Thanks


I thank Mother Earth and Father Sky for this beautiful spring snow. Moisture that will help protect us from fires, nourish our plants and soon-to-be-birthed summer wildflowers. I offer my gratitude for the snowflakes who will lose their singleness to the life-giving waters of the streams and lakes that surround us. I give thanks to the trees, providing shelter and warmth to the birds and animals. I dance with joy and thanks for the beauty of the Earth.

The devil in me

When I can only access the lower, insecure self, I feel like life is a game I don’t know how to play. The rules are written in an unknown language. Maybe that’s the devil in me.

When I’m allowing my Higher Self to come through, I can see that I only have to follow Mother Earth’s guidance- surrender to the flow of life, be kind to all living beings, stand tall and true like the trees. Then there’s freedom. Maybe that’s the god in me.

The Land of In-Between

Here on Earth, we wander in the Land of In-Between. Between Mother Nature and Father Sky, soil and stars, between joy and pain. I think this is really what was meant when people first spoke of purgatory, the space between joy and pain, but Catholics made it something else. Something “bad”, that’s really not bad at all. It’s a land of growth. One where we will all surely make mistakes. Suffer. Cry new rivers. A Sacred Beauty, really. As I type those words, I can’t help but think of the passing of my older sister passing away from cancer at 36. My family was gathered around her. The experience brought us to our knees. As my teacher said, the “sacred is whatever brings you to your knees.” My sister went Somewhere Else. Her body in the ground, and her spirit, I believe, to the Heavens. Wind, the Great Connector, connecting us to all worlds, Mother Nature and Father Sky, all living being and all beings who ever lived.

Normalizing Rain

Rain.
One of Mother Nature’s greatest gifts. Earth’s life flowing. The source of our food and spring flowers. A gift we often complain about. We stay inside and close the shades.

Tears.
One of greatest gifts. A release of emotions, born to flow. Forthcoming gratitude and growth. This rain to is often shunned. We turn away and choke back the rising energy in our throats. Shunned.

For as long as humans suppress their tears I fear that Mother Earth will suppress her rain, leaving all of us to burn.

Where I live in Northern Colorado, our relationship to rain is changing. With wildfires now a yearly occurrence that has no seasonal bounds, many of us now praise the late spring snow and perform rain dances weekly in each of the other seasons.

All of us have stopped in pure awe of a miraculous mid-summer rainbow, born only after a late afternoon thunderstorm. “Let if fucking rain” we all scream, curse, and pray simultaneously.

I wonder too…what would happen if we started to praise our own tears? Thank them for their magical healing powers. Let them just flow…I wonder what type of rainbows humans could create.

Driving to the canyons of southern Utah a few weeks ago, I came into awareness of how many times I had felt my throat tighten over the past few months. The energy it took to dam those tears up. The damage it cost me to dam them. Now when I start to feel my throat tighten and the energy start to rise, I consciously remind myself to surrender to my emotions and let the tears happen. There’s nothing to be ashamed about by my big emotions. When I limit my emotions, I limit myself. And I want to. be. free. expansive. serene.

A list of my rain in the past week…

-Leaving my dog when I left for a trip.
-Searching my sister’s Spotify for a workout playlist and finding one for my (grad school) graduation in 2019.
-Missing my older sister, and knowing my Mom was without a daughter on Mother’s Day.
-Accepting (grieving) my Achilles injury may never go away AND all the times I ran through the pain.
-Learning about a friend who lost her dog.
– Watching a close high school friend get married, then watching her dance with her unabashedly joyous dad, the dad who at one time expressed displeasure when she came out as gay.
-Realizing my shame and fear could be the end a relationship that never had the chance to flourish.
-Saying goodbye to my parents before I returned home to Colorado.
-Giving space for my voice during my therapy session.

My tears are what happen between the joy and pain of life. Between Sky and Earth. They let me know I’m alive.

I want to fucking live. So I let it rain.

The Canyons’ Call

The canyons called.
Feeling the hurt in her heart and the noise in her head,
They said “Come. We will hold you. We will take your pain and transform it.”

Between canyon walls, she exhaled.
She wept, she became present with her soul.
Aware of her humanness.
Aware of her Divine.

Above the canyon walls, she inhaled in Life.
Breathing, she sent her spirit to the world.

To be human is to be trapped between the walls of pain and beauty.
To be a spiritual being is to embrace and stand tall between them.

And so, she left the canyon with dusty, tear stained cheeks. Changed.

Cracked open.
Broken open.
Free.



Mountain of the Misfits: The Adventure of Not Fitting In

“We’re a couple of misfits
We’re a couple of misfits
What’s the matter with misfits
That’s where we fit in!
….
We may be different from the rest
Who decides the test
Of what is really best?
We’re a couple of misfits
We’re a couple of misfits
What’s the matter with misfits
That’s where we fit in!”

