Be Inspired

Have you ever participated in one of those feel good groups where everyone goes around at the end and shares a word that summarizes how they are feeling post discussion? Well I have joined plenty of these “inspirational” endeavors, and along with the rest of herd, come up with my word, which is often a somewhat forced and made up last minute under pressure declaration, than it is truly a summary of what my experience was. I often feel like the outcast during “circle time,” you know exactly what I’m talking about, the tone is set, the mood is intense, the purpose is clear, which is to state the profound impact this has had on you. While it is true that often I have learned a thing or two and maybe even had an aha moment, I am rarely the girl in the circle with tears rolling down expressing how awe-inspiring this workshop was… it’s just not in my makeup. Nor do I feign interest very well as the rest of the group shares their oohs and awes….

Inspire has always been a word that I have coveted, quite literally. I connect with the word and what it implies and how I feel it compels me to be and do. In much of my education experience however I came to somewhat despise that word, feeling like it was overused, misunderstood and even abused! So I cut it out of my vocabulary for a while, to make a statement… kind of like love… “I love chocolate,” “I love grapes,” “I love puppies,” “I love this book,” “don’t you love this blouse?” These are the phrases that make me sick to my stomach when I hear them tossed around so lightly and without true intension.

To inspire, is to elicit movement, to arouse passion, to stimulate drive, to encourage, to challenge, to stir one to be more than what they are at present. So when some self-help junkie uses it to disclose how she felt during circle time, I find it somewhat offensive. The truth of the matter is that to be truly inspired is a personal experience, and not one that someone else needs to understand… therefore I would like to try to withhold judgment, however I stand by my belief that this notion should not be taken lightly. We all seek inspiration in unique ways and what speaks to one is different than another. The main objective here is to seek out a way to be not only inspired in theory, but also in action.

This morning I was at the gym working out on the rolling staircase, my nemesis and best friend rolled into one. I was reading my current autobiography by Susannah Cahalan, entitled Brain on Fire, as I have most days for the past few weeks… only this time I found myself feeling, wait for it; inspired. I won’t ruin the book for anyone who wants to read it themselves, but I will say that what this girl went through and how she came out the other side of her experience is nothing short of awe-inspiring. The kind of inspiring that elicits movement and arouses passion and stimulates drive and challenges one to hold on, fight hard, and transcend pretty much anything.

To be quite blunt and share my genuine interest, the point here is to challenge you to seek out something to be inspired by. If you find yourself without inspiration at present, then start searching, and keep searching until you bump into it, or create it yourself. Sometimes inspiration involves digging deep within yourself and whole-heartedly recognizing the strength you had within all along and how awe-inspiring that can be all on its own. Sometimes we have to reach out, claw, scrape, scratch, dig, juggle, and fumble… because sometimes you have to fall before you reach up or reach out. And “sometimes, just when we need them, life wraps metaphors up in little bows for us. When you think all is lost, the things you need the most return unexpectedly.” (Cahalan, 2012) Sometimes you have to realize you’re lacking motivation or disconnected from your purpose before you find something you value holding onto or are passionate about.

The notion that life will be simple, uncomplicated or filled with happiness without blemish or doubt is complete and utter bullshit- pardon my exuberance, but it is true! It simply does not exist, not for long anyway. At some point, the tide changes, the wind shifts, the sun goes behind a cloud, the thunder rolls and even the ground beneath your feet crumbles away and it’s in that moment, that you realize your own capacity to dig deep and power through, or fold and give up. In those moments is when we need inspiration most. Something to give us hope that we’ll come out the other side, at some point, even if it’s not today or tomorrow and even if we don’t know when.

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To my mini inspiration

Hope can keep us hanging on a lot longer than any one of us think, but we don’t even have the chance to know that if we haven’t experienced a period of time, even a day or an hour, where we weren’t certain of the outcome, or felt we weren’t in control.

So today, I’m challenging all of us to look within and look around… find something that inspires you, even if it’s just for this moment, and relish in it. I’ll end with one of my very favorite quotes from Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Confessions of a Psycho Therapist

I came home today after a long day of working with couples and individuals, mind filled with thoughts swirling around like clouds in the sky. I often find myself processing through the issues and symptoms presented throughout the day and going over how I could best benefit someone seeking insight on their struggles. The truth of the matter is that some days that is far easier than others.

