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.


Please send your questions to soapboxtherapy@gmail.com! Your identity will always be kept private.

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.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

The thing about red flags...

Dear Brooke,

I am feeling conflicted about several aspects of my relationship. I met my boyfriend a year and a half ago. Neither of us has had prior marriages and neither have children. He is 39 and I am 32. When we first met, he informed me that he "wasn’t sure about getting married and was probably too old for children". I made it pretty clear to him that there wouldn't be a second or third date because I do want to find my life partner and have children. He backed off and said that if he connected with the right person, it could be an option. Hello red flag...if it aint a burning desire and a priority in your life than we're not meant to be....I chose to ignore this red flag, and guess what - I'm exactly where one would think I would be - in limbo.

So a year and a half later we're in love, my parents think he's great, I adore his family, we share the same views with regard to religion, politics, finances and enjoy the same activities....problem is....I have a nagging suspicion that his "time clock" doesn't even closely resemble mine...my bigger fear is that I'm with someone who 2-3 years down the road is going to not feel ready to move forward and I’m nervous about waiting until I’m 40 to start having kids.

It’s like he's caught wanting to be a bachelor yet wants to be with me. Another issue compounding my anxiety is that we talk pretty frequently about the future, being married, having kids, where our parents will live when they are too old to live on their own....so I’m hopeful, yet wracked with doubt because his time line seems a little out of whack given our respective ages, not to mention when we do talk about getting married he brings up divorce and me "taking his house and pension".

Of course everyone LOVES to weigh in on this topic. My sister says to just get knocked up, my best friend insists that this is going to end in heartache and to break up with him sooner than later, his mother says wait it out, others say give him an ultimatum. On a side note his father married late in life and didn’t start having kids until he was 40. I’ve tried several different means of communication with varying results....none of which have led to concrete answers. I am clearly not communicating effectively and I need some guidance from you.

Am I wasting my time?

Love in limbo

Dear Limbo love,

There’s so much going on, and I want to support you in figuring out your present situation, But in order to do that, you gotta travel back. Travel back to the day when the red flag was unfolded and strung up to the flagpole for everyone and their mother to see. The day that you, you gorgeous, smart, capable woman… ignored it and ran from it like the frikin’ plague…and agreed to a second date.

As human beings, we never… I mean never… do things that don’t serve us in some way. I know, sounds confusing and a little crazy, but it’s true. We’re always acting on or acting out our issues-- it’s the human condition. We’re incredibly intelligent emotional beings when it comes down to it. We know exactly what to do to get our needs met, even if it means suffering. When kids throw tantrums they’re really saying “see me, hear me, hello I need to be noticed!!” They get their need met. No matter how ugly it looks. So avoiding a red flag, when you seem to know exactly what you want, is a little tantrum of your inner world my love. It happened for a reason…it’s serving you...you’re getting your needs met. Sounds like you have a little addiction to not getting what you want. Un-furrow your brow doll face, I’ll explain…

How is being with someone who may have fundamentally different ideas of what life should look like than you do… serving you? How does not clearly asking for or communicating what you really want…help you? Well, let’s brainstorm some possibilities…

Maybe it’s scary to ask for what you really want because maybe you’ll get it, and maybe you won’t. Maybe you’re scared to actually get what you really want, because it will be so new, you won’t even know what to do with yourself. Maybe you judge yourself for wanting certain things in the first place and that little inner dis-empowering voice yells “hey limbo girl, you are ridiculous and you ask for too much!” Ya, that voice sucks. Maybe you have fear that when and if you actually get what you want, it won’t really be that good anyway and you’ll be disappointed.

Maybe you're addicted to not getting what you want and what you need, so you (unconsciously) seek out relationships that you know you won't get what you need....because you don't know any other way. Think back to some of your other relationships…Hm. Maybe? Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. So many possibilities. The point is…you’re getting something out of this.

The thing about red flags is that we think they say “danger, do not proceed” but when we avoid them and get into sticky relationship situations, those red flags turn into big juicy green flags…leading us into our deepest core issues. Ugh, I know… fun times. Therapists love red flags…it’s like a secret trap door to your inner gold.

