#41 Practice a Ritual

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#41

Practice a Ritual

Sometimes, practicing a ritual can be an extremely healthy way to manage anxiety or stress. By definition, a ritual is “a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to a set sequence”. For the purposes of this discussion, I’d like to expand the idea of ritual a bit and allow for it to be something we do the same way each time with intention and purpose.

Focus & Intention

A Catholic Mass falls into the category of a ritual and while unless you are a priest, you won’t be in the act of practicing the mass itself… you may find that attending mass and engaging in the mass ritual offers the same benefit. Going to the gym at the same time everyday and moving through the equipment in the same way with the same motivational music in our earbuds – is a ritual as long as there focus and intention with the movements. Rituals differ from routines with that focus and intention.

Conscious Energy

A ritual allows us to engage in an action consciously. Whether we are holding our hand over our heart and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or kneeling in prayer at bedtime, they often signify meaning. Many brotherhoods, fraternities, and sororities practice rituals as a way of bringing their membership together; strengthening the sense of belonging. Some families have the ritual of a family dinner on Sundays or in our house… it’s Mimosa’s and Monkey Bread on Christmas morning. They can be those things that unite and remind us of what’s good. Mr. Fred Rogers share his ritual of putting on slippers and changing into a cardigan as a way of getting comfortable each day; allowing us to feel as though we were at home with him.

Energy & Pleasure

Engaging in a regular ritual may energize you and create space for happy feelings. The demand focus and intention which, allows you to immerse yourself in your life. Routines that are mundane can be elevated to ritual status by engaging in them differently. Being deliberately present in those things that take little thought and experiencing them completely – change them from an unconscious pattern of movement to something that serves a positive function and something from which you may experience great pleasure.

Get Started

If you don’t yet have one, think of an action that is meaningful, intentional, and can be achieved on a regular basis. Perhaps it’s sitting down with a journal every evening or meditation before you get out of bed in the morning. It could even be a Friday evening happy hour or date night with someone special. Self-care rituals may be the perfect starting point for those of you with busy lives and never enough time. A ritual can reduce anxiety by providing a period of certainty in your day or week.

No matter the details, your life can be enriched greatly with the simple act of …

Practicing a ritual.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#60 Start a Collection

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#60

Start a Collection

Today’s suggestion may seem counter-intuitive or even contradictory to yesterday’s position of ‘Keep It Simple’, yet having a collection of something has been demonstrated to promote happiness for some people and it doesn’t seem to matter ‘what’ is collected.

Motivation

From Coca Cola paraphernalia to cars and beanie babies to rare tins, a collection is generally something that has emotional rather than monetary value to the collector. Perhaps it’s representative of a hobby (cars), a fond memory (beanie babies) or time spent with a loved one (Coca Cola). It may also be something that stimulates our winning reflex – the thrill of the hunt (finding rare tins). Other’s still may be inclined to collect based solely on the social aspect, a shared interest either with a friend or a larger group (Boy Scout or Military items).

Meeting Needs

A collection can meet many of our psychological needs. It can be comforting and relieve anxiety. It can help us feel a sense of belonging. It can induce fond memories. Moreover, it may function as a hobby which, is important from the perspective of broadening our interests and offering distraction from daily stressors. A collection can be a statement of who we are; introducing us to the world in a non-verbal manner.

Dysfunctional

Collecting things with intent and purpose is generally a healthy activity. It becomes unhealthy when either of those elements disappears. When we accumulate things out of a fear of letting go or a fear of not having enough, we may be approaching or experiencing unhealthy behavior. Hoarding is a good example of what people may describe as a collection but without intent or purpose. Also potentially dysfunctional is when we become ‘too’ attached to the ‘things’ that we’ve collected; if/when we identify through the material elements. These are the ‘dark side’ conditions of collecting but are much more often the exception rather than the norm.

In most cases, having a collection of something meaningful is a rational, healthy, and potentially helpful past time. What would you collect if you were to …

Start a Collection

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#63 Use Your Voice

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! My hope is that 2019 is everything you desire it to be!

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#63

Use Your Voice

The phrase ‘use your voice’ is interpreted differently across gender, culture, and age but for the purpose of this writing, it is specifically referring to the effort of speaking the words that run through your mind and heart. You may wonder why that isn’t a universal automatic event because certainly, some people speak with very little consideration and yet, so many do not.

