and here we are…

A month ago I launched a mini, limited-run series on my podcast.

A month ago I prepared to celebrate turning 44.

I was hosting a giveaway for movie tickets and, for the most part, one month ago it was business as usual… We knew what the news was saying, and we heard what others were warning. It is so easy though, to live in a state of voluntary tunnel vision, isn’t it?

We human beings can pretend really well.

I was among the many, who grew more anxious about impending March changes, and yet somehow still felt blindsided when reality, Shelter in Place orders and infected numbers continued to rise…

Season three of our show was set to premiere mid-april. A powerhouse of a virtual conference was being designed for a few days later. Enthusiasm for both things was HIGH. Despite the looming threats, we had no idea how that would impact us, and how could we? The only thing we’d ever seen, remotely like the world suddenly feels, today, played out on the big screen.

When I line up guests and topics, for the show, I take a pretty organic approach. I usually follow the opportunities that come my way and seldom have to chase down a person. The upcoming season three was no exception. Most guests were scheduled and confirmed, by Thanksgiving. We were set to begin recording in March. It had all gone together so smoothly, it was easy to feel a sense of accomplishment as the calendar turned…

Ironically, there were several mental health experts, therapists and coaches lined up. As my team and I connected, via zoom, to meet our guests, mini therapy session began to unfold. While taking care of families, responsibilities, our lives and going through the minute-by-minute changes the world was sending our way- we were there on screen together, processing with experts along the way.

It was hard, and awkward, cathartic, vulnerable and all around necessary. Unplanned by us at all, we have weeks of conversations with really strong women, unfolding on the show. It’s amazing really, and humbling as I am once again seeing how important this journey is…

This week’s new episode is with Nicole Burgess. She is a psychotherapist, introvert empowerment coach and also has an awesome podcast! Within her interview the one thing you can expect is several jewels of wisdom and perspective. Nicole said so many healing and healthy things that I am sure you can hear me scribbling notes in the background.

Towards the end of this powerful episode, Nicole challenges us to determine an action step that we can do each and every day. I’ll admit, such a simple directive can be incredibly powerful during this season of uncertainty and self-isolation. (On her website, she has the opportunity for a free workshop that is also timely and relevant.)

Come listen to Episode 71, and learn along side us, better ways to get through this season, but also to give us essential items for our tool box of the future.

p.s. four…

Some days, I hate you. Some days, I wish you were something different. I cannot control you. Like the tides, you are unpredictable and change whenever you please. You are sensitive and easily irked. But other days…most days, I adore you. You are a part of me. You make me who I am. Set me apart from fifty per cent of the world and join me with the other half. You are the source of life. You make me feel both empowered and vulnerable. A channel of desire. A passage of two ways; giving and receiving. You cause me such anguish and distress and yet bring me indescribable pleasure. You are completely unique to my person, a part of me only I know. 

You’ve been with me through it all. Through every change that has evolved us into the woman we are today. But you have betrayed me in the past. Seen fit to humiliate me and trick me some days, leaving rose-red brands on my skin and clothes. Because of this, I felt ashamed to be one with you. And other times, I’ve felt fearful to call you mine. 

Weak and exposed. You are the constant reminder that I am different. As we grew, I came to realize that this part of me that stays hidden unless I want it to be seen can be wielded like a weapon. I blamed you for feeling frightened in the dark streets walking home alone. You became my Achilles’ heel; the thing that set me apart and left me open for attack. And one day, you didn’t belong to me at all but to someone else entirely. 

For a long time, I didn’t trust you. We became disconnected and I felt resentful towards you. For if you weren’t a part of me, I would never have been hurt. But time heals wounds and time helped me realize that it wasn’t your fault at all. It isn’t what’s between my legs that makes me different. It isn’t what makes me weak or what led to my trust being betrayed. You never betrayed me. If anything, I betrayed you. 

Truthfully, neither of us is to blame. Not me, young and naïve. And not you, an innocent participant that was abused. You do not make me vulnerable. It is the world around us that has made me think that. Made me think I need to feel ashamed of you. Society’s atrocious standards and victim- shaming agenda. It has made us believe that you are the problem. That the crown at the base of my thighs is my weakness. They lie. 

