control · light · meditation

Giving up, in a good way.

IMG-5251-e1544798447398.jpgToday’s Deepak/Oprah meditation from “The Energy of Attraction” included the sentences:

When I go into my true self, then the energy of attraction meets no resistance.  All the complaints, demands, and criticisms that create problems at the level of the ego are erased.

For reasons unknown, when I heard the words “are erased,” my eyes began to well.

The relief, I suppose, of imagining that all the “complaints, demands, and criticisms” becoming absolved, removed, unburdened from my consciousness…  Imagine the LIGHTNESS if we/I weren’t laden with those “ego thoughts”?!

It’s punctuating to notice that the experience of imagining freedom brings such relief—just the imagining of it!  To be hamstrung by anything in this world, and then look down and realize, Hey, it’s gone!

Or, it could be.

Sometimes in meditation, like the other morning, I imagine placing all my thoughts about a topic or person into a cardboard box.  Then I place that box in G-d’s hand.

G-d gets to hang onto that problem or person for a while, and when I’m done meditating, I have the option to come pick that box up… or not.

It’s a relief to know that I can set down my carrying of all my thoughts about them, if only for a brief moment, and not feel concerned with clinging onto my plans for them.  However, for me, one benefit of this idea is that I can come back to them.  I can pick it back up, this security-blanket sack of concern and habit and burden.

Clearly, this is not the benevolent security blanket a person may say they want, but when you’ve been carrying it around for so long, just giving myself a few minutes without it is a big enough deal.

And then, coming to this idea of Erasure — that these concerns or demands or criticisms don’t even have to exist.  That it’s not about putting them down, or picking them up, or peeking inside the box to make sure all my worries are still tucked in tight.  Rather, to imagine them GONE.

That, is different.  That is a release of this security blanket at all.

Having experienced a moment this morning of imagining a relief, an ERASE, of my concerns/demands/criticisms, I do wonder if I can allow that spaciousness and levity to breathe

for

more

than

one

moment.

 

IMG-5251-e1544798447398.jpg

Advertisements
community · flexibility · frustration

De-funkify

12.13.18Yesterday morning, I was silly enough to check my work email before I completed my journaling, or meditating, or blogging.

I discovered a series of last-minute emails that detailed a change in plans that would affect my morning class plans and, indeed, my morning practice, as it meant I took time to email my students, the faculty, update my calendar, and put on fancier clothing than I would have if I’d not read the emails.

Within all this activity, I was feeling FUNKY.  Not good, James Brown funk.  Like, “in a funk” — or perhaps more accurately, “in a smoldering.”

The smoldering wasn’t exactly warranted, but I do hate last minute changes and can sometimes find it quite difficult to be flexible.  While teaching a class is in itself a gargantuan exercise in flexibility, I can tend to hold some rigidly inflexible habits around the structures and landscape of my teaching day that allow me to have that openness in the class in the moment (i.e. creating a lesson plan = important; letting the class take it where it may = also important).

But, the impingement on the structural changes to my day meant that I felt thrown off my morning track, and I was stewing in negativity around it.  I crafted an email THREE TIMES to the person who delivered these messages laying out that, “Hey, maybe we don’t send emails after work hours for imminent changes in the morning.”  I also deleted this email three times(!!!), and came back to what in the world I could change.  This moment, clearly, was something that was done, set, past.  What did I really need then?  I needed to give myself the notice in advance.

So, I opened my school calendar, copied all the germane events to my own, and set up an email alert for the day prior.  This is what I need.  While, yes, it’s important to speak up for what I need in general, my ire at this woman was unwarranted.

So, I scaled it back, did what I could in the moment to prevent it next time… and then made three phone calls!

I left two cranky as f*ck voicemails, and then I reached a live person.

However, instead of going into what I was all “panties in a twist” about, I asked her how she was.  And, in fact, she was at the airport about to travel for work with her new boss, and needed that phone call herself!

We got to talk about her trip, her thoughts that arise about how she’s perceived at her job, and how she also feels different–better–in this new job.

Then, we got to talk about fashion.

