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15 Days of Vulnerable: Blessing for the Jaded Healer

blessing for the jaded healer

 

Welcome to Day 13 of the #15DaysofVulnerable. I wrote this last September and I send to people from time to time when Something whispers in my ear that someone needs encouragement. I got to share it a couple of days ago in our church’s Ash Wednesday service. We just finished a series on Amos all about social justice and our role in it. And, as important as it is to be a part of the healing of the world, burn out is a thing and it’s okay to feel depleted. If that’s where you find yourself today, I pray this blesses you. Also, there’s still a couple of hours left to sign up for Be, an e-course through Lent. If this is a season where you feel compelled to deeply explore your vulnerable humanity and all that means, I really hope you’ll join us. 

Sometimes it’s the politics. Sometimes it’s the people you’re trying to help. Sometimes it’s the system that’s keeping them buried. Alive. And you just want to scream explicatives at the top of your lungs, give up, and lie in bed for hours, eating chocolate ganache and binge-watching the Vampire Diaries, ignoring its wildly sexist undertones.

That’s what I do.

I’ll be honest, sometimes, it’s the best course of action. Fighting the good fight is hard as hell.

If you’re a creative healer—a teacher, an activist, a counselor, a coach, a parent, or any other way in which you’ve worked make the world a better place—and you’ve been one for any length of time, then you’ve probably experienced burn out at some point.

This is for you. From my heart to yours.

 

Blessing for the Jaded Healer

As the sun sinks down behind the

Edge of the world,

And you exhale for the first time today,

May you know

That you are not alone.

 

As you sit by his bedside

Spoon feeding day-glow jello

And insisting he finish the mystery meat,

May you glimpse the image of God

that shines so bright in his tired eyes.

 

When the toddler tugs on your shirt

For the 18th time that hour and

Asks you for another cup of water

And all you can think about

Is the little girl who has

Never asked for anything,

May you continue to hope against hope

While your oldest offers to quench his thirst.

 

When you’ve run out of words

And you’re bone-tired

From a community and a calling that

Doesn’t always appreciate

The wild sacrifices you’ve made,

May you breathe in sabbath healing

And trust your gut

Because it is good.

 

May you arrive back home

From the other side of the world

Trusting the initial impulse that sent you there.

 

May you take the time you need

To sleep and reply to emails

And then, slowly, may you feel the desire to get back up

Feeling soul refreshed

And ready for what may come.

 

What you’re doing,

It matters.

It means something.

And we are grateful for you.

But you are not your good deeds.

You are you, beautifully whole and broken

At the same time.

And that is more than enough.

 

May you know, most of all,

That the healing of the world

Does not rest solely on your shoulders.

You are doing good work.

 

As the day fades to blackness,

May you feel it:

There is Someone

Bigger than the mess.

In the end, there is always room for hope.

 

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here! I write in this space regularly, sharing resources, love, and challenges for dreamers and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process.

This is Day 12 of #15DaysofVulnerable. If this post touched you and you find yourself wanting a safe space to really explore vulnerability and authenticity, please check out Be 2015. We have seven amazing teachers lined up to co-teach with me! It’s going to be an incredible journey.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my weekly love letter, where I share stuff I don’t share with the whole world. I’ve even been known to give away entire e-courses for free. All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

15 Days of Vulnerable: From Most Likely to Succeed to the Least of These

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For Day 12 of #15DaysofVulnerable, a very powerful and raw story by Lana Phillips. As someone who received Food Stamps for much of my early adult life, I feel this. This is specifically geared toward Christians who may struggle with the thought of giving handouts to folks who “haven’t worked for it”. Perhaps that’s not you, I still feel like this is a story that needs to be told. And I am grateful to share it.

I used to be a food stamp eligibility worker–now I receive a “food stamp/SNAP benefit card.” I didn’t understand how it all felt and what it all meant at the time, but now I do in a way I’ll never forget.

