No Thank You

Hi All!

As we get this group cuddle thing up and running I wanted to take a minute to share a little more about one of the workshop exercises as there’s not much time to explain at the events. 

The first exercise we do is called the “No Thank You Exercise.” This happens after we:

1) Each introduce ourselves by whatever appropriate name we prefer to go by for the evening, how we are feeling right then, and anything the group should know about us (i.e. trauma, triggers, intentions, hopes, etc.).

2) Go over 8 rules for the evening: arrive and stay sober, confidentiality, no touch required ever, you are always welcome to change your mind, respect boundaries of ourselves and others, keep all touch G rated, if you get aroused please switch poses or change activities, and utilize the Ask and Wait Method which is just like it sounds with the addition of using neutral body language when asking and waiting for a response. 

We then put you with a partner with the premise that no touch is allowed. If it’s a large group we will have you state your name again to your partner (without touching) and then take turns asking for a hug. The partner then says “No thank you.” regardless of if they want a hug or not for the time being. It is then the asker’s turn to say something kind and accepting to the person who said “No thank you.” We have you reverse roles, and practice this with a few more people so everyone has at least a few opportunities to practice this method. 

This concept of respecting boundaries with enthusiasm does many things: 

  1. It shows us that this person knows their boundaries and is willing to say no when something doesn’t work for them. 
  2. It helps us understand that every “Yes” we get is a true yes and not given out of obligation or pressure.
  3.  It takes the pressure/obligation off of each of us to say “yes” when we are actually a “no” because in this space we know people are respecting themselves and each other. There is no pressure here to give what we perceive as the social normative response. 
  4. It gives us the right to say no when we don’t want to do something. (btw- I’m driving myself crazy trying to figure out where I should be putting quotes and knowing how awful my grammar is in this post. I also am deciding to accept that I don’t know all the things and that you all will correct me if if bothers you enough and I can update it as needed. Thank you for this.) 
  5. It helps us deal with rejection by practicing hearing it and responding in a kind way. 
  6. It gives us an opportunity to praise those who are giving only true consent and following their heart. 
  7. It helps us learn how to be ok with a “no” by putting value in the “yes.”
  8. It teaches us to respect ourselves by saying no even when it’s hard. 
  9. It gives us an opportunity to learn new ways to praise others for being true to themselves. 
  10. It reminds us that we aren’t always on the same page with those around us, and it gives us that time to consider the feelings of ourselves and others. 

I’m certain you all can come up with even more, but that seems clear for now. 

I also wanted to throw out some options we can use in our day to day lives to help take the sting out of a no when we hear it: 

  • Thank you for taking care of yourself. 
  • You knowing your boundaries and sticking up for what’s right for you makes me feel safe. 
  • I appreciate you knowing what’s right for you. 
  • Thank you for being real with me. 
  • I hear you and I accept where you are at. 
  • Your honesty makes me feel trusted, and I appreciate that.  
  • Thank you for knowing you are safe to give a real answer with me.
  • You respecting your boundaries makes me feel safe to respect my own. 

Rejection is hard, and it sucks. This i know from personal experience. I spent a decade being rejected thousands of times by the one person who was supposed to love me more than anyone else. I know how it feels to ask, and I know how it feels to go months and years without my own needs being met. One thing I have learned is that for me, rejection is simply fear of abandonment. It’s vulnerable, and it hurts to feel alone. To feel like no one understands me or cares for me is tragic. Living this way is debilitating. After going through that whole mess at the end of 2015 and seeing a therapist I have learned that I can no longer be abandoned because wherever I go, there I am (even when I don’t want me to be). haha. But for serious, I always have me, and therefor I can never be alone. Maybe that doesn’t make sense to everyone, but to me it means that rejection is something I can deal with because now when I ask for something that someone doesn’t have to give I know that I can and will find a way to meet that need for myself. 

That doesn’t mean that I don’t need other people. Quite the contrary.  It does mean that if someone I ask something of cannot/will not fill that role for me, I have the ability to hear and accept that. I recognize that I wouldn’t want to accept a yes from someone who truly didn’t want to give it. By taking responsibility for hearing and accepting the no from others, I have been giving the right and responsibility to do so from myself as well.  Learning this lesson means that I  will no longer say yes to things when I don’t have them to give.

As a people pleaser I still have some guilt that comes up when I say no to things, but I say it anyway now. I don’t agree to things anymore that I don’t want to or that I don’t truly feel I am capable of giving freely. This is a work in progress for me, and I am certain it will take a lifetime to master. I am grateful to have this work to do though. Hopefully knowing a bit about my journey, and a little about the context behind the yeses and no’s in my world and environments will help you on this journey as well. 

