What Is Holding Space? 

Crisis. It happens all around us every day in some form, from the child who cries a lot, to the friend who is dying of a terminal illness, to war and news and everywhere we turn we’re surrounded with crisis and news of crisis. We are often left feeling helpless, because as humans, our heart says “We have to fix this.”

I regularly practice caution in this arena. As a natural Empath, I can easily bring to my bosom, every pain in this heaving planet, leaving me somewhere lost in a great pond of sadness.

Once, when I was going through a deep struggle, a friend said, “I’m holding space for you.”

It is quite one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

So what does it mean to hold space for someone in your life? What does it feel like when you know someone is holding space for you?

When we see others struggling and hurting we want to fix it. We want to help them feel happy. We want to make it better because we love them. This is how beautiful we are underneath our masks which often give off the tone of apathy, a cover for the shame we feel that we cannot fix it.

The first rule of holding space is to NOT do it of you aren’t dedicated. The last thing anyone in crisis needs is am empty promise.

Here are some examples of how to hold space for someone.

1. Answer their calls and texts. Do so willingly and with love. Respond with “I’m so sorry. What can I do to help?” Let them know you are listening. Open the door for them to share with you.

2. Check in on them. Don’t wait for them to reach out. When we are struggling, many of us isolate and cannot find the strength to reach out. So check on us. Let us know when you think of us. You may be the very light we need in that moment.

3. Sometimes we just want an ear. So cease attempting to fix it all. You may say, “Hey, if you need support coming up with solutions, I’ll gladly brainstorm with you otherwise, I’m here holding space for you.”. It’s often best to just hold the space in support, because that one simple act creates these feelings in times of crisis.

We feel Safe
We don’t feel so alone
We become Hopeful
We are Thankful
We feel Supported
We become Motivated

Holding space for our loved ones means sacrifice. I believe that we have to be clear on knowing our own self-love boundaries so that we, as the person holding space, are not depleting our own strength. Holding space requires balance.

Most of all, holding space requires empathy, an ability to step outside of our own self and find the joy in being there for someone else.

Hold space, my friends. It is a beautiful gift to give.

My Love Languages 

This psychological test has been around for a while. I’ve taken it before. I’ve read the results. I’ve realized how immensely they’ve changed when I took this test again today. One aspect of this test that I like is that a parent can take it for their child, if the child is under eighteen. If only I had this when my children were younger.

But we didn’t have… Internet. O_o

So here’s my current love language with a link at the end for you to find out yours as well.

My Scores

11 Acts of Service
6 Quality Time
6 Words of Affirmation
4 Receiving Gifts
3 Physical Touch

Interpreting the Profile Score

The highest score indicates my primary love language (the highest score is 12). It’s not uncommon to have two high scores, although one language does have a slight edge for most people. That just means two languages are important to me.

The lower scores indicate those languages I seldom use to communicate love and which probably don’t affect me very much on an emotional level. Learn more about my primary love language and how to put it to use next to the corresponding explanation below.

Important to Remember

I may have scored certain ones of the love languages more highly than others, but I do not dismiss other’s languages as insignificant. My friends and loved ones may express love in those ways, and it will be beneficial for me to understand this about them.

In the same way, it will benefit my friends and loved ones to know my love language and express affection for me in ways that I interpret as love. Every time I or they speak one another’s language, we score emotional points with one another. Of course, this isn’t a game with a scorecard! The payoff of speaking each other’s love language is more of a feeling of “this person understands me and cares for me.”

This translates into better communication, increased understanding, and, ultimately, improved relationship.

Encourage your friends and loved ones to take The Love Languages Profile. Discuss your respective love languages, and use this insight to improve your relationships.

Acts of Service

Can helping me with my responsibilities really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on me will speak volumes. The words I most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.”

Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for me tells me that my feelings don’t matter to you. When others serve me out of love (and not obligation), I feel truly valued and loved.

Quality Time

In Quality Time, nothing says “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being there for me is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes me feel truly special and loved.

Distractions, postponed activities, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Whether itʼs spending uninterrupted time talking or doing activities together, I deepen my connection with others through sharing time.

Words of Affirmation

Actions don’t always speak louder than words. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important, and hearing the reasons behind that love sends my spirits skyward. Insults leave me shattered and are not easily forgotten. I thrive on hearing kind and encouraging words that build me up.

