Expanding Horizons

This world is filled with hurt people who, in turn, inevitably hurt others. Whether it’s done consciously or not, it is contagious. Each time we can remove the barriers we have created around our emotions, we free ourselves (and others) from mental and emotional slavery; even if only by degrees. In so doing, we become more resilient and flexible instead of stoic, hard and fragile AF; individually and as a species. In expanding beyond these confines, we also help free others to do the same. Please do your part to undo the harmful teachings of emotional suppression. Everyone needs you. Everyone. Today, I review a few strategies that you can add to your arsenal!

“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions,”

Brene Brown

In past posts, I’ve repeatedly described “diving into” an emotion to observe it and to alchemize it. Today’s strategy focuses on expansion, because Love is expansion where fear is a contraction; two ends of the same spectrum. To move from a state of feeling overwhelmed by our emotions to a state of freedom with the same emotions frees ourselves from the spell, allowing us to see and feel more clearly.

The technique is simple to describe and can be somewhat challenging, at first, to perform. After identifying a strong emotion, do a “search” of your body and find where the emotions “lives.” While loosely holding our inner vision on these areas, imagine expanding laterally (or in any other or in all directions). Continue to breathe, out and in (the exhale or out breath is where we release) as slowly and deeply as you are able. It may take a few breaths to feel relief or a sense of release. Do your best to stay with it for as long as possible. It may require a repeated effort if the emotional baggage is large (makes sense right, the larger the suit case the longer it can take to unpack!). It’s almost as if the emotional cloud just evaporates and we feel as we do after a torrential rain has passed.

Yes, I see where this all seems contradictory and confusing. I ask you to trust me and try it.  As any new skill can require some practice, you may find that at first you only gain traction with this technique by degrees; which is still better than the alternative: sitting there with all of the shitty feeling emotions festering within. Really, what have you got to lose? But wait, this next thing may just help you even more…

Another strategy is to imagine yourself rising above the emotions or situation as if you were in a helicopter. This helicopter technique, given to me by my Creative Life Coach, Samantha “Sam” Allen, was what lead to my discovering of the expansion process I outlined above. In that particular coaching session, I was feeling completely stuck in a contracted emotional state and the “rising above it” in a mental helicopter helped free me from my self-imprisonment almost immediately.

To break the cycle of emotional suppression, we must learn to employ varying strategies to free ourselves from the habit of contracting against our emotions; which will not kill us, in fact, emotional suppression leads to dis-ease. Who wants to live with that?! Not I!

Happy Expanding!!! I say, it’s better to expand the mind than it is the waistline!

Namaste

Sidebar: Wish I had a good reason to share for why I have not posted in 6 months. The passion to write got lost somewhere in the mix of day-to-day, I suppose. I have also been working to distill observations and breakthroughs into memes on IG (@unfilteredheart77), on a more regular basis. It is my hope to publish at least one post a month in 2020.

photo credit: pixel

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

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

Learning to be Secure

My son was having a difficult time with self-control this evening. Even with knowing the consequences of his behavior, he choose to act out; losing his coveted tablet time for the rest of the day. So there I was, having my feathers ruffled by a 7-year-old throwing a 7-year-old temper tantrum, because I did not feel heard.

Earlier in the day I had done a guided meditation which asked me what my most burning desire. My answer “to fully express myself;” as in a no-holds-barred, completely authentic way. This has been something I have never felt safe doing. In feeling insecure in honoring my own voice, I had not been able to honor my son’s voice, either. Hours later, there we were, pitted against one another; neither of us feeling heard nor respected.

Silently, I said a prayer, asking for guidance as I was myself beginning to feel ready to verbally explode. Insights then began to flood in as I sat and watched my son’s behavior. Miraculously, my mind calmed down and, from my heart, I began to tell my son what I was seeing; a boy who was angry and who needed love. Perhaps I could have also said confused (that’s my judgmental voice right there!). I then heard my wise inner voice tell me that my son needed to know that above all that he was safe.

Yet, my calm disturbed him further. He upped his efforts to upset me, kicking a ball at me. I calmly told him he needed to go up to his room and I walked upstairs with him on my way to my own room. At the top of the stairs he shared that he didn’t want to go alone into his room, so I changed tack and, still calm, I sat down with him.

