Move your mind, Move your body, Move your soul.
In the last two weeks, I have witnessed people at work "calling out" the facial expressions they see their colleagues wearing.
"Look at your face, Pam!" my new boss said to my colleague, "I promise, this is actually going to be fun."
I wasn't sure what she meant. Pam asks really good questions and she looked, to me, like she was thinking & processing what my new boss had just said.
It is not just her. On multiple occasions lately, I have heard:
"I can tell by Janet's face that she doesn't want to talk about it."
"What do you know? I can tell you know something."
"If you are ever feeling like you need a laugh in a meeting, pan your camera to Amanda's face."
It is not funny.
Some might say that these are harmless comments, bringing some levity to a heavy business conversation. But when I talked to those who were "called out" - for their faces, no less - what they heard was questioning their competency, their interest, their dedication, their self-awareness.
They heard: You're negative/pessimistic. You're not on board. You're not trustworthy.
What may have been presented as a joke really isn't funny at all. It also is not accurate.
It is not True.
There have been many studies and articles discounting this practice. Two were recently published this spring as some companies are attempting to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify emotions based on facial characteristics.
The long and short of it is: emotions (which are varied and not sufficiently understood) can be expressed in all sorts of different ways. Expressions can be informed by social and cultural norms.
The Atlantic article notes that the assumption that we can "read" others' faces for emotion is biased, often upholding the systemic oppression of BIPOC, women, and other communities. Black people are deemed angrier, for example, or certain people are happier than others.
All this to say, it feels as if it's become the new "Smile, honey" and I'm not up for it.
I am grinning that my title for this is "Teen Life", like the old magazines of my youth - Teen Bop! etc. Not quite sure how to wrap words around it, so "Teen Life" it is.
I have always felt pride in the fact that I haven't really be-moaned the passing of time. I have made every effort to be present with my kids in their lives and to take each phase in stride.
I haven't wished moments away or tried to "stop time" or any of that. I welcomed in each new year and said good bye to the old. Well-meaning parents note that once they go to college I might feel different, or once the youngest is gone, or or or. They may be right. But I haven't felt that pang of loss until recently.
I've worked from home since before it was cool (and before COVID made it mandatory). I have loved being here to greet them off the bus, to be the one who is able to make all the sporting events, the one who can drive the friends around. The one who is here to hear about their day as they grab the after school snack.
The COVID-year changed things, of course, and there were plenty of moments when I wanted to be alone, when I struggled with meetings while "home-schooling", when it was too loud and there were so many emotions (from all of us). Moments when I just wanted to be alone.
And now that my kids are all vaccinated and they are going back into the world - and it's summer, which means no school structure -- well, I'm feeling it, parents. I'm feeling like all of a sudden, they have left me alone.
They are in and out in scattered timelines. I don't always hear about their days. I don't hear what's going on with friends. It does seem like just yesterday that I knew when they last ate, pooped, had class, saw a friend, etc. I used to go on their playdates with them, for goodness sake.
And now - they are all just-- OFF. In a million directions.
I almost feel silly or stupid writing these words for all to see. Like OF COURSE they are off. One is almost 18, another 15, and the youngest 13. Their jobs, friends, phones are much more exciting than I am. Their friends encircle them with warmth and acceptance. It is age appropriate. I am grateful that they have strong friendships and are having fun after this past sh*t year.
I want to make these summer memories and they don't have any interest. The swims at the river - I head down alone. "Want to go to the beach?" "Not really." I ask what they DO want to do and it's see the same movies at the same theater with their friends. Go biking. Do henna. But not with mom. So I go to the river. I bought myself a mountain bike. I go to the beach. I'm still here when they get home in the hopes they will tell me about their day.
I am glimpsing it though. The fact that it goes by so incredibly fast. And it's a daily reminder to cherish it all.
I use the word "story" a lot. I think about the stories I tell myself. I recognize in others- the stories they tell themselves. I see identity as story. I see perception as story.
The other day, I also saw forgiveness as story - or... the releasing of a story.
