Tag Archives: SoCs

Well, finally

Well, I finally received the print copy of my article. I started this whole “getting something published” journey back in the spring, and it’s kind of like waiting for a baby to be born. No, not really. Bad example. It’s more like waiting for a vacation you planned well in advance. Yes, that’s a better comparison. You plan the trip, and once you book it, you’re PUMPED. You tell everyone you know about it, you are so freaking excited to go there, and then you kind of have a let down, as you realize you have to spend the next several months just living your ordinary life until the day rolls around. Kind of like the trip I just took to San Diego. I bought it LAST November on cyber Monday (BEST day to purchase online trips, FYI….$600 for round trip airfare and 4 nights in a hotel ON the ocean). We were so excited when we bought it, then had to face the reality of a New England winter and spring (basically just one long cold shitty season), go through the summer and then get excited again as the date finally neared. We just went last week, and it was amazing. And the day I returned home, the paper copy of the American Journal of Nursing was waiting for me. Perfect homecoming after a perfect vacation.

And, I read a book on attachment relationship types on the plane, and it allowed me to let go of the angst which had been building up inside me regarding yet another failed relationship. Sometimes, just having the answer to “why” is good enough.

Well, I am happy again…finally. Feeling at peace and ready to conquer the world again. Thank God….


 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Oct. 14/17

 

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Do you know about Someone’s Son?

Do you know what happened today? I became a published author! Granted, it’s just an essay in a nursing journal, but it’s kind of exciting to me. Not only because it’s validating, in regards to my writing, but because it’s a story that changed my life and I’m just full of joy it’s being shared.  Maybe, just maybe… it will change someone’s perception. That’s how we change the world…one person at a time, one story at a time, right?

I find I do my best writing when I’m being honest. Not necessarily honest about other things and other people, but about myself. When I strip down to the raw details, exposing my flaws, owning my deficits… being real… it doesn’t matter if anyone else likes it, or praises it, or praises me. All that matters is I’m being true. And I think everyone can relate to someone being honest and vulnerable, whether they agree with them or not.

My essay tells the story of a difficult nursing experience I had with an alcoholic.  Spoiler alert: I’m the asshole in the story.  If you want to check it out, you can read it in the American Journal of Nursing by clicking here.

This shameless plug of my newly published essay was written in response to Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness Saturday.

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS September 30-17

 

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When vulnerability is good

When you have a year like I just had, you learn to pay attention. Like, when my old friend Kara, who is not someone I regularly talk to, happens to send me a text with a link to a podcast, I pay attention. Even though listening to a podcast is something I’d never imagine myself doing. I always thought they’d be boring, which really isn’t fair of me, considering there’s about a million different ones out there, but it is what it is. Let me backtrack a few steps… I hadn’t spoken to Kara in months, when she crossed my mind the other day as I was buying theater tickets. I thought it would be a nice way for us to catch up, seeing a show and spending the night in Boston. I bought the tickets without asking her, and next thing you know, she’s texting me, telling me she’s listening to one of Brene Brown’s podcasts and thinking of me. I ignore the Brene Brown part, because I have no idea what she’s talking about, and I tell her how weird it is that she’s texting me the same day I’m thinking of asking her to get together. She says yes, and we chat a bit and the conversation ends.

A few hours later, she shoots me another text, letting me know she’s coming into town (she lives a good hour away) and asked if I had a free hour or so. Totally last-minute, and her text came as I was in an appointment, so I didn’t answer right away. By the time I answer her, 20 minutes had gone by. I tell her which town I’m in (which is a good half hour away from the town I live in, the town she expects me to be in) and she just so happens to be coming upon that exit that very minute. Ten minutes later, we are sitting having an unexpected dinner together in a town neither of us are normally in. The stars aligned perfectly, so I paid attention.

