Join me and my cast of fascinating guests for radically honest conversations about what it means to be truly human, in all of its messy, beautiful, hilarious, and heartbreaking glory...
Truth is, the stories we tell ourselves inform how we show up in the world, the quality of our relationships and the choices we make. They make up the biosphere we live in, the air we breathe.
Together, we'll explore the deep work of looking at ourselves in relationships, remembering who we are, how the ideas we hold of who we are get formed, transgenerational trauma, epigenetics, neuroscience and creativity. When we soften our own edges we create space for growth and intimacy.
You can expect new episodes will be released once-a-month.
My vision is to create a community to learn together, you’re invited to join the connectfulness® community and/or write me and let me know what you’re thinking about and want to hear in future episodes.
Join in the conversation by subscribing, rating, reviewing and sharing the podcast with others.
Let’s start to reconnect the world, one conversation at a time.
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You feel discomfort.
And it doesn’t mean that anything or anyone did anything wrong.
Or that anything that came before this moment of time was a false or untrue or inauthentic.
Your discomfort simply means that something is rubbing on you.
It’s asking for your attention. To grow.
It’s time for something new, or new to you.
And so you invite your discomfort to join you in dreaming into what could create more space -- and maybe this is why sometimes you run away/hide/withdraw, because this is also a version of creating space.
This is where you can ask your discomfort for information to guide you into new possibilities.
New spaces require all the questions -- all the discernment and tuning in: What ways can you pivot? Where to pivot towards? Why? How? When?
Discomfort guides you back into alignment with yourself...into consciousness.
On why politics are personal; they’re relational.
As a couples therapist, I intimately work with men and women who have been assaulted/have assaulted. Men and women who seek mentoring around living respectful and relational lives, even if it wasn’t what was modeled for them as normal. In other words, I help couples heal power dynamics everyday.
The political circus we’re bearing collective witness to is very much akin to the pain and abuses I witness daily in my office.
Politics is about people. And if it’s about people, it can be either about turning toward people, and tending to/governing them. Or it can be about turning away and having power over them.
Again, very much the story I witness daily in my office.
And since we’re talking about people and relationships, there’s a truth worth stating. We can turn toward one another. And that starts with believing someone when she tells you “don’t trust them with power over you.” Listen, be curious.
That’s not what we witnessed in modern politics though, at every turn she’s gaslighted. And here’s the rub, many know that gaslighting too well. It’s the same power that’s oppressed them too.
We can’t repair what we don’t recognize as broken. We pass down what we aren’t conscious of. We avoid what makes us uncomfortable. When we do, we remain stuck and tuned out. Turned away and disempowered.
We rise together, collectively, because we believe. We don’t have to believe her story, you see, because herstory is all of ours.
We empower ourselves, our relationships, our families, our communities, the next generation when we talk openly about a restorative, reparative, reclamation of power.
I wish you and yours healthful, respectful relationships in all aspects of your life.
Often the couples I work with tell me no one ever talked to them about puberty sex and sexual education in general. If they were lucky the school nurse gave a lecture. That’s sad. No wonder by the time I see them in mid life they are fraught with questions about what’s normal and plagued with anxieties.
Sex Ed is foundational in building healthy relationships. In being able to navigate ones own changing body and sexual health. It’s too important to be left to wandering the expansive interwebs for information. If no one talked to you, how did you learn? What were your informational sources? And also, how do you know where to begin as a parent or educator?
That’s where this book series comes in: there are 3 books (one for 4+, one for 7+ and one for 10+) they’ll make a great addition to your family library. Read them together and then go back to for reference as needed.
Sex Education matters.
p.s. Yes, you’re normal. And if you want to discuss further reach out.
I turned to my husband, looked him dead in the eye, and said, “It’s not my job to make you feel better.”
The silence stretched out for just a minute. And then our eyes crinkled as we smiled at each other and high fived.
Anyone who’s been in a relationship knows that’s not a common response to someone telling you to take care of your own happiness.
On that particular night the stakes were even higher, we were sitting on the couch late night visioning into our future together. He asked me to find a way to accomplish something based on a shared dream and the answer I gave him wasn’t the outcome he wanted to hear.
He was understanding…and disappointed.
And that’s when I told him it wasn’t my job to make him feel better. Not smugly or with any snarkiness, but rather with total regard for him, and total confidence in knowing that he wasn’t defensive.
