Self compassion and validation

I recently started a new job and have been asked a number of questions about family. I never know what to say to those questions.  I know that people don’t mean to be hurtful when they ask about family.  I also know that most of us don’t know how to start conversations with people we don’t know so we often ask about family.  I would like to say, “I have never really had family.”.

Their questions make me want to be invisible.  If I am invisible, they won’t ask questions.  Right?

If they ask and I fumble in my answer (which is almost always), then I feel like a dope.  I should know what to say.  Right?  (Someday, ask me about examples of hurtful things people have said or done because I did not have what they considered the correct answers to these questions.)

What I am trying to explain is that my first few weeks at work have been very painful.  So painful that I decided I should make compassion -self compassion one of my words for the year.

I have been reading a book on self-compassion and it says that it is very important for everyone, but especially children, to have their feelings and experiences validated by others.  I have come to realize that when people asked about family, I felt that they were invalidating my feelings about my family.  That they were saying, we don’t care about all the horrible things your family did, you should be in relationship with them especially during the holidays.  I did not realize that I was hearing it that way.

I am grateful for this awareness even if it was painful getting here.

Surrender Your Fear To Faith


Surrender Figurine by Kelly Rae Roberts.

Surrender Figurine by Kelly Rae Roberts.

The words on the figurine say, “May you surrender your fear to immense faith and trust.  And may you stay brave knowing that you are not alone, that you are supported and loved, and that your journey deeply matters.”  That is my goal.

As you look at the figurine, you may notice the pink ribbons.  The figurine is likely meant for breast cancer survivors.  I did not notice that when I ordered it.  I felt it was meant for me; a survivor of an abusive childhood.  I am hoping it will help me not feel alone and that my journey matters.

For a long time, I have been trying to figure out My Purpose, My Calling …  I want to feel that my life matters.  I recently took advantage of some free offerings of Laurel Bleadon-Maffai at Illuminating Souls.  I decided to conduct an experiment of sorts and ask the angels to help me understand my Purpose.

One day I came across two blog posts that I felt were speaking about helping me to find my Purpose.   It  felt like something I could not ignore.

One post was by Holley Gerth.  She wrote about sitting in a coffee shop and overhearing a conversation between a young man and his mentor.  The young man asked “When am I going to be ready to help someone else?”  His mentor suggest that a better question was to ask, “Have I received something?  If so, then you have something to share.”  “When is the best time to start passing it on?”  “Yesterday.”  She also says that our role is not to show off, but to show up.

The other blog post was by Martha Beck.  She said to think of the worst thing that you have survived.  Then think of the second worst thing.  “Whatever ways you’ve been to hell, you can make the experiences meaningful by leading others out of the same grim spots”

The worst thing that ever happened to me was when I was nine years old.  I had fallen asleep on the basement couch.   In the middle of the night, my seventeen year old brother found me and attacked me with a broom handle.  No one came to help.

I don’t know where writing about this will lead me.  I do have ideas about the second worst thing and third worst thing.

Telling someone what my brother did would be somewhere in the top ten worst things.  When I told my mother, her response toward me was quite hateful.  Although, she must have later said something to my brother because he hurt me in retaliation for telling.  So speaking up for myself has been very difficult.  It my life experiences, it has severe consequences.




I have PTSD.


Some people have resolutions for the new year or pick one word on which to focus.

My goal for this year is to try to accept that I have PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder and to be kind to myself when I am afraid.

Growing up I was never really safe with my family that is how I developed ptsd.

I would often sit in my closet with a book and a flashlight.  My closet was odd shaped and there was a nook just big enough for me and I could sit on a box filled with old clothes and read.

I have mixed feelings about being around people.

The traumatized part of me expects that people will not be pleasant.  At best, I expect that they will look for reasons why I don’t measure up.  At worst, I expect them to sucker punch me – to unexpectedly be very unkind.  (I don’t expect to be physically hurt.  Perhaps I should be grateful for that.)  There have been far too many experiences in my life that proved that belief.  Far too many times when people have been unreasonably hurtful.   It has been rare that people have been kind.

Recently I had an experience where I felt sucker punched.  I was taking a career exploration course and I felt attacked by the person running the course.  My reaction was that I did not want to leave my house.  I wanted to “hide in my closet”.  I don’t want these feelings to run my life so I go out anyway.  I thought I was dealing with the feelings pretty well.  I went into work and I had a problem with the copier.  A coworker said ,”Are you breaking things already?’.  She meant it as a joke.  I was startled and jumped.

That is what I am like after I have been sucker punched.  I am anxious and hesitant and tentative.  I am not as productive at work.  I don’t think as well when I am anxious. This happened several weeks ago and I am still feeling hesitant and I don’t really want to leave my house.

