Overcoming Grief: Being Beside Oneself

This blog is peppered with various strategies for moving through emotional turmoil. Tonight, I experienced a new strategy that was more efficient than others I’ve used so far.

Wednesday’s are transition days for me, and they stand as a reminder of where my life is not how I had planned. Having the day off made today a less distracted and thus a more emotionally charged Wednesday than usual.

While sitting with my emotions, I used my usual alchemy techniques and while the edges were less sharp, the heaviness of grief still weighed on me. It was then that I felt myself “beside myself.” Then I began to assure my “beside self” that I had every right to feel every bit of what I was feeling; even down to my desires to smash things, which weren’t okay desires to follow through, yet I acknowledged they were okay to feel.

So now I sit, no longer needing to be beside myself, reintegrated, and more at peace with myself and this situation. Yes, there is still some work to do, yet it already feels that much better.

May we each find our inner path to peace, understanding that what we feel is what we feel and it’s really okay to feel; self-validation. Understanding that just because we feel it doesn’t mean we must live it. And that blocking our feelings prevents us from fully living.


Guest Post: “The Defender” Enneagram 6 Wing 5

This is a guest post from a good friend of mine, Loreto, who showed me the power of understanding both the overall Enneagram System and my own number. He also showed me many of the tools included in the post “Understanding Personalities with The Enneagram“.

After reading the written description of my own number, I initially struggled with identifying with my Enneagram and doubted it. Needless to say, Loreto was confident and “called me out” on my Type 4, Wing 3. It was not until hearing a panel of other “fours” speak that I finally felt the connection. After this experience, I felt it best to have guest posts for each Enneagram type. Fortunately for me, Loreto was more than happy to oblige.

If you would like to share your own Enneagram experience through a guest post or a repost, please write me in the comment section!

I was introduced to the Enneagram at the start of a new relationship with a brilliant, poised woman whose self-awareness piqued my interest. While I’m typically untrusting of all things numerological, astrological, and anything that isn’t clearly backed by modern-day science, this new system was different. Personalities tests such as Myers-Briggs identify personalities as unchangeable while serving as a means to better understand oneself “as is” without change. As much as the Enneagram labels different personalities, the Enneagram also provides an outlook of what the best version of your personality can become. As a growth-oriented person, I was excited to see what my best self looked like. Enthusiastically, I took the 120 question online test and was labeled as a Type 6 wing 5, “The Defender.”

I immediately began pouring over podcasts and books trying to learn as much as possible about my newly labeled personality. A type 6 is described as a security-oriented, hardworking, skeptical yet loyal individual who is motivated by an irrational fear that their environment is inconsistent and unsafe. Sixes typically seek approval from different authorities, and struggle with trusting their own inner-guidance system. Sixes can embody the extremes of different characteristics. Sixes can easily go from courageous to fearful, from angry and sad to happy.

I could easily identify with these descriptions, and was immediately overwhelmed. I could clearly recall countless situations where I was too afraid to take action, where I was indecisive, and did everything I could to please those from whom I desperately wanted approval. If a 20-minute test was able to describe my characteristics with such clarity, what did my friends and family think of me? Did people actually respect me and enjoy my company, or was it all out of pity? Was every compliment, affirmation, or expression of love that I had received genuine, or was I too naive and needy to see that I was just being taken advantage of?

I felt a crushing pressure in my chest, and a cold-sweat dripped down my wrists. I had originally taken this test in an attempt to find a path towards enlightenment. Instead, I was left with more anxiety than I had ever experienced. After several weeks of this anxiety, I woke up one Sunday morning laughing at how ridiculous these insecurities were.

Then I sat down and folded a piece of paper into three columns. In the first column I wrote down my past successes, in the second I wrote down my decisions which were not influenced by others, and in the third I wrote down times where doubt and fear prevented me from taking action. For each item, I also noted my successes, failures, or whether I was too afraid to take any action at all.

