No Words

Photo courtesy of Magda Andrzejesk

Photo courtesy of Magda Andrzejesk

I’m not sure of it is my nature or the ways in which my education and experience as a counselor has nurtured me, but I am very okay with silence. I don’t find it awkward or comfortable. When it reaches out to hold the moment’s hand I extend my own to welcome it.

And so when he slumped over on the makeshift bench in my kitchen, and began to cry I placed his hand my own and sat with him. We sat in the silence. I wanted a few words to comfort him. Just a few simple but powerful ones and yet I knew that nothing would be more powerful than the quiet of the night settling in and allowing the room to fill with his breath, his tears, and soon his words. The silence made way for his words, words I was certain had only run amuck in his mind, but never tumbled off the tongue to tickle his ear. They were hard, crunchy, painful words. They were his hard crunchy painful truth. I was grateful that whatever words I searched for eluded me and that silence made her presence and her power known.

Photo courtesy of Go Feminin.de

Photo courtesy of Go Feminin.de

Silence has a way of making room for us. It has a way of making space for the hidden vulnerable uncertain parts of our humanity, lacking in judgment, abundant in patience. It has a way of coaxing us to painful yet courageous confrontations with truths we let linger in our souls but are in denial about its very existence.

The past few weeks have been full of experiences that continue to leave me with fewer and fewer words. I have found more solace in times of silence, more peace when the noise has come to cease, more clarity in the absence of chatter. I have found myself better able to listen to and access what I need to be, do, live well. I’ve been more confident in and happier with my decisions, at ease when I’ve said yes and when I’ve said no.

Photo courtesy of More Magazine.com

Photo courtesy of More Magazine.com

Last week I reminded us to make time for what we need. That in the US, between Thanksgiving and the New Year we are often busier than other times f the year, traveling, attending parties, hosting parties, shopping, returning, volunteering at annual events to support our communities, etc. If we’re not careful to get what we need in seasons of busy we do ourselves a disservice. This week I’m letting you know  sometimes you need silence. Sometimes it is the quiet that speaks volumes in and to our lives, giving us the clarity and resolve we need to make decisions that help us in our commitment to living incredibly, victoriously, and emphatically. May you find yourself speechless this week. May silence extend her hand and may you willingly extend yours to hold hers.

 

In Need

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

I was trying to withhold my bias as I recounted the morning keynote speakers at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women.  But like the good friend that she is, she knew I had a favorite. “Leymah Gbowee was amazing.”  She took a sip of her coffee and added more cream. “Let’s put it this way, she was the only speaker to receive a standing ovation.”  We walked from the coffee station and followed the crimson carpet down the long beige hallway, up the escalators, and grabbed seats in a workshop about perception- being cognizant of how others perceive us and wisely choosing when to spend energy to create the perception we want others to have of us. There’s a difference.  “If I didn’t hear anyone else today, having heard Leymah would suffice.” I took my seat, bit my apple, and turned to focus on the four women on the stage in front of us.

There were 9,000 women in attendance of the one day Pennsylvania Conference for Women, six keynote speakers, and approximately 30 different concurrent sessions.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time in its entirety, but truth be told, I came for one woman- Leymah Gbowee.  I came to hear her words of inspiration. Not only did she deliver words of inspiration, she did so with conviction, humility, and authenticity. I came for what I knew I needed.

mailonline

Photo courtesy of Mail Online.com

Three days before seeing Leymah  I woke to a text message saying nit to come to the campus where I work as there was a threat of violence.  The days following that 5:30am text were ones filled with uncertainty, slowly released information, working with colleagues to evacuate campus, the scent  of fear and anxiety wafting in the air, and a sensitive inbox only accepting emails about the threat to safety to my campus community.  The students who were supposed to travel with my colleagues and I to the conference weren’t able to do so because we sent them home. The day before the conference I confirmed with my colleagues their remaining interest in attendance given the circumstances. My interest never wavered. My commitment to going never wavered.  I knew that I needed to be surrounded by women on a mission, committed to thriving, loving their women selves. I knew I needed to hear the words of Leymah Gbowee. I knew I needed to hear Gloria Steinem and John Jacob. I knew I needed to be in a real city, see one of my good girlfriends, and grab a glass of wine and empanadas at Mixto.

