Far from the flaccid suggestion that when something is not working we must ‘let it go,’ Kali is the ruthless power behind ‘negative’ emotions which clears the way for new life. She is the boundary that Anger wants. She is the pounding of Grief’s river, rushing us to new lands. She is the freedom that Anxiety shakes for. She is the siren of change that Boredom signals. She is the bliss that Fear promises.
I put on my grandpa’s shirt today and felt so surrounded by him and his love. I was reminded of his steadfast, consistent presence and immediately had such a strong urge to call my grandmother and tell her how much I loved him and missed him. She passed away in August and I still have these moments when I forget and want to call. They’re sad moments, but beautiful moments. They’re a chance to remember, to sit with her memory, to Be in that love and presence again. I was so lucky to know my grandparents as well as I did. Putting on his shirt is like being on the inside of one of his hugs again.
The universe gives you the clients you need exactly when you need them….
More and more I realize that my practice is this living, breathing entity that changes with me, grows with me, adapts and transforms.
This week I’ve heard myself say to clients over and over again that maybe our defenses aren’t the end of the world. Maybe it’s okay that we avoid pain, try to numb ourselves, protect our hears. Yes! Changing our defenses, opening to life, love, pain and joy is this beautiful intention that I love holding space for and facilitating. But, we cannot truly open by judging the contraction that came first. We cannot be open all of the time. Life comes in phases. It’s as natural as a flower starting out as a bud, tight and contracted, protecting the nectar inside while it prepares to blossom.
All summer I’ve been contracted. I’ve been avoiding feeling and I’ve been furious with myself for being so closed off. I’ve felt ashamed that I can’t seem to let myself feel my pain. I’ve been disgusted with my defenses. Then I feel ashamed that I’m so judgmental of it. Today I found some compassion for where I’m at. I realized that I need to listen to my own words of wisdom. That I too, am human. We can’t always be open, even though we’d like to, especially through a beautiful summer.
I have been numbing. I have been contracted, detached. I’m ready to feel more integrated, more alive, more inside my own body. I’m ready to listen to what my body has been saying to me all along. But, I know I can’t bully myself into making those changes. That’s never worked for me. In fact, I’ve never seen it work for anyone. Right now I’m starving spiritually. Hungry for self-reflection. Hungry for self-compassion and love. Starving for a more integrated experience of my life.
I’ve been blessed to have been working with some remarkable people at work lately. I have clients who have been willing to make themselves so vulnerable in my presence. I’ve also been working hard to hold that safe space. I had an angry teenager weep in my office this week about his father. It felt raw, palpable. That vulnerability that makes you want to throw up. We just sat there, together in silence while he cried. I had such a strong response because it reminded me of my own vulnerable shell. Fragile and brittle after a summer of hiding it away and pretending it doesn’t exist. Breathing into it softens it, lets it breathe again. Speaking it makes it more supple, flexible. Finding compassion for it allows it to be itself. Everything’s okay.
All of a sudden everything is okay. Energy flowing. Moving freely. I feel like I’m speaking my truth again instead of holding it back and pretending it doesn’t exist.
My grandma passed away last month. It was like the universe daring me to wake up and feel, something. I spend some time ignoring the pain, being the functional daughter, helping everyone else, clearing stuff out of her closets. Today it’s like every cell of my body feels the loss, but also her presence all at once. She was this beautiful maternal presence in my life. Taking care of everyone. Caring, nurturing. I have this capacity too. To take care. Not just of others, but of myself. It was her birthday this week.
There are so many paths home, so many ways to come back to ourselves. Life is about remembering, finding new ways, coming back again and again as we lose our way.
Yoga is one of those paths for me. I get on my mat and I know. It’s a gentle mirror. A reminder of who I am. Sometimes this is warm, welcoming, loving. Other times it feels dark, sad, scary. But it always feels honest. It always feels. I know when there’s hesitancy to get on my mat that really there’s hesitance to feel.
This week has been a beautifully difficult welcome back to the mat. While it feels delightful to move again, I can feel the places that I’m stuck. Leading from the heart felt raw, painful, nauseating. But, at the same time there’s an intense desire in me to Be with all the pain. Feel it, digest it, chew on it. Raw felt necessary. Felt human. Felt real.
I have nothing but thanks for my beautiful, vulnerable, wise teacher who seemed to know exactly what I needed this morning, and every morning really. I spend my days holding space for the emotions of others, the pain of others, the joy of others and I am forever grateful for the special people in my life who are willing to do the same for me. Thank you not only holding the space, but for the steadfast support in helping me to remember that it’s always a good idea to come home again, even when it hurts.