The inaction category was the largest, followed by successes and then failures. As I went through my successes, I began discrediting my past wins by finding ways to improve.This skeptical mindset was exhausting, and I hadn’t gained much from it. Room for improvement doesn’t signify failure, and certainly doesn’t take away from success. By persistently picking things apart, I was wasting time by not taking action to see what would or would not serve me.

I finally ended this exercise and enjoyed the rest of my day. I felt care-free, laughed more than I had in months, and had fun. I went to sleep that night feeling confident, knowing everything I did that day was of my own accord. I had no doubt everyone with whom I spent time enjoyed my company, too.

As quickly as I fell into my downward spiral, I was also able to pull myself out of it by focusing on my values, and spending time in a community full of nonjudgmental, well-intentioned people.

Unfortunately, the plight of the Six is the ineffective habit of questioning the world around them. While it exposes different viewpoints, and allows for empathy in excess, it also creates an unproductive spiral of anxiety. Sixes have the potential to change the world, as long as they can drown out all of the fears and uncertainties around them.

Today, I have ended the relationship which taught me about my Enneagram number as it quickly became unhealthy and toxic. However, instead of feeling sad, I am grateful for gaining a new awareness that my skeptical, analytical, and fearful nature is also my greatest strength. With courage, I am able to create an environment which I desire; one of calmness, laughter, support and loyalty. I empathize with those who think differently from me, and care enough to find the goodness within them. For those I trust and care about, there is no doubt I am supportive, and have the potential to become their greatest champion.

Learning about my Enneagram number has also given me a sense of peace knowing my default anxiety is more of a quirk than a defect. So, while I may always wonder if the chandelier will fall in the middle of dinner, or if the careless alter server will light the entire church on fire, I can also learn to laugh at its absurdity. As for when tragedy does occur, I’ll be able to relax knowing exactly what to do, because I’ve already planned for it at least half-a-dozen times. While I may have more fear than others, it’s nothing new to me. It’s just another every day thing to adjust to.

Coming So

Our Deepest Fear is Our Greatness

According to psychoanalyst Carl Jung, it is easier to get someone’s skeletons out of the closet than it is to get the “gold out of the shadow.” At first glance this may seem counterintuitive. However in digging deeper into the book “Owning Your Own Shadow,” Robert Johnson gives the analogy of the ego (the persona: the parts of ourselves we choose to show others) as wearing clothing. To unveil our shadow, or the parts we wish to hide, would involve being naked and vulnerable. The shadow we try to mask hides society’s outliers on both ends of the spectrum: the gold and the darkness.

This quote by Marianne Williamson might help to illuminate the reasons and issues behind masking our greatness:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

The Birth of Duality & The Shadow

We play small when we fear our greatness because to accept the vastness that we are means that we must stand out. To fit into society as school-aged children we learned to suppress the yearnings of our soul. In this process, we divided our lives into what we could show and what we needed to keep hidden. Duality was born out of meeting the needs of society. For if we all acted out every whim, society would quickly become non-existent.

Shadow Accumulation 

The challenge with this superimposed duality is that due to society’s influence    “the light” is honored and “the dark” is suppressed within each one of us. The shadows then accumulate and can erupt if not given an outlet. 

To refuse the dark side of One’s nature is to store up or accumulate the darkness; this is later expressed as a black mood, psychosomatic illness, or … accidents… War, economic chaos and racial intolerance are the fall out of worshipping the light while refusing the dark. 

~Robert Johnson 

Counter-balance through Creative Expression

All systems seek balance. It is the conscious counterbalance of our ego that keeps us from erupting on others and from self-destructing. The arts help us to connect to that inner development through acts of quiet creation. 

The only alternative to torture is art. ~Bernard Shaw

Meditation, dream analysis, active imagination, and creative expression through: martial arts, dance, and fine arts all help us to connect to our shadows, the parts of us which we so vehemently deny: our inner gold and our shame. 

