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Career Moves, What’s Next?

 

 

 

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Sunday was my 28th birthday. Instead of New Year’s Resolutions I like to reflect on what I’ve learned this past year of my life and consider the year ahead. This past year has been exciting; I’m in a place in my life and career that I wasn’t a year ago, and I wanted to share with you all some of the challenges and triumpths I’ve discovered along the way. I also want to share some goals for the upcoming 12 months that I can use help holding myself accountable for.

Sometimes we try to ignore our bodies and minds, despite clear signals communicating that something needs to change. For me, this reality was born from my learning to prioritize myself better and recognize my needs. 

Healing is valuable work. It is draining – emotionally and financially. My creativity and conviction and belief in full recovery has given me hope and inspired others to keep swimming.  For the first time in my life I became my own best advocate, I was and am on a mission. I pushed through the fears that I should just be grateful and accept myself and my life as it is. Ignore pressures to compartmentalize, repress, dissociate and “move on.” It makes others uncomfortable at times and they seem to have lost hope and think you are giving in to your past. DON’T listen to them! Healing is not linear, and these past few months have taught me so much that I would never have believed just a year ago. 

I am forever thankful for my tribe who continues to believe in me and remind me of my strength when I waver.

 

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A fellow social worker entrepreneur, Nicole Clark, writes:

“It’s always been said that when you make a decision to play big, the Universe will rearrange itself to bring in people and opportunities that will get you closer to your dreams. When you have a big enough WHY, the HOW will always present itself.”

I am proud of how far I’ve come since I first put myself out there consulting and coaching in 2012. I remember the Omega Women’s Leadership (Omega Women’s Leadership Center) Intensive that was my launching ground. This growing circle of women who believe in their power and what it means to share power, continue to inspire me. This summer I have the chance to give back to the OWLC and I can’t wait-stay tuned for details! 

Beginning in July 2016, I began hosting a podcast called Transforming Trauma. I still have a lot to learn, but I am proud of and excited by this new opportunity to break the silence. In April 2017, I was offered the opportunity to do be in a direct service role with the coaching business I was contracted for marketing and consulting these past few years. I’m officially facilitating a monthly virtual support groups for adult survivors of physical, sexual, and/or emotional child abuse or neglect, bringing them together within a nurturing and supportive community. This past month, 17 survivors joined the call from around the world-one person calling in from across the world! In the Fall of 2017, in addition to completing the last leg of my Masters in Clinical Social Work @ Smith College (at a college counseling center!), I will be be providing one-on-one coaching to support survivors going through the Beyond Surviving Group virtual program.

This Spring, I’ve been developing a program for Volunteer Facebook moderators who will help maintain a safe space for survivors who seek support in the “Healing from Sexual Abuse” Facebook Community. I’m interested in how people can learn to utilize social media as a rich resource while still protecting themselves from triggers and traumatic experiences. I continue to be amazed at the ways that technology intersect with social work/therapy and how we can leverage online resources and apps to meet people where they are at in their healing. 

Finally, these past several months, I have begun collaborating with various local organizations like Beth Israel’s Center for Violence Prevention & Recovery, Survivor Theater Project, Incest Resources, Cambridge Women’s Center to design more services and spaces to support survivors. I am so energized by this work and am working on creating a scaleable web platform that will be a resource for survivors everywhere (contact me if you’re interested in getting involved.) I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Coaching

Therapy

Action Oriented Thoughts/Feelings Oriented

Tools:

Inquiry Listening
Accountability Reflecting
Requests Confronting
Goal-setting Interpreting
Strategic Planning Diagnosing
Telephone & Email Face-to-face at a
special time and place

What are some of my career goals that I want to achieve by my 29th birthday?

Well, I have a few:

  • Complete my college counseling internship.
  • Complete an independent research study with Smith Social Work faculty who have similar research interests. 
  • Chart a strategic plan for the open-source web platform I am creating to facilitate resource sharing and connections for the survivor community in the Greater Boston area.
  • Complete Level 2 of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy training (apply for a mini-grant to make this happen!) 
  • Continue my meditation practice and meeting monthly with KM group. Go on an extended retreat.
  • Cultivate multiple (and sustaining) streams of income (by way of speaking engagements, writing, coaching, and consulting.
  • Share a story at a Live Moth Event.