The Unspeakable

Perhaps as soon as we learn to speak we realize that there are things not to be spoken. It’s not polite to verbally address someone’s size or age; to ask about their income or sexual interests; or to openly condemn or criticize. We’ve learned how to be politically correct and how to keep the peace. All of this however, comes at the price of forgetting how to ‘use our voice’.

Shut up & Shut down

When we discover or realize that by speaking our mind or sharing our heart – we may experience negative consequences, we tend to adopt coping mechanisms to make communication easier. In many cases, it stimulates the reflex of shutting down and silencing those thoughts and feelings that might otherwise be shared. We may have grown up with a parent who wasn’t open to other opinions or lived with a spouse who lived within rigid parameters. We might live in a strict culture.

There may also be internal factors that keep us from vocalizing our thoughts; ‘will people still love me?’, ‘ will I sound stupid?’, ‘will anyone pay attention?’. Sometimes, it is the inner voice that controls our courage to vocalize.

Listen & learn

The first step in learning to use your voice is listening carefully to your thoughts and deciphering what you want to say. Clear out the clutter and get to the heart of the matter. Once you do that, make sure to deliver the message in a clear and constructive manner so that it can be heard. Learn how to avoid blaming language, use “I” statements, and offer solutions. Learn to have confidence in your thoughts, knowledge, and presence.

Delivery

Using your voice doesn’t mean that you automatically say everything that comes to your mind without thought and intention. Making sure to speak with clear intention is perhaps, the most important element. Choosing every word – especially when confronting a problem – on purpose is often the key to a successful outcome. And right behind that is the requirement to speak everything in kindness. Confrontation doesn’t have to be ugly to be effective.

If you find that this is an area of your life that could use more resolve, consider a New Year’s resolution to more effectively…

Use your voice.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Victims of Choice

“And in life, it is all about choices we make. And how the direction of our lives comes down to the choices we choose.” Catherine Pulsifer

What are you doing right now? Why are you doing it? Are you content? Is it what you want to do?

I am always talking to clients about choices. Making choices was the topic of one of my last posts as I talked about my own choices and how I was blatantly reminded of my need to accept responsibility for them.

In order to accept culpability for our choices we first must acknowledge that we have actually made one and this is where it gets sticky. You see, in just about EVERYTHING we do, we make a choice – either consciously or subconsciously we make a choice and yet, sometimes they are hard to see; to accept.

We can’t necessarily choose what happens ‘TO’ us but unless someone is literally forcing you to do something against your will, you are choosing your behavior.

Learning how to make decisions, to choose, is an important skill; one we don’t necessarily give much effort or thought.

My mother was a believer that children shouldn’t necessarily have choices and therefore, my hairstyle at almost any give age was one that she either needed to practice (she was a salon owner) or one that would make caring for my hair easy. Needless to say, I had a perm most of my childhood.

Consequently, I tried to make sure that my children knew they always had a choice. It wasn’t that I allowed them to choose what they wanted, whenever. I wanted my girls to dress like girls (forgive the gender insistence here) and so when they were young I wanted them to put on pretty dresses and cute skirts when they went to school. As such, in the mornings, I would hold up two hangers; one with a blue dress and the other with a pink skirt and allow them to choose. If they wanted to wear their brown pants I drew their attention back to the choices that I felt were acceptable.

Forget for a moment that I cornered my daughters into stereotypical attire and reason with me that I was teaching them about choice. At least, that was my intent.

Sometimes our choices are only between things that don’t feel like options at all.

A few years ago, I spoke with a high school student who wanted desperately to go to prom but didn’t have a date. Certainty, one of the choices was to go alone and another was to ask someone and risk rejection. This teen didn’t want to engage with either choice; they wanted to be asked by a certain person who, reportedly had already accepted another invitation.

Because neither of the options available were acceptable to this student, they insisted they didn’t have a choice but to stay home – a conspicuous falsity. There were choices but they were very different from what this person ‘wanted’.

Not wanting what is available doesn’t mean that we are void of choice.

Sometimes, when none of the choices presented feel tolerable – we turn ourselves into victims.

Dee’s husband had an affair and she is having difficulty moving on in the marriage. She is suffering from anxiety now each time he leaves the house and is quite distraught with the life she is living. They have three small children and she has been a stay-at-home mom for years. Her only true work experience is in retail where she would only earn minimum wage. She strongly believes that her only choice is to stay in an unhappy marriage and feel miserable.

