Channeling My Inner Icelander: Longings

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I spent another day yesterday riding the sugar roller coaster. “Just stop eating it,” you say. “It’s bad for me,” I say. “It’s poison,” say the books that proclaim sugar as the downfall of our health as a country. “It’s an addiction,” say the psychologists and substance abuse counselors. “It keeps you company when you are lonely,” says the addict on my shoulder. “It hugs you when you are scared,” says the devil. “And it’s just so, so sweet,” says my addicted, pleasure-seeking brain. Sugar’s energy sucks the life out of me. Its initial calming effect leads to an unrelenting anxiety. No matter what, I always end up laying awake at night in the middle of a blood sugar crash cursing myself for my dependence.

Today, I vow, will be different. For some people, I assume sugar is not what it is to me. But, for many, I can see that they struggle with the need to eat it for stress relief and comfort. I can see it because it literally shows up on us in anxiety, inflammation and weight gain. As stress levels rise during this time, you can literally see people “puffing up”. I feel helpless in my own spiral. But I know that it is not hopeless. I have been here before.

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Yesterday I read an article in the Atlantic about the stunning success Iceland has had in breaking the cycle of drug and alcohol abuse in its teenage population. When the country became alarmed at the addictive spiral of its youth, the country decided to get to the root of the problem instead of trying to manage symptoms. You can read the article here, but the goal was to teach teenagers to handle stress in proactive ways by working with their bodies’ natural body chemistry. As humans, our body chemistry helps us relieve stress if we “lean in” instead of “numbing out”. Some of get stress relief by increasing our energy and soaking in our endorphins. Others need to slow down to quell anxiety. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. Meditation works as well as dancing all night long. It just depends on who you are.

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I actually know what works for me. It’s a combination of meditation, exercise, eating right, real connection with others and reading spiritual material. So, when I got up this morning I made my tea without sweeteners and cracked open Ronald Rolheiser’s book Holy Longing. In the introduction, he talks about this longing that we have inside us as humans that is never really satisfied. This desire drives us. It drives us to seek God. It drives us into an anxious state when we are unoccupied. It drives us into all kinds of addictions and modes of escape. We are always in a state of unrequited desire. We have moments of peace. We never have a lifetime of it.

Twelve step groups say addictions of all kinds are an attempt to fill a God-sized hole with something else. We just keep trying and trying to find comfort but it never works. We need more and more to keep that elusive peaceful feeling. We all have different “solutions” to our anxiety. While I pound sugar to get that “high” I like so much, another engages in angry arguments to help them feel smarter than others. A credit card buys all of the things that comfort others. A momentary comfort is experienced in the numbness of substance-abuse. The credit card bills come due, our relationships unravel from the arguing and substance abuse, and my blood sugar crashes from the sugar. We are always left with the remorse and the emotional fallout. Peace – from those things – is elusive.

Writing helps me reframe my thoughts, and I think I’ll approach today differently. With the awareness that I’m feeling a God-sized hole right now for a variety of reasons, I’ll fill it with time with Him and engage in my spiritual practices. I’ll abstain from sugar and let the withdrawal take me. I’ll find a way to connect with others tonight and express my true feelings. I’ll eat something healthy for breakfast and do a yoga nidra… BEFORE reading the news. For today, I’ll pretend I’m an Icelander and deal with the root of the problem.

 

Day 1: Freedom

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So, yesterday was my first full day without Facebook. I took a break for several months years ago, but this was the first time in awhile that I didn’t check posts, post my thoughts or spend time scrolling through a news feed. It felt really good, actually. I do miss my Virtual Boot Camp group, and I guess I’ll have to text them to give my updates, but overall I’m happy with my decision.

I explored Instagram a bit and even interacted with a few friends that have long been absent from Facebook. I read some blogs, and I did some research on some issues that concerned me. I even had time to talk with my friend Laura on the phone. I should have taken my dog for a walk, but I didn’t. I just wanted to relax and create some new habits. The world, all of a sudden, feels like a nicer place to be.

I want to get out of town this weekend. I was booked for a winter camping trip with a Meetup group, but after someone posted on Monday that the camping area was really wet, I decided I didn’t want to drive less than 25 minutes from home and camp in a mud-hole. I’d save it for a better time. So, I’ve been asking around for good places to go for the weekend. I can’t decide if I want an outdoor adventure or if I want to go somewhere that has some great coffee shops and shopping just for a change of pace.