Shadow Projection

When we fail to take responsibility for our own shadows, we project those aspects onto others. This is true for both our greatness and our darkness. Just as mentioned in Romantic Love’s Faulty Mirror, we can project our Divinity or Greatness onto others just as we project our darkness. Outside of relationship, we often project our greatness onto our heroes, which is another way in which we fail to recognize ourselves. When we push our own greatness onto others, there is then no reason to own them ourselves. In this way, we fail to accept ourselves as whole beings. 

The Shadow is more genuine than the Ego

At some point the ego seems to take on a life of its own, believing it is the individual. As such the ego begins to act in its own defense. This defense is often fear-based. To keep us in fear, the Ego presides over the kingdom. How better to remain in control than to have the individual fear One’s greatness?

Synthesis through Compromise

When we hold the shadow in opposition to the ego we can become paralyzed or betray part of ourselves. Johnson suggests that when we feel these opposing forces pull on us that if we can take a moment and sit with both aspects that we can come to a synthesis that may be better than A) the ego or B) the shadow. 

Our Greatness is Our Fitness

When we hide the best parts of ourselves in fear of success, everyone loses. It is allowing our greatness to express itself that gives others permission to do the same. So truly, what is holding you back? 

Further Reading by Robert A. Johnson

  • Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche
  • Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth

This is part of the Owning Your Own Shadow Series, based on the book by the same name by Robert Johnson. This series is an investigation into seeing and integrating all aspects within to recover inner peace. Only with loving ourselves can we be the change we wish to see in this world.

TED Talk “The Art of Being Yourself” by Caroline McHugh

I will love myself when _____.

Please take a moment to fill in this blank & use as many bullet points as you need. What conditions do you put on loving yourself?


I thought I’d love myself when I:

  • became a parent (I only hated myself more)
  • lost 50 lbs (then it became 10 more)
  • found love with a partner (then I still found myself single)
  • completed another race or PR’ed (an endless pursuit of races it then becomes)
  • passed my certification test (no, I then felt shame for the pride in my own accomplishment)
  • reached a certain level of spirituality (then I would raise the bar again)

So now that I’m recognizing many of the “conditions of my parole” and how they’re harming me, I see it’s time to stop the conditional love. It’s now time to bless myself with the grace of my own Agape Love; the same Love, validation and approval that I have spent most of my life seeking from others.

What loving me now means is being my own friend. Eventually I’d like to be my own BFF, yet right now friend is a good place to start. No longer can I avoid withhholding loving myself for all of my “good and bad” bits. Or as Carl Jung says “sensical and non-sensical” parts. 

So now I ask, what will it take for you to love you?

Namaste : the light and shadow in me honor the light and shadow in you. 

This is part of the Own Your Own Shadow Series, an investigation into seeing and integrating all aspects within to recover inner peace. Only with loving ourselves can we be the change we wish to see in this world.

Loving Ourselves IS Our Purpose 

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.

Original draft 8.7.2016

Beautifully Scarred 

While at a poetry reading in late July, I penned four completely different poems pointed in four directions that were all felt and written within 30 minutes from start to finish. From heavy, to light, to introspective, to fun, the variances gave me insight into how fantastically diverse the inner landscape of my being can be (that’s a nice way to say effing crazy). I can choose to see these aspects of myself as scars, or as important aspects displaying my character. 

The 4 poems: SacredThe SherpaRevealing the Truth, Sunbleached

Frida Kahlo

In the midst of accepting my “diverse inner landscape,” I watched the movie Frida for the first time. I was amazed as to the fierce tenderness of the work and life of Frida Kahlo. For those who love the edges, I found this a very fitting movie and now have a greater appreciation both for Frida as a person and as an artist. 

Her husband, Diego Rivera, was quite the Cassanova. His ex-wife in the movie explains he is a chick magnet because he sees the beauty in the flaws of the women he is wooing (no, she didn’t say chick magnet). 

In the movie, and I suppose also in real life, Frida was nervous about him seeing her physical scars. Instead of shying away from them, Diego kisses one of her most prominent scars passionately and lovingly. If she was not already lost to him, she probably was at that point. 

