When Feeling Stuck…

The past few months life has moved forward much like someone learning to drive a stick shift with a mixture of smooth sailing, lurching forward, stalling, bucking, and screeching halts. Work demands increased, and home life demands seemed to, as well. While I kept up fairly well with much of my self-care, more so than ever during a time of stress, I still felt like I was treading water or drowning more than not. Simply put, I felt stuck in this perpetual liminal or in-between space.

From this extended purgatory of sorts, I’ve learned some new perspectives that can help make the road less bumpy for you.

  • Self-care during this time is crucial. At times, I was resistant about some items yet open and consistent about others. I say, do what you can here. Choose your battles wisely; know who you’re fighting, too… and know that when life “hits the fan,” self-care is needed even more. (I like to use the NASCAR analogy here, that racing around means those cars get more care in 1 race than most of our cars receive in a year or more… maybe I could look up some stats about that one day.)
  • Embrace the slowdown. These transitory rest breaks allow us to rebuild our energy after the ending of one chapter. These spaces also make life seem less clear, and driving faster because we can’t see clearly doesn’t generally work out well for many, for long. I also believe that this slowdown is to allow for taking life differently.
  • Create or find a supportive mantra and use it. Simple ones like, “this too shall pass,” or “this is the breakdown before the breakthrough,” or “I’ve survived this, and more, before. I’ve got this!,” or “that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger/wiser, etc.” Find or create a supportive mantra that meets your needs.
  • Journal. Writing can be very helpful during this time to help gain perspective. Personally, I write some dark poetry during this time. It’s therapeutic to “poop” out the thoughts that are no longer needed.
  • Find a new perspective or analogy.
    • It is in this void, this space, where we also get to choose to live life differently.
    • This time is for clearing the path for the next adventure. I recently began to imagine my guides laying down new stepping stones… 

IT’S SO AMAZING when we choose to look at this “mysterious” (and scary) time less as an “undoing” and more as a “remodeling.” If we’re tired of our kitchen, we can choose to keep it just as it is. OR, we can choose to remodel it which involves breaking down the old. There will be some dust and mess, this is part of the process.

Remodeling also takes time. Yet it is in our desire for change that we accept that this is part of the process. We sure as hell don’t stop during this in-between kitchens phase. We know it will not do us ANY good. And we also know that something better is on it’s way so we “suck it up” and go about our day. Of course “we can’t wait” (but we also want it to be right, so we do).

SO! When we find that our path is suddenly not-so-clear, when we feel we are stuck and things seem completely confusing… IF we can begin to see this as part of the remodeling process, we learn to accept it for the “breakdown” that it is. You know, the one that precedes the breakthrough!

May we move with ever increasing grace through those confusing liminal spaces, knowing that while it all seems chaotic now, that a new path is being laid out for us to take. It’s our choice in how we take it: with grace or kicking and screaming all along the way. Mine is often with a mixture of both!

Namaste

In Lack of Control & The Miracles that Followed

One primary persona of mine is to walk with confidence and appear to be “calm and under control;” the emotions pour out later. In this “mode,” I can hear my father’s mantra to be “calm, cool and collected” reverberating in my cranium. Recently, that persona broke wide the eff open for me. While it’s been an ongoing process of chipping away at this persona, on this particular day I had a very significant breakthrough.

My son was having an escalating series of temper tantrums. My attempt to control the situation and de-escalate it was only causing further … escalation. Based on a recent read of the book, Dark Side of the Light Chasers, by Debbie Ford, I saw where my need to seem in control was a direct result of my feeling that I lacked control. Literally, a light went off in one of the deepest (and darkest?) recesses of my mind. Once I affirmed that I was, indeed, not in control, I surrendered to my higher power and asked for guidance. I spoke to this event in the post Learning to be Secure.

The M.O. from the Past

In trying to prove to myself and to the world that Tiffany had it under control, I hid where I was not under control. Or tried to. I have had an emotional eating addiction for … probably my whole life. This is one of the ways that I both punish myself for my feelings (eating ’til it hurts) and then hide my feelings by stuffing my emotions down, down, down…

In trying to prove to the world that I had it under control, I learned to smile and put on a good game face; well kinda. One practitioner poignantly described me as being “zippered up.” Yet the muscles of my body reveal my guarded and “under control” tendency. Even with regular massages, I have held onto a great deal of tension; more than most.

In trying to prove to the world that I had it under control, I would attempt to control myself, my environment and … even those in it. Wow! That last one is a challenge to admit. Yet, as a physical therapist I develop (and control) treatment plans everyday. What a great profession to be in for someone who secretly wants to control everything and everyone… understand, I believed it was an act of self-preservation, not mind-control.

Where & why the control most likely started

This control is not so much about power for the sake of power, it’s more about my feeling safe. As a child, I was in situations where I was abused by “trusting” adults who manipulated and controlled me. From this, I believed that my body was not safe, that I had to control others – and myself – to be safe. From this abuse, I also didn’t believe I could trust people; especially those who were meant to protect me. Further more, I felt effing powerless, and hence the cycle starts over, feeding into itself. So for me, being in control has meant that it was harder for someone else to harm me.

Back to the Breakthrough

Yet on this fateful day, I chose differently. In recognizing my lack of control and giving up control to my higher power, I received greater clarity in everyday things. This has helped me to make wiser choices. The irony! Instead of being ruled by my fear of loss of control, I’m seeing that I have little control outside of my own choices, and now my choices are more clear, thus giving me …. more control! Yet in a different way, in that the control factor is no longer based in fear.

It is my hope that in sharing, you will find a greater understanding about yourself or perhaps a “control freak” that is in your life. The more we can understand and have compassion, the less turbulence we each create in our world.