She feels trapped and helpless to change her situation.

Dee is allowing herself to be a VICTIM of choice here by believing she doesn’t have any.

Clearly, Dee can leave the marriage. No one is forcing her to stay. The truth is that when Dee considers all of the options available to her – she doesn’t WANT any of them. She is refusing to choose and so she becomes a victim of undesirable alternatives.

When we allow ourselves to feel like a victim, we become powerless.

Joe wants to get into shape. He is approaching fifty and knows he needs to drop a few pounds. He has developed anxiety because his father had a heart attack at age 55 and while Joe doesn’t yet have heart disease, he fears it is inevitable.

Joe is the breadwinner in his family and often works more than fifty hours per week. Between his job and family commitments, he eats on the run and never makes it to the gym.

Joe is making a choice NOT to prioritize his health although he argues adamantly it is not a conscious choice.

Fair enough.

But let’s be honest – when we say we ‘want’ something and then we don’t put any effort into making it a priority – we must not really ‘want’ it bad enough.

Sometimes we believe we ‘should’ want something and so we claim it but find lots of reasons that it won’t work for us or we just put it on the back burner and find excuses for it not happening.

It’s the Priorities.

In each example that I’ve presented, the individuals are allowing themselves to be victims of THEIR OWN priorities. They have options – just not options they wanted.

Well, isn’t that the way the world works much of the time. Things happen. Many things happen that we don’t want to happen but that does NOT mean that they trap us. Our power is in making a conscious decision about our priorities under the circumstances.

The high school student prioritized a particular date over going to prom.

Dee prioritized her current lifestyle over self-respect and happiness

Joe prioritized his work hours over his health.

Own IT

Why not just say “I must not want it bad enough”? Why not just admit that “I am choosing something different”?

Sometimes we can only choose the ‘lessor of two evils’ – the least ‘sucky’ option. If that is the case, then OWN it. Realize that you are still choosing.

You have the power to make the choice.

And you can ALWAYS choose your behavior.

Learn to be intentional

To be deliberate

To accept that your priorities determine how you choose.

 

 

If you liked what you read just now, please SHARE it with friends and family by using one of the buttons below (Facebook, Twitter, Email & LinkedIn) and know that I am grateful for your effort.

Also, I love to connect with my readers. Feel free to comment, follow my blog, or connect with me on social media.

Choosing Love

Continued from Falling

“The love that you withhold is the pain that you carry lifetime after lifetime.” ― Alex Collier

After Harlan told me he had been treated for melanoma I was a bit heartbroken. I didn’t want to go through that again, I couldn’t imagine setting myself up for loss one.more.time. I struggled to find some peace with the idea of letting him go – before he ‘really’ got under my skin and into my heart. I felt disappointed and a little defeated because I had finally met someone worth allowing myself to fall in love again and he is telling me that he had thought he was going to die a few years prior.

He had said the only treatment he had was excision of the mole… no radiation or chemotherapy. One would think that it couldn’t have been too serious and yet, a cancer diagnosis is terrifying no matter the circumstances. Every time I thought I could overcome my fear, the memories of my step dad’s journey with melanoma crowded my vision and then I could see myself again as a widow sitting in the front row of a funeral service. I just couldn’t do it.

I picked up the phone and called my Aunt. We had been close since I had settled my grandparent’s estate and she was like-minded in spiritual philosophies so it was easy to talk with her most of the time about this existential stuff. I needed to think out loud and bounce my thoughts off of someone.

“I met this guy”, I started telling her the story of Harlan and our instant connection. I shared with her, the prophecy from my mountain trip and gave her a general description of how things had transpired so far. I told her about his melanoma and how scared I was to take the risk of loving him.

“So, let me get this straight”, she said. “You are going to throw away the opportunity to love a person whom you are describing as a ‘soulmate’ because he MIGHT die?”. She sounded incredulous. “I thought you believed that everything happened for a reason”. She was challenging me.

I recalled an evening she and I were sitting on the porch at my grandparent’s farm in Northeastern Pennsylvania overlooking the amazing acreage there in the Blue Mountain region. The beauty of it was always intense, no matter the time of year. It was one of those places where you sit and observe the perfection of God’s work, of creation. It is one of those places where the paragon of color, texture, and shape are apparent. We were sitting there talking, taking a break from the emotional aspects of our losses; she of having lost a sister and her parents and me – my mom and grandparents. It was a lot to process. The conversation had turned metaphysical. We talked about the lack of coincidence, cosmic design, divine intervention, universal intent… all of the things that inspire me deeply…

Suddenly it was clear. If I believe that everything happens for a reason, then I had to deduct that

THIS moment

In its intention

Is perfect.