She talked of these podcasts she was listening to. She commutes to work, so has plenty of time for them. As she’s talking about it, I’m thinking, “I never have down time for listening to someone talk”, but of course, I don’t say that out loud. I listen, and honestly, they do sound kind of interesting. Dr. Brene Brown has spent her career studying shame and guilt. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Anyway, she said one of them made her really think of me, because they spoke of how most people think that the worst part of sexual abuse/assault is the physical act itself, but really, the worst part is the shame that follows. People can get over the physical part, but the shame never leaves. I nodded my head, knowing all to well what she was talking about. I looked at my friend as she described how it affects people’s lives forever, especially relationships, because that shame doesn’t allow us to be vulnerable. And we don’t allow ourselves to become vulnerable by sort of walling ourselves off. It’s a protection type of thing. The gist of it, as I interpreted it, was that people who have relationships with me, platonic or romantic, don’t get the whole me, because I don’t allow that vulnerability. It’s too risky. Or I don’t deserve it. Or I know it’s never going to work out, so I don’t put myself in the position of being hurt. God, that was spot on. Not so much in regards to the me right now, but it sure as hell described me for most of my life. And honestly, it takes a lot of work even now to allow myself to be vulnerable, but I do. Of course, with vulnerability comes the risk of shame…

So, dinner ends and we hug and go our separate ways. She ends up sending me links to the ones she was talking about, where Brene Brown was on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah Winfrey, and even though I would never normally listen to them, I knew I was supposed to…because the stars don’t align things up for no reason, right? And plus, she had me at Oprah…

I listened to them. Twice. And then next thing you know, I’m asking her if she has the link to Brene’s TED talk podcast, which started it all…and my life shifted. Just like that. You see, I have been struggling with feelings of rejection, insecurity, shame and guilt…well, pretty much my entire life. But more recently, it’s been a struggle due to a few specific relationships in my life. The struggle has sort of come to a head in recent weeks and left me in one of my funks that’s pretty hard to shake. It’s the result of me allowing myself to become vulnerable, and the risks did not pay off, and I easily slipped back into the swamp of shame. It’s crazy how it’s not even a conscious effort to go back to shame. It just happens. You wake up and there it is. Like it never left. I am unworthy.  It took me a bit to claw my way out of that dark area… in a sort of “fake it till you make it” kind of way. I still felt the feelings, but I made some decisions based on the knowledge I’d gained in my practice of therapy and mediation…my journey… and prayed I’d eventually get my heart to match up to this intellectual knowledge and decision. You know… when you know what you need to do, in your brain, but your heart yearns for something else. It’s tough, but the pain of it never working out for me was enough to make these decisions. And once I made them, I found myself wanting to wall off my heart so it wouldn’t be hurt again. Nope, I’m not ever going to put myself in that position again!  But, listening to these podcasts, well, damn… I felt the shift that day! I don’t know if it’s because it’s coming from an analytical researcher or what, but Jesus…was it validating! And it opened my mind to a new perspective. Creativity, growth and joy breed from vulnerability. I think I just found the key to opening my heart without regret. Without shame. Without guilt. Yes, I think someday I just might put myself in that position again! I know I will not ever be able to do this subject justice, so please, if any of you have even a hint of wonder or recognition about this, just click here . 

Because, if any of this resonates with you, then the stars are aligning right now by having you stumble across this post. Watch the podcast. You won’t be disappointed.

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Aug. 26/17

 

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I guess I’m still healing myself

Something bigger than me happened at work the other day.

I was visiting the home of an elderly man who had fallen.  I was there to monitor a healing infection and tend to his wounds. He was a frail, gentle man who told me he was ready for his life to be over. Not suicidal…the guy is in his mid 90s and not feeling well at all. It’s just time. His doting wife is quite a bit younger and not ready for him to give up just yet. This happens all the time. It’s not easy to face this season of life, even though we all know it’s coming for each and every one of us.

So, I’m at his house for the second time this week. His infection has gotten worse. I tell them he will probably  need to go back to the hospital. He shakes his head. His wife tells me it will kill him to go back, that he just wants to stay home. So, I start the conversation of hospice. Never an easy conversation to have. I keep in mind my mother, who just traveled this journey with her husband, as I look into this woman’s eyes. As much as she’s not ready for him to go, she knows this is what he needs. She can see it’s time. I put my hand on her shoulder as we speak, hoping to channel some peace into her aching soul.