I talked to my friend Effie from Baton Rouge last weekend. She said it looked like I was really loving it up here. I confirmed that I was, but I feel the urgency to build my community and hate that I don’t have a group of best girlfriends yet. She said that maybe I should just take time to enjoy the quiet. “I think God gives us times when it is quiet so we can just relax,” she said. I felt the sweet comfort of God’s word filtering through the noise to land in my ears.  Ah, yes… I think that’s exactly what I will do. With all the struggle of my time in Louisiana, it’s time to enjoy a time of peace. The job is good … the house is perfect for me … my 401K is growing rapidly … Michigan is drop-dead gorgeous … I feel good physically … and it’s going to snow again today. Life is good.

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I pulled the Eagle card this morning in my Medicine Cards … AGAIN. The fox was my ever-present messenger in Louisiana. Now the Eagle seems to be hovering in my sphere. “Focus on the broader view,” she urges. It’s so easy to get caught up in the details and the challenges and my “to-do” list.

What is the bigger picture? To focus on that, I think of the concepts of expansion and elevation … expanding my sphere, elevating my perspective, and opening my heart and soul. As I write those words, I realize how different that energy feels than the energy in isolating, building walls and closing doors. The Eagle asks me to shift my energy in opposition to the current pull. I see an Eagle on a Great Lakes perch, eyes blinking, scanning the horizon. Freedom is her domain.

Eagle asks you to give yourself permission to legalize freedom and to follow the joy your heart desires.

~~Jamie Sams and David Carson in Medicine Cards

 

“Welcome Aboard,” The Conductor Said

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Some of my friends do not understand why I would ever come live in a place with a northern winter. I get a lot of flack from them when I post pics of this beautiful Michigan season on Facebook. I’m sitting here looking out my window at the snowy scene at the first glimpse of daylight. Frost etchings in the corners of my windows make the most delicate frame for the winter scene.

Why am I here … at this time … and in this place … AGAIN?? I’ve asked myself the question numerous times – each time for different reasons. Sometimes it’s in angst from the effort of moving. Other times the pain of loneliness begs to know why as I struggle to get connected. And just as often, it’s asked in a sense of anticipation and wonder. Why am I here? 

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I moved when I was younger out of a sense of adventure laced with some sort of searching urgency. I was looking for something. I’ve described midlife as a time of waking up for me, and, in this time, this relocation business has reframed to something else entirely. I’ve learned over the years – and the lessons – that everything happens for a reason. The urgency for answers has gone, and I find myself relaxing into the questions.

When I was first contacted about this job, I pulled the Eagle card. It is the first card in my Medicine Card deck, and it represents a strong connection to the Great Spirit. Eagle medicine urges me to look at things from the eagle’s perspective, a perspective much broader than a human perspective. My friend Ann reminds me of this when things get tough. Sometimes I’m happy to be reminded. Other times I ask, “But why, dear God, am I here?”

Loneliness is my greatest teacher. Being an extrovert, I have a high sensitivity to loneliness, but I also have this really strong need for solitude. Achieving a balance is critical for my well-being. I’ve gotten so much better at understanding my needs, but when events like a relocation happen in my life, the challenge increases.

This bench was at the top of a dune at Grand Mere State Park, and this was the view!

I had some energy work done with my friend Lexlee the other night because I was feeling lonely and low after the holidays. During my session, she said the Eagle came to her. It was a reminder of my purpose here, and she reiterated the assurance that ‘Every step has a reason.’ I pulled a card the next morning to see how I could “step into” Eagle energy because right now it seems a bit unreachable. Wolf appeared to me and reminded me that I am a teacher. And right in the middle of the reading for the card, wolf medicine urges me to “seek out lonely places that will allow you to see your teacher within. In the aloneness of a power place, devoid of other humans, you may find the true you.”

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I still don’t know the answer to “Why Am I Here?” I may never know the answer. But I do know that there is a reason I am here. I have learned that God does not send me anywhere for a job. He sends me to places because I need to be in a specific place with a certain group of people at a certain time. I imagine myself boarding this Southwest Michigan passenger train at this moment in time,  and none of us really knows where we are going or why we are aboard. We could be riding together for a long time or a short distance, but when I think of how this all came about there is no doubt that I landed here on the wings of eagles. So, I’m just trying to step into my own best self and contribute what I think is mine to give.

