Being Real

No matter how much I try to stay hopeful and find comfort through my belief that good does eventually come from most not-so good situations, I would be lying if I said I am not scared, shocked, terrified, but mostly deeply saddened by the outcome of our election.

So sad that when I woke up in the wee hours of Wednesday morning  I gasped in shock, then immediately went to the shower to wash off what felt like filth as tears poured down my face.

I am sad for people with disabilities. I am sad for people of color.  I am sad for women.  The many questions that I ask and that I hear others asking continue to swirl in my mind….how can this be?  How did we get to this point in American history that we elect someone who has been recorded as being so full of hate.  How?

Maybe because we need to crack so that new light can come in.  Maybe because we need to fall apart in order to rebuild. Maybe because our culture has become so full of hatred and entitlement and blame that it is easier to be angry than it is to be responsible.

I realize that the responsibility starts with myself.  And so I take responsibility for not stuffing my feelings of despair in order to see some far-away potential. Instead, I am choosing to let myself feel what I feel; the anguish, the sadness, the fear.

And then I get on with my day.  Making a difference.  Being light.  Showing love and kindness.  Being real.

Ripple Effect

As I observe the happenings of the country during this election season, and my own reactions to the chaos, I am reminded that what we/I choose to act upon or engage in influences others.

I go back time and time again to the idea of the ripple effect of our words, thoughts and actions.  Words I cannot take back, actions that hurt others or are out of alignment with peace, and thoughts of separation that do not involve acceptance.

If I were to toss out hatred, the people closest to me would be impacted by this.  They would either move away from me, or join me in my dislike and negativity.  As they  began engage in that belief, the people closest to them would begin to shift, and so on and so on.

Soon–as I believe we see everyday–the circles of hatred would grow to be larger and larger.

Coming upon a group of middle school children waiting for their bus yesterday, I watched as a man stopped his truck in traffic and jumped out of his vehicle and begin screaming and chasing these innocent children.  His manic and outright violent behavior will forever be embedded in these kids minds.  I pray that they use this experience as an agent for change and for peace.  I pray that they learn to not engage with behavior like this, including racial animosity.  I pray that they become the faces of peace.

It is my hope that we all can learn to toss out love and then watch the ripple effect of goodness permeate our circles, and beyond.  It is my hope that we can become the world that is demonstrated through the obvious signs of nature–a harmony and rhythm that requires only observation.

I choose to toss out love.

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The real deal

This week I have been teaching the concept of how we are often wearing masks and how to ultimately learn to live from a place of authenticity and true Self. While doing my research on this topic, I ran across a great article from Huffington Post about five common masks we wear.

Like a poke in the eye, two of the five masks jumped from the article to blatantly scream out to me–YES, YES!  Recognize me???

How many times in an effort to remain positive and always looking through the lens of roses and perfection have I denied the painful truth? When has June Cleaver taken over the reality that life is hard.  And by hard, I mean H.A.R.D.  Living with a disabled adult child, which is really like living with a full-grown eight year old, is hard.  It is far from the perfect mask that I often wear.

The ‘June Cleaver’ mask of perfection hides the shame.  The pain. The loss. The frustration.  Mostly, this mask hides the quiet whispers that say  “I don’t want to do this anymore….that I am done”.

I want a life outside of disability and from being a caregiver.  I long for that phase of life when the kids are raised and my life can be lived for myself with the pleasures that I dream of.

It is fair to also say that the mask of perfection serves as a shield to hide the guilt I feel when I utter those words.

Certainly it can also be a great coping strategy. By believing and sharing that all is perfect, it often though keeps me from crumbling into the arms of anyone willing to listen when I reveal that I am tired, I am done living with an eight year old and that worrying about the daily happenings of someone else is truly exhausting.

That is not the only mask I wear.

When I am not wearing my perfection mask, I am donning my mask of strength.  The counter mask to the perfection mask, this one protects all that is.  It stands tall for anyone daring to mess with me, or the girl.  It is the mask that overcomes physical and emotional pain.  It subdues anyone who questions me, or my choices.

