Trust the Process (pt 14): The finale (or the beginning)

credit: Robin Russell

credit: Robin Russell

Three years ago, almost to the day, I was sitting on a bed just like this one. Same ugly, motel-like comforter and surprisingly puffy pillows, the same blank off-white walls. But it’s not the same bed, it’s not the same room, and I’m not the same person.

On that day in 2010, I felt forlorn and petrified as I retired to my room for the first night of my graduate career. I had no idea what to expect from the night itself, from the week of residency, or from the coming semester. I scribbled in my journal as if my life depended on it as I tried to assimilate this huge life step I had taken.

But now, here tonight, it’s that “ahhh, bra finally off!” feeling; home again. Having checked off the “live with a roommate” life experience after that first semester, I have roomed alone for the past five residencies, three of them in this very room. It may not be the Hilton, but it’s mine, all mine, for a whole week. The door locks and I can sit here and write with the guarantee that no offspring will spring from somewhere asking for something. And I don’t have to cook or scrub a thing! This is has been my vacation week every six months for the past three years.

Of course, there was always plenty of work to be done: workshops to attend, mind maps to draw, outlines to plan, bibliographies to research, and deep thoughts to be thunk, all leading to that final ‘Submit’ of the Study Plan before heading home to begin the real work. The first night always held a double dose of excitement and apprehension of what the week had in store, as well as – I’ll admit – a (tiny) sprinkling of missing my family.

But tonight, the only thing I’m missing is the worry.

This weekend is about celebration. An acknowledgement of the work I have done over the past three years. And done well. I can pat myself on the back because it’s not braggadocio to admit that I have accomplished and I learned a lot. I worked hard. I did create a new me, after all!

This graduate process has been intense. It has been exhilarating, painful, overwhelming, mind-blowing, and life-changing. I discovered very quickly that what I thought I was going to do when I first walked onto this beautiful campus wasn’t what I needed to do. But once I got out of my own way and let the study and writing lead me where it wanted, magic happened.

So, tonight, while sitting on my crunchy dorm bed, I celebrate. I celebrate “Trusting the Process” because it works.* I celebrate me and the gift I gave to myself. I am a better writer, a stronger, more confident woman, and a more accepting-of-self mother. I am singing again and I can say with pride that I am a Storyteller. I found my voice in more ways than one.

Thank you, Goddard College and all the amazing people who were traveling their own journey along with me and who have been all part of my new learning. I will miss you dearly. Thank you for the ride of a life time! From the womb room I am reborn. I will now go forth into my new life.

*And still working! Ever since I began this work, I have used a rambling, unclear explanation of all the threads of learning I have connected throughout this process, which was always slightly changing as I discovered another piece of the puzzle. But! After working on my graduate presentation for this weekend, a concise statement of understanding of my entire thesis project FINALLY arrived while I was in the shower just yesterday morning.  Magic. It happens.

Read the entire 14-part “Trust the Process: The Goddard Chronicles” here.

Advertisements

Trust the Process (pt 13): Seeing the End of the Road

Cor... get a bus through there!On August 16th, 2010 I wrote my first Trust the Process post. It was the beginning of my graduate school journey. Tomorrow I begin the end.

My last semester. The one when I pull together everything I have learned over the past three semesters into one piece of writing (well, two, actually) so it can bound in a black jacket and placed on a shelf in a dark room on the ground floor of Goddard College’s library.

Will a future student reading my introduction feel the intensity of the explosions that were blasting my worldview to smithereens my first semester? Will she press her temples while browsing my memoir, feeling the anguish of my second semester when I lost my way trying to find something without which I finally realized was within? Will he feel the high of multiple a-ha! moments as he reads my process paper? While photocopying my bibliography, will she feel the hot tears of frustration and mental exhaustion? Glancing over my curriculum, will they know what my students taught me about true wisdom?

No, they can’t know. They won’t feel every pinnacle and every dungeon of emotion I experienced while pursuing this degree. What they will see is another binder, another thesis of another faceless former student. They might read in my words that the experience changed my life, but they won’t know.

