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

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

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

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.

Overcoming Grief: Being Beside Oneself

This blog is peppered with various strategies for moving through emotional turmoil. Tonight, I experienced a new strategy that was more efficient than others I’ve used so far.

Wednesday’s are transition days for me, and they stand as a reminder of where my life is not how I had planned. Having the day off made today a less distracted and thus a more emotionally charged Wednesday than usual.

While sitting with my emotions, I used my usual alchemy techniques and while the edges were less sharp, the heaviness of grief still weighed on me. It was then that I felt myself “beside myself.” Then I began to assure my “beside self” that I had every right to feel every bit of what I was feeling; even down to my desires to smash things, which weren’t okay desires to follow through, yet I acknowledged they were okay to feel.

So now I sit, no longer needing to be beside myself, reintegrated, and more at peace with myself and this situation. Yes, there is still some work to do, yet it already feels that much better.

May we each find our inner path to peace, understanding that what we feel is what we feel and it’s really okay to feel; self-validation. Understanding that just because we feel it doesn’t mean we must live it. And that blocking our feelings prevents us from fully living.

Namaste

Faith in Receiving

It is very easy for me to give, ’tis much harder to receive. I give of my time, patience, efforts and knowledge to others everyday. Sometimes I get paid for it and sometimes I don’t.

Religious dogma and society support giving more than receiving. “It’s better to give than to receive,” Acts 20:35 (KJV). Welfare recipients are shamed for being “needy.” Yet I wonder if there are deeper reasons…

Receptivity means having faith and surrendering. It also means being vulnerable and “accepting” what we receive. Receiving is also being, which is actively “doing nothing.” (that was triggering to state). Receiving is very much a divine feminine trait; where being feminine is often associated with being weak. Again, where religious dogma and society can play a role in how we perceive things. 

In sitting with my discomfort today around being receptive, I saw several “forces” at play. Being receptive means “getting what I deserve.” There is still part of me that wrestles with that aspect of my personality where I believe there is “an irredeemable deficiency” about myself. With that in mind, to get what I deserve could mean more discomfort for me. This belief also discounts Agape or unconditional love. 

Being receptive also means being vulnerable and feeling unprotected. In service to others, I have repeatedly “put myself out there” and have often felt used, abused, taken for granted and unappreciated. I see where I have done this to myself, to make up for my “irredeemable deficiency” where I feel I must “go above and beyond” to prove my worth… I call this trait “super size me,” where I must “give more,” to make up for my deficiencies. Which again, discounts Agape. 

Yet staying in this place of “keeping a lid” on who I am here to be, I feel as if I’m wearing a shirt several sizes too small. It restricts my movements, my breathing and keeps me from being the person I am here to be. There is great sadness in feeling my own suppression. So I’ve resolved to reach up to the stars and have faith in receiving the greatness that supports who I am here to be; this is vulnerability. 

May we each find new freedom and faith in receiving and in being vulnerable; it takes more strength to be vulnerable than it does to power through everything. May we find peace in our own vulnerability, receptivity and femininity. (sounds much like sea anemone, and with that in mind, may we also laugh at ourselves more!) 

Namaste

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

Celebrating the Pause

Yesterday marked the half-way mark between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, and Summer Solstice and Autumnal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere. It is interesting that many of us may also find ourselves in transition during this time. I most certainly do!

There is a mixture of excitement and restlessness here. As a very goal-oriented person, it is a challenge for me to feel settled when not working on specific goals. Learning to surrender into this space of unknowing, as if awaiting my next set of orders, creates some anxiety for me. However, I’m learning to recognize the parts of me that want to push and push; pushing is so exhausting!

A great meditation on Insight Timer, which found me, is subtitled “Divine Laziness.” There is so much beauty and wisdom in this space between; in the surrender. Breathing deeply into the unknown also gives a sense of freedom.

May we each find peace in the spaces between what was and what is yet to be. There is SO much potential here, if we can just be patient enough to allow it to be. 

Namaste

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