What's In Your Arsenal?

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Shame is a liar. If you know me at all, you know it’s my arch nemesis. I’ve been rallying against it, waving a flag of freedom to anyone who might need it, marching in protest of it, yelling about it and otherwise trying to help people escape it, for years now. (Including myself.)

I. Hate. Shame.

It’s very tricky… shame is incredibly insidious. We shame ourselves without thinking twice about it, without realizing it. We shame others, even when we don’t mean to. It’s happening before we even know it. We get wrapped up in its quicksand vortex and end up paralyzed.

We begin to learn this when we’re very young and it just starts to compound over the years with messages coming at us from every direction. We get the signal that something about us is shameful, even if we have no clue what that is or why we may feel that way. Maybe we don’t want/identify with the script handed to us by life, or perhaps we can’t connect with the world’s narrative or expectations. We start to feel like there’s certainly something wrong or broken about us.

We must be damaged. Unlovable. Unworthy. That’s the lie.

As someone who genuinely believes that shame is the thing holding most of us back, I’m on a mission to root that shit out and chop it off any chance I get.

And the biggest gun in my arsenal, is compassion.

The Latin root of the word compassion is – “pati” (to suffer) and the prefix is “com” (with)

To Suffer With

Compassion is capable of some extremely heavy lifting.  It’s brave. It’s vulnerable. It’s raw. It doesn’t turn away from pain, self-protect, or try to “fix” things. Instead, it decides to feel the pain of shame and call it out into the light. One thing shame can’t live through is being spoken out loud…being exposed. It starts to melt like a vampire in the sun. <That’s an analogy riddled with pain for a reason…this is painful work. (Especially when the person who needs compassion to charge to the rescue is YOUR-OWN-DAMN-SELF.)

Compassion isn’t a relationship between hurt and healer, it’s a relationship between equals. Compassion takes risks…and I LOVE that.

Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun, says, “…Compassion practices daring.”

I, for one, think the world could use more daringly compassionate people.

So tell me, what’s in your arsenal? How do you fight shame?

Love,

Sandeigh

The Truth About Endings

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I’m ready. Finally.

Well, honestly, I’ve been ready for a while. At times wanting to shout some of this from the stage or the top of a skyscraper. But I haven’t. And I realize those of you reading this most likely weren’t waiting with bated breath to hear these things…but I was to say them. I need to say all of this.

The truth about endings is that they’re often incredibly gut wrenching and simultaneously glorious. I’ve experienced a lot of endings in the last several years. Some were by very deliberate choice, and some felt as if there was no alternative in sight for a thousand miles.

One of those things was my marriage.

Let me start this off by making something 100% crystal clear – there was no affair or infidelity. On either side of the equation.

I’ve been waiting to SCREAM that publically for years. While my heart and life were disintegrating, I was standing in my spot on stage at a church where I led worship, Sunday after Sunday, trying to keep my shit together all while hearing rumors and gossip about my own life that was, incidentaly, FAR more wild and interesting than reality. I heard things said about me that broke my heart, made me roll my eyes, and at times actually cracked me up. I wanted to yell from the microphone that the things people were saying were simply NOT the truth. I wanted to defend myself and confront the people spreading lies face to face. It hurt so badly to be misunderstood and misrepresented.

But I didn’t.

I didn’t corner anyone or talk about the pain unless I absolutely had to. Somehow I felt I owed it to everyone else around me to keep it in. I felt I had to try to deflect the chatter, keep my chin up, be strong, and protect them from how I actually felt.

Some of the lies told were told by people who seemingly couldn’t wait to see me fall on my face. For a couple of people in particular, it was as if they had been saving up their best venom for “such a time as this.” As rumors spread, I found myself working harder to stay ahead of the growing tsunami rather than turning to face it. Slowly people at this church who had once embraced me and seemed so happy to encounter me on a Sunday, started to lower their gazes when they passed me on their way to the donuts. People called the pastor to schedule meetings about MY life…how they had heard this or that…didn’t approve…weren’t sure if they could continue attending the church with me leading, ect.

But those people didn’t stop and ask me if I was ok, or how all of it was affecting the kids.

Funny what we can find time for, huh?

The lies and gossip had caused a shift in my relationships with people at the church, in my band, then eventually my businesses. It literally cost us some accounts with people who’d been listening too hard to the clamor as well as others who had been instructed not to use my businesses anymore by people in power.

We stopped being asked to play at different events and I wasn’t being asked to speak or play at women’s gatherings anymore. Eventually I found out just how far the reach of the lies had spread when my then 7 year old daughter was being questioned about my relationships at her elementary school - by adults. Wow.

Why is it that we rejoice when someone else has fallen down sometimes? What’s that about?