My goal for 2016 is to be kind to myself when I feel like this.  I beat myself up saying that I shouldn’t let it get to me.

Please know that there is also a part of me that has great empathy.  When traumatic situations happened elsewhere (pick any one of the recent shootings), I want to be there; standing by people offering comfort and support if needed.  Letting them know they are not alone.

So how do I honor the fear and get that part of me that wants to provide support and comfort and encouragement out the door?


Here If You Need Me.


Here If You Need Me

Kate Braestrup is a chaplain to the Maine Warden Service.  It is her job to provide support and comfort to families of people that have gone missing and to the wardens that are called out for search and rescue.  People may be missing due to snowmobiling, ATV , or boating  accidents and sometimes suicides or homicides.  This book caught my attention because it was  Kindle $1.99 deal and Kate is a Unitarian Universalist minister.  I attend a Unitarian Universalist church.

The book immediately drew me in because the first story is a search for a little girl missing in the woods.

Kate’s husband was a Maine State Trooper.  Fifteen years before his retirement, he was thinking about his second career; to become a minister and work as a chaplain with law enforcement.  While on duty as a trooper, he was killed when  truck collided with his car.  Kate followed his dream and became a minister and a chaplain.

I have read three of her books because there is something calming and comforting about her.  ‘Here if you need me’ seems to be her philosophy.

I am still moved to tears when I think of a story she writes about in Anchor & Flares.  A young man decides to use a boat as a getaway vehicle in a robbery.  He and a friend are crossing a lake in the dark, hit an unseen object, and fall into the lake.  His friend makes it to the shore and is helped by the man that owns the store they intended to rob.  Divers search for his body in waters that Kate describes as being the consistency of a slushy.  Overnight, the temperatures drop and they decide it is too dangerous to keep searching for him and will have to wait for spring.  When spring arrives, Kate returns to his story.  She describes his mom as a saint even though she does not fit our image of a saint.  She also describes the compassion of the wardens.

Interspersed with these stories are deep thoughts on the Holocaust, the torture of suspected terrorists, and the civil rights movement.  She gives me much to think about and strive for.


Anchor and Flares

You are good.

Love doesn't take you apart


Do you remember the Linda Ronstadt song?  “You’re no good.  You’re no good.  You’re no good.  Baby, you’re no good. ”  That is the feeling I have been fighting for a week.  I had two in-person job interviews last week and one phone interview.  Afterwards, I was feeling awful and craving SUGAR.  I felt worthless, useless, and out-of-date.  Thank goodness there are signs of spring in my neighborhood so that helped me to not be defeated.


I remind myself that they have the right to learn about my skills and experience and my personality.  But they don’t have the right to make me feel small.  As soon as I say that, I start to beat myself up.  I blame myself for letting them get to me OR I blame myself for reading something into it that was not there.  I don’t want to blame myself.

I read an article today that said, “The first thing you say to a another person can influence the entire tone of an interaction.”  Two of the interviews started in an adversarial tone.  The third started okay but then a man joined us and he created an adversarial tone.

So the following are two important lessons I learned in the past week that I feel are tangentially related to the above.

One came from career counselor, Sabrina Ali.  she said “The real solution lies in accepting the part of yourself that your family of origin could not…  The “mean” you from your younger years is perhaps now someone with impeccable boundaries. “

Three women who were significant in my life would tell me I was being mean to them when I tried to establish good boundaries.  It was like having my empathy used against me.  My options were I could let them walk all over me or I could feel like I was being mean to them.

The other important lesson for me was from the Catherine Ryan Hyde’s quote, “If it takes you apart, that’s not love.  Love puts you back together.”  Most of the time, my interactions with people feel like they are taking me apart.

Signs of spring.

Signs of spring.


Signs of spring

Signs of spring




Spiritual Whitespace

Spiritual Whitespace

Just to let you know – This book is in the category of Christian inspirational. I skip over that and focus on God as I understand God.

Peace is not the absence of stress; it is confidence in your importance to God.

I have been reading Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray.  I thought it might motivate me to start meditating.  But it changed my life.

The following is part of a recent blog post written by Bonnie Gray.  “Apparently, PTSD doesn’t just happen to those who are physically abused.  The impacts of emotional and verbal abuse are equal in damage and trauma.  You don’t need to have fought a war in Afghanistan or Iraq to suffer from it and it’s not limited to victims of physical or sexual abuse either.  We are all soldiers in the battlefield of lifeAnd yet, I felt ashamed for suffering.   I was scared because I didn’t understand why it was happening. Or how it could happen to someone “strong” like me?  I’ve survived plenty in life.  I was the one who was the encourager.” 