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Last week I hiked in Grand Mere State Park. Like Warren Dunes, it is a beautiful place with woods and enormous sand dunes overlooking that jewel Lake Michigan. I stood on the top of a dune and looked around. “Why am I here?” I said aloud. Without even knowing that I would later that evening brush wings with eagle, I felt her presence. The view was incredible, and I was literally on top of my world. The sting of loneliness ebbed beneath the surface of my heart, but the magic of this transition held me captive emotionally. “You know why you are here,” eagle answered back as she descended upon me playfully. My soul resonated with the knowing that this is a spiritual journey that led me to the top of a dune in a very cold place alive with a warm and inviting spirit.

“Welcome Aboard,” the conductor said. “Enjoy your ride.”

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The Raw, Frozen Shelf of Sadness

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I had lunch with a friend today. We both admitted we were feeling an undercurrent of sadness. My underlying low energy keeps me on the verge of bursting into tears. But, then I exercise or go for a walk or go to bed, and I’m fine. I think it’s the holidays and the expectations and newness of the landscape here. It could also be eating too much sugar which tends to spiral me into a low as well. I don’t know what it is. But, whatever it is, it’s there, bubbling beneath the surface in a slow, spiky ebb.

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Yesterday, I took a hike at Saugatuck Dunes State Park. Once again, I was surprised at the number of people out hiking in the snow. One of the guys from the Meetup group in Grand Rapids met me, and we headed through the woods ending up on the beach beside Lake Michigan.

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Because of the waves and the surf, Lake Michigan doesn’t freeze in a solid piece of ice. The waves wash over each other, and tiny droplets freeze slowly. The freezing starts in the shallowest spots and builds until there is a very deep and wide ice “shelf” leading out to the lake. It has been warming up for several days, so I was surprised to see so much ice yesterday. The “shelf” which resembles a large iceberg covered in snow ran about 40 yards into the lake for as far as I could see on the lakefront. We even climbed up a large dune and took in a great view on down the shore. It was so beautiful and raw. Unless we had hiked that trail, we would have never gotten that vantage point. Such is the reward of hiking.

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Today, the sun came out, and the temperature rose enough to melt almost all of the snow around my house and down the street. Last night when Ashok went out, she had to wade through snow. This morning at 5:30 AM, she was walking on grass. She looked confused as she’s spent several weeks with no view of the ground. I felt sad that it was melted, but it was nice to feel the sun on my back and wear only a sweater when we took our daily walk. For the first time in awhile, I could wear tennis shoes, and we could walk on the sidewalks clear of snow and ice. It was easier, but it sure wasn’t as pretty.

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This reaction that water has to the Northern winter is so interesting to see. The ice and snow are tangible evidence that the temperature is rising or falling, and the form of it all is dependent on the winds that blow it around. And as quickly as it forms, it can just as quickly dissipate. It provides an ever-evolving landscape in the backdrop of my life.

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I really wanted to walk out on that ice shelf yesterday, but with the warmer temperatures, it was way too risky. You can’t see it in the pictures, but the “cliff” side of the ice on the water was probably 4 – 5 feet thick. I wanted to walk to the edge and look down into the water. Near the shore, the ice, snow, sand and water sculpted these beautiful patterns that were constantly evolving as the temperatures dipped and rose. Frozen boulders of sand and snow lined the bank. Ashok drank from the water in one spot and was surprised when she licked ice in another because she could see the water running freely below.

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My sadness feels a little like that today. It is sort of running gently underneath the surface. I don’t really feel a need to express it, but I don’t want to hold it in either. So, it trickles for a moment – surfacing before it ducks back under my emotional shell. I could pick at it or stick a stick through it, but I think I’ll wait. Maybe the writing will melt the ice, and I can freely touch its cold embrace.

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It helped to talk to Nancy today. There’s really nothing to do about sadness. At this point in our lives it is inescapable at times. Looking back provides context, and looking forward provides hope. But in the present we feel the formations caused by the collision of outside elements with our inner makeup and wounds. Sometimes it’s tastefully drinkable. Other times our emotion trickles gently under the surface with no reason to escape. Some days its rawness can be downright stormy. My heart searches for the beauty in all of it. For in every moment, the only truth is that “this, too, shall pass.” It would be a shame to miss a moment of it.

