Out of Crisis

Most of my life has been in some sort of crisis mode. Sometimes personal, sometimes relational, sometimes professional. It’s been something almost continuously since I was around 8 years old.

Today, there are many unknowns in my life but no crises. Everything is working out and falling into place. So many things I worried about in the past are either resolved or no longer a concern.

The few times in my life when someone’s life has been on the line in my hands, I was calm and rational until help showed up and then I completely fell apart. Every emotion, every fear, every pain, came flooding through all at once. As mentioned in previous posts, I have historically been better at thinking about my feelings than feeling them. Now that I am on the other side of crisis, I have space to feel fully and it’s intense.

Unresolved issues from many stages of my life are getting triggered in one form or another for processing. I am practicing all the things I encourage other people to do in my coaching and workshop practice and uncovering my own hang ups. I can easily say to myself “I love you” “I approve of you” “Everything I touch is a success” but…… If I try to say “I am a success” in the mirror or looking at another person, waterworks fall. And I am not talking about trickling tears, I am talking about tears big enough to form a puddle in my lap. So much of my life has been merit based. “Notice me!” “See how good I am doing?!”…. But inside, feeling completely insufficient and inadequate.

I share my struggles because there is something therapeutic about saying it aloud and to encourage others who are facing similar challenges but keeping it bottled up inside, feeling alone. My drive to heal the world stems from my desire to heal myself. Maybe when the whole world is healed, I will be too….. But that’s a bit backwards. The more I deal with and process my own junk, the more powerful I can be in the world helping others do the same.

We are all connected. No one suffers alone. No one rejoices alone. We all feed into and pull from the collective energy force we all share.

There is nothing wrong with feelings. They are what they are. There is shadow whenever there is light. Every experience has a lesson and a blessing, whether joyous or painful. May we all be open to learning the lessons and receiving the blessings.

From my heart to yours,
Thanks for reading

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Allowing

Today was a breakthrough day. When I arrived at yoga class, my teacher questioned me on what was going on with my handstand attempts (or lack thereof). I told him I don’t jump up when I feel something is off and I know it won’t go well. He gave me a look that said “why are you telling yourself that bullshit?” and I realized the real issue. My problem was believing I couldn’t. My problem was not allowing myself space to fail. By not allowing myself space to fail, I wasn’t allowing myself space to succeed.

Handstand for me is all about trusting the unknown, seeing things from a different perspective and confidence. I was raised not to trust “the world” and close people in my life proved themselves untrustworthy. I have taken responsibility for things that aren’t mine, held on to them tight and refused to let go. I have put myself down, believed I couldn’t, and bailed instead of continuing to show up and do my best. That caused tension and pain I am still processing out.

I have been going through a lot of changes in my life and allowing myself to feel my way through them. My emotions have always been intense. To manage them, I learned how to shut myself down, lock my feelings up tight, and pretend they weren’t there or be big, loud and stir the pot. One can put out a fire by depriving it of fuel or dousing it with so much lighter fluid it can’t burn. In the past, I felt more powerful, more in control, adding lighter fluid but it occasionally cost me my figurative eyebrows.

Today, I practiced feeling my feelings without them running my life. I got through my entire yoga practice even though I started with tears blocking my breath. I reminded myself my emotions are like the weather, I am the sky. I just kept breathing. An intuitive little fairy brought me tissues and I kept going. I have bailed on my practice for much less in the past but, today, I allowed ‘what is to be’ instead of forcing anything. I let myself feel while not allowing myself to quit.

I now aim to float somewhere between the two extremes of exploding or shutting down. There is a time for action and a time for inaction. There is a time to speak up and a time to be silent. There is a time to put myself as an individual first and there is time to care for myself while putting the good of others ahead of what I want. I am learning how to identify those times on a level I have never experienced before. I am giving myself space to try new things and see life from a different perspective.

I escaped from a shaming, toxic environment many years ago. I know what it’s like to have a guilt trip laid on so thick I feel like I can’t breathe. I also know the person laying on the shame is coming from a place of unworthiness and feeling threatened. That doesn’t make the behavior acceptable but it does provide an opportunity to practice compassion. True compassion. It’s easy to love people I like. It’s an entirely different matter to find a way to love someone who attempts to attack me on the most personal level and suck the life out of people I care about.

Feeling hatred sucks away my confidence. It stems from unresolved issues within me and feeds the false belief I am a victim of circumstance. I can find a way to justify my actions as much as someone with a diabolical, opposing view. I can also see how every single person I encounter, including the toxic ones, are reflections of me. The person opposite me is the flip side of my same coin.

I need to remember I am a force more powerful than my emotions. Feeling hate or fear in any given moment doesn’t define me. Love is stronger than hate or fear, always. I have the power to choose thoughts that nourish my soul, forgive, and free myself from anything that happened in the past. Life flows in cycles. Experiences repeat until I learn what I need to know. Today, my heart is filled with gratitude and I easily make changes that serve my highest good.

From my heart to yours,

Thank for reading

 

SIDE NOTES:

When I started writing, I thought this post was going to be about believing “I can’t”. Turns out I wrote about that 4 years ago! https://powerfrominside.com/2012/05/12/the-power-of-i-can-by/

If you are interested, here is a link to an article I liked about choosing nourishing thoughts http://thespiritscience.net/2016/06/24/this-native-american-story-of-the-two-wolves-will-change-your-life/

Time to Fly

I often told people my husband held my kite string so I could fly.  What I didn’t realize I was saying at the time is I felt I needed holding down.  I didn’t feel safe being all I could be, letting go, riding the winds.  I feared if I did that, I would lose control and everything in my life would potentially fall apart.

As I sit on my new bed in my new location, I no longer have that fear.  I am here, sitting with myself and quite content with that.  Everything I am not is crumbling away but I am here as centered and at peace as I have ever been.  I am learning to fly.

When I was around ten, I was taken on my first flight in a little two seater airplane.  I remember looking down in awe as ‘big’ buildings started looking like toys and people were nothing more than little specs.  We didn’t go that high because it was such a small craft but it was high enough to get a different perspective than I had ever had before.  I remember thinking perspective changes everything.  I have a better understanding now of how true that observation was than I did then.

My pilot explained the controls on the dashboard and how he watched the horizon to make sure he was straight.  I had no desire to learn to operate a plane but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  It was exhilarating to experience something so new!

I don’t know exactly when it happened but, at some point, new things became scary instead of exciting.  I tried to make things as much the same as possible.  I started being addicted to control.  I trained people in my life not to surprise me.  I built relationships with impressionable folks.  The older I got, the more power I sought.  Eventually, I realized I didn’t want to try and control others but I still tried to control what happened to me.  I still braced myself for any pitfall that may come my way.  That created tension in my body… a lot of it.

I am in the process of letting go of all of that now.  The personal work I need to do in order to coach is teaching me more about myself than I ever imagined.  My client’s lives mirror mine and the more work I do in my own life, the more present I can be for them.

Here is my understanding of life today… The secret to making progress without creating tension is to keep my eyes on the horizon and do the next right thing.  There isn’t much use in writing a script for how things are going to go.  My ‘law of attraction’ work has taught me the best way to create the life I want is to imagine it already here and let go of trying to figure out ‘how’ it will happen.  I tune into what I call ‘spirit’ and take action steps in the direction I want to go.  One small step at the time, enjoying the process along the way.

I have a good life.  Almost everything outside of myself I used to identify with has either changed or gone away.  I am grieving the loss of a marriage I thought would last forever but I haven’t lost the memories of wonderful times spent together.  Life is in the moments.  Forever is a series of ‘right nows’ strung together.

 

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

 

3 Steps to Get Connected

Conversations over the past few days have gotten me thinking about the differences between people who have connection and those who long for connection.  Thinking about my own life and the lives of people I’ve come in contact with, I’ve observed 3 common steps in the process:

1.  Set Intention.  Whether it be “I want a life partner”, “I want friends”, “I want healthy people in my life”… Whatever it is, set the intention and define what connection you are looking for.

2.  Take Action.  Take a step in the direction of your intention.  Don’t worry about it being the right step; just take a step.  Put yourself out there and give yourself permission to change course at any time if what you are doing is no longer serving your purpose.

3.  Let Go.  Once you are taking action, embrace the process.  Spend your energy on imagining how you want to feel and taking continual steps in the direction of that feeling.  If you find yourself thinking that it’s not working, change course.  If you find yourself thinking it will never work, change your self talk.  Have faith that life will work out in it’s own time.  Prepare your heart to being open to receiving it when it does.

Although these steps are simple, I understand they aren’t necessarily easy.  In my journey, a lot of junk bubbles to the surface I have to deal with before I can take any more steps in the direction I want to go.  Instead of resisting what is and trying to force it into being something different, it works a lot better for me to spend my energy just being aware and looking for opportunities to make it better.   Life gets a whole lot easier when I ride the waves of emotion that come up, knowing nothing lasts forever.

From my heart to yours

Thanks for reading

Mother’s Clarity

My mother used to tell me “Everything in life has advantages and disadvantages.  You have to decide the advantages you have to have and the disadvantages you can put up with”.  When I told her sometime in my very early adult life what good advice that was, she confessed the concept came from her grandmother.  As I gain life experience, those words ring more and more true for me.

I have been paralyzed trying to identify the right answer when there wasn’t one.  There are correct answers on multiple choice questions in school.  When asked a question about history, research or written guidelines, there are correct answers based on documentation.  In life, there are choices.  Just choices.  Choices have consequences and some consequences are more desirable than others but I have not found “right answers”.  I’ve just found choices.

It is not possible to know what the future will bring exactly.  The future is the sum of many little moments and decisions made now.  At any given moment, I can make a new decision if the one I made before isn’t working out.  There is SO MUCH freedom in that!

If you would have described my life now to me 10 years ago, I would have thought you were talking about someone else!  I have learned that much of what causes me anxiety is deciding the future will not work out to my liking before the future is even here.  When I feel anxious, I take an inventory of what is going on in my life right now.  I’m usually breathing, with ample food and hydration for my body.  I have not been in physical danger or under emotional attack in those moments.  The anxiety was caused by my agreeing with emotional poison others have flung in my direction and/or worrying about things outside of my control.   The anxiety lessened when I switched my energy to gratitude for being safe now and believing the answers I need will appear when I need them.

It has never helped me to tell myself to stop worrying.  In fact, it’s never helped me to tell myself to stop feeling any emotion.  It does help me to recognize what I’m feeling, feel it, and then decide if I want to keep feeling that way or if I want to make different decisions.

When making decisions, I start with what I want if I could have anything in the world.  From there, I add in the circumstances of reality and see how close I can get to what I truly want with what I have now.  It helps me clear the fog created by other people’s expectations and fear.  I make it okay for me to feel anything, think anything and be anything because I love me and I’m alright.

I decide whether what other people think about me is true.  Most of the time, what they think of me is none of my business.  Sometimes, I need to correct my course because I don’t like the consequences of my choices.  The rest of the time, what other people think of me just doesn’t matter one bit.  I know these things when I’m feeling confident but forget when I’m feeling insecure.  However, I’m getting better about recognizing my insecurity, observing it, and changing my thoughts.  I can do that any time I want!

My son taught me to be this way.  The struggles we’ve experienced together blew up the box I grew up in and opened us up to an entirely new world.  When he tries to make sense of the world in black and white, I see very clearly why that doesn’t work at all for me.

At this exact moment, I’m blogging while my son is on a high school band trip in Florida.  When I sent him a text asking who he was spending the most time with he responded, “many people that I like” and provided a list of names.  My teenage son who I worried so much about and felt inadequate raising, is finding his way in the world!  He’s building relationships and improving himself in accordance with his goals.  My heart is bursting with pride and joy!

Instead of controlling his life, I’m intending to be present in it.  He’s going to be better than okay.  He’s on his way to having a great life of his creation!  For that, I am eternally grateful and am looking forward to being available to him for as long as I live.

 

From my heart to yours

 

Thanks for reading

Boundaries vs. Expectations

One of my guiding phrases these days is “let go of expectations but be wide open to possibility”.  However, a dear friend suggested  to me today that boundaries are expectations and boundaries are healthy.  Her comment made me consider if I believed that to be true and, if so, what impact that has on my view of the world.  I think there is a difference between letting go of expectations and not having any.  I believe the concepts of boundaries and setting expectations are complimentary.

For instance, I expect my friends to treat me with kindness, consideration and unconditional love.  I only share the depths of my soul with other human beings who are loving and dependable.  I need to be able to speak freely, even if my words are not perfect.  I expect myself to be kind with pure intentions but there is room for error.  If I sense within myself that my intentions are not pure, I observe them and address them.  I expect my closest friends to do the same.

I no longer expect every single person I meet to be capable of loving me the way I want.  I let go of the expectation that anyone owes me something because of our relationship.  People are either present in my life or they are not.  I have learned the world is big enough to let go of relationships that do not meet my needs to make room for those that do.

This past year has been an incredible testament to that belief.  I have gotten braver about speaking my truth and bringing my true self to social situations.  I have a better concept of what loving myself and accepting myself unconditionally looks like.  People don’t have to agree with me for something to be true for me.

The result is some relationships have grown apart but others have grown closer to me than I ever could have imagined!  It is possible to fall in love with multiple people without possessing them, feeling like they owe me anything or taking responsibility for their emotional baggage!  I have many loves in my life now, including myself.

I have learned to love freely and take love freely without losing my sense of self.  It helps me to understand that I am made of light.  Everything I think I know is “light perceiving light” (Ruiz, 1997).  I am living a dream that I create with my thoughts, beliefs and intentions.  Awareness of them is key.  I do not deserve to be punished repeatedly for anything I’ve done.  When I error, I can adjust course and still speak lovingly to myself.  This opens the door to a level of intimacy that is only possible when one is free of fear.

If I find that someone can not be trusted with my heart either due to his or her own unresolved issues or the fact we are on different wavelengths, my boundaries come in to play.  It doesn’t mean I no longer love him or her.  It doesn’t mean that we can’t have a relationship.  It does mean he or she may not get to experience all of me right now and that is okay.

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

References

Ruiz, D. M. (2003). The four agreements: A practical guide to personal freedom. Amber-Allen Publishing.

What do you want to do?

We are born knowing what we want.  As babies, those wants are pretty simple: food, comfort, clean butts and sleep.  As we grow up, we learn about the difference between wants and needs.  Our ‘needs’ stay pretty much the same but our wants get more complicated.  Social mores come in and tell us what we should and should not want.  Parents, religious organizations, media, social networks… They all have something to say.

Somewhere along the line, we lose touch with who we really are because it becomes clouded by the voices of others.  Getting what we want becomes more complicated than learning how to emotionally manipulate the people around us with a good tantrum. Few parents know how to turn that tantrum into a emotional processing learning experience and instead teach us to shut it down.

I distinctly remember knowing at 5 years of age exactly what I wanted and how the world worked (Robert Fulghum nailed it with “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindgergarden”).  At 25, I hadn’t a clue.

Now in my mid thirties, beyond anything I do or say, I aim to be true to myself and encourage everyone around me to do the same.  The most common response when I ask “What do you want to do?” is “I don’t know what I want” but THAT IS A LIE.  Not a malicious, intentional lie, but no more true than a lie.  

The truth is, somewhere, sometime along the line, it was decided (consciously or unconsciously) that what they wanted was not possible.  “You shouldn’t want that”, “you can’t have that”, “forget about it”…  And they did.  It was determined that pretending they don’t know what they want and coping with mediocrity was preferred to the anguish of knowing what they want but not having it yet.  Anyone can bring it back though, if they’ve got the guts.  

The road to your heart’s purest desire is not without a few rocks and pointy objects but it’s worth traveling.  Please hear me, it’s WORTH TRAVELING. 

Trying to figure out what I want to do “for the rest of my life” is too big of a chunk to process.  So I start with what I want to do this year, this month, this week and if that still seems to big, I start with this day, this hour, this minute, this second.  I found a safe place where I can just ‘be’ without judgment.  If judgment comes in, I don’t judge the judgment, I just let it be.  Observe it, acknowledge it, but detach from it.  Feelings are not facts.  I’ve have nothing to fear but fear itself.

My latest endeavor is expressing my emotions with a drawing journal.  Sometimes I draw, sometimes I write, but it is a safe place where I can put down what is on my heart.  It’s not always pretty and I accept that.  Sometimes I am surprised by what comes out but it’s liberating to have a safe place where nothing I do is ever wrong.  

How do I know if the trials and tribulations I experience are because I am getting closer to my fountain of truth or because I am off track?  I ask myself a few questions: What am I afraid of? Am I clinging to a belief/something/someone that is causing this pain?  (If yes, I’m bringing the heartache on myself.  If no, I’m about to learn an important life lesson.)  Do I unconditionally love and accept myself right now? (If yes, I’m about to learn an important life lesson and this pain will not last long.  If no, I gotta start now.)

 

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

True West: True to Life Stuff

My husband and I attended Tallgrass Theatre three times in the past two weeks. Never before have I been moved to buy tickets for more than one night of a performance. However, “True West” was more than a performance.  It was a touching, emotional, powerful display of the complicated realm of human emotion.  Especially within dysfunctional families.

The first night, I was in shock.  The story felt so real I needed to make sure Shawn Wilson, the actor who played Lee that night, was okay.  As he turned bright red with a telephone cord around his neck, I believed his brother had killed him.  When Lee jumped up to close the show, I was certain he had still sustained some kind of injury. He was okay, thankfully, but I needed to check.

The second night, with Michael Davenport as Lee, I felt insanity oozing from the stage.  Michael was brilliant at playing a crazy, dangerous drunk who deep down just wanted something to work out.  I felt Austin’s angst (played by Shawn this time) as he tried to make everything okay, all the time.

Last night was best experience of them all.  Lee, played by Shawn again, started his lines sounding like a little boy that just wanted to be included in his brother’s life.  He also wanted merit of his own. The only way he knew to get it was by intimidation.  Isn’t that where insanity and violence usually stem from?  People just wanting to be loved and appreciated but not knowing how else to get it? Austin, played by Michael, started his lines as a man focused on his work, less afraid than in the first show.  The audience was completely sucked in, gasping, laughing, and making involuntary comments as the actors emoted their lines.

I had a week to think about why this experience kept me coming back for more even though it made me uncomfortable.  Typically, when violence comes onto screen, I close my eyes and cover my ears until the music tells me the worst is over.  I can’t stand to see anyone victimized.  Equals battling it out are fine but when it’s clear one has the upper hand and the other is powerless, I can’t handle it. I was the youngest of three and my mom was unpredictable.  I loved her but she was unpredictable. Just like Lee and Austin, she would be one way to me behind closed doors and another when others were around. I couldn’t tell if she loved me or hated me and I’m pretty sure it was both. Just like Austin, more than anything else (success, fame, money), I want to be included.  “What if I come with you Lee?”, Austin pleaded.  I push myself to be something, someone, on the map but, at any moment, could topple into the depths of despair just like he did.

When you love someone insane, they typically are not insane all the time. Sometimes you aren’t sure if they are the problem or you are. Sometimes it feels if you could just be enough, do everything right, make it big enough, their insanity would go away. That thinking is just as insane. “True West” with the set dressing and cast at Tallgrass Theatre SHOWED that to be true.

Thank you cast, crew and especially Tom Perrine for taking the risk and making this experience possible.

 

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

Grateful for Autism

I’ve spent so much energy worrying about my son’s condition, I have missed what a blessing it is in many ways.

He gives me absolutely no attitude.  If I ask him to do something, he does it, period.  Understanding how difficult it is for him to adapt to change, he works very hard to keep himself under control.  When I say, “I need a minute,” he leaves me alone.  He cooks, he cleans, he loves animals.  What more can a mom ask for?!

I’ve had a few dreams recently where I had autism.  It was like I was experiencing life as my son does and it was extremely stressful!  Much of the time, I didn’t understand what was going on and didn’t know what was going to happen.  I started wanting to hum and flap to keep myself from throwing a tantrum.

Yesterday, after the rest of the family left, my son and I started cleaning his room.  His last guinea pig recently died and he’s come to the conclusion he does not want another pet that needs liter (horray!).  As we were going through old papers, he knew exactly what he wanted to keep and what he wanted to throw away.  Some grown ups I know have difficulty determining that.

After we cleaned his room, we went for a run.  Running is one of the few things we have in common.  I try to learn about his favorite superheros and Greek mythology characters but they aren’t really my thing.  I don’t like to play video games.  I try to support him in his sports but if he wasn’t playing them, I wouldn’t be at the games.

My son is growing into a man!  This blows my mind.  I remember holding him as a baby and wondering what kind of man he would be (At only 19 years old, I was arguably still a child myself).  So far, I see a very honest, kind, hard working, determined man who is going to be a blessing to everyone who takes the time to let him into their lives.

Time flies and if I don’t reflect on and appreciate what I have, I miss out on it completely.

John Lennon said it best with :”Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”.

I am grateful for my life!

 

From my heart to yours

Thanks for reading