She was going to be attending an apparently very fancy Hollywood Hills party, and she detailed what she’d wear, the swag bags she’d receive, and how to pack that up on the far side of the trip!

In other words, we got to talk about LIGHT things.  We got to laugh, to giggle, to get excited, to feel inspired and joyful.

And by the time I arrived at work after that maybe 10-minute call, I felt lighter, too.

I felt relieved of my irksomeness and my bile.  I remembered again the wholeness of myself and my experience and my interests.  And I got to let my bad mood go.

And that’s good, because yesterday at school ended up being a truly fantastic day.

 

honesty · parenting · relationships

The Fine Balance

12.11.18.jpgSometimes—no, always—it’s difficult to know in a relationship when to zip your lip and when to speak up.

While I’ve absolutely become better about not venting all my crazitude onto J (and what will or will not happen in the future based upon my extrapolation of the present), there are truly times when it feels important to share some of those thoughts (or requests, or needs).

Some of finding this balance has meant sharing those thoughts earlier, so they don’t become a towering inferno of resentment that destroys my faith in the relationship.

Some of finding this balance has meant letting him have whatever experience he’s having without my trying to change it.

I am … not skilled at this yet.  It’s still very tough for me to negotiate where the line is between “my stuff” and “our stuff,” but it does feel further along the path than it did.

It’s impossible to think about your own potential parenthood without also thinking about how you grew up.  Indeed, I think most of us attempt to have a redactive experience with our own children, to “do it better.”

Yet even if we can’t “do it better,” perhaps we can avoid some of the same egregious pit-falls.  But to do that, you must communicate if and when you see them, especially if they feel like blind spots, or sore spots, to your partner.  You–er, I–must say, “Hey, I see this reaction as part of a pattern, and while I’m able to handle the fallout of it (for the most part), a child is defenseless against those reactions and actions.”

This is not a chiding or judgment that the other person’s behavior is “wrong” (really!), but it is an invitation to say, “Before there are tiny humans in the mix, can you reach out for help to soften or release some of this particular type of reactivity?”

We are not the first people in the world to talk about having children.  We are not the first to experience heightened feelings of doubt.  But where there is dread, because we’re not taking proper care of ourselves or reaching out for the proper support, then that negative pall will shadow what can be (at least in many moments!) a wonderful, inviting, and blossoming experience.

I know that I carry baggage of my own, that certain behaviors in others trigger a ptsd-style reaction.  And that’s my own to work on.  But, where the balance line of relationships is concerned, it is also my work to speak up and say, “This is not okay,” to model to our children, to take out on them, or to blame them for.

We are the grown-ups, and we must act like them, doing what grown-ups do: assess the problem or situation, find the appropriate tools to handle them, and ask for help if we don’t even know where to start.

 

affluence · compare despair · reframe

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” ~ Anais Nin

12.10.18For most of the weekend, I learned about anatomy and fitness at a workout studio nearby, training for a certificate in teaching this style of workout class.  As you can imagine, the type of person (read: woman) who attends the workout classes I go to in this area are generally of a homogeneous strata: white, thin, 40-somethings with enough money and time to spend on an expensive workout class.

The training was lead by a similar trio of women and was attended by a set that generally matched.  Of course, there are the exceptions that make the rule, the fuller bodied woman, the brunette, the two POCs.

But I told J as I was heading to the training this weekend that I was feeling nervous, like I didn’t really belong.  The women generally wear rocks that you could scale and sport the trendy half-solid, half-mesh yoga pants with a name brand.  And I felt weird.  I felt like the posturing odd duck.

When I began going to these classes nearly 10 years ago, I felt much the same way.  For a while, I held my discount clothing-store outfit as a point of pride and designation: I’m not like you.

But over time, I am coming to realize, in many ways I am like them: I’m coming for a good workout and to feel supported in my “practice.”  And while wearing less pricey clothing is something I still may choose to do, perhaps I can stop showing up with deodorant marks on them!  Because that mark is simply a way I’m trying to say: a) I’m not like you, and b) I’m approachable because I’m not perfect (like these other women appear to be).