I’m blowing up this moment in celebration of how we’ve grown. How we humans learn. And how when we learn and grow together, our dreams grow together.
You see, what’s significant in this story is how both he and I sat in the moment. Neither of us were uncomfortable. In fact, moments later we reviewed what had just transpired between us. It was awesome to see how much more in alignment our lens are then they use to be.
And it’s not because we’re trying harder either. In fact, it’s because we’re letting go more. And in the process, we’re letting in more too.
I believe that you can attain this alignment in your relationships too. Reach out if I can help.
When we show up for one another, we wake up for ourselves.
It takes much grit to do the intimate work of being seen. Of seeing our own stories and patterns. Of accepting our selves and also our loved ones.
Relationships are hard work. Deep work. They open our souls to the old wounds that need tending and care and expose our most vulnerable parts in a tender, sacred, surrender.
I don't believe that my marriage needs to be perfect. I also don't believe any marriages are.
What I do believe in are couples who understand the cycle of connection, disconnection and repair.
'cause sometimes it's really as simple as making that special effort to BE WITH the people you're craving more connection with...
There's so much chatter about how to be a good parent. How to nurture the best in your children.
All the advice.
Truth is, adulting can be hard.
Parenting can be harder still.
You may have run out of energy to devote to yourself and the relationship that got you here in the first place.
That's where the #MessyParenthoodCommunity comes in.
We get it.
We're not here to judge you, just to hold space for you.
Years ago, when I entered the tribe of motherhood a wise mamma said to me "the nicest thing you can do for another mom, is invite her over to your messy house."
Too often we see what we think others lives really are and we judge ourselves in comparison. But these things we think are others truths, aren't the whole picture.
They don't include the messes. Internal or external.
WE ARE NOW FORMING, a group for moms and dads.
A space where you can be seen, heard and understood.
Building community - in person mixers and a professionally facilitated facebook group.
We're a professionally moderated community that meets both online AND in person (presently in NY and CO with hopes to expand our reach). We offer mommas and poppas a space to dive in, get real and connect.
I invite you to pause and reflect on a mother today.
Maybe she's your mother.
Maybe you wished she was your mother.
Maybe she's the mother you wish to be.
Maybe she's the mother of your children.
Maybe she's the mother you never got to be or meet.
Maybe she's the the mother you lost.
Maybe she's the mother that hurt you.
Maybe she's the mother that loved you.
Maybe she's you.
Take a moment and find a quiet place and reflect on her presence in your life.
Notice all the feelings thinking of her evokes in your body.
Notice how thinking of her makes your mind wander.
Notice what you wish for as you think of her.
Notice the impact she has on you.
Are there places within you that need more mother love to heal?
And places that need forgiveness and holding?
Can you give yourself permission to go there?
To honor those mother seeking places on this day and others?
Over the last few weeks we've been diving into deep conversations with parenting experts that I wanted share with you in time for mother's day: a little gift of reflection in the midst of your everyday.
It's my hope that the podcast helps to inspire some delicious introspection that helps to hold you and all the relationships that matter in your lives.
Elizabeth Cush, MA, LCPC is a therapist and blogger in Annapolis, Md, where she owns and operates Progression Counseling. She walks with women on their path of self-discovery when they feel lost or unseen and helps them uncover their wants, needs and desires. A certified clinical trauma professional, Elizabeth incorporates mindfulness and meditation into her psychotherapy work.
Healing begins when you’re seen. Healing deepens when you see yourself.
Throughout most of my life, anxiety has been a constant companion. As a young child, anxiety was part of my emotional landscape, and it also inflected my physical world. I needed to feel that my body was safe and secure. I’d get my mom to tie the ribbons at the waist of my dresses so tightly that I could feel them cutting into my skin. I couldn’t fall asleep at night unless the covers were tucked so tightly that I felt the pressure of the blankets pushing me into the bed.
As a teenager I often disconnected from my difficult feelings. I wasn’t fully present and it was as if I was in a fog. At other times, it was as if all the wires in my system fired at the same time. When I was stressed and anxious I became hyper aware of my clothes touching my skin. Irritable and angry much of the time, I struggled with depression. All of this confused me. I wasn’t making the connection between the physical sensory discomfort and my emotional discomfort.
I felt like I didn’t fit in. I believed that there was something wrong deep within me and that I was the problem. When I’d try to “fix” that, I’d mold myself to other people’s needs and agree to things I wasn’t sure I wanted. My body would try to get my attention: a heavy tightness would press down on my chest. To this day, that pressure continues to remind me when I’m holding back and not speaking up for my wants and needs.
