Dear U.S., Separating Kids from their Parents has got to stop!

This week I drove across my state while news continued to break about the refugee crisis at the southern border of the U.S. As I navigated the turns and traffic using GPS, without any loss of cell phone coverage, WAZE alerted me to various hazards including cops and roadkill while my kids slept comfortably in our Air-Conditioned late-model vehicle. Meanwhile, South & Central American parents are taking extreme measures to get themselves and their children to safety: crossing rivers of unknown depth, crossing deserts with countless hazards, and entrusting their lives with complete strangers. While some parents are sending their kids out on this dangerous journey alone, and other parents are being separated from their children at the US border.  As a North American, I am privileged to travel easily and effortlessly, in A.C. and out of my own will, instead of out of fear.

When we stopped to get groceries, still within our state where everyone around was speaking our same language, my pre-teen daughter stayed close by, preferring to stay in eyesight instead of going over even one aisle to fetch this or that; she wanted us to stay together as a unit. Here, where my daughter wants to remain close, South and Central American children are being separated from their parents, their vehicles of survival. And to boot, these children have little to no adult supervision, nor are their basic human needs being met. Meanwhile my kids have the privilege of fighting over which dessert treat to get!

At border camps, non-North American children that are my kids’ ages are caring for other, younger children. Because their parents, their primary protectors, have been taken away from them. Seriously, what is wrong with this picture? Children are being treated worse than convicted criminals!

Meanwhile, I was lucky enough to be born in The United States of America and not Central nor South America where drug cartels are more powerful and deadly than their governments. And I write this from the comfort of an air conditioned room while on holiday/vacation, where I am able to hear, see and reach out to my children when they need, for I am a privileged North American.

It is my privilege to be unable to fathom the circumstances behind wanting to flee one’s Homeland; crossing deserts, racing rivers and trusting coyotes to get my children to a place of safety. My biggest concern today is when we’re going to leave to get breakfast, when one wants to leave now and the other wants to finish her drawing…

So I’ve used my privilege to donate money to legal efforts to stop this nonsense of separating vulnerable and defenseless children from their parents. Together Rising puts 100% of donations to their causes, as their admin costs are covered by the authors Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Cheryl Strayed.

I’ve also used my privilege to pray my ass off for the geo-political climate to positively change and stop this humanitarian crisis, and others like it, from continuing to happen. I also pray that my children nor I ever know this pain of being forcefully separated. Finally, I pray that each of you will donate and pray for the same, or better.

In November, I’m also going to be using my American-assed privilege to vote.

Please join in helping make this world a better place for our children, for they are our future. May every child, regardless of where they are born, have the privilege to remain safe in their own homes, countries and remain with their families, at least until they are adults and get to choose.

Namaste

The Fear of Being Loved

For as long as I can remember, I have sought for love. Perhaps it is the hopeful and “hopeless romantic” within (see Enneagram 4). There has always been this underlying feeling of being incomplete; an irredeemable deficiency as described by Ian Morgan Cron, a fellow “4”.

In diving into this incessant need to be loved and even validated through relationship, I found that underneath the push, that I have deeply fear being loved. Initially, this was quite a shock for me to see. Yet, in looking back, I see this has been clearly reflected to me, repeatedly ad nauseam, in the men I have been in relationships with. Heck, I can even see it play out in my friendships.

Every man I’ve dated and many of my friends have been in some way unavailable, most in multiple ways: emotionally unavailable, lacking time, have lived far away, had too many other commitments, or were still stuck on their exes (the latter is in regards to dating, obv). These are not pock shots at anyone, I share this as it is a direct reflection of where I was unavailable; even if my being unavailable showed up differently….

I seem to be like a moth with the flame. While I want to be in close friendships and even in a lovingly relationship, I am now acutely aware of where I have not wanted to get too close. I push forward, then I pull away. This is indicative of having a fearful attachment; where I both seek love and yet when I find it that very love is also scary AF.

Taking things a step further, I see where it also plays out with my children. While I have improved some, there are times when I feel there is something “I must do right now” on my phone or a chore in the home, when in reality, the majority of the time it really could wait until later; meanwhile my kids wait for me to finish my task. I put them/love on hold instead of putting the task on hold…

This had been unintentional/unconscious on my part. Now, I see where the push and pull has negatively affected me and my ability to relate with others. With this new awareness in mind, I have been doing body scans, observing the places where I feel contracted. It seems to be helping, because I’m noticing I’ve becoming less afraid to live unfiltered; more authentically.

May we each see and acknowledge our fears, to release ourselves from their grip. May we each recognize and accept the places in our lives where we have blocked out love; allowing us to love more freely. 

