I recently led a workshop for teen girls at a youth conference. I included these questions and leading statements in a handout at the end. I thought back to the things that kept me going when I was just starting my self discovery process, and compiled them. Guided journaling is a powerful tool, and as we answer these questions for ourselves they can also become guideposts to return to when we have lost our way. They are a trail of promises and affirmations, leading us back to who we are in faith. I hope this is a helpful resource.
Grounding Questions & Open Statements for Journaling / Self discovery:
Asking myself the right questions is one of the most important skills I’ve developed. Sometimes we don’t need more answers, we just need better questions.
God has shown up for me in these ways:
I feel close to God when:
Ways I practice resilience:
How it looks when I’m not OK:
(Often it’s hard for our communities to know what it looks like when we are in a bad place emotionally, what should they look for?)
How my family & community can help:
These verses comfort me:
These people affirm my identity, they remind me of who I am in Christ:
We can’t be what we can’t see, women I respect who mentor me:
I am intentional with my influence, these girls may see me as a mentor:
Hard things I have overcome:
Harmful beliefs or stories I live:
God makes all things new, what beliefs or stories am I choosing instead?
I’m still waiting on these:
I feel complete & grounded when I am:
(List how you choose to define yourself)
I am passionate about:
Things about myself that I’m learning to accept:
Things I am claiming for myself:
Things about myself that I celebrate:
As soon as the days start to shorten, and the shadows lengthen, my internal world goes on high alert, looking for signs of the depression monster.
I start pulling out my light box in the mornings. I double down on my rituals. I pay attention to how long my low moods last, and if they are situational. When we enter daylight savings time, I move from code yellow to code orange.
Any of you who deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder know this dance.
This year, my anxiety was high going into the fall. Last winter was one of my worst. Simply getting out of bed and going to work in the morning took so much energy. The holidays were stressful. Receiving (and finding room for) gifts was especially overwhelming. The energy of thinking of things to go on a gift list for myself (and for Chris) was just not existent. I recently wrote on Instagram about this season - that I wasn't only depressed, but I was mourning many things. This fall, I wondered how much had changed. I wondered if my growth would sustain me through my hardest season. I wondered if I would be able to enjoy the holidays.
I read a lot this year, and one of my favorite books was "Learning to Walk in the Dark" by Barbara Brown Taylor. I listened to the audiobook for free through our local library.
So much of this book stuck with me. First there was the fact that just listening to Barbara is soothing. However I would say that two major concepts impacted me. Seeking understanding, instead of running and hiding from my personal dark, and the value of preserving physical darkness.
I've combatted my anxiety this fall with these mantras.
I will embrace slow
I will celebrate the light when I can
I will become friends with the dark
We follow and celebrate all the seasons in nature it seems, except winter. Sure, there's winter sports and holidays. That's not what I mean.
In Spring, we watch for the first flowers. We smell the damp earth, and savor every extra minute of light we get at the end of our days.
In Summer, we soak in sun and ocean. We revel in the warmth, listen to the tree frogs and cicadas at night.
In Autumn, we harvest. We smell the crispness in the air, and pull out our sweaters and jackets. We have bonfires, rake leaves, bake pies, and carve pumpkins.
And in winter, when Nature rests, we have one of our busiest human seasons. We bake, we shop, we gift, we plan, we work.
We never stop.
Nature reminds us with the short days, with the cold nights to rest. But we keep going. This resistance to slowing down is something that has greatly contributed to my winter blues. I've always greatly felt the need to slow down, and also the push to do all the things.
Here are a few ways I'm choosing to slow down this winter:
Only blogging once a week vs three times - definitely through the winter, and potentially until my book is done.
Minimizing gifting (both receiving and giving)
Only putting up the decorations I really want to see, and not over extending myself with outdoor lights etc.
Not going to stores (online shopping FTW)
Minimizing my screen time - I have done this since before the fall, but not taking my phone to bed with me has greatly increased my sleep quality. I plug my phone in downstairs, and my fitbit is my alarm. I fall asleep better because I'm not scrolling, and I actually get out of bed in the morning because I'm not distracted.
Taking a couple additional days off work.
Part of me feels like it's impossible to really embrace the qualities of Winter in our society. We must always be busy, working, hustling to fund our lives and provide for our families. But that's when I remind myself, that we only need to create a little space.
How are you creating space to slow down this winter?
Years ago, I read a blog post from Jon Acuff about a phenomenon he titles “The Jesus Juke”. You know that moment you’re having a totally normal conversation, and then someone manages a Christian one up. If you aren’t familiar with this, go read Jon’s post. It’s short, hilarious, and also TRUE.
