12 February 2019

It's Okay for Women to Own (and Feel) Their Emotions

I grew up in a family that didn't really do "big emotions or feelings."

I did not have the tools or words to often express the ways I felt inside my body or mind. From the time I was little girl, I remembered sensing I was a person who felt things very deeply in her spirit. And sometimes, this left me floundering in my family and emotional life.

I did not know how to express why I felt anxious or was obsessively worrying about situations at different times in my life. Sometimes I didn't know how to name my feelings or emotions, I automatically assumed the way I was feeling was bad because I couldn't name it or did not understand it. 

Working through childhood wounds, sexual trauma, and the pain of a broken marriage, revealed to me I did not have the words to describe painful experiences from my life. My counselor had to help me teach me to learn to listen to my body and spirit to hear what was going on.

Before I continue further, I want to state I am NOT a trained psychologist or mental health clinician. I am merely speaking from my own life experience. I have come to better understand my ow story, and that is the perspective from which I share with you what I have learned along the way.

Early on with my counselor, I was given a sheet with eight basic emotions: anger, fear, pain, joy, passion, love, shame, and guilt. On this sheet, were included words to describe these emotions, as well as where you can feel them on your body.

I began to to practice taking inventory of my feelings and emotions. For example, if I was feeling anxious or restless about something that happened at work, I worked backwards and asked myself, "what happened at work that impacted how I am currently feeling right now?"

This practice began to change (and continues to change) my inner life. I used to assume because I was experiencing some big feelings or emotions, it meant they were bad or I would shame myself for feeling that way.

This is a lifelong journey for me. I don't do it perfectly and still have hiccups from time to time. But because I have learned how to name, own, and express my feelings and emotions, I am emotionally stronger and healthier.

Here are some of the ones I have found most helpful for me over the last few years:

  • Repeat "truth statements" when you feel flooded or overwhelmed
Sometimes it is hard to calm your brain down when your body feels flooded by cortisol. In moments when I feel like I am losing some control, I find deep, rhythmic breathing with truth statements to be very helpful. Some ones I use are: It is okay to feel your feelings or feelings are just telling me that something deeper is going on in my body.
  • Journal your feelings and emotions
You may or may not be the journal type of person. Personally, I am the type that finds a lot of relief in getting my words and thoughts out on paper.

My counselor encouraged me to start to journal using the emotions sheet I mentioned earlier as a way to get more in touch with my inner world. Scientific studies actually show frequent journaling can benefit your emotional health.
  • Be aware of what your triggers are
Triggers can be anything: a past memory, smells, sensations, touches, words that remind you of something, etc. They are powerful because they can take us back to another time we felt that same emotion.

Going to counseling and digging deep into my own work has illuminated what my own triggers are in life. I am more aware of triggers now than I have ever been. I have learned that if I try to stuff or not fully acknowledge things, they will grow and come out later in larger ways.
  • Ask for help if you need it
  Well-known research professor, Brene Brown, talks a lot about the power of someone else speaking truth when your "shame gremlins" are out and about in life. It can be very helpful to identify a friend or family member when you're feeling an emotion that overwhelms or scares you.

There is absolutely no shame in saying, "I need help. I cannot do this on my own. I need to find a good therapist or talk with my doctor about going on a medicine to take the edge off while I'm working through things."

You, like me, we are all a work in progress.

I have more tools on my toolbox now and more words to describe how I am feeling.
But I still have hiccups from time to time, and I am always learning more about myself.

It is sad to me that women still experience shame for a lot of different things in our world today.

Let's commit to stop shaming ourselves (or others) for the ways we feel. 

Becoming more self-aware and emotionally healthy are one of the best gifts we as women can give ourselves.

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31 January 2019

With Lent in Mind

It's here!

On January 30th, Blessed Is She released their Lenten journal To The End: the story of sacrificial love

If you have the paid membership, your own copy will be arriving in the mail soon unless you have already received it. If not, head over to the BIS store and order yours now. We always run out, so don't sit on it too long!

There is also beautiful bundle option which includes the journal, tote bag, and a hand lettered print.

Hopefully you find something you like in either option. :)

This year's journal focuses on the Gospel of John and a deeper look at the sacrificial love of Jesus.

Written by Jenna Guizar (with co-authors Beth Davis and Nell O'Leary), this year's Lent Journal examines seven characteristics of Christ's sacrificial love. We see this most clearly in the Passion and Death of Jesus. Each week of Lent has a theme to reflect upon:

  • Vulnerability
  • Generosity
  • Courage
  • Humility
  • Faithfulness
  • Surrender
  • Presence

The layout is similar to previous Advent and Lent journals with a mix of Scripture, personal essays, reflection questions, and space to journal and write.

I am really excited to be doing the journal with a couple of close girlfriends throughout the weeks of Lent. Whether you do it on your own or in a small group, I hope you'll join our community in prayer and reflection as we keep this season.

Here's my affiliate link so you can order yourself a copy of To The End or gift a special lady in your life with one. And thank you very much, for using it.

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02 January 2019

2018: The Year of Surprises

Almost a year ago today I was reflecting on some new things going on in my life.

I was about to start a brand new job.

I went to some very life-giving conferences where the Lord worked powerfully.

I was enjoying spending time with my new baby nephew and dating again.

Jennifer Fulwiler's Saint Name Generator matched me with St. Therese, to which I slightly inwardly groaned. 
My word of the year I was assigned was present. 

It turns out even though St. Therese and I have wildly different personalities, there were some lessons she had to teach my stubborn little heart. My word of the year was a gift to me in more ways than one. 

I went on a date in mid-January that turned into something very beautiful and healthy I could have never imagined. We were set-up by a few, very involved players: a mutual friend, some Facebook stalking, the Holy Spirit, and two good ol' Catholic Match profiles.

I was not expecting this nor was I looking for something really serious. But over the last year, I have come to experience what it means to be in a healthy relationship with a man who is truly worthy of me. I know what it means to be completely myself and have learned to ask difficult questions/have conversations that I never had before I had gotten married. 

People who held hope for me were right, yes, there are still good men out there in the world.

2018 was also full of other good surprises.

I began to do some speaking at conferences and was offered a few more opportunities to write online.

I went on a few travel adventures to London and Chicago.

One of my best friends got married and I went on retreat with women I dearly love.

I ran my second marathon and was interviewed on some podcasts.

2018 was the year God revealed to my heart, "If you try to control your life, you will never be truly happy." It is a truth we've wrestled with together over the last year, but it has been so, so good for my heart.

Living in fear or trying to control whats coming up the pike, is not how God wants me to live. But rather, with open hands of receptivity.

It was very interesting because one of the days in the Blessed is She Advent Journal this year was looking at Mary and Elizabeth. How in many ways, there were very ordinary Jewish women of their times who probably imagined or had an idea how their life would turn out. 

But then God presented them both with opportunities to participate in something they never could have imagined or dreamt up. There lives looked radically different. I found myself sitting with these two women looking at their lives, and finding a lot of comfort for the place God has me at this season of my life...especially as it has looked so different than I ever imagined.

This year I chose a word, open. I also was assigned one at random which was, still.
Already I am sensing God has more to teach me where He has me in life right now through these words.
My patron saint of the year will be St. Philip Neri, and I am looking forward to getting to better know the patron saint of joy and humor.

I don't know what 2019 will hold.

But I am sensing I have more to learn and grow in being still.
I think God has lessons to teach me on what it means to be open to my life as it unfolds.

Whatever comes, I am waiting in expectant faith with my fists open...not clenched.

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