Archive | May 2016

Choices

I came across a quote from Nelson Mandela that has me thinking about my choices. What do they reflect in my life? Who am I if not the sum of my choices, actions, and capacity to love? Let’s look at those three things individually.10426550_455838581257119_3338224445306092669_n

My choices long ago were dictated by the preservation of self and the need for love and approval. Wishing, wanting, seeking love and approval from parents, family, and friends from day one. Fueled by fear of not getting these I learned to become what others expected or needed from me. On some levels, it worked like gangbusters for years and  years. But on other levels, deeper, internal ones, it caused all manner of issues. Issues such as creating a dysfunctional duality within myself, feelings of not being enough or feeling not good enough, no matter what I did or who’s love and approval I seemed to have at the time. Eventually, I chose to continue running from myself, my feelings of inferiority, fear and depression by turning to sex, alcohol, drugs and even food. It seemed instinctual because I had no awareness, much less any kind of clue about how to help myself. As most of you know my story, little by little over time, I sought help at various times from different sources throughout my young adulthood. At some point, as my choices continued to take me to darker, dysfunctional places despite the occasional help I sought, I made that final choice out of desperation. I was taught it was a gift of desperation and I believe it was so. A desperation motivated by a small spark of hope for something, anything that would help make me and my life better. The desperation lead me to surrender and a power so profound and unexpected that it etched a permanent mark on my soul. Regardless of my learned tendency to still fall back into fear, the guiding force behind my choices over the last 20 years is hope. It’s been a crucial and beautiful default to fall back on.hope-660379__180

With choices dictated by hope, my actions have fallen in line with that. I used to shut out, discard or abandon people, friendships, places, or things at the drop of a hat long ago because I thought they’d do it to me eventually anyway. Everything was conditional. I had no tools to work through personal disappointment, conflict resolution or commitment to friendship based on forgiveness and love. Even though my sobriety and recovery have been consistent combined with sporadic therapy over the past twenty years, it feels as if I and my life are finally coming together now. My over-arcing journey towards self-acceptance, growth and self-love feel evident in a way that had been lacking. I don’t force situations. I don’t try to force people to like or love me. I’m able to accept situations, other people and myself for what or who they are. I operate from that and most situations come around or people do. Or they don’t, but I don’t twist myself or my world out of shape or upside down. There are freedoms and a lot of breathing room in that.

Finally, my capacity to love continues to expand and surprise me. Sometimes it sneaks up on me when I look around and notice the existing connections I have to amazing friends, family and people in my life. It hits me in the heart when the connections grow or show an unexpected leap in growth. I believe love is many things. I believe love is made up of many things. It fuels my hope that my ever growing capacity to love can be limitless, like God.

 

This entry was posted on May 14, 2016. 2 Comments

Forgiveness and More Forgiveness Work

fern-1250906__180Occasionally I pull out numerous notebooks I keep at my writing desk and around my bedroom to look for inspiration. I stumbled across journaling from two years ago in one notebook and notes I’d taken from a yoga class on the heart chakra last year. An assignment in the yoga class was to write a forgiveness letter to someone. I’d started the letter but wasn’t able to finish it in the class. The journaling from two years ago reminded me of a time in my life when I was feeling very hurt, rejected and shut out. I suppose these particular past writings stood out because there have been a lot of feelings stirred up through the stories developed in my recent writing workshops. The stories from the writing prompts in my workshops were all autobiographical and true to the best of my memory. I’ve shared a few here in my blog, the ones that fit with the theme of my journey. One, in particular, I shared in a general way because I felt working through the emotions and feelings of that part of my story was more important than the details of how it happened.

And so I will attempt to do that again because my stories from the workshop have stirred up feelings of anger, resentment, hurt, vulnerability and unworthiness. I don’t like feeling this way because I did a lot of forgiveness work surrounding my childhood and my own personal history with alcohol and drugs, especially when having to do with parenting my children. I can feel it coloring how I feel about myself and how I am showing up in my world of late… Oh, I’m showing up, but sometimes I feel as if I’m holding myself in check so I don’t lash out or retract into myself by shutting out those who love me. This is my deal, not theirs. I get angry and impatient with myself because I keep insisting I did this work. I’m over that.

