Category Archives: authenticity

Flowing with the Seasons

Here in Wisconsin spring is a fickle maiden. One day she tempts us with the promise of summer, teasing us with warm whispers and the scent of new blossoms, an alluring perfume. The nest day she is cold, snippy, she spits rain in your face contemptuously; the date you made yesterday is off, no picnic for you, stay at home and find your own source of warmth and comfort.
Is it no wonder then that those of us who are sensitive to nature and her moods find ourselves grappling with our own rollercoaster of emotions.
I have always been subject to the whim of the seasons.  The winter blues or cabin fever can plunge me into the depths of an existential crisis. Summer brings a sense of freedom and joy, but by August I begin to feel like the party girl who has had a bit too much to drink, I just want to go home and sleep.
Spring typically brings a renewed energy, a sense of hope, and inspiration.

Therefore I feel a slap of disappointment when little miss Spring decides to withdraw her affection and warmth, such a tease! But like most sassy girls when she’s good she’s good, and today she was kind and flirty. I was lured by her charms to my little garden plot to pluck some weeds, I reveled in the nostalgic aroma of her Lilac blooms and my dogs trotted along happily as we walked to the co-op to buy some early greens.
 Life can’t always be like a perfect spring day just as we can’t always be happy, hopeful or inspired. We have our rainy days, our own fickle moods and throughout life we have our seasons. Nature is authentic, gritty, beautiful, terrible and yet she moves with grace through her changes. She makes no apologies for the sudden thunderstorm, but she brings renewal and growth in it’s wake. Every mood serves it’s purpose, to cleanse, to nourish and sometimes to destroy in order for healing and renewal to take root. Like Nature we can flow with the changes and seasons of our life fully alive in the expression of of the moment and  aware of our purpose.

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


Life in the Big Picture

The past week has awakened my senses to a Way I have glimpsed but never fully comprehended full force. Emerging from the loss of  of my father; the process of reviewing his life. our family and each of us as individuals had turned the lens just slightly to reveal a view of the bigger picture with a new perception.
Some minor mistake, a careless error once easily dismissed, might now evoke sobs. On the other hand, a small seemingly irrelevant bit of beauty can appear as the greatest masterpiece contrived by Humankind or Nature. Suddenly I am at one time the center of the Universe and yet a tiny speck in the Grand scheme, and both things are true at once.
To bring it all down a notch, let me put it plainly: life is brief in review and everlasting in impact yet we tend to live as if the reverse were true. We pour of hearts and souls into leaky containers, hoping our devotion is sufficient to fill the gaps. We cling desperately to the words of other people hoping for self validation. But they are only words and we really have no concept of their true meaning do we? Not unless they are made real with the alchemy of with action and love. Of the hundreds of thousands of words we hear each day, how many are infused with that magic?
We pass by moments of Beauty and Grace every day on our way to saving  the world. Basically we miss the train because we are running so fast to catch the express route. And guess what? The World doesn’t need us to save Her, even if we could. She just needs our Love and Respect. Life is a gift, grab it with both hands, unwrap Her with curiosity and delight. Listen to your heart and follow the message. Don’t expect anyone else on this planet to make you happy, or successful or powerful. Only you know how to be those things. Anything or anyone who would stop you from being happy with you? My Dad would say “That’s just a crock of shit”
Now…go find your bliss!!!!!!
Peace and Love
Jenny Nanakoosa Hazard

