We Hear The Scream

It is time for disembodied people to stop pretending to lead. A few years ago, before the Women’s March ( I attended) and before #metoo, I received a note from a guy who was reaching out to apologize.

 He was apologizing from something he did long ago. We were both just kids back then.

 But he realized his actions were hurtful and he wanted me to know how sorry he was. He had not assaulted me or raped me.  He wasn’t running for office or seeking to be on the Supreme Court. He was just an ordinary guy who had done some soul searching. He realized what he did was wrong and he wanted to take responsibility. 

I told him it was a long time ago and it was not continuing to hurt me. I had long since healed. Though I was fortunate. Some wounds are harder to heal/ much harder. I was very moved that he acknowledged what he had done and that he regretted it decades later. So many years later, his regret was felt by us both. And It didn’t matter how many years had passed. 

It didn’t matter how many years had passed. 
Time doesn’t change the truth. 

A person who cannot judge themselves cannot serve as justice on the Supreme Court. Covering a woman’s mouth to prevent her from screaming while touching her is sexual assault.  It doesn’t matter how long ago it was.

 As a psychotherapist for more than 30 years, I have worked with many people who have been sexually assaulted and the wounds are permanent. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was. The trauma is significant and keeps returning in many ways over many years requiring continuous healing work. 

It is very difficult healing work. 

 If you cannot look at your own soul, you can’t sit in a seat of Justice. Period. We don’t need disembodied people pretending they can lead. We don’t need justices that don’t  understand the damage done during sexual assault. We don’t need justices that actually do the sexual assaulting. It doesn’t matter how long ago.  They can’t lead. Leadership is far bigger and requires more from mere mortals. 

And we don’t need Senators that want to cover the scream. 

The Art of Reflection

Reflection

 
                                
I have been teaching reflective processes for a long time because they help you in so many ways to: untangle your knots, choose the steps in your path, lead, heal, figure out your boundaries, know your truth, and get grounded. Reflection is key to your relationship with yourself and others.

Reflection allows you to connect to your wisdom.

But how do you reflect?

You need to use a process for reflection. I have become a big fan of the SoulCollage® process for reflection because it is so darn effective for getting to your truth. It is also fun and full of surprises. I think it offers lots for those of you who need some relaxing restorative time.

In SoulCollage® you put together images (no words) on a card to form a collage. You reflect on what you see in the card. Working with just images, you get to know yourself from your right side of your brain. Each card you create becomes an aspect of yourself. The cards help you see parts of yourself that may be hidden from your view. Hidden gems are revealed in every SoulCollage®.

I've recently become a SoulCollage® facilitator. SoulCollage® was developed by Marriage and Family Therapist, Sena Frost. Though Sena is long passed away, I speak her language as we are both from the same school of therapy. I was drawn to her work.


I am a big fan of writing as a reflective process and SoulCollage® uses a writing component (left side of brain). Because this reflective process uses both parts of your brain, you get the chance to access more of yourself and your soul.

How does this relate to boundaries?

Listening to your boundaries is also a way of knowing yourself and of bringing clarity to who you are and what matters to you. Your inner boundary compass answers what is a Yes for you and what is a No.

To know your boundaries, your truth, your authentic Yes and No, you need to use a reflective process.
A reflective process offers you a doorway in to listen to your truth and understand yourself.

If you'd like to dive in and try SoulCollage® as a reflective process, join me for a full day workshop (click here for more info- or paste ticket link in browser) October 27 at the Earth Sanctuary on Whidbey Island, Washington. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/soulcollage-in-the-earth-sanctuary-tickets-50152994958

You can contact me if you are interested in SoulCollage® for a fun and relaxing workplace wellness workshop or as a travel retreat. I am happy to share this with you in beautiful places. Next week I am taking it to a retreat in France. I think a nurturing setting enhances the experience.

Save the date to join me for a 3-day Retreat at the glorious Whidbey Institute on Finding Your Way with Your Boundaries March 1-3, 2019. More info on that soon.

Reflection Photo by Sarri taken at Bloedel Reserve. 

