Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The thing about being thankful...

The thing about being thankful is that I am... from my Soapbox on the new Soapbox Therapy Website...

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Love love love,

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The thing about feelings...

The thing about feelings is that all they want is to be felt. They want to do their job…is that too much to ask? Well apparently, yes it is. We all have feelings, it’s part of the deal… but if we’re not huge fans of those feelings then we work overtime to pile on supposed to and if only I and I should or I shouldn’t until all we have is a big confusing mass of what used to be feelings, but now has mutated into judgment like nobody’s business. Awesome.

We’re pros at not feeling our feelings. We get dumped and through our tears we say, “I don’t care, whatever” Um, are you kidding me? We have so much shame and guilt attached to our feelings that it makes me, well, feel a little bummed.

It’s as if feeling hurt all of the sudden means you’re weak, or feeling anxious all of the sudden means you’re obsessive. Somehow, at some point, we decided that we need to be blank vessels with no wrinkles or birthmarks or movement or blood or guts or feelings. Just stand still, look pretty, and don’t breathe too hard or your hair will get messed up. Why can’t our feelings be free of judgment, and just move through us and do their job?

Once we’ve buried our feelings under judgment, our newly lowered self esteem becomes the focus. Now our bodies and our minds and our juiciness inside is all confused… because our actual feelings are being ignored like the plague and we can’t stop wondering why we are so ridiculous for feeling anything at all.

Once we give ourselves permission to feel our feelings, the ugly-upsetting-mess of judgment that we’ve gotten ourselves into shifts into a beautiful-perfect-mess of a real live human. The judgment lifts and we can focus on what’s really going on.

No part of me is saying that our feelings are easy to feel. That’s called denial dear. What I’m saying is, dealing with our feelings is hard enough as it is…we are complex and insanely unbelievable creatures and working with and through our feelings is not only deeply important but takes time and energy and love like crazy…judgment in the kind of doses we’re capable of makes that pretty much impossible.

It’s time to release yourself from thinking you should or shouldn’t feel a certain way, it’s time to liberate yourself from being a blank slate and embrace your blood and guts and bona fide human-being-ness. Feeling sad my love? Cry cry and cry more. And a little more. Feeling angry? Scream your amazing lungs out like you own it. Feeling anxious? Invite it in and don’t forget that it belongs to you, you call the shots. Feeling joyful? You’re doing a disservice to the world if you don’t show it all over your gorgeous face.

Now breathe and thank yourself for being alive and feeling every minute of it.

And that’s the thing about feelings.


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Monday, November 9, 2009

The thing about caring what other people think...

The thing about caring what other people think is that it’s OK. Oh, and it’s human and healthy and perfect and reasonable and natural. So there. Really? Yes, really.

But, there’s a catch.

Imagine a unique and gorgeous glass cup. Fragile, fabulous, and full…sometimes. This cup represents how you and others see you-how amazing you believe and know yourself to be-your confidence. Guess who fills that glass? Other people. I know, I’m confusing all of the messages about self esteem you’ve ever gotten… so let’s clear it up and make sense of it all.

Human beings are relational creatures. We need one another. We need to know we’re heard for what we’re saying, seen for who we are, understood for how we feel, praised for being frikin’ amazing. We need to hear it. We need to feel it. We need someone to look at us and touch us in a way that says…I get you. We need to know that others notice us, love us, and are proud of us. It’s part of being human.

That being said my loves, no matter how many compliments you get about your inside, your outside, your talents, your intelligence, and anything and everything in-between....nothing will stay in that glass if there’s no bottom. Ya, that’s the catch…

The only way for everything poured into your inner glass to stay put and fill you up is to create, build, and sustain a strong glass bottom. That bottom darlings, is the love from within.

Some people have such strong bottoms that they hold in love from others for extended periods of time… they stay full all the time. Those people pretty much don’t exist, let’s be honest. Some people have leaks; love from others seeps out and needs to be refilled. Welcome to being mortal. And others really have no bottom to claim, and all the love and approval they receive enters and exits in almost the same moment…and they need more, like now.

When I hear someone say, “I don’t care what people think of me” I get very curious. Curious because in my book, that’s a big bunch of you know what-just not possible. Like I said, caring is part of being human. When people say they don’t care what others think, in my world, it means one of two things….

