All Roads Lead To Growth

Today was the last day in my department and in my current position. I’d been there almost exactly five years. This was a move that puzzled most of the management team in my current department. It seems my work there is pretty well regarded, which was flattering to know, but this is definitely the right thing for me. I’d started to feel, not doubtful, but vaguely regretful that I was leaving. Most of that stemmed from how close I’d grown to my co-workers and my fellow peers there. There were also some parts of the job I truly enjoyed and felt I was good at. This week I got a chance to do a lot more of that, instead of being bombarded and overwhelmed with an unwieldy workload because they took a lot of my files away in preparation for the new person taking over my desk. So there were definitely thoughts of wishing I could stay. Until some of the other factors started kicking in. Namely my supervisor, who is the sort of person who second-guesses nearly everything she does and everyone else who works under her. The more stressed she is about change, and my leaving was a huge change for her, the worse she gets and Thursday was a day that truly surpassed her neurosis, thereby killing any vague wishes I had of staying.

So many things became clear to me about the big picture of “why” it was so important to go move on from this job. Thursday’s last straw brought home to me, how little she’s ever trusted me. It’s not even personal, which doesn’t make the situation less frustrating. She literally cannot help herself, she is that way with most of us that work for her. What I finally understood was how much I was looking forward to going back to work for someone who knew I was capable and trusted my judgment, my decisions, and my work product! There are no doubts about doing this for myself realizing that.

I grew a lot in that position despite some of the issues surrounding my immediate supervisor and the overburdened, multi-tasking nature of the job. The most important growth has been of a personal and spiritual nature. That, in turn, helped me take an even deeper personal responsibility for myself and my path. Moving on, or back to where I started working at my company, is about trusting myself, my judgment, and my decisions for myself. I was responsible for the feelings of misery, inadequacy, and incompetence. It never meant I actually was those things. The lesson was in understanding I was there to live through and work out this part of my journey. Interestingly, or not so interestingly, my current job involved a great deal of investigation, evaluation, negotiation, and resolution. I guess all roads do lead to growth. Hmm, howbow dah?

 

Working Towards Grace

Completing last week’s blog renewed my commitment to myself and my faith in this writing space. The longer I went without writing, the more I began to doubt I was capable of it, even after reducing the number of posts to once a week. Of course, I’ve also been insanely busy, distracted and affected by a number of things. As most of you know, I did not take November 8, 2016, well at all. AT ALL.

Truth be told I’ve been reeling from it on so many levels that I struggled greatly initially but it’s finally tempered into something akin to resigned acceptance. Something akin but not exactly acceptance. Still, it rests easier in my heart and helps me breathe a little easier. I hated feeling so angry, hurt, sickened, disappointed and disparate towards friends or people in my life that I really cared about before the election. There has been a level of trust, innocence, and safety lost in all of this towards America in general and many, many in my life specifically. In a bid at self-preservation, I started eating a lot of junk food and binge-watching The West Wing (I’m down to the final season, episode 16, I think). Comfort food for body and spirit. I took a vindictive pleasure in reading scathingly hilarious things against our newly elected President and I referred to him by two extremely derogatory names in particular: Cheeto-In-Chief and Tang Tyrant. Mustard Mussolini and Cheeto Satan get honorable mention as well.

I attended to a couple of community meetings about the situation and I even made a poster for the Women’s March which was derogatory in nature. I ended up not going to the Women’s March or doing much of anything that weekend. I was scheduled for outpatient surgery the following Thursday and I  couldn’t bring myself to do the March on Saturday, drive up to Los Angeles for something else I had scheduled on Sunday, then turn around to begin the work week. Getting back to the derogatory poster, there were lots of laughs and congratulations on thinking up something so snarky. But a part of me felt uncomfortable with it after seeing other people’s slogans written about real injustice issues. I found myself laughing less and less at the scathing things posted on Facebook and elsewhere about him and those who voted for him.

His first week in office was utterly disheartening and downright frightening at one point. I wasn’t one of those so distracted by the Immigration ban that I overlooked the terrifying information that the director of National Intelligence AND the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff were removed from the National Security Council. Or that they were replaced with Steve Bannon. I was sitting in my car just having gotten back from the grocery store and my head started reeling as my stomach sank when I saw that. I could feel myself starting to slip somewhere horrible emotionally so I began deep, yogic breathing while I kept scrolling. That’s when I found a blog written by Savanna Hartman called a Presidential Pardon. Here is the link: http://bit.ly/2keAhFO. This touched a place in my heart that I needed to connect with. It’s a long read, but it took some much-needed wind OUT of my judgmental sails and brought me closer to the humility and acceptance I will need to get through these days. Although I’m not ready to refer to him by his name with his title, I no longer feel right referring to him with derogatory names. It’s a start.

