- TWIL (This Week I Learned)
Dr. Stacee uses creativity (I would like to call it playfulness) and compassion to create a gentle container from which we can examine those parts of ourselves that people have asked us to “tone down” and then invite those very parts of ourselves back in.
She leads us through exercises to help us bring closure to the potential resentment or shame we feel toward our ancestors, who, as she notes, includes “Someone, somewhere (who) dreamed that you would be free.”
What we want, ultimately, is to find an nurture “growth-fostering relationships” in our lives, creating communities of people where we bring our skills to help shape the space we chose to live in.
The movement of both confronting that, as Dr. Stacee puts it, just because you showed up “and even brought a hummingbird cake. But they could not be bothered. In these instances, the well-worn path leads us back into isolation, the home of our internal oppressor who’s ready to shame the hell out of us for trying to venture out.”
That line really hit me this week.
Continuing, though: post discovering that sometimes, you may be vulnerable in a new group, excited to be yourself, to show the community you’ve sought out who you really are…only to be exploited in your vulnerability or ignored — you can gather your skills and creativity and compassion and ask yourself what YOU need in your community.
And, finally, full circle, finding compassion for people who may have left out at times, “othered” and, ultimately, for people who you actually may have othered.
I just said to her: “What would happen if I actually listened to your words?”
Expanding that, what might happen if we all listened?
“The more insidious effect is that being Othered inhibits our ability to listen to ourselves, ask ourselves what we deep-down need, and then respond.
As you start to clarify the parts of yourself that are yearning to breathe, to be given life again, to be awakened and actualized, you may recognize that a lot of things suddenly make sense.
First, we notice our relationships with the people we choose to call our community, identifying the qualities and textures of these relationships. Doing so will allow you to create and sustain more of what’s necessary for your life so you can find love, safety, fulfillment, and whatever else you seek.
Bring yourself to a calm, receptive state - 5 deep breaths, a body scan, some stretching. Do what you need to do to quieten yourself and bring awareness.
- In your life, who allows you to feel most understood?
- Which community in your life inspires you to be most vulnerable and free?
- How do these people make it clear that you’re safe with them?
- What would their response be if you brought up something hurtful, regrettable, or humiliating?
- What are you doing to feed and honor these relationships in your life?
Journal your answers to these questions and begin to bring to mind your community. These are your people. They may not all be part of the same pre-defined group. They are your potential commuinty - crossing political affiliations, religions, ethnic backgrounds, creative pursuits, jobs, etc.
(I want to note, because absolutely this has happened to me at times, there may be a tendency, or you may be in a place where you can’t bring up anyone at first — if that does happen to you, just keep breathing. There have been moments in my life where (and in my case, I am certain it was a distortion in my own mind, and I would be willing to say that this is likely the case for you as well…) literally no one came to mind. In those times, stay quiet, keep breathing, always come back to your breath, and just allow that YOU allow you to feel most understood. You will and can and will, as you breathe, as you stay quiet, remember that, if this is how you are feeling, you can stay quiet in your life — if this is more a time of retreat, healing, staying quiet, not venturing out into community, that’s okay too. You can reach out to a healing professional that you trust.
If you initially need to chose isolation or solitude, remember that it’s for this moment in your life, because, in Dr. Stacee’s words ““Initially” is the keyword here, because we need to continue showing up.”
This week is about reaching out to a wider community, noticing that (of course!) it is full of people who are as wonderfully woke and as complicatedly difficult as you are.
Gently move away from people who do bring “toxicity” into your life — you know, sometimes, these can be people who are just going about their day, but who bring out an old, “toxic” place in you that you are not ready to let go of completely. If you need to give yourself space, do it. Lovingly, compassionately, take time and physical space from that person or those people for awhile, as needed.
This week, begin to notice whether there is still a part of yourself, an important part of who you are, that you would like to express but feel you cannot.
Where do you feel as though you are an outsider, yet you wish you were not?
Yikes! I feel I need to almost make a plea to “buy the book!” because this is deep stuff here. But I think, if we stay compassionate with ourselves, we can “go there” this week, and begin to notice those places we want to grow into.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
And, although sometimes retreating into isolation feels like the right thing to do, when we can stop and ask ourselves:
We need to remember that we are not alone. Even if we start with ourselves, even if we simply notice in a bookstore that there are people “out there” who have written encouraging books to remind us that we are not alone :) — Even if we start there, quietly reminding ourselves that we are not alone. We can feed what we want to grow. We can turn our attention to what we want to see more of in ourselves, in our neighbourhoods, in our wider communities.