That meant – every moment of my life – each one… in its overall intention for the rest of my  life was perfectly designed.

The intensity of the meaning of that realization took me by surprise. Whether it was God, the Universe, Mother Earth … it didn’t matter – each moment of my life was moving me toward the next… perfectly. It was a concept that we both internalized and committed to memory – feeling quite satisfied that we had discovered something so profound.

She was reminding me of that now as I questioned the value and or the validity of meeting Harlan, of falling in love with him. She reminded me that there are never any guarantees. She asked me if I would have married Rocky even if I knew that our time together would have been short. I knew I would have – those short three and a half years were precious to me and had produced Frank… I would never have given that up. She asked me if I would have married Hubby even if I knew the outcome and as much as I wanted to say a resounding ‘no’ – I knew that the girls were a product of that union and nothing on earth would have me regret those blessings. I wouldn’t change anything about my life.

She asked me to think about whether I was willing to reject even a day of love, of being loved, the experience of the joy that being in love brings for the sake of safety. So, “in other words, she said, “you would rather feel nothing – no pain, no joy, than to feel love and potential pain??”

Hmmm…

I didn’t ‘want’ to feel ‘nothing’ but I was afraid. I was afraid of the pain that loving someone -and losing them- entailed. I was terrified of the darkness that ensues when love ends. The idea of experiencing that again panicked me but then again, the idea of never loving again wasn’t what I wanted either. Crap. Shit. What do I do now?

I appreciated the phone call even if it didn’t solidify a decision to end my budding romance. Rather, it did just the opposite I was more clear on the emotions that I experienced when he told me about the melanoma. I realized that when I noticed the potential for emotional pain, my response was to shut down, turn, and run away. That’s normal, right? Who ‘wants’ to feel pain? I understood then that the ‘fight or flight’ response we instinctively use wasn’t only for our physical protection – it was for our emotional protection as well. In our efforts to preserve our emotional integrity, we avoided or fought back emotionally.

My desire to run away from Harlan in case he died was an instinct to avoid the pain of losing him. The mature adult part of my brain that held on to rational thinking knew that there were no guarantees even if he had never known the word melanoma; after all… Rocky believed he would live to be one hundred years old. Nope, no guarantees at all. With very little conscious thought from that point on, I allowed myself to love.

I picked up the phone to call him, just to remind him that I was excited to think about what lay ahead for us. I looked forward with a little apprehension but less fear by knowing that right now… here… in THIS moment I was choosing love. At some point, I noticed that I always choose love.

Going to the Mountain

Continued from Dating OMG

“No matter how you arrive at the awareness and belief that you’ve lived before and will live again, the most lasting healing benefit will be the change in your attitude.” ~ Lianne Downey

There were so many things during the year after Hubby left that impacted my life… dating was one of them and I will come back to it. Another was the continuation of my interest in reincarnation, and the idea that my life here – in this persona – was intentional for my soul’s growth.

I was extensively intrigued with the work of Dr. Brian Weiss, a Psychiatrist – the Chair of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, Florida. He was educated at Columbia and Yale Medical school. Impressive credentials. Dr. Weiss used hypnotherapy in the process of traditional psychotherapy and through the experience of his patients, realized that some of their ‘memories’ were not from any experiences in their current existence.  Upon further evaluation, he explored how deciphering the stories of patients from other lifetimes, could heal their maladies in current time. I remained fascinated and inspired by his client examples. I read every book that he had written to date and developed an evaluated curiosity about my own stories. Essentially, I was obsessed with the idea of past lives.

I remembered past conversations with my brother and my excitement, a deep resonation – that just wouldn’t go away – regarding the concept that our souls were eternal and timeless. In my mind, the idea that we came back again and again in human form so that we could learn how to love unconditionally, to become Christ-like, made perfect sense. I knew that in my own life, so many lessons unfolded that correlated toward loss – I couldn’t help but wonder what this lifetime was destined for… what was I to learn from all the loss, the abandonment? If I thought about my ideas, what I knew about the life of Christ, I knew that he would have loved through the loss, he would have honored that journey, the path of the person that left.

