self-care

Shadow v. The Light

The shadow is my constant companion.  We are connected at the “sole.”  We are together on this journey called life.  My shadow warps and changes shape in response to the light.  She may grow as long as a tree or seem to disappear beneath my feet.  But nonetheless we are tethered whether I like it or not.

We all have a shadow side. So why do we collectively try to snuff out the darker parts of ourselves?  My shadow is forever patient and steady.  I may ignore her and go about my day or pretend she’s not there and distract myself from her message.  She is ready even when I am not.

What is the light?  It’s who I project myself to be.  It’s my high points, my bright genius side.  I can wrap the light around me like a blanket or hold it close like a soothing cup of tea.  I am held in its warm embrace.

But sometimes the light is too much.  Blinding even and I fear I will lose my footing on the path.  My shadow will always guide me back, shield my eyes, and give me that necessary reprieve to regroup.  The shadow is my retreat from the spotlight.

We need both the light and the shadow.  We can’t have a shadow side without a lighter one.  And we need not fear one and idealize the other.  They can both peacefully coexist with equanimity.  And we can collectively accept both sides of the same coin, us.

self-care

Whose plan is it anyway?

Life has a way of not going according to plan.  Whose plan is it anyway?  “Oh, those silly humans still think they can control their lives and circumstances.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean we should just lay back and let life happen to us and around us passively.  We need to take action and be the director of our own life’s work.  Choose what skills, experiences and relationships we want to pursue with our time, energy and money.  And let go of what doesn’t fit or work any longer.  Let go of our silly pride, clinging to unreal outcomes, lost dreams or wearing our failures like a badge of honor.  Stuck and unwilling to see what else is around the corner.  It is a symbiotic relationship with our nature and nature itself.

We suffer less when we’re not surprised when things go awry because that is what it means to be alive.  It can be pleasant, heartbreaking, triumphant or a huge loss.

What do we do next?  Pick up the fragments left behind, be our own excavator to learn from the experience, and continue down this journey that belongs to no one but ourselves.

self-care

I am a contradiction

Sharing my story heals myself and others, and at the same time I am not my story.  Yes, my story is my past and has shaped who I am.  I am grateful for my past.  It has brought me to here.  Now.  This moment.  Yet my story doesn’t define or shape this very moment that may someday become “my story.”

How can that be?  I’ve learned from my story.  I’m able to fit life’s experiences into a nicely labeled box or manila folder to be tucked away into my memory.  Those lessons have been integrated and shape my view of myself and the world.

I am more than my story: than my past, than my teenage angst, than my mistakes, worries, future trips, to-do list, career, roles, and lifestyle choices.  Each part is not a stand-alone entity because for this moment it’s on the front burner of my psyche.

However, as with all contradictions, each integral part is a part of me, responsible for who I am, who I was, who I will be.

self-care

Save it for later

Maybe it’s the ease of access and unlimited offers for free X.  “See my PDF” and I get a hit of dopamine.  And like a hoarder, I add it to my digital collection to read later.  When is later exactly?  Links expire.  Websites go away and fade into the ether.  The information was there.  I just didn’t bother.  I was too busy or I didn’t have the energy at the moment.  The timing wasn’t right.  The interest was there and it was promptly filed under “later.”

There are eons of digital folders, filled to the brim on my desktop and email.  Yes, I may be downsizing my physical clutter.  But there sure is a lot of digital clutter.  I have three or four full thumb drives just hanging on a tack on the corkboard.  My Google Drive free space is completely filled and I’m considering paying money for the extra storage space.  I do have a Seagate external drive that is only a quarter full, but I don’t trust its longevity. And this morning my iPhone noted that I was out of space to shoot a video or download an app.

Tasks put off to “later

Do I have the time to actually access and assess those files?  Are they named accurately so I can find them when inspiration finally hits?  I have Ebooks, countless PDFs, meditation and audio files, and even some MP4 videos “just in case” the internet goes down or the website goes away.

I’ve learned enough not to count on the website being in fortitude.  Sites cost money to keep and maintain.  Who wants a blogpost from 2010 with working links?  Who cares?  Is it relevant anymore or to anyone?  So I get it.

2010 was an integral time for me.  I was in my early 30s.  I was figuring stuff out and what worked for me.  And somehow what I put off for “later” is now being revisited almost a decade later now.  I remember digital programs that I took and printed in full color, and memories of  audios I never listened to.

Where did they all go?  Does it matter?  The lessons are still swimming around and taking up my headspace.  So I guess if it matters to me, it counts.  And I’m sure as hell that others are wandering around the digital realm too wondering where did it go?

Perhaps it’s the lack of the physical, tangible that drives my need to digitally hoard.  A backup is my safety net.  It’s there when I’m ready like a book patiently waiting on the shelf until its title just seems to leap across the room and enter my vision.  It becomes real, possible, important and interesting, worth my time and energy to look into.

I guess that’s what all information really is.  Energetically waiting to be discovered, observed, tried on, experimented, digested, alchemized and transformed with our own meaning behind it.  Finally making it ours to integrate, to share, to evolve, to be.

