Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Middle Path (An addendum)
(A follow up to a previous post my friend Liz requested to feature on her hilarious site,
A Mothership Down, many years back...)  
It may be helpful to read that first? 
Feel free to find it here:


I think about you, my middle path
And those words I wrote
Back when you were- no, when we were, in that period of in-between.
It's amazing the way life can just pluck our truth right out of us:
something I didn't even really understand that was there,
suddenly birthed with words, immortally captured.
The tracing finally darkened over,
A knowing greater force at work,
An invisible hand if you will.
Kind of like raising you.

Anyway,
I read these words again,
a post card from my own younger heart,
to myself, in my new in-between.
(I now know this will forever remain.)
My heart braces for a piercing strike at the part
where I see you at your high school graduation,
now only months away.
Scanning my emotional card catalog,
I recall the original source of that emotion:
Heaviness, filled with complexity
and a deep unknowing. 
Containing too a hopefulness and promises
that felt keepable, shrouded in aloof awareness
that dark twists and turns exist.
Being present was all that was asked of me,
then. 
Reckoning with my feelings of parenting
my not-still-a-baby-not-yet-a-man,
was both effortless and excruciating.
Like feeling warm and cozy on my couch on a Sunday afternoon
while simultaneously rattling with shivers internally, 
trying to contain thoughts of "what's next"...
It's all so much.

And now, here we are again-just trying our hardest to be
present in all of it.
College applications: done
Financial aid application: done
Winning football season: (almost) done
Me at this point in all of it:
undone.
You have not even been accepted anywhere yet 
And still, you drive away in a real-adult-non-battery-operated-car each day,
leaving my heart to both swell and break.

You have navigated so many road blocks along the way
and each day, you pace off a little further away from needing me.

Feelings saturated with satisfaction and terror rise up
strong until I can do nothing but sit with them.
Looking to the sky once more,
The real backdrop to graduation day, muted in 
an opaque and dark cloud cover that boasts of fullness,
yet refuses to yield transparency. 
Rather it toes the line for the brilliance of the blue lining
The sky below crystal clear and dazzling,
holding court with its foreboding elder.

My goodness:
Life is all of this.
Parenting is all of this.
Love is all of this. 


The struggle to feel it all is real.
When we meet this struggle without hiding or numbing
Even if we are petrified and confused or brave and proud,
we are doing the work of love and life.
We are telling ourselves we are going to be okay, 
and we can hold it all.
More importantly we are inviting our children to see that they too will be okay.

Do I know what will happen to my first born, my special boy my middle path?
No, of course not.
And I don't want to know.
The not knowing is the point, the magic in the middle.

It is why we exist: to travel the relational landscape and feel all of our experiences.

So if you ever feel like this, that sticky feeling of loving and caring and worrying 
so much that it hurts?
Well then my friends, meet me at the magic middle:
Just below the cloudiness and above the brightness, 
that's where I'll be. 
Being present is all that is being asked of any of us,
at any period, in between or not, and what the middle path wants us to know is
simply:
We've got this. 










Monday, October 14, 2019

On becoming unstuck...

Let's face it, things are not going as well as many of us would like right now in our country. Whatever "side" you fall on, whatever your beliefs, it's hard to deny that the struggles we face feel yucky. (Or maybe you don't feel that way at all, and in this case, you aren't paying attention. And that's certainly a thing that happens as well.)

The fact remains that issues are complicated and we aren't all that comfortable with sitting with layers. Black and white thinking is easier for us. But the world doesn't work that way. And neither do people. Sometimes more than one answer can actually be true. Which leaves us with the "stuck feeling" that we may be experiencing right now. Or maybe that is just me, and I can reframe:

I feel stuck right now. 

It reminds me of taking both my LCSW and LICSW licensing exams. Those were really hard, as they were each very long, and extremely high stakes tests, the outcome of which had a direct impact on my future plans. However, they also followed three years of grad school where I only engaged in paper writing (fun) and presentations (less fun, but totally manageable). Anyway, allow me to elaborate on the idea that these exams feel a lot like the challenges of society right now.  