Life has a way of throwing all that it’s got at us and sometimes what actually hits us is anything but awesome.  Sometimes we wake up to text messages that tell you the place where you spend 40 hours a week isn’t safe. Sometimes we wake up to phone calls about someone who we loved dying. Sometimes we wake up to our partner leaving us for reasons we are still pondering, to pains so intense that seek medical attention in an effort to ease them and we find out we’ve miscarried.  The mornings are followed by hours and days of anything but bliss, joy, and happiness. Yet, I find that when we make what we need in these trying times a priority we find our strength renewed, even if it is slight, the flame in our eye is present even if it still flickers. When we negate what we need, we negate our reality, and we negate us. If we want to change the reality, even the most painful ones, we’ve got to acknowledge it, ourselves, and what we need to manage it.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

In the wake of uncertainty I knew I needed to be in an environment that was certain, certain to keep me grounded in who I am and focused on who I desire to become. I knew I needed to be surrounded by passion, creativity, and courage. I said no gracias to ignoring what I knew would give me the life to manage the current reality of my life.

As I was writing this I was made aware that the young man who posed a safety threat to my campus community died from a self inflicted gunshot wound.  I stopped writing for the night, allowed myself to be okay with not checking “blog post” off on my to do list for the day. I checked in with friends and colleagues, called it a night, and the next morning knew I needed some quiet and Starbucks. Starbucks  is one of my go to spaces in times of transition and uncertainty. It’s where I find my calm, gather my thoughts, acknowledge what I need, and how to access it.

cafeapostrophe

Thanksgiving is Thursday here in the US. For some it will be a glorious glutinous day of feasting, family, and friends. For others I know it is a day with the weight of painful memories and interactions with folks with whom the relationship is strained for one reason or another. In either case my hope is that you hold fast to what you need this week.  My hope is that in the 168 hours you get between this Monday and next, some of those hours are spent in spaces that give you life so you can LIVE your life well.

Not About That Part Time Life

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

“You better before someone else does.” They were an attempt I’m sure to nudge me towards getting to know a guy better. A really nice guy. A really attractive, funny, sweet guy. But I knew better. I knew I was in no place to give anything that would suggest that me and Mr. Nice guy should be that “nice couple” over there.  I could probably manage a few fun lunches and dinners, maybe even a day trip somewhere, a sports outing with wings and beer afterwards but anything more, I knew I wouldn’t have much to offer. If he had a bad day, I’d feel bad but my ability to offer some type of support other than perhaps a really corny joke wouldn’t be there.  He’d get a good time girl. However, life has good times and not so good times. He’d need a real girl, a real me, for real life.  At best he’d get a part time version of me which I wouldn’t want to offer anyone. I’d have to say “No thanks,” to Mr. Nice Guy.

Part time works for some things, like school and work. Usually school or work is part time while the other is full time.  But for things like meaningful relationships and living on purpose- not so much.  And by meaningful relationships I also mean with yourself.  Being intentional with taking care of you with intent and purpose is not a part time gig. You are not a part person. You are whole and thus in need and absolutely worthy of your whole everything.

Your purpose in life is also one that complements a whole you; drawing on all of your energy, resources, talents, creativity, time, and attention.  There is not a single person I admire for living a purpose filled life that has done so by giving portions of themselves to their calling. It just doesn’t work. Their fulfillment derived from living a purpose filled life is in proportion to what they have poured into it.

Photo courtesy of MTV Style

Photo courtesy of MTV Style

I’ve been pushing myself recently to part ways with the things I’ve been giving myself to part time. I’ve been honest about the people and work that simply don’t get the best of me and why that is. A huge part of the why is that it is no longer appropriate to be in my life for this time and or for where I see myself going in life.  The great thing about saying no thanks to part time things is that it makes more time for full time things. As I’ve pushed out some part time folks and habits I’ve found myself pulled towards full time folks and habits I have time to commit to developing as a full time way of life.