 

self-care

Fixed v. Growth Mindset

It depends on how much I “buckle down” and get done.  If I just work a little harder, strive a little more, I will be X:  Happier, successful, loved, fulfilled, accomplished, complete, evolved to be my best, smartest, healthiest, perfect-as-I-am self.  But that’s a cop-out.  I will never fully “arrive” as my life is here for the long haul.  My health, my interests, my friends, work, creative focus and otherwise will wax and wane, as it should in this place called life.

What happens when we get to the end of the road and arrive?  Is that the end of my story?  Do I stop learning, evolving and growing?  Do I want to?

There is no ultimate destination because that would mean the end of the line, the old couple on the porch sipping lemonade as the days quickly pass, waiting for what?  Remembering the past and stuck in story?  Waiting for a peaceful end to a fulfilled life?

I’m not there yet.  I have a lot more to learn, to glean, to create, to love, to be, to serve, to clear way, to relax, to enjoy, to delight, to revel and linger.  It’s too much, too juicy, too soon to stop.

So that fixed narrative sets you up for failure because there is no “done.”

Just be. Just here with life’s lessons, trials and tribulations, joys, mistakes, regrets, loves, memories both cherished and wished to be forgotten, hopes, dreams, pleasures, etc.  My growth mindset says to keep being curious on what lights me up lately.  Keep writing, keep asking the questions, digging and laying the inner groundwork to see what’s in store next.

self-care

This is where Doubt lives

Doubt is where the real inner work resides.  We can take a breather, examine what’s worked, what lies underneath the surface, and uncover old fears and wounds.  This is where Doubt lives.  It makes us feel small and inconsequential.  It belittles our triumphs as not a big deal or just a coincidence, chance or dumb luck.  Not true.

What do we do when Doubt creeps in?  Do we run and hide and choose  not face what’s blocking our path?

Playing safe = playing small.

It’s our duty to share our gifts with the world:  Our talents, our skillset, our voice, our words, our stories are desperately needed.

How can we overcome Doubt?

We can journal the uncomfortable feelings.  Process our thoughts into words on the page.  Or stop and simply get outside and take a walk in nature or do some other movement.

How do we get still and ready to confront Doubt?

My favorite is to sit still and do a visualization with Doubt.  Ask Doubt what is she trying to protect us from?  Imagine Doubt is an unexpected guest that needs tending and attention.  Make a cup of tea.  Help Doubt take off her wet raincoat and dry by the fire.  Hand Doubt the warm mug.  Start gently, where you are.  Try not to get caught up in a shouting and pushing match.  Accept Doubt.  Listen calmly and openly to all the concerns and potential threats.  See them as outside yourself.  They are not your truth or your story or what will happen.  There are no guarantees.

Assure Doubt that you are okay.  You are strong.  You are capable.  You are ready to take the next bold step.  That with uncertainty can come greatness, joy, and a life beyond imagination.  Sit in silence together, sipping the warm tea that never seems to cool until the last drop is gone.  Thank Doubt for her words and say goodbye.

What’s the payoff for playing small?  It provides a safety net in a world that seems wrought with violence and fear.  Doubt is natural and almost like reflexive, protective posturing.  However, please remember that your dream, your talents, skills, story, words, and energy are not threatening.

When I sit with Doubt I uncover some more:  FEAR.  Fear of being vulnerable, being open to criticism or possible judgment.  Or possibly overcoming Doubt will spark a movement, create momentum for inner growth and shared experience, and provide an accepting environment and community where we can all thrive and not only merely survive.

 

Connection · parenting · self-care · shared stories · working mom · writing

Labyrinth Walk

We start out as children and young adults learning and following the footsteps of those that came before us.  They made it possible for us to exist!  Now it’s my turn to create my own imprint and footprints for the next generation to follow; to trust my inner wisdom; to acknowledge with gratitude all the facets of life.  When I’m unsure or the path seems misguided and leading me off course, if I get still enough, the path gets illuminated before me and I can be the guidepost for those that will follow in my footsteps.

I spent the weekend on a mindfulness for mothers retreat at Copper Beech Institute in West Hartford, CT.  I had so many amazing insights and breakthroughs, which can only happen when we slow down and retreat.  I wrote a lot in my journal.  I took full advantage of all the yoga and meditation workshops.  I kept my iPhone in the drawer in my private room and I went within.  The group was led by Hunter Clarke-Fields, the mindful mama mentor.  You can listen to her podcast and take advantage of her free resources at:  https://www.mindfulmamamentor.com/

We were a small group of nine mamas.  I learned new tools and tips for my mindfulness journey.  Mindfulness and meditation are not an attempt to strive, self-improve, or add to my day as another to-do.  In this retreat I was reminded about my why.  Why do I meditate and do yoga most days?  It gives me freedom and a sense of relief, as simple and profound as that.