Peace, Love, and Cuddles, 

Samantha Hess (:

It’s OK to Not be OK

“It just has to be ok for me to not be ok sometimes” I said as I lie next to my beau a few nights ago before bed.

If you know anything about me by this point it’s likely that you know I try to be superhuman often. The last few months have been pretty roller coastery for me even with a lifetime of practicing as an overachiever. Moving, selling my house, recreating my in person certification program to work for a group coming in on different days and also to work for visibly impaired folks, running the business, trying to keep up with about 40 new online certification folks, trying to find new people to hire, trying to figure out what we’re going to do when our lease runs out on the studio, having 2 employees leave, having another take a 2 week vacation (putting all the pressure of making enough to get the biz through Dec squarely on my shoulders), holidays, family birthdays, and all the little humaning tasks associated with all these things too.

For the past 7ish weeks I’ve been living with a lot of my stuff in boxes in the garage mostly because I’ve been too busy/overwhelmed with life stuff to deal with it. The other part is that the stuff that’s in boxes in the garage are the final fragments of my life before I was this. It’s all the leftover memories of a life lived in shame, fear, and endless self-doubt. It’s like looking at the ghost of a person who no longer exists, and I suppose some part of me hasn’t found full closure on all of this still.

The “stuff” haunts me sometimes as I have watched my mom’s hoarding tendencies create a world where everything is so important that there can never truly be room for anything. I don’t want to live that way, but I also recognize that dealing the the stuff, looking at it, holding it, feeling the feelings, and ultimately, letting it go is what will bring me clarity and the productivity I need to keep moving forward.

Lately I have felt entirely unmotivated. I have had days where I haven’t worked at all (ok, very few but still). I’ve had days where I was too tired, too sad, too whatever to do anything but lie in bed and wait and hope that with rest I will feel better and more capable of being me.

“It just has to be ok for me to not be ok sometimes.”

When we laid there and cuddled up after another long day that was not as productive as I would have liked my beau started out hesitantly “There’s something I’ve noticed lately that I feel we need to talk about, but I don’t want to pile on…” I told him I’d rather we talk about it as I would pretty much always rather talk about whatever it is than not. He tells me that I’ve been a slob and leaving my things everywhere and it’s been so much of this that it’s now affecting his world and he’d like it to change. In all fairness he was completely right. I had been leaving my stuff everywhere, getting home and throwing my clothes wherever I changed and putting my bag down wherever and even leaving old dishes lying around. Not who I am. Not who I want to be. Where I am at right now…

In typical “overly emotional sam” style I cry as I start to explain myself and try to justify why I’ve been terrible at humaning lately. Telling him all the things about how uncomfortable I am in this new space. How I feel like I so much to do that it’s overwhelming and then I not only don’t make it better, but I actively make it worse by being self destructive and leaving my shit everywhere as my little rebellion to myself for pushing too damn hard. How I feel like I don’t have the help I need. And finally how all the stuff in the garage is hard to deal with because of all the things I said above and how sometimes it needs to be ok for me to not be ok. Sometimes I have to break too. Sometimes I need to be a lazy asshole who’s self destructive and has no fucks to give because I. HAVE. NO. FUCKS. TO. GIVE. and I need that to be ok (and of course I say all of this while crying in this poor, sweet man’s arms).

Somehow he understood and didn’t take offense. He gave me permission to not be ok. He told me how he wants to continue to be a support person for me, and how he understands that he doesn’t need to fix it. Thank goodness for this man who gets me.

Yesterday he stayed home after a rough night of sleep and spent the whole day helping pick up, move the stuff that he knew he could, and do 8,000 little things to help make my life a little easier. When I got home yesterday our room was still a mess. There were still boxes in the garage. There was still a million tasks I hadn’t finished (as will likely always be the case for me). But there was less.  It was better. I had been allowed to not be ok, and somehow that made me more ok. The acceptance of the “not ok” is so heart opening for me. Being able to sit in that space and hold that feeling. Being allowed to feel less than human. It somehow has this magic feeling for me of giving me permission to be me.

I realized when I got home that I hadn’t eaten lunch yet…it was about 5pm. haha. 3rd time this week I forgot to eat lunch. I grabbed a snack after thanking my beau for all the things he had done to help, and I laid down and watched an episode of The Dick Van Dyke show. I then got up, and for the first time in a long time, I wanted to clean and put order into my life again, and so I did. By the time I went to bed the room was beautiful. It was as it should be, and so was I.