The Joy of Being Spontaneous

I started with an experiment to intentionally slow down for a month. But what I ended up getting is a gift I am keeping forever.


How I Slowed Down

In case you feel like trying this yourself, here is how I planned it.

It takes many boundaries to slow down.

It wasn’t a “slow” season for me. To give myself time to slow down, I intentionally reduced my work hours for the month. I didn’t completely stop working.

The purpose was to not feel "busy" with a busy schedule.

I explained this to my clients. I was really surprised by their response. Some of my clients loved the idea and decided to do their own version of this experiment. I saved some work hours to be sure my clients were seen and getting the support they needed from me. But I want to be honest and share that reducing work hours was an important part of slowing down.

I had to slow everything down, not just some things.

There was no expectation of how I would feel or what I would do.   I decided I would not start any new work or home projects. As tempting as it was with time on my hands, I decided that just filling it with projects would not allow me to know what slowing down was. I would just be distracted with other things to get done.

In addition to no projects, I made minimal commitments to leave space to be spontaneous. This allowed me to see the weather and decide what I wanted to do. We had a smoke filled sky from wild fires, rain on a Saturday, and I had the space to be present, flexible and decide what would be fun to do based on the weather. I didn't feel disappointed by the weather. It didn't matter. 

I moved slowly. I was not feeling hurried. 
 

What happened?

I noticed a picnic basket that had been unused. So I used it and went on picnics.

I found myself being spontaneous, more flexible with my time. I had time to spare! It is a feeling of spaciousness.

I felt my own creativity tingling on my skin. It was like creativity was bubbling on my surface. New doorways to my imagination opened.

I felt more patient. Waiting was easy and even pleasant. 

I noticed the absence of pressure. In fact, things that came in that could give me a feeling of pressure, were set aside in a box, to deal with when I chose.  

The volume of input moving towards me from news, social media, mail, phone, text, email, felt like it was now under my control. It didn't go away, I chose to quiet media interruptions, not respond immediately, and protect the feeling of slowing down.

Playing and slowing down go very well together.

I felt my inner child joyful and eager to make contact with me. Anything I did choose to do, had to align with my inner child. I returned to guitar lessons. I spent time with friends. Lots of time with friends. I had a week of making my own day camp with a friend of 40 years. 

I had unhurried time with a friend who is very sick. 

I signed up for fun workshops to learn how to dye yarn with natural indigo and I followed the trail to become a SoulCollage® facilitator.

I did something I always wanted to do, river rafting.

It was easier to catch mistakes, oversights, overcharges. I had time to read receipts. When I am too busy, it is easy to miss things.
 

The Big A-HA  

What started as something I was doing for a month, slowing down, has become something really significant. I imagined if I liked it, I might do it annually. But it turns out I am not willing to give this up eleven months of the year.

It is my new priority. I will continue to simply live slower. 

I am returning to my clients in our normal schedule. My work feels intentional, calm, deliberate, and it allows me to focus with each person. I love my client hours. Meaningful, unhurried, slow, deep conversations.

Outside of my client hours, I am doing some rethinking to ensure I am protecting this boundary to slow down. I am leaving open space, unscheduled hours around me and being much more careful about how I use my weekend time, my evening hours, my mornings, to be more spontaneous. 

Being present is how I show up in the moment. But having all my moments planned in advance, doesn't allow me to show up spontaneously. And I discovered that having spontaneous moments is what I needed most. 











Being Brave Enough To Try

I signed up to do something new, snorkel in the glacier water of Iceland. 



Why would I get in freezing water?   I wanted to see the earth's tectonic plates, the edge of the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate. These two plates can be seen together in Iceland. 

I was eager for the adventure. I was all Yes.

The morning I was scheduled to snorkel, I drove out with my husband early to the meeting point, a parking lot at the edge of the water. The dive company had a truck loaded with wet suits, dry suites, masks, and fins. I met two guides who would help dress 6 of us adventurous souls, and lead us through the water for 30 minutes between the tectonic plates. 