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Of course, these will change slightly or significantly. The accountability of writing them out should help keep me focused. Feel free to ask me how I’m doing! 

Jack Canfield says:

“The quickest way to hit a target is to fire, see where the bullet landed, and then adjust your aim accordingly. If the hit was 2 inches above the target, lower your aim a little. Fire again. See where it is now. Keep firing and keep readjusting. Soon you are hitting the bull’s-eye. The same is true for anything.”

Despite how scary and challenging the world can be, today I feel more hopeful than I’ve ever felt. I feel creative and energized and connected and surrounded by incredible friends and colleagues.

I wish ease and abundance for every human in my life and around the world.

Change. Hope. Possibility.

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In Strength & Power,

 

 

*Self-Care & Sustainability: Why Healing is Valuable Work was first printed on Rest for Resistance https://www.restforresistance.com. Read more of Shivani’s writing at @shivaniseth05

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Post-Traumatic Growth: Transforming Pain into Power

 

IMG_0271.jpgI believe in the power of vulnerability and this means sharing my truth on  social media which is sometimes a scarily distorted version of reality. I feel inspired to share in hopes that it reaches someone needing a boost of self-compassion. You are not alone.

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If you’re human like me, you probably get lost in old stories about who you are. I like to remind myself on an annual basis, especially when critical voices of the past pay me a visit. This happens all the time! For instance, two people’s whose opinions I wish I didn’t care about have recently made comments that have made me feel very small and unworthy. My first response was to feel misunderstood and hurt. But now, I’ll take a moment to reflect on who I actually am and want to be. What I know about myself and how I treat myself matters most and maybe I won’t choose to be around them or discuss certain topics.

I’m obsessed with babies, quotes, puppies, ice-cream and chocolate. I’m a good listener. I can be fearless. I am open-minded. I love learning. I don’t shy away from challenging people and being challenged. I am beautiful because of my presence and spirit. Because of my intensity. Because I am thoughtful and resilient. I am dependable. I am adventurous. I can be clumsy. I love travel, hiking, playing soccer/basketball, hosting dinner parties, spending quality time with loved ones (especially my niece & nephew). I am curious & chatty. I am a seeker. I am creative. I am silly. I love flash mobs and karaoke. I am a loving & generous daughter, sister, Aunt, and friend. I am a survivor.

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Bolstered by the privileged parts of my life, which are never more apparent than when shit hits the fan, I feel fortunate to identify post-traumatic-growth despite surviving various violent experiences. Even though I have developed positive ways to cope with trauma, over the years the impact of it has affected my education, housing, work, and my health as is so often the case. As many survivors have stated, the aftermath of trauma is often more painful than the event itself, shared most recently by a survivor of rape quoted by Sheryl Sandberg in her new book: Option BEven though I been working to help others in their healing for a over a decade, I’m still learning how to ask for help. IT’S HARD! Trauma makes you feel helpless. It is confusing and paralyzing. It makes you doubt yourself. Plus, I was raised by someone who equates asking for help with weakness and incompetence.

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What I want to tell you, fellow survivors, is to reach out & ask for help. People will show up. In fact, people LIKE helping. You are loved and there are people in your life and people you don’t know even know who would be honored to be there. When people make you feel small, let them project their shit onto you, but don’t give them your power. They are too consumed with themselves and their own image to see or hear you. (Shout out to my dear friend, Hope!) Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. Find the people who can cheer you on as you grow stronger and do the courageous work of healing. 

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These past few months have been difficult & triggering for me personally, to say the least. What’s helped fuel me, in addition to ramping up the “self-care,” having good boundaries and supports, are the encouraging messages (excerpted below) I’ve received in response to my survivor advocacy work (podcasts, workshops, social media campaign). Note to Self: Use your voice! Do what you Love! Share what’s on your mind! 

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Introducing Voices Raised in Power @ The Fred in college.