It all started almost exactly twenty years ago. In the spring semester of 1995, I was attending Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, after finally figuring out that I wanted to become a social worker. I had been living with depression over the previous few years, living on campus but not attending classes for a year or so, and piecing together barely enough money to live between three part-time jobs and occasional help from my family. I started working full-time as a food stamp eligibility worker for the State of Kentucky and went back to school in the spring semester. I took the only two available nighttime classes and got on with my life. I was excelling in school and learning new things at work, and for the first time in ages, I wasn’t absolutely broke.

This is when the shit hit the fan. I admit that I remember very little about the events of that spring. I believe I’ve blocked much of it out. The social work faculty was short a member and was in the process of interviewing new candidates. The seminary administration disagreed with the stated beliefs of some of the candidates, and so conflict ensued. In the interest of openness with the students, the dean of the social work program held a meeting with us to keep us informed. She was promptly fired. The Council of Social Work Education threatened to take away the program’s accreditation.
I vaguely remember taking days off to participate in civil protests (we were budding social workers after all!) and to be at meetings to find out what was going on, until the climax came. “Social work values are in conflict with Christian values.” Say what? Service to humanity, social justice, human dignity and worth….these are in conflict with Christian values? From that moment, I began doubting what organized religion is all about.

We were finally told that the program would no longer be part of the seminary. Since I had lost time due to my depression, I wouldn’t be graduating with the last students to get their degree. In the spring of 1995, when I should have been leaving campus with a Masters of Social Work, I was instead packing up my life, looking for a place to live now that seminary was no longer an option, and trying to figure out what to do next.

As you can guess, I was doing it without a job. My supervisor saw that my heart wasn’t in my work, but in doing true social work (no, food stamp eligibility workers are not social workers). So I chose to move on.

I ended up taking out student loans and getting a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology, but of course, I found that degree not as marketable as the MSW. I graduated in December 1997 and finally found a full time job in February 1999. I had been working part-time in a homeless shelter for almost three years in a job I adored, but it was never going to be full-time work. I ended up full-time telephone survey interviewing for the Census Bureau. I hated it, but did it for a little over a year—until the day I attempted suicide at work.

Thankfully, my parents were willing to take me in until I got better, which took about two years. I was approved for Social Security Disability Income on the first attempt, which I guess happens when you try to kill yourself at work. I got married after those two years and moved to Canada.

Things went along okay for a while until my “birth defect” (spina bifida and hydrocephalus) may have saved my life. My doctor found a mass on a kidney MRI. After we moved to the States, we found out that it was cancer, and part of my right kidney was removed in March 2012. I worked for eighteen months after a few months recovery, but then stopped working again in July 2014.

Until the day I received my first SNAP card in 2000, I never really understood what it felt like to be on food stamp assistance. Food stamp eligibility workers usually have no idea how demeaning it can be to be interviewed about EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of your life that might pertain to something that affects how much assistance you get. I get it now. You feel guilty for anything you have that people might think you “shouldn’t.”

I get frustrated with having to live the way I do. People make assumptions about me. There’s a stigma to not working. But I’m lucky. At least people can see that something is wrong with me. When I’m out most of the time now, I use a wheelchair. Even if I carry my cane, my gait is noticeably wobbly. If it were only the depression that kept me from working, the stigma would be even worse because depression is an invisible disability. People can’t understand it, because they can’t see it. I can’t afford to be without health coverage of some kind because if something goes wrong with any of the many health problems that keep cropping up, I’m screwed. I miss working when I don’t have a job. I hate sitting at home feeling useless because I can’t drive, can’t work, can’t do much of anything. I’m trying to reinvent my life again. I’m trying to figure out who I am and what I can do to make the world a better place.

If you’re a Christian who is trying to understand all the political debate about who gets what and who’s deserving of assistance and who’s scamming the taxpayers, remember one thing. You and I are God with skin on. Would God make those distinctions? Maybe we shouldn’t either. In Matthew 25:35-40 where Jesus talks about caring for the “least of these,” he doesn’t set up any qualifications. If someone is hungry, they get fed whether they are in the unemployment line and applying for jobs or not. They get clothed if they are naked, even if their house didn’t burn down in a fire. They don’t get judged. It’s a simple matter of seeing a need and filling that need. No questions asked.