It’s not easy for me to open up and it takes a lot for me to let down my guard - to be vulnerable, to trust, to be me. So much of that comes back to my childhood. The physical and emotional symptoms that I described didn’t just crop up one day. When we were very young, my sister and I were abused by a powerful man in my family. The abuse was allowed to continue even after my sister and I came forward and told my parents and they consulted with the other adults in the family. It took a huge leap of faith to tell our story, but the adults we relied upon rationalized the abuse. My sister and I were told to figure it out on our own.
We were 4 and 6 years old.
I can picture my younger self in a starchy, smocked calico printed dress. Chubby legs, a smile on my face, wanting to be loved, cared for... I just wanted to be seen, heard, and protected. Instead the message I received was, “Don’t make a fuss! Please, go figure out how to protect yourself.” As we grew older the abuse stopped, but the emotional scars are still present and they show themselves when I’m feeling most vulnerable.
Seeing the Unseen and Hearing the Unheard
I know what it means to feel like no one sees you and no one hears you. I know the fear of showing my real self. And this is why I became a therapist, because I care so deeply about those who feel unseen and unheard.
As a therapist, I hold sacred space as I see my clients in their most vulnerable moments. I work with women who have trouble showing up as who they really are. They feel inauthentic in their lives and they struggle with anxiety and depression. As we work together, they experience what it’s like when their voices, their needs, their wants, and their pain are finally seen and heard.
Truly Seeing Myself
My own deep dive into therapy has helped me understand my shame and self-blame. It’s helped me to re-integrate the parts of me that I pushed away. I’m able to feel the power of those voices inside me that long to be heard. I’m able to acknowledge the parts of myself that need to have their stories told, shared, and embraced with compassion. I’ve begun the process of listening, loving, trusting, and seeing all of me.
I’m not sure I’ll ever rid myself of the need to protect myself, or the worry that I’ll show myself and there won’t be anyone to see me, but I’ve learned that I can be there for me. I am the one who will be able to see me, to hear me, to support me, and love me.
The abuse I experienced used to feel like a liability, but now I see it as my strength. I am a better therapist because of my story and I appreciate how it’s shaped me both personally and professionally. My clients feel that I truly understand their pain and trust that I can see their true selves in ways that might be hidden from them. I receive their stories with empathy and I support them with encouragement and compassion. As they reach out, as they explore their experiences and move forward on their journey, I continue to grow and heal right there beside them.
Editors' Note: Are you a therapist interested in diving into your own stories and understanding how the stories you hold can help your clients heal? Consider joining our Practice of Being Seen virtual membership community for therapists.
This election rattled me more than I’d like to admit. But I got up the next day and went to work, because what else was there to do?
Since November, I have felt it in waves, in small moments, in seismic shifts. I’ve paid close attention to others’ reactions too. It only makes sense that the impact of this inauguration will touch us all, in a myriad of deeply personal ways. Ultimately, I can only speak for myself and my growing sense that the shifting political and social tides influence the way I see myself and the ways I wish to be seen.
To be clear, the daily realities of my life haven’t t really changed all that much over the last few months, and for that I am grateful. But, all the same, something has shifted. Something deep in my bones, in my body, in my awareness says that this is different.
I’m midway through a yearlong postgraduate training in trauma and the creative arts and it’s helping me understand my own experiences in a new way. I know that I hold trauma memories in my bones, in my body, in my history and in the ancestral stories of those who came before me.
I was teased a lot as a child – I was different, I was an “exotic face”, and that was hard. I had a funny name, a hairy upper lip, a Dad with an accent. For years, I just wanted to be like everyone else – have a name people could pronounce, a face that didn’t stand out, a heritage that was simple. I just wanted to fit in.
Aspects of those experiences have been coming up since the election. I don’t consider myself traumatized (I have never considered myself a trauma survivor), but at the core of my life experience is an experience of being an outsider, of being unique, of being different in some way, and that leaves an imprint.
As a child and as a teenager, I did what I could to downplay my uniqueness. I would often call my father “Dad” instead of “Papa” around my friends – to his credit, he never asked why. When I could, I avoided explaining about my Holocaust survivor grandfather, my triple citizenships, the fact that I was born “here”, then lived “there” for a bit and then came back “here.”
