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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

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