Theory vs Reality

As part of my graduate studies, we are expected to choose a theoretical orientation on which we will base our counselling practice.  We are meant to become grounded in one set of beliefs so that we will have a stable base; then we can draw on other theories as needed.

For the longest time, I believed I had chosen a particular theory.  Recently I realized that although I love that orientation in the theoretical realm, I actually live my life according to different principles.

(In case anyone is interested, my pet theory is existential therapy while my operating principles are more aligned with cognitive therapy).

This has got me thinking about the frequency with which we tend to hold one set of beliefs while actually living in entirely different ways.

It can be so easy to develop a framework for life that we talk about and espouse to other people.  But then when it comes to what we actually do in practice?  All those pretty words we have crafted fall out the bottom and we do things quite differently.  This is not a bad thing.  I think we benefit from having a set of principles to aspire to, even if we are not able to always act in congruence to those principles.

The simplest example that springs to mind for me involves driving.  Anyone who has read much here knows that I am constantly striving for self acceptance and calm presence and I see myself as a peaceful being.  However, I get mean when I get stuck in traffic!  Sometimes the words that come out of my mouth in the privacy of my car are shocking even to me 🙂

Again, this is not a catastrophic failing.  My tendency to engage in reflection is allowing me to catch myself when I am acting in ways that feel inauthentic.  I am ever learning to practice the actions that I believe to be important and valuable.  If I didn’t have that grounded belief system, I would be far less likely to continue to strive to grow and change.  So it’s really okay that my actions don’t always match my words.  It’s part of being human and it gives me direction.

I am reminded that an important part of mindful acceptance is accepting that I’m going to stumble along the way.

The power of a hug

I saw my parents today as they were passing through town.  A very short visit and I cherished it.  Especially the hugs.

I am regularly experiencing existential angst these days.  Wondering about the purpose of it all with a heightened awareness of the transiency of life.  When these thoughts arrive in my head (with a full cotillion of baggage and accoutrements), I tend to get caught up in death anxiety that extends beyond just my own eventual demise to that of my loved ones, particularly my parents.

My parents, incognito :)

My parents, incognito :)

I start to obsess about all the things in life that can go wrong and how the natural progression of life is that one day my folks will be gone.  This terrifies me.  I can’t imagine a world where I don’t have the flow of love and strength that they offer unconditionally to me.  It’s likely quite unhealthy how I crave their validation, but there it is.

With such heaviness close in my mind, it was wonderful to be momentarily held close in a hug by my mom and dad.  There is something in the love of my parents that is so purely good and strong.  That sense of being completely accepted and valued, in a way that I don’t manage to accept myself.  That acceptance flows through them into me in the guise of a simple circle of arms.

I believe strongly in the power of touch and how it can be healing.  And I think hugging is my favourite way of touching.

So I send my gratitude to my mom and dad for the gift of hugs that made me feel okay today, even if just for a moment.

Week of Self-Love

This blog post is part of the Week of Self-Love hosted by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt of annesophie.us.

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Her prompt was to write about self care or self love… for me this fits perfectly with my Friday Foto Feature – photography is one way that I reconnect with myself.  It is an art that I practice purely for the pleasure it brings me and, for the most part, I am able to loosen both my perfectionistic reins and my people pleasing tethers and simply shoot what *I* like.

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So I present to you my pictures of a rose… I was fascinated with the colours and took many many photos.  During my little photo shoot, I became absorbed in the moment, moving gently into “flow”.  The whole process left me feeling calm and mindfully accepting of the tenuous nature of my peace.

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Women’s wisdom

Throughout my life, I have always had good girlfriends from different circles.  While I cherish the 1 on 1 time with each, I have also often craved having a cohesive group to gather around me.

Recently, I have also been reading about women’s spirituality and been intrigued by the concepts of how the divine feminine has been denied and made subordinate to masculine ideals.  This even shows up in some feminists who seem to be trying to break into the male-ness of systems rather than claiming the feminine as unique and valuable.

A concept that shows up frequently in readings on female spirituality is the idea of a women’s circle.  It can be conceptualized in different ways, from a very ritual-laden event, to a more casual gathering with food and friends. The common factor is a spirit of sisterhood and intimacy born from the female part of our selves.

I feel the need to stress that my view of the female spirit is not from any particular religious affiliation and in no way works to bash men.  To me, that is not at all what a celebration should include.  The women’s circle is a space to acknowledge the spirit of connection and fullness that comes from women being together and allowing themselves to share the experiences of life.