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

In between the extremes of ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘an eye for an eye’ lies a world of possibility. Much of that territory is Education. Not just formal education but seizing upon teachable moments to present a fresh perspective and to infuse compassion into a volatile situation. For ourselves,there is the opportunity for  lessons in authenticity, the chance to practice and be who we really are in the core of our True Self. For those of us who have a history of having been victimized or dis-empowered, situations involving conflict or mistreatment (no matter how slight) can trigger very immediate reactions that arise from a place of self defense. From that position we are behind a false front, a suit of armor which obscures our authentic self from the rest of the world. It becomes a blockade through which no true human interaction can pass, in or out, and the opportunities are lost. We percieve a careless word, a dismissive comment or even a misunderstanding as a personal attack. Taking on the feelings of other people, especially the negative is most likely due to our hightenend state of self preservation. It’s not that we want to own the world’s problems as it may appear at times. It’s actually quite the opposite, we dread being the receptacle for someone else’s bad day the dumping point for other’s anger.
 Anyone who done time an an abusive relationship will tell you that the “blame game” a crucial element of the dynamic. The abuser will not take responsibility for their actions, can you blame them? Who wants to be a jerk? No one is really proud of it, so naturally they shift the blame to the victim. As we learn to play the game, we develop all sort of tricks of our own to throw into the mix. Because the game is usually high stakes, at least emotionally, we often draw our reactions from extreme ends of the spectrum; we either withdraw and forgive or we return the attack with more venom increasing the potential for violence but armed with a sense of self righteousness. If we do become “clever enough to find a middle road, it is often a muddled combination of the two extremes resulting the the most odious of all behaviors, the passive-aggressive reaction. We may pretend to forgive for example, but do so in such a way that is so self deprecating that it practically begs for continued conflict. The role we play and the moves we make within the complicated and ever changing rules of the game of an abusive relationship are well documented and discussed in many books and studies; what I’m here to address is the far reaching after effects that bleed over into our lives sometimes even years after ending an abusive relationship.
I’ve noticed, in my own experience, that even if I’m generally doing pretty well in my relationships with others there are events and people that can easily trigger those old responses. For me the devastating duo are stressful external circumstances where I feel I have no control, and people (usually authority figures) who interact in a manner that feels cold and detached. You know, the medical personnel who identifies you by the illness or injury you are been treated for, “we’ve got pneumonia in room 306” or the service provider to whom you are case number 45361.  Unfortunately crisis situations, category number one, often brings us into contact with category two. These are the times I personally am most at risk for becoming either a doormat or a viper depending on my mood and energy level at the time.
These are the times that I have to remind myself that if I want to have sense of personal power over the situation the only thing I really do have any control of is how I choose to respond. If I am being treated in a way I feel is disrespectful or dehumanizing, I have the ability and the right to address the person who is causing the perceived injury. If I am to come out of this scenario with any sense of success it is up to me to be mindful in my words and actions.
So here’s an example of a recent event where I was able to catch myself and walk my talk.
Last week was one of those weeks where it seemed everything was going wrong. I had a problem with my bank account due to an auto bill pay that I had authorized long ago and forgotten, my computer was on the fritz, I was having issues with my cel phone provider and then…my Dad passed away. Basically a shit storm of powerlessness. Putting things into perspective obviously some things are more significant than others and Dad’s passing was by far the biggie. Death however is after all an inevitable part of life, overdraft fees, not so much. I managed to solve all of the mundane issues while also passing through various stages of grieving my father (of course that’s all still going on but that’s another story). The clincher came when I realized I was going to have to visit the food pantry for the second month in a row. That in itself was not such a big deal but I needed to cram the visit into a very busy schedule. Where I live there is a “Community Service Hotline” where clients can call to get information about the dates and times of availability of food pantries and other services. I wasn’t certain of the times so I called the number to double check.The operator who answered the phone may have been having a bad day or maybe he just doesn’t posses proper phone etiquette and I may never know the answer to that. What I do know is he picked the wrong day to tell me, very icily, that according to their records I’d already visited the pantry within a 30 day period and that I couldn’t go there again for another week. Now according to the cheat sheet in front of him this may have been the instructions he was told to provide, but I know from experience that particular pantry allows people to come every two weeks, and  I told him that all I really needed was the hours of operation. He actually refused to give me the information, based on his belief that I was somehow breaking the rules. I tried reasoning with him telling him that I wasn’t going to argue the rules I simply wanted to know what time they open, and he became more determined to not tell me. The phone call ended rather abruptly when I asked to be transferred to a supervisor and was put on ‘hold’ i.e. disconnected.
So at his point I was beyond “triggered” I was loaded, cocked and ready to fire at anything that crossed my path. I was also in tears. Everything hit me at once and it was my grief that saved me. All I’d really wanted was a little compassion. I thought about that for a bit, and after running through the first scenarios that came to mind, the victim card, the righteous indignant card the passive-aggressive ‘let me speak to your manager and get you into trouble ‘ card it occurred to me that none of those were real, they were all just moves in a game that I no longer play. If I want real that I have to be real. I took some deep breaths, I got real and I called the hotline back. The same operator answered. I took another deep breath and told him calmly how I felt, in the moment; no extra information, no long stories, I simply let him know that his manner of speaking had made me feel less than deserving, less than human. I told him that while I understood that maybe he was having a bad day that his job involves interacting with people who are in need and that people in need tend to be vulnerable. I asked for no apology or explanation, I simply asked that in the future he would remember that on the other end of the phone was a real person with real needs and real feelings. Then I wished him a pleasant day, hung up and let it go.
I really sincerely do hope that the next time he has a crappy day that he can envision a real person on the other side of the phone. I hope that no one else has to be made to feel less than human because he has to “follow the rules” without question. I hope we can all remember, when were having a shitty day that our bad moods are fleeting and temporary but that the words we say and how we say them can send ripples through time. Maybe our teachable moment will bring something of value to someone else, maybe not.  If we can be honest with ourselves the words we put out there will be authentic and the ripples they send will be the vibration of our true Being and that, my friends, is the gift of Life.
© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Responsibility, The Drama