 Many questions on these licensing exams involved a potentially real scenario, with many unique elements, needs and options for supporting the individual, people or situation. Often each answer provided was 'right'. Meaning that one could reasonably justify any of the possible courses of action to help aid the situation. However, only one of the choices was considered the best thing to do, or alternatively (depending on what the question asked), the first thing to do.

STUCK. 

As a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (yes, I passed), I feel this way a lot. Society and culture is not not black and white. People's lives are not black and white. Problems people face are not black and white. Solutions are not black and white. There is not a clear linear process, as so much depends on other variables, and sometimes we just... falter. Or new environmental circumstances arise that can cause dramatic shift to our perspective or to the path itself. 

Our internal worlds can be very messy places to live. Our outer world is messy too. 

If we can all agree in the truth of this last statement then I propose we can come to an agreement on something with the potential to be profoundly helpful:

We control whether or not we allow ourselves to suffer. 


We have the ability to choose whether or not we linger in our attachment to pain. We can be aware of our pain, and we have a choice in how we respond to that pain. The difference between pain and suffering may seem simplistic or maybe even a bit "out there", but I promise if you marinate in this concept and really practice noticing your own life, things will change. 

Consider committing to cultivating a practice of mindful awareness. All that is necessary is just noticing without judgment what our thoughts are, how we feel about these thoughts and then how we behave. 

Just becoming aware of the intersectional relationship between thoughts, feelings and actions allows us a to experience a special kind of freedom. It doesn't mean we always enjoy the thoughts, feelings and actions we engage in, but it invites us to take a closer look at what is holding us back and sit with it. Decide what to do next with more intention, less attachment and far less suffering.

Give it a thought, see how it feels, notice what happens next.

Let's keep on this path...!

More insights to come, up next: The role of *connection* in enhancing this...

Friday, August 16, 2019

Mindfulness Matters

A symphony heard
through maple trees

Wind,
a cool composer

Listen further
The cadence changes
Instrumental adjustments
Delight consumers

Shivers sent down
spines set like books
on sturdy shelving

Open to all 

Note,
All of this is absent:

on facebook
or instagram
or twitter
or email
or spotify
or netflix
or text 

No.

Outside the box
Occupies new meaning
Resistance compulsory
Give attention, push back

Go outside...
                         NOW.

Listen and notice
Tell me what you
Hear/feel/think/believe/know/question/love

And then what you
will 
have to say 

Matters 


Thursday, August 8, 2019

What you resist, persists...and that's okay.

Yesterday, I found myself in an ever increasingly foul mood. It was a combination of factors that led to this. I have been busy, tired, and run down. We recently wrapped up a (wonderful) family wedding and said goodbye to west coast family we had been hosting for several days. My oldest is a rising senior and the college process is in full swing. In addition to this, I still have a lot of question marks about what is coming next professionally and personally. 

I guess it just sometimes feels like we are never short of decisions and choices to make, good habits to build and bad habits to break. And sometimes, well, when things all accumulate faster than we can navigate and process: we just get crabby. Occasionally,  I offer my clients a strategy to use when it seems they are stuck holding the weight of negative thoughts or feelings. It involves simply adding "and that's okay" to the end of a thought or feeling. For example, "I have gotten NOTHING done today that I wanted to accomplish...and that's okay." 

We must learn to be more gentle with ourselves, and figure out how to just let it be. 


"What you resist, persists" is a Carl Jung concept/quote that I find particularly useful as well. All too often, we go into resistance mode when there is something painful, uncomfortable or simply that which is unpleasant. Our brains naturally want to protect us. Being in a bad mood certainly falls into this. No one enjoys feeling irritable, but sometimes it just happens. Yesterday, I was really there and in it, and no matter how hard I tried to resist it, it persisted. The combination of challenging life circumstances added up with some other things and it made perfect sense that I would feel this way. At one point, I actually said "I don't want to be in a bad mood". Resistance = persistence. 