It is the epitome of badass.

Throughout this week of teaching/learning about life with and without a mask, I not only had the chance to look squarely in the face of what I do to cope, but also at the reality of what is.

The authenticity of what is.

The real deal is that I am tired.  Some days I am really sick of autism.  I am struggling many days to hang with the physical pain my broken body feels.  I worry about the future.  I fear the unknown.  I ache for what I have never had.

Without the masks to shield me, that is my truth.  Am I any less?  Nah, I am more real. I am far more genuine than the girl who hides behind perfection and strength. And a bit of me feels far more free for admitting it.

 

 

 

 

The Letting Go

I noticed this morning the letting go of the leaves and I was reminded that the beautiful colors are a sign that growth is coming to the end of a cycle. A time when we also enter into a cycle of letting go.  No longer striving to be bountiful, a softness enters and we have the opportunity to shed, to fall away, to take time to rejuvenate and rest.

I looked at my life and considered that I too am experiencing my own seasonal change.  Or perhaps more specifically, I am seeing what no longer serves me, or what I have carried through perhaps too many seasons.  I believe at the heart of these metamorphic transitions– whether subtle or bold–we hold the key to the life we deserve and are destined to live.

As my feet plodded along the rocky trail and while I took in the presence of Life, my prayers flowed.

May I find within my shadow what needs to be shed and allow it to shed.

May I have the grace to loosen my grip on the aspects of my daily life that impede my peace.

May I find the forgiveness for others that I wish upon for myself.

May I let go of what is holding me back and keeping me from what I am worth.

May I be the light that I am and not hide in the dark corners of life.

May I release the old to make room for the new.

May I find the clarity to embrace what is and let go of what was.

May I surrender, and in doing that, be free.

May I be beautiful in the process of letting go.

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Autumn’s little gifts

One of my greatest pleasures this time of year is the abundance of crab apples that lay along the sidewalks.  Not just the mere sight of the crab-apples, but the joy that I experience when stomping them!   The crunch and the squish fill my inner girl with utter happiness.

The purple leaf this morning was a beautiful little gift.

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Him

Him.

A simple touch of our hands as we walk through a store.  The bumping into each other while cooking breakfast or getting dressed for work.  The lolligaging of sofa time when my legs flop over his.

Every inch of him is embedded in my mind—from the squint of his left eye when he laughs, to the way his hair sticks up wildly after sleep, to the strength of his shoulders, to his intense eyes while he creates, to the calloused hands of a man who is not afraid to work hard.

Somewhere this infatuation has meshed with a contentment which has created a bliss I could never have imagined.

I like to think I am strong, independent and need no completion. I have believed for years that despite attempts  I need no other, no better half, no partner. I am a full and complex being just as I am.

Nothing has ever tipped my world upside down like this.

He is the balm that soothes my aches.  He is the foundation when I am unsteady.  He is my source of safety and groundedness.  He offers the insights that I often need to stay on course.

Together there is trust.  Trust that any intentional pain or heartache will never be inflicted.  Trust that truth will always be spoken.  Trust that everyday will be experienced with authenticity and gratitude.

In the night he rolls over and reaches for me, tucks an arm around me, pulls me close.  I do not push this love away. Instead, I know that I have earned these rights.

To be held closely and safely. To receive.

To be loved through and through–unconditionally, and then over again.

To be at peace.

Persistence

per·sist·ence  
noun: firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.
A forgotten pile of empty flower pots reveal the persistence of what seeks to blossom.  This happened not because it was watered and fed, paid attention to or loved.
It happened because it was determined to live.
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I was persistent in my yearning to be free and to be seen.  I was persistent in my seeking God.  I was persistent in following my soul purpose.  I was persistent in rallying for the underdog.  I was persistent in my path.
Despite the dark times when I was not watered or fed, forgotten and perhaps even not loved, I too have blossomed.
And I am so grateful.