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“You Can Fly,” He Said. – Analogies

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I pulled the Eagle card this morning. I’ve never pulled this card before. I was anxious to find out its meaning.

If you have pulled this symbol, Eagle is reminding you to take heart and gather your courage for the universe is presenting you with an opportunity to soar above the mundane levels of your life…. On some level, Eagle is telling you to seek higher ground on which to build your nest. The nest is the home of the heart and cannot remain in a swamp….

That sounds pretty promising. It does mention this “opportunity” may come as part of a spiritual test. That’s a little more ominous than I’d like. But I’d like to think that the last few years were the “test”, and the last couple of months have brought me into a new phase. I know that the relationships I’ve made and the confidence I’ve gained have me feeling like I’m in a new place. Maybe I’m out of the proverbial “swamp”… but, then again, maybe I’ve just begun.

I love my cards. They make me think of my life and my adventures in analogies. I know the power of analogies in learning. The psychology of learning depends on a very simple concept which is complex in execution. Our brains learn everything through a sort of web or scaffolding of information. That’s why flow charts and visuals are so powerful in learning. It helps us quickly see how information we already know relates to the new information we are trying to process.

When we are children, our brains are like clean hard drives. As we experience life, hardships and education, we build scaffolding in our brains. That’s why it’s so hard to change behavior when children experience abuse or loss early in life. As they get older, EVERY new relationship and experience is run through that same scaffolding. And the more often they experience abuse or loss, the more scaffolding they build. They have to experience trusting relationships and safe experiences in order to build new constructs. Otherwise, they BELIEVE every new experience will turn out the same way…. in abuse or loss. It’s also why it’s so hard for people to get out of the grip of poverty or addiction or any other type of cycle. Their internal scaffolding keeps them bound.

I, of course, have my own scaffolding that limits me. We all do. It’s part of the human experience. I have limiting scaffolding in the area of relationships. I’ve had two failed marriages. My brains says “yeah, I know how this movie ends.” I know it’s not necessarily so, but I haven’t had the opportunity to build scaffolding that says it could end up in a positive experience. I also have scaffolding that limits me as a woman professionally, as a enabler of change in my own life and in what I can afford financially. I was raised in a middle-class household with a tight budget, and, no matter how much money I earn, that scaffolding stays in place unless I let myself have the freedom to experience money in a different way.

So, analogies – and stories – are very powerful to build scaffolding that presents new ways of looking at things. That’s why I love my Medicine Cards and Native American spirituality in general. They used the animals and nature as their scaffolding on how to live life. And there’s a lot of wisdom in that. The natural order of things in nature is also very much the natural order of things in the world. And my biggest lesson – always my strongest challenge – is to trust that I am supported beyond what I naturally sense as a human.

That is Eagle’s message to me this morning. What I hear is that there is a path for me, and I need to trust that I am on it. No matter what I see or feel, I am supported by the Great Spirit. In addition, challenges are just tests for growth, so everything is good. In fact, pain can often be better even though I can’t see that at the time. It is in those times of great pain when I have grown most. In hindsight, I am always amazed at the amount of distance I have traveled personally – and the new scaffolding that I have built.

I’ve also learned that the most solid scaffolding in the brain is built when the event is emotionally charged. Divorce, abuse, addiction and trauma are powerful emotionally, and counseling and healing are important afterwards to put them into perspective. Emotion fuses impressions and memories into our psyche. If we don’t process the events,  we may build scaffolding in our brains that will keep leading us down the same path over and over again. Our brains may be powerful engines with infinite capabilities, but they are limited by our programming.

So, I’m noodling Eagle this morning. I imagine flying over the clouds with an amazing view of the world below me. “Legalize freedom,” the reading said. What would it mean for me to legalize freedom? What kind of movement and direction could that mean? What would I want it to mean? What kind of freedom do I desire, and what kind of structures do I have in place inside me that have prevented me from going there? Last fall in a meditation, Macaw came to me and said, “You feel like you are heavy like an elephant, but,” he added, “you can fly.” And he flew away with thousands of other magnificent birds just like him. I can fly. Hmmmmm …. interesting analogy.