I will also tell you that in my push to go full time with my life it has not been easy. It’s been beyond frustrating and resorting to part time is enticing. Go along to get along is alluring. Imagining that “it could be worse” and throwing in the towel on “but it could be better” seems absolutely reasonable.    Yet I find when I sit with the frustration, cry it out, pray it out, call a friend or two, the perspective of the whole picture, a whole abundant life where wellness is not defined by the absence of what I deem bad or hurtful but the presence of what I deem good and purposeful- is a glorious vibrant picture. One that I don’t want blocked by shadows or discolored by part time effort.

May you find yourself this week living fully because you are giving fully. May you choose that one area in your life as a place to start full time, knowing the pay and benefits are simply a better version of you. May you go all in on the diet, the exercise routine, the counseling, the going back to school, the community engagement.  May you choose just one thing to say no thanks to giving yourself part time to. May you have that conversation that was a long time coming with your boss or partner. May you actually stick to you savings plan this week and stop telling yourself that it’s just “$5.00” for the latte and ten just “$10.00” for lunch, and just “$23.97” for the dress that s 75% off and that you might wear to the holiday party you might go to because he might finally ask you to go on a real date and not just to come over at 2:37 am.   In this whole week may you experience some wholeness because you decided to say “No thanks,” to part time living.

Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed.com

Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed.com

Boots You Need Not Say No To

It’s Friday and I am all about taking a moment from all of the “no thanks” to give a “yes please” to these boots. While fall has been sittin’ pretty for abut six weeks, consistent boot wearing weather has made a much more recent debut. I’ve pulled out my favorite boots and I’ve pulled out my favorite new camel riding style colored ones courtesy of bandolino. There are the low cut black motorcycle ones and the suede olive green ones htat tie up in the back. There are the slate grey pointed toe ones and the rounded black toe knew high boots. And then…there are all of these that I came across and ther may be a pair or two that may come across my closet. Until Monday! xxoo

Photo courtesy of Vogue.com

Photo courtesy of Vogue.com

Photo courtesy of Glamour Magazine.com

Photo courtesy of Glamour Magazine.com

Photo courtesy of Glamour Magazine.com

Photo courtesy of Glamour Magazine.com

Photo courtesy of DSW.com

Photo courtesy of DSW.com

Photo courtesy of Who What Wear.com

Photo courtesy of Who What Wear.com

Photo courtesy of Harper's Bazaar.com

Photo courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar.com

No For the Sake of Yes

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

I couldn’t tell if it was the medication talking or if it was me talking but regardless of who/what it was, I liked what I was hearing and liked even more how I was feeling. Most of what I was hearing were things like “No, but thanks for asking.” Or “I think I will be okay, but thanks for thinking of me.” Or “I actually really don’t enjoy that, so I’m going to pass.” , “No I don’t like it here.”, “No thanks.”, and “I’d rather not.”  In some form or fashion I was saying “No” left and right.  Furthermore, it was not followed up by an explanation to appease or gather validation and support for my decision from the one making the offer.  That- that not needing to explain my decision felt absolutely glorious. It felt like one of the perks of being an adult, not needing to explain yourself, was an actual perk!

I don’t know about you, but it can be so very easy, particularly in times of transition, to say yes like it’s your 9-5. It usually results in our desire to belong, fit in, be perceived a particular way, etc. It’s usually very other focused. Yet as someone rounding out her second year of transition, I can tell you a habitual yes can do far more damage than the carefully selected, clearly communicated, non explained occasional no.  

Furthermore, when you get really good and clear at saying and sticking to the big No’s you will be surprised how easy it is to say the little no’s. For example, when I have told myself, “No I am not willing to be in an environment where gossip and negativity is the norm”, it’s easy to turn down certain social gatherings because one or two yeses taught me the environment was one I was committed to saying “No” to. Or a big one for me is my time. I have grown to value it so much more and so when I say “My time is invaluable. I will not use it to do things that don’t align with my life philosophy.” it’s really easy to say no to things that will eat up my time as opposed to being an investment of my time. For example, my lunch breaks are used for any and everything from conducting interviews for The Simply LIVEd Life, working on new print designs, researching, calling and speaking with people in my life who add to my sense of joy, reading, or even napping. If my day is long, it behooves me to get a nap in to be more productive later.  Valuing my time allows me to say no to anything that undervalues it.