-“We’re a Couple of Misfits”, Burl Ives (from The Island of Misfit Toys)

[Note: When I talk about fitting in vs. belonging, I’m often going off Brene Browns work. To paraphrase in my own words, fitting in is needing to change who you are, or making yourself a certain way, to fit into a group. Belonging is being accepted for exactly who you are, free to be your true, authentic self. Often when working with younger clients, I see the need to fit in as something negative. As an adult who can choose to only surround myself by people who accept me for who I am, I wonder if fitting in has value…for example, we choose different groups to hang out with based on interest, hobbies, etc. If we’re a bowler hanging out with a bunch of skiers, I may belong but not fit in.]

For most people, the affirmation “I am enough” is empowering.

The opposite is true for me. I have always been…

Nice, enough.
Pretty, enough.
Athletic, enough.
Smart, enough.

Enough to get by.

Nice and pretty enough to make it through the high school cliques and college clubs. Nice, pretty, smart, and athletic enough not get bullied and move around different groups, without fitting in to any. Depending how much energy I had, I could hide behind athletic gear or school books to stay out of the way or present to the world a facade of looking like I fit in.

I never did.

That’s not to say I never belonged. I have a group of 5 friends from high school (some from elementary school) that I still see at least once a year. While they may still good-naturedly make fun of me and my lack of millennial technological abilities, they have always fully appreciated me for my oddities.

In my late 20s, I joined an intimate group…a cohort of graduate students training to be wilderness therapists. As we were becoming helpers an healers, our program required each of us to go deep inside of ourselves and share our vulnerabilities in the heart of Mother Nature, the one place I have always felt I belonged. My cohort was patient with me. It took me nearly 2 years and weeks of backcountry travel (hiking, climbing, paddling), but eventually I felt like I was part of the group, part of the Whole.

In my 30s, I realized some people appreciated me fore my eccentricities, I think because it allowed them to be more themself too, and it helped me embrace them.

Still, I felt trapped between two worlds…or perhaps, a world I never belonged to.

“If you feel like you don’t fit into the world you inherited it is because you were born to help create a new one.” – Ross Caligiuri

*To be clear, I will admit that part of my current personal work is looking at how I create more distance by the story I tell myself of how or why I don’t fit in and realizing that the distance is a protection/defense mechanism.

The other weekend, I texted a friend: “I’ve told myself I belong 50+ times this weekend so far. Eventually it has to work, right?” (It wan’t even 8am Saturday morning).

He reaffirmed that I was not the ugly duckling, that I did belong, but I misread the rest and somehow came up with the message I needed to hear: You’re right, you don’t fit in.

And that felt good. Right. Comforting.

I don’t fit in, so there is no point into putting my energy into trying.

I don’t have a community like a friend said he finds in the ultra-running world. If I do have a community, its simply of all the other misfits.

Thinking about it more, I don’t know if there’s any other group I would want to fit in with. Fitting in with the misfits. The others who are just themselves.

We might be widespread. Or you might be reading my words. (I’m guessing most people have felt like a misfit at least a few times in their life). Know that I am grateful for you. You help me feel less alone.

In the meantime, I’ve got a wonderful small group of friends and family who love and accept me for exactly who I am. I have a friend who gets my empathic and spiritual side who I can explore big questions with. A friend who has had the patience to learn and understand how my mind works so I don’t have to apologize or explain myself when I’m off on another tangent.* A friend who is gay and non-binary who probably know what I feels like to be an outsider more than I ever will, and has shown me some of the most beautiful, free love I’ve known in this life. A twin sister who is way cooler than I am, but has and always will make sure I don’t feel too left out. Plus a dog who is just an extension of myself (well, maybe she’s my alter ego), who’s shown me unconditional love from day one.

*How many tangents have you counted in this post so far?!

I’m hopeful I’ll get there one day too. A place of more than enough. Or perhaps simply enough for me. Acceptance. Self-love.

On a deep level, when I can access and step into my Higher Self, I know I’m exactly where I am supposed to be and who I am supposed to be. While I may be “me”, the notion that I am separate is a falsity, and one that I’ve seen cause dis-ease in a lot of people, maybe the world. Stepping back into connection with Nature has been the easy part for me. I’ve never felt anything accepted in Her arms and don’t take it personally when I get rained on. Stepping back into connection with myself is an active journey, but I’m on my way. As long as I’m not comparing myself to others (comparison: a fear that tells me “I’m not good enough”) I genuinely like myself…most of the time. Re-connecting with others has been harder, I think because of that fear. Realizing that other humans are an extension of the Whole, the Whole that I am also an extension of, offers me and them a little more grace and compassion.

…And here is the introvert part of me that hates small talk and prefers to ponder and dwell in big ideas. 😉

“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.” 
― Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

Big World

Little ity, bity me. Big, big world. 

Somehow comforting.

My introversion: In cities, at parties, I feel lost.

My extroversion: In Nature, surrounded by mountains, I feel part of it all. 

My work: To find harmony in each part. 

My gift: To find beauty in each piece. 

My struggle: To find harmony in my own parts and the beauty within me.

My help: Wind, the Great Connector.

My truth: Love is at my core. 

Our truth: Love is at our core.

