Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Sometimes You Have to Go Down to Go Up"


The other day a woman gave me to me several justifications in a row why she felt "blocked" from writing. Each time I responded, "Writers write, that's what we do." I felt like I was having a conversation with myself. Ultimately she said to me, "Thank you - you are so inspiring." She might have been inspired, but I was no less inspired. I've felt just as blocked, stagnant and lacking the desire to create as she. Meanwhile - I also believe many times sitting down and writing is an act of choice rather than inspiration.

I've also felt blocked in life for a few weeks. After talking with my TMI specialist she likened my description to the Hanged Man in a tarot deck and suggested I reflect on a Jungian analysis of what it might mean. I have done so and it is incredibly enlightening to consider both surrendering to my current life situation. It is powerful to consider what it means to allow the burdens of life to fall away and the alone time and stillness to offer what really matters. There is power inside -- and a complete and whole person developing.... and rather than freak out - sitting with the depth of who I am and allowing my intuition and KNOWING to come to fruition is a powerful way to trust.

Meanwhile - it is true that only a couple of months ago I said YES to the Universe. YES. I truly believe there is no coincidence that I expressed a willingness to let go of three beliefs and life patterns:

I let go of the idea that I'm a burden because I'm sick.

I let go of financial concerns and worries.

I let go of romantic fears or that I'm hard to love.

When we make big decisions like this the energy does kick up around us. I have felt the shift. It wasn't something I felt like talking about but it was a big change for me. Some of it was a relief and some of it was a tangible change. I actively sought out meaningful work. I expressed more joy and gratitude. But I also let some things slide. I'd start de-cluttering projects and let them sit creating a messy vibe all over my office. I'd do it again and again until every time I walk into my office I feel bogged down rather than uplifted. It is TIME to clean up my side of the street - energetically and literally. It is TIME to stop THINKING about what I want and just do it. Even putting my hands on items and donating and recycling will make me SEE the shift I've committed to.

And something else big happened. When I committed to not feeling like a burden - two significant people left my life. One was a romantic interest and one was someone I thought was a friend. It might not seem like a big deal - and some people might say, "Oh - they did you a favor." But I think maybe it stunned me a little. I was deeply surprised and a little saddened by how quickly people leave. The romantic interest left without saying goodbye or telling me why. She just stopped calling. I expected it, but it was after she saw me be sick I knew it changed how she thought of me. She never got to see me be funny, or loving, or any of my wonderful sides either... But being "abandoned" for being sick -- that was my wounded area. And that is the wound she touched when she just stopped calling and stopped coming around. It left a mark. I cherish that wounded area now by writing about it and shining a light into the darkness and recognizing that NOTHING is so wrong with me that I deserve to be abandoned for being sick. In fact, I'm very right for the right lover. We all are.

Another person left in a bigger and far more dramatic way. They were friends with me for several years before finding out I was sick. They had their own negative relationship with chronic illness because their father died when they were young and their brother had a a liver transplant. Because of this they often felt invisible and had negative associations with anyone who dealt with illness. When they found out I was sick they said, "I can't be your friend because you might die." I remember standing there and feeling my heart break - truly break. It was the very worst case scenario. Until then no one had ever voiced it out loud. I also remember saying, "I'm not dying any faster that you. You're going to die too you asshole." I also told them to go to their own therapist and deal with their shit because it wasn't my shit it was theirs.

And that was that. I cried and cried about it. But I carried on. I learned to live without their friendship. And I also dealt with my own anger towards them.

Later they apologized to me and I accepted the apology. They came back into my life and we began hanging out again. I never felt we were going to be close friends again, but I did think they wanted to establish a connection. For six years they met up with me for lunches or dinners, helped me pack my U-Haul when I moved, clean out my storage unit when it flooded, and told me about their sex life. For six years, we were never close, but I felt we had re-kindled a type of friendship.

At the spiritual retreat I saw them. Rather than being pleasant and cordial the way they usually were with me, they were angry. They behaved in a surly and sour manner. They said things to me that surprised me with their curtness. Finally- they sent me two e-mails explaining what a burden I was and how for years they had so much guilt about me. They had lived with an enormous sense of "putting up with me" while I had operated under the belief that we were simply OK. They showed up out of a false sense of duty and felt I was an albatross and I thought they had worked through the idea that sick people were frightening.

I really was this persons personal burden and I didn't even know it!! For years they suffered my company and my intrusions on their spiritual retreat was more than they could bear. I had no idea! If they had asked me not to go to the retreat, I would have found a different retreat. If they had let me know they didn't want to rekindle a connection, I would have stopped inviting her out when I visited.