I am sharing these words because I am moved, inspired and emboldened by the badass, brave survivors I connect with every day. Whether I’m leading a therapeutic group or getting my hair cut or my car repaired, I hear your hopefulness and strength in how you live your lives. I see your pain, your grief, your loss. You are so beautiful and brave. 

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Ubuntu, originating in South Africa, means that a person is a person through another person, that my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours. You are me and I am you. I am you and you are me.

These are my wishes for myself and for you, and for beings everywhere: I deserve to be at home in my body and mind. I am worthy. I am forgivable. I am enough. I am safe. I am loved. I am powerful. I am allowed to make mistakes. Healing is not linear. 

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At a rally shouting.

Thank you for the encouragement to keep sharing and doing what I love. I am lucky to have such a powerful community of colleagues, survivors, friends and family. Thank you for the laughs, invitations, blog comments, texts, calls, cards, visits. The most difficult experiences of our lives seem to clarify what matters most.

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Facilitating a therapeutic writing workshop for survivors about self-compassion

“You created a remarkable healing opportunity on Saturday with your facilitating of the Healing Through Creative Arts workshop. I looked around the room to see the wide range of participants and appreciated how skillfully you affirmed our shared purpose of healing from sexual trauma.  When you stated it simply and clearly I felt you ground all of us in the courage of that common intention.  Then the tone you set of respect, generosity, loving kindness, honesty and nonjudgmental acceptance gave us all permission to write with honesty and vulnerability.   This tone combined with your thoughtfully sequenced guidelines and prompts created an afternoon filled with beautiful moments of support, appreciation and powerful writing.”
“i saw your post about sexual assault awareness month. i’ve thought so many times about the speech you gave i guess like 8 or 9 years ago now…and i’ve wanted to go back and read it again. i was wondering if you have a blog online or something. thanks again for sharing. It made an impact on me and i was very proud of you.”

Great resources, thanks for sharing.  This gives greater awareness to the global phenomenon of sexual abuse as New Zealand has a high proportion of victims compared to most developed countries.  It was encouraging to see the openness and willingness to speak on this topic as it is very taboo here in New Zealand still and met with great resistance.”

“You just have a very profound way of being so real and sharing. You have so much to offer.”

Thank you Jocelyn for sharing your podcasts with me. I listened today. I appreciated all the different information shared and definitely could relate with all the topics mentioned. What touched me most was hearing your heart and experience and voice of care for other survivors. I heard your voice of your own divinity coming through within it and it was beautiful and touching. Thank you again for sharing so many resources and your experience and well wishes for all. The birds are singing here. Such beautiful nectar :)”

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@ Vessel Van Der Kolk’s incredible Trauma Center enjoying some healing energy.

   If you or someone you love would like help connecting with local resources and services to begin or continue your healing, please don’t hesitate to reach out! 

 

 

“Every woman was said to have her own Juno; seek its council, and live up to its sacred destiny.”

Dear Sisters,

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I arrive at Omega for a JUNO Retreat Residency. While I have the courage to apply, there was a part of me that didn’t believe I deserve it. Once on campus, I am greeted by Lys and am thrilled to also see Sarah, Michelle, and Jill. They welcome me home and my sense of not belonging begins to dissipate. By the end of dinner with Lys, I begin to remember why I’m here. When Lys asks me about my future, with calm and certainty, I explain that I no longer pretend to know. Instead, I tell her about the journey I’ve been on this year and how I’m focused on integration and process. I’m allowing myself to be fully immersed in my graduate studies. I tear up explaining to her how much it means to me to come home to Omega–a place I once came when I didn’t feel like going to my family’s home was an option. Omega–a community that held me when I needed to be still. Omega–a place where I found a springboard made up of women who I would look to for inspiration in the years to come. This place means so much to me, and each visit, I am amazed by the magical encounters and wisdom it cultivates. I came searching for some time to focus on myself. Instead, I have found so much more.