Illumination

Why is the darkness so enticing? Like the slow curl of an index finger, calling us in. Temporarily, the darkness offers us respite. A cocoon of security. The illusion is of its permanence, but truth in its ease. Perpetual safety that is not living, but a type of death.

It’s trick? Making us deny the wisdom of light. Light takes energy. It is energy. It gives energy. We are all sunshines and solar panels (or plant 🌱). Light has no limits beyond what the mind perceives. The light calls us to grow. It asks us to shine.

Photo cred: Derek Brooks Photography

33

33 and I’ve never felt so free
I’ve got the Earth under my soles
The Sky under my wings.
Life in my veins.

I’m 33
Still young
My sun hasn’t fully reached its peak.

But it’s getting closer
With the breeze I swear I catch the scent of fall.

In my health, I know I could live double, triple 33
66, 99.

I either don’t think I will
Or I don’t want to
Or both
Either ego or a spiritual thing
Again, probably both.

Do I fear Death?
Sometimes
When I’m feeling unsure
Unsure of what’s next
Unsure of myself.

Mostly, I fear living a life unexplored
Mountains
Myself
The stories of others.

I know I can’t explore it all
But in my Heaven
The journey won’t end.

My older sister, she only got 36.
I’ll hug her again
Maybe Pacer won’t bite.
We’ll run and play forever.

Then I come back
To the Here
The Now.

I reassure myself
I am on my path
I feel it mostly in contentment, but also joy
I have explored, learned, and gained so much already
It’s hard to see what lies ahead
Beyond what I create.

And that is enough.

One More Night

One more night at my spot in the clouds.
To read, to write.
To wander, to breathe, to be.
And maybe to cry a little too.
Away from it all…
Or maybe I’m in it all?
Alone with my pup.
Here with the pines.
The flowers and the bees.
The snow melt cascading behind.
Mountains surrounding.
What else more?
More complicated, most likely.
Save for the love of family and friends,
My world needs little else.


Spring: Embracing Change

That is one good thing about this world… there are always sure to be more springs. -L.M. Montgomery

Let me start out by saying that changing, growing, and expanding is hard.  Sometimes really hard.  It can be painful.  (The term “growing pains” is accurate beyond our school-aged growth spurts.)  It’s certainly not always fun.  But the journey is always worthwhile.

When a new client walks into my office at my private practice the first thing I always try to acknowledge is how brave they are.  In a society that values independence and a bootstraps attitude, asking for help takes courage. Additionally, being willing to look at ourselves, our behaviors, and our wounds can be scary and a brave undertaking.  It’s the most beautiful adventure that I have been honored enough to witness in other human beings.  

The season of spring brings change and growth to the forefront, both in nature and inside of us, if we are willing to look.

The older I get, the more I feel the change of each season inside of me.  I also recognize it regularly in my counseling practice. In summer, there’s an internal sensation of energetic being, exploration, and an allowing of the present self.  Fall is often a time when we recognize a time of letting go as well as harvesting our resources as we prepare ourselves for an internal winter.  During the winter months, we switch for a need to reflect, hibernate, and go deeper inside of ourselves.  Winter, as dark and cold as it may be, is usually when I see deeper wounds start to heal. Then out of the darkness comes spring.  A time for new life and new energy, but this path is rarely linear.  There’s usually a movement and release, and then we hit a rock (or a snowstorm) and need to pause and reroute.  This might happen a few times before the growth turns into a blossoming.  

How do we work with the changes, growth spurts, and growing pains of spring?  

We embrace it all. We tend to ourselves as we would tend to a garden.  Knowing that growing isn’t easy, we weed out what no longer serves or nourishes us.  We think of the things we need to support our upward rising.  Is it more connection with friends, a dose of self-compassion, more time outside, or even more time inside?  Acceptance of where we are at in the process is also key.  Some people are more like Pasqueflowers that bloom in early spring.  Others are like Colorado Columbines who need all spring to deepen their roots before they burst into the light of summer.  We don’t judge the flowers for when they bloom, but love them whether we get to see their beauty in April or July.  We must do the same for ourselves. 

Spring Mental Health Practices

Yourself as Garden

Similar to the above process, imagine your internal journey as a garden.  What are you growing?  Does it need some more time safe from the elements in a greenhouse, or is it ready for exposure and testing outside?  What are the potential blocks to growth?  Is there anything that needs weeding out?  What nutrients (positive care) do you need to support your growth?

If You Were a Tree (or Flower)

If you were a tree, what type of tree would you be.  Why?  What characteristics of the tree do you possess?  What characteristics would you like to possess?  

Adding Intention

As the weather (slowly) starts to warm, you may be naturally finding yourself outside more, going for hikes, sipping your morning coffee on your deck, taking your dog for walks more often.  Is there a way you could make these acts a little more meaningful?  For example, is your morning coffee now a way to greet a new day?  Your hike a time to connect with the earth?  Or your dog walk a time to let go of the stressors of the day and find freedom in your movement?  A little bit of intention can go a long way.