When Your Good Life Makes Others Feel Guilty

I’ve been seeing a lot of those posts on Facebook, where a person apologizes for loving their life too loudly, and reassures everyone that it’s not actually perfect. They explain that they tend to focus on the good for their own benefit, but then they might rattle off all the things that suck to assure others that they are not trying to make anyone feel guilty. Continue reading “When Your Good Life Makes Others Feel Guilty”

Is “filling our cups” conditional happiness for mamas?

True to the that. #yogi #tea #wisdom

I love all you women on the Tribe/Sisterhood forums. If you’re not on there, or not over there often, they’re all so beautifully deep and reflective and honest. The conversations that stem from those qualities are cup-filling for me, big time.

One such conversation was on that exact topic, “Filling Our Cups”, also the first module of the Organic Parenting e-course. This part of the course focuses on a part of the Digging Deep process that is based off of Nonviolent Communication. A really important and soul-stretching discussion was opened up on whether our attempts to meet our needs and create the elements that “fill our cups” can lock us into a form of conditional happiness…as in “I can only be happy when I get what I want”.

This was particularly thought-provoking for me:

I worry that I will become *dependent* on “getting my me-time” or whatever it is, for my happiness…instead of just learning to be happy in the moment.

I answered there, but wanted to share some other thoughts here too, as it’s been on my mind.

I wholeheartedly concur with the part of NVC that states the way we feel is based on our needs being met. In other words, yes…we are dependent on our needs being met to be happy (although never dependent on how). But then there is the spiritual practice of radical acceptance, finding peace within the moment, surrender to was is deeper than our needs, what is always accessible at our core.

It’s like reconciling the practical with the spiritual.

We have needs. No amount of anything can change that.

And when our needs are going unmet, we can feel depleted, overwhelmed, resentful, impatient and so on.

So how do we practice radical acceptance and happiness while acknowledging and meeting our needs? Doesn’t that mean radically accepting that our needs are going unmet?

Maybe. And I hope not. 😉

I think for me it’s about radical acceptance of others, radical acceptance of limitations {be they time or resources or the demands of a family and home}, radical acceptance of messy experiences and emotions…and radical acceptance that my needs STILL are valid and important and deserving of honoring.

My happiness isn’t actually dependent on the actions I take to meet my needs. My happiness IS dependent on meeting my needs. But meeting my needs can just as easily be learning to take a deep breath and tap into that sense of acceptance within any moment, as it can be about getting creative in finding a little quiet space for myself in my day or turning on music to ease my nerves or eating my favorite meal for breakfast.

When I’m unhappy it IS because my needs are going unmet but that doesn’t mean I have to feel resentful or angry or frustrated or overwhelmed. When I’m feeling those things it’s my sign that I’m not meeting my needs but instead focusing on an expectation of HOW I meet my needs.

Meeting my needs, filling my cup, doesn’t make my happiness conditional on what’s happening AROUND me. It makes it conditional on how I choose to respond to what’s happening WITHIN me.

{Oooh, I like how that came out.}

{P.S. If this is a meaningful topic for you, you might consider the Organic Parenting e-course. There are plenty of resources in it and on the forums to support you in digging into and peeling back the layers of this challenge so many of us face. (((hugs))) to you while you do.}

There and Back Again {A Tale of Thanksgiving and Spiritual Failure}

I'm not sure how we chose a flight with a four hour layover with this red eye but at least the floor looks comfortable. #travel #airport #exhausted

We just arrived home from a 9 day trip back to Las Vegas.

Let me warn you now, this post may be long, meandering, and senseless to anyone but me while I try to make sense of the many things going on in my head and my heart.

{I’m also going to talk somewhat candidly here and do so mindfully and in my never-freaking-ending practice to keep my focus on my own heart, without projecting or losing sight of my own accountability. None of this is “about” anyone, hold my experience with Life and how the hell we make sense of the seemingly senseless hurt it can deliver.}

Leaving #lasvegas

Ascending on my hometown
Feeling more like a visitor this time
{than the escapee of before}
I haven’t missed this place
Haven’t missed “home”
Although I know that’s not the story for all

Those were the words I quickly penned as our plane descended on the Vegas lights. For once, I didn’t feel that impending sense of entrapment – like I wouldn’t be able to leave without getting stuck – that I felt that last time. {That was big for me, to not feel stuck or constantly pulled back to a place with which I don’t resonate.}

I felt at peace, centered, excited for the week.