Sometimes in the past I’ve felt like the month of November is one big Gratitude Juke. It probably doesn’t help that in years past this is also when my seasonal depression has really kicked in. Either way, if you’re realistic about your life, you don’t get to be in the Gratitude Club. (You also don’t get to be in the gratitude club if you don’t post about it on social media. Every day.)
“Gratitude” can easily become a distraction from things in life that we really need to address. It’s easy to fall into the mindset of “Let’s use this month to avoid any emotional labor by admiring each and every sunset!” Sometimes, we are all so damn busy being “grateful” for the sunset, or our warm houses on cold nights, that we forget to see *each other.* This is in the same vein as "There are starving children who would love your meal" guilt trip. Any time shame enters the equation, we've gotten something wrong.
Last week I talked about the importance of having gratitude game, and I do believe that thankfulness is a key component of living out the most wholehearted and authentic expression of ourselves.
But let’s remember a couple key points as we all work to up our gratitude game this month.
Life can be hard, and beautiful.
Thankfulness isn’t a band aid or distraction from hard things in our lives. It tethers us, adds emotional dimension, and keeps us present, but we still need to remember that to heal, we have to feel and deal first. (Thanks Tiffany Roe for that little mantra!)
I liked things about Ann Voskamps book, “One Thousand Gifts” but she also goes down this path. Part of her more radical thankfulness practice was to replace uncomfortable and painful feelings with feelings of gratitude since we supposedly only have room to feel one thing at once. (I’m also not really sure about that.) This is dangerous territory to me.
Just like physical pain is a warning that something is wrong or that we are in danger, our emotional pain and uncomfortable feelings are instructive. They are always telling us something. Finding any way to suppress them puts us in danger of not actually doing our emotional work in order to grow.
Thankfulness is personal.
What we are grateful for can be minute, and meaningful, and that is so personally specific to US. I fully believe in letting people have the things they enjoy. I’m not going to tell you not to post thirty days of thankfulness on social media. I AM going to suggest that celebrating personal thankfulness for circumstances is on a different level from finding thirty people throughout the month to personally thank for their presence in your life.
Let’s use gratitude as a way to nurture connection and relationship instead of using it to steamroll feels.
In case you were wondering, I am incredibly thankful for every one of you that read, comment, DM, and share my blogs. It means the world to me and gets me up at 6am to keep writing.
Thank YOU for your support.
I have a dualistic relationship with gratitude. On the one hand, I see it as an important channel for joy and depth of life experience. On the other hand, it can be hard to talk about it without sounding trite and guilt trippy. Don’t worry, we’re gonna talk about that next week in detail. Today, I want to dig into just why thankfulness can be such a game changer.
Although the political landscapes that brought about a national holiday of thankfulness may hold more nuance than we generally discuss, I do love how we as a country turn our attention to gratitude for the better part of a month.
I’ve thought about this quite a bit, and I think “being thankful for what we have” is important, but I also don’t think we can tell EACH OTHER to “be thankful for what you have” without it sounding like we are invalidating challenges others face in their lives. Like the people who tell moms to “treasure every minute!” when all mom wants is an hour of uninterrupted silence. Is childhood precious? Sure. Is it also terrifying and testing for all parents everywhere? I don’t have personal experience but all my case studies come back with an emphatic YES.
Gratitude breaks down into a few facets for me.
The first is that looking for good things in our lives raises our awareness in general. So to be grateful, we have to pay attention.
Maybe a better adage would be “pay attention to what you have.”
Often, this is the part we miss in everyday life, right? Everything becomes so routine that we move through our days without pausing, without checking in with ourselves or with our people. Or, we are so afraid of what we would have to deal with if we paused, we stay busy as a form of numbing ourselves to get through.
But when we numb the hard, we also numb the joyful.
If we want to up our gratitude game but don’t know where to start, I think awareness is the best place. This is something we can practice even if we’re in a frustrating or hard place in life. We can start to pay closer attention to little things.
The second thing that has to be in place for gratitude to flourish, is a healthy dose of realism. I referenced this above, but if I’m using gratitude as a way to try and guilt myself out of uncomfortable or hard feelings, it’s not going to work. We have to give space to the challenges too. We have to be willing to sit with the hard things if we’re going to embody joy in thankfulness.
So it’s not “BE HAPPY, other people have it worse”. It’s “yes, life is hard, but we can also find joy.”