It left me with a feeling of - "How could I be so blind?" and "People enjoy my company and I genuinely like theirs -- if they suffered so much around me why be a martyr?" Part of me felt incredulous. Part of me felt sad. And part of me felt victorious - like my proclamation that I'm not a burden actually worked.

And -- it also left me feeling a little raw. Like I can't trust that other people genuinely want to be around me. If I don't notice when people are faking their joy and friendship - how can I notice when I am a burden. But life is built on joy and gratitude and being seen and loving people for who they are.

All of this has been happening for me. Mostly internally. A little stagnant -- a little waiting -- a bit of loss, letting go of patterns, finding new joy, allowing, and TRUSTING. It is everything from this position. As I write I am positive that writing this is my way of both releasing and allowing.

Its my way of surrendering to the situations in my life. If you are ever waiting on an elevator and they are all going down and you want to go up, sometimes you just press the down button and wait a long wait -- knowing you can select the up button when you reach the ground. It's circuitous but it gets you to your destination eventually. Sometimes you have to go down to go up. I've felt blocked and upside down for a while -- but this is my path to a greater understanding and rejuvenation.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Resilience


Everyone once in a while someone will either ask me my biggest fear or tell me their story. Listening to people's stories is nice. It's familiar. I get it. Picking through my fears to tell someone my "biggest" fear is like picking my favorite song. Which one is my biggest one TODAY - in this moment is more the question.

Am I more afraid of being seen? Of being emotionally vulnerable? That I'll never be truly healthy? Of too little change? Too much change? Of abandonment?

I scoop up my fears and pile them like twigs around a fire and say, "Thank you for sharing." Some days I reflect on what it is that "holds me back." Other days I think -- "I'm not asking myself what's wrong with ME - I'm simply asking, What's wrong?"

I've been able to laugh. I'm in a better mood. Still - the shift I want to feel isn't coming. Or if it's coming I've been hiding from it. Hiding because change means -- change. Being willing to change, flow, adapt. Can I? Am I resilient enough?

Maybe that's my newest fear. Maybe truly that's my largest fear. In the past I've been happy to go on adventures and throw myself into LIFE. Now - I'm far more risk intolerant -- some might call me risk aware. My question is -- Am I resilient enough for THIS?

I don't like to consider myself a fragile woman -- but I don't like to put myself in harms way. Maybe it's just being grown up. I can handle the emotional challenges - even if I don't LIKE to feel sad or emotionally bereft. But physically- I have a new respect for my body's requirements.

Maybe that's the point. Maybe everyday is waking up, feeling gratitude for what I have. And recognizing that I have exactly enough resilience for what awaits me. And trusting myself to make the choices for me that work and have just enough adventure for spice and joy.




Friday, May 16, 2014

Living Uncomfortably - What I Want is on the Other Side of Fear



I've been telling myself for a year that what I want is on the other side of fear. Yet I had no formal process for making something positive happen. Saying things is good. I often say things out loud in order to gain perspective. But what I really need is a way to get where I want to go.

Then I found it. A woman in a workshop discussed her "Year of Living Uncomfortably." YES! This is what I've been seeking.

The idea for living uncomfortably is looking inside consciously and discovering what we automatically say "no" to and considering if we might push ourselves a little -- into a less comfortable place. I have been doing this.

For many women this is a body risk -- they wear or do things that put their bodies on more display, forcing more body love. They wear more body hugging clothing or they go to the pool and wear a bathing suit. For me - a woman who regularly stands on stage presenting burlesque dancers in her bra -- I am taking more emotional risks. I am dating more, and to do this I am taking myself to places that I might find suitable dates. While I don't feel unhappy as a single woman -- I also want to ALLOW for romantic possibilities. So I thought to myself - what kind of person do I want? What do I ENJOY? What do I do that makes me happy? I'm not a party girl - going out to bars won't make me happy -- but doing things that I already LOVE, (volunteering, civic duty, roller derby events, boardgames, general kinkery and geekery) puts me out there. I have fun AND I make more friends who are into what I'm into -- AND I might meet someone with my interests.

But it's still oddly challenging to be "the new girl" at things. I like being "good" at things. Or at least knowledgeable at things. I like a bit of routine. Going to volunteer at a brand new place feels awkward. Not being really super good feels awkward. Going out to new places where people don't smile at me or know my name has felt awkward -- and YES -- it has felt uncomfortable.

Next - I'm working on going to tai chi and (selectively) using new technology that will enhance my life. It makes me uncomfortable. But I believe it will enhance my life.

These seem like such small changes. But ideally I am working up to some pretty big goals.

My goals are three things I "let go of" at a spiritual retreat.

First - I let go of the idea that I'm a burden because I'm sick.

Secondly - I let go of financial concerns and worries.

