A mini round-up of beautiful posts floating around the web this month. Enjoy.
What does it mean to hold space for someone else? It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.
His new album, Carrie & Lowell, a return to that narrative songwriting, is a fall-down gorgeous and emotionally devastating masterpiece prompted by the death of his mother, Carrie, in 2012. It features some of the most beautiful music ever made about loss, and some of the most direct explorations of death ever recorded. It is a brutal, extremely sad, relentlessly wrenching record that, because it’s so exquisitely crafted, you might keep on a loop for days.
Helios Dance Theater Ballet Duet to Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”
Karl and I had just sat down to take a brief reprieve from rigorous yard work. Lucy and Peter were across the street riding their bikes and we had just a few moments to ourselves before returning to the demands of landscaping and parenting. For our snack I had brought out full water bottles, ripe apples, and decadent dark chocolate for each of us. I started by savoring the chocolate first. Then, moved on to eating the apple. Mid-bite, with my feet reclining on the patio furniture, we heard Lucy scream that Peter had fallen. Naturally, Karl and I hopped to our feet and ran across the street to find him limping, crying and bloodied from a tough tumble he had just taken. Karl swept him up to carry him home and begin the doctoring and Lucy and I grabbed their bikes and helmets and trailed them not far behind. After leaning the bikes against the wall of the house, I rushed in to find Peter and Karl in the bathroom inspecting the damage. Peter’s lip was already cut and swollen and through his tears it was difficult to see what the damage was. Karl sat on the ledge of the bathtub and put Peter on his lap to calm and soothe him while I dipped a Q-tip in Vaseline to see if I could lift up his lip and see if his braces had cut all the way through. Surprisingly, they had not. However, he did have two splits in his top gums and would have a bee sting-like swollen lip for a few days.
Once my nursing was complete, I carried Peter out to the couch and got him tucked in with a blanket, a cartoon and an otter pop to numb the pain. That’s when I found Lucy curled up on the chair in the corner hugging her knees to her chest. Her tender heart can hardly tolerate anyone’s suffering, much less her baby brother’s. I worry about her as she will inevitably be exposed to the realities of this world where suffering is the norm. I asked her what was wrong and picking her up to sit on my lap, she explained how helpless she felt and that she just wished there was something she could have done, or could do next time. She explored the idea of always having an emergency kit with her wherever she went, including a wet rag. Those moments after she called for us and when we arrived were wrought with a powerlessness she wasn’t ready to encounter again soon. After she had been heard and understood, with a little extra squeeze and snuggle, I also tucked her in to her chair with a snack and her .mp3 player.
Karl had left the kids in my hands and rushed out to the backyard to finish cleaning up before the sun went down. I started dinner and was heading out to help him when I thought I’d save myself a trip and use the restroom before I headed out back. When I walked into the bathroom where the madness had been a half hour earlier, I saw it. There amongst the bloodied rag and Q-tips and toothbrush and toothpaste and other paraphernalia found in most bathrooms was an apple that had been half eaten. I looked and cocked my head to the right at the same time and wondered where it came from. Then, it dawned on me. I never set the apple down when I ran from the backyard to check on Peter. I carried it with me in one hand while I pushed the bike back to the house with the other. I didn’t set it down until I picked up the Q-tip and dipped it in the Vaseline.
The sight of a half-eaten apple on the counter in the bathroom struck me as so odd. Many thoughts and questions flooded through my mind. Why didn’t I set the apple down when I ran? Why did I hold on to the apple as long as I did? Was I being absent minded, or simply flooded with survival hormones that made my actions nearly uncontrollable? Or was there a fierce commitment to finishing the apple that I had started?
I imagine the apple is representative of many things in my life. I work hard as a wife, a mother, a woman, a therapist, an amateur landscaper. Then, when I attempt to settle for just a moment, to give myself what it is that I need, I’m often interrupted by ______________________ (fill in the blank). Yet, it is at that moment of interruption that I still must declare that I have a choice: to let go of what I need, carry it with me, or perhaps chuck it over the fence and grab another one later.
Finding that apple in the bathroom was representative of the choice I made in a moment. Something deep inside me chose to hold on to that apple. I chose to be as unwaveringly committed to my own pleasure, delight, rest, and sustenance, as I did the care, treatment and provision for another.
I choose me. I choose you. I choose both.
Good day friendlies, fellow sojourners, beautiful people. We can hardly believe that 3 THERAPISTS WALK INTO A BLOG is officially 1 YEAR OLD today! We wanted to take a pause on this day to thank you all for following along with us, for reading the words we share, for stopping us on the streets and telling us how much you’re enjoying getting to know us in this way, and for sharing your stories in this space.
