Grace

In the early stages of my divorce I was so deep in my trauma that my response was to over explain and/or justify my behaviors. It was something my therapist and I worked on a great deal. She wanted me to learn to count to 10 before responding to my kids, a text, an email….. I tried it……
The whole counting to 10 thing did nothing but frustrate me.
10… 9…..8….
fuck.
this.
shit!
I’m done.
By the time I got to three I had inevitably done something or said something I would later regret.
I was reading everything given to my by my therapist and others. I was trying all the suggestions. I was depressed, overwhelmed, anxious, abused and deep in trauma.
I was on the couch one day flipping through the channels and stopped on Mel Robbin’s talk show. I felt like she was talking to me. So I pulled out my phone and googled her. The 5 Second Rule came up with a link to her Ted Talk. I clicked the link and watched.
The 5-second rule is simple. If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it. …. Hesitation is the kiss of death. You might hesitate for a just nanosecond, but that’s all it takes. That one small hesitation triggers a mental system that’s designed to stop you. And it happens in less than—you guessed it—five seconds.
5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins
That was it…..I didn’t need 10 seconds. I needed 5. I needed 5 seconds to change my thoughts, take action, make a move, maybe even not respond at all.
Therefore I adopted the Five Second Rule. I counted down from five when I could not get off the couch or out of bed. I counted down from five before responding to emails, texts or comments. I counted down from five when I needed to make a choice. I counted down from five over and over……
I realized that counting down from 5 offered me to allow myself, and others, grace. I could take action or slow my responses. So I started saying the word “grace” five times before taking action. It was working. And then I realized that the word ‘grace” has five letters. So I started spelling out the word grace. Slow and steady. That gave me time to think and not get frustrated. I had time to chose my next step…or just force myself to take a step. I could choose how I wanted to respond, or not respond at all.
Grace. I was now giving myself, and others, grace. Even when others did not or do not respond with grace, I could and did.
I have learned a great deal about myself and others over the past few years. But one of the most important things I have learned is grace…..with myself and others.
Next time you are tempted to respond out of emotion, the next time you feel paralyzed, take 5 seconds and spell the word grace. You will realize that you are able respond from a place of understanding and grace.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Images

Visual representations of times, places, people. Images can be real, imagined or manufactured. Images capture a single moment in time but not the context. While we spend time looking sometimes enviously at others photos of holiday and other family celebrations, we know not the daily struggles behind those smiles. Every picture tells a story. Sometimes the story is one we tell ourselves and sometimes it is a fairy tale others want us to believe.
This years holiday gifts in my family were those of photos. My children were gifted photos of childhoods long gone and gifted me with photos of who they are now. Each photo carried a story that was told as we turned the pages of the books and our lives. Memories were shared and new ones created together.
As I sat alone at the end of the night in the glow of the Christmas tree, I scrolled social media. I looked at the images that family and friends had posted. I saw more than the surface in many of those photos. In some I could see strained smiles and sad eyes. In some I could see body language that most would not recognize unless they had lived similar lives. I looked at the often highly curated settings of many photos and saw what many would miss. Most people would just hit the ‘like’ button and keep scrolling but not me. Perhaps it is because in the past I had been the one posting those “impression management” photos to cover for the inadequacies, deep pain and heartache I felt. Perhaps it is because some of those posting the photos had privately shared their struggles with me or because I just knew the reality of their lives.
We all want others to believe that our lives are perfect and without strife or struggle. We see the ‘picture’ that others present and think “why not me?’ or “what is wrong with me?” We step into that place of lack…that feeling that we are somehow inadequate….that feeling that somehow we are not and do not have enough.
STOP THAT! STOP right now!
Life is real and messy and imperfect…and so are we. Which is why I shared the stories behind the photos my kids had in front of them. I shared joyful, happy memories as well as pain-filled moments as we looked at the photos. I owned moments of grief and anger as well as moments when my heart overflowed with love and pride for each/all of them.
The more that we are authentic and real with one another, the more grace we offer each other, the kinder we are……the more love is created. Accept yourself for who you are and love the person looking back at you in the mirror. Accept one another, and yourself, for who they are and love the person…not the image. Every picture tells a story…own your truth and tell your story.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Hints