While the guides helped us suit up, we were shown a map of the route we would swim. The water was crystal clear and we would see more than a hundred feet below.

No part of our bodies could be exposed to the icy water. 

I was wearing thermal pants and top, a dry suit and wet suit. The dive hood was placed on my head, my wrists taped to assure no water would get through, and finally a cord placed around my neck to seal the dry suit. Each layer that covered us made me feel more trapped.

The confinement in the suit was more terrifying than icy water. My mouth went dry and my vocal chords were sticking together, which makes it impossible to breathe.

I couldn't do this.

I wanted to do this.

I couldn't do this.


The head game went on.

The guides were completely ready for this. I wanted to give it a try. I entered the water, floating and marveling at the plates. And as the rest of my group entered the water, I lost the head game. I couldn't swim forward without a way out of the water for 30 minutes. I had to listen to my No. Yes was gone.

I climbed out of the water and waved goodbye to my husband and the rest of the group.

One of the guides linked his arm in mine and walked with me back to the parking lot. He would help me out of the dive suit. As we walked he said,

"At least you were brave enough to try."

I thought of all the things I had done in this lifetime. All the things I had been brave enough to try. And I did not feel any sense of failure as I left the parking lot.

I took a walk and climbed the hill to see the tectonic plates above ground. It was stunning. Just as stunning as seeing it under water.

I marveled at the stone walls created by the plates. If I had not signed up to snorkel, I might never have seen the plates. I did not realize they could be seen above ground. 




 
We all have those times when something doesn't turn out the way we expect. Sometimes, being brave enough to try is enough. 

What did 137 Communication Directors say about Boundaries?

I was introduced to Kivi Leroux Miller who runs Nonprofit Marketing Guide and invited to teach a class online for communication directors on boundaries.

Kivi had some interesting surveys she shares with her members.  I wanted to blend in with Team Kivi and survey some nonprofit communication directors to see if they were feeling some boundary challenges in their jobs.

 I received responses from 137 nonprofit communication and marketing directors. Here is a sample from the boundary survey.

I am able to spend time implementing my most valuable ideas. 18% often  59% sometimes 22% rarely

When there are decisions to be made, I find myself getting input after the deadline when it was needed.    43% often    44% sometimes  14% rarely

I wish I had been consulted before decisions affecting my department are made. 45% often  40% sometimes  13% rarely

I have input into the budget for my department.   37% often    29% sometimes  33%rarely

 I have solid experience and my expertise is sought when a board member gets excited about using a new channel or platform. 16% often  41% sometimes  43% rarely

I have a clear job description and scope of work with reasonable expectations. 22% often  49% sometimes  28% rarely

Our organization brand standards are respected and consistency is valued. 29% often 51% sometimes
20% rarely

Our org is often distracted putting out fires of whatever is most urgent and there is no real time for planning and strategic follow through. 60% often  27% sometimes 13% rarely

I am looking forward to sharing the rest of the survey and some boundary skills with communication directors. Kivi was excited to learn I had a long deep background in nonprofit work. This is one of the many ways boundaries can be used to strengthen the work inside of nonprofits.





                              

4 Things to Say to Yourself When Stressed



There is tremendous power in the things we say to ourselves. Sometimes the voices we hear in our heads can beat us up, panic in the face of hard things, and tell us over and over that we are failing when in fact we are facing a challenge.

Those voices in your head need to be taught what to say and when. Create a boundary to dismiss the crazy harmful talk in your head and instead give yourself the supportive helpful messages you need when you are stressed.

This boundary is something you teach yourself. You correct  negative thoughts that make you feel terrible while you are going through something terrible.

When you are stressed, here are 4 helpful things to say to yourself:

 #1-I am doing the best I can in this circumstance.

Give your hardworking self some credit. Maybe the problem isn’t solved, but you are working at it. You need to acknowledge you. Your inner spirit/soul is listening to what you say to you.

#2-It’s okay to take a break and take care of myself.

When you are stressed, you may find it hard to sleep. Give yourself permission to rest and refuel. You can’t take care of anything or anyone when you are running on empty.