They won’t really know what a Goddard education is until their own work is bound up there on the shelf. They won’t know that it is a journey that takes you deeper into your soul than you thought possible. It tears apart your preconceived ideas, gives you more questions than answers and opens your eyes to the beauty of mystery. It is painful and it is beautiful and it is freeing. It is not merely an education, it is life quest that teaches you to think and to be awesome, and to do it with more courage than you thought possible.

I questioned at the beginning whether I truly needed a Master’s degree to have a career in my field. I am a writer and a facilitator, and no, I don’t need this degree to do those things well. But what I did need was the push to dig deep, to think deep, to learn hard, and to connect some very big dots so I could begin to heal my wounds. I needed to experience what I was learning, not just parrot what I was told as I had been taught my whole life to do.

I had to learn to know what I know.

And now comes the final piece: Writing it down so I can find out what it is I know. To connect what I feel to what I’ve learned. To see my new voice – my new self – on the page. And I can’t wait.

Authentic Voice Project/Trust the Process: O is for “O” Moon (Speaking your Full Self)

For redefinition, I was thrown back to myself, to my inner knowing… Marilyn Sewell, Cries of the Spirit

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 15 (Full Moon)/Trust the Process (Part 12)

O is for “O” (Full, Whole) Moon

I write this from the cool (-ish) basement of the library at Goddard College. I’m here for the residency portion of the second half of my G3 semester (I am a half-time student so this means I am 3/4 through my degree work.) For me, this residency every six months is pure joy. I have my own room where I can choose to sleep, read or write without interruption; my food (three amazing meals a day) is cooked for me and I don’t have to wash one single dish afterwards. I never have to bend down to pick up a stray toy or little sneaker, and the only laundry I see is my own small pile that I can ignore for eight whole days! For this mother, this IS vacation.

But also for me, the writer and thinker, being here amongst some of the most intellectual, progressive, compassionate, creative, change-seeking people is like coming home. A family to which I never knew I belonged until I met them. It is here I began the journey towards my authentic voice. It was here that for the first time I realized I had opinions that I could voice without judgment. Even in disagreement there is still love and respect here. I stood up for my own beliefs and hugs were not withheld nor companionable laughter restrained.

I have also learned here that words like “never” and “always” and “everyone” and “should” do not apply. Except in one thing:  ALL are ALWAYS needing love and acceptance. To belong – whatever their opinion, belief, background, orientation. And that is Goddard: A place to be belong. To be heard.

The only way one’s voice/self can be truly heard, it must have something against which to resonate.

First, you must make yourself vulnerable and speak your truth. Others must hear you, really hear you (or maybe just one Other – sometimes that’s all it takes). And if at first it is on the page only (which ALWAYS listens), that is a great start. But once you are heard, acknowledgement and acceptance join forces to produce confidence. The whisper of your voice grows steadily louder until it is all you can hear. The “shoulds” and “oughts” of society become drowned out. At that point you need nothing but your own heart for resonance. If it feels right in your body then it is right for you. Your intuition, your body wisdom, your Self will speak out strongly and with conviction. In turn, the raised energy of your own authenticity will give permission to others to express theirs.

So, on this full moon, the full circle of light – a symbol of wisdom and intuition and wholeness – I urge you to “trust the process” of listening for and speaking from your own place of truth. With your own voice. Listen to yourself, speak for yourself, know yourself; the Whole You. The Holy You. The Divine* You.

* To Divine: To know by inspiration [to breathe into body], intuition [body wisdom], or reflection [look into self]. Divine: Magnificent, Beautiful, Godlike. Individualization: the gradual integration and unification of the self. (The Free Dictionary)

Prompt: Like the full moon, I am divine – whole, magnificent, all-knowing – and wish to be heard. One truth that resonates with me today is…

Trust the Process (pt 10): Hiding

My natural inclination is to introversion. I usually choose to be alone rather than in a crowd. However, at my first two Goddard College’s residencies for the Individualized Master’s program I went against my own grain. I squeezed in around full lunch tables, joined in conversations in lounges, and laughed over movie showings late (for me) at night – and had a great time doing so. But at this last residency I regressed a little to my former self. While I still joined lunch-time and workshop discussions, I quickly ran back to the silence of my own room to retire early or to brainstorm over My Question. I fell (fitfully) asleep to the laughter and discussion of my building-mates whose joviality was evidenced by the growing number of wine bottles in the recycling bin each morning. At breakfast I would listen to further laughter over inside jokes from the night before and I’d feel a tiny touch of jealousy. But my need to be alone found me frequently in the garden, folded into an Adirondack chair, notebook on lap. Thinking.

