Sunday, January 29, 2017

Applications Wanted

Currently accepting applications to participate in outdoors activities, specifically to motivate an adult woman to do outdoor activities on days like today, days when said woman is in good spirits overall, but feeling a slight lack of motivation. On said days an outdoor companion would be of utmost assistance. The most important qualification, in addition to being active outside, is the ability to both participate in engaging conversations as well as feel at ease and at home in silence. At the moment the primary need is in the area of cross-country skiing, but other outdoor activities will also qualify.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. This position is not limited to one individual.


My friend posted on Instagram one December about visiting Santa in NYC and asking for a boyfriend for Christmas. Soon after someone applied for the position.

That thought inspired me today and gave me something playful to think about while I skied. Then I thought my blog is clearly not the most efficient place to post this. I could make an, "APPLICATIONS WANTED" and tape on my back while I'm skiing and then have a little folder with the details -like the details you get on house that is for sale.  I could take interviews immediately for interested individuals - ski one lap with me in silence and one lap in conversation.  Then after being provided contact information, I will let you know if you qualify.


My word of the year for 2017 is "Light" which has numerous definitions, one of which I am consciously leaning into is "playful".

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March in St. Paul

"Love Wins!"

This is not usually a phrase that leads to me crying.

Today is a different kind of day.

Today, I joined 1000's of other people to send a message to our world and to ourselves, that love is more powerful than fear. But today I also thought, "Not all the time, sometimes wounds are bigger."

Which explains why a certain man is in office

and another man is not in my life.

Today an argument waged in my brain. The grieving process, which may or not be sequential, goes - Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression then Acceptance. So maybe this argument in my brain was the bargaining, the wrestling, the fighting it out, "But love is stronger!"

"But it clearly isn't."

"But love is stronger."

"Only if you let it through."

I'm reminded of a story about the sun and how the sun is more powerful than darkness. However, you can close the blinds and keep it out. It doesn't mean the blinds are more powerful than the sun, but they can get in the way.

We can get in the way.

Wounds get in the way.

Today I was angry at the bargaining in my brain. "It has been decided. Just let go!"

"But, BUT, BUT!"

I was angry at myself for this bargaining. "Why can't you just accept what has been decided? Why can't you see what is so clear? Why can't you see that the fact that you don't understand,

simply doesn't matter

to him

or to our world."

It was tiresome and weighty and painful and then I remembered, after a long while, some advice I gave just yesterday. "When those battles are raging in your brain, let some light in, let some playfullness in." God yes. I need that too, I need to let something else in!

For me that was, and is, just an allowance for this bargaining to happen. "Tammy, you don't have to be further along in this process. You don't have to force yourself or push yourself or hurry yourself. I know you don't want to care. I know you just want to let go and move on. It's ok.

It's ok to cling. It's ok to grasp. It's ok to not want to let go." Just typing those words I can feel myself, feel myself begin to breathe.

"It's ok to not want to let yourself, let go."

I can feel myself begin.

I just finished a journal last night. On the first page I was reading Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton, on the last page I reflected on Intimacy "INTO ME SEE." That to have intimacy with another person we have to let them in to see. That's the only way. That's all there is.

Today I thought of moments when I failed to do this. Moments when pain came up and I could have leaned in and said, "Tell me more about that, I want to understand." Moments when I failed.

Failed to be intimate.

This rally was a response to a government of fear, a proclamation that love is still here,

and it was encouraging and strong and powerful and

I felt disconnected from that love.

I wanted to be the woman who recently began compiling things she enjoyed about being single, I hadn't written them down yet, but I just had them, the other day.

Now they are scattered like scraps in the wind. All I could find was alone, disconnected, sad and quiet.

A bit of connection finally emerged when, after departing the bus and heading back to the car, my friend hooked her arm into mine. I started to cry. "Thank you," I said, "I needed that." She thanked me for figuring out the bus and the directions.

Simple touch can be so reassuring. I've enjoyed so much of that the past couple years.

It's gone now.

I know I've learned so much these past weeks, but I wouldn't trade that learning in for the touch. "Why should I have to trade?" the bargaining begins again, "Why can't I have both?"

If I crawl into a cocoon for a while will I emerge as a butterfly?

Will I emerge at all?

Friday, January 13, 2017


Waves are how I describe my life these days – crest, descend - calm, turbulent.  This week has been no exception.  Sometimes the waves tell you to sit still with the pain, sometimes they tell you to act.  It’s hard when you can’t see over the crest, when you don’t know if there are rocks ahead or a gentle shore.  When I was asked last week what gave me strength, I gave a few responses, none of which were writing, I can’t believe I didn’t come to think of writing.

Today I’m grateful for the phone call I made at 6:40AM.  It was pain that led me there, old feelings that I didn’t want back, but it led to a 2 hour conversation, much more peaceful than the one we’d had with the counselor last night.