I assist the man to his bed. He’s sitting on the side so I can change his bandages. He asks me, “So I don’t have to go back to the hospital?”No”, I reply. “You can stay home from here on out and we will send in a team of nurses who specialize in keeping you comfortable. They will help take care of you so your wife doesn’t have to work so hard and you can stay home“. He smiles and lets out the biggest sigh of relief.  He says, “My pastor is coming today. I’m going to ask him to talk to God for me.” I’m on my knees as I speak to him, as I’m changing a bandage on his leg. It’s a draining wound, and some traveled down to his feet. I took a gauze sponge and wiped his feet clean. I look up at him and say, “I’m sure he’ll talk to God for you. But you can talk to God yourself. And I can, too. I’ll talk to God for you and ask him to ease your suffering… and hers”, as I gesture to his wife.  He smiled down at me, as I tended to his wounds. “You’re an angel. I can see the wings growing out of there” and he gestures to behind my shoulder. He’s looking at it like he can actually see them there. He’s adorable. I’m such a sucker for these 90 year olds. “You’re an angel, just like she is“, and he looks over at his wife, who is leaning against the wall, looking away in her grief. She would move mountains for this man. But, mountains weren’t meant to be moved, I guess. He puts his hands on my shoulders, then cups my face in them, leans down and softly presses his forehead on mine. Almost like he was blessing me. As I washed his feet. Can you see it now? Can you see how this is something bigger than me?

I finish my work and tuck him into bed. I arranged for hospice to take over, so I knew this would probably be our last interaction. His wife walked me to the door. I tried to give her some comforting words, but I don’t think there really is such a thing, not during a time like this. She thanked me for my compassion and I went on my way. As sad as that scenario is, I felt good about it. I felt I healed them. Not physically, of course. There is no physical healing left in the world for that man. But spiritually, I think I did a decent job. I wondered why it was so easy for me to heal other people’s souls, and so difficult to heal my own. I haven’t felt like I’ve been healing at all, lately.  I thought of him calling me an angel. It reminded me of my angels, the one’s I pray to, the one’s I meditate to, the one’s I think of when I’m feeling broken. One thought led to another, and I thought of all the internal struggles I’ve been enduring recently, and I realized they are easing. I’ve been putting in my work, my gardening.  I’ve noticed the difficulty in healing myself and realized I had been slacking off on my work. The work I do on my own soul to put the pieces back together. So, I put some work in, and soon realized I’m bouncing back from emotional heartache a lot quicker than I used to. Pieces are starting to be put together again. So, I guess I’m still healing myself, after all…

Two houses later, I happen upon a patient with a cute little dog. He said it was a miniature toy schnauzer. This dog was SO in to me! She was standing on her hind legs, reaching up to me, begging for affection. I spent a few minutes stroking her head, her eyes steadily gazing into mine. She reminded me of this therapy dog I used to know, Frank. I had an emotionally intimate relationship with Frank. I swear, I think I can feel love from dogs easier than I can feel love from people. So, I felt an instant connection to this dog. I ask the patient what her name is, as I continue gazing into her eyes, feeling peaceful. He smiles at me and replies, “Angel”.

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Aug. 12/17

 

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Highlight of her day

Today was my first day back at work after a week’s vacation. That first day back always sucks, especially if it’s on a Saturday.  Good thing I enjoy my job, and it was not beach weather, so wasn’t as horrible as it could have been.

I actually had a great work day. One of my patient’s was new to me. She’d come home from the hospital a few days ago and was doing well. As I powered up my computer and got things settled, she pointed out a sparrow on her deck railing. It looked as though it lifted her spirits to see it. I told her, “Birds are messengers, you know”. She looked at me wide-eyed. “Really?” She looked like her eyes were tearing up a bit. I never really know who I should say stuff like that to, but it seems to be working out lately.  She said, “I feel like there’s something Native Americans make out of feathers and hang on their walls”. I told her they were dream catchers. I explained the story of the web catching the bad thoughts before they can get inside your soul, while the feathers allow the good thoughts to travel down them into you. I told her I was Native American and had actually just made a dream catcher a few days ago for a friend who was struggling with thoughts…(not something I normally do…only my second one ever). She went on to tell me of her daughter’s sudden passing a few years ago, and showed me the shrine in her living room for her. I asked if she had ever found any feathers outside on her deck and she said no. She lives in an assisted living building. We poked around on the deck for a few minutes, and I realized we hadn’t done any of our nursing tasks, so said, “OK, let’s get to work here. I can’t be talking to you about feathers all day”. She replied, “But it’s the highlight of my day”. She had a yearning, almost pleading look. I paused and smiled softly at her. Her daughter has been gone two years now, but I know she is still grieving. I can imagine you never stop grieving the loss of a child.