When I first started reading about such gathering, my reaction was strong desire to be part of one.  This was quickly followed by sadness that I am not.  Then there was a mad online searching for a local group that I could join.

Luckily, at some point in my striving, I remembered to come back to myself and acknowledge and accept where I am now.  This shift in thinking and presence led me down a different path.  I looked to the women who are already in my life, in their varied ways and I decided to invite them to be a part of a loosely structured evening of sharing the beauty of female energy.

It was a big milestone for me, to remember to take the small step instead of rushing ahead to some imagined perfect finish line.  For once, I recognized the power of creating and growing from where I already have abundance.  It also pushed me outside of my comfort zone as I rarely have people over; playing hostess is unfamiliar and anxiety provoking for me.  It feels scary to bring others into my home, my safe place.

I was thrilled with how the evening unfolded.  It was a small group and each openly brought themselves.  I had a few small activities and each beautiful soul took part fully and the moments flowed smoothly with me managing to get out of my own way and simply be.  It was an evening to learn and experience each other as we are.  I loved that the group who attended are each different and yet interacted naturally and easily.

I realize I am waxing poetic about the whole thing.  For me, it was poetry.  These women affirmed the healing possibility of female energy.  Even better, all are interested in meeting again which tickles my soul.  We are creating the group I craved.

It was a powerful reminder to me of what can happen when I allow myself to take a chance and to be vulnerable.

Moments of grace…

I’m still feeling rather low and sad these days so I figured it would be helpful for me to remind myself of the moments of grace that happen even in the midst of darkness…

  • The comforting sound of a distant thunderstorm

  • An awkward, but amusing, encounter with another walker (we were headed toward each other on the street, and both of us over corrected to put ourselves still on a collision course) – a small moment of shared laughter
  • A refreshing fall breeze
  • The sound of waves on the ocean
  • Admitting to a friend that I am struggling and feeling heard
  • Enjoying a healing massage
  • Making eye contact with a stranger and sharing a warm smile
  • Not knowing what to sketch but allowing it to come to me and not judging the end product

  • Losing myself in a novel
  • Having a client tell me I am beautiful
  • Getting a parking spot right in front of my building
  • Having the barista at a cafe remember my order

    And of course, best of all…

Getting a new comment from my lovely blogging community 🙂  Your words always manage to brighten my day and give me comfort when I need it – many many thanks.

 

Tongue tied

I find myself having trouble expressing myself clearly these days.  This is particularly problematic as I have just started my counselling internship – I need to be able to talk!

I think it may be a reflection of all the inner turmoil, escaping when I open my mouth and try to be coherent.

I feel like I have these ideas and thoughts and feelings in my head and then when I try to verbalize them, I am awkwardly tripping all over myself.  It all comes out in a jumble and then I am disappointed when the response I get is not what I wanted.  When it is clear that I have NOT conveyed the message I was trying to get across.

I’m even feeling it here, now, in this post.  It’s like I just can’t quite choose the right combination of words to break through.  It is extremely frustrating as someone who loves words and language so much!

I think, at least in part, it’s because I am digging deep internally these days.  I’m looking within and finding this journey to be lonely and difficult.  I have some social propriety, though, and I know that I can’t simply express the deep doubts and longings of my soul to every person who steps across my path.  And so, when I do go to speak (which I’m having to do far more of lately than I have in months!), the words need to somehow navigate through all the muck to emerge.  They must be filtered in order to not overwhelm the poor soul who merely asked how my day was.  Somehow that filtering system is jamming up and words get tossed out and then clumsily try to crawl back in when they don’t fit outside.

If you could see me, you would have just observed a big sigh as I realize I have no clever or eloquent direction to take this post.  So I think I will stop writing before I did myself deeper with words I seem unable to control.

Scrapbook poetry

Poem1

If I could – feel – a heartbeat – disguised

made of – love, love, love

now – made for me – right for me

If you have nothing – the trick is to stop trying so hard

Take a deep breath – search inside – mind the moment – it takes as long as it takes

Unfinished – bare naked – hanging on

It’s who you are

Yet another creative outlet for me is writing poetry… I even have another site dedicated just to that (Jewel in the Hand), though it is updated far less frequently.  I have been feeling rather sad and depressed and disheartened over the last little while and created the piece above to reflect and filter some of the heavy emotion.

As I so often find, I loved just letting my inner wisdom arrange the words to help me find a message of hope and of peace.