An Arch And A Block

Arches National Park - Double Arches by soangiewrites.com

There’s much on my mind and in my heart today, but the words won’t come out right. I’ve been writing and deleting all day, with my voice refusing to become clear. So here are words explaining my block, and a photo from Arches National Park, where I spent last weekend. I’m afraid it’s all I have to offer today.

How do you honor your writing blocks? Do you push until something takes form? Or do you rest, giving yourself time without pressure? I’d love to talk with you in the comments section below.

Showing Up- Relationship Intention

I’ve been pondering my relationships. Am I showing up? Am I sharing with those who share with me? Not really. It’s something I’m going to start trying, though. With the pattern being lopsided relationships causing exhaustion, then withdrawal, I have to turn to my own behavior. Is there a reason I don’t reach out when I really need help? Of course! There are so many reasons. There are past hurts, and the fear of repeated pain. There is shame, and the feeling that no one could handle my true vulnerability. Pain, fear, and shame. Am I really going to allow these three feelings to dictate my behavior?

I saw this quote yesterday, “Examine what you tolerate.” I am not going to tolerate a fear-driven life. I am going to choose a brave life. I am going to choose it everyday by showing up in my relationships, saying how I feel, and asking for help when I need it. To be vulnerable is an act of courage. Take heart.

Examine what you tolerate- writing about intentions

Self-compassion is a Practice

Self-compassion is a practiceSometimes I don’t have the ability to line words up in a meaningful way. Perfectionism gets in the way. Distraction gets in the way. Shame gets in the way. So many things get in the way of being myself, and being myself means writing. So I’ve been quiet. But here’s what I know- taking care of myself, practicing self-compassion… cultivating these things takes time. I’m learning a whole new skill-set here, and it makes sense that it’s not a smooth run.

There are a million mean things I say to myself about not writing. I don’t want to list them here, but they center around “Toughen up! Get it together!” and contain name-calling like “Lazy” and “Stupid.” With those sort of statements echoing in my mind, it helps to have at least one self-compassion mantra I can grab hold of and employ easily. My mantra is, “Self-compassion is a practice. These things take time.”

Do you have a go-to self-compassion mantra? Words you whisper when you’re really down? I’d love to hear them. We could all use a little help in learning to be kind to ourselves.

 

Keep Reaching Out- How Vulnerability and Empathy Can Save Us

It is difficult to acknowledge suffering sometimes. I don’t even like to admit to myself that I’m struggling, let alone allow others to see what I consider my wrongdoing or weakness. I write a lot about shame. Shame is the feeling that you are wrong. Not that you did something wrong, but that you are wrong. Shame needs three things to thrive: silence, secrecy, and judgement. When shame convinces us we’re all alone, that’s when things get downright dangerous. Knowing that, I’m fighting shame today by posting this reminder. It’s for me, and it’s for you.

Keep Reaching Out

Find someone, anyone you can trust, and keep reaching out to them. We don’t need people to fix us. We simply need them to listen. If they can offer empathy then we’ve found a sacred space. I swear these will be the things that see us through- the reaching out, and the “me-too.”

Brené Brown speaks on the power of vulnerability in the video below.

The Known Suffering- Why I Resist Self-Compassion

Self-compassion quoteIt can feel daunting to learn a task so far from your habitual way of living that it seems otherworldly. That’s how self-compassion feels. Otherworldly. But I have to ask, these years of self-loathing… where have they gotten me? Has cutting myself up and down helped? Has berating beautified me? Or have I broken myself to the point that the only thing left is to try something altogether different? That’s how self-compassion feels. Altogether different. And though I’ve seen research showing it works, and have read books and taken classes on self-compassion, it is still a practice I resist.

I cling to self-loathing because it’s a comfortable and known suffering. It’s easy, like zipping a jacket. It’s a frequently used and deeply ingrained skill. And it doesn’t skip town. It’s a reliable go-to response to stress. Self-loathing is so consistent it doesn’t require thought. But what I’ve found is self-loathing is simply shame. And shame is no motivator. Shame, the broken record of self-destructive noise, serves only to keep me stuck. And alone.

Speaking compassionately to myself without snarling, and taking care of a body I despise, these are the tasks at hand. I’ve read all I can on the topic. The practice has me falling on my face lately. But I keep trying. I can learn new things, and I am resilient as hell.

Further reading:
What is self-compassion?
Test how self-compassionate you are.

 

Snapshots Of Gratitude

I keep waking up, standing up, stepping up, and showing up. My tenacity is likely my greatest asset, and this week it is what I’m grateful for. My ability to go out, speak, and be seen. Fear is always with me, and courage is as well. Seeing strength in myself is a place to focus today. It’s something that’s working. I feel proud to be someone who is pushed forward by a desperate desire for better.

I’m also grateful this week for connections. I am grateful that when I reach out, someone is always there. At a time when so much is wrong, beauty can still be seen in the taking of a hand, and the knowledge that someone is there with you. Sacred.

Brené Brown on Authenticity

Dormant- About My Writing Voice

From the time I was quite young, I recall making up stories in my head and acting out plays in my backyard. I’d swing under the open Kansas sky and imagine flying creatures which painted clouds upon a blue canvas. I’d weave weeds together into jewelry and lord over ladybugs. I’d pack a satchel of snacks, head for the back acre, and wait for the train to come by. Surely one day I’d be big enough and brave enough to hop the Santa Fe and ride it all the way to Disneyland.

These days I don’t make up stories. I relive trauma and transcribe the present. Gone are the days of unicorns and rainbow-painters. This is the time of mindfully telling. My throat is tight. My feet sink in grass. My hands are stiff. The day has passed. This is the way I write in my journal and on my blog. An interesting transition from Angie at six to Angie at thirty-six.

