at your fear – in what ways has it always been there just beneath the surface?

I am saying the very opposite of get over it. Sit in it. Let your heart break. Hate every minute of it. But be honest with yourself and be honest with people around you.

Be complicated. Be upset. Be conflicted. Be human.

Much of shadow work is sitting with uncomfortable ands. It’s the eastern philosophy of seeing opposites as false, and living in the cognitive dissonance.

It is human nature to want to resolve opposing, conflicting, difficult ands into simple, clear this-or-that statements.  It is how our brains are designed to function.

And it is the requirement of growth, change and healing that we do not allow ourselves to oversimplify complicated truths. We cannot resolve dissonance blindly and still grow. We have to accept the complexity and contradiction as part of who we are.

Get Rid of the Two-Party System In Your Head

If you’re tired of politics as usual. If you really would like to have 4 or more parties to choose from in an election. If you feel like the nation was polarized and wounded by two parties. Then recognize that that structure is largely a case of easy resolution of cognitive dissonance.

The two-party system is oversimplifying people. It’s oversimplifying our country and our values.

If you were selecting a candidate in this election, it’s likely you took a quiz with sliders along an “agree/disagree” continuum. And it’s likely you answered at least a dozen questions, if not many more.  Then, at the end, you likely got a “I agree with so-and-so X%.”  It was never 100%. And many of your sliders were in the middle. Right?

Then why do we suddenly expect that people who voted one way or the other had shoved all of their sliders to “Agree totally” and agreed 100% with the candidate they chose?

Because that’s what our brains do with cognitive dissonance. And it’s uncomfortable as hell to sit with the complexity that is the truth.

In reality, some of those sliders are way more important to each of us than others.  It goes back to the Nature of Man and the Role of the State. What does the government need to do, and what does it need to get out of the business of doing?  Every one of us has a different answer to those questions.

Here are some examples of uncomfortable, dissonant ands that I’m seeing my friends and family sitting with:

I will start with myself – my ands:

  • I see vast hypocrisy in the statements of “now we have to work together” after 8 years of obstruction. I am expected to offer grace and cooperation where others have not. It makes me angry as hell. AND I know that I expect of myself grace and cooperation. That I want to end the obstruction.
  • I’m weirdly galvanized by these events. I feel called to step up and guide people with what understanding I have of the world around me. AND I’m terrified of being vulnerable. I can’t offer my wisdom without putting myself “out there” more, and it scares me.
  • I’m probably going to lose friends if I keep speaking my mind. I’m probably going to have to have conflict I’ve so avoided my whole life. AND It’s not about me.

Some other observed / reported ands:

  • I love my country AND I don’t feel like it loves me – unpack this one. Sit with it. Look at all the fears that were always there under the surface. Look at the fact that this election just pulls them into the light. They already existed.  Now. How do you deal with them when you aren’t hiding them from sight?
  • I voted for Trump AND he has said some awful things that I disagree with. With your vote, you have essentially pointed out your slider bars.  You are saying that ways that you agreed with Trump were more important to you than the ways you disagreed with him. This could be a symptom of latent, shadowy, hidden beliefs. Or it could just be a question of priorities.   Want to know what you really think deep down? I recommend starting with this Harvard study called “Project Implicit” which is designed to test our underlying stereotypes and assumptions.

I’ve had blog comments turned off for a while. I’m going to turn them back on now. That’s me, facing one of my ands.

Cultural Shadow Work

In my post this morning, I referred to the election as “cultural shadow work”. I realize that not everyone sits around reading Jung for fun, so let me explain what I meant.

For Carl Jung, the definition of the “shadow” in the psyche was all of the stuff that we have said “that’s not me” about. All of the broken off bits, and all of the things we can’t admit about ourselves gets shoved in the subconscious basement.

The stuff we shove into our shadows then bubbles up against our wills. It oozes out the sides of our lives via nightmares, or triggered emotional responses that make no logical sense. The shadow often hits us like a mack truck if we ignore its lessons for too long.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ~ C. G. Jung

If You Are Surprised, You Weren’t Paying Attention.

Our cultural shadow in the US — meaning all of the things we in the Melting Pot righteously declare we are NOT – contains racism, sexism, bigotry, homophobia, xenophobia and a hell of a lot of rage.  It includes the ongoing racism and denigration of First Nations people who were here before the rest of us. It includes violence and injustice. It includes rape culture.  It includes ratings and sensationalism over real people and real news.

The people who are surprised that it includes those things “so much” are the ones I’m giving the side-eye right now.

Ask a black woman with a teenaged son how surprised she is.  That woman deals with racism, rape culture, sexism, the threat to her child’s safety because of the color of his skin every single day, and she has for her entire life.

Yes, it was really this bad already. You just didn’t notice it before.

You Can’t Clean Out the Basement Without Pulling All the Crap Out Onto the Lawn. 

The truth: This is going to suck.

Cleaning out the basement sucks. We have to yank all of the stuff we hate about ourselves and each other and our culture out into the light. We have to evaluate it. Take a good, hard look at it. We have to decide whether to trash it or accept it as part of our cultural basement in case it is useful when disaster strikes or the kids move to college. And then we have to fucking own it.

The reason why Trump won was because he voiced the rage and fear of a lot of people. Silencing that rage and fear will only make it ooze out in even more disgusting ways.

The worst thing about Shadow work?  The only way out of this is through it, y’all.

Calling all Poets. 

I’m learning something about myself today.

I’ve done a lot of shadow work. I’ve gone through hell and back. I know what it means to face this down and come out the better for it on the other side. I’m noticing as I look at the people around me that I have a different perspective than most of my friends. So, I’m stepping up.

Now is a time for healers. For shamans. For storytellers. For poets and songwriters.

We are the people who hold the lantern in the darkness, and point the way through the night. We know the path.