introducing my new podcast: What's the F***ing Point?

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”  Alan W. Watts

YOU GUYS. Welcome to episode ONE of What’s the F***ing Point!

I already know that you’re kind of a badass if you’re taking a gamble on a show with such a ridiculous name. 

In this short episode, I introduce the podcast, tell you a little about what to expect in future weekly episodes, and share some little life lessons I’ve taken away from my recent experiences of barefoot hiking. So grab a cup of tea (or beer or scotch or whatever you’re into) and let’s dive in!    

You can listen to or download the episode from the embedded player below, or search for it in your favorite podcast listening app. 

Like the concept of the show? Be awesome and share it with a friend or two. Have ideas for future episodes? Holler at me here in a comment, via email, or Instagram

Also — archived episodes of the WholeYou Podcast, my prior collaboration with Lauren Fowler, will be available under the same feed as the new podcast... hence why it looks like there are 12 episodes prior to episode 1. Not perfect, but my workaround to avoid paying for two separate hosting accounts just to keep those 12 episodes archived and available.

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Valerie Martin

Valerie Martin, LMSW, is a Primary Therapist at The Ranch residential treatment center, where she works with eating disorders, addiction, trauma, and co-occurring mental health issues. Valerie focuses on a holistic treatment approach of mind + body integration, using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), somatic and bioenergetic therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), psychodrama, 12-step, and shame resilience. She is also a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT) Candidate. Valerie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Master of Science degree in Clinical Social Work at the University of Texas in Austin. She is an active member of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashville, and emphasizes spiritual exploration in her work with clients.

what a well-curated life really looks like on Instagram

what a well-curated life really looks like on Instagram

Social media is something I've grappled with both personally and professionally, in a variety of ways that probably sound familiar to you:

  • How much time on social media is too much? If I struggle with moderating, should I delete the apps from my phone? (But when I have, how long does that really last?) 
  • If I find myself compulsively picking up my phone to check Facebook, Instagram, or email and feeling itchy when I don't, do I need a serious digital detox? (Yes, but also, I-don't-wanna!)
  • Is it possible that I've actually rewired my brain and attention span through this stuff? (Methinks yes. Scary.)
  • Should I Snapchat? Why do I feel like I'm pretty tech-forward in most ways but when it comes to Snapchat I'm like the Grandma who signs her Facebook comments and uses all caps? LOVE, GRANDMA (Answer: I just don't.) 
  • How many posts a week should I make on Instagram, and how many stories? What actually makes for a fun or interesting story? Should I make this thing a story, or a post? 
  • How do I decide how much of my personal self/life to put into my more professionally-oriented social media accounts, especially in a field where being real/human is super important, but so are personal/professional boundaries? 
  • Why do I often take photos of stuff but rarely post them? (I want to take my phone out long enough to capture something, but don't want to take the time in the moment to craft the text or hashtags, so then it just collects digital dust on my phone until it no longer feels interesting or relevant!) 
  • What's the point of any of this godforsaken stuff anyway, if it creates this kind of stress?! I quit!

Yeaaah, welcome to the inside of my brain. As one of my clients jokes with me (and of course is no secret to all my friends), I'm a special kind of weird. But since that weirdness is part of what makes me ME, I embrace it and know that my people will find me, and people who don't appreciate it have plenty of other choices for friend, therapist, yoga teacher, etc! 

I digress. I know at least some of those are things you relate to, too, or you wouldn't still be reading this. I won't address every single point here (because you'd be reading for the next two hours), but there is one point that I really want to focus on:

A life that is actually well-curated probably looks a little 'meh' on Instagram. 

What do I mean by that?

I decided to take an impromptu walk through the woods a few weeks ago, and pulled into a beautiful little state park off the beaten path on the edge of Nashville. I wanted to leave my phone in the car so the walk felt more calming (as I do on walks in my neighborhood, which I haven't done in a while since it's cold AF). But then I thought — wouldn't this be a prime opportunity for a beautiful shot of some trees that I could post on Instagram? I'm nature-y, and my feed should reflect that, right? And I'm sure I could come up with some nice stuff to say about the healing power of being in the woods. 