The inner wisdom kicked in again, showing me that he needed me to be connected and open (vulnerable) with him. So I sat with him and held the space while he calmed himself down. I also felt further soothed. What do any of us really want when we are upset and hurt? Someone who loves us who can be there with us in “our ugly,” judgment-free. Or maybe it’s just me?

Later, in looking back, I also saw how he was seeking connection with me even within his inner chaos. He was looking to me to be the adult, to remain calm and connected while he sorted through his feelings. Instead of closing my heart and feeding his and my own anger, I chose to stay open and calm. At first, this was a break from my norm after such an escalated point; this made him feel uneasy and he chose further destructive behaviors. Then, after he saw I was choosing to remain calm, he felt able to tell me he didn’t want to be alone. After sitting with him through his storm, we both felt more at peace. Later, he was even able to joke about his tantrums during a game of Uno.

It is my hope that next time I’ll be able to be as, or more, calm and open-hearted as I was tonight when he has one of his fits. While I am sure there will still be times when my anger gets the best of me, I will do my best to remember how much better things felt with opening and connecting instead of closing down.

Later, I also saw a new solution to an old problem.  He has a tendency to procrastinate on his nightly homework. Then, suddenly it’s bedtime and I’ve had little time with my daughter. While she is older and more independent, she still needs time with her mother. So I discussed with them both what would change this week with the evening routine and why.

This miracle allowed me to be able to see life from a bigger picture, to see solutions in-the-moment and to connect calmly with my son through his storm. It helped foster a stronger connection and  strengthened my compassion for him and for myself. In surrendering my knee-jerk reactions, I was able to chose differently and more wisely.

May we each be more present and calm during the seeming chaos of life and parenting; as we relate to others, our children as well as to the child within each of us. 

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

 

Moving from Resentment into Freedom (it’s easier than you may think…)

In working to bring forward more inner light, there was an exercise in The Dark Side of the Light Chasers (Debbie Ford) that instructed the reader to write letters to people in their lives who needed to be forgiven; to be clear, who the reader needed to forgive. I found myself thoroughly procrastinating on and resisting this exercise.

Finally, I started to write out to the first person on my list that I was willing to forgive him. Immediately the memories flooded back along with the emotional anguish and heartache. My next sentence was something akin to “eff that, there is part of me that absolutely doesn’t want to forgive you.” In my mind, I felt like a young child crossing her arms after stomping her feet and chanting, “I don’t wanna.”

This mental tempter tantrum went of for several moments. Then the miracle happened: it was as if the scoreboard was wiped clean; I no longer felt the resistance to forgiveness. It was in acknowledging and allowing myself to NOT want to forgive this man of his trespasses that I was able to forgive him and my emotional burdens were also released.

Later, I started write a forgiveness letter to myself. Almost immediately, I began to feel sad and angry about some work-related and financial aspects in my life. Things for which I have felt that had I “chosen differently” would not be factors holding me back. I then allowed myself to throw another mental temper tantrum about how I didn’t want to let go of my anger and sadness at myself. I wanted to hold onto my pain because it was all I had known. Yet, once again, the miracle of fully allowing my resistance actually freed me. After all, we cannot rebel where there is nothing to resist against….

I share these experiences with you in the hopes that you will see that holding back your “negative” emotions just holds you back from being free of them. A wise woman repeatedly told me “the pain is in the resistance.” These experiences have shown me, on a deeper level, just what she was telling me.

May we each give ourselves permission to acknowledge and allow the emotions that hold us back, so that we may be free of them.

Namaste

I find that shredding paper and making mosaics can be very helpful when I’m feeling stuck. The beauty is more in the creatively destructive process than in the final products.

This is my chained and unforgiving heart

This is my open, crowned and passionate heart

Seeing Love as if for the Very First Time

Love and compassion are the soft whispers of a heart that is given the permission to fully express its truth. Many of us have learned that love is conditional, and out of fear we believe we have to manipulate others to gain their love. These beliefs are the furthest from the truth.

Much like the air we breathe, Love is ubiquitous and an invisible presence that can easily be taken for granted. Yet Love is vital for our survival, without it we cannot thrive.

Love accepts life and others “as is” and whether others Love us or not. Just as we have compassion for others when they are suffering a loss, we accept them for their range of emotions and sad or angry faces, Love is accepting others for who they are right now, in the present. While we can see the potential of others, our Love for them is not based on who they “could be,” it is based on who they are right now. Today. In sickness and in health.