I went about taking care of my nursing tasks….listening to her heart and lungs, teaching her about her medications, answering questions, etc. I glanced around the room and happened to notice a vase with many feathers in it. I asked about them and she said she’d picked them up on the grounds of the facility she lives in. I told her, “So, you’ve been getting messages this whole time, and just haven’t noticed”. She smiled and cried at the same time. “I guess I have”. I could see her connecting with her daughter as she said that. She told me she feels her daughter around her frequently, especially at the door to her deck. I said, “Then that means she’s there.” She nodded. We looked at her feather collection together. They were mostly white and gray ones, but two from a Blue Jay. I’ve found 3 Blue Jay feathers over the past few weeks, and I’ve never found them before in my life. I thought that was kind of interesting.

I wrapped up the visit, and she again told me it was the highlight of her day. I could tell she wanted me to stay longer, and if I didn’t have a full day ahead of me, I probably would have.  I think it’s pretty cool that talking about feathers can make someone feel so good, especially after they were feeling so bad. I went about my day and visited 3 more people. Upon leaving the 3rd one, I found a Blue Jay feather in the grass, right in my path…and I smiled. I’m at the point where messages bring me joy, even when I don’t know what they mean. Just like with her, messages can make me feel so good, even after I’ve been feeling so bad.

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Aug. 5/17

 

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Things turn icky

I’m messy. I just can’t help it. I think it’s genetic. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to live in a clean and organized home, but I just can’t do it. I hold on to things and they pile up. Things get buried in the fridge and turn icky. I put things down where they don’t belong, thinking I’ll put it away later…which never happens. I don’t know why. I guess I just get distracted with other things and before you know it, another day has gone by and the pile of clean laundry I threw in the corner of my closet (because I was having company and everyone who knows me knows they are not allowed in my room because that’s where I pile everything when I “clean up” and they know damn well not to push me on that ) is still there. Buried under two other piles of clean laundry I tossed in there. And the floor is lined with stacks of mail and papers and kids report cards and school projects and photos and books and…. Ugh.

Not to mention, I live on Cape Cod and I’ve got so many better things to do with my free time during our oh so short summer…

Sometimes, though…I get motivated. Not the kind of motivated I get when I’m having company and I need to hide things, but the kind of motivated where I am ready to tackle one of those projects.  Unfortunately, it usually takes me feeling frustrated or pissed off to find this motivation. I’m dealing with a bit of an emotional speed bump right now, which makes me feel things I’ve been trying to shed from my soul all year…so I found myself cleaning out my pantry this evening. I filled up a full-sized trash bag, throwing out expired crackers, stale cereal, empty boxes (why my boys can’t comprehend how tricky it is when they leave an empty box in there…how am I supposed to know we need more? I don’t have x-ray vision.) I also ran a few loads of laundry and hung up all those piles of clothes in my closet. I felt accomplished. As I scurried around, I had to chuckle a bit. All I could think of was my marriage. Every time my ex-husband made me feel bad, I found myself filled with a powerful frustration which, of course, never got validated and never had anywhere to go. So, I would clean. After a while, he knew if he saw me cleaning at eight o’clock at night, he knew he was in trouble. Hell hath no fury like a scorned woman, I said to myself tonight. And that made me laugh, so there’s my sliver lining.