I don’t need to distinguish myself away from the group in that way.  It’s just an artificial way for me to put a wall between us that I don’t need to raise.

I have stories in my head that tell me, “We grew up differently.”  They grew up with a deep-rooted confidence that they were loved and supported.  They grew up with Tahoe trips and private schools.  They walk today through the world with a sense of belonging, and a sense of expectation that others will implicitly accept their belonging.

I have stories that tell me that I did not grow up this way.  That I had foundational flaws and cracks in my own development that mean I am fundamentally different.

But.  I really don’t need that story anymore.  Frankly, it doesn’t quite matter how either of us grew up—we’re grown ups now.  Grown ups get to choose how they want to present themselves in the world, but more importantly, how they feel about themselves.

I don’t want to wallow in “Compare Despair” when in conversation with others, particularly as it comes up more frequently here in this more affluent community where we’ve moved.

They’re not “making” me feel less than; I’m choosing that.  Which is totally f*cked.

We ALL have our hills to climb.

But even if they don’t, even if my story is that these women have every advantage and privilege on Earth, how *I* choose to be in the world, how *I* choose to perceive myself will be a much greater indicator of my happiness than anybody else’s view.

View myself as “less than,” and I’ll feel less than.  View myself just as I am, however and whatever that is, then I’ll get to remain more open, more receptive, and more connected to the world around me—even the blondes.

 

fear · focus · goals

Scattershot

12.7.18.jpgAs J and I continue pondering whether or not to have children together, I have to look at my personal history of focus.

In the 21-day meditation challenge I’m working through now, The Energy of Attraction, they return repeatedly to the idea that in order to manifest anything in our lives, we must be focused on it.  We must maintain that focus.

I feel like some of my 6th graders! SQUIRREL!

My attention muscle is extremely weak.  Rather, my attention on myself muscle is weak; I have a voracious capacity to focus on you!

And it would be easy for me to give up; to say, “You know, clearly it’s easier for me to focus on the needs or goals of others, and it’s sooo freakin’ hard to focus on myself, and besides, I’m totally bomb at “helping” other people(!),  so I should just do that!!  I should dedicate myself to what others—including my partner, potential children, students, their parents—may need.”

It’s so much easier that way!  It’s ingrained!  It’s hella focused!

But, truly, I know that’s not the path I really want to or am meant to follow.

My path, clearly, includes the consideration of others, but I know that I need copious strengthening of the muscle of Coming Back to Myself first.

I have so many disparate interests that part of the lure toward “helping” others is that I don’t have to decide.  It’s the curse of the “Master of None.”  I don’t want to be a master of none; it doesn’t help my self-esteem to say that, Yes, I play several instruments, but none of them competently.  Yes, I’ve been a community theater actress, but I don’t do that anymore.  Yes, I’ve worked in bands, but those collaborations fell off.

In fact, I increasingly notice that my friendships often suffer the same “fall by the wayside” fate if I’m not attending to them.

I want to study physics, fly a Piper plane, visit Rome, own rental property, do Shakespeare, play the piano…

But more than any of these things, I want to write a regular column in an online or paper publication.  I want to use my voice and my ability to condense disparate pieces of information into a coherent whole to inspire others to ask important questions of themselves, to illustrate progress, and to share vulnerably that I may help others to do the same.

I want to be a writer.  A published one.  And I don’t want to waver from that goal.

And yet, EVEN AS I TYPE THAT, I feel emotions, something like resistance, or fear, or hopelessness, rise up in me.

And so I know that THIS is the place to “focus” my attention.  I will never be able to move wholly into a realm if I feel terrified of it; if I feel ashamed putting my attention on myself; if I hide what I want for myself.

In a word, I must own my voice.

Honing my focus in on this one goal feels internally like my trying to benchpress … any number of pounds!!

But, I have been going to the gym lately, and I do notice that I can hold that plank a few seconds longer.  Make my mind like that plank: just a few seconds of awareness on bringing my vision into reality, just merely hold my attention on that goal, and see, just see, what movement can happen.

 

calm · compassion · relationships

Learning to Love.

