My Lantern

Although I feel like I have spent the last ten years or so doing tons of self-work and unpeeling of the layers and layers of ‘stuff’ that has accumulated in my life, I still love that I am willing to do deep soul work.

Last year was a definite year of courage and the willingness to listen to my inner voice.  As the dust has begun to settle from the major changes in my life last year, I took a month or so off from the heaviness that can come when you are in the labyrinth of self-improvement.  Establishing myself into my new home space and adjusting (again) has been my focus.

And then, I began an online course on Courage.  Brene Brown has been one of my favorite authors and speakers in the last few years and when the course was offered, I said a gigantic YES.  To be guided through courage, vulnerability and shame with a leading researcher and expert was an opportunity I was not going to pass on.

Knowing that I had spent last year in the ‘arena’, I was curious as to what I would find I would need to explore in the bravery realm, but willing I was to examine it.  Lesson one offered over one hundred values to identify just one that guides your way in life; everything from accountability to balance to faith to humility to love to optimism to spirituality to well-being.  Where do you hold your highest regard and when this value is not in place you know you are off your path? In my ego mind I wanted my chosen value to be something easy like compassion or kindness.  My soul said go deeper than that and asked what is it that I know for sure, when this is threatened, I am off my center?

Safety.

Safety?? Yea, like in the form of being judged, not being seen or understood for who I am, financial risks, being unorganized and chaotic, feeling unsure of decisions, having people in my life who are disrespectful or threatening, allowing fear to creep in, etc.  Safety.  I wear the armor to protect my safety.  So going into the ‘arena’ again, I had to be open to the rawness and vulnerability of the emotional exposure around this value of safety and to be willing to set the armor down.

Using the metaphor of a lantern, she explains that the flame that burns is the identified value. The glass that surrounds the flame illustrates the behaviors you display and people that you have in your life that protect that value.  The handle of the lantern symbolizes when you have set your value down and walked away allowing your ship to get off course.

My flame is safety.  My glass (behaviors and people) that keep my flame protected include  boundaries, choices, self-respect, meditating, journaling, keeping a budget, being organized, people who support and honor me, a knowing and exploring of self.  When I have set this value down I am allowing fear to enter, I take risks, I allow people to speak or treat me in ways that hurt, I am not grounded and I worry irrationally.

Knowing that this value is held in such high regard to me, I can see why some life decisions I have made, and the experiences I have been offered, have caused me to feel such anguish. In addition to better understanding what it is that stokes my flame, I am way more armed with tolerance as to what makes me tick and then respond when the value is threatened.

Safety.  Indeed my highest value for my life is safety.  I know when it is threatened or I am off course because of the internal responses that I have that then lead to behaviors that diminish the flame.  It is so clear to me now.  While compassion or kindness may have been easier, I am so grateful for this new knowledge about myself and can move forward in my life with a strong flame and people and behaviors that will protect that part of me.

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The Dream 

The first five yoga classes that I attended, I left early.  Loathing the quiet and deliberate movements, I fled and entered back into the chaos of life, where I operated in comfort.  Yet, I was determined to keep at it.

And then the day came when I got it. For a snippet of time, I was no longer so incredibly uncomfortable within my own skin that I could actually lay in the stillness of my being and was actually okay with it.

More than okay, I realized that sweet moment of quiet and integration of breath and body.  I experienced it and that was all I needed to come back again and again.

Here we are ten years later and I share that sweetness with others!  Rarely does it feel like work.  The business side of it is even joyful as I am amazed that I am making a great living giving the sweet gift of yoga to others.

Once I realized that yoga was the path for me to fully embrace who I am, in so many areas of my life, I began to dream.  I dreamt of a yoga space where I could practice and meditate.  A light and airy space where people would come and we together we create a beautiful flow of energy through practice.

Ten years from the time I first unrolled a mat, my dream is fulfilled.  The space is complete and I am ready to invite others in for classes.  Yoga, meditation and workshops on wellness and living an authentic life.

Thoughts really do become things.  With attention and belief, life truly does unfold with a divine order. 

    
   

2016 day one

Just like the past nine years, I took off on a solo hike this first day of the year to listen to the inner voice and the voice of Spirit guiding me as to what intention might be woven into my life for 2016.

My mind was a flurry of thoughts, which I struggled to clear well into the first two miles.  As I rounded a bend in the trail that took me into the sunny meadow, I said “give me the word”.  And like that, it was so simple.

Peace.

Following the previous year of chaos discovery, I felt an immediate comfort in the simplicity of peace being my word for 2016.

Peace defined as:

  • freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility
  • freedom from violence
  • state of tranquility and quiet
  • state of security and order
  • freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts, emotions
  • harmony in personal relations

I will take it.  Peace on.

 

2015-Discover

Discover–to find (something or someone) unexpectedly or in the course of a search. Find, locate, come across/upon, stumble on, chance on, light on, bring to light, uncover, unearth, turn up, track down.

On January 1st, I sat down and wrote about my ‘word of the year’, which was Discover.