One. Their glass bottom is so strong in that moment that it’s holding in love and approval to the top. They’re full. They don’t need any more approval at that moment. These times are amazing and beautiful and delicious, but can be rare, so savor every second of it.

Two. Their glass bottom is so deeply fractured that they just keep saying they don’t care what others think with the secret hope that they actually might be able to convince others, and themselves, that it’s true.

Now what? Well, have a little love.

Send love toward yourself, build your glass bottom. Feed yourself with compliments. Tell yourself how damn hot you are and how ridiculously intelligent you are. You know it’s true! And have a little love for others. Everyone needs it. If you have something nice to say, say it. Do your best to be patient with those who need a more constant stream- they have their reasons.

All of us want to be filled and feel fulfilled…we need each others help. Go ahead my darlings, care what people think…just be mindful of the leaks.

And that’s the thing about caring what other people think


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The thing about dance...

Neither pop culture nor day to day life has been the focus of SoapBox thus far, though both delicious topics full of fabulousness. Themes- life themes, have been where it’s at for me. Recently, though, I can’t help but find myself pulled when it comes to dance...both a new and improved pop culture language, and in my world, a metaphor for life. The joy is almost too much to take.

Dance has been in the headlines and all over TV lately. Dance shows and competitions and everything in between. Technique and emotion all wrapped up into 5,000 hours of television that makes your eyes sting and your heart go pitter patter. Good times. Really though, when I see what’s going on-how dance has infiltrated the airwaves- I wonder, are people finally getting the memo?

Movement and flow, change and transformation, rhythm and pace. That’s dance. And that also happens to be life. Are we finally opening up to the fact that our minds and our bodies are connected? Are we finally, as a culture, embracing the unbelievable machines that our bodies are, and thanking them for being so frikin’ gorgeous and talented and smart and and and? Are we getting there at last?

Granted, the shows are full of people who have danced for years upon years and have strong bodies and technique to prove it. But regardless, it still seems to me that doors are opening for people to finally realize and celebrate this deeply juicy and important metaphor.

The thing about dance is that it’s what we do… it’s all we do. Yes, even you my love, even you. Each moment of this amazing and confusing life is a flow, a back and forth, a breathing deeply, a here and there and everywhere in-between. Every relationship we have is a dance. Some moments are flawless, and others toes are being stepped on at each turn. Some moments we recover quickly, and others, well, we need a minute, or a week, or a year…or 5.

The way we treat ourselves is a dance. Some days we love ourselves, and others we can’t seem to look an inch past our judgments. Every moment is a pull and a push, a lift and a spin. We are left invigorated, dizzy, joyful, backwards. We love at the same time as we hurt, we mourn at the same time as we celebrate, we laugh in the very same moments we cry.

And the music… music speaks to everyone differently. We all speak different languages. It’s part of the deal. It’s what makes us, well, us. Being caring and curious about others is about opening your ears to their music, their rhythms. It’s about opening your heart to understand what they feel, experience how they move and shift, and appreciate how their body responds to the beat.

Sometimes you know the steps, and sometimes you have no clue what you’re doing. Have a love affair with your dance, with your knowing, and with your missteps. I officially give you permission to step on toes, and welcome your toes to be stepped on. I invite you to enjoy the dance… because dancing is what we humans do.

And that’s the thing about dance.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

The thing about our emotions...

Hiya, Brooke.

The Setup: I am the last of 7 children. A VERY long story cut out completely, I want nothing to do with my second oldest brother. I adopted the philosophy several years ago of not keeping people or things in my life that were negative. He didn't make the cut.

While I am perfectly okay with it, and my brother also has done nothing to change the situation, it does occasionally create problems between me and my mom, who I call at least 4 times a week. She'll remind me it's his birthday, or his anniversary. Or his wife's birthday. Or that she's going to a party there. I've tried telling her that I don't need THOSE updates, thank you, she can tell me about anyone or anything else. I live 600 miles away from the rest of the family, so accidental contact isn't really going to be a problem.

