Where the Sidewalk Ends…

Relationships, whether romantic or not, ebb and flow with the tides of life. As I change, so does the way I relate to other people. I’ve been deeply troubled by the realization that some people who have been significant parts of my journey to this point are incapable of giving me the connection I desire in friendship. I was disturbed by the heartache I was experiencing and knew that was a sign of an unresolved issue but couldn’t identify it.

While enjoying lunch with a dear friend who is brave enough to share her uninhibited soul with me, I had a HUGE revelation! My heartache was not caused by anything more than the part of me that believed I deserve to be rejected. That little part of me was seeking out and holding on to people who had not earned access to the depths of my heart. Instead of keeping a healthy boundary between us, I had left the door open and allowed them to pillage there. In all my talk of acceptance and tolerance, I had missed one important element… Acceptance and tolerance require seeing the equal value of others.

Instead of embracing others with their opinions and worldviews, I had regarded my new worldview as superior to the one I left (and all others too). I had become quite intolerant of intolerance. I had replaced one “should” with another “should” (veiled under the cloak of pseudo unconditional love). Ooooops.

Because my ideals of being uninhibited and honest are so important to me, I viewed anything different as “less than”. I took it upon myself to “free” others from their “prison” of worrying about what other people think. My husband made me understand that “one person’s prison is another one’s home”.

It’s not my job to make anyone else experience my ideals if they don’t want to. Some people have simply not earned the right to access my unbound, uninhibited, unconditional love. Trying to “free” those folks from what I viewed as a prison of the heart was not helping them and was deeply hurting me. For every rejection of my light, I felt a little “less than”.

The world is a big place with plenty of stories to go around. My path need not be threatened by another’s. Right here, right now, I chose to release that little part of me that believed I had to succumb to the ideals of what other people think. I’m done trying to earn the affection of people who I don’t even really like. I wish them peace and love in their own stories but they are merely extras in mine.

From my heart to yours

Thanks for reading

SIDE NOTE: I have struggled with the above concepts until today and I thank you for being part of my journey by reading my post. The title of this entry was inspired by Shel Silverstein and his poem about the oak tree and the rosebush (which I memorized and recited in high school, around 1995). You can read it here: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/306705-an-oak-tree-and-a-rosebush-grew-young-and-green

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2014 Reflections

As I excitedly expressed gratitude for all the things I learned this past year, a new friend suggested I write about it. I write the following wearing my pajamas with my cat on my lap and dog at my feet with a full heart.

At this time a year ago, I was seriously considering going back to school. I feared how I would pay for it, how I would find the time to do homework, how hard it would be, how much I would have to read. Despite these fears, I registered for classes. I planned to train for a marathon and run 1000 miles as well.

Around the same time, a dear friend from high school suggested getting a group together to talk about our goals and hold each other accountable. It sounded like a smashing idea so I rented the room at Caribou Coffee on Ingersol in Des Moines, IA and sent out an invite. At the first meeting, sharing our stories, I knew it was going to be something WONDERFUL but I had no idea the level of connection that somewhat random group of souls would be able to achieve.

Meanwhile, my heart fell in love with a particularly special, lovely lady with an incredible soul. Our friendship started out somewhat stand offish as we each sniffed each other out, afraid to let anyone in too far. But during a sub zero run one day, we broke through that barrier and an immensely fulfilling connection ensued.

Classes started in February. I began in a project management cohort but after a few boring classes in, the 99U conference in New York and meeting an incredible kindred spirit with extensive project management experience, I realized I didn’t need a college course to teach me project management. I found the guts to pursue my real dream… Behavioral Science.

My Behavioral Science cohort is teaching me about myself, relationships and improving my leadership skills. The first few classes talked about how it’s important to own the ways that being a counselor meets your own needs. The material talked about needing to have a strong value system and not imposing my values on others. It talked about the need for self-care to avoid burnout and I started looking at my life differently.

Despite the joy that training with beloved friends for a marathon was giving me, it was adding more stress than it was relieving. While I was asking my higher power for answers on what to do next sometime in June, an invitation to consult with James Miller at Adamantine yoga showed up in my inbox. I met with James and decided to commit to a yoga practice.

I approached yoga like everything else in my life up until that point, full force, balls to the wall, intensity. James told me to just “show up”. Through my practice, I’m learning to see myself and the world completely differently. I’m releasing and processing years of pent up emotional energy stored in my body. I met myself on my mat. For the first time, I feel like I know who I am and what I’m here to do. It’s incredibly liberating! In addition, my practice has led to some unexpected connections with fellow practitioners who give me insight into different world views.

Sometime in October, I connected with a kindred spirit I’d been trying to get together with for over a year. It was a set of synchronizations that neither us could have planned for. Something bigger than us was at work, no doubt in my mind! She gave me the courage to start a women’s group and lent me the book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. I read it. That book liberated me even further. It was like it took a sledgehammer to layers and layers of false beliefs that were weighing me down and let my light shine out from the depths of my inner being!

