Change Takes Courage

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To go forth and be Merry, we first must remove the (seeming) obstacles to our merriment.

It takes courage to look within to see where our lives are not what we would like them to be.

It takes will and courage to make the changes that we need to free ourselves from these obstacles, and to see the truth of who we are: Free.

It takes courage to be who we are here to be, without hiding behind the mask of our fears.

It takes courage to walk through the valley of the shadows of death, but the alternative is staying stuck in the very cycles and thought patterns which no longer serve us.

The reward for this courage? Freedom. Peace. Embracing our very own magnificence.

Photo by Vlado by freedigitalphotos.net

Relationships and Running Shoes: If it doesn’t fit, then don’t force it!

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Earlier this week, I was trying on new running shoes. For several reasons, it’s best for me to go to a physical store to purchase specialty shoes. The first pair I put on did not feel right before I tied them. The sales associate immediately instructed me to take them off followed by, “If you force it [to fit], you’ll regret it at about mile 40.”

His wisdom made immediate sense and may explain why I had the running injury that I’ve had… I hate shoe shopping, so I chose the first pair that worked and ran with them, literally.

This time around, I was patient through the 4 or 5 pairs of trials, which included running to find the right pair.

“If you force it [to fit], you’ll regret it at about mile 40,” is also good advice for relationships. In looking back at some of the relationships I’ve been in over the years, some were “forced fits” in the sense that I went along even after I had the feeling that things might not turn out well.

So my new perspective reveals to me that if I’m working too hard to keep things together, then it may just not be the right fit. This also takes away the shame and the guilt that can be associated with “failed” relationships. Maybe they did not fail, maybe they never (or just no longer) fit.

May we all be free from the relationships and things in our lives that no longer (or never) fit.

Namaste.

Photo by Madrolli by Freedigitalphots.net

Relationships are our Teachers

Relationships reflect to us who we are on the inside. They show us so many things about our inner beliefs that we may or may not want to see.

When a relationship ends, we often experience grief as a natural matter of course. While on one hand, we could allow ourselves to focus on the ending, we can also choose to see this as a great opportunity for learning.

After a relationship ends, we can discover our weaknesses, as well as our strengths. We can discover our wounds as well as where we have healed. We can discover where we are willing to compromise as well as where we will no longer. In essence, we can discover many aspects of ourselves.

Then we can take these lessons forward into our current and future relationships.

May we all find peace, even where we had been previously hurt, so that we may learn from our past and not be condemned to repeat it in the future.

After composing most of this piece, a friend posted this related article about complaining, that you might find interesting.

The poem that inspired today’s blog:

“After A While”

After a while you learn

the subtle difference between

holding a hand and chaining a soul

and you learn

that love doesn’t mean leaning

and company doesn’t always mean security.

And you begin to learn

that kisses aren’t contracts

and presents aren’t promises

and you begin to accept your defeats

with your head up and your eyes ahead

with the grace of woman,

not the grief of a child

and you learn

to build all your roads on today

because tomorrow’s ground is

too uncertain for plans

and futures have a way of falling down

in mid-flight.

After a while you learn

that even sunshine burns

if you get too much

so you plant your own garden

and decorate your own soul

instead of waiting for someone

to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure

you really are strong

you really do have worth

and you learn

and you learn

with every goodbye, you learn…

~ 1971, Veronica A. Shoffstall.

Photo by Theeradech Sanin at freedigitalphotos.net

Stopping Addictions: A New View

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Over the past year, I have discovered that the more disconnected I have felt from myself, from The Creator and from others, the more I have indulged in one or more of my addictions: food, spending, alcohol, social media, and dating. Feeling lonely, even when not alone, is the experience of being disconnected.

In his TED Talk titled, Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong, Johann Hari poses the hypothesis that addiction is caused not by chemical hooks, but by people feeling disconnected from others. He details several studies that have been done that support his hypothesis.

For me, this rings very true. You see, for most of my life I have been addicted to food. I used it for comfort. At certain times in my life I felt that I had binge eating disorder. You can look at some of my pictures over the years and see it apparent in my figure and its ever expanding and then decreasing size. The more disconnected I have felt, the more I have sought out food for comfort. That is, until recently.

For me, I feel most connected to myself, The Creator, and others, when I meditate regularly. By  connecting with myself and The Creator, I have begun to more readily connect with and have compassion for other people in my life. I also find that my self-confidence has improved over the same time frame.

A positive side effect of being more connected through meditation and feeling my feelings, I have removed almost 50 pounds from my frame. This has happened during some of the most tumultuous years of my life, where I have chosen the path of separation and divorce, splitting the family apart, changing jobs, moving, and living on my own (at least part-time) for the first time in my life.

I have lost this weight even without dieting and even with reducing my activity levels due to a hip injury. The weight loss did NOT occur overnight. Yet, I have managed to avoid the severe yo-yo of my weight that I have experienced since adolescence.

The more I connect with myself, The Creator and others, through my practices of meditation, feeling my feelings and writing, the more I make healthy food choices. Dieting is no longer necessary. If I notice that I begin to over-indulge in food (or one of my aforementioned addictions), this is my warning sign that it is time to go within and investigate what the underlying need is: where I feel disconnected, unloved or unworthy of love.

I share this with you because I felt the most disconnected when I spent the most time on Facebook, or dating sites. As a society, we know more about our friends lives, yet only on the surface. As individuals, I feel, we are also losing touch with our own feelings. Immersed in the lives of others, we feel guilt and shame that our lives don’t look as good. In reality, we are comparing our inner lives to the outer lives of others. In reality, we reach out and share the surface, yet avoid diving deeply into our own waters. We then turn to our addictions to give us comfort.