Too hard.

I would have to say the theme of this residency for me was Thinking. And trying not to. I’d get myself alone in my room and I’d start thinking, “what is it I need to be thinking about?” Then I’d remember that I am trying to Feel More, Sense More, so I’d say to myself “stop thinking!” which has the annoying effect of creating the exact opposite reaction. I’d start thinking about NOT thinking.

I didn’t write in my journal too much this residency, whereas in the precious two I wrote copiously as I tried to assimilate all that I was learning and experiencing. And feeling. This time I made a conscious effort to just feel what I was feeling. This required much alone time with not necessarily satisfactory results. Now home, and very much not alone (almost five-year old boys seem to need Something on a excruciatingly frequent basis) I am trying to consider all that I felt and feel now about the residency and my graduate “career” in general.

I am questioning now if going into hiding this residency was actually what I needed. Most of my a-ha! moments actually came to me during conversation or listening to others talking. I live in my head too much and plain old social-ness might have pulled me into my body – and my emotions – through laughter, silliness, togetherness, connection, friendship, conversation and mutual respect. If laughter is medicine I sure didn’t take mine while seriously mulling away in my cavern of a single room. Sometimes our “natural” inclination is a defense mechanism – to protect us from feeling too much – rather than a healing one. And what we resist the most is most likely exactly what we need.

Prompt: What are you resisting? What behaviors do you automatically resort to which might actually be furthering your lack of self-awareness and healing?

Trust the Process, pt. 8: I Am Matter

“Are those really concepts? Aren’t they aspects of a woman’s life?” (Referring to the Triple Goddess: Maiden, Mother, Crone)

“What it means to be a woman? Don’t you mean what it IS to be a woman?”

“Don’t YOU matter?” … “Yes, I do matter. I matter. I AM matter.”

And so go conversations at Goddard College where I am studying for an Individualized Masters degree in Transformative Language Arts. We do not sit, inert and unthinking, attempting to sift through the rocks, pebbles and sand of a professor’s lecture searching for any valuable nuggets. And valuable to whom? The professor or you? At Goddard we are asked to be involved in a conversation, to really think (concept vs. aspect? When was the last time you analyzed the difference between those two concepts?), to think critically, and to find our own earth through which to sift.

You cannot think critically if you have no opinion, stance, or angle from which to critique. When you are just regurgitating established knowledge of the “experts” (in academics, politics, religion, etc.) without the added insight of personal experience or intuition, you are producing nothing but dust. So, you must first dig and sift through your own layers. At first this is uncomfortable, looking into aspects of yourself you have ignored or maybe didn’t even know were there. In fact, acknowledging your ignorances, your arrogances, your prejudices, your anger, your pain never feels fabulous, but it does get easier. Once you’ve accepted this is what must be done in order to become a better, wiser, more enlightened, inspired, authentic, loving, compassionate, empowered, comfortable-in-your-own-skin person, just like taking your medicine, it will help you heal and head towards your potential.

And the deeper you go into the personal the more you can understand and feel empathy for the universal. That is how we hippie-tree-hugging-meditating-yoga-types with our loving, bleeding-hearts go into the world better equipped with information that can heal others.

Yes, I matter. My own thoughts, ideas and feelings DO matter. They are important to me and as Kim Chernin writes in Reinventing Eve: Modern Women in Search of Herself:

I have seen the process of descent into the self lead back out into the world, to a concern with the suffering of others [and]…. far from being a lengthy wallow in self-absorption, turns out to be the passage through which one goes back, with a new vision or bolder service...

And Sue Monk Kidd in an interview said:

… seeking wholeness in oneself can serve the wholeness of others.

Yes, I matter. And I am matter: Earth. I am of this Earth, I am part of this Earth, as are you. All connected and we all matter. So a-sifting I will go, concepts and aspects, constructs and trans-disciplines and all, searching for the golden nuggets which will hopefully bring a little more understanding into the world.