Well, that's the background. Now the question. I am terrified that my mom, who is getting up there in years, might one day have to move out of the house we all grew up in, and move in with this brother that I can not stand. She's the type that would rather die in her own bed when that time comes, but I am still worried he might talk her into moving in with him at some point. Then, I would never get to talk to her again. That's my worry.

I want to know how to bring up my concerns to my mom, in a way that gets more of a response than "You're being stupid, I don't want to hear it" from her.

Or, I guess, how can I get over needing an answer to this question without talking to her about it?


Last Child in Stone Ridge.

Dear Stone Ridge,

While I don’t know the “very long story” I can sense from your words how strongly you feel about this situation. Your brother and you are on the outs, with no interest on either side to reconcile… it is what it is. That being said, in order to maintain the relationships you do care about, it’s important to consider some other angles of this story…

So let’s just get right to it…

It’s one thing to be disconnected with your brother and not want him in your life. But you and he have something very much in common. A mother. Just like a divorced couple that has a child. In order to make life for that child the best it can be, some parents will go to the ends of the earth to be cordial and respect one another- for their kid. I think you can learn a lot from this model.

You may not need the updates on your brother and his family. This is true. But what’s also true is that your mom feels a need to give them. It’s her way of showing how bummed she is that you guys aren’t connected. She’s a mother of 7 children…and 2 of her kids don’t speak. I can’t imagine how painful that must be for her to experience. I’m definitely not saying you should reconnect with your brother because your mom is upset, but I do think that her passive messages are something to think about…

Ok…I think you get that part. Next part…

You wrote something very interesting and worth taking a look at. You wrote that if your mom moved in with your brother you would never get to talk to her again. Get? Hm.

Saying that you won’t ever get to talk with your mom again is basically like saying that you don’t have control over the communication, that you don’t have a choice, that someone else will be deciding for you. Totally disempowering darling! When it comes down to it, the only thing you get to do, is decide for yourself. My dear last child in stone ridge, it’s time to take your power back. You’ve given your feelings towards your brother all of the power. You’ve lost yourself in your emotions.

The thing about our emotions is that we own their efforts, their time, their power. They belong to us, and no one else. We call the shots. We get to choose where to spend our emotional energy, and where to conserve. Your anger towards your brother is yours… you get to decide what to do with it. You can let it come between you and your mother, or not.

Taking your power and your emotional energy back may look different to different people… but what I know for sure is what it won’t look like... it won’t look like you on the defense, as if things are being done to you. When you take your emotional energy back, you’ll have the freedom to talk to your mother, no matter where she calls home.

Lastly. You asked if this was something you should talk with your mom about. In my opinion, this is not your mom’s fish to fry. This is a decision that you have to make, because your emotions are yours and yours only. You have a choice regarding how you’re going to handle your anger and dislike towards your brother, and how you are going to make this about you rather than about your mom.

My hope for you Stone Ridge, is that just as you know that not speaking with your brother is your choice. Speaking with your mom is also your choice. You get… to choose.


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The thing about the battle between selfish and selfless...

There’s an interesting little social battle between the words, selfish and selfless. Everyone wants to be called selfless. Supposedly, selfless people are the nice people. God forbid someone calls you selfish, right?

It’s become understood in our society that selfish is the name you get called after a fight, or in the midst of one. And selfless is the name you get called when someone is complimenting your human-hood. I’m not so into these being the only options. It’s like only having the choice of a crappy unhealthy fast food restaurant, and a ridiculously pricey vegan bistro. There can’t be just selfish and selfless. We’re missing a few levels.

I’m in the business of thinking about things, ideas, experiences, emotions, and words. So, here I go, doing my job again. Let’s pick apart selfish and selfless…This is so much fun I can hardly stand it.

OK, Selfish. Self is of course, my favorite part of the word. Hopefully by now you, my loving gorgeous SoapBox readers, know what capital S, Self means. But just in case…Self is all of it, all of you, all of your deliciousness inside, all of the real you, your inner gold and your inner core, all of your million complex parts. Ok, sorry, I get excited about the Self stuff.