Perhaps my magical voice is just dormant, waiting for an eventual Spring when my PTSD symptoms are less acute, and there is time again for singing sunbeams. Until then, I’ll keep with my three-part writing plan, as seen on my bulletin board-

Write hared and clear about what hurts. -Ernest Hemingway

Pick up a pen, look inside, write down what you find

Write ALM August Writing Prompts

Tangled: The Discomfort of Holding Bias

It’s Friday morning. I drive out with Steve to his office so I can keep the car for appointments. As I drive back home under grayish blue clouds, purple mountains before me, I feel small and alone. What do I have but a heart tangled in pain, a mind set on injustice, and hands incapable of change? What do I have but eyes fixed on suffering, shoulders weighted by sorrow, and a stomach full of knots?

I pull into the garage and shut off the car. I sit in the discomfort of ineffectiveness. I let the emotions of the week settle on the dash. I shuffle them around with my finger, making lines in the dust. Sometimes I feel so much I can’t see the forest through the trees.

I make coffee and open my laptop. I sit down and sigh. And that one audible expulsion of air reminds me of the asset I often forget. My voice. I have a voice and it’s loud in my head and it’s loud in my heart and occasionally, when my guts align, it is loud on my blog. It spins words unassuming into poems and prose and sometimes… often, in fact, people understand me.

At a time when much is wrong, and the pain seems unendurable, we gotta know we each have a voice. We need to latch on to this one Truth- Every Voice Matters. Every voice matters and every person matters and even if the best we can do is turn up the volume on someone else’s voice, we are making a statement of our own.

There’s an interconnectedness resisted in times of turmoil. Us/Them mentality drives us further apart. The idea we can go it alone is absurd. The fear that keeps us apart is outdated. As I type these things, I recognize my own anxieties that keep me reaching for justification. My own bias shows itself in my thoughts and I’m kicking against a culture that set me up this way. I’m going to use this time of discomfort to learn, and to make changes in my life.

Tangled: The Discomfort Of Holding Bias

Gonna unpack my bias. Gonna work this shit out.

I leave you now with words from Waking Up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving:

In the state that is somewhere between fear and indifference lies an opportunity to awaken to the intuitive voice that says, “Something’s not right.” “What is going on here?” “I wish I could make a difference.” In my experience, learning to listen to that voice is slowly but surely rewiring my intuition, breaking down walls that kept me from parts of myself, and expanding my capacity to seek truths, no matter how painful they may be. Learning about racism has settled inner conflicts and is allowing me to step out of my comfort zone with both strength and vulnerability in all parts of my life. Racism holds all of us captive in ways white people rarely imagine.

Write ALM August Writing Prompts

How White Privilege Lets Us Clock Out Of Discomfort, And Why We Shouldn’t

We tiptoe in
The water’s uncomfortable
Clinging to clothes
Causing a drag

We look around
Blood runs like a river
A mother wails
The horror grips

We’re temporarily moved
In air wafting nostalgic
Squinting our eyes
As history blazes

The light is too much
We feel so exposed
Shrinking back,
We sigh and clock out

This is white privilege
An asset unchosen
And now that we know
Let’s do better

So Angie Writes poem on white privilege I’m feeling unsettled about my ability to tune in and back out when Ferguson news becomes too much. For many people, clocking out of racial injustice isn’t an option. When Trayvon Martin was murdered, my neighbor asked me to drive her teenage sons to their nearby schools. She was terrified they’d be targeted if one toe left the sidewalk, “What if they jump a fence, or take a short-cut across someone’s lawn?” This is when I first felt the weight of awareness. The truth is, the general anxiety I feel around raising my white boys is nothing compared to the fear she felt for her black sons. As white people we need to wake up and pay attention. The unrest in Ferguson is nothing new. We’ve just not been watching. But now we’re watching. We’re tweeting and facebooking. We’re tuning in to live-streams and we’re donating. We’re having uncomfortable conversations. We’re calling out racism, in ourselves, and in others.

I’m unsure I’m even saying acceptable things. But I’m taking risks, because I’ve realized staying silent in the face of the systematic dehumanization of the black community is not going to help bring about change. In fact, turning a blind eye to racial injustice is like saying “I know this is happening on my peripheral, but I’m choosing to stay safe in my privilege.” I’m tired of staying safe in my privilege while other mothers live day to day with a brick of fear in their bellies. I’m choosing discomfort.

I’ve bought the book Waking Up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving, as was recommended by blogger Black Girl In Maine. I am dedicated to learning more, and to not shutting up about Ferguson. I believe we all need to stay in this discomfort, because only this will keep us focused on change.

I leave you with these important words from another blogger, Awesomely Luvvie,

Speaking up when it matters is usually when it’s also the hardest. When your voice shakes, that’s when you’re standing in truth. But that’s usually when it is most needed. And when you do it, someone else might be encouraged to do the same. Do not be silent.

More related reading-

A Mother’s White Privilege by Manic Pixie Dream Mama
Dear White Moms by Bonbon Break
Affected by Karen Walrond

The Value Of A Creative Tribe – Blog Tour Wrap-Up

Remember last week when I participated in a Writing Process Blog Tour? Well the three bloggers I asked to participate have their responding posts up!

Cyn’s answers to the Blog Tour questions are here.

Amy shared her creative process here.

Jen tells us how she writes here.

The value of a creative tribe

I enjoyed this Blog Tour. Part of my encouragement as a writer comes from belonging to a creative tribe. I have many online friends who use the same writing prompts. I enjoy reading their responses and am always glad to see they’ve read mine. We support each other by sharing work and spreading links, but what really lifts me up is the way someone is always around to say “Your voice matters. Keep writing.” To me, there could be no more glittering example of a creative tribe than the Write ALM community. I am so glad to be a part. <3