I need to accept, that, in my life, bad things are going to happen to me. They are going to happen because of circumstances and people I allow in, and they are going to happen just because bad things happen. To dwell on the bad things that happened and things bad people did to me, or obsess on the bad things that might happen to me in the future does not protect me from experiencing more pain; it diminishes my capacity for strength and compassion to cope with, overcome, and ultimately forgive. The scarcity of feeling strength, love, and acceptance (personal fortitude, self-love, and accepting me as I am) to be myself and to receive life – good and bad – prevents me from fully experiencing my life; and therefore, prevents me from finding full happiness and completeness in myself. The irony is not lost on me that what I desire the most – inner peace, wholeness, and acceptance – can only be given to me from me, and can only be found by me from within me.
I think I can be scared, feel angry, and acknowledge along a full spectrum of pain, and to feel weak and small and uncertain. BUT – if I go there, I need to fully go. there. And go and feel whatever consequence of pain that naturally develops through that allowance, and resolve to let that experience flow – flow so it moves through me rather than stay and develop suffocating stagnation. Otherwise, despite what I allow myself to believe are my “best” efforts to cultivate the life I crave, nothing will grow. I will not be able to breathe or to move or think with any fluidity or relief. As that is stagnation… Failure to develop, advance, or progress; cessation of flowing or running; staleness or foulness.
There are some smells that take us into a space of
nostalgia. Songs can do that for me, as well. I identify songs with an era of
my life. Counting Crows and Stone Temple Pilots are sure bets to bring me to
high school. Laying on a friend’s bed, crying over some stupid boy who didn’t
like me as much as I liked him. Sweet Home Alabama reminds me of my childhood
and father on Saturday mornings, blaring Lynyrd Skynyrd, as my mom yelled at
him to stop acting like a redneck and disturbing our neighbors.
A certain song can even haunt me toward a person.
Lines within lyrics that were manipulated in conversation…
context ignored or simply overlooked that now haunts me. Meetings and
conversations in which an elephant sat in a room with us but was never acknowledged.
What rude hosts we were, to ignore such a guest…. Then, the game changer
happened, and the friendship complicated, and then the friendship lost. When
you cross a line with a platonic friend, your risk is great. The reward could
be fantastic, but what is worth the risk? Ultimately, when he crossed over an
implied boundary between us, he, or I, or maybe us both – couldn’t handle the confusion
and complication of a newly altered but not defined friendship. I not only did
not acquire a new lover, I lost an old friend. And this, at a time when my
friends are greatly needed.
And also, at a time when old and lost lovers become new
friends with relationships redefined as two ghosts whom were long past were
randomly rediscovered and let back in.
One of the reasons I enjoy the friendship of a certain charming French fellow I met on a blind date this summer is his exquisite accent (by the way, this summer was the summer for blind dates, by the way). No douches out of the bunch, either; my friends did me well in these set ups and I have some new, nice friends that I met out of the chances I took to go out on the dreaded blind date limbs). I won’t bat an eyelash and pretend I don’t soak up his lyrical speech like a good bread does olive oil, nor will I deny that I am charmed by his definitely NOT Made in America manners and gentlemanly chivalry and generosity. But, even beyond these qualities that I think makes him an import that the American government should approve of and ship in more supplies to deserving American women, I appreciate his intelligence and his perspective (and a sense of humor that just cannot be beat… again, NOT Made in America). And it is these two things that make me appreciate his company so much.
We were having dinner together the night before I flew out to Kansas to spend the holiday with my mom. We were discussing holiday plans and New Year’s Resolutions. Charming Frenchie stated that he doesn’t subscribe to the notion of resolutions, but instead, he forms objectives. Oh, ho, hmm, now let’s see. And so I went along with the conversation, because the guy is well thought and spoken, and I liked what he was saying. And so, my objectives for my new year include the reasons why and what I will not gain if I choose to not follow through.
1. No texting while driving. I KNOW. That’s why it’s listed as my Number One. Not only is it illegal in Phoenix, if a conversation is facilitated by text, then that is not an important conversation. It is certainly not a conversation of such importance that it is worth endangering my personal safety and my property nor the personal safety and property of others. It is a horrible habit and it needs to die.