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A highlight of the residency is the connection to the residents who came before me. There is a journal that a resident named Brenda left behind for women to leave their reflections before leaving the retreat: “To help weave together our stories and experiences in a tapestry of hope, reciprocity, resilience, rest, gratitude.” Reading their reflections at the start of my weekend feels like I’m painting a beautiful foundation for what’s about to come. I see Nina’s note, and I imagine her sitting on the JUNO cottage porch, just a few days before I arrive. I feel so honored. The beautiful cottage is almost as empowering as the words these women left behind. Part of the JUNO experience is leaving behind questions for the next resident. I feel like I know the woman who stayed before me–her questions, so deeply personal and compelling, help shape the rest of my time at Omega. They make me feel wise just reading them. My curiosity and hunger for truth is endless, how will I pick only 3 to leave behind?

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Although I had spent a season volunteering at Omega prior to the Women’s Leadership Intensive in 2013, my experience returning to campus always reminds me of our week together. At the lake, I think about our water ceremony, and I feel connected to each of you, as I remember our collective blessings to the Earth. At the Pavilion, I remember tracing our bodies onto maps, sharing our visions. I remember our laughter. As I’m dancing before lunch with the Journey Dance teacher, I am not surprised at all when she asks if I know Tara, who she dances with regularly in Rhode Island. Goddesses attract. I feel your energy in the room! I remember dancing together and feeling a sense of protection and belonging that I had never experienced, while simultaneously feeling the power of my independence and power. Because I am so inspired by the way each of you “Do Power Differently,” I want to focus my masters thesis on women’s leadership and our relationship to power. I’m thrilled to spend the next year focusing on our stories of overcoming adversity and stepping into power. Stay tuned….

Lastly,  I let go of memories, experiences, and attachments to people that no longer serve me. I invite myself to stretch as I dance and release. I identify areas and skills I wish to develop. I celebrate the young girls I see on campus, I eat lunch with them, watch them play at the beach, and dance with them. As I marvel at their authenticity, fearlessness, and playfulness, I honor the little girl in me who sometimes still yearns to be seen and to feel loved. I discover I am not afraid of my power, my sexuality, my desires. I am learning to love ALL of me. I am learning to give myself permission to be selfish.

Thank You for continuing to remind me that I deserve and am worthy of the JUNO namesake: prosperity; a whole, integral, empowered woman, whose influence was called on in politics, money, management, business, marriage, and motherhood.

May we continue to ask Juno to help us lead with a fair and protective spirit, and to make creative, bold, and wise decisions. May we use Juno’s benevolent authority to empower and protect others. May we examine our leadership nature and where we may want to grow and change. May we ask difficult questions, and be gentle and kind to ourselves and others as we find the answers. We are the one’s we’ve been waiting for. 

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How I Learned To Feel Loss and Stop Pretending to Be Ok

I’ve been thinking about grieving since a lot of my clinical surrounds loss and grieving different kinds of relationships. Every day I think about healing and naturally, I think about my own life. Ironically, my ex-boyfriend forwarded me this BuzzFeed article about sadness (I think because of my professional interests, but who knows). The article was written by author, Mac McClelland, of Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story and For Us Surrender Is Out of the Question.

It reminded me about a theme from the Girls Empowerment Group I co-lead: how we don’t learn how to end relationships. We also don’t learn how to be okay with sadness. It seems like our society has deemed emotions around break ups (or “friendship divorce”) only acceptable in the form of pop music. I love this line of her article, “Everybody knows that crying girls are silly and weak. Hysterical, and overdramatic.” I remember how pathetic I felt starting graduate school and being torn up about a guy (forget about the fact that we dated for 5.5 years).

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This scene in Bridesmaids perfectly illustrates our discomfort with sadness. Melissa McCarthy slaps Kristen Wiig around and tells her to stop being sad, though she has recently lost her job, her savings, her home, and her best friend. Often times the very same loving people trying to shake the sadness away from us and coach us to stay strong are denying our right to feel sadness, and ultimately, grow and learn from it. 