 

 

 

Unfolding 

Being private doesn’t mean that I keep people at a distance or hide from sharing life’s realities.  Being private to me means practicing discernment when it comes to revealing the inner most aspects of my soul. Being private means holding close to me the things I value the most, like love, nobility and even pain.  Privacy means rather than being fed by the retelling of stories in order to get a variety of responses and reactions from others,  I strive on my own strength to navigate  what life gives me.

With that, it is time to be real.  To discern my truth. The be noble in my bravery. To be raw with my pain.

For the last five years I have lived with debilitating back pain.  I have done most methods offered to me for relief–holistic to traditional.  I have acupunctured, medicated, dry needled, drugged, essential oiled, endured surgical procedures, meditated, prayed and begged for just one day without pain.

I have faced these trying times with what I believe to be grace.  I have looked for the spiritual meaning and gifts layered within the pain.  I have rarely asked for, and even less often, been easily able to receive help.  I’m certainly not looking for a pat on the back or even acknowledgement for how I have chosen to face this.  I know that the choice that I have made to keep my pain and medical worries mostly to myself was done for no other reason but to maintain my emotional need for privacy and even more, my deeply rooted need for safety.  

Well, part of my unfolding is growth in all areas.  So, I am  owning it.  I am owning the reality of my pain and I am getting really real with the truth. 

The surgiery I had in April to repair a severely torn hip labrum has so far proven to be less than successful.  I’m battling daily pain and complicated pain management while trying to return to my full-time job as a yoga teacher for individuals with disabilities and also the primary caregiver for my disabled adult daughter. My job requires me to be incredibly present and inspiring.  Although the work requires a tremendous amount of emotional and mental energy, it is also richly rewarding.  And the reality is, it puts food on my table financially, so NOT working is NOT a viable option.  

In attempting to reduce pain, I have gone back to my pain specialist for help. Next week I am having a procedure to diagnose the possibility that a technique that involves cauterizing the facet joint nerves would provide longer relief than previous attempted pain relief injections. Additionally, he feels an MRI needs repeating to determine if labrum from the hip surgery is healing as hoped and has not re-torn. Finally, he feels like my SI joint has some similar dysfunction that would also benefit from similar treatment down the road and the extreme swelling in my glute muscles and pirifromis muscle need addressing. 

A good ol’ case of what comes first–the torn hip or the deterioration in the spine?  More important is not the cause or the why, but instead what is next and how does my spirit stay intact?

At this moment it stays intact by leaning into the pain and circumstance.  Not looking for any hidden message or learning opportunity, but wrapping my heart around the pain my body feels and allowing it to feel.  It is about grieving what has been lost; cycling, hiking, sitting cross legged, yoga postures, ease sitting during a long dinner, a drive in the car and a day or two without thoughts consumed by pain.

It’s about revealing truth.  Raw. Real. Honest.  I also have come to realize that within the spacicousness of being open and real the privacy of nobility, discernment and love for self also remain.  It’s a definite moment to bask in the process of unfolding.

Opinions

I have spent quite a bit of my contemplative time looking at opinions and judgment.  Specifically, where the two mingle and where the two are clearly different.

I catch myself proclaiming opinions but later wonder if these sometimes self-righteous statements are really laced with judgment.  I have been struggling with expressing myself based on my opinions/beliefs/experiences and balancing it with judgment.

Maybe being judgmental isn’t the same thing as having and expressing an opinion. Being judgmental—at least how I have come to learn about it—is not about discernment. It’s about judging the beliefs, actions, inactions and opinions of others. To me, it is that stand-off attitude and make a statement of all-knowing authority that if spoken would make the person feel bad.

Here’s what I see as the difference between judging people and having an opinion: an opinion is a viewpoint, a so-called judgment based upon observation in the context of our own experience and bias. We all have them.

The difference I feel is when we have an opinion with a “charge” to it, when our opinion is fueled with emotion then the opinion is most likely a judgment.

We’re making someone wrong. We’re being judgmental.  We’re separating.

I am trying to learn that it is a waste of time and energy to be so invested in another person’s actions or beliefs. It’s challenging enough to improve ourselves, and it’s virtually impossible to  attempt to improve other people.