I began to wonder how we are ever going to come together after all of this because the divide is vast and the chasm feels bottomless. More importantly, I started to realize if we are to truly stop and defeat what is happening in our government and with our country, we will need the ones who voted for him or voted third party. We need each other. At some point they may experience a change of heart, some already have I’m sure. But how can we expect them to come to us if we are too stuck in anger, arrogance, and blame that we want to rub their noses in it? We have to get past that in order to create a space to begin to come together to listen, understand, and connect with one another. I’m certainly not there, but I’m at least making my way towards humility and acceptance with the fervent hope it will lead to Grace. I didn’t vote for him but he is my President.

I will still resist, but my focus will be on protesting the issues and injustices. I’m convinced my commitment to heart-centered living is working its way in me. I continue to answer His Call, sometimes it takes me a while. I’m phenomenally human that way.

Falling Up

It’s been ages since I’ve sat here to blog on any kind of basis much less a regular one. There are many reasons why which I’ll dive into in a moment. Reasons I’ve discussed with my kick-ass therapist and my spiritual advisor. They, of course, provided excellent feedback and suggestions. However, the truth of why and what I need to do about it are inside me. They always are, aren’t they? I needed to be still long enough to allow some truths and solutions to catch up with my conscious mind.

Truth #1, starting with New Year’s last year, my life lacked prolonged, purposeful moments of stillness. I began with a yoga manifestation retreat in Ojai, came home and fell into a 31-day yoga challenge with my home studio, Bright Yoga. I facilitated an online A-Z Mindful Living group on Facebook for the month of February. I began fundraising in earnest for Yoga Teacher Training shortly thereafter. That included a whirlwind of cooking chili with cornbread dinners, organizing garage sales (two), working overtime at my job and a little baking here and there. Yoga teacher training started in mid-July and went until the very end of October. Add to that, my community commitments to be a secretary of a weekly Sunday morning 12-step meeting in a local park, being a Board Member and Events Coordinator for another community organization that involved monthly board meetings and planned activities for the organization every other month. Then there was the Big Island Writers Workshops in Los Angeles every six to eight weeks and monthly trips to Pasadena to see my grandkids and family up there. Plus my twice weekly personal 12-step meeting attendance and appointments with my kick-ass therapist every other week. All the while writing THREE blog posts a week. Oh, and lest we forget, my best friend, Dawny and I also cleaned houses on the side for extra money!

Shit, that brings us to Truth#2. It’s no wonder my body started reacting to all the activity, stress and emotion. Boy did it ever! My menstrual cycle, which was already prolonged and heavy went full rogue, lasting up to three weeks at a time. Near the end of the Presidential Election cycle and my Yoga Teacher Training in late October, I started to break out in rashes all over my body. This was definitely something unpleasant, unfamiliar and extremely disruptive. The rashes were itchy, inflamed and painful to the touch. I broke out badly on two separate occasions from my ears, my face, neck, arms, upper torso, lower back, to my lower legs. Nothing I tried worked. For the first time since I was diagnosed with Diabetes and Lupus six years earlier, I was seeing multiple doctors, undergoing tests and multiple procedures. I had appointments with my Primary Physician, an Ob/Gyn, a Dermatologist and my regular Rheumatologist who oversees my Lupus. I submitted to blood work and other lab tests, I had a sonogram, a hystero-sonogram, an endometrial biopsy and finally an outpatient surgical procedure. The Dermatologist was extremely unhelpful after having to wait six weeks for an appointment. By then the rashes were almost gone. He couldn’t tell me what the rashes were but prescribed an ointment with a strong antihistamine that thins out my skin after prolonged use. A little tidbit I found out from the pharmacist, who tried to hide her surprise and mild alarm that the Dermatologist had not informed me of that side effect, nor had he told me when to stop using it. Needless to say, I never used the ointment. Finally, somewhere in there I damaged my sciatic nerve, severely. In a way, I’d never done before because this was more than just some pain that shot down my leg from the back of my ass. This was being unable to sit comfortably or walk comfortably without excruciating pain. Especially when I drove over bumps or potholes in cars or just riding in my work elevator when it came to a stop on each floor.

I was truly a walking misery by this point and work started making more changes that piled on the stress. My boss informed me in early November that my absences, the unplanned ones were too high and suggested I get intermittent FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) approval from my doctor to protect my job. So there was all of that bureaucracy to deal with. For the first time in my long work history, I had to do this. There was Human Resources, Cigna Leave Solutions and my Rheumatologist to coordinate to accomplish this. But I accomplish it I did!