Ah, but there are always layers to just about everything of worth… right? It’s feeling apparent now, that the work I did back then was necessary and essential for who I was at that time. It was truly freeing and allowed me to move forward with compassion and understanding to forge healthier relationships. Today there are new stories. Or rather there are deeper stories that I am allowing to surface now as I live this heart-centered life. What is one of the heart’s greatest gifts, if not forgiveness? It wasn’t an easy gift but it was one I worked hard on with a different therapist.dove-41260__180

Guess there is more forgiveness work for me and my current, kick-ass therapist then. A part of me is feeling quite pissy about having to do this again. But the other part of me, the heart-centered woman of growth, grace and progress knows its necessary and essential. I deserve the freedom to move forward with greater peace and understanding. We all do.

Trusting My Journey

sand-768783__180I started one of the books on the recommended reading list from my yoga teacher. It’s called The Heart Of Yoga: Developing A Personal Practice by T.K. Desikachar. I read the foreword and the introduction, which was an interview of the author, T.K., about his father, one of the greatest yogis of the modern era. It was extremely informative and helpful so far with providing context, background, and history on yogic practices and how the practice used to be taught. This particular author and his father came from a long line of great yoga practitioners traced back to the ninth century!

What I love about what I am learning so far is the spiritual recognition of some of the values and principles the author learned from his father. I’m grateful my journey to yoga and my experience with my first yoga teachers seems to confirm what the author says in the introduction. Such as the way of teaching requires kindness from the teacher and much modesty and humility on the part of the student. Yoga is more than simply a physical practice. One of the best concepts conveyed had to do with how yoga is applied to the individual. The starting point is never the teacher’s needs but that of the student, which requires different approaches. Yoga serves the individual through transformation rather than giving information.

There was a lot more. It was a long, very engaging and interesting foreword. But I’m most encouraged that I was able to recognize how some of the information parallels my experience with yoga so far. It has been much more than physical for me! My teachers are most kind in their instruction, inviting me to explore and challenge myself in safe ways. It’s certainly been transformative.person-666134__180

I especially related to how modest and humble the author and his father was about their knowledge and practice of yoga. They always gave credit for their success and practice to former teachers and to God. I feel that way about my recovery when people want to give me credit for my sobriety and what it’s done for me and my life. I owe that to God, my sponsors and the AA way of life. I am quick to tell  people so and give credit where it’s due. More and more as I follow the path that unfolds, I am shown over and over that I can trust this journey because it continues to reinforce what I’ve been taught along the way.

Grow With The Flow

I received a private message on Facebook from my yoga teacher Thursday afternoon which said I’d have more time to save for Bali because she needed to push the trip out to possibly 2018 due to some unfortunate circumstances. She was sweet enough to give me an idea of alternative locations and times she was considering for future retreats in the meantime and she hoped I wasn’t too disappointed. In all honesty, I wasn’t too disappointed, which was a surprise to me. A happy surprise. I realized the idea of spending my 50th birthday in Bali was amazing but the main attraction was to experience the retreat with my incredible teacher and fellow Bright Studio yogis. I was able to respond to her private message and assure her of what I just wrote. I’m looking forward to discovering where the next retreat will be so I can get on board!water-1082234__180

This was after the nacho bar had been put away and I’d made $140 in nacho sales plus received an additional $25 in donations, taking my overall Bali Fundraiser total to $355! All accomplished in less than 3 weeks. I felt like that was an important lesson I stumbled upon as well. How I don’t just “get by with a little help from my friends”, I thrive with a lot of love and support from my friends! As I wrote in a recent blog: http://buildyourownbrave.com/2016/04/26/when-intention-takes-on-a-life-of-its-own/, from the moment I wrote and verbalized my intention to get to Bali next year I’ve encountered unprecedented support, encouragement, and help from everyone! Seriously, it started with my yoga teacher, my co-workers, and my friends. They either had great suggestions about hosting a nacho bar on Cinco De Mayo, they provided support by ordering my crockpot chili with cornbread dinners or buying raffle tickets for the DONATED Padres baseball tickets, they helped by baking yummy zucchini muffins to sell at work or they simply donated money to my cause. I had offers to help from my fellow yogis at Bright Studio too. I was absolutely humbled, amazed and grateful to realize how much I am loved. I was worried about telling people the trip had been postponed but it was suggested by a friend and my kick-ass therapist to use the money towards my yoga teacher training. That starts next month and I have roughly a third of that saved up so far. So that is what I posted/announced on Facebook with a repost of my yoga teacher’s status about scratching the Bali Retreat for 2017.