Namaste

A very helpful meditation to help with sitting with anger

 

Balancing Affirmations for Unlocking Authenticity

For over 5 years I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with positive affirmations. The challenge I run into every time is that I feel immediate resistance to the new affirmation. The parts of me that reject the affirmation quickly rise up. Then within a day or so, all of the areas in my life that don’t meet that affirmation all bubble up (like poop in water) to the top. It can be a very unpleasant experience, that feels much like a very restrictive diet; making it very difficult to stick to for very long (if at all). Well, now I have learned a few more balanced approaches to affirmations that I’d like to share with you.

Over a year ago, my trusted life coach, Sam Allen of Peacock Poetry told me about a book whose title caused an immediate wave of resistance to rise up within me (you may be noticing a theme of resistance here). While I immediately put this book in the “to buy later” cart, I ignored it for at least a year until my curiosity got the best of me. Now half-way through the book, I’m recognizing why those “old ways” of positive affirmations didn’t work and it has been life changing. The book? The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford.

Debbie speaks to reclaiming our authenticity by seeing and accepting the parts of us which we have rejected or repressed. You may be surprised to see that these parts are not just our “bad” or negative parts, either. For instance, I fear being too happy or too joyful for very long!!! The affirmations help in embracing the parts of us that we repress, deny, reject, suppress, avoid, and so on (use whatever other words to describe what keeps us from being our authentic selves). These affirmations help to embrace those rejected pieces within.

Being authentic means embracing and accepting that ALL of our varied parts DO have a purpose: not just the light, shiny, happy, rainbow and unicorn-magical parts either. Each is us has had thoughts or behaviors we have deemed forbidden. Anger, for instance, consistently gets a bad rap. However, when used properly, anger is a fantastic tool for change and protection. Without anger, it would take a lot more effort to fuel things like a social change. Anger also helps us to defend ourselves when it is necessary (and when it is suppressed, we can become either passive-aggressive or explosive when we do express our need for self-protection).

What Debbie teaches is that each part of us has a purpose and when we accept that part of us is indeed purposeful and part of us, then we can use it as a tool as opposed to it ruling us behind-the-scenes!

Debbie also speaks to how we can uncover these hidden gems. It is quite simple to find, yet may be more challenging to redeem… We see these hidden gems in others, yes, we do. However, usually when we see these gems we generally either praise the person (because we don’t believe we have that trait) or we judge them (because we don’t want to believe we have that trait). After seeing the trait it is then up to us to work to embrace the trait. Yet, so many of us have learned to envy and/or hate others for expressing what we cannot or for showing us the parts of ourselves we do not wish to see.

So it is in seeing ourselves in others, in ourselves, and embracing those “undesired” or “desired” and repressed aspects that we begin to heal ourselves. Then we no longer need to “prove” ourselves differently than we are. We can then recognize that those “undesired” aspects can serve us in some way that then gives us control again, as opposed to spending all of our energy proving or repressing ourselves.

Here is an example. When I do not believe myself worthy, then I am continually chasing ahead to prove myself worthy. It’s a continual process of spinning in a hamster wheel. I may prove myself worthy today, but then I’ve got to prove it again tomorrow and so on. When I embrace that part of myself who feels unworthy, then I no longer carry that burden of being unworthy. Capiche?

Another example would be where I, just today, really wanted to write about this experience and yet found myself doing everything but writing. There was part of me that was highly resistant to writing. So I did a balancing affirmation where I allowed myself a mental temper tantrum of “I do not want to write.” Within minutes of affirming that I did not want to write, and allowing myself to not want to write, I was 200 words into this post with minimal effort.

Yet another example is where I recently found myself envious of another writer. I did not feel I could accomplish what she has accomplished. This envy is a sign that I was repressing an aspect of myself that is indeed there…

In the last two examples, I’ve shown how my dualistic mind that is holding me back. I’ve started to see this pattern both in myself and in others; this “push-pull.” So now when I start a new affirmation, I have also begun to immediately affirm the converse. For instance, “I want to write. I do not want to write.” This allows me to recognize and even affirm the divisiveness that I feel within. If things are going well internally and externally then there’s no reason to write an affirmation.

I hope you find this post supportive in your efforts to bring forth more of your authentic self. It’s amazingly freeing to see where we can affirm ourselves; supporting both the “dark” and the “light” aspects. After all, unconditional love moves beyond the duality of right and wrong, and sees the unity of ALL (unconditional means this includes the “dark stuff,” too).

May we each find greater peace, moving beyond duality, so that we can find the ultimate freedom and unity within: Agape. 