We can get trapped (or liberated) by the stories we tell.
I know that the stories I most want to hear are the most vulnerable. The one's where I marvel and say/think "Wow. How did s/he/they handle that? How is s/he/they do brave to say the words out loud?"
I strive to be vulnerable myself. And man, it is scary! When I think about what holds me back from sharing my story - it is other people's feelings. I am so worried about hurting others' feelings.
And I think this is why my most recent story is the one that needs telling the most. Because in the midst of it, I was accused/called out for "not caring" about someone else when I was voicing my truth (my story, my reality). My story was minimized, gaslit, and misunderstood.
So today, I am writing that story, because I believe that writing can be healing. And I so want to heal. I want to release my fear of hurting others. My fear that being myself will hurt others.
I saw a quote of Pema's today (I say "Pema", like we are on a first name basis). It was about the open-endedness of life.
Sometimes, when we are in the very thick of it all, it's easy to forget that life is open-ended. At least, for me. When I am feeling agitated or worried or anxious, my whole world gets very, very small and specific. That conversation, This job, This phase of life, This year, That exchange.
I am worried these days about my J-O-B. I have never been a part of a reduction in force, and I might be. We are going through an aquisition/ trnsition and I'm not sure where I will land. I am reminded to Trust that anything not aligned with my highest and best will fall away. It's hard though. It's hard to Trust that. Trust is hard in general.
The truth is, we don't have control over what happens. We have control over our energy and harnessing it in the direction(s) we choose. We have control over our focus and our attention.
Full Moon in Scorpio this past Monday. And holy hell! Anyone else?!?!
The last couple of weeks have been full of ups-and-downs. My kids are clearly teenagers now. We are talking about all sorts of taboo subjects! This has always been one of my favorite things - and yet, now - I worry that my words don't suffice. Growing up is hard. This world we live in is hard.
My daily walks help. Having access to nature helps, too.
What's helping YOU these days?
I feel called to share that I am fucking TIRED of all the ascension condescension.
All of these enlightened folks who are superior, clearly awakened, and know more than anyone (who disagrees with them). PLEASE. STOP. Go back to your books, to your Akashic Records, to your past lives and listen in to the Source. Love, compassion.
Over the last 6 months, I have blogged multiple times about re-writing our stories. My most recent re-write (before this week) was around rejection. Changing my story around to be unconditional-love-centric.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw this video by Sonya Renee Taylor (love her).
She talks in the video about how we sometimes have these old stories that continue to block us from living our lives.
And then, the Marianne Williamson podcast crossed my path. Her most recent episode with Gabor Mate (love him).
I do believe that we draw in what we need to hear at the moment. We call in the messages we seek. Dr. Mate talked about, among other things, how our society is constantly looking for distraction, and for external forces to heal and internal “hole.” The hole in the context of this conversation was around trauma.
These elements, both listenings are integrating in me today. Because the story that I began to pull apart yesterday – th story that needs to be re-written for me – is around money.
The money thing has a long history for me. It started before me and before my parents. It started with poverty, with “outsider-ship” of non-english speaking immigrants. My father was the first in his family to go to college.
My parents struggled financially when they were young. My dad over-worked himself, often working 6 ½ days a week – my whole life. My parents did not talk about money when the kids were around. I’m not sure they talked about money when we weren’t around.
So since we didn’t talk about money, I didn’t learn about money from my parents. My parents taught me two things: 1. don't spend, and 2. save. Spending money definitely had shame and judgment attached. Spend on “smart” things, save for retirement, etc.
The Old Stories
I have stories that my parents think that I mis-manage money. That I don’t make enough, that I don’t know how to manage money. That I make bad decisions with my money.
Money is tied to my job, to my chosen profession. So I also have some stories around how I make money and whether or not that is “good” or “bad.” I receive messages from my family of origin that my profession is “bad” and that they would never work where I work. I carry guilt around the amount of money that I make for doing the work that I do.