I’m enjoying the energy I’ve been inhabiting since my Wednesday night conversation with my spiritual advisor. In suggesting the assignment of awareness and presence, I realized how far I had gotten from being aware and present for my life of late. This return to it reminds me that I can take things as they come without getting too caught up in reacting to them. There was an issue or two that arose at work over the nacho bar. I’d allowed for the possibility that some may arise. They did and I handled them. There was also another event at work that I was able to take in realistically for what it was, without allowing my cynicism or snark to get out of control.sapling-154734__180 agriculture-1239266__180

It’s definitely helping me grow with the flow of things and isn’t that an important point?

 

Energy and Awareness

sunset-473754__180I just had an amazing three day weekend which truly refreshed and recharged me. My Miami Heat prevailed in the first round of the NBA Playoffs with a resounding Game 7 win on Sunday and then won Game 1 of the second round on Tuesday! I’m hosting a nacho bar at work for Cinco De Mayo as another 2017 Bali Retreat fundraiser. $5 per bowl of nachos and I’ve got some buzz generated about it. I’m looking forward to having a quiet, non-jam packed Mother’s Day weekend where I can get organized, possibly declutter a little and just plain fucking chill. All positive occurrences or coming events, wouldn’t you say?

Then a few life occurrences and mild anxieties came up. I had to replace all four tires for my car and I got a very reasonable price from my reliable mechanic shop. Even though I’d planned for the expense, I had to get creative because of money I expected that hadn’t come through yet. The mild anxiety concerns the nacho bar at work. It’s a great idea and I’m sure it will raise a nice chunk of money, but I’m nervous about it. I’ve been wanting to call it off all week, a sure sign fear and anxiety. I don’t want to show up. But it’s taken on a life of its own. Too many co-worker friends know about it, are helping with it or expect to buy some from me. I worried about the logistics of where to place two crockpots and several containers of toppings. Or will enough people really pay to help me?

We had a unit meeting right when I arrived at work this morning. There are changes coming as a result of management listening to “focus” groups on how to make our jobs better. All I can say is the solutions offered in this morning’s meeting missed the mark by such a wide margin that couldn’t even look up. I was disappointed and pissed all day. I bitched a little here and there but mostly kept my head down because my supervisor asked that no one be negative about the changes.

Fortunately, Wednesday night is when I talk to my spiritual advisor. Boy did she have some questions for me after I unloaded my day on her! Questions that required I bring myself TO the conversation at hand. How is my 12 step practice? What is spirituality to me? Are you meditating? What is love? She is not shy about asking the deep, tough questions. And she always says, “I could have my head up my ass with these questions”. But she never does. She knows what she is doing. She moves me out of the head space and mood I’d been in all day. By answering her questions and opening up a dialogue about myself and my self-care I was able to shift how I thought of the company I work for. Based on my advisor’s definition of love involving forgiveness, gratitude, and generosity, I understood more clearly. Generosity is not just about giving, it’s about extending the most generous benefit of the doubt to someone or something when they are in your life and they’ve done so much for you. My company is going through some serious growing pains. There are issues that need to be addressed and they are trying. My spiritual advisor is fond of reminding me that everything is energy, science has proven that and nothing is truly solid. She pointed out that we inhabit the energy we bring to any given situation and I had been inhabiting some intensely negative energy today. She was right. But right after I was able to extend the benefit of the doubt to my company and moved out of the energy of my intense disappointment, I was able to release the hurt and sadness underneath.alive-927077__180

She gave me the assignment to be aware and present, no matter what for the coming week. After we hung up I unrolled my yoga mat, lit a candle, turned on the Hozier station on my Pandora app and got busy inhabiting the energy of my moving meditation. I’m grateful for awesome teachers in my life like my spiritual advisor, the company I work for and anyone or anything that crosses my path. Let’s see how long I can inhabit this energy.

This entry was posted on May 5, 2016. 1 Comment