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why i'm happy i'm not a gardener

why i'm happy i'm not a gardener

The funny thing about the title of this post is that a couple of my closest Nashville friends are not just gardeners, but professional gardeners. (And for a woman-owned, almost entirely female-staffed gardening biz with a badass Rosie-the-Riveter-inspired logo, no less). If I were them, I'd see this headline and be all "whaaaa why is Val throwing shade?" — to which my response is, "girl, I thought you'd want all the shade you can get, it's getting pretty damn hot out there." #horriblepunintended

I digress.

As my hard-working hubby Chris is outside at this very moment pulling weeds and planting herbs, I'm in here in the air-conditioned living room on the couch, typing away in my little computer world. Do I feel guilty? Well, a tiny bit, since I will totes enjoy those herbs — but he knows gardening is NOT my thing, and that when I do it, I get really pissy after about ten minutes, so it's really no fun to be around me anyway. Left to my own devices, I'd plant and kill herbs for a month or two (spare me the lecture on how to care for herbs kthx) until resigning myself to paying for the exorbitantly overpriced grocery store variety.  

A couple of years ago, inspired by my badass aforementioned gardener friends, I said I wanted to learn how to garden. Oh boy! I couldn't wait to get some tips and lessons from them, get my hands on some gardening books, and dig in. But it never happened.

For a long while, I felt guilty about it. "What's wrong with me? Why am I not taking action on this? I keep saying I want to do it, and doing nothing." Chris would convince me, literally maybe once/season, to get out in the yard with him. (For him, it's not even so much as having the help as it is the company — sweet, and misguided, as he eventually learned re: the quality of the company.) 

I don't remember at what point I swallowed my pride and admitted it to myself, but sometime in the last year or so, I finally said it: I really don't like gardening. In fact, I kind of actually HATE gardening. 

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when fear of failure is sneaky

when fear of failure is sneaky

I'll begin this with a personal story — one I believe will resonate with a lot of y'all, even if it's within a very different context in your own life.

I've posted before about the band I sing in, Más Moss. So far, we've written over a dozen songs together, played 4 live shows and counting this year, recorded and released a (now physical) EP and our first wearable merch, and we get together to practice almost every week.

That might sound like a lot to some people, or very little to others, I guess depending on who you are.

Considering that we're four people in our 30's with day jobs and other responsibilities, I used to consider it a triumph simply that we got together so regularly to practice (and rarely, to write). That's great and all, but as we've started to acknowledge more recently, rehearsal is only one small piece of the equation if we want to continue to get better, create more new music, share it with the public, and not go broke in the process.

Our bass player Seth, who works in the music industry primarily as a sound technician, is the one who has his act together the most when it comes to the administrative parts of the band: he got us off our butts with booking shows; he's always sending and posting new ideas for the band, like where/who we might play with; he managed most of the process for our EP release and the t-shirt; he's always exploring the best gear for us; and recently, he's been posting a lot of ideas for songs.

About a month ago, Seth expressed a totally valid concern that, as a whole, we really didn't seem to be showing up for the band outside of rehearsal.

Busted.

At first, I wanted to make excuses for myself: Work has been super stressful. I've been really busy. When I do have time to relax, I just want to veg and watch Gilmore Girls and West Wing. I don't really know how to do a lot of the things the band needs. It's who you know, or the money you have to invest, and I got neither.

Getting to the FULL Truth

But hell, I am a therapist after all, and I usually know better than to buy my own bullshit, even if it takes a little time to suck it up and admit it. All of those things above are certainly true to some extent, but I knew there was a deeper reason — one related to mindset – that I needed to explore.

And the answer actually took me by surprise: I realized that I was afraid of failing.

"No way," my ego wants to say. "I do ALL THE THINGS! I've always wanted to be in a band, and I'm in a band. I've wanted to blog and start a solopreneur gig, and I have this website and coaching business. I got my masters and followed my passion in my career. I wanted to do yoga teacher training and I did it!"

But, I realized — ego defenses aside — if I'm really honest with myself, I want to do all the things, but I don't want to try that hard at them, because then no one can blame me if I'm not super successful. And I can't blame myself either, because *shrug* it wasn't like I really tried. If I play small, I can't be expected to make big results, so I can't truly fail.

Whoa.

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the power of simple compliments

hafiz-light-of-your-own-being

I'm typing this from the window seat as I fly back home to Nashville from Boston, where I just attended and spoke at the fabulous MEDA annual eating disorders conference.

I am gradually feeling more confident about this whole speaking thing, and left feeling reenergized about eating disorder recovery —excited to dig deeper into some of the topics that were presented and share about them here.