2. Judge less and forgive more. I consider myself a mostly open-minded and relative person. But, I can still be a thoroughly and mightily self-righteous and judgmental, little bitch (and, for the record, I hate this word; I think it is among the most disrespectful words used to describe a woman; I hate it). People have their own motivations for their actions. And, let’s face it: people sometimes just make bad decisions. For those, I am in no position to cast any stones. And, so, I will also be mindful for this objective to be less judgmental of and more forgiving to the person who is in the most need of my grace. Myself.
3. Stop making excuses. I find empowerment in ownership. Sometimes, that perspective is really hard! Sometimes, I can go off balance and venture a little to the extreme end of taking ownership and I take on too much onus, thereby creating excuses and letting someone else off the hook of responsibility. My objective is to own what is mine, and let the other person/people do what they will with that part of responsibility. While we’re on the subject of no more excuses, no more excuses in my practice! My experience and skill with yoga is beyond the point for me to still be afraid of inversions. No more inversion aversion! In 2012, I will rock the inversions: headstand, forearm stand, handstand. I will get out of my head and stand with my feet above my head, once and for all.
4. I will eat more veggies and eat less meat. I did just put that in writing. I won’t abandon my carnivorous ways entirely. I am still convinced I was a T-Rex in a former lifetime… “if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” Get it? No? Think about a T-Rex… “if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!” Get it? Yes!!!!! Here’s the deal why this objective is so important for me (closet open, meet skeletons). Diabetes runs in my dad’s family. His mom developed Type II Diabetes; she also had multiple strokes. Cancer is in my mom’s family. It may be a freak, silver-bullet type of coincidence that my dad and my brother both have “chronic, progressive Multiple Sclerosis.” BUT, I really don’t think so. And so, when I asked myself the question about why have I been taking chances with my health by not better nurturing my body through what I eat, I couldn’t come up with an answer good enough for me to not seriously consider making some changes to that part of my lifestyle. I may and I may not have the genetic coding to predispose me to any of these diseases that could trigger at any time, running rogue through my DNA. I may and I may not. That’s how genetic inheritance works. By why take the chance? I won’t hike Humphrey’s Peak during a monsoon season because I know that kind of exposure puts me at risk to be struck by lightening. After seeing, this past year (talking 2011, friends), my beloved grandfather – my Pepere – succumb to cancer, observing my aunt’s continuous struggle with her addiction to food and her compromised life from her morbid obesity, but most of all, participating in my dad’s and my brother’s battles with the fear monger, MS, my healthful arrogance has shamed me. Especially, when I know I have got to get my stress management under control. A doctor’s physical exam would show results that ace every test (except for stress). But, how long will that health last? So, with my own challenges to deal with my own poor stress management, I can do my beautiful and healthy body better by eating (and drinking) better. Less cows, less cheese, and more alkaline-rich food to help me stay stronger and healthier for longer.
So, my resolutions probably would have looked something like this:
Drive safer; be nicer; do handstands; eat less sugar.
My objectives spell out for me what the accomplishment and purpose is so I can remember the why when I carry out the what.
The ball just dropped in Times Square. I don’t know if I’ll make it up to midnight CST. Aaaah, Kansas… and legal fireworks. Charlee, the chihuahua, is in a panicked snit.
If I had to sum up this year in a word, my word for 2011 would be Surrender.
Actually, maybe two words. Surrender Into.
At the end of my rope? Dangling like a worm on a hook? Death grip holding on for dear life?
Not this year.
Relaxing into the pendulum’s swinging after I emotionally survived the free fall feeling from my tethered position 30 feet above the desert floor, knowing that I, alone, held onto the rope keeping me securely fastened to the pulley up top, but for me to get back on the ground, where I really wanted to be – rather than up in the air – I had to let go. And when letting go of that rope and falling freely, consider what emotional ties I wanted to let go of as well. Damn Miraval and their cleverly appropriate challenges! When can I go again?
The holiday season brings me additional opportunity for reflection with the compounding factors of approaching a calendar year milestone and a personal milestone (in other words, my birthday, yech). I can not only look back at a single year, I can reflect on an entire age.