As I hung up my clothes, I stopped laughing. I came across a few items that reminded me of feelings I hate. I saw what used to be one of my favorite skirts. It’s a blue and white striped maxi, kind of nautical looking. As I looked at it, I remembered the last time I wore it. I had participated on a town committee last year and the local paper printed a photo of the members. I was the only female on the board. I paired the skirt with a navy blouse and thought it made a great business-casual look. I was excited to be on the board, even though it didn’t turn out quite as I had imagined (which is a misogynistic post for another day), and was also excited to have my photo in the paper. This was during the time when my husband and I were negotiating about getting a divorce. We were being fairly nice to each other, as he didn’t want to move out. I had sort of stopped sharing things with him at that point, as he had no clue on how to validate me and I had been through so much that spring that I just felt it was easier to keep things to myself. For some reason, I decided to share that day. I suppose it’s because he had been being so nice to me. I mentioned I made “the front page”, jokingly, as it’s just a tiny, local town paper. We both smiled at the joke. He picked up the paper and said, “Well, there she is!”  It seemed like it was a pleasant interaction between us, which I easily welcomed, after all we had been going through. He then held the paper up and followed with, “Well, it’s not the most flattering photo of you, now, is it...” with an expression on his face that I probably can’t describe, but just trust me…it matched his words. And just like that, I felt small again. God, I hate feeling small. I felt myself shrinking, trying to disappear. However, I did just go through several months of therapy, and had been working so very hard on myself, going to meditation, working on opening my Chakras…so I found my voice and used it. “You’re so rude”, I said, calmly. He got defensive and said something like, “Oh, so now you’re going to be mad at me?  You’re so sensitive. It’s just a comment, Jami. People say these things, you know.” We went back and forth about it, with me telling him how small he makes me feel and how people certainly do not say things like that, and him telling me how it’s all my fault for being so sensitive. I held my ground and he held his, and we kept that argument going until the next day, when he finally apologized (an apology I did not accept, FYI). Needless to say, I haven’t worn it since.

I know, you’re all going to tell me I should say “Screw him” and wear that skirt, but I just can’t. Maybe some day, but I just don’t like being reminded of feeling small, because when I’m reminded…I feel it. It fills me up and is real. It comes back so easily…like riding a bike.

So, the skirt will stay in there, along with the hat I bought on vacation and only wore once because he laughed at it all afternoon. I won’t throw them away, because I want to get to the point where I can wear them and not feel small. I know I’ll get there, some day….

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS July 8/17

 

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Raining outside my bubble

I’ve been living in a comfy bubble for the past 8 months. It was soft and sweet and comforted me. I crafted this bubble out of people and activities that nourish my soul. It’s worked pretty well for me. I’ve been happy. I’ve grown from a compact seed to a blooming flower in there. It’s like a perfect greenhouse…plenty of sunlight and water and full-time gardeners to tend to my flowers and pull my weeds with me. I’ve become empowered and bold inside this nifty garden bubble of mine. I healed inside this bubble.

The thing is, bubbles are fragile. Everyone knows that. As soon as it comes in contact with something sharp, it pops. So, what on Earth made me think I could get away with living in one? My cozy little bubble popped this week. Just like that. It came in contact with something very jagged that I had tried to keep way out in the periphery.  You think I would’ve seen this jagged thing coming, seeing how bubbles are transparent. Was I too busy having a good time with my gardeners? I wonder if maybe I did know it was coming, but just looked the other way…wishing it away.  Pretending it wouldn’t find its way in…

So, my bubble popped and the sunshine went away. Easy as that. And, the sun was replaced with a dark cloud, right over my head. A cloud that rained down on me. All of a sudden, there were weeds growing everywhere. My gardeners tried to keep up with them, but I shooed them away. I hated those weeds and knew no one really wanted to be around them.  I found myself standing there alone, in a pile of weeds, in the rain…missing my garden.