My grandma was one of the most strong, gentle, kind people that I have ever known and losing her has been really tough. She was one of those people who was easy to love. Her actions reflected her values, and that is a rare gift. Her personality had spunk and she was instantly approachable to all. She was a true servant, always thinking of others, helping others. She put a little piece of herself into everything that she worked on. She had a way of making everyone she touched feel like the most special person. She was the definition of selfless. The most amazing thing to me was her ability to give herself to others, yet always stay so grounded in herself. She never lost her sense of self, which is hard to do when you’re constantly taking care of others. She had such strength, courage and integrity.
My grandma walked through life with both her strength and her tenderness, not an easy thing to do. She was full of fire and this fire was fueled by my grandfather, so grounded in the element of earth. They were a perfect match. My grandpa had some fire in him as well. Together they built a big family, and they were so proud of them all. My grandma cared for her children, spoiled her grandchildren and poured her soul into marriage. For a decade she cared for my grandpa throughout his illness. She put one foot in front of the next over and over, trusting she could handle what was thrown her way. She trusted that their love and devotion would see them through the difficulty. She was encouraging, generous, she fostered his independence when it was the most difficult. Despite frustrations, she never doubted, never complained, never lot hope. She brought her determination and her tender heart to the task. I know how grateful he was. I know how honoured she was to be his wife. She was, by definition, his hero, but I know she would say he was hers.
My grandparents walked through their struggles holding hands, an inspirational couple. When my grandpa passed away I was in awe of my grandma’s strength and courage. They had lived an entire life together. She moved forward with the memory of him living strong in her. With grace. With dignity. But, with a heavy heart. She had nothing but gratitude for a life lived with him at her side. But his death was her ultimate sacrifice. My grandma may have officially died of congestive heart failure, but really she died of a broken heart.
So, now it`s my job to move forward with the memories. It`s my job to live the lessons she taught me. It`s my job to come home to myself and live my values the way she lived hers. I have felt so loved, so held, so brought to life by her. I am forever honoured and grateful to have had her in my life. I will miss her, but hold her dear to my heart.
Grandma, thank you for your sweet smile, your selfless service and your boundless love. I am comforted that you and grandpa are separated no longer. Love forever…
Space. I feel like I’ve recently created a lot of space in my life. There’s more space at home, in my asana practice, at work. I feel like there’s time to breathe, time to sit, time to be me. It’s odd because I was craving this space. I was aware that I needed to stop investing everything into my job. Aware that I didn’t always have to react to management issues. I care less now about that stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for my work and I LOVE and CARE deeply about my work with clients. It feels wonderful, however, to disregard the parts that don’t matter. The politics, the drama, the parts that made me crazy in the past. I’ve stopped asking for extra work. I’ve stopped feeling the need to be busy ALL the time. I work hard, I advocate for my clients, I put everything into my one on one time. But I also take the time to breathe between clients, to feel the residual space in my office, to clear the energy, to start fresh. I’ve been basking in the space (and if I’m honest…there’s not much of it….we’re still SO busy). But, now I find myself saying……..
Do we create space to fill it again? Do we clear out the closet to pick out new clothes? What’s missing in my life? What parts of my life do I want to cultivate more? Or, do I want to sit in the space, revel in it, bask in it and feel?
I just spent the bulk of my weekend alone. I felt alone. This isn’t new for me. I quite like the time I spend by myself. It helps me to know myself. I didn’t always feel this way, I’ve learned to love spending time with me. It used to make me anxious. Now I feel alone in a different way. I’m not anxious. I’m not desperate for company. But, I would like it. I would like to have a more permanent fixture in my life. Somebody to share it with. Somebody to come home to. With this new space comes other realizations, other openings. I’m feeling more. Noticing more. My libido is alive again. I want human contact. I want to share myself fully. I’m ready to be my whole self with somebody else. I couldn’t have done that in the past. I look at pictures of friends who are pregnant, and I realize, that maybe I do want that some day. Maybe I do want children of my own in the future. Babies bring tears to my eyes right now….a strange reaction for a girl who always swore she didn’t want kids. I feel older. I feel integrated. Awake. Lonely. But complete. Isn’t it interesting how our inner most feelings are so contradictory? When I sit and listen to myself, I’m full of contradictions. Lonely but complete. I am full, complete, whole. I don’t need another to complete me. But, I feel alone.