And what about this whole ish thing? According to the dictionary “ish” is a suffix used to form adjectives from nouns, with the sense of “belonging to”…

So, selfish means, belonging to your Self. Moving on…

The word selfless really freaks me out. I mean, think about it. Self. Less. Less of yourself. Oye. That’s my most scary thought. Everything I talk about, every passionate moment on my SoapBox is about inviting yourself and your Self in. So, extreme selflessness is on a really scary road towards, well, self-gone.

So, now what? We don’t want to be too selfish, ‘cause we are part of a whole world here. And if we’re too selfless, we begin to lose ourselves. What to do, what to do.

It seems that many peoples cure to selfishness is to become ferociously selfless. And when people are so selfless that they start to lose themselves, they fantasize about doing things only for them, and that’s it. Why either/or? Neither really get me excited.

So, imagine a chart. At the top is Selfish. Then all the way on the other end… Selfless. There is a ton of space in-between, just waiting to be filled with color and texture and balance and the in-between.

There are so many unbelievably important levels of selfishness and selflessness. Surprise…there is healthy selfishness. And there is a reasonable and beautiful level of selflessness.

The thing about the battle between selfish and selfless is that it’s actually not a battle at all…they work best when they work together. I say, invite them both into your world. Let them balance each other out, intertwine, dance. I’m so over the either/or way of living…

Consider rethinking your black and white thinking. The relationship between selfishness and selflessness is such a great example of how life, pretty much all the time, leaves space for color. I call non-black and white thinking, “the color” rather than “the gray area” …and one day I’ll tell you why. But for now, just live in the rainbow. Go with it, invite it all in.

Be selfish sometimes…after all, you do belong to yourself in so many beautiful ways. And, of course, you want to prepare your strong fabulous self to be selfless sometimes…because after all, losing yourself in service and love for others feels pretty damn good.

And that’s the thing about the battle between selfish and selfless…


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The thing about restructuring...

Have you read those books about dreams…the ones that tell you, when your dream has to do with you being naked it’s a sure sign anxiety dream…and so on? Sometimes those books hit the nail on the head, they give that ah-ha moment we all want when we wake up wondering, “Whoa, what was that all about?” But by far my favorite dream “symbol” … a house.

The house represents, well, our home. And if you’ve been reading SoapBox like I know you have, you know that according to me, our real home isn’t actually the house we live in, it’s our bodies and our selves… it’s our gorgeous fabulous juicy unbelievable sparkling selves to be exact… and our emotions, experiences, stories, pasts, and everything in between.

Just like a in a house, we have emotional upkeep. But when we begin to notice changes we need to make in our lives, habits we want to break, reality we want to face, and shifts we want to make… it’s kinda’ like restructuring an already built home. Which is a ridiculous amount of work.

We often just paint, patch, seal, and cover up. The task of fixing the crack in the foundation is often too difficult to bare. So we leave it. And we build on top of it. We decorate. We accessorize. We even invite others in, we entertain, and we build relationships under our roof. All the while, there are cracks beneath our well intentioned feet…

It’s not like the cracks aren’t workable, fixable if you will. But we have to be willing to do the work. Covering it up only lasts so long. This is why reaching out, asking for help, or going to therapy is so hard…and so amazing. Because therapy, for example, asks you to do the housework you’ve been putting off for as long as you can remember. It asks you to go to the ground floor, way back when your inner self was being built, to find where it’s all coming from.

The thing about restructuring is that it’s challenging-for sure, but if you don’t do it, things can begin to fall apart in front of your pretty little face. One of the hardest things to do in life is admit that there’s an issue beneath it all, admit that change needs to happen… or consider that the way you've been doing things aint working. Money, relationships, career... no one wants to scream from the rooftops... "I’ve been going about this all wrong!"

The first step. Come clean. Admit that there may be a crack in the foundation, in the structure of things. Admit that your behaviors aren’t bringing your most authentic self to the table.

Breaking down walls is no easy feat. You built those walls around you, over you and under you for a reason damn it! To keep yourself and everyone else from knowing your stuff. Sometimes the issues lie so deeply that we need someone to help us scoop them out. And that is the most OK thing ever. Beautiful.

So, moral of the story… if you have a dream about a house-any house. It’s really about you my love. Restructuring is hard and ugly sometimes but so worth it. And reaching out and asking for help. Delicious.

And that’s the thing about restructuring.