I have been accused at times for not taking responsibility. At other times I have taken on responsibility that was not mine to tend. In truth, both statements are one in the same. I adopted responsibilities of others as validation; “I am doing something, see” or as an alibi “I can’t do so and so because I’m doing this and that for such and such” and therefore completely avoided the frightening developmental task of “self-accountability”
I misplaced my sense of duty and commitment usually to people and projects that were lost causes, perhaps because I believed I was doomed to fail anyway. Yet this way if I failed, it wan’t really me failing, but the person/thing I’d poured my heart and soul into salvation, leaving none behind of course, for me to risk screwing up on my own efforts. I couldn’t be blamed for trying to help, in fact it made me a “good person” didn’t it? “What a good person that Jenny is, always there to help others”… “always there for the Underdog”
Never mind the reality that the Underdog was not there for him/herself any more than I was there for myself. We were both conspirators in this charade and we understood and performed our unspoken roles quite well, an innate improvisational theater of the absurd. A painfully overacted satire of human relationships, dreams and aspirations. To the observer with ample wit, a comedy of errors; to others it must have appeared as a tragedy, awkward and painfully maudlin.
When I was in aoda treatment I had one of those old school tough love therapists, the ones who use confrontation as a tool to breakthrough well versed denial that we addicts cling to like a security blanket. One day in a group session many of us were discussing our tendency toward co-dependence. I couldn’t help but notice that the conversation was veering dangerously down the road to competition, as stories so often do among women.  We were actually taking a fair amount of pride in our co-dependence; and “that no matter how much we drank or used we still took care of others”. The therapist, in her characteristic no nonsense “I’ll straighten you out” manner had been quietly observing this dialog with the eye of a hawk regarding a burrow of rabbits. Finally she struck, “Co-dependents are the most selfish people I know”
 “Whaaat? Moi? How can that be?” After all we were clearly so giving. so willing to self sacrifice.
We were, after all, nice people underneath our exterior substance abuse and resulting bad behavior.
It soon became clear that the level of our indignation was indicative of the truth in her statement. Our defenses had clicked into place and we demanded an explanation for this bizarre theory. After about an hour of good old fashioned group therapy and open ended questioning, most of us came to realize that our cruel and heartless therapist actually believed that the sacrifices we made had always had a not-so-altruistic purpose. In fact they had offered justification for our problems, validation for our existence, excuses for our lack of action and they allowed us to manipulate others around us.
Of course, she was right.
What took much longer than an hour of group therapy was the realization that we all have personality traits that are less than perfect, often dishonest (even to ourselves) and sometimes downright nasty. It takes years, sometimes, to accept that the darker parts of us are valid bits of the whole person. If we look at our life history we discover the origin of these patterns and beliefs. Most alcoholics did not come from ideal families or circumstances. The manipulation and self destructive patters we carry deep inside where no one can see (or so we think) are really nothing more than acts of survival. You don’t get by in an unstable, unpredictable land of ever shifting boundaries with out learning some tricks of the game. You have to play by the same non-rules as everyone else of you will be consumed by powerlessness and defeat.
There comes a time, however, when we choose to live our lives differently and after some trial and error we realize that if we are to survive in this new life we must be honest with ourselves. If we are going to stop playing games, replaying “old tapes” as my Mom would say, we have to be authentic. In order to be authentic we have to admit our errors, find their roots and forgive ourselves for ways we have behaved that were not in line with our Ideal Selves.
It is so much easier to forgive others than it is to forgive ourselves. We tend to hold ourselves to a higher standard, to which my therapist would have said “what makes you so much better than anyone else?”
There were times I hated that woman, and I myself wouldn’t use quite such a harsh presentation of the facts, but in retrospect she was right. We are who we are, no better, no worse than any other human being (at least in potential) and as we stumble along this journey that is life a little humility and self-acceptance can go a long way. Once we have reached this point we are free and secure enough to offer genuine help and support to others with out losing ourselves in the process.
© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Positive Thinking and other self help fumbles

