For many of us in the U.S., this marks more than six months that we have been in quarantine. I refer to it as ‘self solituding’ and the experience has been both terrifying and comforting. In mid-March, as the buds were beautifully blossoming, I was turning inward, attempting to wrap my mind around the possibility […]
This morning, I saw the words ‘growing edge’ on social media. I was led to it after reading an article about full presence when sitting with someone going through life stuff, rather than giving unsolicited advice. After perusing and nodding along in agreement; as a therapist, that is my M.O., I found myself exploring the website of the author Parker J.Palmer. He has professionally partnered with singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer whose vibrancy bounces forth from her voice. I initially heard her music on WXPN a member-supported station out of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Together, they offer retreats, articles, and podcasts on the topic of stretching beyond what we thought we were capable of.
I can feel butterflies in my stomach as I am tip-tapping on the keyboard, while I contemplate my own journey. So many times I have wanted to play it safe, hiding under big fluffy covers so that I don’t have to risk perceived failure. I now question if anything truly can be called failure, since I have learned from every experience I have ever had. The jobs I haven’t been hired for, the relationships that didn’t last in the form I thought they should have, the articles that didn’t get published, the illnesses and injuries I have encountered, the missed opportunities, the motor vehicle accidents that came my way came as trials and teachers. Do I wish they hadn’t happened? Of course. I can still laugh at my own sense of injustice as my inner two-year-old pouts and stomps her feet declaring, “It’s not fair!” I have done my best to lovingly remind her that she will be okay no matter what and that I will take good care of her. She is reassured for a while until the next detour or pothole in the road.
Most people who know me would likely say that I am accomplished, competent and confident. Like many, I have succumbed to imposter syndrome by which I question if I really am all that and a bag of chips. My growing edge has a lot to do with that dynamic. For years I had asked myself what would happen if those I served as clients, students, listeners, and readers knew that I harbored fully human feelings and foibles. Would they run screaming? I tested that theory and blessedly, they are still here. When I have come clean with them and with people in my personal circles, I have felt heartened that I am more relatable when I am real.
My growing edge looks a whole lot like taking those kinds of stretches and asking for what I want. One of the classes I teach is called Cuddle Party which focuses on communication, boundary setting, and safe, nurturing, platonic touch. There are rules that guide it, some having to do with saying and hearing both yes and no. Although I have been a certified facilitator of this worldwide phenom since 2006, I still struggle at times with those dynamics. Less so lately, but still a factor is the desire to refrain from feeling let down if the answer is anything less than a wholehearted yes to my requests for time, attention, love, money, job opportunities, and relationship intimacy. There have been times that I wouldn’t ask for what might bring about a negative response.
My growing edge looks a whole lot like sending query letters to major magazines, seeking writing opportunities.
My growing edge looks a whole lot like submitting proposals for TED Talks and the Moth Story Hour.
My growing edge looks a whole lot like writing articles that dare to challenge the powers that be and the status quo.
My growing edge looks a whole lot like daring to ask for what my services are worth.
My growing edge looks a whole lot like asking people to do for me what I do for them, which is to spread the word about my work in the world.
My growing edge looks a whole lot like letting go of self-judgment for being ‘too much,’ or ‘not enough’.
My growing edge looks a whole lot like refraining from judgment toward others who aren’t living up to my standards.
My growing edge looks a whole lot like being willing to learn from those with a dramatically different world view.
My growing edge looks a whole lot like letting go of resentment if others have what I desire, seemingly not having worked for it as hard as I have.
My growing edge looks a whole lot like trusting that the God of my understanding has my back while I take a deep dive into unknown waters.