I came to the realization a long time ago that I work from two places simultaneously, both from my education and from my own personal experience. It is from that place of personal experience that I was processing today, particularly after a conversation gone awry with my husband, partner and friend. So I sat down to write him a letter, as I often do, a way to express myself more openly and thoughtfully, given a little time and perspective.

As I was writing I could not help but think about my experience providing couples therapy and the impact that has on my relationships and the universality of challenges within long-term committed relationships, particularly with that of communication. So in an attempt at vulnerability and authenticity, I share my letter, in hopes to break any false belief of my own lack of relationship struggles and in a true desire to break the silence on interpersonal struggles to connect- a truly universal battle.

My love, I found myself wishing that I could say a hundred different things at the same time tonight as we talked. Such a challenge for me to dig down and share what my heart wants and not just get lost in jargon or intellectual banter… An equal challenge to be vulnerable enough to express a hurt and not simply mask it with anger.

What my heart wanted to say to you is that I want and need to know you more. That I want for you to feel comfortable being yourself around me. And by that I mean enough comfort that you can be not only who you are as you see yourself, but that you could share how you feel about that and know that I care. Sometimes I struggle to listen and really just listen, without judgment or my own assumptive interpretations of your intent, but I need you to know that I am aware of that and am seeking to make a change.

My heart needs for you to know that I want for you to be able to crave adventure and passion in your life and to invite me to join you in that… and I so desperately need for you to find stamina and strength to keep inviting me, even urging me to join you… until I give in- despite my ingrained nature to protest anything not already on my list or pre-planned or prepared for. This is not an obligation nor an intended guilt trip, but more of my pleading with you to engage me, because my heart needs to be engaged. That is not likely what you heard tonight, due to the thick top layer of frustration and anger that spoke so loudly.

My heart wanted to express to you that I want to grow and change to become a more refined version of myself and that I want to inspire you to want to be everything that you are capable of being- not because of a sense of obligation or guilt but because you could not imagine any other way of living. That anything else would be feel stale or stagnant, without life.

I need for it to be tolerable, even acceptable, that I want more from life. That growth and change are on my radar and a strong passion of mine. I crave inspiration and vision, and without a goal to work toward I wander aimlessly and feel empty, without cause. I need to be able to invite you to join me on a quest for creative living and continued learning and the inherent adaptation that comes with intentional living beyond survival… I need to be reaching toward something more, thriving on some level- even if I don’t ever “arrive”.

My heart wanted to share that I am forever sorry for any time that I have made you feel like you were not worthy of love or that who you are is not enough -as is- because that could not be further from my belief of you. I see so much strength and ability and stamina in you, and that is why I challenge or encourage or “nag” for more of you… but that is not an excuse for those times that what I have conveyed instead, was that you were not enough. You are enough.

I whole-heartedly believe that I was born with some set of unrealistic expectations that would forever be rising and never be met… even by myself, let alone anyone else. For this my heart wants to express regret, for how I have allowed my crazy to negatively impact you, and us, and many others if I’m honest. Sometimes the glaring reality of ones own action’s consequences is necessary for honest perspective.

My heart needs to be known more than anything. It needs validation and affirmation and it needs encouragement to keep at it… and while I desperately need solo time to recharge, fuel and connect with my own sense of purpose, I could not survive without connection to you- another human being to know and be known by. Without this I would wither and die.

Forgive me for not being better at openly expressing from my heart, more often. It is not for lack of desire. I see relationships at their darkest and bleakest moments and at times, I am blessed to sit with a couple week after week, to duke it out, to work hard, to create change, to grow and to find connection where there was loneliness… it is both humbling, perspective giving and awe inspiring. Please know that I will continue to try to be here, and present, to share my heart, and to listen whole-heartedly to yours each and every day, full well knowing that this requires effort and passionate stamina and is not for the faint of heart.

Sincerely, your wife, partner and friend~