The Unbroken – A Poem for Endometriosis Awareness

This one’s for The Resilient
The women whose bodies
Endure such pain
And such loss

WE are The Unbroken

Endometriosis Awareness

This frog inspires me from its perch in the office where I do pelvic floor physical therapy, which helps me fight back against Endometriosis.

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. Endometriosis affects 176 million women around the world. The most common symptom of Endometriosis is pelvic pain. Please raise awareness by learning more about Endometriosis, and spreading the word. Thanks!


Endometriosis from Endometriosis.org on Vimeo.
 

March Prompts Write ALM

Snapshots Of Gratitude – The Discomfort of Joy

My guys gave me a birdbath on my birthday. We immediately set it under the apple tree, and I’ve watched it all week for activity. Wake up, go to the window, look for birds. Make coffee, look for birds. Do dishes, look for birds. Look for birds, look for birds, look for birds!

This morning as I loaded the dishwasher, I heard the cry of a Blue Jay. I ran to the window, and behold! A beauty on my birdbath!

Rather than bask in the moment, I grabbed my phone and zoomed in for a picture. I wanted to document the first bird spa visitor. And… I was honestly worried I wouldn’t get this chance again.

There’s a current of scarcity running through life. The good things are wonderful, but the bad things are darn-right devastating. And it doesn’t help that our brains are better at recalling the bad!

It’s difficult to allow the full range of human emotions, and a challenge to accept the uncertainty of it all! Sometimes, it’s excruciating to sit in goodness. We know why pain feels awful, but why is it uncomfortable to feel joy?

Joy is vulnerable

When we have experienced loss, as we all have, the happy stuff can feel precarious. We try to protect our hearts. We imagine if we don’t fully let the joy in, we might somehow safeguard ourselves against the inevitable loss of it. We mitigate our happiness in order to feel… happy. Hmm.

It doesn’t work. We can’t protect ourselves from pain by tempering happiness. What we must do is find the courage to sit in the discomfort of joy. One way we can do that is by practicing gratitude.

Allowing ourselves to drink in moments of piercing beauty, accompanying them with an expression of thankfulness, is bold in the face of scarcity. We are saying YES! to the full human experience.

I’m using the example of the birdbath today, but I have a deeper struggle going on, involving the loss of some relationships, and the deepening of others. We all have areas where we’re resisting painful feelings. We long for comfort and certainty. We need safety and security, love, compassion, and care.

There’s no way to open our hearts to goodness while protecting them from pain. We simply can’t. What we can do is actively move through even the most vulnerable feelings with helpful practices like gratitude and self-compassion.

The next time I feel a bubble of glee drop over my being, I’m going to let it soak me. With open eyes, and a hand on my heart, I’ll lean into joy mixed with fear. I’ll respond- I’m grateful. 

Soften Into Joy

Resource- Brené and Oprah discuss the vulnerability of joy here.

Gratitude Posts Button

Writing about gratitude on Sundays

Sharing Resilience

I don’t know how
There’s so much hurt in the world
Balanced on backs
Of individual women
Who are doing all they can
Splitting tooth and nail
To meet the needs of others

I read their stories
I live my own
I sigh

How do we sustain
The heaviness?

We speak
We share
Unload
And bear

My pain is lessened
When you’re by my side
As we shoulder together
Resisting the crush

Balanced rocks

Self-Care Promise

Self-care promiseWhat if we made one promise. One promise right now, that holds the power to shape the rest of the week. One promise that might unlock our potential to heal. One promise that might inspire healing in those we love. Shall we?

Let’s promise to take better care of ourselves. Just a little bit better care. Think second cup of coffee, or making a playlist of your favorite songs from childhood. How about a walk in the sunshine, or maybe giving yourself a hug!

Cuddle under a soft blanket. Whisper “I promise.” Find the things that make you feel good. And do just a little bit more of them.

March Prompts Write ALM

I Meet my Pain with Self-Kindness

Self-compassionIf you think I often sit around with my hand on my heart, you’re correct.

If you think I do it because I feel mooshy about myself, let me just say- nope.

I struggle with shame on a regular basis. Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging (Brené Brown).

I’ve learned that the feelings of sadness and shame are telling me I need comfort and care.

In relation to others, love is a noun. Something I don’t strive for. I easily ooze love for others.

But when relating to myself, I need a verby kinda love.

When I place my hand on my heart, it triggers the production of oxytocin, a hormone that helps us attach and feel secure.

When I speak validating words like, “this is really hard,” I can feel resistance leave my body.

When I meet my pain with the same level of care I’d bestow on a friend in need, I am entering a sacred space- a communion with myself.

I practice self-kindness in response to difficult emotions to take an active role in my recovery.

I am not weak because of my struggle with shame. I am prompted to learn, inspired to act, empowered to grow.

One day I might look inward and be met by a warm glow of love, but I don’t need that feeling to move forward in my healing journey. Don’t believe me, just watch. :)

Click here for more information about the role of oxytocin in self-kindness.

 

Identify What Soothes You

Identify what soothes you

It’s a good idea to identify what soothes you. Is it a drive-through coffee after a difficult doctor appointment? A lip gloss tossed in the grocery cart at the end of a demanding day? A few gentle stretches before crawling into bed? A hot bath? Classical music? Soft socks? Polka dot underpants?

Identify what soothes you, and do more of it. Self-care isn’t selfish. Tending to ourselves equips us to care for others. <3

March Prompts Write ALM

Create Sacred Space with Validation

I love how my oldest son, 15, throws his head back to laugh.
I love how he sets his books down to wipe away tears.
I love his impersonations, especially his Christopher Walken.
I love his creative passion.
And I love his naturally high empathy.

When he was toddler, he’d approach crying children on the playground. Squatting down, he’d reach out a chubby hand to comfort. 

Last night my son walked downstairs as I was talking to my husband about therapy, and saw me crying. 

“Are you ok?” he asked.

“I’m struggling with the trauma from when I was young.”  

He knows the trauma I’m speaking of- the public sexual assault that happened when I was two years younger than he is now. He knows because I’ve been talking to my sons about consent, male privilege, and rape culture for awhile now. He knows because I share my experiences openly to combat shame and to practice courage.

“Well, that was a really bad thing that happened to you,” he said. 

“Yes, it really was.” I replied. 

What a beautiful display of validation. My shoulders moved back. My chin rose. 

Validation heals.

We are constantly trying to fix everything and everyone. On the surface it looks like love- I love you enough to hate to see you in pain so I’m going to stitch you up by reminding you that life’s not so bad and pointing out all the reasons you have to be happy. 

But I think fixing is a way out of vulnerability. I think it’s more like- when you display pain, I feel pain, and I don’t want to feel pain, so let’s fix you right up.

Vulnerability is excruciating. Empathy hurts. It hurts because it’s a chord between another person’s suffering and our own. No one wants to feel pain. Please, give us ANYTHING but pain.

In a world where sensitivity is seen as weakness, and feelings are deemed sickness, the space created by validation is sacred. 

I am grateful to have loved ones who come to the table as I sit crying, bear witness to my pain, and say yes. Yes this is pain. I see your pain. I validate your pain.

Sacred.

Give the gift of validation