Excited to watch my little sister walk down the aisle (so moving!).
Excited to see the brother and nephew and niece I hadn’t seen in 10 years.
Excited to just BE – cooking and painting and watching movies with family.

Nephews.
afternoons with nephews

And my mama joined in!  #art #artjournal
art with my mom

Art journaling with my niece.  #artjournal #alteredbook #art #paint
art with my niece

He loves her so. #thompsonwedding2012
Their love = tears of joy.

Do we ever stop romanticizing those ideas of how things will be?

I have memories in my head of a house full of laughter and food and playfulness. Of huge family camping trips with everyone in attendance and giant games of hide and seek – kids and adults. Monthly family dinners. And holidays that stick to your heart.

And I haven’t experienced one of those romanticized holidays in almost 10 years.

Is it that as we grow up our perceptions are sharpened, picking up on things we can miss in youth and that amazing ability to remain in the moment? Or are we simply jaded by age and expectations? Or maybe things really do change that drastically and for no apparent reason than we all grew up and in separate, incomprehensible directions to one another.

It’s not that anything major happened this Thanksgiving. It’s that my heart and my head just couldn’t let go.

I’m not proud of that.

We all know family, even family we adore, can be a lot to take in all at once. And for those of you HSP’s out there, you know how compounded the situation can be when you’re sleeping in a room with two other families, four running dialogues, at least three noisy electronics going at all times, random bouts of stress and rush, and a dozen personalities and sets of needs.

I don’t pretend to be perfect. But it’s still disheartening when every tool I want to lean into seems so far away from my conscious mind as I slip back into a role I have carefully been working myself out of for most of my adult life.

Do we ever stop reverting to what other people expect to see?

Do we ever feel and respond like the adults we are when we hear the criticism or triggers of our childhood?

They mean me no harm but it’s time that I face it
They’ll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don’t belong…

That’s a Rascal Flatts song that makes me cry with heartache. Those words almost describe it except for one thing:

I don’t believe that anyone won’t allow me to change. I just believe it’s so damn hard to show them I already have.

All my best intentions for a wonderful week lead to all my expectations breaking my heart.

No one else is responsible but me.

I didn’t meet my needs. I didn’t express my emotions {until they were boiling incomprehensibly…and loudly}. I didn’t pay attention to the patterns that trigger me, patterns of teasing and sarcasm and my holding back {anything from my opinion to my own sense of style for fear of the feedback I assume I’ll receive}. Patterns of expectations, ideas in my own mind of how anyone else should be.

I placed the responsibility for my own peace and joy on what others were able to do and that wasn’t fair or responsible. It made us all unhappy.

By the time I realized it I had already excused myself from the meal, driven away – the very best I could manage. I missed Thanksgiving because I had missed my own patterns of expectations and hurt and burying the truth to keep the peace, to try to support others instead of leaning into open honesty.

Hanging with one of my very best girlfriends in the sun. Kids running around the park. Good times.  @elizabethlowery
sweet, reflective, wonderful friend

My sweet wonderful girlfriend and I had a couple long talks, and as they often do, they centered around our role in our own lives and the lives of others. And the message was the same I had been grappling with: Every time I place an expectation on someone I love, I miss the opportunity to be at peace with what is. I miss the opportunity to love them. To practice surrendering to what Spirit is showing me.

It breaks my heart to read those words. It’s the same message I’ve been receiving for the last several months, the same message I think I’ve gotten right before I realize I haven’t: Stop pushing, stop micro-managing, stop thinking it’s all your job. Let go. Surrender to the direction of where Life is flowing. Surrender to peace and love within that moment, exactly as it is, without your thoughts that it needs to change for you.