P.S. I am also Mater: Mother. Mother Matter. Mother Earth…. don’t you just love playing with words?!

 

Prompt: Do YOU matter? Are you willing to dig to un-earth the potential of your authentic self.

 

____

Please visit my Examiner.com page for articles on Journaling for Kids, Organization and almost everything in between.
Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.


Trust the process, part 6 (Procrastination)

Tweet This Blog Post!

I have to admit this post is an act of pure procrastination. I have two book annotations to write for my next packet of graduate work. I am still in my jammies at 10:21AM and the house is quiet except for the fish tank trickling, the bunny crashing around the play room and Pandora.com playing a piece by Henry Purcell. I am enjoying my newly re-arranged den made cozier in preparation for the steadily approaching cold weather. I have written in my journal while eating creamy, homemade oatmeal. Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? Well, it is. And – rare for me – I am living in this moment without much thought for anything else. Which is why I felt the need to put the moment into words.

For some reason though, I am hesitant to begin writing an essay on one of the most influential books I have read in a few years. Here are a few of the others (note: many, many books have influenced me, these are just the truly life-changing ones):

Katherine, Anya Seton (When I first became fascinated with medieval history and costume on which I wrote my undergrad history-honors thesis and was first introduced to Women’s History as a formal subject and a personal interest.)

The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron (How I began journaling and realized I AM an Artist and Writer and have a right to call myself so.)

The God We Never Knew, Marcus Borg (When I first discovered that my own ideas on God and religion were not crazy and that there was more to it (and me) than my church had told me.)

A Voice of Her Own, Marlene Schiwy (Put together my first journaling workshop based on this book – it beautifully reinforced the power of personal writing for women.)

Leaving the Fold, Marlene Winell (Helped the healing process of working through the damaging affects of dogmatic, fundamental religion on my Self and self-worth.)

And now, I can add Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd.

I read this book like one enjoys a fabulous meal with a friend: the sensuous pleasure of different tastes and aromas mingling with intelligent, friendly conversation and that delicious feeling of becoming more satisfyingly full with every luscious, nutritious bite.

Ms. Monk writes her thoughts, feelings and experiences and they resonated on a deep level with me. She introduced me to new, enlightening thoughts and ideas. I felt like Dorothy in the Land of Oz when she opens her eyes to see before her a foreign land full of color and fascinating inhabitants. And much like Oz, in this new land there were also some slightly frightening and intimidating elements – because they are as yet unknown.

Sacred Feminine.

Never given that any thought. But yes, now I do. It is as some part of me as a woman was missing. Raised in a God the Father, Jesus the Son religion where woman is the source of evil while living in a patriarchal world which has not acknowledged a feminine divinity for over 3,000 years, and which continues to rape Mother Earth and degrade the natural beauty of her and us, her daughters, I mourn the imprisonment of the Sacred Feminine – mine and that of all women. (Did you know the origin of word mother is “matter” – of the earth?)

Kind of a big subject – and so I procrastinate. What is my resistance? (Resistance is a powerful message, pay attention to it!) What am I scared of? Unformed thoughts? Still raw emotions?

How do you write about a journey to a just-discovered destination while still just marveling at the brochures?

Prompt: I procrastinate on_____ because…

_______

 

Please visit my Examiner.com page for articles on Journaling for Kids, Organization and almost everything in between.

Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.

Trust the process, pt 5 (Everything is connected, 1)

credit: Yoly Mancilla

Tweet This Blog Post!

Back in May I wrote in this post, Steppingstones to a new life, about how different paths of my life had suddenly come together at juncture, namely, grad school. I was shocked and gob-smacked how the Universe, Serendipity and Synchronicity got together presented me with this and amazing and timely opportunity.

But these three tricksters had more up their sleeves, much more! When I was least expecting it, they walloped me with my past, present and future in connections I could never have imagined. (I say “walloped” because the impact of all these connections left me reeling for a few days.)