This part of me is strength. You can bleed for seven days and survive. You can give birth to life and thrive. You can be betrayed and stay alive. I will not be ashamed of you any longer. I will not be made to feel that you and I ever need to part. You are what makes me different. You and your idiosyncrasies. What you want is what I want. To be appreciated and adored. To be respected and never be ignored. I won’t let the world tell me that I am less because of you. I won’t let another person use you against me. I will never be ashamed of my strength again. You are perfect just the way you are. We’re in this together, Vagina. We are one and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

{This post is part of a series of anonymous submitted letters both written here, and read via the Collective Podcast limited series: PostScript.}

hoping & coping…

On April fourteenth, three years ago, I launched this tiny little notion of a podcast. The idea behind it was to build a platform for women, where they could safely share their stories. Period. There would be no political or religious filtering, no checklist of qualifications they would need to own. The truth is, women need women. This isn’t to negate that humans need connection, or that men are any less deserving of relationship. Those things are valid, but for THIS show, the heart was women…

I wasn’t sure what would come of it, honestly… Right off the bat there were some issues, not ironically related to the very heart behind why the show met a need. From the very start of its inception, years before, I was firm in stating that I wasn’t after growth or numbers, popularity or riches. While many felt my goal of “financially self supporting” was too small, for something I was so personally invested in- my heart was always for the woman out there who’d need the moment. I knew that whoever should be involved, would be, and have held to that. It turned out that something about the project resonated, and as more women came to the mic and exposed pieces of their journeys, a beautiful community began to grow. Women began to allow the light shed by other’s experiences, to illuminate the lies and shame they’ve allowed to hold them down. Women began to say (and believe) the words “I am not alone”. Beauty grew, in abundance, from the words brave women would speak.

Honestly, three years later, I can’t explain it.

I have had the gift of not only connecting with women from all parts of the world, but watching our community of women rise up to support each other. Nothing within my professional life has ever filled my heart with such warmth, as seeing that happen every day.

On April fourteenth, the third season of this beautiful little show was going to launch. The recording schedule was laid out and confirmed months ago. I am a planner, so it all fell together smoothly. (I also have a pretty great support team that give me life!) Approaching this third season, I was really starting to feel like I might finally know a little of what I was doing. We also, in our “down time”, brought together a beautiful virtual conference of EMPOWERING women. The energy was AMAZING, for all of it. The show is NOT financially self sufficient yet, but the conference would make that a reality. (coupled with our Patreon)

And then, March came and life imploded…

Women began reaching out more, asking for prayer, needing an ear, sharing their daily moments, and I thought about why we are here- and why the Collective Podcast began, in the first place.

Weeks ahead of schedule, today, our third season is launching. Our guest is Samantha Ruckles, who began an amazing kindness initiative in Australia, that is now recognized around the globe. Sam’s story is the PERFECT inspiration we need right now. (You can go here to get her episode)

In the next few weeks we have episodes coming that need to be shared, within this current world we live in. Episodes and guests who were scheduled months before we even knew anything about Covid-19 or could fathom things like self-isolation and worldwide shelter-in-place plans… We are showing up early because someone, even if it is just one person, needs us to.

As for the conference… It is this beautifully empowering day, (ironically already virtual) that has the possibility to leave every woman who attends feeling empowered, capable and more able to navigate this season of life. Is it something I truly believe can help women? Absolutely! However, the current climate of anxieties and emotions has numbed the enthusiastic energy from weeks ago. Where hundreds of women couldn’t wait for the tickets to be available, now many are silent. I get it, you can’t eat or practice hygiene with a virtual conference pass. I also know that, with the financial climate as it is, I may not be able to sustain the show without it.

If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, I’m asking you to take that leap of faith with us. Here’s the information about the Gathering, the brilliant women involved and what to expect. It is a modest price, with a percentage going to two amazing charities. We truly are better together! I know it is scary to spend money right now, but please know that our mental/emotional health is AS IMPORTANT as our physical health. It truly IS an investment, this group of women has the heart FOR YOU. FOR community…

And if it isn’t right for you, that’s ok too. As long as the Collective can be around, it will be. And when it no longer can, well, then I have to trust the divinity in that too…

p.s. three…

{image credit Debby Hudson}

Dear Mom, 

Although we are friends now, we haven’t always been in this place in life. When I was growing up, you were distant. Not distant in a way that I couldn’t see, hear or touch you, but you just had somewhat “checked out” as a mom. Being the baby of six kids, I always felt like maybe you gave birth to me but just didn’t want to raise another child. 