So, I did what any other recently healed woman would do in this situation. I cried. A lot. And I sat under that storm cloud all week and just let it rain all over me. It got to the point where I couldn’t figure out where the rain ended and my tears started. They just blended into one giant flood of emotions… anger, sadness, worthlessness, blame, shame, insecurity…I waded around in that flood and then just floated in it, letting it soak in to my core. This wasn’t my first rodeo in this kind of emotional flood. I think back to my good friend, Mary, telling me last summer, as I was bitter about this same exact subject…”Sometimes, you’ve just got to sit in your shit”. I didn’t really understand what she meant at the time, but I figured it out. Sometimes, life just sucks. Period. You can do all the motivational, inspiring speaking you want on the subject, but it still sucks. And sometimes, you just need to honor your emotions, without blaming or judging yourself for having them. Just sit in your shit for a while. Let the rain soak you to the bone.  Feel your feelings. Eventually, the sun starts shining again, even if just a peek…and you slowly start to dry off…

So now, I just have to figure out life outside the bubble…

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS June 24/17

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness Saturday

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Soul Signs

I believe in the Universe giving signs.  I used to be a skeptic, but after the year I’ve had, there’s just no doubt. I was sort of bombarded with them as I started processing my life and was kind of in awe of them. I wonder if they’ve been here all along and I just never noticed them. You can spend an entire lifetime being asleep and not realizing it. Once you start to wake up, you notice things.

The tricky thing about signs is, you can never be sure if they are a good sign or a bad sign, or what exactly the sign is telling you to do. It’s too bad they aren’t like road signs, with the information clearly stated in legible writing, telling you exactly what you’re supposed to be doing and which direction to turn… but it just doesn’t work that way. My signs come in forms like hawks, deer, synchronicity, “coincidences” …and it’s up to me to figure out which direction they’re pointing me in.  It’s also up to me to figure out if they’re even a sign at all.  Like, what if that really is just a plain old hawk and I made a life decision based on it flying over my car?? Well, really…I don’t make life decisions based on signs. It’s more like they give me clarity by making me pause… and help me step back and take a look at what’s really going on in my life, at what’s going on in my soul. It seems like I always already have the answer within me and just need to see it.  And once I’m able to see the answer I’ve had inside me all this time, I realize I never really needed that sign, after all. The answer becomes a knowing.

I think we all have the answers we seek, right inside our souls. Maybe it’s just that we are resistant to seeing them because seeing the path we need to take is not always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes, the only way out of our pain is by walking directly through our pain, and its human nature to want to avoid walking directly into pain, isn’t it?  If you came across a road sign that said, “Turn left for pain”, would you turn left? Hell no! But, if you noticed a deer in your back yard, or met a sweet old woman who happened to collect hawk feathers on the same day your father met her….or even something more subtle, like finding a lost poem… you might find yourself taking that left turn, after all.

 

 

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness Saturday

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS June 17/17

 

 

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Admitting vulnerability

Sometimes, admitting something can be the hardest thing you ever have to do.  Like on Dateline NBC, there’s always this regular, normal husband who ends up hiring someone to murder his wife because he’s afraid she’ll find out about him cheating on her or being a gambling addict or he lost his job. The guy actually thinks KILLING someone is easier than admitting to whatever crappy thing he’s done.  Damn, that shows you just how powerful shame can be. Except those guys don’t get it, because really, the way to rid yourself of shame is by doing the opposite…not silencing it, but outing it.

I’ve spent the past year outing all of my shame, and let me tell you…it’s NOT easy! I can’t say I’d rather kill someone instead, but there were definitely plenty of other things I would rather have been doing. I didn’t do them, though. I’m pretty sure sharing my shame was the most difficult, yet most freeing and empowering thing I’ve ever done.  Once you admit something, out loud…something that’s been eating away at your soul even though you’ve been ignoring the shit out of it…it doesn’t own you anymore. No one can shame you for something you OWN, you know? I kept saying, “No one can be harsher than my own inner critic, so BRING IT ON!”

I’ve poured the contents of my soul all over this blog, shared them with family, friends and strangers…and I’m talking HEAVY stuff.  I figured go big or go home.  It’s funny, though…now that I’m moving into new territories in my life, I’m finding I still have things inside me that are hard to admit to. And I’m realizing it’s not because they are shame based. It’s because I feel vulnerable. Being vulnerable is scary. It’s so scary, I don’t even want to admit to the vulnerability. That “pink cloud” effect of last year’s epic sharing has started to wear off. I don’t feel so much like Wonder Woman anymore. I feel like a regular woman, whatever that is…

 

 

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness Saturday

 

 

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