As soon as that red flag flew and you agreed to a second date, your inner world knew exactly what it was doing honey. This isn’t about wanting marriage and kids, or an inner clock, or any of those details… I sense that this is about your discomfort around really getting what you want, and your fear of disappointment. Reason I think that… Because it seems like by being with this man, you don’t have to risk your deepest dreams ever being a disappointment, ‘cause they aren’t part of the plan. And no one wants disappointment. It’s one of the worst feelings ever. Ever. So we do whatever we can to avoid it. I don’t know your inner workings love, but it seems to me that asking for what you really want and risking disappointment is scarier for you, than settling for what comes close.

So, now that you are curled in a ball either red with anger or with mascara running down your gorgeous face, let me just say this… That red flag that you are judging yourself for ignoring is turning out to be one of the most amazing opportunities of your life. You get to grow infinitely.

Let’s be clear… I’m not telling you to break up with your boyfriend. I’m saying, begin to ask yourself how being in this relationship is serving you? How is it enabling you to stay in your comfort zone? How is it helping you to not have to take risks you haven’t felt ready to take. Explore your relationship with disappointment. Explore your relationship with joy. And when you’re ready to embrace both of those things, begin to ask…clearly and strongly ask… for what you really want.

Love love loveeeee,

send your questions to Brooke at soapboxtherapy@gmail.com! Your identity will always be kept private.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The thing about reality...

We have this funny on-again off-again relationship with reality. Ya, reality. Reality is lovable and acceptable and attractive when things are happening in a way that pleases us, makes us happy, makes us feel like things are going our way. But when reality isn’t behaving how we wish it would, we fight it, and we fight it until we convince ourselves that we’ve won. But we know better…

The thing about reality is that it always wins. No matter what. Ya, I know, I’m sorry darling. We can’t fight it, though we sure do put forth a ton of effort trying. Think about how much time and energy you’ve put into trying to make a situation that’s happening, not happen-or vice versa. Think about how much emotion you’ve spent on a phone that isn’t ringing… that just isn’t, or a person that isn’t treating you right…they just aren’t, or a credit card bill that just isn’t disappearing…it’s just not. Reality is a bitch sometimes, it’s the truth. But it’s not going anywhere. So, now what?

Now we talk about what happens when we fight reality and how it’s messing us up… and then we come clean so we can move forward, sans the baggage my loves, sans the baggage.

How we fight reality…we go into denial, and we attempt to negotiate a deal that will land us in a better situation. That’s what we do. And props to denial because sometimes it truly does help to keep us safe…safe and sound from facing things that tend to be pretty ugly. Do you really want to face the fact that that person isn’t that into you or that the job you have isn’t your true passion and you’ve known it from the start or that the way you’ve been using and abusing money is sending you into a crappy place but you just keep on going… um, no. No one wants to face that stuff…so denial is there to save the day! Yay! Except…

Except denial is a short term solution. Denial is a trick…it tells us that we’ll feel better, and free, and we won’t have to look at such icky things…good times. But once you inch into denial far enough, you’re further and further from the truth, the authentic reality, so the journey back is that much longer. So, it’s messing us up. Because like I said, reality always wins, and at some point gorgeous, the journey back from the land of denial into reality is going to take place. I know, not what you wanted to hear. But it’s, well, the reality of it.

So, as you sit in front of your computer screen reading these words and you start to wonder, “what am I in denial about?” Then keep going, keep asking, get curious… you’re on the right track, you’re so there. Love it! There is no one to answer to, no one to prove it to, no one to justify yourself to… other than you. So keep going and keep asking and get curious all over again. And then again. And again. Come clean… or at least start the process.

Denial is seductive. It tells us what we want to hear and no matter how strong we are, we succumb to its call. So break it of. Break off the relationship you have with denial. Mourn, cry, be sad… ‘cause every time a relationship ends, no matter how messed up it is, it’s sad. But once you’re ready, take a big deep breath and revisit the on-again off-again relationship you have with reality. And give it another go.

And that’s the thing about reality.