If we force the process of Love, rushing into it at break neck speeds, then this reveals our fear that we cannot be loved. It is as if we believe we must have someone “fall for us” before they can see “our flaws.” Charming is not Love. Charming is manipulation.

When we believe that we must make ourselves into something or someone different for someone else to Love us, then this reveals where we do not Love ourselves.  When we accept and allow ourselves to be ourselves, then we show ourselves our own Love. It is then that we can begin to accept the Love of another, as we are then strong enough in ourselves to be who we are, to shine our own lights and allow those whose lights match ours to become closer to us.

Simply put. Love is.

Namaste

The Heart’s Desire for Connection

We run away from it. We chase it. We deny it. We make fun of it and we deny or destroy it. Yet underneath all of the layers, what we really long for is connection with ourselves, with others, and with Our Higher Power.

Connection scares us. It leaves us vulnerable to our basic fears: abandonment, rejection, being misunderstood and on and on.

Yet we are social beings. Spiritually, we are connected to everyone and everything; whether we want to admit it or not.

It is in facing each of our fears, head on, that we are able to see these are just beliefs formed when we were young and that we’ve carried forward; beliefs that cannot hold weight when the light of our awareness shines down upon them.

Despite our fears, the longing to connect, to share, to be part of something greater than ourselves persists. To reconnect to your truth, give to your fear what it really seeks: comforting, acknowledgment, gratitude, love, acceptance, or whatever else comes up. It is in allowing the fear, seeing what it needs and giving it just that, allows us to see it was just a blip on our radar – and not the truth of who we are.

May we each give ourselves what we need, so that we can build stronger connections with others, allowing our hearts to be free. For with each disconnection we reconnect, we all become brighter and better for it.

Namaste

In the Openness We Create

I have recently been experiencing a writer’s block. In keeping myself filled with “to do” lists and increasing my self-care regimen – mostly filling my time and space with “good things,” I have not felt the same call to write for some time.

I really could make excuses all day. There are mornings and nights where I have had the time, yet when the time was available it seemed writing was the last thing on my mind.

Recently, in a Life Coaching Session with Sam at Peacock Poetry, she helped me to see where I had built a shell around myself. Being walled-in was protective and helped me feel secure in the ever changing landscape of my life, yet it was also shielding me from my writing process.

Part of my post-session assignment was to write about my experience from the closed shell to the open, majestic meadow, the place where I found my balance through a visualization Sam led me through.

Here is the poem that I wrote in response to my experience:

“From Turtle Shell to Majestic Meadow”

Claws gripping soil in futility,

the dizzying spin continuing,

Infinitely.

~~

Drawing back into her domed shell,

Escaping what felt like pure

hell.

~~

Protective pod of security

After a while gets

Lonely.

~~

Thoughts warp and take

Away the breath,

Each deficient of oxygen and

truth.

~~

Weary of her isolation,

Cautiously peering outwards

Into the world,

Eyes beseeching anything harmful.

~~

A sigh releases

Vulnerability reveals then

Creativity expresses

A smaller shell

~~

Sliding into a babbling brook

Gliding along the pebbles,

Pushing off.

~~

She’s glad she came out

From under her own rock.

~~

Riding the flume

Until seeing a new view

Through the meadow,

To see what she can do.

~~

Standing on hind legs

She peeks over rocks.

At the majestic mountains

Ahead, she looks.

~~

Too many steps ahead,

She knows, back to the

Present she goes.

~~

Wind like soft

Velvet on her cheeks

Brings her attention

To tall reeds

~~

Of grass growing

In deep hues of green

yellow at the tips turned

Translucent from sun shining

~~

Closing her eyes,

Her face to the sun

Oh, she feels, it’s time for

A good run!

~~

Legs growing longer,

Her determination stronger,

She presses forward

~~

Grasses part as a trail

She blazes,

Energy raised then drained.

~~

Time to return to the shell

From whence she came?

No, it was time to reframe.

~~

Resting, instead, in a fresh

Laid bed of orange pine needles,

She kept her shell small

And her thoughts on the big

Image of the majesty of this moment

That went beyond her head.

~~

To dance such a fine dance

Of security and vulnerability,

Yes, there were even better

Days ahead

Now just to keep the balance

Between heart and head!

Namaste

drawings to the theme:

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