The really funny thing is that now that I’ve gone through this experience I bet I’d be a damn good social worker. Being one of the “least of these” really opens your eyes to the plight of the “least of these.” I may never actually get to do the work, because with student debt hanging over my head for the rest of my life, getting a MSW might be pretty much impossible. Lived experience is one hell of a teacher—one I wouldn’t wish on anybody, even someone I despised. But I believe it has helped me become more passionate and compassionate about doing what I can when I can. Maybe that’s the silver lining in the whole thing. I’d hate to think there wasn’t one in it at all.

Lana Phillips is the founder of The Sad Cafe.

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here! I write in this space regularly, sharing resources, love, and challenges for dreamers and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process.

This is Day 12 of #15DaysofVulnerable. If this post touched you and you find yourself wanting a safe space to really explore vulnerability and authenticity, please check out Be 2015. We have seven amazing teachers lined up to co-teach with me! It’s going to be an incredible journey.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my weekly love letter, where I share stuff I don’t share with the whole world. I’ve even been known to give away entire e-courses for free. All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

15 Days of Vulnerable: Why Ashes?

Be-2-600

 

A vintage post from 2011, when I was first began realize how much Lent meant to me, and funnily, at the same time that I was figuring out that working online as a creative entrepreneur was actually a thing I could make a reality! I’ve edited it a little to pose questions, and added a reflection at the end for the class I’m teaching through this season, and for anyone else today who needs to be reminded of how beautiful they truly are . . .

“For dust you are and to dust you shall return.” – Genesis 3:19b

That’s pretty morbid, right? We are living, breathing dirt. Someday we’ll return to just being regular, old dirt. We put ashes on our face today as a reminder of this truth. We prepare for the season of Lent with this sobering reality in mind.

That’s one way to see it.

But . . . another way, it seems almost . . . miraculous. We are living, breathing dirt! We are dust that walks, talks, cries, and has feelings! And we are that way because our Creator likes to play in the mud! God had to get God’s holy hands dirty to make us a reality.

I’m just starting to see myself as an artist. In just the first week of the Art of Action course, I have been tremendously inspired by all of my blow-your-mind-talented artistic classmates. I’m finding the support and courage I need to really make this my job. But when I think about how my Creator lovingly created all of us and then generously passed on the gift of creating, I feel joy and gratitude that is beyond words.

At the Ash Wednesday service, just before we all walked up to receive our ashes, our pastor, Matthew, asked us to consider Passionate Love and Purification. He talked about fire. Ashes are the perfect symbol for fire. Often, we associate fire with hell and all things horrifying. But he urged us to look at it in another light. Fire as Passionate Love. He asked us, as we received the ashes, and the words were spoken to us, “For dust you are and to dust you shall return,” to hear the Passionate Love our God feels for us. And how fire can also signify a kind of purification process. Lent is beautiful because it is where we put down the extra baggage we’ve been carrying around that is keeping us from feeling God’s passionate love. Matthew asked that as we took on the ashes we contemplate God’s Passionate Love and how we can participate with God in the beautiful, though painful process, of becoming our pure, true selves.

He also asked us to consider our own passionate loves, and how ashes relate to them. This, of course, brings me back to my journey as an artist and how I’m learning the Art of Action. Oh sweet, beautiful Lent.

“1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.” – Isaiah 61: 1-3

Today, as we think about ashes, the season we find ourselves, our dreams, and who we really are . . . what part of your life needs space to be filled up with grace and hope? What extra baggage needs to be unpacked? Shame? Self-loathing? Fear of losing control? Where do you need to admit your humanness—and all of the beauty and the mess that comes with that?

You, my dear, are a wonder to behold. And I am so so grateful for you.

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here! I write in this space regularly, sharing resources, love, and challenges for dreamers and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process.