Most of the time, being judgmental is about being right. Rather than focusing on being right, I am learning to have a check-in with myself to look for what exactly is behind my emotions and need to express an opinion. Then I am trying to voice my heart-felt thoughts in way that has nothing to do with being “right” and everything to do with seeking to understand.

After all, isn’t being human about being a seeker?  Wanting to understand?  Being open?

Just my opinion. ;)

Survival and Receiving

When I began my Yoga practice years ago it was purely for physical benefit. I spent hours thinking about and working towards the “perfect” alignment or posture.  My addictive personality became quickly obsessed with every successfully attempt of a difficult pose and how could I compete and win against my self and others.

I had no idea of the layers and layers of exploring that would unfold beyond the physical. The more I practiced, the more I wanted to know.

Following my wake-up from a life of unconscious living I started to understand that my existence was so much more than my (then) overweight body. Imagine my shock and eventual gratitude that came when I connected my mind, body and soul.

One of the greatest gifts that I learned through Yoga is my over-active need to survive. As I began to understand the chakra system and how the energy centers play a role in my awareness of physical symptoms and personality traits, I flourished in my understanding of why I often fall back into the old habit of survival. At the time of first learning about the chakra system I was also deep into therapy looking at not only family of origin stuff that was manifesting into disastrous relationships, but I started to look at how I had created walls around me in order to stay safe and feel secure.  For me, this can look like a small circle of friends, meticulously controlled home clutter and budgeting, extreme work habits and obsessions with being busy, reclusive tendencies and other need for control. Through the realization of this, I also became armed with ways to combat the often destructive tendencies in order to survive.

When I catch myself falling back into the patterns of these habits,  I have learned to pause and look a little closer at the correlation to my feelings and my actions.  The penchant for ensuring I am safe and secure can sometimes isolate me from people and experiences that might actually enhance my life, or at the most it might really support my urgency to feel safe.  The work of the first chakra isn’t to become a badass, it is to develop and nurture the aspects of my life that create a solid foundation so that the other facets of myself are just as illuminated.

When I had hip surgery nearly two months ago, my internal pressure to feel safe kicked into full force. I planned, anticipated and foresaw the snowball effect of not only medical costs but also lost wages.  Since teaching Yoga is my primary means of income, the reality was startling. Although I pride myself on extreme financial awareness and careful monitoring– so much that my monthly budget is typically accounted for within $25.00– the knowing that being on crutches for four weeks would greatly reduce my income.  I affirmed over and over that my priority was to heal, not work and I watched my pennies even closer.

Following surgery, there were hours to spend in the company of myself as my body worked to heal.  I practiced a different type of surrender than I had not previously practiced and the softer version of me brought a self-tenderness that hadn’t before been revealed. I enjoyed the new pace and the time to sit and contemplate my path.  I spent many hours being grateful for my life and how I came to be who I am today. I looked closely at myself with a more delicate eye. Through the deepening of my practice, I saw that my tendency to be dominated by an over-active first chakra and the part of my story that has been laced with feelings of unworthiness, I also watched as these feelings had trickled into how I have come to believe that giving feels safe but receiving is weak and vulnerable.  Weak equates to being unable to survive and feeling at risk.

At a cross-roads I saw the trifecta of either surrender or struggle; I don’t receive well, I don’t like to feel unsafe and  I thrive with the challenge to survive.

I am a giver of goodness and I had come to believe that I just don’t receive well.

When a friend approached me about setting up a funding campaign to reduce my financial load, my immediate response was a firm NO. Days went by and conversations with the people closest to me were had, I realized that this is a chance to grow…..with also the amazing benefit to receive.  Someone also recently said to me that as I refuse to receive I am also denying others the chance to give.  So, I said yes.  And I am blown away and deeply grateful.  Besides this funding campaign and the generous efforts of an amazing man, I am on my way to being just fine.  Actually more than fine.

Safe.  Secure.  Surrendered.

https://www.gofundme.com/28dsv84