So, now what?
Today I have nothing but gratitude and complete awe for the work that I do. I feel so blessed to share in the journeys of so many beautiful and brave people. It is with reverence that I share in people’s struggles, survival and triumph. Today was a gentle reminder of this gift. It isn’t always about the dramatic changes. It was about earning the trust of somebody who thought she couldn’t trust. It was about sharing a client’s heartache with her the first time that she made the active choice to feel it instead of numb. It was about putting forth the invitation to breathe self-compassion instead of self-judgment, and watching somebody take me up on the challenge. Today it was a complete privilege to sit in the presence of raw vulnerability and note that I saw that person as completely perfect, struggles and all.
My work isn’t about fixing. My work is about exploring. About finding the gifts in our struggles. My work is about letting go of the need to “work” and instead settling into the now, even if it hurts. Life can be about contradiction, conflict and confusion. At other times life is about joy, pleasure and clarity. It is a privilege to be trusted the way I am. It is a privilege to hold space for such courage. It is a privilege to watch people integrate even the parts of themselves they thought they used to hate. I’m so lucky to learn from others. I’m so lucky to have a job where I get to connect on such intimate levels.
I am learning that it takes such patience, acceptance and wholehearted love to watch somebody hate themselves and know that even this, as hard as it is, is okay. They are perfect, with no need for fixing or improvement. They are on their journey. They will find their own way. They will make their own choices. Being a part of their journey is a blessing. I have such gratitude for everyone I have worked with. Each with their own lessons, insight, wisdom and story. Thank you for allowing me a chapter (or few pages) in your process. Thank you for being you. Thank you for living your struggles.
By your stumbling, the world is perfected.
By our stumbling, the world is perfected.
By my stumbling, the world is perfected.
My clients are an inspiration to me. A challenge to me. Each one a new lens from which to view the world. Each one teaching me things about myself I didn’t know.
I am eternally grateful for my experiences with each one of you! I am honoured to know you, to witness your journeys, to stand by while you birth what is best in yourselves.
Bursting with gratitude. Humbled by kind feedback. Heart-warmed by the generosity with which you share you most intimate selves.
I’m so lucky, grateful and blessed! May we continue to connect. To breathe. To Be. To share.
For the Ones who are really interested in the Ancient Wisdom about Women and Drum. A book you should read:When the Women were drummers -author: Layne Redmond
It is often said that the first sound we hear in the womb is our mother’s heartbeat. Actually, the first sound to vibrate our newly developed hearing apparatus is the pulse of our mother’s blood through her veins and arteries. We vibrate to that primordial rhythm even before we have ears to hear. Before we were conceived, we existed in part as an egg in our mother’s ovary. All the eggs a woman will ever carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month-old fetus in the womb of her mother. This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother. Each of us spent five months in our grandmother’s womb and she in turn formed within the womb of her grandmother. We vibrate to the rhythms of our mother’s blood before she herself is born. And this pulse is the thread of blood that runs all the way back through the grandmothers to the first mother. We all share the blood of the first mother - we are truly children of one blood.Source: Wild Woman Sisterhood
Yes, if you’re a Brene Brown fan, then you’ll recognize her language here. I’ve just finished reading Daring Greatly again and have been using it as a lens to reflect on myself and my journey.
I didn’t use to feel worthy. Or, I guess another way to put it is that I had a false sense of worthiness. Like so many in this society I judged my worthiness based on my accomplishments and my feedback from others. I really did care what people think. How could I not? We’re raised this way. I was unaware of my innate worthiness and felt I had to “go go go” and accomplish the world in order to be deemed worthy. I had to be good at, or the best at, everything I did. My marks defined me, my knowledge defined me, my weight defined me. I used everything external to measure my worthiness.
My parents thought I was wonderful. They never told me that my marks or my looks defined who I was as a person. In fact, they would be devastated to hear I thought that way. So, how did I get to where I was? My mom struggled with, and continues to struggle with her own worthiness to this day. She couldn’t model worthiness because she didn’t really believe in herself. Add on top of that growing up in a society that breeds scarcity, that always says it’s not good enough. I internalized these messages. I began to compensate for my perceived lack ow worthiness by over achieving. This led to a case of perfectionism and an eating disorder followed. I didn’t learn to sit with my feelings, my shame, my guilt, my not good enough. I numbed out and put on my armour and went into battle. Battle I always thought I could win if I tried harder, lost weight, did better. I didn’t realize I was pitching war against myself. I was knocking only myself down. I was hurting and I couldn’t feel it.