On this early morning, I sit down in the quiet after reading my last page of this year’s journal and reflect on what I have discovered.

I discovered what it means to really listen to the whisperings of the soul.  I stepped away from an experience that was diminishing me. While this was one of the most difficult things for me to do, I did so with courage and as a result, I discovered my resiliency. Throughout the early parts of the year, I discovered the inner voice that was waiting to be spoken for many, many years.

I learned that I am worthy.

I also discovered a deeper personal practice that includes ritual of daily yoga, meditation, reflection and intention.  I faced life with a stronger sense of self and I courageously moved forward in a way that serves my soul.

Volunteering in hospice has become one of my greatest heart treasures.  By witnessing this incredible process, I have committed to living a life that is full of hope and happiness, rather than fear and pain.

Discovering a healthier relationship with my body and finding a softer acceptance of myself has been a source of freedom to me.  Learning, or re-learning,  that life is a continual flow has been comforting.

This year, I moved twice and discovered just how badass I can be in times of turmoil. Efficiency and organization was paramount.

I discovered magnificent new trails to hike.  I developed friendships and relationships that feed me.  I jumped back on my bicycle and enjoyed the joy of speed and wind-blown freedom of riding again.

I discovered the solitude that was inevitable when my youngest son moved out and the reality of my life with just my girl was in my face.  Settling into that new quietness required a willingness to accept.

As I close up this chapter, I do so with gratitude.  I have discovered many beautiful things and know that 2015 will be one that I remember fondly through the lens of fearlessness and bravery.

The year in which I owned my life.

 

 

 

Not

I sit in the early hours of Christmas morning in my new/old home reflecting on the now and on the past.  While I am mostly balanced by the flood of memories and the anticipation of what is to come, my heart is also tender this morning for what is not.

Life is not always easy.

Disabilities are not always gifts.

My family is not Norman Rockwell.

Maybe it was the residual emotion I brought home yesterday from volunteering in hospice on Christmas Eve.  Seeing families coming together in a time of death to love and to share space on a holiday.  Witnessing the pain and impending loss.  It might also be that I chose to work yesterday and therefore I spent the day driving from place to place.  I also spent a good portion of the morning struggling and failing with installing a light fixture in the house.

Hecticness again, by choice.

As a result, yesterday I completely lost it on my girl.  The full-blown explosion that I keep under the surface much of the time.  I exploded on her.  I screamed and I cried.  The reason was small, but the overload of frustration for some of her habits I no longer could handle.  Afterwards, I was overcome with guilt and sadness for how I reacted to her.  Thankfully, because she is who she is, her heart is very forgiving.  If only I could forgive myself as easily.

The tenderness also coming in the fact that my boys have grown and are creating life memories of their own.  I see their photos and am both happy for them but I also feel sad that for some reason, I am unable to create those type of memories with them.  We are very close in relationship, but we do not have the family interactions that one might dream of. There is no family photos of joy and happiness.

I can attempt to conclude what may be the cause of my emotional explosion on my girl and the cause of the boy’s distance, and perhaps there are parts that are woven together. Or, I let go of cause and just be with it.

Whatever the reasons, they matter not this morning.  The stillness with what ‘is’ takes me into my heart.  The shift to acceptance and ultimately gratitude is available.

It is again a choice.

 

 

 

So It Ends and Begins

The Dhamma, the truth taught by the Buddha, is uncovered gradually through sustained practice. The Buddha made clear many times that Awakening does not occur like a bolt out of the blue to the untrained and unprepared mind. Rather, it culminates a long journey of many stages. (“Dhamma”, by Access to Insight)

The long journey of many stages of my Awakening continues.  The unpeeling of layers in search for the hidden caverns of my soul. Sometimes painful and sometimes beautiful, it truly is the unraveling that brings one to the next stage of growth.

My quest for freedom.  My desire to fly. What began early this year is coming to its final days in my current space. As my wings began to spread in the early months of 2015, I took refuge in the days of summer in my landing spot–a beautiful bungalow located on a street called Pleasant.  The space has served me well and gratitude fills my heart for the safety and groundedness that the house offered me.

Now, my wings are ready to be expanded again after a short resting period.

I am ready to fly into the next stage of my journey.

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Going Home

I am literally going home for the holidays and so much more.  In a few weeks I will be purchasing the house I was raised in and making it my own home.  Returning to the familiar spaces and the decades of memories, I will be coming full circle.

As I look at the divinity of this opportunity I am reminded again and again that there is such a plan, or a map, that we so often cannot see and yet, we try so hard to plan and navigate this plan by usually pushing and pulling.  Really, to let go and allow life to unfold is the lesson I return to over and over.

When my girl was young and the disability was becoming more and more evident,  I saw in my mind a home someday where there would be a “house with a house”.  A small cottage for her to live as independently as possible and yet be close enough to be supported.  A house with a house that shares a yard for her dog and for mine. A place to grow.

My soon to be new home has this.