Lessons From the Mountain Goat and Fox

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I am a Capricorn. In fact, I’ve been told by an astrologist that I have four houses in Capricorn. I’m not really sure what all that means, but they say it means that I am all about work, work, work. I’ve been told that I have to learn to play and find some balance although my play will often become as organized and structured as work. No matter what I do – yoga, meditation, eating healthy, hiking, running – I tend to approach it as a project to be managed, a skill to be learned or a concept to be mastered. It is my cross to bear but even the bearing is wildly interesting to me.

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I was trying to find a topic to write about this morning, and I pulled a Medicine Card. I burst out laughing when I pulled the Fox. I have pulled the Fox card twenty times since I’ve been here. For a long time, I thought it was trying to tell me to be invisible. I hated it. It’s so against my nature to keep my mouth shut and fade into the background. Then my friend Leah suggested that maybe the card was trying to show me how much it is against my nature to be invisible. She suggested that the lesson was in my reaction to the fox energy. I became more curious about the message that fox brings me. Perhaps the medicine of fox is much more cunning than it would first appear.

A lot has happened in my life this past year. I can honestly say that I’ve changed. Some of it had to do with the backpacking and the feeling of confidence that it gave me. Some of it had to do with relationships that ended that needed to end. Even the ending of my last role at work taught me a lot about myself. While I felt I was in a holding pattern the first two years I was here in Louisiana School, I see now that I was just learning so that I could change into who I am today. Those first two years had me bound and gagged so I could look at myself, my innate reactions and the situations I was choosing. It was painful, but, man, was it informative!

A couple of my friends have told me lately that I’m the bravest person they know. I don’t feel brave at all. I’m filled with anxiety about mundane life things like getting into a relationship, entrepreneurship and choosing a place to live. I asked one of them why they think I’m brave, and she said because I travel by myself, go hiking alone, don’t avoid conflict at work and will move across the country at a moment’s notice. Hmmmmm …. okay. I’ll buy that those things may seem brave to some people, but they are the things I do with ease. I’m not really scared of those things! Is that bravery?

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Photo from The Weather Channel Blog: Mountain Goats: How Do They Do It?

As I was noodling the message from the Fox card, I saw an article on The Weather Channel’s website about the mountain goat.How Do They Do It?” the title reads.  As a Capricorn, my sign is the mountain goat. I always related to the stubbornness of a goat. I could see that in my nature. But, one day, I spotted a mountain goat on the side of a cliff in Alaska. I was mesmerized by this creature that stood perched on the side of a monstrous cliff as if he was standing on solid ground. I wondered what characteristic I might have that is sure-footed in precarious situations. And I have often tried to channel that groundedness of the mountain goat when I felt I was hanging off the side of a cliff.

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Mountain goats are made for this type of terrain. They have rubbery hooves that allow them to perch in places where their predators can’t go. Perhaps my unique makeup allows me to perch in situations that may seem inhospitable to some with a sense of ease. But, I’m totally uncomfortable and anxious in situations that others might find relaxing and quite normal. On solid ground, the mountain goat feels naked and afraid because of its vulnerability to predators. I can totally related to that paradox.

When I read Fox this morning, I had a totally different perspective because I’m in a different place now. It’s Fox’s nature to stand back and watch to see what he can learn. And, by doing this, he has this uncanny ability to predict what is going to happen. This is the power of fox. Yes, he’s silent and invisible, but it’s the knowledge that he gains during his surveillance that makes him a powerful foe. That resonated with me this morning. It took awhile, but I think I get it now. The message of fox is not that I need to be invisible – although that is part of the strategy. The message is that I need to observe my surroundings and learn from my experience. The knowledge I gain will become my advantage.

I’m not quite sure how to pull these messages together this morning. I know there is something I bring to the table with my innate nature, and then there are lessons I need to learn from the situations of my life. Perhaps I can focus on how to merge those things in my new role at work and in adapting to my life here in Louisiana. I really think I am just beginning again right now. In fact, I am sure of it. What was happening when I moved here has now ended. I am in a new era. I can’t wait to see what this “semester” brings.