The solutions to my medical problems were self-evident. The solutions to everything else came eventually with the start of one question from my spiritual advisor almost two months ago. “I wonder where your spirituality is in all of this”? Solution#1, getting back to regular prayer, meditation and daily 12-step readings in the morning. It did start to help almost immediately, just enough to take the edge off at work. So much so that Solution#2 flowed right from the easing of the edge. I applied for my old job in a different department at my company. I had to talk to some managers and supervisors, then jump through some hoops, but I got the job! It’s a position that carries less stress and less multi-tasking. It will give me breathing room and free up the much-needed energy to focus on slowly building up my eventual yoga business. Which brought me to Solution#3, giving myself permission to take a fucking break! Seriously, I was stressed out about still not completing all my practicum and financial requirements for my yoga teacher certification. I was stressed out because I wasn’t writing my blog again now that I’d completed the training portion of YTT. I was stressed out because part of my original “master plan” was to be fully certified and teaching yoga enough to leave my current job.

That third and final solution, final for my current situation anyway, was huge and the biggest key. Giving myself permission to take a well-earned and deserved break allowed me to really get still and reevaluate where I was and reconcile where I was headed. It seems that my pesky little EGO didn’t feel I was entitled to that. There were several other things I had planned for myself that I shifted around and postponed. I am now in a stronger, more fluid, and accepting mental, physical, emotional and spiritual state. Looking back and forward, I’m truly fortunate to come through all of this without falling apart or falling down. I’ll take it and keep moving, ever inward as He Calls. It seems I’ve stumbled into falling up.

 

This entry was posted on January 28, 2017. 3 Comments

Sucking It Up With Grace & Gratitude

For a little context and in case you didn’t catch my blog post last week, I started this piece over two weeks ago. Back then the title was about the intense resentment and disappointment I felt with myself for graduating from yoga teacher training while remaining an uncertified Yoga Alliance registered teacher. That’s because I still have certification requirements to complete and a $725.00 tuition balance to pay off. I was trying to work my way through a pissy and negative state of mind about THAT when the election happened. Suddenly, sucking it up with grace and gratitude took on a whole new meaning and became what felt like an impossible fucking task.sol-1381860__340

I was devastated, livid, sick, and incredulous. I was profoundly hurt and disappointed in my country, in those who didn’t bother to vote and in particular with those who voted for a third party candidate. Something that still sticks in my craw because no matter how anyone tries to justify, explain or validate that action, the result and consequence of said action handed our country over to a reality star and questionable business man-child. Now we will have a Goddamned Cheeto-in-Chief in the White House. In the days following the election, I watched the uptick in racially motivated violence with despair. I read in horror about the stories of young girls and women being assaulted by young white males who now think it’s ok to grab a female’s pussy because our future Cheeto-in-Chief bragged about it and no one seemed to care. This country and many, many people who are part of my life said with their vote that racism, misogyny, xenophobia and bullying is what they prefer. That shit ain’t Politics folks, that’s personal. And now it’s become THE national agenda against people of color, immigrants, Muslims, LBGTQ, and women.sad-505857__340

Election night I was crying in bed, furious at so many people in my life and at this country.   I was miserably contemplating how the hell I was going to deal with people who had deeply disappointed me. Then a funny thing happened. A brand new Hillary-supportive Facebook friend sent me a private message to thank me for accepting her friend request. She’d seen a post of mine in a private Facebook group and she had just moved to my area with her wife. We commiserated over the election results and I told her I had a lot of friends who are avid supporters of the Cheeto. I joked I was grateful California legalized marijuana because I thought 19-1/2 years of sobriety was enough since I’d need some mary jane to deal with a Cheeto Presidency. (for the record, I wasn’t sure I was kidding) That’s when she typed that it was funny I mentioned AA because she was really active in Alanon! I didn’t think it was possible but I actually laughed out loud as my head ached from crying. You see, this is how my Higher Power works in my life. When I’m thinking about using drugs and jettisoning friends, God places an Alanon person in my life to show me: 1) I don’t need to use or drink over this and 2) even if I lose some people from my life, there will be new people to add to it. It turns out my new friend likes yoga and hiking so we have tentative future plans to one day grab some tea/coffee and go hiking!

