why I want to hide but am sharing this instead

why I want to hide but am sharing this instead

I’m writing this post with a queasy stomach, because I’ve told myself all kinds of stories about “what people will think” (quotes because I can see how that’s a ridiculous construct, though unfortunately that doesn’t make it vanish): that I’m lazy, can’t make a decision, can’t follow through, cowardly, not “trusting the universe,” etc. I won’t bore you with the rest— y’all know these stories. 

Here’s why: I’ve decided not to do (or at the very least, to significantly delay) the doctoral program I was enrolling in for the fall.

Even writing this right now is an exercise in decision-making and trusting my intuition as I notice how it feels to write those words. Though I can look back at the long pros-and-cons list in my journal and still acknowledge plenty of pro’s of forging ahead with it, my gut is telling me that the cons are more significant right now, and writing these words feels true and right. 

I realize at one level that I don’t have to explain or justify this choice to anyone— this is my decision. 

“But you told the whole internet!” 
“But the people who wrote your letters of recommendation will be upset with you for wasting their time!” 
“But your friends were proud of you and excited for you!”

Blah, blah, blah. 

I am not writing this post for those reasons. I am writing it because a big part of my life’s work so far involves helping others learn how to share their truth and their stories as a way of practicing authenticity and not allowing shame to breed in the darkness of isolation. It’s nice to share when the truth is shiny and exciting— but what about when it’s kind of embarrassing and makes you want to hide? 

Don’t hide. That’s the most important time not to hide. 

I’m also freshly inspired by the bold truth-telling of Glennon Doyle, whose first memoir I finally read on a long drive over the past few days. I have followed Glennon some on Instagram and heard her interviewed on a few podcasts, so knew a little about her, but hadn’t gotten around to reading either of her books (or many of her blog posts) until now. 

Carry On, Warrior is about Glennon’s journey through recovery from alcoholism, bulimia, drug abuse, and unhealthy relationships, into a life of radical authenticity. She learned that one of the greatest gifts she has to offer the world is sharing all parts of her story— especially the messy ones. After finishing the book, I was curious about what she shared publicly about her divorce, since she and her husband were still married at the time the first book was published in 2014, but I know she is now married to former US soccer player Abby Wambach

What I found was a post Glennon shared in August 2016 on her blog, Momastery (which is the platform that led to her first book deal) about the separation. She wrote about how, with her second book Love Warrior so close to its release date, pretty much everyone in her life was telling her to wait until after its publication to share the news.

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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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