In Finding Spiritual Whitespace, Bonnie Gray talks about dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia and anxiety.  She talks about recovering painful memories from her childhood.   I have done that work.  It is hard work.   So when I started considering I might have to do work harder than that, I got scared.  I also got excited.  I expect that this work will be hard and it may have a big impact on my life.

She encouraged/challenged me to look at the pain deep within my heart that I try to hide from myself.  She reminded me that the person I am today can handle that pain and God will be by my side supporting me.

My deep pain is “No one valued me”.  As soon as I say that a tape starts playing that says it is not my fault; it is their issue.  It is my mom’s issue or my dad’s or my brothers’ or my boss’ or my coworker’s.  But that has never made me feel better.  It is pain I slam into everyday as I look for a new job.  It feels like I cross my fingers and send off my resume.

I only have control over me.  So what can I do to embrace me?  This has led me to a plan to become my own beloved.

There are several categories in my plan.


I am considering an online class and certifications.  I signed up with the Dislocated Worker Program.  My job counselor suggested some computer classes taught locally.  The Dislocated Worker program may pay for these classes.

Financial Planning

I was unhappy with the person that was advising me on my 401K.  I had let it go because I was not sure what to do.  I am now working with someone now who I feel is truly considering my interests.  He reminded me that I did not have a designated beneficiary which led to the next category.

Create a legacy.

I did not have a beneficiary because of my family history and I don’t trust people very much.  But if I had passed away with any remaining assets, the money would have gone to the very people that caused all the pain.  I have changed my beneficiary to a charitable organization that has programs to stop domestic violence today and help to prevent it tomorrow.

(Did you see President Obama’s message on the Grammy awards for It’s On Us.  He said that in the U.S. nearly 1 in 5 women experienced rape or attempted rape, and that more than 1 in 4 has suffered some form of domestic violence.)  I want to stand up and cheer when people care about these issues.


I have started to regularly volunteer with a food shelf near my home.  It is also has evening hours so I can continue when I find a job.


I renewed my search for a “home” church.  I hope I have found it.

Read for joy and inspiration or growth.  I have been reading novels for comfort food.  I have also been reading inspirational books.  I am currently reading Fight Back With Joy.

I also want to take myself on inspiration dates -places that might encourage creativity.


Walk outdoors and take photos (which also helps the creativity & spirituality).

Or when the weather is frightful, walk indoors are a nearby sports arena.  Seeing the other people there, mostly seniors, trying to stay healthy is an inspiration.

Inside the sports arena.

Inside the sports arena.

I tend to just listen to music while driving.  I am striving to add more music and “dance parties” to my day.

I am striving to do more “dining”.  I have a number of struggles with food and I want to try to do more “dining” where I make a meal a special occasion and be more mindful.

If I try to sum this all up, I would say I am trying to be reverent.

Reverence = Mindfulness + Gratitude


This spot in my home reminds me to create peace my life.

This spot in my home reminds me to create peace my life.

My home feels more peaceful - not always, but it has its moments.

My home feels more peaceful – not always, but it has its moments.




12-1 Gratitude



I was puzzled by the appearance of the woman walking in front of me at the sports arena this morning.  It looked like the bottom part of her pants were covered in grass clippings.  The rest of her pants looked clean.  The man with her that I assumed to be her husband also looked clean.  How could this be?  It looked like she had been out mowing a lawn before coming here to walk.  We have snow on the ground!  Where or how could she be mowing grass?

Apparently, it is some secret of artificial turf.  A man was using a machine to groom the turf.  I need to do some Googling to find out how you care for artificial turf.  As you can see from the photo, I also had grass clippings all over my shoes.

I am grateful I found this arena where I can walk.  It gave purpose to my morning to feel like I did something good for me.

I have been having trouble sleeping since my job elimination.  I woke at 4:30 this morning, which is not uncommon in the past couple of weeks.  After getting up, I finished reading The Christmas Note by Donna VanLiere.  I purchased The Christmas Secret as a Kindle Daily Deal.  I enjoyed it so much that I have gone back to to read The Christmas Promise and then The Christmas NoteThe Christmas Light is next on my list.  The Christmas Note is a sweet little book.  Gretchen is moving her 6 year old son and 8 year old daughter into a new town-home.  Her husband is serving in the military in Afghanistan.  Gretchen believes her neighbor Melissa to be unfriendly.  An impatient man shows up at Gretchen’s door.  Gretchen pieces together that Melissa’s mom has died and the man is providing notification if Melissa wants to clean out her mom’s apartment.  Even though Gretchen would prefer to steer clear of Melissa, she feels that telling her is the right thing to do.  Gretchen even offers to help.  Melissa’s mom’s apartment contains mostly trash but Gretchen does find a note thus the title, The Christmas Note.  The book had me crying, wanting to believe that kindness matters and good things can happen.  I love Gloria and Miriam from the other books so I was glad that they are present in this one.  Gloria is a guardian angel in this small town and known as Miss Glory.  Miriam is her best friend although they are very different.  Miriam is Gretchen’s mom.