In reality, the evasive answers to the questions we seek are within. Yet so few of us take the time to sit still with ourselves. We fear the feelings. We fear the answers. We fear ourselves. We are all starving ourselves of the very things we need: self-validation, self-love, self-acceptance through connecting with the Divine within ourselves.

We all need food. We all need connection with others. Yet, we so often settle in so many ways and we avoid the deeper waters of our psyches. We disconnect because we fear the truth of our magnificence.

I encourage you to find the places in your life where you disconnect. We all do it and, I believe, to some degree it is healthy. Yet there is a boundary across which we often press into unhealthy territories. Beat yourself up not, my friend, we rarely can find the boundary without having crossed it. Once we figure out where that lies, then we know when we get too close or have gone too far.

I encourage you to find what meditation works best for you. There are many, many options. Personally, guided meditations were the easiest way for me to connect initially. Your Auras & Your Chakras: An Owner’s Manual by Karen MacLaren also has a meditation that was incredibly helpful to me.

The more comfortable you are with your own feelings, the more accepting you can be of others. The more accepting of others, the more deeply you will find that you readily connect.

Namaste.

Photo by stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net

Self-Love: Giving & Receiving Grace

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I’m confident that in every point of your life, you have done the best you could do with what you had. If we had every resource we needed at 100% all of the time, life would only be smooth sailing. However, it is by repeated trials that we see our strength. I believe that we all do the best that we can with what we have in any given moment. After all, who really sets out to fail?

This poem is about compassion and forgiveness. It is about putting things into perspective, without going into the details of the story.

May you see yourself somewhere and begin to clear away your inner turmoil. (See this blog for an example of a way to clear emotional pain).

By transmuting the pain of shame, guilt, remorse and regret, we remove the obstacles to our inner health and the whole world benefits. As hurt people, hurt people, the more each of us heals our “wounds,” the fewer wounds we inflict on others. The more we shine our inner lights, the more we give others permission to do the same.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

If I could have done better, I would have.
Know that:

in my weakness,
what you saw was the most strength I could muster.

in my fear,
what I presented to you was the most valor I could pull up from my bootstraps.

in my anger,
that was the most compassion I had.

in my haste,
that was the least I could rush.

in my darkness,
that was the most happiness I could share.

in the quicksand and feeling trapped,
that was the most calm I could be.

in my grief, that was the biggest smile I could create.

in my pain,
that was the most love I could express.

If I could have done better,
I would have.

Knowing that I did the best I could do,
releases the guilt.

Grace and compassion for self fill my heart.

~~~~~

May we all be free of the chains that bind us to the lies that we are flawed and unenlightened. May we all be free to see us as the Creator sees us: each perfect in our own right.

Namaste.

Photo by a454 at freedigitalphotos.net

A Child’s Perspective on Divorce

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Mama, why did you go?
Why did you leave me?

My home was your home.
You belong there, not here.

When you moved out,
you moved out on me.

You left me behind.
Heart broken, you left me.

“I hate you,” how can you be happier now?
You hurt me by moving away.

“You’re not my mom.”
My mom would never have left me.

“You’re a bad mom.”
My mom would see my pain and never go away again.

“NO! NO! NO!”
I want things to go back to the way they were.

I want you back at my dad’s house.
That’s where you belong, with me.

~~~~

The poem may be simple on the surface, yet the depth of emotion has been poignant for me and has aided in my understanding separation and divorce from my four-year old son’s perspective. It matters not to his black and white, concrete mind that I have custody of him and his sister 50% of the time. He only sees that I, effectively, abandoned him in the process (of separating from his father).

I hope and believe that my son’s perspective will change to understanding and love as he grows older and out of this developmental stage. For now, I can relate to his feelings as I can relate to him differently from this new perspective. He seems to be overall happy, yet he has recently begun to express his anger towards me. 

May this help other parents to take the time to try to see life from their child’s perspective, to help their children with the transitions that go along with separation and divorce. 

If any adult children of divorce care to share your perspectives, I would greatly appreciate it! My parents remain married, so it helps me to understand.

Namaste.

Photo by olovedog at free digitalphotos.net

 

 

Owning it: Taking Responsibility for Feelings

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It can be a challenge sometimes to feel worthy; both of the good and of the not-so-good things in life.

Today, I find myself reflecting on my own sadness. The reflection shows where I feel my sorrow is not worthy to be felt, that someone (anyone) else’s cause for sadness is more worthy than my cause for sadness. Wow! What a mind-fuck that is turning out to be.

Truly, it matters not the reason for the feeling, the feeling is mine and mine alone. By telling myself that my cause is not worthy of my sorrow, I dismiss my feelings instead of accepting them. I take away the experience of my pain and I shove it under the rug. Well the mound of dirt has grown so tall that it now blocks my sight and my passage.

Time to tear down the walls that I have built ’round my feelings, as they prevent me from truly being myself, and being with myself. Disconnected, I begin the de-construction by diving into the pool of my sorrow, pity and sadness. As a descend further into the melancholy, I begin to slow my breathing and focus on the feelings arising in my chest. Once immersed and fully connected with the feeling, the pool of water that was once over my head quickly begins to recede and evaporate. Once again, I gain my footing. No longer do I need to swim.

As soon as I took ownership of what I was feeling, it began to dissipate and evaporate. Pushing the feeling away only allowed it to grow, until I felt that I was drowning.

May each of you take something from what I have learned here and begin to see where you have blocked yourself from your own feelings. I could just as easily replaced the words sadness and sorrow with joy.

Namaste.

Photo by nuttakit at freedigitalphotos.net