For example, I believed it was dangerous to know too much. I told myself I was not a reader. I told myself I wasn’t smart. I told myself I wasn’t enough and had to be more. I told myself that it was bad to have money so I spent it all. I held myself back in a million different ways…

This month, my husband and I started de-cluttering the house. With each unnecessary thing we take out, I feel a little bit lighter. I’ve always had a problem spending every penny I earned but I can make new choices now. Asking myself “Do you really need that?” wasn’t effective but I learned new questions that are effective for me: “How can you do without that?” and “Does that help get you what you want?”. Similar to weight loss, telling myself that I was too fat to eat that wasn’t nearly as helpful as asking “is it worth it?” and telling myself I’m worth being fit. I’m worth being rich and loved too!

This Christmas is something I feared one year ago. I couldn’t imagine how we would we be able to buy presents if I had to pay for school. Not only are there presents for my family to open later today but we have a new roof, a new sink, a dishwasher, a different car and some new pipes. Part of it was made possible by the lovely folks at Half Price Books who gave us a fair amount for unread books and unplayed CDs that were taking up space in our home. We have enough. Not too much, not too little, just enough. I can take comfort in that and stop worrying. This moment is another reminder that what I’m afraid of isn’t nearly as bad as the fear itself.

My catch phrase from 2014: Let go of expectations but be wide open to endless possibility!

As 2015 approaches, I am looking forward to nurturing the relationships established this year and being open to new ones! I’m ready to learn and take in what life has for me without limiting beliefs holding me back! I have established a set of spiritual practices that keep me centered and on track. I am incredibly grateful for all this year has been!

From my heart to yours

Thanks for reading

The Key to a Joy Filled Life

I have been going through another transformative period in my life this past year.  I started pursuing a Bachelors Degree in February and spent a lot of my ‘free’ time in the first half of the year training with dear friends and running races.  By June, I was noticing that running was adding stress to my life and not relieving it.  An invitation to consult with James Miller at Adamantine Yoga came into my inbox from a kindred spirit who knew my stress and suggested I give it a try.

I started my practice like I started everything else until that point.  Full force, with all my might, focused on a goal of being flexible, healthy and filled with inner peace…as quickly as possible.  Between classes, I thought about what I didn’t do right and what I could do better.  I emailed James what was going through my mind and he was not impressed.  He, like so many others before him, told me just “show up” and stop thinking so much.  I took this feedback as another challenge to “work” on.

Then, one day, while not working on my shoulder roll, my shoulder roll happened.  Of all the things I was trying to accomplish, that pose was not one of them, yet, it was the first to come.  James told me he has observed that pose signifying the the most psychological change compared to other poses.  I could tell he was happy for me but I didn’t care.  Most of the time, I care if people are happy for me or if I accomplish a goal.  That day was different.  Something significant changed, I could feel that, but I didn’t sense my usual level of pride or excitement for another item checked off my endless list of tasks I intended to accomplish as quickly as possible.  In a way, I felt reborn that day.  It changed the way I see “effort” and “trying” to do things.  Like Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no try”.  He is right about that… That day, I tasted what those words meant for the first time.  I’ve been just showing up ever since.

Around one month ago, another kindred spirit who knew me as a teenager crossed my path.  She gave me “The Four Agreements” by Miguel Ruiz.  I read it.  Cover to cover.  I absorbed it’s contents and gave myself permission to experience the world in a different way.  I released yet another layer of “need to suffer” and committed to practicing the Toltec path.   The connection with her gave me the strength to call together a women’s group that I’d only dreamed of previously.  The right people showed up and we had an incredible time sharing our stories and building each other up.

This past week, I have been meditating, reading and practicing Adamantine Yoga daily.  I am not stressed although stressful things are happening.  I have felt irritated and angry for a few moments here and there but I have not carried them with me beyond the moments they were experienced.  I felt my emotions, let them go, and decided to make different choices.

In my yoga practice, I’ve stopped comparing today to yesterday or where I want to be tomorrow.  I have started embracing this moment, this day, and being grateful for it.  When my legs shake or something is tender, I ask, “what are you trying to tell me today?” and I usually get an answer.

I have come to understand that we have choices in every moment.  Every…single…moment.  The past is over, the future is not yet here. I have a choice as to how I live my life in this moment, right now.

I’ve been reading about how to want things but not be attached to how things come or in what form.  I’m asked to drill down to what it is I REALLY WANT and be open to it being fulfilled.  I’ve come to realize that the key to a joy filled life is letting go of expectations but being wide open to possibility.  I realized that is the element I have been missing. I either set expectations for the positive or expect nothing positive will come. I have just now come to understand the freedom of letting go of expectations, positive or negative!

As I experience this new level of joy and freedom, I hesitate to share it because of old tapes telling me “don’t let your head get too big” or “there are starving children in Africa”….  Yes, there are some really shitty things that happen in the world and many, many people are going through some tough stuff right now but unless I can do something about it in this moment, it has no consequence in my life.  Those are old tapes.  They do not define me.  I can choose the life I want to live.  I am called to share my experience.  My intention is that by spreading more love and joy in the world, more can be created.

I’ve sought freedom my entire life and freedom is here, now, inside my soul!  I wish the same for you!

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

To learn more about Adamantine, visit:  http://adamantineyoga.com/about-adamantine-yoga/