Frida reminded me that the wounds are what give us our character and our drive to push forward and excel. Her wounds were the well from which she drew her passion and inspiration to paint. Diego says to Frida about painting, “You don’t paint because you want to, you paint because you have to.” And this, my friends, is how I feel about writing. 

Feel the edge

So often in life and even with my work, I feel the edges. I do my best to capture them in writing. In some ways I’m still hiding, as much of the acid I keep off scene, preferring to “deal with it” and neutralize it so as to avoid contaminating the lot. Yet Frida poured it all out for visual scrutiny. A synopsis of her work is found here in my absolute favorite quote of the movie (it took many rewinds to capture):

I want to speak about Frida not as her husband, but as an artist. Her work is acid & tender, hard as steel and fine as a butterfly’s wing. Lovable as a smile & cruel as the bitterness of life. I don’t believe that ever before has a woman put such agonized poetry on canvas. ~Diego Rivera as quoted in the movie Frida

Disliking our wounds leaves us vulnerable

Diego saw Frida for all that she was… No wonder their relationship kept her going back to him, in spite of his seemingly constant philandering. He appreciated and loved her scars. 

Yet, I now see how the wounds that inspired her paintings were the very things that left her prey. Perhaps if she had loved her scars, she would have waited for the man who would have both loved her scars and respected her wishes for loyalty (her words in the movie, not a judgment of mine).

Self-Love leaves us whole

From all of this I draw from the well that loving the very aspects of ourselves that scare us can motivate our art. Self-love also helps us to attract better partners who we seek not to fix our wounds, but who appreciate them with us as parts of our character. To attract this kind of love, however, we must first love the many aspects of ourselves – wounds and all – first.

It’s my new understanding that relationships are not about 1+1=2. Instead it’s a multiplication factor. Each person being whole makes for 1×1=1. Either partner entering into a relationship as less than whole weakens the relationship… and gives it character. 

Image: Frida from Google, painting “Broken Column”

Just Be With It

Someone once said “change is inevitable, struggle is an option.” When we allow our situations to “just be” we allow ourselves to free. when we struggle, we just create more trouble.

Dear Tiffany,

when life sends you the need to move, to find a new place and you struggle against it and don’t pack until the very last minute, you find yourself in a very stressful situation. when you can just be with the feelings as they come up, they quickly wash away.

when life sends you two women in the same day who were sexually traumatized, reminding you of your own wounds, just be with it. just be present with the women, too. allow them to express and then explain to them how their past makes present sexual relationships challenging. just be with the feelings inside that rise to the surface.

when the anger that you have repressed spills over into your daughter and she reflects it back to you, appreciate her mirror. love her as you wanted to be loved when you were angry. she is working through what you didn’t and she needs your support. love her and remember to love yourself, too, for she is a reflection of you.

when life sends you a paranoid schizophrenic that you get to sit in a room with alone for an hour and interview, while all of your childhood fears and memories from being beaten by your adult schizophrenic cousin flood back it ~ just be with it and just be with him. after all, your jeep was safely untouched when you left the keys in the ignition for 8 hours and the doors off….

when life sends you a friend that would seem a great fit as a partner, and you know it’s just not mean not be – just be with it. enjoy what you learn about yourself in the interim. enjoy the presence of someone who can appreciate you more fully than anyone else ever has. just be with it, the feelings of unworthiness and the illusion of rejection. just be with the feelings of passion that are shared and appreciated between the two of you. just be with the new elements of yourself that are beginning to shine. just freaking allow it!

remember, when you struggle, dear Tiffany, you only bring yourself more trouble.

image: google

Sailing into The Mystic

At first to much deliberation,

I abhorred this designation.

A lonely resignation,

The Mystic.


The soft spoken woman, 

having explained to me

my warrioress, 

(such prowess 

she can possess)

now softened her tone, 

speaking even more gently, 

so as to be sure I could hear her,

and most importantly feel her;

her words, 

which felt like melancholy

to me.