I remember thinking after Rocky died that he was only ‘on loan’ to me… that perhaps we had come together for the sole purpose of creating Francis and then his time was done. Christ was the ultimate champion of ‘letting go’ and my life was constantly being challenged with the need to ‘let go’… could that be my lesson in this lifetime? One afternoon talking about these ideas with my Aunt we considered our belief that ‘everything happens for a reason’. IF, that is true – then THIS MOMENT IN TIME – in its INTENTION – must be perfect… divinely designed. No matter the moment, no matter what is happening … if you believe that everything happens for a reason then – there must be a reason for THIS. It seemed so true. So significantly harmonious with the rest of my esoteric ideologies.

I wanted to know more and discovered that Dr. Weiss was conducting Past Life regression training in New York – close enough for me to drive – and I qualified to go as a Psychology student. It was a week long and so I registered, forked out a thousand dollars, and made arrangements with Hubby for him to have the girls seven days in a row. I drove myself to the Omega center in Rhinebeck, New York in late July, just before my birthday.

I drove up a long road, up in the mountains outside of Poughkeepsie, into a compound of sorts that reminded me of summer camp when I was a girl scout. I had selected a ‘shared’ room in a bunkhouse – one building with four rooms and a bath off of one small hallway – but my roommate hadn’t yet checked in. I picked a bed and unpacked then headed out for a look around.

I may have grown up in the seventies in California but I was more or less the farthest thing from a ‘hippie’ and completely disconnected from the ‘bohemian’ lifestyle. If I am to describe that in my mind and seriously, no disrespect intended here… it is someone eating all organic, potentially vegetarian or vegan, wearing cotton with a focus on naturopathy. I don’t mean to stereotype but to fully describe the environment, completely foreign to my suburban soccer mom identity. No one ever described me as ‘earthy’ and yet – here I was, surrounded by the calm, serene, wholesome, earthiness that was the Omega center, and I felt as though I had stepped into a slice of heaven.

I must be honest and admit that it was the first time I had seen tofu. It looked like a brick of cream cheese and I agreed with myself that I would try it. I grabbed a piece that had been sitting in some kind of gravy and sat down at a large round table with three or four other people that I had never met before. I sat there in my Banana Republic button down blouse, toting my coach purse containing my L’Oréal lipstick. The only thing missing were my Sperry’s but I was wearing my hipster flip flops so at least my feet fit in, well… with the exception of my cherry red toenails. I’m not sure I was the typical Omega visitor and yet, I felt at home, just very afraid of being judged. One bite of the tofu and I knew I was part of the minority. Yuk.

The environment was serene. There were benches, gardens, and pathways every direction you looked and I was anxious to explore. I discovered vegetable gardens galore and learned that they grew much of the food that was served in the dining hall. There were small ponds and fragrant flowers; fruit trees, and yoga spaces. No matter what direction I walked, the aura was peaceful and loving. Within hours I knew I wanted to stay for a long time.

My roommate didn’t speak much English. She wasn’t there for the same workshop as me, apparently, they ran several simultaneously and so our schedules were different. Our agenda was fairly rigid… breakfast before nine – sessions until noon, lunch, and then long afternoon workshops before dinner. My first day – in quintessential fashion – I sat up front, in the first row. There were big pillows and we sat on the floor (hippie’esque) as Dr. Weiss walked across the small stage only ten feet in front of me and began to introduce himself. Of course, there was no need on my account, but there were just over one hundred other people in the room that maybe hadn’t read ‘every’ book he’d written as I had. Indeed, I had listened to his regression CD so often that almost as soon as he began to speak, I relaxed – having already been accustomed to the sound of his voice.

He began by telling us about Catherine, the initiating client that had spontaneously accessed past life memories and introduced him to the world of regression therapy. Even though I had already heard the story through his books, I was enthralled to hear him tell it in person. And then, he did a group regression. That afternoon he had us get comfortable and relax as he proceeded to induce us all into a pleasant and easy state of concentrated focus on our past – going wherever we wanted to go – whatever time might be meaningful to us.

I listened to his voice, guiding me back into childhood, back through time before I was a child, before I was Leslyn, to a time when I was someone else and I saw mountains. They were green and sharp rising against a large lagoon of beautifully blue water that was a deep sapphire color, a place that I seemingly was remembering vividly as if I heard the breeze through palm trees overhead. I was grinding something with a pedestal and mortar and I realized that I was short and round with long black hair. I was remembering another life.