We have so much to learn from loss and grief and I’m only beginning to realize that, because for the first time in my life I’m allowing myself to experience my feelings without trying to make them go away as soon as possible. I refuse to make myself so busy and distracted and fill the void with a new boyfriend or project. I appreciate the sentiment and am certainly not wallowing 7 months later in my misery—but even if I was—it’s about however much time I need to heal. There are no stages of grief, and if you do believe i them, know that there is no set amount of time that a person moves through them. Loss and grief are best described as waves as one of my favorite teachers writes:

“But then, all of a sudden, I’ll be going about my business and a wave of grief will roll in from the depths, crash over me, and drag me back out with it into the deep waters. I welcome the grief waves; I want to feel the hole in the universe; I want to cry and miss her. I know that too soon she’ll be a beautiful and funny memory—my wild little sister who brought everyone so much joy. So I think about her a lot; I pray for dreams and visitations from the other side; and I talk often to her kids and her mate and my other sisters, so as to keep her presence vivid for as long as we can.” Elizabeth Lesser

It’s so tempting to numb, distract, deny our feelings of sadness. Who wants to feel sad?! Yet this allowing of myself to be exactly how I am has taught me the meaning of compassion. I’ve learned to be gentle with myself, kind, and generous. I’ve experienced closeness, gratitude, and joy like I’ve never felt before. As Brene Brown writes, there is a deep connection between the amount of sadness and joy we experience-you can’t numb one without numbing the other. It is actually not possible to build walls up for selective feelings, without building defences against all of them. When we build walls up, it protects us out of fully experiencing ANYTHING, and therefore we are no longer able to fully experience life!

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I’ve always been a sensitive and emotional person. I used to cry on the soccer field in middle school when my best friend would trip (which was a lot because she was as aggressive as she was tiny!) Still, I think we are taught from a young age that we should smile for the camera and not dwell in the past. My dad’s coaching on the soccer field echoe these sentiments, “No pain, no gain! Take no prisoners!” I was raised to be tough. As we get older we learn that people like to be around happy, bubbly people not the depressed, introvert.

To be clear, there are different types of sadness, as McClelland writes:

If your sadness comes from seemingly no place or even an obvious place but keeps you from participating in life or enjoying anything and refuses to abate no matter how long you go on letting it express itself, you of course can’t keep living like that.

Maybe if we didn’t live in a culture that shames us for feeling sad for too long, I wouldn’t have been so afraid of my sadness. I thought I might never feel like myself again. It was hard to remember feeling happy. Nothing felt normal and yet I was expected to continue on as if nothing had changed. Everyone else seemed to be going about their lives.

Over the years I’ve gotten better and better with “self-care,” but this experience required more attention and time. Going to the gym, meditating, and calling a friend was not going to be enough-or rather, this wasn’t going to be a “tough week” that I had to make it through. Instead of being patient and gentle with myself, I was judging myself and causing myself more suffering by agonizing over whether or not I should stay in my graduate program. Everyday I felt exhausted by the decision to stay or to go. How on Earth would I decide?

My saving grace was that I reached out for support. I knew I wasn’t thinking clearly and needed guidance. I found a therapist, I sought support from a professor, a Dean, some trusted classmates. I spoke to my cousin and friends on the phone. I let myself be loved and held, because “sometimes we are each other’s wings until we find our own. (Rha Goddess)”

I can’t explain in this coherent essay how I finally healed from my loss because I’m still healing everyday. Actually, some days I don’t think about it at all and this is how I know I’m making “progress”. My feelings are constantly changing and I know as time goes on the pangs of loss will be less frequent and eventually, I will get to a place where I can reminisce with my ex-boyfriend and possibly have a healthy friendship. I knew I was healing when I stopped feeling shame about the fact that I was still sad about the break up. A weight had been lifted and I finally was giving myself permission to feel, to be present with where I was at.

“They say it takes a big man to cry, and I think — unfortunately, given our collective feelings about sadness — that’s true. But it takes a bigger woman still, to feel the strength of a sob, without apology or shame. With pride. I’m the biggest I’ve ever been, the way I let my emotions run, sadness included: the way it cleanses me, tears washing my face, resolving me to continue to feel with abandon.” Thank you  Mac McClelland, for the reminder that it’s okay to be sad.