Please know, I’m not angry. Truly. I’m not mad at anyone for filling in the blanks…I get it. We’re ALL human and we do and say things sometimes because we don’t see or feel the direct effect of our words. Maybe we don’t think past the conversations we have (or don’t have) to see the ripple effect spreading. This has all been a good reminder to me that those ripples eventually reach the shore, strike something solid and head back to the source with more momentum than they started with. I will forever attempt to be more aware of my own wake.

This wasn’t written in search of condolences or to stir anger. I just wanted to finally say it all out loud. And, to acknowledge that change and endings are hard. This huge ending was also mixed in with us (cedars) leaving that church (in a way that was NOT by our design) and both of those endings touched many people. The wake became even bigger. I still feel that almost daily.

But on the other side of pain, IF we’re willing to learn from it, we find the good stuff. The really good stuff.

I still have loads of work to do, but I was shown in all of this, that I have people around me who see me. Who love me. Who stand next to me waiting to help absorb the next wave headed my way. What a lotus in the proverbial shit that is. :) But if we don’t ask those around us about their endings, we can’t be invited to hold their pain with them. And let me tell you something, holding someone’s pain, and conversely, having someone carry some of yours, is just about as sacred as it gets.

I’ve also learned over and over though endings, that if we’re vulnerable, willing to lean into the grief and pain they can bring, something inside us unfolds and gets brighter. We get stretched, but we don’t have to break. It’s like the hurt somehow wraps us up and holds us if we don’t deny its existence. When we’re vulnerable, we find so much connection, compassion and beauty.

I’m looking for that here. With you. Reading this.

Love,

Sandeigh

The Garden You Can Touch

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There are bills to pay, songs to record, projects that are overdue, a generation of children starving to death in Yemen, school programs to rush to, children to raise, exhausted asylum seekers running from tear gas, women still earning less than $0.79 cents on the dollar compared to our male counterparts, a planet that’s screaming for healing from climate change, and a dear friend who just lost someone else to suicide. 

And that’s just today’s list.

My heart hurts. It aches. When days like this come, it feels like I might never be able to sing again. It’s all so much. The constant pressure and drive to succeed. The “wrong” we see and hear about all around us. It makes me want to throw myself into social justice work, sell all my possessions and head to the front lines, find a cure for cancer and heal the deep racial divides (still) plaguing our country.

How? I’m just one woman. One person. 5’ 9” with shoes on. Not to mention I have no law degree, cape, magic wand or super powers.

But what I DO have, what’s right here in front of me, is a garden I CAN tend. The garden I can actually touch.

It looks like the kids I’m raising, the friends I have the honour of holding pain with, the wildly empathetic heart burning in my chest. (BTW, you have one too.) It’s the neighbors I check on, the art I make, the music we write, the pride I feel when I exercise my right to vote in local elections and when take my girls to the food bank to help. Healing all the pain in our world seems so overwhelming…completely impossible. But I know that our tiniest efforts to simply “do good” compile and multiply like fishes and loaves. I have to believe every drop counts, every inch forward is momentum and that when I treat the people in front of me and the life around me with care and compassion, well, I have to believe that spreads. That it somehow chips away at the broken systems that so often seem to harm those they were designed to protect.

In the quiet, unglamorous mantra of one foot in front of the other, digging in and looking hard at my own shadow…somehow I find my voice. Er, maybe it’s better to say that it finds me. Again and again it returns, reminding me that singing is enough. It’s part of my garden, it’s what I have to offer. It’s a drop. It’s an inch.

 

What does your garden look like? We need you to tend and cultivate it now more than ever. I’d love to hear your answers if you’re willing to share.

Love,

Sandeigh

Cookies & Gun Violence

Cookies &amp; Gun Violence

Like so many of us, I’ve been thinking a lot about the shooting that occurred just a few days ago. Once again we all find ourselves in a numb confusion. Like a pack of circling vultures, the familiar rhythms of questions we know all too well begin again: why did this happen again? What could we have done to prevent this? What do we do now? Thoughts and prayers flow again alongside louder calls for gun reform.

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The

Girls

vs

The

River

I had a dream the other morning. After I had woken up, too early (like 3am…I get up at 5:30ish) and then dozed back off. I usually have pretty memorable dreams in that window of time. Or maybe it’s just that I remember them, period.