When I began to wake up and when I realized the importance of my spirituality, I visualized a space for mediation, yoga and stillness.  Each place I have lived in recent years I have created a scared space for practice. Yearning for less chaos in my life and more time at home, I have been seeing how to increase my home studio sessions and create a large yoga space.

My soon to be new home has this.

While I have been on the path to self-discovery and healing over the past decade, I have spent hours in therapy and delving deep into a variety of self-help books. I have travelled to distant places to bridge a broken place with my father.  I have set boundaries with my brother and I have begun to see the tender side of my mom.  I have nurtured the little girl within me by taking up dance, being more playful and recognizing the wounded places.  I have been very active in healing what needs to be healed and looking for opportunities to continue to allow light to come through the shadows.

My soon to be new home has this.

As an adult, I have found nature to be so grounding.  Getting lost on a trail or muddying up my hands in a garden are the connections to nature that soothes my soul.  I have anticipated a home near nature and with a yard that will feed me in this way.

My soon to be new home has this.

I have envisioned a space for me to consult others on their journey.  I have begun to work more with energy work and look to take my teachings that direction.  What better place to assist others in healing than in my childhood bedroom space? Four walls that will bring me back to my purpose.  My little baby body sleeping in that 12×12 room, the young girl dreaming her dreams,the awkward teen wanting to be seen and the woman who once packed her things and left.

In all senses of the phrase “going home”, I am.  I am going there.  There has always been this plan, or this map–I just did not realize the roads that I would travel to make my way home.

Ownership

This was not just about losing weight.  This was about reclaiming my life.  This was about peeling away the layers and layers of armor that eventually led me to reveal my true self—not just in physical form, but in the complete essence of myself.  My truth.

Certainly I am proud of my weight-loss and development of healthy habits, but I am more proud of the discovery of who I am.  Not only did I shed pounds, I let go of unwanted and unneeded thoughts and beliefs about myself. I began to take ownership of my decisions and choices.

While I spent years clearing out the dark corners of my soul, I was creating space for an emerging of light that this discovery would soon change my entire world. I eliminated clutter in my physical world and in my mind.  My thoughts went from distorted and unhealthy to clear and deliberate.

So long ago, I did not see the sadness in my eyes.  Perhaps the sadness was hidden behind the demands of raising three young children.  I easily put my needs last. One might say I did this out of fatigue, but I see now I put myself last out of necessity.  I was not ready or yet capable to start the process of eliminating the walls I had created.  Hidden behind the extra 80 pounds was a woman just beginning to ask the questions one asks when on the verge of waking up.

The more I asked, the more I lost.  The most I lost, the more I gained.  The more I gained, the richer my life became.  The more space I cultivated within for the quiet whisperings to be heard.  The expansiveness of my soul became the soothing balm rather than food and fear.

I recall in detail the time when I began to wake up from the long slumber of self-neglect.  I was walking on a cold spring day and I began to hear the thoughts of peace enter my mind.  I started to change the way I thought about my life and myself.

In an instant I took ownership.  I claimed my health, my body, my spirituality and my purpose.

And just like that, my life began to change.

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Pleasant Street

Earlier in the year when I moved to a small bungalow on a street called Pleasant. Immediately I imagined what fall would look like on this beautiful and delightfully pleasant street. With trees sixty or more years old, the canopy that covers the street at the peak of summer is downright glorious.

Now the season of autumn is in full swing and I watch as the trees have morphed into a show of color.  The wind whips the leaves around the street as the crisp and chilly air reminds you that the shortened days means more nights of wood fires and belly-warming stews.

I anticipated this view for months where the change is in full glory and the letting go seems effortless. Nature is such a teacher. IMG_8169-1

Enough

Enough is enough I say.

Not too many months ago I was living in the glory of my own badassery skills and fully confident in not only my astounding technique of dicing out the bullshit from others and seeking truth, but also in my ability to love myself. I was proud of my accomplishments, my path, my truth and even my dark places.

It seems however that the last few months rather than reveling in the warrior light that I am, I have been spinning myself in circles while staying stuck in the shadows in search of some magical tool.

Wait a second. Nothing needs fixed. Polished and shined up from time to time–yes!  But I have forgotten that the magic already exists beneath the sometimes tarnished surface.

I am the magic.

I am the girl who is a seeker. I am wise and savvy. I am the woman who embodies compassion and love.  I am the bright light in the world of many dark spaces.  I am beautiful and I am funny. I am a giver of grace.  I am sassy and vibrant.  I am a soul that walks the path of truth.  I am integrity and diligence.  I yearn for equality and inclusion.  I am one with nature. I am the biggest fan of the underdog.  I am light.

I am also scared and vulnerable.  I am afraid to ask for help.  I struggle to receive. I beg myself to lessen the intensity and accept joy. I am far too critical of myself.  I am lost at times.  I long to let love in.

Enough is enough.

Self-help books can be put aside and the long sleepless nights of searching for answers can be replaced with meaningful passages of grace and with luscious sleeps of renewal.  Days of worry can be restored with contagious bouts of laughter and connection.  A life of fear can be revived with a life of bliss.

Those glorious things could never possibly be enough.