#3-I can make some healthy choices today.

Caring for you is so important to relieve distress. Making your healthy choice is a way to refuel, it is also a way to restore some confidence in yourself during a challenge. You may not be able to control the problem you are facing right now, but you can control your healthy choices and help yourself feel cared for and stronger.

#4-I will pay attention to my body aches and needs and care for those. 

It is easy to step out of our bodies and get tangled up in stress. But the stress always finds a landing place physically. Take a few moments to notice your body posture. Drop your shoulders. Do some gentle stretching to adjust your body to be less strained. Take a bathroom break, a walk,  and eat when you are hungry.

Save these 4 sentences somewhere so you can find them when you need them.

             Being stressed doesn’t help you through stress. 

Repeat these 4 sentences often. It will give you breathing space and the care you need during a challenge.

Join me for the next online class: Boundaries and Stress | June 8, 2018 Sign up here:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/boundaries-and-stress-live-webinar-with-sarri-gilman-tickets-46119417419 
It is one hour and if you miss the class, you will get the recording.


2 Steps to Help with Trauma and Boundary Recovery



What are boundaries? Your Yes and No. Inside of you, you have a compass for your yes and no.
During a traumatic event, or if you experienced trauma as a child, you may have lost your connection to your compass/your boundaries/ your yes and no. Think of the compass, boundaries, your yes and no as the same thing.

Your boundaries are trying to take care of you, and if you couldn’t protect yourself during the trauma, you may have lost trust in your boundaries.

Trust is the key to listen to your yes and no. You can't listen to your inner compass if you aren't sure and don't really trust yourself.

Restoring your connection to your yes and no (your boundaries), is an important part of the healing process.

One way to restore this connection is to start noticing the little voice of resistance you hear sometimes. This little voice of resistance may say, “I don’t want to go to work today.” “I can’t cook dinner tonight.” “I wish I could leave this relationship.”

It is the little voice you may be pushing away to just keep going. This little voice may be trying to help you.

If you were traumatized, you may experience your boundaries as extremely rigid. You may find comfort in sticking to the same thing every day. The routine helps you feel more in control of your life. And it may be stressful for you to have your routine interrupted.

You may also experience your boundaries as floppy or weak. You may be unable to say yes or no for yourself, letting others decide on everything.  When your boundaries are floppy or not there, you find yourself trying to please people and having no real sense of what you really want to do. You may feel like nothing is really exciting or interesting to you because you aren’t really discovering you, you are pleasing others and discovering “them”.

Healing your boundaries, if they are too rigid or too floppy, is an important part of recovery.

How do you do this? Please take all the time you need. This is not something you do all at once. Go slowly.

Step 1 Ask yourself  this one question again and again.
Is there something new I would like to try?
Allow yourself to try new things. Start with small even tiny new things, and keep challenging yourself to do something you haven’t done before. Take this in baby steps. Try one new thing at a time as you are able.


Step 2: Practice saying yes to you.

Listen to those wild ideas you hear inside and follow up. 
Maybe you want to have a sick day from work, go ahead, take a sick day. Maybe you want to take a flute class. Whatever little callings you hear, instead of dismissing these wild ideas, practice saying yes to you. Practice saying yes to you. 

It's not easy to say yes to you, you may feel like your callings are impractical. You may think you don’t have enough money or time. To heal, you need to be creative and find a way. I have seen people listen to their inner callings and make incredible discoveries about themselves. 

There is nothing crazy or broken inside of you. But there are parts of you that need your attention and support. 

If you found this blog helpful and would like to learn more on this topic, I have an online class that has much much more. Join me for the online class Trauma, Self-Care, and Boundaries.

