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December 23, 2020 35 min

Danielle and Maggie pick up the previous episode’s conversation around comfort vs. distraction/numbing.  Maggie says there’s a great temptation to “get out of our bodies” because this season is so long, so uncertain, there’s anxiety and fear; it’s seemingly unbearable.

Things that bring us comfort are things that will invite us into our bodies. Distraction and numbing are ways to dissociate and escape reality; they make us no longer present. 

Danielle gets a general feeling or sense after a conversation, then allows herself to give it words. She has been collecting candles, lighting them and purposefully pausing to watch the flame waver. Tiny things that bring her comfort. She’s also been more aware of the Sunday iPhone usage data -- she sees that and it motivates her to  limit the number of hours she spends on social media. She tells herself, don’t hop on, what do you want to do? Lay down, push shoulders back. 

Maggie agrees, that iPhone usage notification on Sundays is so convicting! She thinks it is probably time for her to reinstate good boundaries regarding phone usage, especially on weekends. Maggie also has been using candles, when she lights them she recites “I have set the Lord before me always, because He is with me I will not be shaken” (from Psalm 16:8) and is reminded how many times in scripture God’s presence is symbolized with fire. God is with me, whether I am aware of his presence or not.”

Another practice Maggie is doing is good body-kindness care, specifically baths. Trying to invite herself into that space by bringing her book in there with her and told herself to at least read an entire chapter before getting out. Because she created this space, she came out more refreshed, more willing to engage, less stressed or hurried. “I need to slow down enough to where I am inviting myself to stay.” It’s not perfect but the practices are good and we should do them, but there is no reason to berate ourselves if we don’t do them frequently, or long enough or “the right way.” It is a mindful assessment of our heart, mind and body. There need be no self imposed restrictions on that space. 

Danielle says even just listening to Maggie brings her comfort knowing that she too is working on staying present. Danielle says there is something about just picking up the phone and calling someone to chat; the voice to voice contact connects us to our humanness and she feels the longing for another person. 

Maggie acknowledges there seems to have been a cultural or social shift that says texting is an okay place to have meaningful, important conversations. We can miss someone over text. 

Danielle asks about Maggie’s crazy cat -- Like many others, she adopted a pet during covid. This particular cat is feral and was found under Danielle’s house. Kids named him Cosmo and he’s a legitimate ankle biter, waiting in the hallways to pounce on people’s feet. 

Danielle says it’s comforting to know we can still laugh together. 

In general, Maggie says there is a push and pull around traditions this holiday season because many of the normal traditions she and her family do can not be done this year due to restrictions on gathering. It is forcing her to evaluate them and to add more meaningful ones for this year. For instance for Advent this year she really wanted to do something with her entire family rather than participate in an advent scripture reading plan or devotional that she would in previous years on her own. Her sister-in-law recommended Advent conversation cards with the kids, and it’s been a beautiful new tradition for her family that has provided an avenue for deeper, more meaningful conversations at dinner. 

As far as end of the year traditions, Maggie usually assesses / looks back on the previous year and sets goals for the coming new year. She has historically used Jennie Allen’s Dream Guide / Inventory which is a look at four categories of life: spiritual, work, relationship and [personal]. In it you spend time looking at how you did in those categories this year and how you’d like to be different (or the same) in the coming year. Like many others, she had high expectations for 2020 and virtually none that she set out to do happened the way she wanted them to. Looking into 2021, she is taking into account her capacity and her limitations with kids still being at home for school, and setting goals/dreams that can be done from home. Because of this, she is intentionally not planning to “crank down hard” on herself and demand a lot of herself in this coming year. 

Danielle’s holiday traditions have also been altered and new ones added. A new thing her family is doing is every Monday, they vote on what they’re making for dinner plus a very special dessert (just a little extravagance!).  They’ve also been making it a point to rent a movie occasionally. Its the small things. Her kids have been drawing and coloring like crazy and they've been putting them all up over the house. Since they could not gather for Thanksgiving she dropped off pies at friends’ house. She plans to do the same for Christmas to feel like they continue to feel connected to those around her. 

Danielle says she doesn’t even remember her expectations from the beginning of 2020. At some point she stopped planning too far ahead and just relied on her gut feeling, people around her and current events to inspire her work and creativity. For 2021 she doesn't know what to expect but she knows there will be goodness, that grief won’t end, that there will be hope but she’s not sure what that will look like. And she expects that her family will make more memories. 

Maggie thinks it feels good to not expect too much when so much is still uncertain. It’s a protective mechanism to not put too much ahead of us as far as expectation to avoid more disappointment amidst the disappointment we currently feel. 

Danielle says she is holding an openness to bigger dreams though she’s not sure what they are. 

Maggie uses her pictures on her phone as she writes her “year in review.” What a great comfort it was for her this year to see there was such goodness in the midst of such a difficult season.  She said “It was good to realize that we’re not totally down and in despair.”

Her goals for next year will be ones that can be done from home: Workshop and webinars online that can be done from home that will still grow her, stretch her, increase her skill set, etc. Potentially pursuing grad school, doing workshop intensive (perhaps with the enneagram), continued growth in her own story work, wrapping up cert II at the Allender Center and applying for the externship…. All this knowing that some of her availability is depending on what will happen with the kids (will they go back to in-person school). 

Danielle will finish up the externship at the Allender Center this coming her. She’s been dreaming about offering therapy and story work to more people, offering trainings potentially. She wants to say yes when she can. She’s been intentional about doing the work she does with getting outside consulting and supervision. She wants to invest in different trainings… She also is planning to participate in a marriage seminar from home, knowing the pandemic has put such strain on marriages. 

Maggie thinks the marriage seminar will be a great opportunity to look inward when so much of the pandemic has forced us to look outward -- the kids, pandemic, school, family, gatherings, etc. 

Maggie says she is also looking forward to expanding what she offers, potentially a race and story group, as she is finding other ways to engage story with groups. So much of her training this year at the Allender Center has been around group story work and Maggie wants to use some of her training to help others engage story. 

Starting with yourself first knowing that what you learn can be used to benefit others. 

Danielle is reading: The shining affliction by annie rogers 

Danielle is Listening to: Hamilton non-stop, Pentatonix Christmas Album, Mariah Carey Christmas, The Allender Center Podcast, On Being with Krista Tippet, Sandra Van Opstal Instagram Live, Aly and Jo Show. 

Danielle is inspired by her kids: they’ve been creating art related to current events and religious theme. 

Maggie is reading: Two Towers from the Lord of the Rings. Reading daily news.

Maggie is listening: Pentatonix Christmas, early 90s hip hop and R&b

Maggie in Inspired by her kids’ remarkable resilience. They’re not wrestling with disembodiment like adults are.

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