If we use guilt trip gratitude, the whole thing becomes ingenuine. When we acknowledge the hard AND the joyful, we make space for a full spectrum of wholehearted experience.
The last aspect I’m going to touch on today, is gratitude multiplied. Something magical happens when we share our thanks in a genuine manner, without holding back. Some part of thankfulness dies, when it’s not expressed. Think about it this way, if someone expresses thoughtful, authentic thanks for either who you are as a person, or the role you play in their life, how does that make you feel? Usually pretty damn happy, right? But it also strengthens your bond, and makes THEM feel fulfilled and heard when you appreciate their input. Authentic thankfulness is a relationship builder. As an action item, when I think of someone, or am really thankful for either in an act of kindness, presence, time, effort, or intention that they bring our relationship, I work to express that. It makes them feel valued and seen, and when they know that I value and see them, I feel good too.
So gratefulness journals, and 30 days of thankfulness are great challenges, but if you want something different this November, tell a person every day one reason you’re grateful to have them in your life.
Use your gratitude to build that community, and watch your relationships grow. I'm incredibly thankful for a group of bloggers that have come into my life recently. See what they have to share this November!
While I prefer to keep a positive and actionable mindset, it’s worthwhile to consider our road blocks as well. Some of these I go into way more detail about in my book coming out next year so I’m not going to go too crazy discussing them here (or it will be a book.) But I do want to give a snapshot overview of a few things to watch out for.
I want you to know first and foremost that I believe victims. I believe that your trauma, whatever it was, changed your life indescribably. I believe you deserve justice. But there’s a quote that I saw a while ago that has stuck with me because it rings so true:
“Your trauma isn’t your fault, but your healing is your responsibility”
So often once we realize we have been wronged we want to sit in that, or we just don’t see a path out of it. We want The Perpetrators to come in, and somehow make amends for the harm they caused. The really hard truth to accept sometimes is that even if they tried to do that, there’s no way to reverse what happened. We still have to actively choose healing and look for ways to make peace with this new version of ourselves.
Waiting for anyone else to fix us is a dangerous game. We become easy to take advantage of, for anyone selling a “cure”.
We can know true healers by this - they don’t sell a cure, they hand us the tools to heal ourselves.
The idea of taking charge of our own healing can feel overwhelming and daunting, however it’s also incredibly freeing. We get to employ a level of autonomy in seeking healing that we may have never experienced before.
Casting harsh judgements on ourselves or on others is not conducive to personal growth. (This is why we started out this month talking about developing self awareness and self compassion) We spend so much of our time and energy on this!
When I finally started releasing my judgements about myself and others, I freed up SO much energy to spend in other constructive areas of my life. I also freed myself up to fail, to look silly, to be unproductive, even to *gasp* gain weight physically without shoulding everywhere. If you feel stuck automatically judging others, go back and take a look at some mantras for non judgement to inject in your mental landscape.
I’m going to invite you into some nuance here. I think many of us start mental health and personal growth journeys because we need help handling big emotions. We feel flattened by the hard things and we want to know how to either get rid of them or take them on without losing ourselves in them. I know personally, my first goal in mental health was finding groundedness, and knowing I would be OK.
This isn’t bad. But there’s more. I would never advocate that someone (especially those of us who tend to wrap our worthiness up in our positive impact on others) pursue personal growth JUST to be of service to other people. But our personal growth does affect our world. There is danger in complacency, in getting too comfortable. In too much “love and light” or “thoughts and prayers” without in the words of Rachel Cargle, “solidarity and action”.
At some point we have to get out of our comfort zones to stay on our growth journeys. Audre Lorde says; “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Self care and compassion enables us to show up in our worlds with resilience, and handle those hard things without them overcoming us. It should not be a place for us to hide from them.
Scarcity is the “not (ever) enough” mindset. It’s the assumption that more of anything will fix our problems in life. More sleep, more money, more attention, connection, intimacy, love, time, friends… you get the picture. There’s a whole chapter on Scarcity in my book coming next year (!!) but the five thousand foot overview is that often in our quest for more, we miss the reasons that we crave it. The opposite of scarcity isn’t excess, it’s ENOUGH. I think it’s hard for us to believe in Enough when we so often feel that we can’t ever measure up, and BE enough. Once we accept ourselves and learn to stay present in our world, it becomes easier to stop always looking around the next corner for More.