12.6.18.jpgSometimes dating feels a lot like teaching:

You have to remind yourself that the other person doesn’t know what they don’t know.

You have to remember that when people get frustrated or act out, there’s usually something else going on for them.

You have to accept that they’re truly doing the best they can with the tools they know.

And, you have to know a few things yourself:

You have to offer alternative tools if the ones they’re using are causing harm.

You have to bring a deep patience that can require you to close your eyes and take a breath before saying any next thing.

And sometimes you just take a day off.

What all this has in common to me is that I need to care for myself while also showing up (and yes, sometimes “showing up” means leaving the room!).

I need to remember that this person in front of me, partner or student, is a child of G-d.  I have to remember that I am a child of G-d.  And, most critically, that we’re both doing the very best we can with the tools we have.

My very own frustration in a moment is the best that I can do.  Another’s acting out in a moment is the best they can do.

I was at a workout class last night that ends in a “moment of stillness,” and the teacher asked us to close our eyes and send compassion to ourselves.  She said that self-compassion is often the hardest quality or emotion to have.  When I feel judgy of another person, when I want to change another person, when I want to run away from another person, I need to remember that this is just because I, too, need a little compassion for myself.

I’m feeling afraid, activated.  I’m feeling a fear that I won’t be okay because another person is “not okay” at the moment.  I’m feeling afraid that I can’t control a situation or a person, and that if I cannot do that — particularly if I cannot calm another person down — then none of us will be okay.

In this vein, I’ve been recalling a story my mom told me from about when I was seven or so.  She was driving with me in the car and something happened with another driver on the highway, and she got apoplectic.

As the lore has it, I cautioned her then: “Mom, you’re too angry.”

She tells me this story, because she heard it.  She heard that she was frightening her child.  She heard that her reaction was outsized to the cause.

And in many ways, I think I’ve grown up feeling like I have to calm other people’s emotions.  (As you can imagine, a middle-schooler has a lot of emotions!)

What strikes me this morning is to remember that what this person is seeking—student, parent, partner, other driver—is their own version of safety, by whatever means they know how.

Indeed, when I become frustrated or afraid, it’s only because I’m seeking safety by whatever means I know how — which has meant the belief that if others are not okay, then I’m not okay.

This … is not true.

There is a truth, and it is this: I am okay, despite what occurs around me.

I, of course, stand for no legitimately egregious guff, but I can allow what’s happening for someone else to soften around me instead of bowl me over.  When others’ emotions bowl me over, I feel that I must dig in, I must close off, and I must push back against them.

None of that is true.

In moments of distress, there’s only one thing I must do: Remember that I am a child of G-d, that I am safe, that I am lovable exactly as I am.   Just like everybody else.

 

desire · pause · spirituality

Changing the Question

12-5-18.jpgWith the new move and J trying to make the house a livable space, we bandy about the question:  What do you want?

What color do you want on the walls?  What kind of couch do you want?  Do you want to keep my plates or yours?

As J’s spent a few months in a new job, and I continue to work in my field while thinking about its long-term potential, we lob one another the question:  What do you want?

What kind of work do you want to do?  What kind of conversations do you want to have?  What do you want to feel?

But, last night, as we again circled around what we want in and out of our lives, I asked J something that gave him pause — and when that happens, I know it’s something that I should pay attention to, too:

“What does your soul want?”

What does your soul want for this lifetime?

When retracting the question from outward manifestation to inner truth, it’s no longer answered by paychecks or paint chips.  It takes more than a peripheral answer.

What does my soul want this lifetime?

It’s so easy to crowd this question out with particulars; those feel so much more manageable and actionable.  But what’s the point in taking action if you don’t know where you’re going… and certainly if you don’t know why you’re going?

I don’t yet know my answer to this question.  While the heart of it will likely stay the same over the decades, I’m sure it will evolve slightly, so it will be important to ask this question regularly to check the fidelity with which I’m answering it through my actions.

What does my soul want?

Erg.  I’m going to have to get quiet and still enough to listen for an answer.  But at least I feel I’ve found the right question.