She explained in the halls of Edgar Cayce, 


dive down, below the foundation

to uproot, to breakdown the entire

building, not willing to stop at 

just one level in the face of dysfunction.

Mystics go for complete destruction

of the source that ails.”


Mystical strength is gained

through unraveling pain.


I have read the value Mystics gain from their own travails; 

their own Ascension from their own personal hell,

Their service the way to repay for their ails.


Now I see how this is what is

meant to be.

My love and adoration

for Lord Shiva…

now so apparently

shows me that it is futile 

to continue fighting the me,

that is We.



“For a seed to achieve its

greatest expression, it must

come completely undone. The

shell cracks, its insides

come out and everything

changes. To someone who

doesn’t understand growth,

it would look like complete

destruction.” – Unknown

I am that I am.

(why do I want to call you Sam?)


It’s time to stop fighting,

stop resisting.

It’s time to embrace,

with as much grace

as I can muster.

The am that I am.

The We that is We.

Me, mystically.

“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.  – Pablo Neruda

1.29.2016 & 2.26.2016

How bad is it, really? Attention Seeking Part III

In reading through Parts I and II (one last time) the night before the series was to be published I was struck down by my own question: How bad is it, really, to seek attention? So here we are now, Part III.

In this post, I ask myself and you, the reader, where is the boundary? Here are my thoughts as they unraveled.

Are we all not here on this Earth to learn to be connected, interconnected, interdependent? If we were here to learn how to live independently, then why are there so many people?

Sex, a very basic need, is usually far better with someone else than alone. It is also as a cause for all of the people.

Is the problem then, in the need? As a society, we often turn our backs on those who are considered “needy.” Whether it’s from poverty or from “needing” too much: attention, affection, emotional reinforcement, and (fill in the blank).

It would seem more appropriate and more easily understood to say that my desire is for attention vs saying that I need attention. How strange that when we need something, that its acquisition is more likely to remain elusive. Need implies a lack of a necessity. Desire implies “nice to have.”

Doing a search for quotes regarding attention seeking, I found this:

“The hunger for attention is an enemy of self-love.”
Edmond Mbiaka

I can see how the word hunger makes this a “needy need.” Would the quote be just as true if desire were used instead of hunger, I wonder?

“Seek respect not attention.”
― Ben Bereng

Now this one confuses me, as I thought respect was earned; not sought. Maybe he’s beseeching the seeker to seek for what is “right” vs what is “wrong?”

Perhaps it is my desire for a male companion that can meet me where I am that is unmet, so I seek attention where it is safe? Or better yet, by seeking attention where it is safe, I can avoid the disappointment in still being single? Oh, I feel like such a young grasshopper now. (folding psychology arm-chair up and putting it away)

I’m still very much working through this one and not able to see above the duality. Please share any insights.


Photo by winnond at freedigitalphotos.net

Attention Seeking: Part I
The Fairy Tale of Storybook Romance: Seeking Attention Part II
Now I Begin to See: Attention Seeking Part IV

Understanding is different from Knowledge


Understanding is deeper than knowledge. There are many people who know you, but very few [truly] understand you. – Nicholas Cage 

Is it part of the human condition to be misunderstood? Rarely do I find myself in the company of anyone whom I feel understands me for more than a fleeting moment, if that.

Yet, I often feel that I can see the motives and emotions of others, even as they work to suppress  and bury it all deep within themselves. 

It is an odd place to be, to have such empathy, yet to feel so misunderstood myself. So I write, sometimes ad nauseum, connecting more deeply to myself; becoming a master at understanding the inner workings of this incarnation called Tiffany.

With each dive, I resurface with a greater understanding of where I have blocked against understanding; against love; against my true self. There is still so much to explore and see. A sea filled with great treasures, potential and mystery.

For how can I expect you to understand, accept and love that which I myself cannot? The practice here is love and acceptance, through which greater understanding is acquired.


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