It’s a scientific fact that when faced with a unknowns, our brains try to fill in the most likely scenarios based on our personal experiences. This can be helpful in problem solving, but it also can be really dangerous. Leaving open ended unknowns can feel uncomfortable at first, but “I don’t know” is always an acceptable answer. Especially when it comes to big questions, questions of faith and theology, “I don’t know” is so much safer than building our lifestyle around facts that might not be true. Let’s leave space for more discovery and admit that we don’t have all the answers.
“I am resilient
I trust the movement
I negate the chaos
Uplift the negative
I’ll show up at the table again and again and again
I’ll close my mouth and learn to listen”
"Resilient" by Rising Appalachia
Self care and compassion can sound like shallow topics because they are positive pursuits. The “good” stuff is supposed to come easy, right? If only.
I emphasize self care and compassion / non judgement so much because when we practice them, we have the capacity to grow our roots and become resilient.
We can deal with someone in our lives not liking us without taking it personally.
We can hold uncomfortable space with other people in our lives without sacrificing our integrity or shaming them for their beliefs.
We are secure enough in ourselves to not let another person’s opinion of us our our beliefs change how we relate to them.
We learn to invoke nuance in tough spaces instead of clinging to a polarity of “GOOD” or “BAD”.
We know how to care for ourselves and our people when the world seems rough, cold, and heartless.
If we don’t develop these skills in our lives, we do ourselves and our communities a disservice.
My inner empath reminds me constantly our worlds are in crisis of all kinds. Every day it seems there’s something more divisive happening then the last. It used to be countries and factions warring for territory, and now our own families and faith communities are broken up along fault lines of opposing belief systems.
No matter what polarity we cling to, walling ourselves up with people who think exactly like we do, and dehumanizing the “others” doesn’t fix anything. Defensiveness of our own positions and belief systems only widens the divide.
We are where we are in the world because for so long, it was easy for many of us to not do this emotional work. It was easier not to learn to take care of ourselves, and extend grace to others. We could live on automatic and not worry about our inner worlds too much.
It was easier not to talk about hard things.
And now, here we are, the communal division and trauma rising, with no clue how to respond. And so we armor up, build our defenses, and prepare for war, divided even further.
The castle and moat a reminder that we care more about our chosen polarity than about our people.
I have strong belief systems. I feel them in my bones. But I still feel the fear and shame of those who might be seen as my “opposition”. I hold space and grace for their healing journeys. While they won’t change my core beliefs, I know they have much to teach me.
We can’t heal this communal trauma by ignoring it. As we heal ourselves and our relationships, we heal our world.
So tell me now, how love and compassion are the simple choices.
Tell me how easy it is to hold space for someone who believes differently than you do.
Tell me how you sweep shame out your front door every morning.
Tell me how you show your children and your community daily to choose love over fear.
Tell me what work you do internally to show up as the most authentic and vulnerable version of yourself in your world.
Tell me what advantages you have in life, and how you leverage them to help those who aren’t fortunate in those ways.
Let’s not allow “love”, “compassion”, and “empathy” to become just buzzwords. Let’s find tactile ways to show up behind them, every day.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that” Martin Luther King Jr., “Love Your Enemies” Sermon (1957)
Welcome to week three of plantalogies, thank you for growing with me!
Today I’m going to share five easy, repeatable mantras for non judgement.
These can help you dig in to your self compassion and strengthen your compassion for others.
We know that if we want to learn a skill we must repeat the movements over and over to teach our brains what we’re doing. The same goes for thought patterns and mindsets. So often we give up because it doesn’t come naturally, and decide that it’s just not who we are, but that’s not true! It takes just as much effort to purposely inject compassion into our days as it does to learn a new instrument or sport.
The graphics to follow are sized for iPhone wallpaper! Feel free to save one or all of them to have a regular reminder of whichever mantra you're internalizing.
I mentioned this first one in last weeks post, but I’m going to repeat and feature it here because it’s just so powerful:
Brene Brown introduced me to this concept in her book “Daring Greatly”. She shares a narrative of a horrific rooming experience at a speaking engagement, and then how her therapist asked her if she thought people were doing the best that they could, with the information they had in any given moment? Her (and my) automatic response was oh HELL no…
However the question has stuck with me. In traffic, on the phone at work, when That Person is doing the Thing that is Ruining My Life / Day, it was in the back of my mind. What if they’re really just doing their best right now? When I was stressed over my lack of productivity, or the fact that I got to work five minutes late, or that I didn’t cook a homemade dinner, the question gently prodded me “how would you feel if you could accept this as your best for today?”