It breaks my heart because I know it. I’ve been practicing it. And I’ve been failing, again and again.

It’s fucking hard.

Hard not to offer advice, instead of holding space.

Hard not to want to “fix” it – whether it’s an actual problem, or just a bad mood – instead of extending empathy first.

Hard sometimes to WANT to do anything from love: want to DIG IN, want to speak nonviolently, want to listen, want to reach out when you have nothing to reach out with.

So I did the very best I could do…I took space for myself.

I walked out when I couldn’t find that space to listen over the screaming of my own head. I hiked a mountain and lay on the rocks and turned my face to the warmth of the sun. And I said goodbye, or even missed opportunities to say goodbye, flying home without resolve.

Sitting on the hillside talking life, plans, culture and conformity with @justinplayswithballs and looking forward to flying "home" #lifeatthismoment #lasvegas
from the hillside with my lover

As Justin and I walked and hiked he asked me the same question I’ve asked myself for almost 8 years, since my dad died before we got the opportunity to have the talk that was on the horizon. It’s the question I asked myself multiple times over the past week as I did the very best I could {which didn’t seem like much}:

If the worst happened, would you regret this choice?

And I answered him honestly.

No.

I wouldn’t regret the choices I made to let things go, or not have conversations that I didn’t feel ready for. I wouldn’t regret walking out when I couldn’t find love or patience to respond with instead. I can’t regret doing the very best I could do, listening to my intuition and my heart when it says, “This is not going to help; you’ll only cause more pain right now.” I don’t ever regret the choices to surrender, to lay down my Ego-fear that tells me to judge or fix or change or fight or expect or even help, to “save” others or even see them as someone who needs saving.

I have to address my own heartache and hurt first. I have to unpack my own stories and triggers before I can bring my authentic love into a conversation with anyone else.

It’s no one’s job to apologize or change or fix anything for me, anymore than it’s my job to do the same for someone else.

It’s my job to examine what came up for me, and why. It’s my job to find my center before I try to find a solution. It’s my job to bring my real self into challenges like these, instead of compounding them by bringing my baggage. It’s my job to find what only I am accountable for {my emotions, my reactions, my choices} and release everything else {my expectations, my assumptions, my sense of obligation} so that I can walk in with nothing left but love.

Moments like this hold me perfectly still. #manchild
melt-worthy airport moments with the man-child

I can leave without regret,
With peace that I made the best choices I could,
but being void of regret
doesn’t mean being void of hurt.

{penned from the plane home}

It’s an unconventional, even controversial, viewpoint, that I believe it’s okay to say goodbye without first making amends. {Caveat: And it’s not always the right choice. As a daughter whose lost a father during an argument, I can attest to the anguish that comes from holding grudges, instead of taking mindful space.}

But the difference is in the mindfulness and the space {as opposed to the unconscious distance we tend to put between us instead}.

Are you paying attention? #artjournal
full attention slows the current

I’m experiencing hurt and frustration and sadness. And I’m allowing myself to experience it. No under-the-rug sweeps. No grudges held. But no feeding it or burying it either. No allowing it to overcome me, or to own me.

Some serious shit came up for me {and yes, I’m totally okay admitting that – why shouldn’t I be?} and I’m opening my heart up to what Spirit is trying to show me. I’m doing the inner work that’s being asked of me. I’m learning to stop projecting {hard} and stop blaming {harder} and meet my own needs so I can actually stand in the Truth that allows me to be – fully and unapologetically and compassionately – ME.

Hardest.

And even though there is a big part of me wanting to resist this next statement 😉 I can feel it nudging me to be experienced too:

I’m thankful for this. Thankful that I lost sight of myself and damn near lost my shit. Thankful that I felt hurt and frustrated. Thankful that I screwed up. Thankful that it’s so deeply triggered and challenged me. Thankful that it’s bringing up in me the bullshit that was hiding there, because I know full well it only comes up when the timing is perfect for it to be addressed {even if I don’t like that fact}. I’m thankful for the comments that were made, the stories that were dredged, the triggers that were found. Thankful for failure in how I handled it all {or didn’t}.