Namaste

PS I spent more time resisting this piece than I spent editing and writing it… the “I don’t want to write” affirmation/acknowledgement freed me almost immediately after DAYS, almost weeks, of resistance.

The Pain of Judgement

Judgement. We all hate receiving it, yet when we scratch the surface, many of us are living our lives judging ourselves and others. In observing my own thoughts and behaviors, I see where I judge nearly constantly, both myself and others. In hearing others talk, and in attempting to separate myself from the habit of gossip (even when I have someone’s “interest” in mind), I see how easy it is to engage in the judgement more than not. But is it right?

While I do believe that on some levels judgement is required, when judgment is overactive, we can find ourselves more and more miserable and separated from others more than united. Discernment allows us to make choices that benefit us and others. Without discernment, we would be frozen in the water.

When we feel that judgment no longer serves us, we must see what we want to change first so that we can make it happen. The next step is to replace one habit with another. To this, I’ve decided to give more spoken complements than silent judgements. This helps change the tide while also recognizing that, on some level, judgment and discernment is necessary.

May we each see the habits which no longer serve us, so that we may move forward, individually and collectively. May we learn to judge ourselves and others less and less, allowing greater compassion for ourselves and others. 

Namaste

Image courtesy of Pexels

Too Busy Mopping Up the Floor to Turn Off the Faucet!

How often in life do we focus on treating the symptoms instead of getting to the root problem? Please take a moment here to pause and reflect. We all do it, we’ve done it and many of us are living it; daily.

It seems that each year that passes the expectations increase: work, life, home, social media. I find myself, especially at work, multi-tasking “to the max” (showin’ my age here) and then wondering why I’m tired and then later having difficulty sleeping.

Yet, in my work I help clients find a balance between self-care and care of everyone else. Some are more receptive than others. Some resist even the most basic of changes to help themselves live better.

It took me decades to figure out how important a daily routine of quality self-care for myself was, a routine I’m still tweaking. I cannot imagine where I’d be without it.

Today, where can we begin to take the time to turn off the faucet, so that we’re not just continuously mopping the floor? Where can we create space in our over-scheduled lives to care for our own physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs? “Waiting” until the next break, vacation, holiday, day off, etc just kicks the can down the street. Be joy now. Bring it! 

Love anyone or everyone by taking care of your basic needs! The world will thank you!

Namaste

From Perfectionist to Artist: An Enneagram Journey for a 4 wing 3

This is part of a series of delving into The Enneagram System. If you would like to share your journey with understanding your Enneagram, please let me know. Two guest posts have already published and more are planned! 

Some Enneagram resources refer to the Four as “The Creative” while others use “Romantic,” and even “Tragic Romantic.” In reading through the list of famous fours, it is peppered with many very talented artists whose deaths came tragically too early. This makes sense after reading further through the description of the four’s internal landscape, as we are both driven and haunted by a sense of being different than everyone else. In the Road Back to Yourself, Ian Cron, also a four, labels this as an “irredeemable deficiency.” For me, I chose to hide this part of myself behind a perfectionist persona for most of my life. I recognize now that this blog has been one way in which I’ve worked to unmask this persona, allowing the artist within to blossom and bloom. Just acknowledging this in black & white brings a strong emotional response. 

Fours also have very strong emotions that I will add, that many of us experience physically. For example, I once described my sadness as feeling as if the River Styx was flowing through my abdomen. It was that palpable. Recognizing this as part of my personality has actually freed me to see that this is just how I am. Much like accepting that the sun is the sun and the moon is the moon. I am just an emotional being on the inside, yet I am not my emotions (that’s another post!).

A hallmark sign of 4s is that we feel unique in some way; something which can both propel us forward as well as separate us from others. Fours rarely feel they fit in with others, while we may be able to play various roles, deep down we feel misunderstood because we feel we have an “irredeemable deficiency,” a deep unidentifiable shame that we often hide. This often makes us feel separate. Through understanding the Enneagram, I now understand that this unique feeling is part of being a four. This was incredibly freeing for me.

Deadly Sin
Initially, this is a shocking title. Yet, the word sin has been misused and abused. The original definition of Sin is the action of turning away from God. The deadly sin in the Enneagram refers to the “wound” that blocks our full realization of and connection to God and others. 

Envy is the four’s deadly sin. This is something I experience often, as I find myself comparing the work and lives of others to my own. “Why didn’t I think of that?” or “Look at that happy couple, I want that in my life.” One Life Coach implored me to avoid comparing my inner life to the “News Reel” of the lives of others.