Intentions

It can bum you out when your intentions aren’t, like, translated properly. ~ Kesha

Right Kesha??!!

I had lunch with a friend the other day and talked with her about my decision to write this blog. She’s known me for 20+ years and has shared many of my deepest pains. She’s actually the first one that allowed me to feel safe being imperfect – at least consciously. “What do you want to accomplish” she asked and I had an answer ready but I’ve been rethinking it these last few days. I’ve been digging deep to be sure that my motive isn’t attention seeking or purging prior hurts that I haven’t processed.  I believe I have done the work or at least all that I am aware of. If, through this process I discover that isn’t true I can stop and reevaluate.

I am extremely confident that my goal is to share HOW I got here, to this place where comfort and vulnerability coexist – at least most of the time – in an effort to demonstrate how others can take that journey themselves. If no one reads it, well then – it will be a well documented historical gift to my children and future grandchildren. They will ‘know me’ via my writing. I kinda wish I had that gift from my mother or grandmother but I know that both of them would have rather gotten run down by a train or dragged by a team of horses than to air any weaknesses or personal shames. After all, they were the voices I spoke of in my last post – the ones that encouraged me to ‘put on my big girl panties and carry on’ versus process a painful / shameful experience. My grandmother in fact, once attempted to teach me that I could stand on a hill and simply observe the beautiful green grass on the neighboring hill instead of tramping through the garbage dump in the valley to get there. “Don’t look” she would say – “it’s only garbage”.

Knowing how we became ‘who we are’ is paramount in understanding how and what to change – at least in my *humblest* opinion. I don’t have any pretty empirical evidence to support this claim and I haven’t recently researched specific psychological theories that point to verification for this perspective but in almost a decade of private practice and several decades of personal discovery, it is clear that true change doesn’t take place without attending to the origin of the problem.

In the early years of my journey, I would attend therapy to hear a counselor ask “what my ‘problems with living’ are.” I would explain how fearful I was that I was really unlovable that people didn’t ‘really’ love me. Sure guys wanted to have sex with me and for a few years I believed that meant I was desirable – good looking – pretty – sexy, etc. But we KNOW, I hope all females KNOW that is NOT true. It wasn’t true in the 70’s or the 80’s or ever…. Horney does not equal desirable. I wish females were born with that knowledge!!  What I soon discovered is that it takes a counselor interested in the INFECTION not the symptoms. Treating symptoms only is just asking for another flare-up down the road. It wasn’t until I found someone who DUG and forced me to look deep that I began understanding why I thought / felt the way that I did. Having said that – we all have to be WILLING to go deeper. I remember a therapist asking about my childhood and what it must have been like when my mother left to join the Army. I said ‘it was good. I got to play grown up and they were all better off.”  It took some time before we both really understood the dynamics and consequences of that decision.

So, here I am – a middle aged woman who became a mental health counselor in after 40. I made that decision because it was the only way I could think of to find meaning from the pain that I had experienced in my own life (future posts). I believe that everything happens for a reason or at the very least that there is value in each experience. My goal in returning to school and investing in graduate school during a tumultuous time in my own life was to find a way to make that pain make sense. I believe that sharing some of those experiences helps people who are working to find their own way.  I share when it is appropriate during sessions with clients. I am often told how helpful it is to know that “they aren’t the only ones”. That sense of ‘universality’ is understated – in my opinion.

That’s why this blog has been in my head for so long… it’s the print version of what I share / do in my counseling practice. It will be the complete version – the whole story. IF it is helpful, great! If not…. Move on. I am daring here; daring to expose myself to the world in an effort to let people know that they are NOT the only ones. That personal growth happens from our pain IF we are willing to do the work. IF we are willing to see the garbage in the valley or clean out the closets where we have shoved our pains.

I have fear. Fear that I will be criticized and ridiculed for sharing deeply private thoughts and experiences. I have allowed fear to direct far too many decisions in my life. Here, I am pushing through fear of being mocked and unaccepted. I am remembering all of those people whose opinions truly count. I am remembering all of the people who have told me my story was helpful for them.  I am remembering that I – Leslyn – know my intent. I hope I am appropriately demonstrating it to you.