Here are just a few of the “coincidences” that have occurred over the last couple of months:

Wow! #1. When I was first questioning my next step after getting my certification through The Center for Journal Therapy I wrote to my fellow instructors asking for advice. I was in a quandary about how I might combine my two distinct writing lives: therapeutic writing for others and my own creative pursuits. One woman in particular went out of her way to write back with her own situation and told me she had attended Goddard College in Vermont. Vermont! I don’t know if she knew I was here in these Green Mountains but that was strange surprise number one. Knock-me-over-with-a-feather-surprise number two was that the program they offered there was EXACTLY what I wanted: a self-designed degree, low-residency and offered a concentration in… ta-da! Transformative Language Arts – a combination of writing for health and change and creative writing.

So, a few months later I find myself sitting across from a faculty member at Goddard discussing my focus. He suggests to me that I browse some of the final projects in my line of study done by former students, one in particular. He proceeds to tell me, out of the hundreds of former students, the name of the very woman who had referred me to Goddard in the first place! She and I had never discussed what I was hoping to research and now here I was photocopying her bibliography and checking out some of the same books as she had done four years earlier.

Wow! #2: In high school I wrote a paper called “All Dressed Up and No Where to Go” about Victorian women’s whalebone “cages” and other restrictive vestments of the era. As an undergrad I wrote a thesis on the fashions of 14th century Europe and now they were symbolic of female oppression. I was just interested in historic costume, the women’s issues were just an interesting side-note to me at the time.

A few months ago I had what the experts call a “big” dream. An Intuitive and Jungian dream analysis-expert friend of mine interpreted it as my own battle with feelings of Female Oppression. I had never associated any of my own domestic frustrations with such a concept, but when she said it, it resonated. It rang through me like the Liberty Bell. I had grown up in a patriarchal world, in general, and a religious community, specifically, where women are undermined and ruled over, with first their father and then the husband as their “head” and salvation. Our bodies, minds, even prayers, were not our own. As Sue Monk Kidd says in Dance of the Dissident Daughter, I had “touched the wound of my feminine life.”

As I began delving into the writings that began my journey towards my own religious recovery I quickly realized that the Feminine would play a major role. My own Feminine Source had been denied me (and all other women of the last 5,000 years) when she was disowned by patriarchal society and religion. I long to set her free from her cage – as I had at age 16 without realizing it. And now one of my references for my studies is the very one I read back in a women’s history course almost 16 years ago. Even a chance conversation and a book recommendation while at Goddard, which I had dismissed as not really relating to my studies, suddenly became very relevant.

Wow! #3: I live in a blue-collar town. As a self-employed workshop facilitator and coach it is very difficult to make a living here. It is not an artistic town (although there are artists and writers burrowed away by the lakes and mountain-sides surrounding the town) and it is poor and, by Vermont’s extremely high standards, can be dangerous. I have lived and visited vibrant cities where there is a sense of community and respect for the town and the people in it. City-wide events are well-attended and fun. I desperately want this for my town but I’ve never really articulated what it is that makes a town different.

While noodling along in my journal at the Goddard residency I wrote, “Live-able communities are spiritually-based communities. Lots of nature, healthy options, community events, caring for self and each other.”  Without exactly knowing what I meant by the definition, I realized the difference is spiritual. Connection. A One-ness. There is personal empowerment within a Whole.

A few days after returning home from Goddard, one of my advising group sent me a link to a Public Radio International show, “To the Best of Our Knowledge” called, “Losing Religion.” One guest spoke of his discovery that the least religious societies have the lowest crime rates and vice versa. His visits to Denmark and Sweden, where the people wouldn’t even consider voting in a religious leader, presented him with beautiful, clean, safe, back-to-nature cities.

Again, the connections: I had been questioning What Makes a Community and thinking about it in my own tiny life when the subject suddenly presents itself to me on a much larger, societal scale. This is obviously just a tiny peek at a much larger question with many, many variables (which I could go into more here but you’ll have to wait for the book! These topics will be making up the bulk of my research while at grad school). But I questioned and the answers started to come. Given to me…

It’s those rascally rascals, Serendipity and Synchronicity!

Prompt: I experienced Serendipity and Synchronicity in my life when…

_______

 

Please visit my Examiner.com page for articles on Journaling for Kids, Organization and almost everything in between.

Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.