Grafting this concept in has been a challenge, but it’s also been so rewarding. It gives me a way to release my frustration both with myself and with others. Also, I try to keep in mind that when I get frustrated with other people for being... people... that my frustration with them only messes up my day, it doesn't do anything to them. Getting upset with other people for mundane things only hurts me.
This is something I’ve struggled with intensely. Scarcity is that “not ever enough” feeling. There are really nuanced reasons we feel this way. (There’s a whole chapter on scarcity coming in my book!) However, social narratives teach us that one person’s success means that there’s less available for everyone else. This is especially true as women in patriarchal systems. We are taught that we must be the prettiest, nicest, smileyest, most acceptable (whatever the heck that means) to get anywhere in life. Since men run this show, we take our cues from them, and find ourselves in direct competition with all other women.
So let’s take a step out of the narratives, and look at our lives in light of there being Enough. Enough for everyone to live fully embodied, joyful lives brimming with purpose and love.
Enough to be whole.
This shouldn’t sound like a foreign paradigm, especially for those of us who participate in Christian faith. However we all fall prey to the narratives of scarcity. The sad thing is, we shut ourselves down from fantastic supportive relationships when we live this way. I can tell you that out of my current friend group, several women are those I was at one point intimidated by.
But now they are some of my biggest supporters.
The only thing that changed in those situations was me, and my willingness to reach out authentically.
It’s a natural function of our brains to fill in unknowns and blanks. It’s a basic part of our reasoning. But sometimes we get in our own way when it comes to other people and their stories. We act out of the belief that other people are mostly like us, so they should do things like we do, right?
The reason human beings are so fascinating is that we are all different. We all hold different experiences and stories in us. We have different backgrounds, preferences, and different DNA.
We can never assume we know another person’s story or history. Finding out someone isn’t like us is something to be celebrated and respected.
Let’s be secure enough in who we are to hold that space for others to be themselves fully too.
Making others experiences about us is a really easy thing to do. It can feel like identifying with them. It can feel like offering advice in what seems like a similar situation. But so often we don’t really have the relational tools to take ourselves out of the equation and just be there for THEM.
I’m not a mom (yet) but I see this all the time with pregnant women. On a dime, group conversation goes from what the woman in transition is living, to a parade of war stories and badges of motherhood honor from surrounding women. None of them mean badly, but they have completely made conversation about a life altering event for one woman about their personal validity and worthiness as moms.
So here’s my own rule of thumb - I ask questions and affirm what’s said to me conversationally at least three times as much as I talk about myself. I don’t assume that I know what someone else is going through. I don’t assume that they need me or my experiences. If the conversation shifts, and they start asking me questions too, then I open up more, and know we are tracking.
Have you ever felt just a little (or a lot!) jealous of someone who achieved something BIG? Maybe something you would like to achieve in your life? Whether it’s the friend that actually went on that dream vacation, or graduated from grad school, or runs a successful business… OR, the friend that decided to do compete in bodybuilding and now has washboard abs.
I have. But for the most part, I’ve stopped being jealous of others successes with just a few subtle mindset alignments. This is a big one. Remember the struggle. I’m very rarely jealous of low body fat physiques, because I know exactly how much effort and focus would go into obtaining that, and I am OUT. I’m not in for obsessively tracking every calorie and macronutrient I eat, or bringing tupperwares of my own food to family occasions. Or spending half my weekend making food for the week. I can look at people who have done all this and say wow, that takes a lot of dedication! I can admire their achievements without remotely wanting to go down that road.
When I do get that stab of “I wish that was me”, it’s actually directive. It can mean that I’m not fully living into my purpose, and I can plan to include similar elements. It can mean that may be a future goal I can look towards. It can mean that there’s some element in what that person accomplished that I’m not being authentic and standing in my integrity in. So when that feeling DOES, come it’s an invitation to greater self awareness, not something I sit in.
I hope these five mantras serve you as you increase your capacity for compassion.
Thank you for walking with me!
“They won’t tell you fairytales of how girls can be dangerous and still win.
They will only tell you stories where girls are sweet and kind and reject all sin.
I guess to them it’s a terrifying thought, a red riding hood
who knew exactly what she was doing when she invited the wild in.”
Meanwhile - Nikita Gill
Salem MA, right in our backyard, is a Halloween destination. Haunted Happenings lists all of the ways you and your family can get the full experience. Of course the reason Salem is on the map is much more sinister - the Salem Witch Trials from 1692-1693. This phenomenon and paranoia left over 200 people accused of witchcraft, and 20 lost their lives.