Receiving Gifts

Don’t mistake this love language for materialism. I thrive most on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind a gift, primarily, that I was comsidered worthy, without the gift giver having an agenda. The perfect gift is also a gesture showing that I am known, I am cared for, and I am prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to me. A missed birthday or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are heartfelt symbols to me of someone else’s love and affection for me.

Physical Touch

Hugs, pats on the back, and thoughtful touches on the arm – they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect and abuse are unforgivable and destructive. Appropriate and timely touches communicate warmth, safety, and love to me.

What Are You Love Languages?

Why “Push Through” Can Be An Illusion

A few months ago my twenty-one year old son and his friends invited me to go hiking.

“Oh, hell yes!” I responded with excitment.

Nature is one of my many loves. I rubbed my hands together gleefully. How cool these youngsters want an oldie but goodie like me along.

“Now, mom,” my son advised, “this is no ordinary hike. I mean, you gotta cross some streams and shit. Like it’s uphill.”

“I’ve hiked before.” I retorted defensively. “I grew up in Alaska learning survival skills. HELLO! Ya’ll should HOPE to have me along.”

We laughed together as we packed our backpacks with carbs and protein snacks, water bottles and extra clothing.

What a beautiful drive to the mountain base. It was to be a mere four mile hike up to where a world opened to more beauty. There, we would have a majestic view of a lake and vast valleys. My adrenaline pumped as I thought about getting up to the plateau and the photo I would get to capture.

The first two miles I cruised along, soaking in the crisp clean air, waving to tree friends, smiling at rock faces, enjoying the streams and waterfalls.

Mile three the struggle began. The trail became steeper. We’re halfway there, my mind told me. I had this hike in the bag. My son paced me, walking ahead of me a bit, then cheering for me as I huffed and puffed my way to him where we would rest a minute and go at it again again.

Halfway into mile four my legs began to shake. My mind said, fuck you, there’s only a half mile left and then you will be sitting, having lunch, absorbing the best view and resting for a while.

But my legs wouldn’t move. My mind spun with thoughts.

“Get your ass moving.”
“You’re gonna let all these people down and be totally embarrassing!”
“Quit being a wimp. You’re stronger than you think.”
“Just rest for a second then push through!”

Still my legs wouldn’t move. The muscles in my thighs were shaking. My body was not complying. I couldn’t take another step up the rocks. In seconds I was crying; angry and frustrated. I had underestimated my body. Here I was, almost all the way up, with only a half mile of this goddamn hike left. This couldn’t be happening to me. I felt on the verge of physical collapse, but my mind did not agree.

I sat on a rock with my head in my hands, warring with my body as the group gathered around me, calling encouragement.

“It’s okay!”
“Wow, look how far you’ve made it!”
“Save your strength. You will need it for the three mile trek back down.”
“You didn’t let us down! This trail will alway be here!”
“We can come back!”
“Next time we’ll do a different, easier trail!”
“We are so proud of you!”
“We love you.”

Not one time did anyone say:

“Get your ass up and Push through!”

This concept of pushing through is over-rated and over used. Quit saying it for everything. Sometimes people need to rest. Sometimes they need to be congratulated for their hard work. Sometimes you need to acknowledge this. Sometimes you need to praise them for how far they’ve come, then help them back down the mountain so they can rest before they try again. Pushing through is not always the answer. Remember that.

Stream Of Consciousness | 6.18.15

these days attention spans / are so full of lack / there are three seconds / three / yes only three / to get you to find interest in me / as if i could / wrap up a galaxy / in just three seconds / meme / scream / the social machine

all these tips and writing advice / update your blog every week twice / post at certain times to hit your target audience / do this / do that / don’t do this / don’t do that / frick frack / panic attack

most days i’m getting through / there’s a target i wanna hit alright / and it’s not my “audience” / whatever that means / i think they are fellow humans / surviving / who occassionally read me / saying / fuck, me too / i suffered like you

necessary / connection / so easily / turned into affection / he has a pretty smile / she has a pretty dress / they say something senseless / throngs of followers / scrambling for the same power / self devour / its the dysfuntion hour

mimic / critic / solitary skeptic / critically think / the sum of / what we have become / can’t help feed your family / gotta save that / money for drugs / can’t give a hug / might feel too much