For 2011, I wanted a better year than 2010. In 2011, I started to understand what it really means to gain wisdom. To me, wisdom is not rote knowledge, but knowledge gained through reflection following experience.I still don’t know much in terms of worldly shit, but I paid a lot more attention to myself and to my pain points and triggers; I learned. I still have a long way to go, but babes, you better believe I know a whole lot more than I did this time last year.
I started this year challenging some of my beliefs and perceptions; the short time I spent at Miraval helped me examine fears and actions motivated by fear. I gave myself permission to grieve and let go of ideas that would only continue to hold me back from being happy.
I had the courage to face letting go of Chloe, and for the first time, experienced the full scope of responsibility of another living creature. Her life circle had come to its end, and I had the hard decision to let her pass painlessly and in my arms.
They say that love finds you when you aren’t looking for it. This year, I found that cliche to be true. Quite unexpectedly, and most delightedly, I found love, or maybe it found me. Although that ended too soon, rather than remain so sad and angry to have lost what I felt and experienced the months I was with Guy, I choose to be grateful I had any time with him at all; for the gift was for me to be excited about a man again, for me to trust a man again, and to fall in love. Because here’s the thing: it wasn’t about what I was getting – it was about what I gave, that I gave… and I gave willingly. The greatest gift was the most bittersweet gift, and that was for me to make a stand for what I believe I’m worth and to speak up for what I want at the highest level of my dream for a fulfilled life – there is no place where Guy wanted to fit in that, and so a square peg was not going to be force fit into a round hole.
My Pepere died, following a courageous battle with brain cancer. I was able to say goodbye to him last fall, and so I went back to New England to honor his death and celebrate the gifts he brought all of us through his life.
Montana was the place of reconnecting with old friends while forming new friendships, too. There is so much power to the collective female spirit, and when women come together with a similar intention and focus, the combined energy is healing, invigorating, and inspiring. Saying goodbye to one friend whose wisdom and energy was so soothing to me, she reminded me that when we hug, to lean to the left, that way our hearts can touch.
I articulated my dissertation topic and introduced my hypothesis to members of the higher education community. I took a chance and submitted a request to present a formal discussion of my hypothesis and provide the rationale to justify my research: my request was accepted and I began the exciting and intimidating process of refining my research to form a presentation at a national conference in March. The message to me? Is that people want to hear what I have to say, and I need to move forward with the confidence in myself that others have already expressed they have in me.
This year had significant disappointments and losses. But, I was stronger and less fearful than I was last year. This year was particularly emotional. But, I was more able to accept the vulnerability and rawness of validating my own experiences and feelings. And so, I believe 2012 will be even better than 2011. I believe that 2012 will bring me challenges. I believe I will be sad and angry at points during the year. I believe the good times will be greater in quantity and quality than any time bringing angst.
I’m sending you warm wishes for your year and wishes for warm hearts. Happy New Year!
“In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty. ”
― Navajo Blessing
Aaron, our Navajo guide, took Liz and I on a drive through Monument Valley. One of the formation features he brought us to was Big Hogan. Because it was just the three of us, we moved through the park faster than the stuffed-full other tour jeeps, and as a bonus, were able to spend more time at some other spots in between other groups.
Big Hogan was one of these stops where, for just a few moments, we had the hogan to ourselves – just the three of us, and Aaron showed us how to perch on and back against the sandstone wall, resting our entire weight on the slant of the rock, and look up through the eagle eye, into the sky, from the roof of the hogan.
See the eagle eye (look for its beak and outline of the head)?
At first, I said I could, but I really couldn’t, see the eagle in the rock. Then, I closed my eyes, opened them, and, I saw. It’s just a little bit ridiculous, to me, how sometimes even with a guide, if I force myself to see, I can still be not ready to see… and in a moment – unguarded and not forced – exactly what my guide wants me to see, is right there, vivid as can be, and right before me! Literally, following a blink. I didn’t have to over-think this one, I just had to be there, and to reopen my eyes, to see what was, literally, looming over me.
And, if the visual weren’t enough, when we talked, our voices slightly echoed in what seemed like a perfectly engineered sound studio. In addition to the visual delight, I had a rare opportunity to hear myself speak, in stereo — a gentle reminder, one could say, for me to remember to be mindful of my words.
Thinking even beyond the Navajo blessing, while I wish to be more mindful of how I talk, I know I have a significant opportunity to also watch where, and how, I walk.