I had pretty limited time to tour Boston for the first time, since it was a short trip and much of my time was well-occupied with the conference (not to mention that the hotel was in a 'burb about a 20-minute Uber ride from the city). Still, I had a lovely few hours exploring the city this morning.

In the Back Bay, I stumbled upon The Fairy Shop — anyone who knows me well would say "that's definitely a Val thing." The guy inside told me I looked like a real fairy, which is probably one of the best appearance-related compliments I could get ;) and he agreed with my father-in-law's assessment that I should be cast in the next LOTR film. Ha!

I have to share the poster I bought there — hilarious.

alice_dorothy

Anyway, one of my favorite moments was—believe it or not—in the TSA security line at Boston Logan airport this afternoon. When I got close to the people who scan your ID and boarding pass, I heard one of them (an early 20's TSA agent) give a genuine, enthusiastic compliment to a customer about his glasses. Glasses guy grinned widely as he thanked him. Then, the lady behind him was complimented on her beautiful sweater. I was up next, and he said, "You hair is looking lovely today. [Scanning my ID] And Valerie — great name. You should thank your parents." (Hey, thanks Mom & Dad.)

As I continued on into the next phase of security, he just kept going with each traveler. The girl behind me noticed too, and laughed, saying, "Most entertaining security guy ever!" I was laughing, smiling, and truthfully, fighting back tears as I listened him continue to compliment each person who came up to his station. I couldn't always hear exactly what the compliment was, but I knew it happened every time — I'd look back and see another person thanking him and smiling.

A cynical younger me might have brushed it off, thinking, "Whatever, he's just trying to pass the time, and he doesn't mean any of that stuff, he's just trying to be nice because that's his job. He especially doesn't mean it because he's complimenting everyone, so I'm sure a lot of them are BS."

I certainly still have a cynical (well, perhaps just more "realist") side... and even though so much of what I hear in my professional work is about the atrocities of humans hurting each other, as I get older I seem to gain more faith in (and love for) humanity, rather than less. 

As I heard that young man offer compliments to each of these strangers that he encountered, this is what was going through my mind:

"I wish you could know the power of the loving words you're sharing. I wish I could tell you how much those words touched me at the core — far deeper than the seemingly surface-level compliments, to an acknowledgment of our shared humanity. A humble recognition of the love that we can have for each other, even as complete strangers. You have no idea of the gift that you're giving with these simple words."

The funny thing about this statement is that I wrote it before I came across the Hafiz quote (that I ended up using as the image for this post) a few minutes ago, while window shopping for UU stuff on Etsy, and don't think I'd ever seen it before.

Freaking synchronicity.

I came across a post by writer Alexandra Franzen a few months back called "It all matters." (I highly recommend reading it.) In short, a male hairstylist was engaging and kind with a female customer who came in one evening with plans he had no idea about. She had planned to kill herself that night, and wanted to look nice at her funeral. But because of his kindness, something shifted enough in her to drive herself to the hospital that night instead. As Alexandra so eloquently wrote about this,

Your words, your actions, your art projects, your efforts, every small, tender, beautiful thing that you put forth into the world matters so much. So much more than you may realize. Every single day, as you go about your work, you have no idea whose life you could be impacting for the better — often, in ways you can’t even imagine.

I know compliments can get a bad rap — we shouldn't need external validation, blahblahblah. But I believe that, especially between strangers, a simple compliment is like a hug, a wink at our common humanity and our desire to connect despite the many forces pulling us in opposing directions in today's world. 

Perhaps I'll try to send this to Boston Logan TSA to see if they can get it to that young man. I want him—and everyone like him who offers kindness, simple compassionate words and gestures to strangers— to know how noticed and appreciated their efforts are.

Compliment someone you love. Compliment someone you've never met. Love is what binds us, forever and ever. 

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Valerie Martin

Valerie Martin, LMSW, is a Primary Therapist at The Ranch residential treatment center, where she works with eating disorders, addiction, trauma, and co-occurring mental health issues. Valerie focuses on a holistic treatment approach of mind + body integration, using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), somatic and bioenergetic therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), psychodrama, 12-step, and shame resilience. She is also a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT) Candidate. Valerie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Master of Science degree in Clinical Social Work at the University of Texas in Austin. She is an active member of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashville, and emphasizes spiritual exploration in her work with clients.