As the retreat was coming to a close, I still hadn’t visited the labyrinth.  So it was my own personal closing ceremony to integrate the group sharing and insights.  I was alone.  It had snowed the day before and I had to follow the footprints that led to the labyrinth.  The path in the labyrinth was gravel and not shoveled.  I saw footprints in all directions within it.  I was able to find the path and stay the course.  At one point because of the snow, I was unsure how to get to the center.  When I got still, I saw that no one had gone right and when I did, I was back on the path.  My gatha or mantra came to me in the center of the labyrinth:  “Peace with this, Peace within me.”  I am ready to be the guidepost for those that will follow my footsteps.

 

self-care

Is it just me?

Who knows?  We put so much energy and attention focused on the future:  planning, striving, endless to-do’s and tasks that we lose the entire weekend.  My word this year is “Linger.”  And even I need a reminder.  I get future-tripped up in the anticipation of an upcoming retreat, a potential job opportunity, or perfecting my dream vision that my energy gets sapped from the here and now.  How can I linger over this cup of coffee when I’m all prepared for an event that might not happen at all?

There is no refund or credit on that time and energy spent and now it all comes down to the wire.  Will I get it or not?  And how can I prevent my energy from being wasted again in the future?  Do I need a grounding mantra that will gently nudge myself before I get full-on lost in thought, planning, fuming, etc. on whatever it is?

And this happens when I get stuck on past events too.  I replay and rehash them.  I imagine scenarios with a different outcome and my correct and witty response.  I make excuses to myself to relieve the miserableness, horror or embarrassment of it all.

Is it just me?

self-care

Dreaming a New Dream

It came to me this morning, like all juicy, divine ideas do.  I was reading Spirituality & Health’s Retreat Guide and thinking about a recent conversation I had with my husband.  It’s a huge, new dream.  I’m afraid to share it publicly as if the energy of the possibility will somehow shrink if it gets whispered aloud.  I just want to revel in the glow of the dream like a seed about to burst into growth.

I don’t want to get bogged down on the how-to, when, where’s yet.  I want to just enjoy how I will feel when this dream becomes a reality.

My ultimate dream is to run, participate, be involved, have ownership of a retreat center that is accessible to everyone.  I imagine going to work everyday in a beautiful space, surrounded by peace and calm.  Everyone is in a safe space where we are all accepted.  We are not afraid to explore and try something new.  We are all open to learn in this shared space with a shared vision and create community.  This is my dream and I can see myself there!!

I know wellness.  I live and breathe self-care.  I feel a sense of mastery that I no longer need to look outside myself for guidance or advice on anything related to self-help.

I made self-care a priority in 2018 and my word for the year was “Nourish.”  Today I have a full bona fide at-home daily yoga practice.  I meditate almost daily.  In 2018, I completed 5-day, 10-day, 21-day smoothie challenges, a 21-day meditation for weight loss challenge, a 40-day kriya global sadhana with Spirit Voyage.  I loved it so much that I did it for 55 days. All this from the comfort of my home, as a full-time employee and mother of two small children.

I’ve gone to retreats before and I always was looking for something I could bring home and incorporate into my daily life once the magic of the retreat setting set into reality.  Last night during my Nia class, I imagined myself far away at a retreat.  I imagined it was somewhere tropical like Jamaica.  It felt like an escape, a refuge away from my busy life and I was able to drop right into my body, breath and move to the music in a safe space and revel in a full embodiment of experience.

Together in this space, my dream, we can all be surrounded by beauty, joy, evolving to be in awe of our own strength and capacity to learn, and to share that shift together in community.  If I can find that sense of retreat at a Nia class and in my own home, that sense of aliveness internally, imagine the possibilities to be able to share and radiate that same sense outward in a community.  I have listened to my heart’s calling.  And I am on my way.

self-care

Uninhabitable for human life

I almost lost it all. One moment of self-doubt could have turned to tragedy.  It couldn’t really be carbon monoxide.  It must be faulty batteries, not a faulty furnace.

How I doubted myself.  How it could have ended everything for me, for my life, for my neighbors in the building.

What I could have lost and missed out on:  motherhood, adventure, marriage.

All lost in a moment if I didn’t move.  If I didn’t follow through.  If I didn’t make a phone call.  All could have ended.

The earth gone black.  Death by choking.  Death in my sleep.  Death all alone.  Death all heartbroken.  Leaving everyone I knew’s heart in pieces too.

Luckily, that’s not where my story ended.  It was a rebirth.  A renewal.  A tangible bona fide appreciation of life.

How fragile it can be.  How temporary it is.  That every day is a gift.

My neighbors survived.  My life was given new meaning.  I am forever grateful for the lessons and cherish each day.

That basement apartment off of Gano Street?  The final verdict:  uninhabitable for human life.  I called it home for a short three months.  And it could have cost me my life!

My first time on my own.  Living the dream of being an independent woman.

And I was afraid.  I was lonely and heartbroken.  Alone for the very first time.  Unsure of what to do.  Doubting my choices to leave, layering on guilt and remorse.

It could have all ended.  But thank the stars it didn’t.  My life is amazing these 14 years later.  The beauty and gift of this one remarkable life.