May we each find a greater sense of peace in better understanding ourselves and others. 

Namaste

My Virginia Beach: A Bike Ride (Poem)

This is my response to the shooting that happened last week in my hometown of Virginia Beach last week. You can listen to my read of it here on SoundCloud or through the link below. 

My Virginia Beach: A Bike Ride (Poem)

The soothing summer sound of cicadas
Blends in a sweet symphony with the croaks of the bullfrogs
As the warm bay breeze wraps around my body
Comforting my silent cries
A smooth snake slithers across the shady patches of the sandy trail

As my bike picks up speed
My heart racing
My heart pounding
My quads burning

Om?

Images of implied violence abound
A man stalks around corners
Taking aim and firing
At unsuspecting co-workers
Hunting his prey
The sounds of gunfire muffled
And more like a soda being popped open
Giving his next victims the false sense of security of silence

Om gam gan …

A 3-story office building
The scene of a most horrific crime
Officers quickly swarmed on scene
In a gun battle that was extensive and long-standing
He mouth uttered nothing
His .45s said everything he wouldn’t
Even they were silenced

Om gam gan-ganapatye…

The ripple effect is widening its arc:
From the ex-lover who had left the building just 30 minute prior
From the OR friends who were on the Alpha Trauma Team
From the friends who lost friends
From the home hospital on lock-down
From one of the early officers on scene
To seeing the initial Emergency Vehicles Responding

Om gam gan-ganapatye ganapatye …

The coldness I felt on this 31st of May
Today on my bike ride is being washed away
The humidity failing to stop me,
Yet gives me rise as I crest another dune
With my burning thighs
Soft flesh pressed into the saddle of the seat
As I rise onto my feet
The wind rushing past my ears
The wind wiping away my tears
Deeply sensing how this will affect us all for many years

Om gam gan-ganapatye ganapatye namo namah

On the drive home, topless
Water droplets fell like tears from the sky
Within minutes the sky turned ashen
And roads turned into rivers as
Rains poured down and ozone washed in
A new sense of clarity set in
This…this is where we begin to breathe, love and live again

Om gam gan-ganapatye ganapatye namo namah ganapatye ganapatye namo namah… ganapatye ganapatye namo namah

Namaste

 

 

Celebrating a New Path

This was originally scheduled to post yesterday on 6/1. However, in light of the events in Virginia Beach the day before I felt it was not the time to celebrate. Overnight, I had some breakthroughs and recognized it’s even more important to celebrate life at this time. We must each choose to be the light and celebrate life while we honor the tragic deaths of others, this is what leads to healing. #VirginiaBeachStrong

Have you ever looked back on your life and seen how one new opportunities arose based on prior choices; ones previously unseen or unimaginable? Perhaps the first one was a choice you were afraid to take… yet you took it anyway… then more and more pathways opened up.

Well, in looking back over the last five years, I can see where new opportunities and choices that arose after a seemingly simple career path change. However, little did I know at the time how that one change would lead to a cascade of changes; literally, so much of my life today is very different than it was on 6/1/2014.

The first step was when I moved out of the field and back into the clinic. In doing so, I freed up more time and energy for life, living and seeing… Almost immediately, I changed my diet (at the time to Vegan) which lead to my spurt with running.

Since 2014, I’ve removed over 60 pounds from my frame. Yes! I said 60 (and no, removed does not mean surgery!). Though this has taken me most of the 5 years to accomplish, the final 10 or so has been through intermittent fasting; not running nor being Vegan, although I’ve given both a go now, twice each…

Within a few months of my job change, the shifts also lead me to see that my nearly 15-year-old marriage was failing; miserably. Had I stayed in “the field” of home health, I would not have had the energy nor emotional capacity to go through such an upheaval as the divorce required. The running I mentioned earlier lead me to meet many friends who were supportive during this time of separation & divorce, as many had endured or were enduring the same! It’s still amazing to look back and to see all of the support I had all along; though I often felt lonely…

The separation and subsequent divorce lead me to start blogging (just passed the 4 year blogiversary in April). Blogging has pushed me to explore greater depths of understanding and it has introduced me to new concepts through being able to see life through the eyes of others, too. I’ve also made some interesting and supportive connections over the years.

Five years later and  my work has expanded to include 2 clinics, mentoring of 4 other therapists, numerous public health and physician education events and acquiring my certification as a pelvic rehab specialist. When I started, I worked part-time in pelvic health and part-time in general orthopedics. Now, my caseload is nearly 100% pelvic health. It’s an amazing journey to summarize in one quick paragraph.

During this time, I’ve also moved twice and changed cars twice. Before this, I had never lived “alone” meaning without another adult in the house, much less purchased nor leased a car on my own. Needless to say, these years have taught me a great deal about myself and much of this learning has been chronicled in the 688 blog posts to date. So today I celebrate the many changes. And wonder what the next 5 years will hold. Even as I have set some personal goals, I’m confident surprises are in store.

5 years from now, I’d like to look back and see where I have:

  • Published a book or two giving guidance to others on their journey.
  • Given TED Talks (or similar) on navigating through change.
  • Reduced my hours in health care to 20/week or less.
  • Paid off consumer debt.
  • Maintained my weight loss, my meditation practice and increased my consistency with working out.
  • Continued to actively expand how I support my children in their growth and development.
  • Improved my relationship with my parents.
  • Settled into a deeper relationship with myself.
  • Invited a compatible partner along for the journey.

So stay tuned! Who really knows what tomorrow will bring?!

May we each follow our natural curiosities, discovering new opportunities as we travel through life. May we each give ourselves the freedom to choose change, even when at the time it may seem tough or a mistake, knowing more chances await …

Namaste

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