This envy then keeps me from enjoying my life. In feeling upset or slighted, I can focus on the “lack of” more than the presence of anything. This has also lead me to downplay where I “do have” in my life, as I fear the envy of others. It is almost easier for me to show my sad side than my joyous side for this reason as I already feel “an outsider,” and knowing how envy blocks me, I have feared bringing forth that envy from others.

It is a challenge for me to receive compliments, love and acceptance. I see “the wounds” and where things are lacking. It’s been hard for me to believe that someone would love me, unless I were perfect in every way as I have found it hard to receive acceptance for I had felt that sense of irredeemable deficiency; the shame that bound me to my suffering.

Strategies to Move Into Greater Health
Becoming my own best friend has been incredibly freeing. In the past, I would cut myself down and then seek solace from others (or food); something they could not provide as I was the one doing the cutting. It is also ultimately our own love which sets us free!

Self-compassion is an important part of this journey. Meditation and self-reflection have helped me to gain a different perspective, giving myself more grace. The Ho’Oponopono Prayer (I love you. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.) has also helped me in gaining more ground, as well, becoming more comfortable in my own skin. These acts of self-care help to quiet the inner critic and decrease the effects of the “deficiency.”

Gratitude and focusing on what I do have helped to quell the envy. When I feel the envy twitch its head, I acknowledge it and then begin to focus on all of the positive things in my life.

The Enneagram & Freedom
The Enneagram system has gifted me with a new level of grace and freedom for myself and has helped me to take things less personally with understanding the “deadly sins” with others. If you are unfamiliar with the system and your number, I strongly encourage you to “check it out.” The system shows us that we each have the traits of the other numbers, however, we have one prevailing type, so you will probably relate to each one in some way. Yet one will stand above the fray. For me, it was reading about the “irredeemable deficiency” that resonated the most.

May we each find more freedom in accepting ourselves as we are, allowing us to move into greater level of potential. For it is in accepting where we are now that allows us to move forward. 

Namaste

Exposing & Accepting Imperfections

Much of the first half of my life was spent hiding my perceived flaws and imperfections, even from myself. While it helped me to survive childhood, I’ve found that hiding was keeping me miserable. Through unmasking myself, blogging has gifted me with connecting with others who have also suffered by hiding their perceived flaws. It also helps me gain a new level of understanding by writing the process out further than I would in a paper journal, where I would most likely just vent. Finally, I have found there is transformative power within vulnerability for everyone.

What I share here are personal experiences which more often than not leave me feeling vulnerable in posting. These are first-hand experiences of what I’ve learned through exposing my flaws, often in day-to-day interactions that lead to a new understanding or awareness.

For instance, in the post The Right to Exist, I shared an experience I had that I would have avoided altogether in the past by either not going to such a busy place at a busy time or parking way out of the way to better suit others. Instead, I chose to go there during Starbuck’s morning rush hour and park where it was convenient for me, so that I could meet my needs for a meal. In the process, I also calmly stood up for my right to be there to the person who very rudely cussed at me; all things I’d have avoided before.

In its rawness, this incident allowed me to more clearly see where I and others have not felt the right to exist and take up space. Even though I’ve made many strides in the past 4+ years, I’ve come to recognize that this may well be an ongoing healing theme for me throughout the remainder of my life; a theme that is overcome by degrees. Yet I fully intend to keep chiseling away at it by continuing to live more and more authentically, exposing myself especially where I feel vulnerable.

In a recent dream, Christ showed me where our cracks are actually our strengths. With this in mind, I end with the following prayer:

May we each see our imperfections in a new way, for in exposing our vulnerabilities, we each can benefit by reaching new levels of potential by living life more authentically, by connecting more deeply with others through our shared courage and through supporting each other in living our individual truths. In living through our truths, we set ourselves free.

Namaste

Coming Soon: Wabi-Sabi: Imperfect Perfection

The Right to Exist

Do you feel the need to prove yourself (worthy)? Do you go out of your way to make things easier for others, while making things harder for yourself? Do you frequently apologize to others, even when something is not your fault or something is beyond your control (as if apologizing for breathing)? Do you feel bad for meeting your needs? OR do you feel bad when someone gives you something, expecting nothing in return (and it’s not your birthday)? Do you feel bad for having a full grocery cart and the person behind you in line has just a few items? Does it bother you when you do not feel you are helping others in some way? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are that you struggle with the right to exist.

Personally, the right to exist has been an ongoing issue with which I struggle. When things are going well and I’m contributing to a situation, then I feel comfortable being where I am. If, however, I feel that I’m only taking and not giving, I can struggle with my right to be here on earth. Recently, I have begun to see this pattern in others in my daily life where for so long I thought I had been alone in this.