This is Day 11 of #15DaysofVulnerable. If this post touched you and you find yourself wanting a safe space to really explore vulnerability and authenticity, please check out Be 2015. We have seven amazing teachers lined up to co-teach with me! It’s going to be an incredible journey.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my weekly love letter, where I share stuff I don’t share with the whole world. I’ve even been known to give away entire e-courses for free. All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

The Strength to Be Where You Are

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My three-year-old looked at me with big eyes yesterday. He told me that he does not want to be a grownup. And I laughed because I get it. Sometimes it’s really not very fun.

Meanwhile, my middle schooler keeps trying to sneak into the high school group at our church. She’s overwhelmed with problems that feel far too old for her. Struggling with the desire to be perfect and have everyone around her fall in line, too. That unique, torturous feeling of not-enoughness that often strikes previously confident young girls around puberty.

My son is a lot like his dad. Never in a hurry. Completely comfortable where he is.

My daughter, on the other hand, is exactly like me. As I battle my own demons of perfection and performance and doubt, it breaks my heart to watch her as she watches me and takes up her own sword.

I think of Jesus, when he talked about being a mother hen, wanting to hold us. I know he gets it.

I long to wrap her up in my arms. To gently shake all the insecurities off her shoulders. But I feel like I’ve got to work on my stuff before I can even begin to think about helping her with hers.

That’s what we’re told, right? I’ve got to get rid of my plank first.

It doesn’t work that way in parenting. You don’t get the luxury of waiting until you’ve got it all together before you have to approach your kids with seemingly sage advice.

The frustrating thing, of course, is that Jesus was perfect. He actually had sage advice . . . 

I had the honor of guest posting for Sarah Bessey yesterday. You can read the rest of this post on her site.

15 Days of Vulnerable will pick back up with day 11 next week! My vulnerable this week is that I absolutely did not have time to write. And I’m trying to be okay with that.

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here! I write in this space regularly, sharing resources, love, and challenges for dreamers and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process.

If this post touched you and you find yourself wanting a safe space to really explore vulnerability and authenticity, please check out Be 2015. We have seven amazing teachers lined up to co-teach with me! It’s going to be an incredible journey.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my weekly love letter, where I share stuff I don’t share with the whole world. I’ve even been known to give away entire e-courses for free.

All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

15 Days of Vulnerable: Blessing for the Storytellers

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So much has happened since I first sat down and scribbled out these words to my Story Sisters. Things that have inspired the dreams out of us and things that have made us bawl. Books have been born! And e-courses have been created from dust. I am fiercely proud to know these women and to be a part of this group. My vulnerable today is sharing a little piece of what was on my heart the first time I got to hug some of them. This is the blessing I wrote.

the girls we once were are coming back to us now.
whispering their stories, our stories, in our ears.
let us hear.
let us listen to the little one that is
who we were
that is who we are
before the shame and obligation took their toll.

that voice inside of us,
she knows where the shalom is.
may we trust her.
and let her lead.

may the creativity birthed in the sacred pages
of the story sessions
grow into a garden of hope.
A masterpiece we could not have conceived alone.

may we be brave
learning to rebel as a spiritual discipline
may we know the difference
between religious bullying and
the gentle whisper of our Maker.

may these sacred relationships help
to heal the deep wounds we all carry.
may our scars remain visible
so that we never forget the power
we all possess.
the meaning and the magic,
why we share our stories.

my anam caras. my sisters. my friends.
may we always know that someone who loves us
is forever just a Facebook message away.

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here! I write in this space regularly, sharing resources, love, and challenges for dreamers and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process.

Welcome to Day Ten of #15DaysofVulnerable! If this post touched you and you find yourself wanting a safe space to really explore vulnerability and authenticity, please check out Be 2015. We have seven amazing teachers lined up to co-teach with me (several of them are Story Sisters—including our fearless foundress, Elora Nicole)! It’s going to be an incredible journey.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my newsletter, Voice Lessons. Nearly every week, I write a love letter to all the people on that list, sharing stuff I don’t share with the world. I’ve even been known to give away entire e-courses for free.

All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

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