I grew up knowing that the witch trials happened, of course, but looking back now I think we have much to learn from our history, and some hope to draw too. The Salem Witch Trials came on the heels of massive witch hunts across Europe. This cultural history spanned over 300 years, and came with the puritans across the ocean. Theocratic government - religion chosen and enforced as law came with them as well.
The Theocracy made witch hunting a natural part of the Pope Gregory the IX Inquisition, fully sanctioned by church and state alike. All the witch hunts - both in Europe and Salem were fed by fear, closed mindedness, corrupt power dynamics, and lack of understanding. Suspects were imprisoned inhumanely and cruelly tortured until confession and death seemed their best choice.
It’s roughly estimated that tens of thousands of people in Europe, mostly women, were executed as witches. This seeps into our lore and fairy tales, as does the fear of a strong, intuitive woman. The crone or hag is a mythical archetype woven into lore from every country and culture. Much of the "damning" evidence for witchcraft was herbal mixtures of plants which were poisonous and hallucinogens. Applying these to sensitive areas gave a high without causing severe illness or death, which ingestion would cause. Whether or not it was labeled as witchcraft, these rituals were not looked on kindly by the theocratic government. Witch hunts were a very real way to strip women of personal pleasure or bodily autonomy.
Our stories and lore extol the sweet, virtuous maidens and princesses, while casting shadow and doubt on the crones, the witches, the hags. In “The Women Who Run With Wolves” Clarissa Pinklola Estes talks about the history of these characters. The old, wise, woman, often represents the Wild Woman archetype. But we overlook her because she is not “pretty”. She does not meet our specifications of Heroine. She is too weathered, is missing too many teeth, and to hold space for her, we must face the dark wild in ourselves.
Some days I look at our current social climate and see the same themes:
Abuse of power and corruption
Fear of what we don’t understand
Fear of others who aren’t like us
Fear of different belief systems, cultures, and religions
Searching for reasons that bad things happened to us or our loved ones
Searching for ways to right a perceived slight or a vendetta
Fear of the fully embodied and unleashed Feminine
But there’s another theme that I draw from Salem’s story, and one I think we should hang on to.
The turn around.
The fact that this is where the witch hunts stopped. It’s sad irony that the witch hunt in Salem started losing steam when the Governor’s wife was accused. The humanity seeped in when she was someone (someone importants') wife. If she had just been “someone” she may have been number 21. But hey, for 1693 that’s progressive and I’ll take it.
The hope I see in this gruesome and sobering story is this:
We decide what traditions and vices we hang on to, and pass on to the next generation.
We decide what stops with us. I know for me, the work I am putting in can feel like an uphill battle. I don’t just mean blogging! I mean the healing work, the therapy, the reading and developing my mindset. Calling out misogyny, being totally honest about where my integrity and yes, my faith, lead me regardless of response. In another 300 years, it’s possible and even likely no one will know who I was. But I can also choose to stand with my sisterhood of women in making history, saying that #timesup.
We may not be witches (well some of us may be, but not THAT kind!) but we hold the power to craft the future that women are looking back on in another 325 years. I’m not just talking about protesting, or hashtagging, or social justice warrioring, although all those things have merit.
Moms, I’m talking about what you say to your sons and daughters.
I’m talking about how seriously you take their “no” and how much autonomy you encourage.
I’m talking about giving your sons tools to process their emotions, and your daughters opportunities to get messy, be loud, and find their voices.
I’m talking about teaching ourselves that we matter, by prioritizing our own needs, as women, above the convenience and comfort of everyone else in our lives.
I’m talking about advocating for ourselves, claiming our space, and waking up to the full understanding that our healing is of so much more importance than our waistlines.
I’m talking about using our energy to build community and sisterhood, instead of counting weight watchers points.
I'm talking about doing the work to understand what power dynamics we benefit from, and leveraging our advantages to help those who were born in different social landscapes.
The women of 2,343 are counting on us to show up for them. To craft a world where they don’t feel the need to hold their keys between their fingers when they walk down the street after dark.
Where pepper spray isn’t a common keychain accessory.
Where every other girl and woman doesn't have a #metoo story.
Where they can stand on the shoulders of women who have done excruciating work, and reach the stars.
Let’s be those women.
