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When the Enneagram paints your marriage as volatile (for The Mudroom)
February 10, 2017 at 7:00 am 0

If Myers-Briggs put me in a lovely little box I could be proud of and present to others — “here is my amazing self, take and see” — then the Enneagram has been the first tool to tell me that maybe, just maybe, my "gift to the world" can be a bit “too much.” That my greatest strength can actually also make me obsessive and prone to navel-gazing. It's what the Enneagram is best at -- showing us the shadowside and paths for growth. Of course this is also something my husband has told me all along. When it's him who preempts my epiphanic moment, I get all ruffled. Later, we learn, lo and behold, that per the Enneagram we're a "volatile combination."

His number on the Enneagram (8, the Challenger) and mine (4, Individualist) are “inherently volatile.” The Enneagram Institute says:

Both Enneagram Fours and Eights are intense and have strong emotional responses; both seek to get a reaction from the other, and both can be dominating of their environments—Eights are socially dominant, Fours are emotionally dominant. Both types bring passion, intensity, energy, and deep (often unconscious) feelings to all aspects of the relationship. They are attracted to each other's storminess, the other's vulnerability, and the other's "hidden" qualities: neither is what they seem to be on the surface. Both types are also highly intuitive—Fours by being self-aware and knowledgeable about how they are feeling, and Eights with their intuition about external phenomena, often with an extremely accurate insight about the potentials and possibilities exhibited by others.

This is what has lead us to conclude that he builds systems and knows what needs doing to help an organization flourish, while I get my fingernails dirty in the mess of people's emotional and spiritual states. We’re yin to each other’s yang, when we’re in step with the other.

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Read the rest over at The Mudroom -- all about how I've learned that volatility isn't a crime. It'll give you hope for your own marriage.