And when Jung's words finally dialed me up and called out in my ears "What you resist, persists"... I stopped fighting it. I just did the things I needed to get through the day. I had to dig deep and use my own tools. So after telling my family that I was in a grouchy mood, asking for space, laying down, venting, writing, doodling, reading.... I heard myself saying "Ugh, I am overwhelmed!" but then I also found myself adding "...and that's okay" By deciding to stop resisting, and inviting the yuckiness in, I was eventually able to let it go a bit. I gathered with some girlfriends*, initially making it clear I wasn't at my best, and just made space for it...and by the end of the night, that negative energy did shift. (*Time with good girl friends can be a magical healer)

When I woke up today, I paused. I noticed how I felt, what I was thinking. I observed the change from the day before. I was more clearheaded. I was a bit lighter. And I smiled at my ability to drop the urge to resist. It wasn't an immediate skill I was able to enact yesterday, but once I leaned into it and found it, I was okay. I knew it would pass. It always does. 

So today, I got up, I enjoyed my coffee, I made a list, I took a mindful walk, allowing my body to move and push itself, and then came home to simply breathe and move on with the day. 

Keep going everyone, it will all be okay. 

Love and Kindness, 
Amanda 




Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Changes

My inconsistency with posting here seems to be the only thing in my life that does not seem to change...


With that, I am here to report some changes:

1. I have resigned from the Haverhill Public Schools in my capacity as a School Adjustment Counselor. I am both heartbroken and thrilled (all at the same time!) about this change. I am super sad to leave a job and a community of people that I care so much about. At the same time, everything was telling me it was time to move on. Happily, I have obtained a position much closer to my home, where I am hopeful that I can be more effective in the work that I do with children and families and have the balance I need personally. I will start later this summer. I will miss being in a school community, but my ties there run deep and I have a feeling I will remain well connected to Silver Hill.

2. I have written a children's book that I am working on *trying* to get published. It will be a resource tool for counselors and teachers as well...  so if all goes as planned, it can be used as a classroom lesson sort of book and will also have pull-out reproducible worksheets to use as tools to support the concepts as well. Fingers crossed! 

3. I have to figure out what to DO with this page. The vision has been all over the place and I have too many things going on in my life, and in my brain. (You should see how many tabs I keep open on my computer...) Anyway, as a mom, a private clinician, a writer, a social worker, a friend, a consumer of music and fun, citizen of the world and human being, there is always just so much to say! This blog needs focus (as does my brain). And I am on it. Perhaps I need to just commit to posting something regularly...my forever work in progress. Hang in there with me, or if not, that's fine too. 

4. I love the number 4, so I just wanted to get here. Now, I will go back to cleaning my room, defrosting the fridge, paying bills and finishing my book club book. (City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's SOOOO good). 

Time to keep growing...remember to try to stay present in whatever it is you are going through, friends...because, we are all working on SOMEthing!

Happy Wednesday everyone...and just keep carrying on and doing "the next best thing"... whatever that might be. 

With love and kindness, 
Amanda :) 


Sunday, January 13, 2019

💡💡💡POLL TIME!💡💡💡

Who doesn't love to share their opinion?

I have been really all over the place with this page and I would like to change that. Before I jump in with more blogging I would like to find out for those of you who have been reading this (or might consider reading it in the future...)

Click on this link below:


*I am going to really get going on this moving forward. And while your feedback is important to me, I am also going to try and use my own inspiration to lead the way as much as possible* 

🌤
Be Well,
Amanda 


Happy New Year!

Hi Everyone!

2019 has arrived and with it lots of dreams, goals, plans and intentions! 

I started the new year out with another post at Free Spirit Publishing's blog. "Motivating Kids with Effective Praise" was fun to write because I believe as educators and counselors we have a very unique responsibility AND opportunity to help children find inner desire to do well and that starts with us! 

SEE MORE HERE on how I suggest we can be most effective with this: MY NEWEST POST ON MOTIVATING WITH EFFECTIVE PRAISE!

Feel free to share this link and some of my others you may find on this site or on Free Spirit's blog if you think it may be useful to someone out there who works with young people (teachers, counselors, parents etc..) ? Sharing is caring and we need to keep caring if we are going to make this world a better place for our kids. So let's dig in and really THINK about this stuff. 

Beyond this, I want to really stop and be more reflective in my own blogging practice. And then I want to DO something about it. Read: do *more* with it. 

Stay tuned for another post where I am going to be seeking feedback on what would be most desired in my content.

Everyone loves a good poll, right?

Be well, 
Amanda