I’m thankful for the nudges that keep telling me when I’m trying to do something or say something here that isn’t focused on my authentic heart, too. 🙂

I love them all. They – like me – are doing the best they can as well. That I don’t feel at home says nothing about them, and everything about me – where I am and what I’m moving through with Life as my guide.

Why am I sharing all this?

Why am I “airing dirty laundry”, as culture has taught us to see it?

Because I got the most amazing messages of gratitude over the week: messages from incredible women who totally nailed it and stood in compassion and authenticity in a challenging family situation, messages from heartfelt women who struggle{d} to do the same and are thankful to be reminded they aren’t asshats for being human and unable to access that place of compassion and authenticity at the same time,or even separately.

Because I’d rather dismember the monster that tells us we can’t be honest about having a hard go of something, the monster that tells us it’s not okay to be imperfect, that tells us our lives “should” be perfect and by the book or else we’re going to hell. {Shit, I wrote a book on dealing with triggers, and my experiences still aren’t by the book.}

Welcome to being human. Welcome to trying to be that human with over 7 billion other people, many of which are our greatest, most wonderful, most frustrating teachers.

We love our families. But we mess it up. We do. I do. Again and again. And hopefully, again and again, we do the best we can to get through that moment, to get through the challenge, to learn and grow and try to love ourselves and others a little better each time. Sometimes we nail it. At least the same number of times we don’t.

My declaration is this: I’m okay with these facts. Okay with Life sometimes being messy. Okay with the fact that I’m going to make mistakes at it. Okay being open and honest and authentic about it. Finally okay with the choices I make. {And learning to be okay if others aren’t okay with it.}

Some wisdom from my mama's wall. #bestill
wisdom on the wall

This get you thinking too?
Some questions that may support you: What do I need to get still with? What parts of myself am I bringing into similar challenges with those I love? If I was fully centered and grounded first, what would I do/say differently?

There Are No Such Things As Business Emergencies

Just finished a Tribe call with @pixiecampbell on grounding. Don't wanna get up now. #myofficetoday
Taking it easy with an outdoor office

Hi Tara, I have a question for you: I’ve been in business for myself for a couple years now, selling art and recently making some digital products, and I have a really hard time with it. I didn’t anticipate all the little emergencies that keep coming up. They take away from my family and my personal life, which I don’t like, but they also have to be dealt with…Any advice on how I can handle these things without compromising my priorities all the time? – Organic Tribe sister

Deep breath, sista…take this in, with all the love it’s coming to you with.

There are no such things as “business emergencies” that should ever take away from your family. Only our beliefs tell us to jump every time Life hiccups.

You’re an artist, not a heart surgeon. Your business is not life or death.

I’m speaking from hard-earned experience here: I use to run around, freak out, get overwhelmed, and drop everything for an email, or when my website crashed right before dinner, or when (back in my old business) an on-call therapist failed to be on-call and I couldn’t fathom turning down a customer. I’d scramble to fix everything at the sacrifice of my family.

And it was total bullshit.

It stressed me out, had me working 16 hours days, and nearly destroyed our relationships. (For goodness sake, it was a massage therapy business! There was no life or death situations there. But I treated it like I’d be lynched for not being on the ball, all the time. Even now, I’m a life coach. I’d be arrogant to assume much more.)

Your business is not your life. It’s a means to your life. Meaning your life is priority #1, and your business the mere support of that. Don’t favor the tool over the purpose of the tool (in this case, the tool is your business and the purpose of the tool is to allow you to live a joyful life).

Sure there are things to do, and there things to look at to avoid or minimize hiccups from constantly happening, like whether you’re creating these emergencies with poor planning or poor systems, and there is also the question of whether you’re trying to do it all yourself or bringing in the right support. (Case in point: my website crashed awhile back but I didn’t need to freak because it automatically backs itself up on a daily basis and drops the files in my DropBox – I just had to call in some support and it was right as rain in an hour.)