But as I got older, I grew into myself. I grew to love my exotic name, my dark eyes, my unique look. And maybe there’s a part of me that really loves that. I got so used to being the only Jew, the only one with a parent not US-born.
Over the years, diversity became the new normal. I easily shifted from being one of a few to being one of many – I can’t remember the last time I heard the name “Maya” called on the street and it was actually for me.
But now something has shifted. The diversity that I and so many other New Yorkers grew so accustomed to seems to have a different texture. Now, I feel that shift and I know that I want to be seen, and I wonder what that means.
The trauma that my grandfather endured resonates in my bones. The echoes of “Never Again” echo in my head. I know I am privileged, and can hide my differentness to a fairly large extent. But would continuing to hide really make sense ? For my work? For the world? For me?
Seeing and being seen are two different things – equally hard, equally raw. I hold one in each hand, and tentatively step forward. I do not know what to do, which always scares me. But I know, deeply, that to do nothing would be wrong.
So I allow myself to feel scared when sirens rush past, and to notice my body. To make eye contact with strangers on a NYC street and smile. Do these action seem too small, too inconsequential when I’m trying to find ways to respond to post-election America and how the diverse society I value seems to be eroding?
To let myself be more present, and less removed from everyday interactions is actually quite powerful. I can let myself be seen now. I must let myself be seen now.
Right now, my response to our changing society is to make deep and intimate connection with myself and others. Tomorrow it will mean something else, but right now, it’s enough to see and be seen.
Editors' Note: We're continuing the conversation about how to respond to our changing world in our brand new podcast, The Practice of Being Seen, which is set to launch January 25. Find us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting platform on 1/25 and learn more at www.practiceofbeingseen.com.
Maybe you’re like me.I’m finding that any form of media, social or otherwise is making me anxious in this post-election climate. I don’t trust that our incoming American government is a government for all Americans.
The Somehow Theory is a story that holds me. I hope it offers you some holding and hope too....
The first time I remember asking, I'm five years old and we're sitting in a flower print swivel club chair in the mirrored living room. It's the early 80s.
I sit on grandpa’s lap, cuddle into him and trace the green tattooed numbers on his left forearm with my index finger, over and over just the same as I locate each freckle on his arm. These are his markings. I know them by heart. Perhaps what I know even more than anything is the love I feel sitting on his lap as I trace. This is my safe space. “Grandpa, what do these numbers mean?”
“These numbers,” he tells me, this time and countless times to come, “are my story. And you, are my reason for living.” These are big words to land on the shoulders and in the heart of a child still small and innocent enough to nestle into grandpa’s lap for a journey into the stories that follow all the “why’s” I so naturally provoke him with.
He tells me he has so many stories in him but he’s promised himself not to share most of them with me. “You don’t need to know it all,” he says gently. He can’t bear for me to. After all, I'm his reason for living.
Over the years he tells me his stories in small bursts; about how the family was separated immediately after getting off the cattle cars at Aushwitz. One of my grandfather's brothers was carrying their invalid father, a WW1 hero, followed by his mother and two sisters. When they arrived, they were all sent to the left. My grandfather, on his own, was sent to the right. He survived. Later that day, he asked another prisoner when he'd see his family again. The prisoner responded by shouting to him, “Look up, you see that smoke," he said. "There they are." And so he knew. Not even twenty fours hours after entering the camp, he knew what was in store for them all.
He also shared so many stories about liberation. My grandfather and his two buddies, whom he’d bonded together and survived with in camp, went looking for a sister who they had heard survived at Bergen Belsen. They didn’t find her. Instead they met three women, among them my grandmother. The women were still living in the camp when they met. The men told them they’d be back when they had a place for them to live, then they'd marry them. The women laughed. Who were these men? These three newly liberated men used their moxie and somehow managed to obtain new suits from a local shopkeeper and then came back to woo the women. Again and again. Each time in new suits. And in no time the three couples married.
Girls my age had princesses but I had liberation as my love story.
I hold onto this love story, passed down from my grandparents, two holocaust survivors who rebuilt their lives on The Somehow Theory.
That somehow, if you believe enough, if you hope enough, it will work out.
No matter how hard it is.
As we watched the results of our presidential election roll in, my husband looked me in the eye and said, "We have to live each day. That's it. Don't succumb to fear. Live. Love." And that's what I'm planning on. Living and loving as much as I can every damn day. It's exactly the medicine my grandparents would have recommended. I invite you to join me.