I write to make others think AND feel.
How can you be there for people who are depending on you when you’re running on fumes yourself? How can you teach them what they most need to know when there are days you can’t find your own way out of the darkness? Sometimes you have to fill your own cup. Sometimes you have to scream into the emptiness, even though all you hear is the echo of your own voice. Sometimes you just have to know that tomorrow will come, and one of these tomorrows will bring change. It will bring hope and a reason to get out of bed and a reason WHY. You’ll understand what you don’t understand now, and that’s what you can bring to those who depend on you. You can bring them hope and a hand to hold and someone to sit with them in the darkness when they feel alone.
I was challenged by the amazing Patti Digh to get back into my writing by writing 10 minutes a day. Even 10 minutes seems to be hard, and I wonder why something I love so much and something that’s so much a part of who I am is SO hard to do sometimes. What has happened to my voice?
So finally the seemingly endless rain we’re having in Asheville in May has brought me back in touch with something inside. I’m not sure what, I’m not sure why–but the rain has triggered my sadness at the loss of my voice and the loss of my self. I’m in one of the most open-minded and open-hearted communities I know, yet I find myself at a loss as to how to build a supportive community of my own. I long for kindred spirits, yet when they come my way, I can’t seem to bridge the gap between us. I just want some friends, yet I feel that no one truly knows me. No one truly cares. So I shut down. I stop reaching out.
My heart hurts. My soul aches. I am alone.
Last night I saw a picture on Facebook with the caption, “Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.” Thank you, Margaret Shepard, whoever you are, for giving me that last push off the cliff that I needed to take that leap of faith.
As of last night, I am open to business, to connecting, to coaching. I am here for those who are burned out and need to find balance in their lives. I am especially open to those who are frontline staff in social service/mental health/nonprofit work. Those are my kindred spirits. I know how much you give day after day, and I know how hard it can be to let yourself take in encouragement, especially when resources are so limited and you’re so used to putting everyone else but yourself first. I’ve seen it, I’ve done it–I’ve been in the field for over 20 years. Let me be there for you. You don’t need to be fixed. You need to be shown that you matter and that you can’t keep giving when you’re getting nothing in return.
I’m here in person, on the phone, by email–however it works best for you. If you work days, evenings, nights, it doesn’t matter. Here’s a hand held out for you. I hope you’ll take it!
I’ve spent the past months since you’ve heard from me looking for myself. I found out last week that maybe I wasn’t as lost as I thought I was. I started this blog for people in the helping professions who were trying to overcome burnout and who were trying to find their “right fit” in that setting. In October, I accepted a position that I hoped would lead me to that place. It didn’t take long before I started to realize that wasn’t going to happen–at least not in that position.
Last week someone empowered me to realize that I was already where I wanted to be. I don’t need anyone’s permission to take leadership in an area where I see a need. I don’t need anyone’s permission to create my own place and my own practice. I was too busy saying yes to everything that my job entailed that I forgot what my work in the world actually is. So now I’m saying yes again. Saying yes to being there in every way I can for everyONE I can. You will see some changes here in what I share, but I hope and pray that we build something together that we can all take heart from.
My partner and I moved to Swannanoa, NC, 2 1/2 weeks ago. I can’t tell you the joy that this statement brings me. When I was in college, we used to go on retreats at Bonclarken in the mountains of North Carolina. Even though the move has caused untold amounts of stress, and we haven’t really gotten a chance to meet people and make ourselves at home, I feel as if I have found the place I’m supposed to be and always have been.
I look out and see the mountains from our front deck and breathe a deep sigh of peace. We can hear birds sing and the crickets at night. The most annoying sound I ever hear is the sound of a train late at night, but now that I’m getting used to it, even that is soothing.
More as we continue to settle and hopefully find the home we’ve always dreamed of.
I met Amina Melody Pryor through the World Changing Writing Workshop 3 Facebook group and was absolutely intrigued by some of her thoughts on this issue. I asked her to expand on them for a blog post, and here it is.
Some years ago, a close friend of mine committed suicide. Still raw with shock, I was hosting a gathering of church women. While this was not a “needy” group in the sense of dealing with major life issues, I was in the role of facilitator and “giving” to the group.
Early in the afternoon before the evening meeting, I called my coach to check in with her. As I was going on about my plans, she said, “Whoa, where’s your heart in all of this?”
She encouraged me to let go of the agenda and simply give people the space to share – including acknowledging my own vulnerability. The meeting was beautiful, with real heart-connection.
It was an experience that began to help me see that my willingness to be vulnerable – to be in my sadness, to wonder about life and not have all the answers, to be a real human being – was actually a strength. To be vulnerable is a place of spirit, where heart-to-heart connection happens. This kind of connection is inspirational, builds rapport and builds community.
Vulnerability is different than our neediness. Neediness comes from our humanity. We all have deep emotional/spiritual needs for love, safety, trust, connection, peace, etc.
It is very important to be aware of the motivation behind your wanting to give to others. If you are giving from a place of trying to “fix” others, it is a clue that you have a deep need that is not being addressed. When “serving” turns into subtle or not-so-subtle “fixing,” there is an element of trying to get something to take care of your own need through your giving to others. “Fixing” has an energetic element of reaching out to grab something from others to make something inside of you feel better. This feels energetically messy and actually pushes people away.