apathy / when your sister needs medicine / but you’re broke / next day you’re at the store / what a joke / i take note / this is not / how this goes

empathy / share my last piece / split bread in two / so you can eat too / sacrifice time / for your comfort / my stomach grumbles / the pains i hide / so you dont have to know

they say / if you give / it gets returned / somehow / i keep getting burned / love does come / with a cost / because compassion / cannot be bought / but usery can / at the hand / of the selfish / who prey on the selfless

i see the truth / of what they made you / when was / the last time / you cried / even tried / to heal your insides

i’m here writing / not twice a week / i’m weak / and who invades / the suffering / in their hour of need / who dims the lighthouse / when storms rage the seas / who sees inside me / when the silence roars / they keep scores / who can tread the waters / lonely daughter / wounded father

so you say / let me / sell you followers / and i say / no / im not a caller / no guru / no hero / just my truth / so dont walk in my line / its thin / in between the wind and my skin / and there’s no more room / to let anyone in

Invisible Diagnoses

There are many of us who carry invisible diagnoses.  Because others cannot visually see them, we are often cast aside.  This is on my mind as I share these vlog thoughts to shed light.

She Left the Planet

She jumped off a bridge into the middle of traffic in North Seattle this morning. She has lingered in my heart all day. I don’t know her name, what she looked like, if she had children or a husband, family, had ever felt love or had someone hug her.

And that makes me sad.

I see people in stores, brows furrowed in seeming anger, faces down trodden. I smile at strangers. Occasionally its reciprocated. Most times it’s met with a look of confusion.

We’re so disconnected our eyes no longer meet. We don’t share smiles.

I wonder how many people passed her today. I wonder if anyone smiled at her or met her eyes. I wonder if one person had, if she still would have walked to that bridge.

To the woman who left the planet today. I feel your human suffering. I know you’re being loved now.

Why the Switch Sometimes Can’t Be Flipped.

Imagine that you’re in an empty room. The room has become completely dark. You need to get up and get out of the room, but in order to do that, you have to be able to see so you can find the door.

All that is visible is a glow in the dark light switch on the opposite wall from where you’re standing. Now all you have to do is just stroll on over there and flip it up. Walla! Light to see the door! Up and outa here! Yeah!

Sounds easy, right?

There’s just one problem. You can’t get your legs to move. Your mind recalls Kill Bill, and you’re saying “Wiggle your big toe.” over and over.

But unlike Uma Thurman, your toes do nothing. You cannot move a thing. Your mind is screaming at your legs to go. You stand there, unable to take even one step.

You don’t understand why. You are so frustrated and pissed off at your bullshit legs that won’t move. You try and reason with them. You try and figure out when and why, exactly, your legs have stopped working.

You are exhausting yourself with the fight to try and get your legs to move. You try over and over and over and over.

Minutes turn into hours that turn into days and months and even years.

You cry out for someone to help you, but no one is around to assist you in training your legs to move. No one is there to encourage you to believe in the ability of your muscles.

Or maybe they’re on the other side of the wall hollering, “Just flip the switch on, and you’ll see the door!”

Even though you’ve repeatedly called out to them that your legs won’t move.

You are stuck in your spot staring at that switch. You are hearing their voices bellowing solutions at you. Yet all you know is that your legs refuse to comply, and you are near the end of your rope.

“Why don’t they just open the door and come help me?” You think.

You don’t understand, and you fill to the brim with helplessness and hurt. Why won’t they realize that you can’t move your damn legs? How many different ways do you have to explain it? What is wrong with them? Are they not fucking LISTENING?

Eventually, spent and exasperated you close your eyes and the illuminated light switch disappears. You give up. What’s the point of continuing to gaze at that beautiful light switch, so close in your reach, if you can’t even get to it?

This is what depression and anxiety feel like. Frozen emotion. Cracked will. Defeat. Drowning in an ocean as people scream at you from the shore to “swim!”, and no one thinks to jump in and guide you to safety.

See, people can’t see these emotional disabilities with their eyes. Depression, C-PTSD and Anxiety don’t sit in a wheelchair or end up hooked to an I.V.

Because people can only view these types of disabilities with their hearts, and all the while people are screaming their opinions, solutions and judgment at you, they too, are just as stuck.

Because they can’t figure out how to reach the switch in their own room; the one that turns on their compassion.