For me, Salem is famous yes, for the executions of
Bridget Bishop (née Playfer; executed June 10, 1692)
Rebecca Nurse (née Towne; July 19, 1692)
Sarah Good (formerly Poole, née Solart; July 19, 1692)
Elizabeth Howe (née Jackson; July 19, 1692)
Susannah Martin (née North; July 19, 1692)
Sarah Wildes (née Averill; July 19, 1692)
George Burroughs (August 19, 1692)
George Jacobs Sr. (August 19, 1692)
Martha Carrier (née Allen; August 19, 1692)
John Proctor (August 19, 1692)
John Willard (August 19, 1692)
Martha Corey (September 22, 1692; wife of Giles Corey)
Mary Eastey (née Towne; September 22, 1692)
Mary Parker (née Ayer; September 22, 1692)
Alice Parker (September 22, 1692)
Ann Pudeator (September 22, 1692)
Wilmot Redd (September 22, 1692)
Margaret Scott (September 22, 1692)
Samuel Wardwell Sr. (September 22, 1692)
Giles Corey (September 19, 1692) - Pressed to death.
Bethany Shafer (october 21,1692)
But the fact that they were the last. This fall as you enjoy Halloween with your family, remember these men and women. Think about what about our world, based in fear and control, you might want to see end with you, or your generation.
Looking for more Fall posts? Check out my favorite Connecticut Blogger Babes below! We've linked up for an October Blog Hop. Want to participate too? Add your link!
I’ve got my roots down down down deep....
So last week we talked about the importance of developing root systems, and how the basis of self awareness and compassion can sprout up compassion for others.
Today I want to dig a little deeper into exactly HOW to develop self awareness and self compassion. Sometimes, we feel like we are running on empty. Sometimes we feel strung out and isolated. Sometimes we feel… Worthless.
But those feelings, are just feelings. They aren’t facts.
Self care is a buzzword right now. You see it associated with things like shopping and bubble baths.
But I’m going to let you in on a secret. Self care isn’t always or even usually glamorous.
Self care means choosing to prioritize YOUR NEEDS and INTEGRITY over the comfort and wishes of others.
Take a beat and think about that. Self care means choosing to speak up and assert your NEEDS, and what you BELIEVE, down deep, over what other people are just used to.
Many times we are socialized as women to take care of other people first. That we are here for them. In religious circles sometimes there’s another layer placed that we are unholy if we prioritize ourselves.
None of this is truth. I have given full forty five minute talks on why our worthiness matters, and even how acting out of our worthiness is a way to commune with our Creator, but that’s coming another day.
For now, I want you to sit down and really think about how often you prioritize the things you really need over the things that other people close to you really want. Do you ever choose yourself?
We teach people how to treat us. We teach them that we will always prioritize them. We teach them what we believe about ourselves and our worth too. What are you teaching the people around you? Do they respect your boundaries?
These are the first steps towards developing true boundaries rooted in self care.
Choosing ourselves whenever possible gently and gradually teaches us that we matter.
Affirmations and mantras can be incredibly helpful. Last week on Woman Up Wednesday I talked about one of my all time favorite women that I follow; Erin Brown. She makes affirmation cards, which are some of the best tactile tools I have found for drilling into the best mantras for me specifically on any given day.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a deep breath on a hectic Monday and repeated to myself from one of her cards “I can let my best be enough.”
Journaling can be another great way to get to know ourselves, and develop self awareness. It also gives a record of where we’ve been which is pretty awesome. Prompt journaling, which is just journaling in response to specific prompts can be helpful if you feel like you don’t know what to say. I created a resource of prompt questions that you may find helpful here:
Last week I saw someone quip on instagram that self care is actually more like self parenting than having the “treat yourself” mentality. I identify with this. So often self care is also doing things that just need to be done, like paying the bills, or cooking a decent meal. It isn’t shoulding, but it is taking into consideration how to care for our needs, not just our wants.
Ultimately, what self care tools we use are so individual.
For some moms I know, it means setting a timer for their kids to leave them alone, and having an undisturbed cup of tea or coffee.
Boring self care can look like taking our meds as prescribed.
It can look like taking care of a corner our space, when we don’t feel like we have the energy.
It can look like reaching out and asking for help, when our ego and fear of rejection scream “NO”
It can look like just saying "no".
To develop strong root systems that can support us in our lives, whatever way we decide to branch out, our self care needs to be built on a deep understanding of our personal identity and autonomy.
Self care isn’t a magic charm. Once upon a time, I was in such a bad depression that I was just trying to do all the “self care” things I could think of to tread water. Spoiler alert: It didn’t work.
Friends, we have to do the excavation first. We have to be willing to evaluate everything in our lives, and consider why we do what we do, and if that really aligns with who we are and who we want to be. Those two things don’t always line up, (who we are and who we want to be) but where we find that gap we find our capacity for growth.