For the past 20 years or so the quick fix self help gurus have placed a nauseating amount of emphasis on the application of “Positive Thought” as a cure all for all social problems. From overcoming  poverty to finding convenient parking spaces we are told to visualize our needs and to apply positive energy to these thoughts and we will be blessed with whatever it is that our little hearts desire. I realize this may seem to be a gross oversimplification and it probably is but truthfully for every one educator/life coach or mentor who truly understands the use of positive energy it seems there are 5 more who toss the notion around like little band aids hoping they will stick and take away all our owies. And if they don’t stick it’s probably because we did something wrong, we picked at it or maybe our skin wasn’t clean enough for the band aid to adhere properly…or we just didn’t really believe it would work.

Well of course it didn’t work and here’s why. Many of us don’t believe it will work, not because we don’t want it to, but because we’ve never been taught how to develop that velcro skin that picks up all the good stuff. We’re more like teflon when it comes to positive energy. We do this because we have discovered time and time again that any thing good and comforting and healing that comes our way must certainly come at a cost and with some hidden agenda.
And therefore we do pick at the band aids, peeking to see if our wounds are indeed healing or if they are secretly festering and and growing beneath the veil of the band aid. We have a firmly entrenched sense of mistrust, well sealed within our teflon shell not because we want to but because at some time in our lives we had to. It kept us safe from the unpredictable and confusing gestures that have been handed us in the guise of love, only to reveal the narcissistic craving that was so well concealed in the pretty picture of love and concern. You can trap more flies with honey than with vinegar as my grandmother used to say, and any predator worth their salt knows that fact all to well. They rely upon the strategy as their primary method of entrapment. Then when things go wrong and we become hurt, we are soothed with the insidious plea that begs us to remember that it was all done to us out of love and concern…how dare we feel hurt or angry when someone was merely acting out of love and in the interest of our well being.
It should come as no surprise then that when some sweet talking agent of personal growth comes along telling us that we simply need to focus on the positive, if we don’t immediately dismiss them from our lives, we may desperately want to believe them. We may even try to apply their suggestions, but we are unable to make it work.
And sadly many of us do try to make it work only to end up berating ourselves for our inability to follow the simple formula for happiness.
The bottom line is one cannot slap a bandage on a very well established wound with out first cleansing the the injury and removing any shards of emotional shrapnel that may be trapped within. Once we have done this we stand a good chance to benefit from certain applications of the Happy Band-aid Process.
 Stay tuned tomorrow for a follow up post to discuss cleansing the wounds and what and what not to expect from all those Happy Thoughts we can apply to keep them safe.

Be Safe,

© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Ramblers, Rebels and Rogues