 

There was a raging river. It was dirty, but SO familiar. You know how dreams can be…where you just know a thing without it being expressly nodded to in said dream. Anyway, the river looked really swollen and violent. But I knew it so well and in the dream I had to navigate it. And I had to do this terrifying, familiar thing with 2 little girls in tow. They were my daughters. (I have some of those in real life, BTW.) I was trying to teach them how to swim in the water, more accurately how not to go under. I’d find a spot that felt safe enough and then they’d follow me out into the murky, fast water and I’d find myself trying to grab them, hold them and keep them from washing away. It was the same thing over and over. We’d venture out, shouting to each other and grasping tightly to each other’s hands. At one point in my dream, my older daughter’s nails were digging into my arm so tightly as she held on to me, there was blood running down it.

 Then I realized that under the water were all these rocks. Big ones, smaller ones, groups of them as well as stoic, solitary ones just breeching the surface of the water. I scooped up my youngest daughter and threw her over onto a cluster of rocks in the middle of the relentless water. She was screaming at first, but then realized she was steady and the rocks were keeping her from being swept away. I encouraged my older daughter to swim toward a rock that was breaking the water line just a bit and climb on top. She kicked and kicked as hard as she could while churning water dragged her under over and over. I pushed from below her with all my might, she bobbed up from the swirling waves and I saw her grabbing the rock and climbing onto it just as I went under while watching them both blur like an out of focus painting.

 

I woke up.

 

What does it mean? I don’t know, but it’s stayed with me for days now. I don’t know, but I’m writing to you about it.

 

It’s felt particularly challenging to be a parent lately. The uncontrollable, yet familiar river in my dream feels like the world I’m raising those real life in. It’s fast, so fast. Most days lately it feels dangerous, unclear and like we only have a small glimpse of where we’re trying to lead the young lives we’ve been handed. And mine, well mine are girls. It feels like that wild river is a reminder that they will have to struggle more, kick harder and hang on to any ground they gain in life.

But I also thought that maybe those rocks, those safe places they landed on and clung to in the dream, were other women. Women who struggled in that same river. Women who came long before them and made space for them, safe places. Grounded, rooted women who might be in their paths now as they swim…or as they try. I know some of those women I imagine the rocks to be…I have the privilege of spending time with some of them every day. Creating with them, working beside them, encouraging them and getting love back in return. I watch them stay vigilant but still open to growth. These are women who are strong, resilient and WISE enough not only to admit when they get it wrong, but are willing to share their failures (and successes) with me. With my girls.

 

How do I check myself daily and always work toward being a rock? How do I do that for my own girls and also teach them to become that steady force for others? How do I show them the way to find and use their own voices while simultaneously lifting them loudly for other women…especially women of colour?

 

So now I think: Do I even know how to do that? Am I a rock?

 

We’re all in this together whether we like it or not. Personally, I like it that way. But I know it can be SO DAMN HARD to undo the social conditioning of seeing each other as competition or something to compare ourselves to. Sometimes the river feels so out of control, the lie that a seemingly small gesture like a conversation or blog can’t do a thing. But that’s the trick, I think.

 

I wanna know you…all of you women out there. We’re in the water together.

 

Love,

Sandeigh

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Permission Granted

I am TERRIBLE at self care. I’m working so hard on improving, but honestly, I suck at it. Anyone else? What do you do to take care of yourself? Not just your body, but your mind and soul too…

I know the familiar place I end up in after a big creative project ends, a song is completed, an event is successfully behind us or even “smaller” challenges like making payroll for everyone on staff…we get through said thing, I finally exhale, and then the inevitable crash.

 

But lately, it’s been a bit different. I’ve had this draining, heavy feeling. (I know I’m a bit exhausted…if you know me, you know I go 100 MPH pretty much all the time.) But this has a different weight to it. It’s a heaviness that’s been sitting on my shoulders and in the pit of my stomach in a different way. It’s been with me for the last coupla weeks. Maybe longer.

 

A friend posted a message today that made it begin to come into focus. Her post was giving us all permission to hurt right now. The heaviness that has momentarily landed me in bed is heartache. It’s grief. For our country, for families who have lost so much, for gun violence, injustice, exhausted migrants, and oppression. It’s a lot y’all.

 

It’s as though I can literally FEEL the collective anxiety of our nation - of our planet. And you know what, that’s ok. I want to feel it all. I want cry for lives lost even though I will never know the people closest to them, who are now trying to manage life with their loved ones absent. I want be outraged when I see images in the news of kids – CHILDREN- with scars on their bodies because they survived a school shooting this year and are now trying to figure out how to “just be a teenager” after going through such trauma.

 

This pain becomes fuel for me, and I’m grateful for that. And for permission to hold this grief even though it’s “not mine”. Because it should be. I’m not throwing in any towels…I’ll get up and do my work and love people. But I needed the reminder that my broken heart is allowed and it has permission to feel all the things.

 

You have permission too, just in case you needed to hear that.

Love,

Sandeigh