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The Three of Me

The first weekend in March I went to a yoga class at my home studio for the first time as a certified yoga teacher. It was the same Saturday Yin class I used to attend regularly before the training started. I’d been going to it on and off as part of my practicum attendance, but it was hard to enjoy the class when I had to pay attention and analyze it as a trainee. But this particular morning I was finally able to relax and immerse myself fully into the Yin experience. It felt incredible. There was such a steady, strong influx of energy and grounding. Afterward, I had a chance to speak with both of my mentors to tell them how much their training and mentorship has meant to me. I was flying high when I left the studio and went home. I checked my mailbox and found a handwritten letter addressed to me. I didn’t recognize the handwriting and there was no return address. I walked into my apartment, opened the letter and was shocked to discover it was from ME!

12/31/2015

Dear Tammi 2016,

I can’t wait for you to read this as you smile, laugh and probably cry. First I want to thank you for all the manifestations of us that moved us forward. I hope you surprise yourself as much as we did in 2015. I hope your inner circle widens. I hope we were able to live, love and grow from new and more truthful stories. 

I hope you/we are simultaneously bring your/our own brave and we continue to build more of it. Please know, feel and understand that wherever you end up is where you are supposed to be. There is no true failure, if there has been sincere, concerted effort. Celebrate progress. Celebrate your big beautiful amazing heart and the bigger life it’s wrought.

Love,

Tammi 2015

 

As you can see from the date, this letter was written at the tail end of 2015. I was at Jen Pastiloff’s New Year’s Ojai Manifestation Retreat. http://buildyourownbrave.com/2016/01/02/of-magic-music-manifesting/ One of the things I didn’t write of and had completely forgotten about was that Jen had us all write a letter to our future 2016 self. The plan was to come back to her retreat the following year and she would hand the letter to us. If we didn’t make it back for her retreat, she would drop it in the mail to us. It was such an emotional experience to read my own words to myself. And of course, I was smiling, laughing, and crying as I read it. So there I sat and here I sit, reflecting back on the three of me: 2015 Tammi, 2016 Tammi and 2017 Tammi.

In 2015 I had just started blogging regularly but had not yet begun to find the stories waiting to come out in Writers Workshops. I’d finally finished creating a Mission Statement for my life and my work but still wasn’t sure exactly how to manifest what it would look like. I showed a willingness to tentatively move forward as the next indicated thing presented itself, with no idea where it would lead. I was moving so far away from who I’d been, yet paradoxically, I was drawn inward towards the true heart of myself. A Tammi who had done new and different things to create a new and different life.

2015 Tammi

Then came 2016 Tammi, a creature of seemingly perpetual motion of daily, weekly and monthly commitments to herself, her job, this blog, and her community. There were monthly challenges of daily yoga in January and daily mindfulness exercises in February of 2016, then the whirlwind of fundraising to prepare for upcoming Yoga Teacher Training. There were Writer’s Workshops every 6-8 weeks, trips to Pasadena every month to see the grandkids. There was the actual yoga teacher training itself from July through the end of October and all the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional effort, experience and accomplishment that entailed. Looking back on 2016, she/I had a TON of help from so many friends, but I still don’t know how I did it. Then ultimately the last two months of 2016 felt like my country ripped open my chest to deliver a sucker punch to the heart and my stressed out Lupus riddled body started attacking itself. That kept me busy seeing various doctors, undergoing tests and labs for the rest of the year.

2016 Tammi

Finally, here I am now in 2017. My body healed as much as my Lupus will allow while my heart is stronger, wiser, and expanded from the heartbreak. I committed in this new year to celebrate, embrace, and enjoy myself AS I AM. I’m on the cusp of my 50th birthday and on balance, I’ve never felt better about myself and my life. I say on balance because I’m growing into this confidence, or a better word is assurance of myself. As with anything having to do with growth, there are stages and it is not yet constant. Maybe it will never be constant, but I know I’m going places, even when it may feel like I’m still in the same place. I know that I have surrounded myself with people who love me good and lift me up. I know that as long as I stay open and willing, God will show me the way.

2017 Me!

This entry was posted on June 5, 2017. 1 Comment

Who Am I? A Continued Journey Of Renewed Beginnings

Lately, my life is filled with much of the familiar people, places, and things, with the exception of myself. I, myself, am the unfamiliar element. Does that make sense? It’s made me reluctant to write and post my blog. Shit, it’s made me turn away from this new manifestation of myself in old, familiar ways. Ways such as couch surfing after work as I zone out on television or slowly, but surely dropping the spiritual practices that feed me. Practices like consistent 12 step meeting attendance, a regular personal yoga practice, or regular writing in my blog. Particularly this blog space, where for a time I was writing so openly and consistently about my journey towards my goal of a heart-centered life, my journey home to my true self. This blog space where I was able to pour out what was in my heart, head, and soul in any given moment or situation. Space where I’d consistently been able to work through much of my journey, proving that our answers truly are within ourselves when we are willing to connect with ourselves and our Higher Power. Therein lay the rub. I was unwilling to connect with myself as I continue to “level-up”. I am reminded of a quote:

“… no one who learns to know himself remains just what he was before.” — Thomas Mann

I’ve been here before where I “check-out” of my Self, or at least that is what it feels like. However, my kick-ass therapist has been helping me to reframe how I look at and live my life. The real truth is that shortly before Christmas of last year in the throes of grief about my country (which was a very real, very ugly experience for me) I’d decided to take it easy and give myself a break. 2016 was an extremely active, busy, stressful year filled with many accomplishments and goals I worked hard at. I had something going on nearly EVERY weekend so I made a conscious choice to take it easy, stop pushing and gave myself permission to breathe in 2017. While I’d made up my mind to do that, I never took into account what that looks and feels like. Or how much taking it easy feels like when I used to “check-out” of my Life.

In the time since I decided to do that, I have slowly but surely made changes in my life to free up energy and time. I’ve kept my activity level down to one big “event” per month this year, instead of nearly every weekend and it’s worked out well because I’ve stuck to it for the most part. I’ve been in my new/old job with my new/old boss at work for three months now and the decrease in my level of stress is tangible and visible to anyone who sees me! I’ve been able to finish all my practicum requirements and became a Yoga Alliance certified 200Hour registered yoga teacher! That happened almost three months ago too. I followed through on my commitment to secure additional training and certification for Trauma-Informed Yoga. Once again, while I’d made up my mind to accomplish all of these things, I never took into account what that looks and feels like.

Which brings me back to the title of this blog post and the quote in the middle of it. Who is this woman which inhabits my heart, my body, and my soul now? Who is this woman who fears so much but moves steadily through it to the other side into accomplishment, experience, and growth yet still is caught between what she was and what she will be? A woman who has been afraid to face herself and discover the answers in her usual areas of blogging, 12-step meetings, and yoga. Somehow this doesn’t feel like my normal blog post where I eventually land on the answers or solution at the end and maybe that is fitting. As I am beginning to get to know my Self again, I just may need to let go of the expectation of the same old results. In any case, I’ve opened up the lines of communication again so I’ll take that as progress. It also could be my upcoming 50th birthday next month, I did mention that didn’t I?

This entry was posted on May 22, 2017. 2 Comments

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