And the writing that followed, all the responsibility I now felt comfortable claiming.   

The tightrope of responsibility is a tricky one, try to place it mostly on the other, or mostly on yourself -  you just fall down.  But when you can find that center point, for a moment and trust it...  Acknowledge what you see in another; own what you see in yourself.  There is immense strength there.

One of those for me is not allowing other people to be angry.  I have little experience with the healthy expression of anger.  It wasn’t modeled for me and it’s rare that I am able to do it myself.  So because I shut down and am afraid in the face of anger, I have the unrealistic expectation that it shouldn’t be there.   

Dare I realize or recognize the hurt that is beneath?  Dare I learn I can protect myself and also see that pain in another?

I'm off to see the woman who told me last week to write, "What would the trees say to you?"  I thought I'd read her that but I have other, more recent, writing to reflect on and share.  I'm so grateful to have the space to do that.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

"I am not what just happened to me there, but I might be what I do next." Glennon Doyle Melton

I began this blog in 2010 from a few seeds. The first being a friend's suggestion that I write a blog, "What would I write about?" I replied.

Soon after I was cross-country skiing, feeling ungrateful and fed up with my ungratefulness. I remembered Oprah or someone mentioning a gratitude practice and I came home and looked it up. "Ok, this is going to be my experiment."

I am reminded of this now because as I grew into this practice I started occasionally wondering what it would look like when life got hard, when I had something really painful to face. However, now that I think about it, that is where this practice began. At that point things weren't hard in a specific way, more a general way, nothing particularly wrong, nothing particularly right.

Now the pain is specific and particular. I certainly don't always feel grateful, but that is not the point. I didn't begin this because I felt grateful in my life. I began it because I knew the gratitude was there, I just wasn't seeing it.

As I quoted Cheryl Strayed's mother in my last post, “There’s a sunrise and sunset every day and you can choose to be there for it, you can put yourself in the way of beauty.”

I began journaling long before I began this gratitude practice, 20 years ago. I go through at least two journals a year and I've noticed they naturally start and end at synchronistic moments. My current journal began in October when I started reading Glennon Doyle Melton's Love Warrior.

It's interesting the seeds that are hidden in the soil. For example, I had a few panic attacks this summer/fall. It wasn't the first time in my life, but the previous few had been rare, brief and isolated incidents that I was happy to forget. The one I had in August was different. It didn't last a matter of minutes, it lasted hours. I can no longer say if that is the worst experience of my life, but if not, it's at a tie. Anyway, because of that I sought out a counselor in network with my insurance for myself this fall. So it's because of that horrible experience that I had the gift of sitting in that counselor's office yesterday. Panic is no longer my primary concern, but the resource was there and ready for me when I needed it.

I read the counselor an excerpt from a letter I'd just received from a friend of mine, "...When I am sad and scared and lonely, I think about you to give me strength..." The counselor said I'm always caring for everybody else, and asked what gives me strength. I said, "Eckhart Tolle, the Dalai Lama, trees.." I didn't think of Glennon, but I turned to her today and now I fully understand why she is the beginning of this journal. She is what I need now.

I listened to an interview with her today -

"I don't know if this will be a redemption story for my marriage, but this is sure as hell going to be a redemption story for me...I'm going to use this crap. Because pain, I mean we don't do well with pain, right? Like we think pain is something to be fixed or to be numbed and the second we feel pain we think we did something wrong, right? Like we think like it's a mistake. Get over it, get rid of it, numb it, like give it to somebody else. We say hot potato, every time someone is unkind to you, it's just because they didn't know how to be still with their pain. Right? So they just passed it on to you real quick."

Then she said, "I am not what just happened to me there, but I might be what I do next."

Wow. Yes.

I might be what I do next.

Yesterday that was going to a laughter yoga class. Laughing was the last thing I felt like doing and I almost didn't go, but the timing and location worked out to be too convenient to ignore. I didn't want to fake it so one of the first things I said was, "Laughter is about the last thing I feel like doing now, which is why I'm here."

"This is going to be a good class," the instructor responded.

And it was, when we got to the meditation and the teacher went through our body parts he included, "broken heart" because I'd suggested the "broken heart" laugh earlier in class. That is when the tears arrived, the tears I hadn't been able to feel for the previous 24 hours. After class I went straight to the nearest library to do my counselor's assignment. Since I'd told her that trees give me strength and that I tell poems to trees she said, "Write what the trees would say to you."

So I found a chair off by itself and the tears came and the words as well.

What Would the Trees Say to Me?