But most of all, look at the fear there. What’s putting you into a tailspin when your site crashes (when – because you’re not Ebay – it really can wait until the morning)? Why do you think you need to work over the weekend just because an order comes in Friday night (instead of setting your hours and letting your customers know those hours – since very few people will expect Amazon to ship that fast)? DIG IN and find the belief that has you thinking you need to jump every time your email bings at you (seriously, turn those notifications off!).

It’s okay if shit happens. It’s okay if you have to say “No, I can’t make that happen” to a customer. It’s okay to say “I won’t be available on my daughter’s birthday.”

For the love of all that is holy, it’s okay to be your own boss! 😉

It’s the unapologetically imperfect thing again: if you’re at peace with what you do, your peeps will be too (because are they really expecting you to answer their email at 11pm anyway).

Don’t take yourself or your work so seriously. You got into it for the passion of it. Have fun, take more deep breaths, stop apologizing for having boundaries, DIG IN to your barriers that keep you from trust and ease and what you’re afraid it will mean if you stop scrambling, and allow yourself to fall back in love with what you do.

Organic Wisdom :: How do others love and honor you?

Every Friday or so I intend to share some of the quotes I post on Twitter and Facebook, with some of my expanded thoughts and feelings on it here.

“Organic Wisdom” is what I have found speaking to me in those quiet moments, that guides me and echoes Truth in my life. Please feel free to download, or share this image in any way you’d like.

Oh man, this was a difficult one for me to embrace.

But the words kept coming back to me, looking me square in the face and gently nudging me to take accountability for the relationships I helped to create.

“Others will love and honor you how you love and honor yourself.”

It was asking me for the raw truth, to look at how I’ve shown others my own value…not in my demands or retorts or reactions, but in my deeper responses.

This was my request from Life to DIG IN to the ways in which I had not – still have yet – to learn to love, honor, forgive and accept myself.

:: Each time I was hurt by another, I was shown how I hurt myself.
:: Every time I thought I was being neglected, I saw how I ignored my own heart, body, spirit.
:: Each unkind word began to resemble my own unkindness in my thoughts.
:: Every time I thought I was being taken advantage of, I saw how little I did to honor my own needs.

(The same would be true of showing me how well I love them, which also came back around to love me. Because the only time I struggle to love others is when I’m first struggling to love myself.)

The truth is when we love and honor ourselves one of two things will happen:

  1. Like a mirror others will reflect the same love and honor. They’ll see the strength and beauty of our spirits and never assume we are worthy of anything less.
  2. Or, others will do the best they can with the tools they have. But we’ll feel so full of love and acceptance for ourselves that their attempts will have no impact on our ability to remain centered, in peace and compassionate toward them or us.

You want to know how well you love yourself? Look into the eyes of the mirrors in your life.

Organic Wisdom :: Your Happiness Is Your Job

Every Friday I intend to share some of the quotes I post on Twitter and Facebook, with some of my expanded thoughts and feelings on it here.

“Organic Wisdom” is what I have found speaking to me in those quiet moments, that guides me and that echoes Truth in my life. Please feel free to download, or share this image in any way you’d like.

How many times have you said, “You’re making mommy sad.

Or maybe “He made me so angry.

Yeah, I’ve done it too. And guess what? It’s an excuse.

It’s not my child’s job to make me happy. It’s his job to explore life, learn and grow, make mistakes and make messes. Not carry the burden of what others will think or feel about Who He Is.

And my anger? Comes from me, baby. No one else can “make” me angry. They can only offer me the mirror to reflect on the angry I’m holding within me.

It’s not their job to make me happy.

It’s their job to show me how I can choose love and happiness in any moment.

Our job is unconditional love. The job of everyone else in our life is to push our buttons. (Byron Katie)

When we give the responsibility of our happiness to someone else, we take it out of our own reach and we place it as a burden on them. Then they no longer have the ability increase their own joy and we no longer have the ability to celebrate and share in joy together.

Two people, twice as unhappy.

How would it feel to instead choose happiness and peace regardless of what someone else felt capable of doing or feeling in that moment?

How would it increase the very thing being sought after?