Thirdly - I let go of romantic fears or that I'm hard to love.

In this place - I took in the affirmation of YES! And I picked up a beautiful white rock to symbolize fresh new energy.

I've been cleaning out my office and removing clutter from my desk. I've been putting yarn in bins and donating clothing. I've been recycling and shredding papers. And - making tidy piles of papers that need filed. It is time for me to actually LIVE my current life.

For a while now I've been sitting in my current place and feeling a sense of "impending change" -- as though if I didn't truly move in, I wasn't really here. I kept looking to the future. "I will soon have a new place and can organize this later." Or: "This isn't REALLY where I want to be, so I don't want to be comfortable here." Really - I felt a sense of shame and well... discomfort. So I thought to myself -- what happens if I TRULY move in here? What happens if I put on fresh new bedsheets and comfortable pillows? What happens if I organize my office and put up a pretty lamp? What happens if I make this place the way I would if it were the last place I will ever live and I'm truly home? What happens if I bless this place and feel a sense of love and gratitude for it?

And I realized - THIS is what living uncomfortably FOR ME is right now. It is living in my moment. It is being present. It is having gratitude and letting go and bringing in the new. It's a powerful new way of living for me.

So far -- several things have shifted. I've started getting a few contacts from potential part time lecturer positions and other financial ways to lighten my life. As I've given away older things that are no longer useful, newer things have come into my life. I was given a new printer for my birthday. I was given a new set of sheets. And -- two people have willingly gone out of my life. Clearly purging has allowed valuable space in my life.

And - I don't feel like a burden. I don't feel "bad" or responsible. What I want is on the other side of fear. And I'm living uncomfortably to meet my goals and allow new and better thoughts and people (for me) into my life.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Poetry Month 4.3.14

(Inner and Outer) Space


Our mother earth.
Pale blue dot.
Father -- bless them --
Time.
Sundering.
Rending and Mending.
Journey - of a thousand--
Pictures worth more -
A pen mightier--
Blood is thicker than.
Firmly rooted --
Here.
Our only
Home.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Poetry Month 4.2.14

Life and Death Matters


He records life without his life partner using photographs and stories.
81 weeks since you've been gone.
They record life with their new born.
Day 21.
Today is, "give me that remote and shit happens."


A 55 year old new father blogs to his new son recording the blessings of new life.
A woman with metastatic cancer records her ten year journey living a not chronic, not terminal illness she will die from someday.
He begins his entries, "Today you discovered..."
She beings hers, "People keep dying."


She writes:

"When I was first diagnosed, I sometimes wondered 'why me? Why did I get
sick?” Over a decade later, I sometimes wonder, 'why me? Why am I still
alive?'"


Life. Love. Birth. Death. Loss. Connection. Sharing. In the
end each person makes a connection.
Each person matters. They matter to me.
People keep dying.
And they keep being born.
Life changes. It changes us.
It matters.
We matter.
You matter.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Poetry Month 4.1.14

Memories


Fields on fire
with
dandelions
and
bumblebees.

Lilacs tracing
Fifth Avenue.
House built by hand.
The sweat of fathers
and brothers
and crumbling
dreams
and poverty.

Weeping willows
and
forests ever
vigilant.
Maples my defenders
bastions
The woods
such a
Dark
place.

Swat
team.
Flak jackets.
Black Guns.
Dogs.
Just another day.

Reading books till midnight.
Gardens. Flowers. Orchards.
Ice cream.
Parks.
Skipping rocks.
Climbing trees.
Gus. My defender.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Die Being Awesome


Last week I knew I was feeling low energy and I chose to go do something I knew was going to take an enormous amount of energy. But I chose to do it anyway. I got my ass handed to me in the illness department. I'm STILL recovering a week later. In fact, I might have damaged/ estranged a budding friendship. (And I'm sorry if that happened. I also know that real friendships endure both the test of time and health crises). So yes-- last week took me a little by surprise. But it happened.

I'm not always a good judge of things that can blindside even people with a healthy immune system. WHY? Why did I do it? Why didn't I stay home all snugged away in my cozy predicable life? Let me tell you why:

Because -- we are all going to die someday. Life is a temporary track. And if I cannot have my health exactly what I have dreamed of and desired -- at least I can have fun and enjoy the small moments that bring me joy.

I told a friend once -- "If I die living doing something that is enjoyable - please tell my family I died being awesome!" I meant it.

I commit to social justice and living in a way that I believe in. I commit to living in a way that I believe is honorable. And I also commit to living in a way that is sometimes more vulnerable and honest that I once did. Because WHEN (not if) I die - I want to die being awesome. The more joy I create while I'm living NOW the more lives on after I'm gone.