Oh sweet one. Oh sweet sweet Tammy.
Gentle-hearted Tammy
Kind kind Tammy
Tammy who stops to bid us respect and thanks
Tammy who gives us hugs and kisses and poems
Oh Tammy who takes in our beauty
Oh sweet sweet Tammy
Gentle heart, gentle heart, gentle one
Who feels so deeply, who feels so much
Dear one we are holding you
Can you feel that you are being held?
We know how you long to be held
to be embraced
to be seen

You have made great strides towards healing
great strides towards wholeness

Allow what remains broken to be
be with the brokenness
you are grieving
the love that you felt
the love that you had
grief runs deep into the earth
nourishment awaits in the roots

He can't give you any more love
he gave you all that he can
he gave you all that he has
his needs are not yours to fill
he stopped seeing you sometimes
like when you tried to protect us
the trees
you didn't even know
you didn't even know

You felt so much love
so much contentment
so much joy
that is yours
that was yours
you can have it again
you do have it still

I know you are scared
We know you think this was too precious
to be replicated
We know you feel lost
without a plan

You had a vision
for once
lacking these many years
that vision is not for him
to carry

You have a ring on your finger
of us 
interwoven trees
interwoven spirits
interwoven hearts
the web

You don't know it
but we know you shine
we've seen you
a brilliant spark
a dazzling emerald

afraid you are to move too fast
afraid you are to move too slow
afraid you are to move
so stand still
like us, and reach down
you are good with directions
your small, simple and seemingly insignificant life
is enough
each tree does its part
you love us all
you love us all
you love

Glennon says, "If you are going to get the gifts of rock bottom you have to, like, dive the hell into it. You have to go straight towards whatever pain you would prefer to run away from."

And sometimes you need to hear the same statement a few dozen times, from a few dozen perspectives, for it to sink in.

Glennon again, "But I think progress through something like this, something traumatic, is more, it's not linear, it's not like we go from like unhealthy to healthy or failure to success. I think it is all circular, you just come back around to the same pain, the same loneliness, but each time you come around you are stronger from the climb, I can feel it."

I get that.

She also said, "I ruined my family for 20 years because, that's suffering, because I chose not to feel my own pain, because it doesn't just disappear, it goes somewhere. So if I don't deal with my own pain then it goes on to my family."

And we carry that pain with us for generations.  This is clear to me.  

For example, my grandparents on my mother's side.  My grandfather's father died when he was a young child.  My grandmother's mother died when she was a young child.  So two people growing up with the same primary wound are attracted to each other, in part, because they carry this wound together.  They either do the work of healing that pain together, or pass that pain on to the next generation.

I remember how cut off my grandmother was emotionally (she lived longer than my grandfather so I have a better sense of her).  My mother still grew up abandoned (emotionally instead of physically), and that too was passed on to me.  However, my mother also made steps towards healing.  She hit her bottom and eventually she turned for help.  "But I think life gets too heavy and too hard because it is supposed to.  Right?  Because when it gets too heavy that's when we have to call for a sister to the left and we have to call for a sister to the right and that's the best part of life.  It's not getting through it so's needing people and being needed." Glennon Doyle Melton

I've felt super grateful for my friendships recently.  From comments like

"I am sorry for the loss you're experiencing right now but so excited for the opening that has clearly occurred for you which allowed you to even find yourself in this place.  I can hardly wait to see the good that will come from it..."

I read that statement both skeptically and gratefully.

Another friend sent me a podcast that introduced me to the term, "Gaslighting."  The concept has kind of short circuited my brain.  I am just beginning to process it.  The term is based off a movie, which showcases an extreme example that I imagine few people would relate to, however further investigation helped me to discover that -

"Gaslighting does not require deliberate plotting. Gaslighting only requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality.
The rest just happens organically when a person who holds that belief feels threatened. We learn how to control and manipulate each other very naturally."
So along with the codependence thing, this is another term I need to examine and face.   I suppose the two go together.

"It's like every time we get those scary demons out from the dark of inside of ourselves, we get them out into the light, and they're just like these little...  You're like, 'oh my God I spent my whole life terrified of that thing I've gotten out and', it's like the second they get out into the light and people start saying, 'Me too,' you're like, 'oh, dumb @ss thing, controlled me for so long and it was just like a little gremlin.'"  Glennon Doyle Melton

So yes there are demons here, or gremlins, or things that like to hide in the dark and haunt us, but as Lewis Howes said in the interview I listened to with Glennon.  He can now talk about his biggest demon like he's talking about the dinner he ate last night.  Because he brought it out into the light, it no longer haunts him or controls him.

Writing is how I process things, bringing them out into the light.  

"There is always two choices in front of you and they are always love and fear.  ALWAYS!  We can choose fear as much as we want, and I do all the time, but we know that it won't get us anywhere.  We know that the love choice is usually the hard choice, you know, and it's the one that always pays off."  Glennon Doyle Melton


Quotes from Glennon were from these two interviews on youtube.  I especially recommend the second.

Glennon Doyle Melton &;; Marie Forleo on Being A Love Warrior

Glennon Doyle Melton on Becoming a Love Warrior with Lewis Howes