This “right to exist” issue came to the forefront for me this past week when I felt the need to justify my right to park my car in a public parking lot!!! Another driver had an issue with traffic being stopped while I backed into a spot. Had her daughter not have been with her, she probably would have come at me with fists instead of angry and insulting words. I spent less time parking that she spent cussing at me (while she herself was blocking traffic) when I stood up to her to tell her I had the right to park (and exist). While I felt the right to (temporarily) take up space, later I saw where this incident still triggered my issues with my basic right to exist.

May we each see that we are on this earth for a reason, that we each have the right to exist and take up space. May we each be at peace with being. 

Namaste

Coming Soon: The Right to Receive

2018: Celebrating Wholeness & Completion

For 2019, I’m choosing to celebrate the New Year differently. For the first time, I’m going to ring in the New Year solo. In the past, I would have been in a panic to be alone. While I do have places where I could celebrate, I’m actually looking forward to the solitude. This desire is quite a shift for me and I believe the lessons I’ve learned from 2018 are a large part of it, having lead to a new experiences of wholeness and completion.

Overcoming Fears & Seeing my Strengths
As I look back over what brought me to this place of desiring solitude on New Year’s Eve, I can see the road was tough at times. In 2018, there were several significant events that lead to lessons in compassion, forgiveness and realizing my strengths.

This year, I lost out on a relationship because I felt emotionally left out and alone when he was over-scheduled and his life demands kept him away physically and especially emotionally. In my fear of rejection and abandonment, I grasped more strongly thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It has taken me most of the year to both see my own part more clearly and to have compassion and understanding of where he was coming from. Uncovering this process has lead to forgiveness for him, and even more so for myself. Through this loss, I learned compassion and forgiveness.

The breakup was untimely in that it was just a few days before my father had a brush with death. It was a one-two punch that threatened to take me under. I found that while my father was drowning in the bottom of a bottle, that legally I could do nothing if he refused care or treatment. Part of my lesson was one of surrender.

Once he chose to detox, due to his medical conditions, he was ineligible for inpatient rehab at any local facilities! He almost lost his life during the process when he had several detox seizures. Later, he fell and broke his back, further complicating his recovery. It was a difficult process for him, we’re all fortunate that his will helped him through.

This situation showed me both my strengths and weaknesses. I saw where my skills and tools both as a PT and spiritual traveler were called into action. Surrender showed up again when I saw where I needed help and turned to Al Anon. It was there that I learned that my father nor his addiction were my problems; my problems came from my own within.

It was up to me to focus on myself while having compassion for him; not fighting him to quit drinking. In trying to control my father, or a lover for that matter, I only lose control of myself and in so doing, steal from them their ability to recognize their own need for accountability. Much like the adage: you can lead a horse to water, you just can’t make him drink, I had to see where my tendency to help can be perceived as similar to waterboarding. While a bit of an exaggeration, the idea still stands. 

Later, still working through these circumstances, I witnessed a man tragically taking his final breaths. This rocked me to my core and lead me to a new understanding that life is brief, best enjoyed fully and that suffering is optional. This situation helped me to take the edge off of my need for perfection for perfection’s sake, recognizing the wasted energy in it.

My recent work with The Enneagram System has furthered my understanding of the struggle within each person and personality. While I am very much just on the river’s edge of understanding here, the take home message has been one of compassion, a form of surrender that leads to forgiveness. I see now where the vast majority of people are really doing the best that they can do. Our responses to others are often based on unconscious fears. As such, it is up to each of us to uncover these hidden fears, so that they no longer control and drive us. 

2019 Wholeness
For so long, I have felt this indescribable irredeemable deficiency* and sought external fixes to my internal lack. My personal fears whisper of lack, shame, rejection and abandonment. It is my duty to recognize these fears and the clues when they crop up so that I am not ruled by them. Writing has been one means to understanding and sharing my process to uncover the shame of my perceived deficiencies.

Through meditation, self-care (including writing) and a deeper spiritual understanding, I now see that I have been complete all along. Now I’m in a place where I can surrender into the truth that I am (and have been) whole and complete all along, as Unity intended. Now I see the feeling of an irredeemable deficiency is my blessing as much as it is my curse for it drives me into greater degrees of compassion and forgiveness.

May we each see our fears for what they are: our gift to propel us forward, or our curse if we allow it. May we see and experience ourselves in our highest truths, as we are each truly whole and complete. Through self-compassion and self-forgiveness, we see.

Namaste

*Irredeemable Deficiency is a term coined to describe The Enneagram Four’s Experience

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