We are transitioning into toddlerhood as a blog. With that transition comes the realization that we can’t rely solely on our round, chubby, squishy baby cuteness and instead. We are learning how to walk now, finding our own words and growing ever so slightly more into our own identity. The 3 of us were recently afforded an opportunity to meet up at our favorite Colorado breakfast spot (anyone know where that might be?) and we reexamined our hopes and vision for this blog. As we unpacked what we’ve come to discover this past year and acknowledged that though we have bumped up against some growing pains, all 3 of us are still SO FREAKING EXCITED to see how this blogging journey unfolds. We were also reminded that the 3 of us are better together…and we are better because of all of you.
We have some new ideas on how to build this community and offer greater accessibility to the 3 of us in the coming year! Thank you, thank you, thank you for being our inspiration and for partaking in this early part of our formation. Will you raise up your favorite beverage of choice and cheers with us today?!
With a ridiculous amount of appreciation,
Your 3 Therapists
I am not a huge fan of the month of love. I have nothing against chocolate or flowers or sentimental cards. I’m actually kind of a reluctant sucker for all three if they are offered out of a heart rooted in desire rather than obligation. So yes, the contrived and constructed nature of Valentine’s Day certainly leads to some major cynicism. But that’s not why February is on the bottom half of my descending list of favorite months of the year. I think it has something to do with the momentum of January with all of its energy and newness beginning to stall, but it may also have to do with the bitter cold and amount of snow we tend to get this time of year in Colorado. I am only a fan of snow when I get to play in it or watch it from my window while sipping on Chai and reading a book, not when I must drive through it or shovel it or scrape it off my car. Lest I begin to sound like a whiner, I must confess that even my irritation with Colorado winters does not fully explain my less than fond attitude toward the month of February. If I’m truly honest with myself, I must name that there is a narrative component to this negative energy.
February 12, 1994 was the date of my first Sadie Hawkins dance. I was 14. The same age that my oldest daughter is currently. I had attended my first high school dance with a group of friends, my date being a dear and kind friend of my older brother. But I actually had a boyfriend for this dance which made it feel more significant. Or at least I thought he was becoming my boyfriend, hence the late night flirty phone calls that led up to this first date of sorts. He was only a couple months shy of his 18th birthday and I was still a rather naive freshman. He picked me up from my house that night with a corsage in hand, but as soon as we walked out the door he informed me that the day before he had been busted for having alcohol in his car while parked on school grounds. He was suspended so we would be unable to attend the actual school dance. As a grown woman, and a therapist who has now worked with a number of abuse victims, it is painfully easy for me to identify all of the red flags indicating the course of events that would transpire that night and the predictable path the “relationship” would take for the next couple of months. But there was no way for me to understand the trap I was walking into back then. There was no way for me to understand how my story leading up to that moment in time had left me vulnerable, characteristic of easy prey, and without the capacity to protect myself.
Faith, my oldest daughter, attended her first high school dance at the end of January this year. She went with a group of friends and had what she considered to be a fantastic time. After a full day of playing beauty salon and prepping her for the dance, her dad and I dropped her off with her friends, took a few photos, told her how much we adored her and then departed for the evening. Brian had to head to an event at his school for the evening (Assistant Principal duties) so I had a rather lonesome car ride home. It was enough space and time for the tears to emerge and trickle down my face in a way that felt cleansing, redeeming parts of me I didn’t know were still longing for redemption. I couldn’t protect or equip myself back then, but by the grace of God…truly by the grace of God, this child of mine has had a very different story than my own. I know that we do not live in a bubble, which means that a culture bent toward the objectification of women and girls has been woven into her narrative in ways that are seen and unseen. Just recently, the hype and buzz around 50 Shades of Grey necessitated a lengthy conversation around the disturbing content of the books and movie introducing categories I wish her mind did not need to hold. Heck! We returned from a weekend in Vegas for a soccer tournament only a few weeks ago, where each of my girls were exposed to the horror of strip club adds littering the streets. We were ALL literally walking all over the nude bodies of women. Images of their bodies, their beautiful and miraculous bodies- meant for SO MUCH more than being used as objects of pleasure for others – were being discarded like trash. I kept telling myself that each of these women have a story. They have a story. They have a being. They are not just a body. It’s the very same thing I keep trying so hard to instill in the hearts and minds of my daughters. Each of us are marked by this culture, there is no way entirely around that reality. But on that evening drive home, I saw the fruit of our efforts of resistance. At 14, Faith has more of a self than I was afforded at her age. And she continues to grow day-by-day in that direction.
February will likely always remind me that the battle against a culture of objectification, a culture obsessed with the sexualization of women and girls, must continue to be waged. It will likely always bring me back to the violation and darkness of that evening when I was 14, but perhaps facing death is the way toward life. Goodbye February of 2015, I am glad you’ve come and gone. Hello March. Hello Lent.
The night of Faith’s first high school dance. Woman becoming, a piece of my heart that lives and moves outside of my body, beyond my story and into her own. I love this child of mine fiercly.