Curing power of being heard

Have you ever had an experience that was so profound that you literally felt a physical shift in your body/mind/spirit that you knew was permanent? I sure did. Like three days ago. I'm still reeling.

What happened to cause a permanent change in my worldview?

People listened to me.

Really listened and then shared with me what resonated with them. Without commentary, meaning-making or qualification. Just my words and experiences reflected back to me. 

Super simple, right?

Yes, the practice is.

The work is not so simple, however. It's fucking hard.

Telling a deeply personal story to relative strangers was one of the hardest things I have ever done. The only reason I could do it was because we had come to some agreements beforehand and had a set way to resonate - like a script. That was freeing. Because I knew I wouldn't have to hear other people's stories while unburdening my own.

The basic set-up: Get a group of several people who have some relationship/common cause. Somebody tells a story based on a framework/prompts and the other folks offer resonance in response to the story. Each person tells their story. Everybody else resonates. Repeat until everyone shares. Simple.

But in that simplicity is a million little factors of healing and connection. Deep listening and resonance are healing modalities. Being heard and receiving resonance is what makes us most human. Our brains and bodies are wired for resonance and connection, we can't help it.

In our current culture of isolation and self-sufficiency. We are so lonely and disconnected. It's not the fault of social media or desk jobs (they aren't helping though). It's the culture. It's killing us.

We are taught to be self-sufficient, to take care of ourselves, take of our own. Weakness in any form is to be hidden for fear someone will take advantage of us. We must project competence and self-control at all times. We must never subvert the social norms, except in the most conformist of ways that marketers tell us are cool. We must produce to be valued. We must never be poor or sick or unsure. Keep your problems to yourself. Be ashamed of your body, of your failures, of your deficiencies, of your feelings, of your dreams and desires. Hide. Protect yourself from strangers in this dangerous world. No one is to be trusted because everyone is out for themselves. Be afraid.


Not me. Not anymore. 

I choose connection. I choose community. I choose interdependence. I choose living in cooperation with my fellow humans and the Earth.

I'm not sure what this looks like exactly. But I know I'm going to figure it out.

You're probably wondering how I came to this through spending a weekend listening to and sharing stories. It has everything to do with the beautiful people I met and the loving and communal space we co-created. It also has everything to do with all the work I have been doing on my inner life and aligning my life and values. But the key ingredient was radical acceptance and love. No conditions. No advice or meaning-making. Humans sharing stories and learning how to hold space for each other in ways that heal and bring people together. 

The 3 hour yurt dance party was epic.

If you want to learn, check out Relational Uprising


Making Lambos out of boxes

Kids love cardboard boxes. In a child's eyes, that box from Amazon is a sword and shield waiting to happen. An animal hospital is born from the new refrigerator. Or in the case of my sons, Lambos (Lamborghinis to the uninitiated).



Imagination. Possibility. Resourcefulness. Creativity.

There's a lesson in here, don't you think?

Your life can appear to be a box, a limiting space with boundaries and restrictions. But could you cut here and fold there and make something entirely new with a few tools? Could we add some color or glitter (don't use glitter it's killing sea life) and make the mundane beautiful? 

The creativity is less about the tools and resources and more about the imagination. What can you make out of what you have? What skills can you transfer to some new endeavor? Who do you know that you can seek advice or some mentoring? Where do you have time to carve out for that special project or to learn that new skill? What group can you join that will introduce you to the kind of people who do the things you want to do? What are you already good at and enjoy? How can you use that to create the life you dream of?

Everyone has a calling. It might be to make cheese or teach kids or nurse the sick back to wellness or build bridges. No matter where we are born or under what circumstances, we all are born with innate abilities and talents in a special combination that has never been born before. We can see our circumstances as limitations OR we can see our lives as ripe with possibility.

I heard an interview with Shonda Rhimes yesterday that sparked all this thinking. She said that her dad told her that her success was only limited by her imagination. She was talking about her Year of Yes and how it completely changed her life. She lost over a hundred pounds, became a better mother, and felt more connected to everyone in her life and to life itself. She said Yes to everything she would have normally said no to - invitations to parties, her kids asking her to play as she was walking out the door, sitting with the Obamas at the Kennedy Center Honors.

She saw her life without the edges. The yes was her glitter and scissors. She didn't need anything new or outside herself to change her life, she chose to see life differently. She changed the No to Yes.

And so it is with kids. They choose to see that cardboard box as the Lambo of their dreams rather than recycling fodder. We don't have to lose this vision. We can always adjust our perspectacles. We can choose to say Yes. Every moment gives us a new opportunity to see things differently. 


It takes at least two

It's near impossible to heal yourself.

Humans need to feel safe, accepted and a deep sense of belonging in order to heal. In our world, it is getting harder and harder to find these spaces and relationships.

We spend a lot of our time in the mindset of competition, scarcity, and exhaustion. So caught up in the doing of life, we leave little time for being. Being present. Being mindful. Being kind.

We have packed agendas, full days, and booked calendars. We schedule time to play, to make love, and to laugh with friends. I mean really, that's messed up! Right?!

Other people and relationships are essential to a happy and healthy life. We need hugs, laughter, and a shoulder to cry on. We can't get by on "likes" and emojis alone.

Our deep inner pain most often comes from some deep sense of not belonging, when we really boil it down, that's what most of our childhood traumas and pain mean to us. 

I know I am not alone in feeling like my feelings were not welcome in my house growing up. I was labeled a "crybaby" when I was very young, which is unfortunate because I also grew up in a house that was scary and unpredictable. I had plenty of reasons to feel scared, unsafe, and alone.  This label of "crybaby" followed me into adulthood. It was a family "joke" that I never felt was funny. It hurt a lot. it made me feel like my pain was not something to be shared with the rest of the world, not even my closest family members. So I learned to cut myself off from my own pain. If being a "crybaby" wasn't acceptable, I could see that sucking it up and powering through were acceptable. Talking about your feelings certainly was not. Never.

And so I learned to be the person who handles her own business. The girl who doesn't cry. 

Eventually, when I was an adult and living with my former partner, he would tease me for crying in the bathroom when I got really upset. But it was the only place that felt safe enough for me to cry. It was the one place where another person wouldn't interrupt or judge me. That was 15 years ago now.

Over the last couple of years, I have done a lot of healing. I have cried a lot. Alone and with company. Mostly with my therapist and my partner. My partner has never shamed me for being sad. He has never acted annoyed or put out when I need a hug or just need to cry it out. He doesn't even mind it when I get snot on his shoulder. He loves me fully and completely. And this has allowed me to drop some of the shame and fear of being truly seen and heard. I feel like I belong. Like the world is a safer place for me to be fully human. I can be vulnerable.

I can do things like write this blog post. 

I have been able to be honest and vulnerable with other people in my life, even strangers. I have been able to feel safe and confident enough to develop new friends and relationships. I have been able to see that one of my callings is helping other people heal and connect. I'm not sure what that will look like, but I know I'll figure it out.

Love and compassion are healing. Compassion is necessary for relationships and for community.

The good news is that we can each be a beacon of love and compassion. We can start with ourselves and our closest loved ones. See them with new eyes, curious eyes. We can offer them our attention and open hearts. It's as simple and as difficult as giving our full attention