Hating myself was hard. But learning to love myself was harder.
The journey to self-acceptance was an odd one. I bumped into my worthiness a few times before I was ready to claim it. It felt oddly lonely to take the path towards accepting myself. It meant, in some cases, leaving others behind. It meant traveling a road that even my mother hadn’t journeyed. Who was I to call myself worthy? What made me worth the effort? Somewhere I knew I was. Somehow I knew I could do this. I also had the impending knowledge that this was never something to be “achieved,” it was something to be practiced. I’d never be perfect or the best at this, and that was really hard to swallow. It meant giving up the only system I knew for judging myself and my self worth. It meant re-evaluating the power of accomplishing something. It meant seeing myself for who I really was. What if she wasn’t good enough? What if she still wasn’t loveable? What if I still wasn’t worthy? It was a huge risk. I felt alone taking it. I had help. I had support. Yoga became a place to turn to. But it seemed like a radical idea. A radical journey. A complete change in values and outlook on life. But, at the same time it actually aligned with my values. So much of my self-hatred came from a place of feeling as though I couldn’t live my values. I hated that I thought I needed to loose weight in order to matter, because deep down that felt superficial. It didn’t fit with who I knew I was. Nothing feels worse than your life not fitting with your message. I felt like a hypocrite. But, living your message is fucking hard. Scary. Vulnerable.
I’m not pretending that I’ve “achieved” self-acceptance, but I can damn sure say that I practice it daily. I still slip up and find it difficult. But I find compassion for myself. I bring myself back to the intention. I breathe and tap into my innate worthiness. I listen to my values. We can choose at any moment to take the path of loyalty to self. That’s self-confidence. Self-acceptance. Self-love. We can also choose to sit with the disappointment of screwing up, making mistakes and being human. Because, let’s face it, this happens to all of us from time to time. We can reach out and ask for help. We can talk to others when we feel ashamed. We can sit with ourselves and know that our imperfections make us beautiful, relatable, help us to connect.
Sweet yoga class post work this afternoon. It was one of those beautiful practices where everything felt like slow motion. I wasn’t in a hurry. I was in my body. Fully. Completely. Aware and paying attention. Living every wobble. Feeling every stretch. Aware of muscles that I usually ignore. Invited to let go of the stories I usually tell myself on the mat and in life. Just being present. Breathe. Listen. Feel. Move. It’s amazing what our bodies have to say when we actually listen. My body wasn’t as tired as I thought it was. I’ve just been going so fast lately that I’ve assumed my body is also exhausted. The truth is that my mind is what needs the break. My spirit needs the break. My body is dying to move! It feels so nice to have plugged back in!
When things get hard….
Work is busy again. Stupid busy. I know when I’m near the end of my rope when my empathy is harder to access. Normally my empathy feels ever-flowing, easy to share and if anything, hard to put boundaries on. Lately I’m digging deep to find enough to go around. I’ve dug into the empathy I normally reserve for myself. I’m using my own resources.
Normally at work I define my job as holding space for others. When I get like this though, to the end of my rope, I feel as though I’m giving pieces of myself away for the benefits of my clients. It’s as if I’m pouring them glasses of my own water so they can see themselves with compassion. Consequently I feel like I’m drying up. Perhaps my empathy isn’t as ever-lasting as I thought. It’s not just my water that’s depleted. I’m not as grounded lately either. It’s no wonder that I come home and want to eat nothing but carbohydrates. I need to come back to earth. Work is chaos. Literally. Everyone is anxious, dysregulated, in crisis. One of my particular skills is grounding other people. Bringing them back to earth. It would be ridiculous for me to think this doesn’t dysregulate me though. My office is full of rocks and plants…literal pieces of the earth that help me to feel steady, grounded, constant. But, right now it doesn’t feel like enough. It’s as if I’m giving my earth away to others who need it more. But, where does that leave me? My fire is being used up as well. My sad and depressed clients are using up my spark, my motivation, my drive and ambition. I’m lighting their fires directly from my own core.
How to find balance again?
I know I need to dig back in. Connect to me. My practice. My spirituality. If this practice of therapy is a spiritual practice, which I firmly believe that it is, then how do I make sure that I have enough in the tank to work towards my own spiritual practice at the end of the day? No more skipping my own asana. No more going to work early or staying late. Speaking up about the volumes of clients that come in and out of my office. Saying no. Enough. Time for me…..