The rest of my day was very hectic and has me hoping good things are possible for me.

May you be blessed.


11-29 Gratitude


This morning I am reminding myself to be grateful.

Hot coffee in a Christmas mug.

I found a nearby small sports arena  where I can walk indoors for free, 7am – 4pm weekdays.  I do walk outdoors in cold weather but it has been colder than average and we had an abrupt rather than gradual shift to winter.  When walking at the sports arena, I seem to let go of my other troubles.   I am grateful for being present in my moving body.

Several months ago I received a small settlement from my mother’s annuity.  My mother passed away nearly 20 years ago so this was very unexpected.  I am very grateful for this money today.  On November 14, I received my last paycheck from my company.  The payment I just received from them was for overtime hours I worked on a Saturday earlier in the month.  I expected to be paid for my vacation time.

I will receive severance pay.  The HR person did warn me it would take some time.  The law allows for time to change your mind regarding the separation agreement.  She also warned me that the withholding taxes will be higher.

I also received a letter stating that my medical insurance is ending and I have not yet heard about the alternative coverage.  That does scare me.

Don’t worry, I will keep looking for reasons to be hopeful.  I am tenacious ,

Looking for reasons to be grateful.

Looking for reasons to be grateful.


Today is the first day of the rest of my life.


"Be who you are and be that well." St Francis de Sales  (quote attached to this statue)

“Be who you are and be that well.” St Francis de Sales (quote attached to this statue)

On the afternoon of November 13, I was told that my job was eliminated.

Since then  I have been trying to live life as ‘today is the first day of the rest of my life.’  I have been trying to become the person I am supposed to be.  I believe I am supposed to be an encourager and a listener.  I also need to make a living.  I have been trying to be brave to put myself out there.

I sent in my application to volunteer at my local supportive and emergency assistance organization.  They are called Neighbors.  I think that describes their mission,  I have not sent it in before because my fear was greater than my desire to help.  I am trying to look at this time in my life as a time when I don’t let the fear stop me.

Why is it so hard to put myself out there?  It is because I expect that I will be met with criticism; that I will be told I don’t measure up in some way.

I am trying to gather my courage to apply for a position at Feed My Starving Children.  It is a part-time position (16-18 hours per week).  Supplemental income would have been helpful even when I was working full-time.  It would definitely help now and I think I could incorporate into my life later when I find full-time work.  Maybe my life will become several part-time jobs.  Working part-time right now would allow me to be out in the world and trying.

Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) is one of my favorite places.  The job is for Team Leader.  The critical voice in my head says “You a leader.  What a joke.  You are tongue tied and awkward.”  But another part of me says that I love that FMSC allows people of all abilities the opportunity to contribute.  If you have diffuclty standing for a hour or more, there are other opportunities.  If you want to lift and be more active, there are opportunties.  I have seen deaf people there and even a blind man packing food.  The blind man had a spotter working with him but he was pretty darn accurate on his own.

I am praying for the universe to help me be brave every day.



What is a conduit?


September in my neighborhood.

September in my neighborhood.

For many years I have been trying to figure out what I am supposed to be when I grow up.  Over a number of years I have consulted with a half a dozen different career counselors.   I have read many books on the subject.  I subscribe to Michelle Ward’s and Laura Simms’ blogs.  I have taken many career tests.  I can tell you that I am an INFJ on a Myers-Briggs.  According to StrengthsFinder, my top two strengths are Empathy and Connectedness followed by Intellection, Strategic and Input.

Earlier this year, a quiet voice told me I am supposed to be a Conduit.  What????  I was expecting a career.  A conduit is a personality characteristic.  What the heck in a conduit anyway?

I really don’t know what it means.  But I feel that in some way I am supposed to let people know God loves them; don’t give up hope, keep looking for the Light.

Two nights ago, I was having trouble sleeping and my intuition told me to get up and read Why You Weirdness is Wonderful:  Embrace Your Quirks & Live Your Strengths by Laurie Wallin.  This is a book that has been sitting partially read on my Kindle for a while.  She writes, “When we not only see the value of our quirks but also open our hearts to dream a little about why they matter in the world, the gift God’s given becomes tangible and truly magnificent.”

This made me think of the Facebook page, Humans of New York.  If you read it on a regular basis, it shows our diversity and also how much we have in common.  It builds empathy and connectedness.  Remember empathy and connectedness from my strengths?  I don’t want to copy Humans of New York but it helps me to feel that it is possible to find my own way to build empathy and connectedness.