Mid-Week Check-In

2021. Two Thousand and Twenty-one. Twenty twenty one. Sounds about right.

Since starting this blog in May, I have attempted to remain relatively on-subject. Music, its many levels of meaning, and how to engage with it. Occasionally other spiritual arts, like painting. I have found a lot of value in those pursuits, and enjoyed it immensely. The past few weeks however, have been hard, and I’m giving myself some time to figure out what I need to be about and what direction I need to go in. Around the new year, I (finally) finished Brené Brown’s Rising Strong. It was hard because it was exactly what I needed. This weekend, I listened to a series of talks she gave titled “Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice.” And yesterday I started a series of talks by Fr. Richard Rohr titled “True Self False Self.” My mind is exploding with all the interplays of this work going back and forth and to and from music, art, creativity and my self. It’s actually great. But a lot, hence the silence from me here. I don’t have a lot of bandwidth for practicing and recording and uploading. So please bear with me as I pop up and disappear again. And maybe again.

Vulnerability, emotional resilience (and awareness), and being true to my self have been important work for me this past year and a half. Before we left our jobs and home in Massachusetts, I was in a job with poor boundaries, constantly agreeing to things that I later resented. Dates for events that would be changed last minute without my consent. Expectations for my work that were unreasonable. I was also told I wasn’t worth what they were paying me… So yeah, a lot of shame and control, too. Despite these obvious flaws, I hurt so much when I left. I blamed, raged, and mourned quietly, bottling it up in myself to the point where my former boss’s gaslighting still messed with my head because I hadn’t figured out my own story. I felt abandoned and willfully misunderstood for the sake of not stirring the pot. When you work for a community there are always more stories than the one that actually matters, that of the principle actor and their perspective. It’s a complicated, grey area place to be and as Brené Brown has shown me, these first stories we tell ourselves (SFDs) when emotions are involved are very likely not the final word. So I’ve been working on that final word. I’ve been working on the emotions stirred up both from feeling shamed and manipulated by my supervisor and losing my community and also that community willingly going along with my supervisor’s choices regarding my employment. I did feel abandoned. But I also felt stuck because I needed that space from them, I was so hurt.

I read Desmond and Mpho Tutu’s book on forgiveness, and made no real progress. I reread Joyce Rupp’s Praying our Goodbyes. I read Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly and boy did that shift the center of my gravity. I felt my shame rise to the surface of my experience. Confronting that shame has been difficult but is leaving me so much better than I imagined. And Fr. Rohr is showing me how much in play my false self was during that whole experience, and why the attempts to shame and manipulate me did what they intended to do.

Honestly, I think part of my silence these days is that I’m learning so much I don’t feel like I have much to share or teach. Another part is that I’ve started a new job. I’m teaching music classes online for kids. Maybe I’ll do something for adults/all ages. One thing at a time. As I began with, there’s plenty in this new year already to overwhelm. Take care of yourself, friends. Join me in reading Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault, the next book on my list. Or maybe dive into this spiritual practice first. All you need to do is empty your mind and let God do the rest. So easy, right? 😆 OK, but really, I’m slowly dipping my toes into meditation, and my very imperfect attempts are already so fruitful. Maybe it’s like beginning exercise: the beginning efforts are so different from before that a little goes a long way. But I’m not complaining. I’m working on my self, and I’m proud of where I’m going and what I’ve been doing.

Grace and peace to you all this new year, Heather

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