I have a limiting belief that I could never make enough money doing what I love. I proved myself right when I owned a yoga studio for three years. A decision that I am still paying off, three years after we closed.
I hold stories about wealthy people that are negative, and yet – I want to be a wealthy person.
As I write these words, I realize there is so much to say here. So much unravelling to do. Sonya likened this to moving boxes in the closet. There are a lot of boxes to move.
Money Does Not Equal Worth
My money story is also very tightly wound with my worthiness story. Am I worth investing in? Is this a "pipe dream"? Do I deserve new pants- or do I only deserve them once I lose 5 pounds? Is my work “worth” this paycheck? Is my contribution valuable? Am I trying to fill a hole with money?
From my parents’ saving lessons, I feel challenged when I spend money. But is there more to it? I am scared there won’t be enough money. I worry that I will mis-manage and not have enough to pay the bills. So there is a security/safety thing for me. If I have money I won’t be homeless and on the street. I will be accepted. I will be able to participate in life.
I went through all of the places (there may be more) where I feel my money hackles go up: clothes, education, luxury/vacation/rest, bill paying, saving, retirement.
I asked myself, Why?
I am going to practice going point-by-point. Is this the “right way”? No idea.
Do you have a story around money that needs re-writing?
There is a hilarious song running through my mind right now called "I've got hurt feelings" by Flight of the Conchords.
This is likely self-protection. Well, I'm going to get into it anyhow. Because I know I have to get. it. out.
My mom and I have had a challenging relationship over the years. It has gotten leaps and bounds better. And yet, sometimes she still really knows how to push my hurt button.
So yesterday, she felt called :) to tell me she thinks I should get trained in Functional Medicine. I took it as a compliment that she thinks I am a healer. So I hold that in my heart.
I expressed my true desire - to be a writer. To write books by the ocean, to make my money from writing and helping people heal.
She laughed. And then she said something about "Good luck getting that in your Santa Claus world!" And then she quickly switched to talking about something she is wishing for and how she basically shut herself down from that wish, realizing that she would have to work hard to get what she wished for. That wishes don't just happen.
When I first wrote the above paragraph, I wrote "She laughed at me." Because that is what it felt like. It felt like she was laughing at my dream. And shit! That hurts.
I spent much of the afternoon reminding myself that people respond to us in ways that they respond to themselves - which was so clearly the situation here. I also reminded myself that she is in her phases of healing too, and that the conversation wasn't all bad. Basically, I was trying to convince myself that I wasn't feeling hurt. Or that I didn't deserve/have the right to feel negatively about the interaction.
But it DID hurt. And it made me so freakin' angry. Because how DARE SHE squash my dreams down like that? Even at my age of 43.
Phew. Big audible exhale on that one.
Readers: Don't let anyone tell you you can't do something. They are only talking to themselves.
You know when you hear something in a new way? Or in an old way but you finally actually HEAR it? This "a-ha!" moment hit me right between the eyes the other day when I heard the term: "Trauma Re-enactment"
Perhaps it was because of a culmination of conversations, thoughts + activities. A friend was reeling from an old rejection story. I began to look at my own rejection story and to see the patterns and spider webs that cascaded from that story.
Was I continuing to seek out rejection? Creating the pattern again and again?
I realized - BAM - that the rejection story is not my story any more. I have found an incredible circle of friends. I have people who care about me, who reach out to say hello. I have created some beautiful relationships. I have tested being vulnerable and have opened my heart in a new way.
So I burned that old story. I wrote all the stories of rejection down - and then I burned them in the fire. Finally ready to let them go.
Then, I took out my pen and journal and I wrote a new story. A story of unconditional love and care. A story of resilience and not being loved "in spite of" who I am. But having that love ALL that I am. Coursing through all the parts that I thought were still broken, when of course - they never were. That's ridiculous.
I know that life - and healing - is like a spiral. I know we come back around and around to similar stories and we have a new lens each time. I hope for my soul's sake, that I am getting closer to the full love of myself.
You gotta feel it to heal it.