Photo courtesy of Ethan James

Photo courtesy of Ethan James

This past weekend I said yes to going to the city for the day. This meant I said no to late night small town shenanigans.  I’d already had a late night Friday and here was no way if I was going to maximize my time in the city on Sunday I could do so by another late Saturday night, especially one that would have its fair share of drinking away the depressing reality of a small town where racism, sexism, and privilege are real and you don’t belong.  I was not willing to trade the energy I would need to engage in the space where I knew I belong for an environment with with folks who were rather confident they didn’t belong for one reason or another yet they weren’t quite sure how to get to places where they did.

Which leads me to the last big “No.” I have recently said “No” to things that don’t bring me joy. Part of me worries just a smidge that you will read that and think I am such a stereotypical  American- individualistic and self centered. For as much as I want you or anything else to think good things about me more times than not, I’d really prefer you think real things about me. The real thing about me is that I’ve simply come to accept that I want a joyful life which means I am going to have to cultivate that and hold on to that by all means necessary. It means continued commitment to the few simple things that cause my heart to smile.  It means saying no to the things that don’t bring me joy.  Right now I’ve got some things in my life that don’t bring me joy. I’m working on letting go of those things to make room for the things that do bring me joy.

The Simply LIVED Life has always been about the power to choose, particularly to choose to live well. Part of choosing life is choosing when to say “No,” knowing that it reaffirms our yes to the choice to live incredibly victoriously and emphatically.

Photo courtesy of  Rebecca Minkoff.com

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Minkoff.com

Say No

I’m a part of a few online groups and by few I mean like two. One has been for about three years and the other has been for not quite three weeks. The Sabbath Society is a group I joined three years ago.  Shelly Miller, a wonderful writer, blogger, and blessing in so many ways started the society. Each Friday she sends us a letter encouraging us in our commitment to Sabbath- rest. This past Friday the email she sent couldn’t have been more timely in its reminder that to say yes to rest you have to say “No” to some things. I’m leaving you with her thoughtful words below. Happy Hump day! #NothanksNovember 

Say No

No Thanks November

Photo courtesy of Positive Med.com

Photo courtesy of Positive Med.com

Some Saturdays are for adulting aka being a responsible adult. This Saturday was precisely that. It was the first Saturday in almost a month that I was home. I ran adult errands- you know the kind, like going to the post office and the cleaners. Such errands always make me feel like a real adult. There was the farmers market where I picked up a new handmade soap from a new vendor. I strolled down to the water to see the antique boats docked for down rigging weekend. Then I headed home to pay bills. Nothing says adulting like paying bills. As I signed in to one account and out of another, confirming amounts, selecting dates, clicking “Submit” or “I Agree” and logging out I sighed. “I’m over this.” I thought to myself. I checked my savings account which wasn’t growing nearly as fast since accepting a job that paid far less than the last but was way better for my health. I looked at the screen and said “No thanks.”  I was turning down my current reality as my future.

It’s November and here in the US it is the month that generously houses the American holiday “Thanksgiving.” There will scarcely be an American publication that will adorn shelves in grocery stores or book stores, introduce themselves to mailboxes or inboxes, that won’t talk about the holiday or an attitude of thanksgiving. There will be the articles that talk about how to cultivate a more thankful life. How an attitude of gratitude has proven to add years to one’s life. How to give your partner the best _____________ that they will be thanking you for all night long. Holiday shopping tips that your bank account will thank you for. You catch my drift. I was tempted to follow suit, but the rebel in me just wouldn’t let me. And so,  on the blog this month, it will be No Thanks November. We’ll be talking about some of the things in life that maybe we shouldn’t embrace in order to live incredibly victoriously and emphatically. The things that it’s time for us to look at and say “No thanks, “- this is my current reality but I do not accept it as my future. 

The Simply LIVEd life is one committed to choosing a life that allows us to do the simplest thing- live. It’s hard to live when we forget that we can refute to make what is what will forever will be. We have the power to choose. Sometimes to live, you’ve got to look the situation, the job, the relationship, the bank account, in the face and say “No thanks.”  you can shrug, stroll, and move on to do what you need so the next time you can look at the situation, job, relationship, bank account, or whatever else and say “Why thank you kindly.”