Nancy Levin says to “Honor the space between no longer and not yet” and I have always loved that.
It means we can visualize, but we’re still figuring out the path and that’s ok. In fact, that’s the story of most of our lives, and it’s really a glorious one.
In January I’m hosting a patriarchy detox, where we are going to dig deep into our belief systems and mindsets.
I know Patriarchy can sound like a big scary word. I’m hosting this because digging through what stories and paths I lived out of society’s plan for me as a woman was both necessary and isolating. I wish I had had someone guiding me through that. I was so blessed to find a group of women online, unofficially walking that path but finding them took a lot of energy.
I want to make it official. I want you to have the opportunity to engage in communal healing and unleash your identity as we claim 2019 in power and boldness. The Patriarchy Detox is a five day challenge that starts January 7th. You’ll get a daily email with an awkward video from me, as well as the option to read a transcript so you can absorb the information whichever way works best for you. Then, you’ll have a prompt of a photo and caption to post on Instagram, (I will include a stock photo that you can use if you don’t have something that you feel goes with the prompt as well.)
I’m calling it a detox, because January is when the diet marketing really hypes up. “New year new you” (when the you you’ve always been is totally fantastic already.) The whole “detox” trend makes you feel like you’re dirty and need something to clean out your system, when we have organs like our liver that are designed to do that constantly.
But here’s the thing, we do have harmful mindsets and belief patterns that hold us back, and what if we could shed some of those? How would our new year look different?
We talk about the plant analogy here a lot (at least on Mondays) and this is like preparing your site for a garden. Flowers don't grow very well if we just try to stick them in the middle of our lawns, do they? We need to prepare the site, dig out the rocks, whatever the previous owners buried in the yard, and add organic materials to nurture them. We have to do the same thing with our mindset. Self care, self love, affirmation, and compassion don't grow well in the middle of what's always been there. We need to get ready to receive them.
First off, WELCOME to my new blog! I’m so happy that you’re coming on this journey with me. Like all the rest of them. I’m on a lot of simultaneous journeys. This month of Mindset Mondays is going to be themed around plant analogies because I’m a little obsessed. Also, how are plants not great examples of almost everything meaningful in life?
Today, let’s review an overview of developing mental root systems - learning self awareness, self care, and self compassion. I’m going to share why I feel putting intention and effort into these things is such a vital and necessary way to develop root systems that will continue to serve us and all our relationships.
Spoiler: It isn’t actually all about us!
There’s a popular and true statement going around that goes something like “What other people think about us isn’t about us, it’s about them”.
Often we don’t pay attention to the fact that the converse is also true: What we think about other people isn’t about them - it’s about us.
I think this is a great example of why we need self awareness, and we need to know how to take care of and manage our internal landscapes. Even if we ignore our internal world, it still affects how we view and interact with everyone we come in contact with.
I find being aware of my internal world a necessary part of showing up in my relationships authentically. I have the ability and responsibility to show up as the most present and mindful version of myself. If I don’t take care of myself emotionally and physically I am not able to be there for the people I care about in the same way at best. At worst, I project my challenging emotions on them. This can be SO HARMFUL, and honestly, seems like a leading cause of misunderstandings and friendship fall-outs.
Self awareness and self compassion are the root systems of a mindful and authentic life.
This is the beauty of cultivating self compassion: The kinder we are to ourselves, the more grace we hold for others. I personally think just learning to be kind to ourselves for our own sake is reason enough, but if you’re looking for ways to turn down the automatic judgemental thoughts we all get, build up your self compassion. Look at what you say to yourself around those topics you’re so judgemental of.
I used to be really judgemental of other people, other women specifically. I was judged their life choices. I judged what they chose to wear, or what makeup they liked. I judged how they managed their lives.
But as I’ve become much more compassionate with myself, and let myself realize that I have a full spectrum of life choices, none of which would make me less of a woman, I’ve been able to give those other women a break.
As I’ve gone from wearing makeup every day, to barely wearing it, and everything in-between, I just am happy another woman has something in her life to give her that boost.
As I’ve found myself time and again just doing the best I can on the daily through various life challenges, I’ve realized that other women are in that same, sticky, messy space.
The roots we develop in self compassion sprout into compassion for others.
So if you don’t know where to start, just start with paying attention.
The rest will follow.
Megan is a writer and creator from Wallingford, CT. She is passionate about empowering women to step into the full power and identity they were created to embrace and claim.