I have spent many years of my life in opposition and I rather like the role.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Hello My Rebellious Queens,
I have had the opportunity to chuckle at myself a bit since yesterday. forgetting a blog post, horrors! Yet on the other hand when I decided to make this a daily commitment, a routine with an actual schedule; I did it knowing i was challenging myself stretching my limbs a little farther.
I’m not always, um, shall we say, focused? or organized? or consistent? at least I haven’t been in the past. But in the now, i really do want to commit myself to a consistent effort, a solid path stone by stone set before me as I travel. Don’t ask me where I travel, one commitment at a time, please. I see it like this, some of us tender the hearth, build the home, and nurture the garden. these are the people who go to the office, get to work promptly on time day by day. They have savings accounts and good credit and lead fairly predictable lives. They keep the wheels of enterprise going and they are ok with that. And so am I; I’m happy to know that my garbage will be picked up on Tuesday and that my utilities will work when I turn on a switch and such comforts as we are accustomed. Our society relies on the consistency and reliability of the hearth keepers to function.
our culture uses them as a Blueprint for “normalcy”. They exemplify the way we “should be”. we are promised rewards like all inclusive vacations and funparks and new cars for low, low financing, as long as we tend the hearth. Then there are the rest of us, the Ramblers, Rebels and, rogues. we are the dreamers, the ones who can’t seem to pay attention to the power point presentation and who don’t wear the latest designer clothing.. What we do is create, innovate and motivate. We are the Women with the Past, because no true rambler doesn’t run into some trouble on her journey. We are the rebels because we listen to our heart, not just our head and we aren’t afraid to speak up when something doesn’t feel right. We know we have to take action because, most likely, we learned the hard way that if we don’t speak up, if we try to fit in a place that does not align with our nature, we will suffer. our spirit will shrinks and wither, leaving us vulnerable to the desire for escape in the form of drugs or alcohol or to illusion of acceptance in a relationship that may not be healthy or of becoming shrouded in the depths of our own depression and isolation..
Some of us have had more encouragement and freedom to live by the call of our inner voice than others.. Some of us have had to discover it later in life, and some of us are just awakening to the knowledge.
Where ever we are in our travels, we must remember that we do have our place in society. If it weren’t for those of us who question authority, who go against the grain, there would never be progress, change or, I believe, true freedom..
What “rules” have you challenged? How did it change you or your perception of you?

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Following Nature’s Lead; How’s the weather Up There?

Hello Fellow wanderers and wise women

I hope everyone had a pleasant weekend, we have a new moon this weekend which I always welcome as a beginning, a chance to organize, plan and if needed, make changes or adjustments. One thing I have learned over the years is that self assessment and reflection are vital to my own well being. It probably doesn’t hurt the well being of those who live with my eccentric nature on a daily basis either. this practice is complimentary to my thoughts on changing seasons and the cycles of nature that I referred to in an earlier post. if we relate to the environment around us it can serve as a guide and prompt us to be respectful and responsive to our own cycles and process. what a beautiful way to monitor one’s own inner self and daily routine. The wild windy storm that pelted us with huge hailstones seemed fitting for the frustration and anger than many of us have been feeling with current events. for me storms are exciting, exhilarating and expressive of intense emotion. today is rather dark and gloomy, a day that could prompt quiet time and reflection, much as we ourselves will do once our anger has been spent.
Most recently i have been trying to stay afloat and in balance between the interests, passions and responsibilities of my life. I have been almost obsessive in following politics and attempting to inform, motivate and organize in whatever way i can. This involves a substantial amount of reading, discussion and fact finding. the only cause i will fight for unquestioningly is social justice. the path to this goal is not always easily negotiated as i sift through the volumes of claims, opinions, commentary and the sometimes ego driven motives of others. there are individuals who will vehemently defend the actions of their political party or particular candidate without taking the time to look within themselves and feel if they are truly comfortable with the plan, policy or action. they hurl hailstones at one moment then hop right into the next sunny day without taking that foggy, cloudy quiet day in between to reflect and restore.
i myself have been troubled by some decisions that have been made in president obama’s term. i voted for him, i still believe he wants to do the right thing for our country and our future but at the same time i am willing to call out my own candidate on issues where i disagree. remember a while back when i wrote about not taking oneself too seriously; about true humility and maturity? i believe that the ability to draw our own conclusions rather than blindly following a party line or ideology is the fruit that is born of that self awareness there is great comfort in being true to one’s own values and there is great power in challenging the decisions of others who may have promised us one thing and delivered something entirely different. we do not all have to agree, but i believe that if we are true to our inner values and respect ourselves, we will be more inclined to take the time to question situations that don’t feel right. and because we are “walking our talk” we will not be afraid to stand up for our beliefs in a way that is respectful without being self compromising. how do you handle disagreement or conflict? how do you react “after the storm”? how’s the weather in your soul today?
© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard