The In-Between Place

A while back, on Facebook, I posted a prayer asking God to help me let go of worry when I’m in the in-between places in my life. It got larger than normal responses. It also continued to resonate in my heart, circle my thoughts and settle into my mind. I don’t care for the in-between places in my life. I want to say I hate them but… [huge sigh here], my experiences taught me they are a necessary part of life when it comes to growth of any kind be it emotional, spiritual, or personal. I have a five-year timeline, technically four and a half years now, for where I am moving my life and work. My yoga and writing figure prominently in this timeline. They will in fact figure prominently in my Life moving forward.

Yet I’ve felt stuck and stagnant again with both. Which seemed contradictory since I attended a writer’s retreat in Hawaii, completed a 20-day deadline oriented online writing workshop, and participated in full weekend workshops in Los Angeles, where I’d previously attend 1 of the 2 days! I teach a regular Sunday morning yoga class at my home studio and I substitute for other classes regularly. I’ve been invited back to the Hawaii writer’s retreat as a writer this year, but more importantly, I’ve been paid to offer my services as a yoga teacher for part of the retreat again!

Where are the disconnect and the sense of stagnation coming from? Part of it is that I have not been writing or sharing any blog posts with any regularity or consistency. Another part is my day job I’ve been at for eleven years and counting. The 9-5 corporate cubicle grind is back to draining and stressing me out. It’s driven me back to many of my old dysfunctional avoidances such as emotional eating, mindless television, and reading. I injured my right knee in early November of last year and 3 months later it’s still not right or close to 100%. I’m unable to walk/hike or do more of the strenuous yoga I’d like to.

I haven’t blogged regularly because I’m tentative about what to write now. When I started my blog I chose to write about building my brave while I  navigated the next phase of my life. This included living a heart-centered life of presence. Yoga showed up on my path almost immediately after I began my blog and the end of my yoga teacher training opened my heart and eyes to the path of social justice and trauma-informed yoga practices. This awakening showed up on my path almost simultaneously with our Presidential election of 2016.

My growing awakening to our current social injustices is so overwhelming and has evoked a reawakened trauma response. All through this, my eyes have been open, my heart has been hurting, but my mouth has been essentially closed. I don’t know about you, but I was raised to sit down somewhere, shut up and be quiet. I learned those lessons as well as I could to survive my childhood, but I was not always successful at it. It leaked out in rebellion, sneakiness, lying and living a dual life of sorts. I don’t want to keep doing that. I can’t keep doing it.

I boycotted the NFL this year because I stand wholeheartedly behind Colin Kaepernick and his willingness to peacefully and patriotically protest the continued killing of unarmed black men, women, and children by the police in this country.  It’s been difficult to respect people I know who deliberately voted for a third party candidate or didn’t bother to vote at all last November, blithely protected in their privilege to do so. The #METOO movement sprung up so suddenly because women in the public and positions of power were coming forward and not backing down. The collective conversations about these injustices and pushback from systems which are the principal cause of the injustices have been swirling about social media.

This has been I feel the source of my fear and reluctance to write in this space. However, now, I believe I can reframe how I feel about my “in between place”. It’s been more of a self-cocooning until I was ready to reemerge on to this path that has been so clearly set before me. Answering His Call or The Call was something I committed to long ago right here in this space. That doesn’t mean I can’t curl up and rest in a protective ball from time to time. As long as I don’t lose track of my path, ever inward.

This entry was posted on February 10, 2018. 4 Comments

His Last Words To Me

I don’t remember his last words to me. My father was back at Johns Hopkins Hospital calling from his room there. The doctors thought his recently transplanted kidney was rejecting. This was after he’d been out in the world for several weeks living from the belief the transplant was successful. He’d gone back to work and was attending church, a strange thing to say about my dad. In any case, he was sick again. I was at work on my new job I’d started a month ago in August as a messenger desk clerk for a land title insurance company. It was September 21, 1998, and I was earning enough to support myself and the kids as a single parent. We were finally off of welfare and thanks to a welfare-to-work initiative implemented by President Clinton, my childcare was paid for a year. My baby girl was 3 and the boys were 8 and 10, so having free childcare for a year was a huge financial relief for me. I was also less than 2 years clean and sober. I tell you all of this because I was still a self-centered, dysfunctional hot mess and my dad had been sick for the past fifteen years.

Here’s what I was thinking at the time. He’d been living with 3 separate medical conditions since he was 37 years old. He was diagnosed with cirrhosis, diabetes, and hepatitis due to his alcohol consumption up to that point in his life. After that, he quit drinking and changed his dietary habits in an effort to take care of his health. However, over the years his kidneys gave out and he’d been on dialysis the last few years before the transplant procedure. All of this seemed pretty far removed from my awareness and comprehension since he lived 3000 miles away on the East Coast. I couldn’t see the toll this had been taking on his body. There’d been a false alarm of sorts almost 10 years earlier with him. He’d been at the hospital and doing bad enough that the family back East thought my sister and I should come see him before it was too late. So my mother flew my sister and me back there but the doctors drained his lungs and he recovered.

For me, my father remained the emotional bully he’d always been. It was something I either realized or was finally able to admit as an adult. I was sensitive and excitable as a child and as an adult, which he never liked. I couldn’t deal with the hurt of letting my guard down and being myself with him because his verbal abuse and chastisement were too painful. I didn’t have the voice or the nerve to stand up to him and our relationship took a hit for that. I just pulled away from him the last seven years of his life. I stopped my regular calls to him, but I did take his calls when he reached out on holidays and birthdays. The conversations were about him catching me up with the family back East and I caught him up on the kids. That was pretty much what I felt safe exchanging with him.

So on that last call that I didn’t realize was our last call, it was superficial in the way it was with us then. He told me he was going into surgery that afternoon, I think. I’m sure I must have said, “I love you, Chump.” I must have said it because I always ended our calls that way. Even with my imposed breach between us, I called him by the beloved nickname I learned from him as a child. And I always said I love you. So I know what I must have said but I don’t remember his last words to me.

I hear it, his voice a smooth, charismatic and soft masculine timbre. I hear his voice but not what he said.

I hesitate when I try to make myself remember or recall our phone call. Is it really so important?

I hose down the guilt that rises up from my stomach into my heart because I don’t remember his last words to me since I didn’t know enough to care it may be our last time with each other.

I hand over this useless feeling of guilt I hid out from for years because I refused to think or write about it.

I help myself now after the distance of time and the experience of personal growth taught me compassion. Compassion for self and finally, compassion for him.

I hang on to the good memories and laughter I shared with him. There were so many.

I hold up my smiles born of those stories, his stories about his life, our life.

I hover over the space inside of me I created for him. A space of compassion, healthy anger and acceptance.

I happen to believe I’ve come to this integrated resolution of my father because I don’t want to keep seeking him in relationships anymore.

For us, now it’s about being free. Making a space where joy fits in instead of guilt and anger.

This entry was posted on February 3, 2018. 6 Comments

It’s When You’re Safe At Home

 

It was the Spring of 2015 and I’d just discovered Jen Pastiloff on Facebook. I’m not even sure exactly how I came across her or why I decided to listen to her video when it was not in my nature to do so. I was deeply unhappy with myself and my life and Facebook, like television and romance books, was one of the ways I sought escape. It was starting to dawn on me that I could “design” my newsfeed with positive uplifting or good-natured sarcastic messages and images. Perhaps with this developing mindset, I was willing to hear what this woman had to say. This was before writing and yoga came into my life and quickly became lifelines. Getting back to Jen Pastiloff, her messages about being human, not being an asshole and saying the word “fuck” a lot hooked me from the start. There were authenticity and bravery in her willingness to share her growing deafness, her past struggle with an eating disorder, her current struggle with depression, and embrace her imperfections! I gobbled up her videos with my eyes, my ears, and my starving, undernourished spirit as soon as she posted them. I would view and read with longing about her workshops and retreats all over the world. Her uplifting message asking what were we saying “yes” to in our lives, filled me with hope and a bit of despair because I didn’t feel there was much to say yes to in my life at the time.

Uncomfortably snuggled in my day-to-day dysfunction and dissatisfaction at home, stressed out and drowning with an overburdened workload at my job, I wished with all my being to experience the adventure of Jen’s magic firsthand. Near the end of August 2015, Jen announced she was going to have an essay contest for her followers and the winner would get a full scholarship for her retreat in Vermont in October. I’d just begun blogging about my life under my personal blog titled Build Your Own Brave and I thought maybe I had a chance if I could write an essay good enough to win. I turned in an essay just before the deadline of September 9, 2015. By then, some of her other generous followers had donated two more scholarships so now there were three chances! After the deadline, Jen announced there were 70 essays that she and the editors from her Manifest Station site needed to read and choose winners from. Three days later Jen contacted me via private message on Facebook to tell me that she thought my essay was phenomenal and she wanted to offer me a scholarship to her New Year’s Manifestation Retreat in Ojai, CA. She knew it would be more affordable for me to drive there from San Diego than to come up with the money for a plane ticket to Vermont in October since the scholarship contest was always clear that the cost of transportation was not included.

Oh boy! My wish had come true and when the time came I drove to Ojai for her retreat. The reality was exhilarating and frightening. I was grateful for the four-hour drive since driving and listening to music are both soothing to me. When I pulled up to the retreat facility I didn’t know anyone but Jen and I didn’t really know her; except I did. It was a 3-day magical, manifesting, soul-stirring, paradigm-altering adventure! I thought I knew what her workshops and retreats would be like based on the pictures and small videos on Facebook and her website. However, it doesn’t begin to encompass the scope of the inward journey that is intimately linked with 30 odd strangers that became spiritual kin by the end. I opened myself in ways I didn’t know I was capable of, and at that time I had 19 years of spiritual/personal sobriety growth under my belt. This was sweating physically and shedding fears with abandon because I was connected and safe to do so. I was emboldened and impassioned to do so! I was doing strenuous yoga to release emotions, then alchemizing the emotion into boldness, fierce listening and empathy. I slept in a yurt quite a distance from the main house and yoga studio. I had to use an outdoor compost toilet for the first time ever. I had Jen literally sit in front of me to question me and encourage me to read to the group what I’d read when we stopped to dive into those released emotions. There was no hiding in plain sight allowed around this gorgeous, magical sorceress. And yet, in the midst of all of that, there were many moments when I longed for the familiar comforts. and safety of my couch, my television, my romance books. This adventure, which was filled with real magic, was changing and expanding me from the inside out and a small part of me was afraid of never being able to go back to myself again.

I believe that is the crux of my duality with the safety of home versus the freedom of adventure and wishing for the opposite while experiencing each. You see, I am my own True North, my own home and each time I step out into adventure it facilitates growth and expansion. With that is the fear while I’m out there adventuring that I won’t be able to go home again to who and what I was before. Except by then, it’s already too late and that’s more than okay. The sacred truth I learn again and again is I can return home changed and expanded and remain safe.

 

Worthy Woman, Worthy Girl

Isn’t it funny how the simplest of things can blindside or trigger you? For the past 15 days, I’d been participating in an online writing workshop where the theme is Home and I’ve been delving into my childhood and early home life. This is writing that is deeper and more personal than even what I put on my blog and it seems to have made me ripe for triggering.

What I’m about to tell you is a quality First World problem to have. I already know this, okay?

I took my car, a 2014 Mazda 3, into a collision repair shop because something flew up on the freeway Monday morning and caused damage to my right front bumper and fender. I had an appointment set for 8:15 a.m. Wednesday morning and Enterprise Rental was also onsite once I’d turned my car over to the appraiser. The Enterprise representative and I were walking out to the parking lot to get me in my rental of $27.99 a day plus tax. He says to me casually, “That’s your Mazda right?” and I said yes. He said, “Ok great, well we have a Mercedes here for you”, as he points to a silver car I parked next to when I pulled into the parking lot but never even paid attention to. I literally paused in my next step, thinking he must surely be joking. A goddamn Mercedes??? I asked him if he was serious and he said yes. I continued walking towards the car, but I was not happy. Literally, my stomach clenched as I continued forward. I asked him if this was the only thing left on the lot and he said pretty much. So I was stuck with it. The last thing I wanted was to be responsible for a high-end luxury vehicle. He showed me the bells & whistles on it and how to operate enough of them to get me off the lot.

I was tense driving all the way to work and I could not relax. I announced to my co-workers that Enterprise gave me a Mercedes for a rental. They all exclaimed at once since we are all auto insurance claims adjusters. Most of them were worried that the cost of the rental was extra. I assured them it wasn’t. I lamented to them and a few of my other work friends throughout the day. I’m a Mazda kind of girl, not a Mercedes or BMW or Lexus kind of girl!  In the afternoon I got an alert from the collision shop to tell me the repairs would take an additional seven days. This meant another week in the damn car! When I complained about that, they mostly laughed at me, amused at my perceived dilemma so I stopped talking about it. As I said, I know its a quality First World problem. At the end of the workday, I walked out across the empty parking lot toward my luxury rental. It’s really lovely and simple, not too big and certainly not the fancier more expensive E-class or S-class. I got in and tried to familiarize myself with the bells & whistles I knew how to use. I found the outlet to plug in my cell phone charger and tried to sync the car’s Bluetooth to my Samsung Galaxy S8 but it wasn’t having it no matter what I tried. I finally pushed the button to start it and began the completely smooth, badass ride home. I have a 50-minute commute and I relaxed after the first ten so that left time to think about just why I was so against driving a vehicle like this for a little while.

I began to think and realize I already felt raw emotionally from all the personal writing I’d been doing about my childhood of late. Reliving the loneliness I felt as a dark-skinned homely little girl when such things mattered and weren’t considered good. I’d also been stressed out about an increase in our workload in my department and how demoralizing it felt to fall behind with my work. I remembered someone told me earlier that they’d never driven a Mercedes before. I realized I hadn’t either and I’m at the ripe old age of 50. It hit me after I’d relaxed and started to enjoy the ride that all the resistance to the Mercedes was because I didn’t feel worthy to drive such a car. When I said I’m a Mazda kind of girl, what I meant was I didn’t deserve a luxury vehicle. Which made me sad and upset. Sad because I deserve anything that God or Life sees fit to put into it or in front of me, including a Mercedes C300 for eight days. Mad because this world already has so many systems in place to make me feel small, but here I was making myself feel small and unworthy as well. I couldn’t believe this was underneath all my gruff, resentful dismay at having the use of a luxury car! It’s started me thinking of other ways I tend to make myself small and feel unworthy such as my writing and my yoga. I’m a writer, but am I good enough to do what I want with it or where God and Life will lead me with it? I’m a yoga teacher but will I be good enough to do what I want with it?

Goddamn, there’s always more to uncover and work on isn’t there? All this over a damn rental car! Despite what I may feel, I’ve worked hard over the years. I’ve worked hard on my self, my life, my writing and my yoga. All of which leads me to an essential truth. I am enough, in any given situation, no matter the circumstance.

I am worthy; A worthy woman today with a worthy little girl growing up inside her.

 

This entry was posted on November 4, 2017. 1 Comment

I’ll Take Progress Over Perfection Any Day

Today I could have been finishing up preparation for a workshop I was asked to help facilitate in part with my yoga and writing. Some of you might have seen the beautiful flyer advertising it. However, due to low attendance/interest, it has been canceled, for now. The woman leading the workshop has a wonderful agenda worked out with good people on board and helpful, healing tools to pass along when it comes to fruition. She’s worked very hard to put this all together and I’ve worked on my part. We will regroup because we already have some idea on how to proceed with a future workshop.

By now I hope most of you have seen and liked my new Facebook page Ever Inward. It has my professional designations and pricing as a yoga teacher and writer with inspirational, uplifting posts as well as some concerning social justice. It was one of the three assignments given to me by my cousin and new accountability partner. The other two were a professional resume specifically for my yoga and writing skills, and to contact WordPress about getting administrative access to my blog. You see when this blog was set up by a great friend with double BS degrees in Computer Science but not much experience with blog site implementation. Bless him, he was a trooper and stuck with it until he had the basics in place for me. My computer has an automatic sign-in to the blog site where I can write, edit and post a blog. But I don’t know much else about administrating it and I don’t have an administrator. I’d like to change that, in fact, I’ve been wanting to do that for a while now. As for the resume? I have a few bios with my picture floating around on Bright Yoga’s website and on the 5 Senses workshop flyer. I’m still working on the last two because the Facebook page took a lot of energy and effort to set up and maintain. There are two more opportunities coming up. One is an online writing workshop I signed up for with a talented, published author and editor which starts in less than two weeks. The other is a possible speaking engagement about either trauma-sensitive yoga or writing at an educational conference next month. That one is definitely up in the air and I haven’t been able to meet with my contact about it yet. So that opportunity may not actually happen. At least not next month, we’ll see.

The point of all of these opportunities and assignments? They moved me along and progressed me beyond where I previously was. Those opportunities found me because I kept showing up for my life and the paths that opened up or revealed themselves to me. And of course, I posted about it on Facebook because its one of the ways I show up in the world and for my life. When I first got a Facebook page in 2009, my sister, Michelle, set it up for me and I almost never went on it for the first three years. About five years ago, I started showing up and I worked hard, on and off Facebook, to make my life what it is today. An authentic life of progress and motion.

So tomorrow I won’t be helping with a workshop as scheduled. The amazing thing is someone tapped me to be a part of it and every step of the way, I showed up and did my part. This made me see and become ready for the possibilities of my gifts. My page Ever Inward and this blog, Build Your Own Brave will evolve, as I have and continue to do. I plan to contact WordPress and GoDaddy after I edit and post this. If evolve isn’t another word or form of progress, then what is? Whatever it is, I’ll take it, just like the title says.