How I Eliminated Death by Email

Eight years ago, a strong group of leaders who served as my board of directors taught me a powerful lesson that I continue to use every single day in all of my online email. Though I am now running my own private company, this lesson continues to be relevant. Today I work with organizations and teams on reducing their overwhelm and developing boundaries. One of places organizations can find immediate relief is streamlining and reducing email.
Eight years ago I was using email as a way to stay connected and in touch with my board.  I was
keeping them informed, but my emails were long, covered lots of details, and meandered down rabbit holes.
My board did an intervention. They sent one very experienced leader to represent them. She said I was killing them by email. She explained my emails were like Easter egg hunts. They felt compelled to read my emails and it was hard to find the nuggets they needed buried in all the stories and hard to figure out what they needed to do or put on their schedule.
She offered me simple tips that I continue to use today.
Keep it brief, bare minimum.
Try not have more than 2-3 points maximum.
Use a list format rather than a letter format.
Call out in subject line what kind of email it is: Thank You ,  Follow-Up,  Reminder, Invite, Introducing you.
Those subjects still cover nearly all of the emails I send. 
Take a few moments and think about who you send emails to; your team, your customers, your business partners. What are your main subjects?
After reading a leader's 8-page letter to her team, I thought I would share the intervention that changed me.

Photo by Kate Remmer/Unsplash



So You Want to Talk about Race- GREAT READ

Who else has been reading, "So You Want to Talk About Race" by Ijeoma Oluo?
Here is a great boundary lesson from her in her book on page 48.
 "Do not force people of color into discussions of race. People of color live with racism each and every day with no say over when and how it impacts their lives. It is painful and exhausting. When people of color have the rare luxury to choose to not engage in additional dialogue about race, do not deny them that. Even if this discussion is really important to you, you never have a right to demand it. There will be other opportunities." 
 
Her words came as powerful teaching to me at just the right time.
I had attended an event, met a total stranger who was crying in the bathroom after she revealed a very painful experience of racism in an auditorium. I asked if she wanted to talk and she did not. As I got to connect with her more later, I wanted to ask her about the experience. I thought about her for days after the event and wanted to check in about what she experienced. I wanted to call her.

Please reread my words, I wanted.....
She did not want. She did not ask or invite me into that conversation.
I thought about Ijeoma's words from her book, and I understood, my desire to connect with her about what happened was not her desire.
She lives with racism every day. She lives with the impact and pain.
I was learning something so important about this boundary of not just going for what I wanted, what I thought mattered.
Wait. There will be other opportunities. I did not call her. I thought about the words above from Ijeoma.
The woman from the event eventually reached out to me on her own, a few weeks after the event. It was an invitation, she wanted us to get to know each other better. She didn't raise her experience that brought her to tears in the bathroom. And neither did I. Because I understood, she lives with this all the time.
As we continue to have important conversations about race, I am learning from Ijeoma Oluo about not "imposing" these conversations on people of color and being thoughtful about time, place, and interest in going into the conversation.
I highly recommend this book. it is obvious that Ijeoma Oluo has been in millions of these conversations and sheds light on patterns, and gives us some ways to move forward. Ijeoma Oluo is offering us some missing pieces and she fills in the large gaps that are essential for talking about race. The book is a guide, filled with stories and boundaries worth considering to have better conversations about race. And ultimately better relationships.

Ways to Care for Caregivers & Caretakers


Love Note to Caregivers and Caretakers....

Can you hold you? 
Wrap your arms around you, massage your hands and feet. 
Can you linger in the arms of a hug. 
If there isn’t someone near you, can you close your eyes and envision being held.

Take time to step outside and breathe.
Do you see the stars, the moon? Is it raining?
Let the wind and weather touch your skin.

Is there a gift of roses you can give yourself? 
What would be a simple gift for you? Is it a book, time to nap, a walk with a friend, a yoga class, a delicious cup of tea?

Take time to open your journal. 
Write and listen to your own voice.

Go as far as you need to rescue your heart. 
Have you been immersed in sorrow or sadness?
 Where is your heart right now? 
Go be with your heart and hold your heart.

Create a small sanctuary for your heart.
It can be a tent, a book, your bed, your porch, a park bench, a shawl wrapped around you.
Find a place to be with you for awhile.

Caregivers/Caretakers is one of the 7 patterns found in the book Transform Your Boundaries. This is a challenging pattern to find time for you and meet any of your needs because others need you. In the book you will find some ways to help you care for you. 