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What I’ll Yell At You When I See You at Target: A Letter to the Mamas
May 5, 2016 at 2:07 pm 2
An unasked-for, yet totally needed note to the young mamas out there:  IMG_1658 Dear Mama, We live our lives connected through pretty smiles and cute workout clothes. We wear leggings and drink our wine, or we work too many jobs to discuss soccer schedules and PTA meetings. Some of us have more children than we would have planned for, others find their arms empty for too long. But women: we are all mothers. And pardon my language (if you're offended by such things), but even on the shitty days, you are doing a damn good job. I decided when my kids are grown, I'm going to be that mama in the grocery store that tells the frazzled young mom that I've been there and they're doing a damn good job, just showing up day in and day out. There's no vacation from motherhood. I'll be the older mom offering you to go ahead of me in the check out line when I see your hands are full and your kids are melting down. I'll be the mama that shouts out to you across Target when you have one kid refusing to leave while you're carrying your second like a football to high-tail it out of the store before it gets even more crazy. "You're a great mom!" I'll shout. Because she is and so are you and so am I. I'll tell the mama with the pile of kids what a blessing each of her kids are. That her hands and heart are full to the brim. Mamas, it's time we sit back and realize something: our children are not accessories. They are not stepping stones that we can use to get us from one place to another. They are not ladders we can climb to prove we are real, we are capable of being seen. We're all gloriously and painfully human. We all hurt. We all inflict and receive pain. We all are doing the best job we can. We all think everyone else has it all together. We don't. Some moms go to the gym. Some moms are excellent room moms. Some moms work long, hard jobs for their kids. Some moms are losing it. Some moms feel entirely fulfilled by their children. Some women wish they were moms. It's time we stop seeing each other for what we are not: not baby wearing, not breastfeeding, not formula-feeding, not co-sleeping, not cry-it-out, not organic, not processed, not baby-lead weaning, not weaning at a year, not spanking, not gentle disciplining, not private school, not public school, not name brands, or vacations, or privilege, or grades or sports, or any other created thing we use to climb a ladder and beg it to tell us we are worth something. It's time we see each other for what we are: humans. Women entrusted with the care of other humans to nurture, love and protect and one day (all too soon), they'll leave. But they'll still be humans and that is always our job: to love other humans. So mama, you needn't cling to every last baby bootie, and small handprint as if it decried a death knell. No, we are in the business of raising and seeing humans. That is all. When we erect walls and make this motherhood thing about how we can do it correctly, we lose the ability to nurture because our children's behavior is what justifies. When we judge the workout mom when we're the hot mess, we fail to recognize her gifts that she is offering to her children. And we never, ever know anyone else's full story. We do not know what goes on in heads, hearts and behind doors. So let's get about our work -- to love, cherish and protect our children. But let us hold them all loosely because they are humans after all, not some sort of machine that we input all the good and assume that only good will flow out of it. For we are all such a compilation of dark and light, and we do not even know our own hearts at their depth. Let us simply be about the business of seeing one another. That, I think, would be the most lovely of Mother's Day gifts. So mamas, as you prepare for Mother's Day, and as it may bring much pain, hurt, confusion or just plain exhaustion -- know you're doing a damn good job. I'll yell that to you in Target when I see you. And I'll buy your latte. Love, Ashley   // Sign up for my newsletter and free story therapy here. Really. It's awesome. And it's free.
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The Story of Missing Sisterhood (for SheLoves Magazine)
April 16, 2016 at 5:00 am 0
I think there's a lot more I have to write about this. This month, SheLoves Magazine's theme was on sisterhood and I just couldn't stop thinking about all my dreams of a missing sister. Right now, I'm smack in the middle of the crazy of a large writing conference, Festival of Faith & Writing, and I have to say, I'm finding a whole new kind of sisterhood. Ashley Hales -- Missing Sister for SheLoves // I grew up in a bright orange coulotte shorts and a matching t-shirt set at the edge of sun and sand in southern California. It was supposed to be paradise. I spent my childhood playing with neighborhood children, and more often, getting lost in books. After being born 3 months before my due date and spending months in the NICU, my parents were exhausted, holding anxiously to their daughter who was supposed to fill up all the empty dreams and empty bedrooms. But in the end, it was just me. I am an only child. And I think I’ve always been searching for a missing sister. I hoped that an imaginary sister would show me how to be a girl, how to play dolls. She’d show me the ropes about crushes, and what it means to be a woman and birth babies. She’d be a guide. Ever the idealist, I turned to sister-replacements. Those silver best friend heart necklaces, where each girl would wear one, were like a sacrament to me. I thought that if I could just hold on to one other young girl who would share my heart, I’d be complete. But after friends moved on to newer, more exciting best friends, or we stopped going to the same school or church, I found myself without a surrogate sister. I was an “only” once again. And no best friend necklace could replace a missing sister. ... Read the rest over at SheLoves Magazine. And while you're at it, have a look around. It's a gorgeous community. 
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When All You Have Left at the End of the Day is Carrot Peelings (for The Mudroom)
March 7, 2016 at 5:00 am 0
When All You Have Left at the End of the Day is Carrot Peelings -- Ashley Hales Sometimes in all the To Do lists and all the carpooling of children and all the chores that never are completed, it feels like you're used up. You have nothing left to offer and you wonder: What did I do anyway today? What did I accomplish? You look around at a house that's messier than it started out, at a sink full of carrot peelings, and it's hard to see where the time went or how you made a difference. No one tells you what a great job you're doing and it just feels a bit lonely. I want you to know that your offering of presence is actually what your people need. Your offering can be small, paltry, and feel unseen. That does not mean that showing up and doing the next thing is inconsequential. It's actually a pretty radical thing to do. The other day instead of running and hiding from it all, I left my house and trudged up a pathway in the middle of suburbia with my two littlest in a double stroller. And what I saw at the top helped reorient my perspective on this life of daily offering. I hope you'll go on over to The Mudroom and read what happened at the top of the hill. I hope it encourages you! // Don't forget, I want to help you with YOUR story and I'm offering free 20-minute story therapy sessions. Find out more here  
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Join us and linkup for Literacy Musing Monday!
February 28, 2016 at 9:03 pm 1

We have a guest writer today who illuminates Scripture and how God uses His true stories to enrich us all. She also shares a special resource. I hope you enjoy this special post for the #LMMLinkup.

Inviting Story in Scripture

by Ronne Rock

children I’ve often explained my writing to audiences as “word painting.” As a woman who describes moods by their color and fragrances by moments, I find such joy in allowing words to mold and shape and take on new meaning on the page. Whether I’m writing about the holy hush that happens at the moment day meets night in a sunset or the holy ground redemption discovered in hands digging through trash in a dump in Guatemala, eternity is written in the words. But it wasn’t always that way. My husband and his friends are a deep-diving sort of souls when it comes to the Bible. I remember being fascinated with his knowledge of scripture and the library of concordances and dictionaries and theological writings. For years, studying scripture was something I did with the help of someone else – a devotional by Kay Arthur or a book by Beth Moore. I knew the Bible was rich in wisdom and full of stories. But the idea of simply opening the pages of the Bible and savoring the words inside – save for perhaps the Psalms or select verses from John or one of the Epistles – seemed incomplete and a little dangerous in a world filled with rules about appropriate translations and doctrinal statements and how to memorize verses properly. Scripture being more than a book of instruction was what I longed for. And the use of a simple, free online tool called examen.me provided me with a list of five things to invite God to breathe His creative story into scripture. computer
  • Pray as you approach.
  • Listen. Meditate. And then write.
  • Share what’s being emphasized to your heart.
  • Turn what’s being spoken to you into a prayer.
  • Share how what you’ve learned will impact your actions.
The first days were clumsy as I fought through the fear of truly believing that invitation would be accepted. It was. In fact, I do believe God smiled. (more…)
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