It was rough for several days, then I developed a disturbing new symptom along with existing symptoms that showed up more frequently which caused me to miss two days of work and to go see my Rheumatologist, who oversees my Lupus treatment and diagnosis. Let’s review then, I graduated from the yoga teacher training program but still have attendance requirements and a financial balance to pay off before becoming a certified registered yoga teacher, my country elected a reality television star President, I have a number of medical and health issues that currently has me treating with three different types of doctors, OH… I somehow developed a severe case of sciatica in the past week that is truly excruciating and I was expected to celebrate 20 years of sobriety this week. All the while showing up to my full-time, cluster-fuck of a multi-tasking job, my yoga attendance requirements, and my 12 step meetings.

halm-1633744__340Let’s get to the grace and gratitude aspect of sucking it up, shall we? I may not be a certified, registered yoga teacher yet, BUT, my ass made it through the training program without missing any classes or assignments while working full-time. I am qualified to teach community classes for free through my yoga studio until I am certified, at which time I will be paid for teaching. My amazing best friend, Dawny, came up with a fabulous fundraiser that brought me $521.10, so my yoga school balance is down to a manageable $200 and I am chipping away at certification requirements. Yes, my Lupus and other medical issues are cropping up. For now, I am employed with good health insurance to help me treat and resolve what ails me. I showed up to a meeting and celebrated 20 years of sobriety last night.

As for the election and the call to “unite” and “come together” as a nation, sucking it up with grace and gratitude may not look like you think because I’m not uniting with hate, racism, misogyny, xenophobia or coming together with a Cheeto-in-Chief. I aim to speak up, protest, march and donate time, energy and money to organizations and causes that will help us deal with what is to come. I aim to misbehave. This is me with time to breathe, reflect and process some of this. I’ve made peace with people’s choices and I haven’t lost any real friends so far.

 

This entry was posted on November 19, 2016. 2 Comments

A Little Creative Writing Share

journal-1414116__180I thought I’d share one of my creative writing pieces from the Big Island Writers Workshop I attended last month since I’m not ready to write about what’s on my mind or in my heart at the present moment. I’m still marinating, processing and healing. Shit, I’m still just too raw. However, I was getting ready to type this particular piece in a word document because I read it to my kick-ass therapist and she asked me for a copy, which surprised me. I actually surprised myself when I wrote it. The general format for the workshop is we are given a series of prompts, usually 20+ phrases, words, and sentences from which we choose to write. We are given a set amount of time to go off somewhere on the premises to see what “stories” develop from the writing on our chosen prompts. Oh, and it is always handwritten. We come together afterward and read them out loud to the circle.  This piece was the last writing of the day and I was trying something a little out of my comfort zone.

Prompts are in bold and were given by Beth Bornstein Dunnington. The inspiration to try this particular style of writing from the chosen prompts is from Joanna Lipari. The courage and willingness to write come from God and the sacred circles of The Big Island Writers Workshops. Love and blessings to my fellow attendees.model-1428081__180

STEPPING STRAIGHT INTO MY POWER

Stepping straight into my power, hopefully, I light the way for others to find a path to their own power

Stepping straight into my power, I lie to Ego, Fear, and Complacency. Assuring them they’ll be fine, we’ll be fine- but we won’t. Being in your power can be scary, uncomfortable and different. We’re gonna get ta steppin’ anyway!

Stepping straight into my power, I love how alive and connected I feel to myself and everything.

Stepping straight into my power, I lament that my comfort zone keeps shrinking, that my path gets clearer, that the road gets narrower and leaves me less places to hide.

Stepping straight into my power, I lose people, places and things that once gave me comfort, caring, and safety because they no longer serve who I am today and who I am becoming.

Stepping straight into my power, I lower expectations of myself and others, allowing the gift of acceptance and compassion to replace disappointment and frustration.

Stepping straight into my power, I loosen my sphincter, open my heart, become willing in my mind & body to experience new things, to embrace expanding paradigms so I will live a larger life.

Stepping straight into my power, I lick the lipstick from my teeth and smile bright & pretty for the camera as there once was a time when I refused to take pictures, not wanting anyone to see me.

Stepping straight into my power, I leave behind the callous, selfish, ignorant aspects of my personality because they’ve been replaced with caring, empathy, and open-minded tolerance.

And finally, I linger occasionally to take stock, acknowledge how far I’ve come and to renew my faith and trust in the process of Stepping Straight Into My Power.

I’ve been re-reading a few of my old blogs and my writings from workshops past. It’s been a good exercise for me as it reminds me of who I was, who I am and who I am becoming. I’ve been reluctant to start writing and posting regular blog posts, even though I graduated from yoga teacher training two weeks ago (Yay and mini happy dance!). Part of the reason is because I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing so much. Another part is that I have no desire to set myself up for posting three times a week again because that was straight madness at times. The other part, the biggest part is that I’m a little afraid. Ok, a lot afraid because I’ve changed and I’m not sure a lot of you will like what I write from my heart… Only time will tell because I’ve committed to finishing my previously unfinished blog titled “Sucking It Up With Grace and Gratitude”. Believe it or not, THAT title was chosen before the election results and was about graduating from YTT. Now it has a whole new meaning that I have to reconcile with before I can finish it so stay tuned…

This entry was posted on November 12, 2016. 2 Comments