Holiday hints from Krissy Claus.
First the easy stuff….Do not count calories. Do not wear a watch. Try doing what other people feel like doing rather than being compelled to always make the plan. Stay in pj’s as long as possible each day. Getting coffee, bagels, donuts or tacos in pajamas is not only socially acceptable, it’s encouraged. Get down and look at your children when they talk to you. Or if they are getting taller than you these days, look up. Make eye contact. Cook someone’s favorite meal. Or cook your favorite and deliver to some friends. Sit by the fire and leave your cell phone in another room. Let the kids frost the cookies, trash the kitchen and get high on icing. Watch Christmas Vacation. Make pancakes with holiday M&M’s in them. If it’s not a hassle to make a fire in the fireplace, it’s an invitation. Pet your dog, especially right behind the ears the way they like it. When you grab your last minute stocking stuffers from the drugstore (admit it, I’ll see you there), pick up a couple scarves, socks, or fleece blankets to hand out to homeless people when you drive by – you can even let your kids do the honors and feel warm inside.
Now these are a bit more challenging but Krissy has faith in you! Put away your politics for a while and just love on people. Be kind …..especially to those “sandpaper people” in your life. The people who bug you are in your life for a reason, you may as well love them because they have something to teach you (as my friend says on the subject of judgment, “You spot it, you got it.” THAT makes you think twice). Don’t assume people know you love them, be clear. Ask questions and LISTEN to the responses. Active listening is a form of love. Accept people where THEY are right now…not where you want them to be or where you are in your comfort zone….you don’t have to step all the way out of your box but perhaps take down part of a wall. Think of someone you know (maybe not even very well) who has had a tough year this year and pick up the phone or put pen to paper and wish them a happier new year. Go for an evening walk and take in all the lights. Turn off all the lights in the house except the tree and sit there, at least once, late at night and recall what you are grateful for. Try to make peace with (instead of sense of) the things you don’t feel as grateful for. You are not too old or jaded to believe in magic. Everything you need is right here – every day, and especially at the holidays.
Peace.
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Healing

Healing is not linear. It is a process. People would love for you to move on NOW. Why? It makes life easier for THEM. Healing from pain and trauma is not about THEM….it is about YOU.
Coping with trauma takes many different shapes and forms. Some people stuff it down and bury it. Some people choose to smother it with addictive behaviors like alcohol/drugs/food/gambling/etc. Some put on the mask of happiness telling all ask that they are “fine.” The problem with those and other unhealthy responses is that they are just that….unhealthy. The trauma is always still there, just under the surface, waiting to rear its ugly head at an inopportune time. Moving on is not fast nor easy and those that tell you it is are lying.
Time does not heal old wounds. Healing takes work and dealing with trauma is work. Offering ourselves the same grace we give to others is not easy. It is difficult learning to create and hold boundaries. It is emotionally exhausting to do the painful work of growth, self improvement and self love. Grieving the loss of dreams of the future is often overwhelming. Processing all the emotions can debilitating. Sounds like a super fun party, right?! Not really, but the time invested in healing from trauma is worth all the pain, making us stronger and healthier humans.
One vital part of healing is sharing our story. Sharing our story, is not only empowering to us but also to others. Giving a voice to our experience validates our pain, our process and our healing. Sharing our story helps others in similar situations. It allows others who may feel alone in their trauma and pain to find a safe space of validation. How we share our story is ours to decide.
Not everyone will understand your process or have the patience to endure the time involved with your healing. Some will be critical of the choices you make in your healing process. Some will listen, leaning in, offering a place of grace sitting with you in your process. Some will love you through it all without judgement. People’s opinion of you, your choices and your process is …well….none of your business. You are on a healing journey from victim to victor, from survivor to thriver. You are in charge of your future and you decide who is a part of that future. This part of your life’s journey is invitation only. Choose wisely.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Wins

Today I am grateful that:
Science is real
Black Lives Matter
Women’s rights are human rights
No humans are illegal
Diversity makes us stronger
Love is Love
Today I am grateful love, kindness, inclusion and fairness won.
Today I am grateful for the first woman of color to be elected vice president.
Today I am grateful for the team of Biden/Harris.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace