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Sweet, sweet Steph.

Steph and her mini me Ev.

If you’ve spent much time around here, you’ve likely encountered sweet Steph. And if you’ve received a treatment from her, lucky you. There’s no forgetting it.

If you’re one of her loyal regulars, you’re cursing me right now for spreading the word and making it even harder for you to get on her book. My apologies.

Steph’s been with us for eight years and I’ve come to know her as one of the most intelligently compassionate, empathetic, accepting, and genuinely loving souls I’ve ever experienced. She could teach classes, if these were the types of things you could learn from classes. (Spoiler: you can’t. They only come from lots of intentional self work and constant openness to Spirit. Buzzkill, I know.)

Anywho, a couple weekends back, things were feeling really, really rough here in the USofA, and more specifically, here in Kansas City (I thought about linking to a heartbreaking KC headline there, for those of you not in our fair city, but honestly there were so many to choose from, I couldn’t bear it). Steph reached out for input from friends on how to process the emotions so much dark can ignite. She is a sensitive, tender heart and her feelings are full, in every sense. I love this about her and know this is the secret behind her magical touch.

I, on the other hand, am a bit, um, different. I feel things really, really deeply. For about 3.6 seconds. And then I promptly pull that feeling out of my heart and into my brain so I can study it, analyze it, deconstruct it, categorize it, and file it into its proper place. Super romantic. Smitty says he can actually watch this process happen.

So I offered some carefully measured words to Steph about ways I maintain function when the world feels too heavy. And since she found it somewhat helpful, I thought I would share it with you all. Maybe you’re a Steph or maybe you’re an Ash. Either way, I hope parts of this ring true for you. Coping mechanisms are meant to be shared, right?

To sweet Steph –

Since you asked…

Not sure you’ll find this helpful or just become more convinced I’m a certifiable lunatic. But here’s how I try to pass myself off as stoic (ha) when the world seems mad.

  1. I try to keep where we are as humans today in appropriate perspective. We’ve been around as sapiens for a couple hundred thousand years or so and before that, we were basically wild animals. Then we developed language and tribes and money and were in constant violent war. We enjoyed beheadings and public (torturous) executions and mass child sacrifice. For a huge chunk of that time, some of us owned others of us and lots us were not actually counted as people in any practical way. Even within the last less-than-century, some of us have attempted to exterminate entire groups of us. So when I look around in 2019 and begin to feel like everyone sucks, I remind myself that yes, there are still really shitty people doing really shitty things, but as a species, we’ve come a long, long way. And I’m hopeful that our progress appears to be snowballing exponentially these days. (If you haven’t read “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think“, I highly recommend it.)

  2. I ask my insides if I’m comfortable with the amount of myself (my time, my energies, my human capital, my actual dollar bills) I’m giving away. And if I’m comfortable with it, I decide I’d better give more. I ask my insides if I’m spending the necessary amount of time examining who I am, why I am the way I am, and what I could do to be me better. This helps me take the focus away from trying to fix other people and reminds me I’m the only one I can do anything about. The good news is, I’m inspired to be me better when I see other people being them better. I like to be part of this cycle.

  3. I believe from the bottom of my bones that since this whole crazy thing exploded into existence some 13.8 billion years ago, it’s had a trajectory. It’s going somewhere. It’s fueled by love and grace and constant resurrection and it just. Keeps. Expanding. And while my life is short and measured in my daily experiences and that’s an easy point of reference for me, it’s a tiny tiny tiny infinitesimal slice of the story in its entirety. It’s like reading one sentence of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and thinking that’s the whole story. (a personal reference chosen just for Harry Potter superfan Steph)

  4. I avoid most of the interwebs, especially social media. I believe it dehumanizes people to the tune of two extremes: awful people are awful-er and perfect people are perfect-er. Neither is accurate because neither allows for the nuance of personhood. For me personally, the detriment outweighs the benefit.

  5. When I’m starting to feel anxious or fearful or despondent or any other feelings that are not helpful, I turn my breath into this short prayer: -(inhale) “Thank you” -(exhale) “Use me” {repeat repeat repeat repeat forever} This reminds me to start with gratitude for the simple but vital (my breath and my heartbeat) and stay willing to be spent in the ongoing unfolding.

And that’s all I know about that

Love, Ash


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