As I got older, I learned that you didn’t have the best upbringing yourself, losing your birth mother at a young age, having your father say he couldn’t care for his children so putting them in foster care (which ultimately tore you away from most of your siblings, except one sister), then being adopted and raised by a mother who wasn’t the best suited for the job. 

All of that made me realize you had some baggage to deal with. Maybe because of that baggage you just had no idea how to really be a mom. But then as I got even older, I learned of some things about you that probably led to you also not being a close mother to me during the formidable years.

I learned that you were raised Mormon, but broke the rules and got pregnant in High School. Because of that you were forced to leave that comfort and the support of home, you moved into a place with your boyfriend and started a family. The two of you were married and had 4 children together. He was a traveling sales man, leaving you alone to raise the children by yourself. I think this took a real toll on you and you got involved with another man and ended up pregnant. Although you attempted to hide this from your husband, he knew that child couldn’t be his. So he divorced you, so once again you were alone raising children, but now you are also pregnant and raising children. 

When your “baby” was a little over one, you met a man (who would ultimately become my father) and began dating him. The two of you eventually married, when your youngest child was 2 years old. When your youngest child was 4, you gave birth to another child (me). I am not sure if I was a planned pregnancy or if you were giving your husband a child he wanted. But either way, you never seemed ready for another child. Even reading back in the baby book put together for me, the comments you wrote in the book are shocking. When the book asks you to document what you thought when you found out you were pregnant, you wrote “I hope this is the last”. When it asks what your first thoughts were when you first laid eyes on me, you wrote “its a girl”. I would’ve hoped your answers would have been a little more enthusiastic. 

You and my dad filled your lives with lots of alcohol and partying. You would also get involved in the “Swinger” lifestyle, hosting parties at your home. These parties were often full of food and alcohol and lots of people, while us kids were told to go to the basement and stay there until we were told to come up. I remember venturing upstairs once, because the smell of the food was just too tempting, and although I didn’t “see” anything, to this day I can remember the panic on your face as you tried to scurry me back down to the basement. It wasn’t until I was much older that I found out from one of my siblings that you guys were Swingers. Then I started piecing all that together. 

My point here, Mom, is this: I know you love me. I know you genuinely want the best for me. I now feel like we can talk about anything and you always have good advice. It has taken us some time to get here though and although you played a bigger role (being a more mature, motherly figure that should have been your role) I also take some responsibility in keeping us from a wonderful relationship for all those years. 

Love you!

p.s. two…

{image credit Debby Hudson}

It took 9 years, past our divorce, for me to face that you were the love of my life. Maybe we just weren’t good together. I don’t know. When it seemed like you not only stopped loving me, and touching me, but also liking me- I didn’t know what to do.

I couldn’t put words to the feeling, for so long, but today I can:

Imagine living, while your heart beat far outside your body.

Maybe I heard that in a lyric, or a movie somewhere. It sounds way to profound to come from me. Perhaps I watched it, on the tv one night, and thought “yes, that is it! That is how I feel. That is what it was like.”

But then I would have turned to the total absence of anyone, and realized that even though I knew- I had lost.

I had lost you.

What was it, about me, that you could no longer love? Was it that I wasn’t younger?

I kissed a colleague, and you left me. Unwilling to work it out. His kiss, though electric and exciting, hadn’t ever felt like home.

Like you.

My entire self was reaching, somehow, for you, but though your body was sleeping beside me, you’d never been farther from my reach.

I tried to tell you those things, but you were so walled up from hearing the words I spoke, that you couldn’t hear me.

My love, you are remarried now, and finally a father. This is something I could not give you, and because of your new wife’s ability to, I will forever believe in the worthlessness of me.

I am working on it. Working through accepting. I’ve always been better with numbers than words, and the math is that I couldn’t grow our family, you pulled away and shut me out. You looked for me to mess up, and when I did, you tossed me out. You replaced me with a non-faulty woman, and in the end got everything you’d always wanted.

I guess what you had wanted was a family and a wife who could give you that. That had never been me.

You will forever be the love of my life, but I have long since set you free.