Today has been a little easier living again in the context of being allowed to be human. There’s still boxes in the garage, still unopened boxes (there’s a blog post about this in the archives if you want to read it btw), and there’s still a million things I’m super far behind on. But today, right now, I get to human, and I get to feel good about going home to a beautiful clean room, a man who loves and supports me more than anyone (besides my family) ever has, and I get to be ok.

Peace, Love, and Cuddles,
Samantha Hess

Future Favors

This is something I’ve wanted to write about for a long time, but you guys know me, there’s never enough time…so that’s why I’m doing myself a future favor and doing it now (instead of being stressed about the 1,080 emails I haven’t responded to yet). 😀 

Future favors is a concept that I stole from How I Met Your Mother where Ted and Marshall left an important decision up to their future selves with terrible results. haha. I love that show. Of course, me being an optimist and all I choose to use this is the opposite way. For me, future favors are the big or little things I do right meow because tomorrow or next week or 12 years from now I’m going to need something but I’m not going to have the time/money/energy/etc to make it happen. Hence future favors. This is something I encourage all of you to do too. 

This is the little moment where I have the extra minute in the morning that I could spend on Facebook but instead I make my bed. Or the 12 seconds I take to leave myself a positive message and stick it to my bathroom mirror so I remember that “I’m a rad panda!” This is when I buy a condo at the age of 20 so that instead of wasting my money and paying someone else’s rent for 12 years when I turn 32 and have lived in debt for way too long I can cash out and be so grateful that past me had the sense that someday I might need an extra hand. 

What happens for me is that I get to feel good twice instead of lazy once and overwhelmed later. This means I get to send my future self a life line and know that even if the world drags me down, I’ve got me. Thanks past me! You’re welcome future me! 

Because at the end of a 19 hour day when I have -142 fucks left to give I get to stumble my way into my bedroom not to discover that I have clothes everywhere and my bed looks like a tornado but instead I get to see a perfectly made bed with a full glass of water and order in my physical world even when my brain and my body feel like chaos. It’s that moment that I get to smile and take a deep breath. I get to be ok rather than having one more fucking thing to do when I really don’t have it in me to do. 

Here is a list of my most common future favors: 

  • Make my bed
  • Fill my water glass
  • Fold and put away my laundry
  • Make my lunch for the next day the night before
  • Write myself a reminder note on my phone and set a notification so I don’t have to remember the thing
  • Keep a log of the exercise I did so i don’t have to keep track mentally
  • Stretch before bed so I’ll actually sleep
  • Take valerian root if I’ve had caffeine so I’ll actually sleep
  • Lay out clothes for the next day so I don’t have to think when my brain hasn’t turned on (ok- if you know me in person you know that on work days I don’t care at all what I look like, but on days where I have to person I do this)
  • Put earplugs in my purse before a concert
  • Keep a little cash in surprise places like my purse/phone case/pockets
  • Make a few pot edibles to keep on hand for when my back pain is out of control
  • Schedule “Sam time” for lunch/self care/family time/etc
  • Turn off my ringer before bed
  • Meditate
  • Make extra food so I don’t have to cook as often
  • Buy extra household supplies so I don’t run out 
  • Bring snacks with me so I don’t get hangry! 

For me it’s not just about doing the thing, but it’s about doing the thing with the intention of saving my future self some hassle. It’s delayed gratification at its finest. This is how I survive my crazy, hectic life. Future favors are my way of being grateful to myself because I’m worth the time and effort I give to everyone else too. Who’s with me? 

“Should”

In a session today we had a very intriguing conversation around the word “should” that I would like to share: It’s a fascinating word that is nothing more than a signifier of guilt, shame, and judgment. Think about it with me. When we say we “should” [fill in the blank] we are often saying that what we did was not socially accepted/responsible, appropriate, or bad. In terms of things others “should” do it is often (if not always) a judgment. It is an expression of a lost expectation. It is us saying that what was or will be is not good enough or not right. Should is us avoiding ownership of what is. 

What I would like to do is ask that any of you who want to work on this with me (as I am at least an occasional user of this word) follow some of these suggestions and report back how we’re doing with it in month or two. Who’s with me? Here is what we talked about today, and I hope you will help me add more to the list: 

Instead of using “should” I will try to rephrase it with I: 

  • want
  • would like
  • wish
  • hope
  • enjoy
  • feel
  • need
  • let
  • allow
  • feel good about
  • grant
  • adore
  • admire
  • own
  • award
  • give

That’s all for today folks. I’m off to get ready for my next session. Happy New Year! I hope to write more soon! 

Peace, Love, and Cuddles,

Samantha Hess