About the collage above: I made this collage to offer nurturing support for caregivers. It has reminders to care for you.  Please share this blog with a friend.  

How to Begin Sticking Up for Yourself

If you haven't been sticking up for yourself, it can be daunting to figure out how to turn things around. You may feel hurt by other people, frequently. You may even be thinking this is somehow your fault. You may wonder why are people stepping all over you?

Is it time for you to get on your own team? Are you needing some boundaries?
Boundaries can feel really hard to establish if you don’t practice using them. 
Sometimes you rob yourself and won’t allow yourself to stand up for yourself when you need to.
We all know that wrenching feeling in our gut when we are not standing up for ourselves.

What are boundary violations?
When you are being treated badly, with rude behavior, you notice. You are not being overly sensitive. In fact, when your feelings are mocked, or discounted that way, it is a boundary violation. Maybe you are being stepped on by someone who bullies you. Maybe you feel stepped on by someone who tells you what you “should” feel, rather than listening to how you actually do feel. 

How to begin sticking up for yourself
The best way to begin sticking up for yourself is giving voice to your feelings. There are no wrong feelings. Feelings just are.

There are so many ways that we rob ourselves of permission. 

When you don’t allow yourself to stick up for you, you send a message to yourself that even you aren’t on your own team.
If you aren’t on your own team, who is?

There are lots of ways to stick up for yourself without being rude or mean to other people. There is nothing more soul robbing than having someone else tell you what you “should” feel and how you “should” behave.

No more soul robbing.

 Speak Your Truth
If someone tells you how you “should” feel,  stick up for yourself by speaking your truth. You feel what you feel. It is important to know how you feel. It is part of your wisdom. Feelings just are. Stick up for knowing what you feel and allowing yourself to have your feelings.

Your feelings don’t have to be liked by anyone else. Though it goes a long way to creating connection when someone cares about how you feel and takes time to listen and get you.

Speak for Yourself
Boundaries get very confusing when you speak for someone else. Only speak for yourself. Do not allow others to speak for you. They can’t. Sticking up for yourself means you will have the difficult and uncomfortable conversations, by saying what you need to say, and not ask others to say it for you. 

It Gets Easier
Sticking up for yourself, and speaking your truth gets easier with practice. It is hard at first. Look for opportunities to say things that you usually keep inside. You will not be able to change people. But you can change you. You won’t feel stepped on or crushed by others if you speak your truth. They may do the same behavior, they may try to step on you, but the big difference is how you respond.

Boundaries and Messy Situations




The more you practice your boundary skills and grow your abilities, the better you will be at handling messy situations. I find myself able to deal with many situations because I am always on the look out for the potential mess. I notice a mess is starting right at the inception. With practice and paying attention, you can notice the sparks of these situations too.

Messy situations require the ability to anticipate and a willingness to address the boundaries.
Anticipating gets stronger as you notice the boundary abilities of people around you. If you practice paying attention, you can recognize a boundary crossing or violation as it is happening.
 
Boundary violations will break trust.

Broken trust, violating trust, is at the heart of every messy situation. Leaders who leave this unchecked or contribute to violating trust themselves, will find themselves in a situation that escalates. How many examples do you need? I bet you can think of a million examples.

Where does drama come from? When trust is being violated, it has a ripple effect across an organization, a team, a group of friends, a family. It starts to become a constant drama at work or at home. You either become part of the culture and break trust yourself, or you need to figure out how to navigate around the messy situation.

Two things can make a big difference. Restore boundaries around you by making your boundaries clear. Focus on the feelings in conversations, not judgment or talking about other people. Why is everyone taking it so personally? What feelings are stirred up for each person? You can only resolve messy situations when you understand the feelings and restore boundaries. Sign up for your free weekly boundary tips to help you remember to pay attention to your boundaries.

I am making it sound simple. It's not easy. Actually restoring your boundaries is difficult. If you find yourself dealing with messy situations at home or at work, you can learn more about how to restore your boundaries in the book, Transform Your Boundaries.