As human beings we all have this neediness – and we need to recognize it for what it is and have our own way of taking care of it. The more challenging the issues of the people you work with, the more likely it is that there are going to be times when it brings up your “stuff” – emotional pain, sadness, anger, etc. To avoid burn-out, to keep your tank full so you can give from abundance, it is very important to have a way to care for your neediness. The deep neediness of your heart that I am speaking of can only truly be met through spiritual connection.
When you have a spiritual connection and process that supports you in receiving what you most deeply need, then you can serve others through your abundance. What flows into you from Divine Source also radiates out from you for others. It helps you maintain loving and compassionate boundaries. It helps you let go of yourself and give from grace. Born from this place of grace is the strength to be vulnerable, to be human, to meet others heart-to-heart with an abundance of spirit.
I love what my writing friend NanLeah N. Mick said, “I think that when we recognize vulnerability and allow it – befriend it – it becomes a stepping stone to wisdom.”
I have signed up for Hay House’s book reviewer program at http://www.hayhousebooknook.com, and my first review is of Anita Moorjani’s Dying to Be Me. This book first came on my radar through a blog post from Danielle LaPorte; and since I have just had kidney cancer surgery in the past year, issues of death and mortality are still very much on my mind.
We get to know Anita long before her cancer diagnosis and see her struggle with resolving conflicts between Hindu cultural expectations and forging her own path, eventually establishing a fulfilling career and finding the love of her life. After a few peaceful years, Anita saw her best friend and her husband’s brother-in-law go through painful chemotherapy and eventual death due to cancer. Then she discovered a lump on her shoulder. She is diagnosed with lymphoma and tries to figure out which alternative healing methods to use, but finds herself confused by conflicting theories.
Her health steadily declines, and after four years, she eventually ends up in the hospital, not expected to live through the night. Her near-death experience leads to an encounter with her father and her best friend, who had both passed on years before. She is given the chance to choose death or life. When she regains consciousness, the doctors soon discover her cancer has not only gone into remission, but even disappeared. She learns to let fear go and replace it with joy.
Even though I have never been sure I understand near-death experiences or even believe in them, I would definitely recommend reading this book if you can open your mind to beliefs that may challenge your own. I am not sure I believe that emotional or psychological triggers contribute to getting cancer. Can we reduce or eliminate our chances of getting sick by identifying those triggers? Maybe, maybe not.
I’d like to end this review by sharing part of Anita’s answer to the question, “What’s your opinion on service and serving others?” She says:
When service comes from the center of our being, it’s the highest form of self-love. We know this is the case when we feel joy while serving. It will even feel light and fun! This uplifts both us and the recipient and helps to elevate the receiver’s self-worth.
But if we perform out of an obligation or sense of duty, it feels serious and heavy and can be energy draining. This really doesn’t do us any good, and it’s not that great for the recipient either–especially if they can sense that we’re acting out of obligation. This can make the recipient feel small and worthless
In addition, when something comes from the center of our being, it’s no longer an action– it becomes who we are. We don’t need to think about it or work at it. We become an instrument for service to manifest on this planet. This is the difference between being of service and performing a service.
I hope we will all remember this in serving those with whom we come into contact.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free as part of the Hay House Book Nook review program. This review reflects my honest judgment of the product.
The third and final component of crafting a personal mission statement is identifying and describing the need that my creation/service is filling and the kind of people who will be my ideal audience/customers. I am working to provide creations/services for healers/helping professionals who are looking for community and connection and who value spirituality, creativity, and storytelling.
So here is the first draft of my own personal mission statement:
My mission is to heal those who are trying to heal others, to encourage them in the work they have been called to do, to help them embrace the hurt within themselves and restore their hearts and spirits, to connect them to a creative community that will revive their joy and bright faith.
Through The Sad Cafe Community, I create ways (articles, e-books, e-courses, community) to help healers connect with each other and to understand the ways that they interact with their work and the people they support. I also offer coaching to help healers find their best work fit.
I provide creations/services for healers/helping professionals who are looking for community and connection and who value spirituality, creativity, and storytelling.
The second piece of a personal mission statement is, “What will you make, or what service will you provide?” I’ve been trying to figure this out over the past year as I’ve been working on The Sad Cafe Community, and I’m not sure I’ve come up with a complete answer yet. I’ve been working with some wonderful, heart-expanding women on a collaborative e-book with a working title of Serving With Spirit, that I hope will be completed sometime in the fall. It’s for women healers who need support and encouragement in care of the soul. I hope that some form of community will arise from that project that will embrace women healers from all spiritual perspectives. I have designed a course for helping professionals called “Compassion or Codependence: How We Connect in Community” to help them examine their motivations for being in the field and help them respond appropriately when negative feelings arise to the people they are supporting and serving.
Creations/Services: Through The Sad Cafe Community, I create ways (articles, e-books, e-courses, community) to help healers connect with each other and to understand the ways that they interact with their work and the people they support. I also offer coaching to help healers find their best work fit.