Paint Your Life Into Being

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My friend and energy coach Lexlee always reminds me that me and God are co-creators of my life. She says, and I quote, “You need to dream your life into being.” I’m learning that manifesting things is not about deciding what I want; it’s about getting into the energy that I want to feel. Like attracts like, so if I’m already feeling the way I want to feel, the Universe will match it with more things that make me feel that way.

It sounds a little like hocus pocus, but I experienced it when I went into my office and decorated my cubicle. I had just returned from my first energy session with Lexlee, and I decided that I wanted more color and energy in my life at work. I stepped into what that would feel like for me, and all of a sudden I couldn’t stand to be in that gray cubicle anymore. I decorated my cubicle, and I was surrounded by the things that I like.

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Image by Christine Austin on Dribble.com

Amazingly enough – even though I’d been waiting two years – the very next week an office with a window opened up, and I got it for my very own. Apparently, I told my boss, in order to score a beautiful office, you must learn to love your little gray cubicle. I knew how I wanted my office to feel, and I created it. It reminds me of the saying that we need to “pray while walking”.

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A lot has happened since then. Some of it I wouldn’t dream, but I also know that sometimes things have to happen so that doors will open for something better. So, it’s not really over until the fat lady sings. I’m waiting for the final credits to roll before I decide if this movie is one I’d like to recommend. I have a feeling it will all turn out exactly as it should.

Today my friend Chris texted me the link to the cartoon below. It’s a great reminder for me… and hopefully it will be a good reminder for you …. to paint exactly what you want in your life. (I highly recommend the short movie. It’s awesome!)

The Rumble of Storytelling: #risingstrong

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I continue to percolate on Brene Brown’s wisdom and process in Rising Strong. Her premise is that the “story” we tell ourselves about ourselves needs to be written in order to create a different ending. And it is the stories of our lives – especially the stories of our falls – that make us who we are. By denying or hiding or minimizing our stories, we become less authentic.

I suppose that authenticity may not be a goal for everyone, but it is certainly a goal for me. I spent so much of my life trying to figure out who I was “supposed” to be as a wife, a daughter, a friend, an employee and even as a child of God. It was a horrible dilemma. I never could find the manual so I was constantly searching in people’s eyes and words for the answers. Instead of making authentic connections, I was trying to determine if I was acceptable, and if not, what I needed to do to be acceptable. It was exhausting and very, very lonely.

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Brown calls the act of digging into our emotions and our story “the rumble”. The biggest rumble of my life so far – and I expect there will be more – took place after my second divorce. I had gone to counseling before and had worked on my addictions for many, many years. It helped a little, but I obviously was still not functioning well enough to run my own life in a way that was supportive to my spirit. My armor was so solid that it took the blinding emotional pain of divorce and a complete wreckage of my life to give me the motivation to really look inside. I never wanted a real rumble. Who wants to go through that?  I found myself in a place where my armor was hurting me more than protecting me. I literally could not move forward and could not budge backwards an inch. The rumble was all I had left.

I don’t know how to describe how I felt at that time. The grief was debilitating, but I’d had grief before. It was almost like my life force had dwindled to a mere drip. I literally could not move beyond what I had to do that minute. Some days all I could do was cry. Other days I functioned fine. But I had no desire to make plans. All I wanted to do was throw myself into the curiosity that had grabbed me about who I was and how I ended up in this place once again. All of the authors I was reading and my spiritual guides were saying that I needed to really be present and open to this process in order to stop these patterns that were crippling my enjoyment and effectiveness in life. It was a sacred time.

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The whole premise of Rising Strong is that we have to change the story. But, in order to change the ending, we have to rumble with story to understand the truth. I had to look at my tendency toward perfectionism. I’m not the typical perfectionist who wants my work to be perfect and who kills themselves for their “products” to be perfect. I was the kind that wanted you to think I didn’t have issues. I wanted to be “all together”. And, honestly, people always told me that I seemed like I had it all together. But, they usually told me that after I fell apart in front of them, and they were shocked that I was a mess inside. I always felt embarrassed about that, but what I now realize is they were probably very happy to see that I was just like them. I was just too afraid to get that close. My perfectionism kept me in relationship with people that couldn’t be real and prevented me from real, authentic connection.

I wish that perfectionism was my only rumble, but I realized so much about myself during that time. I rumbled about issues around intimacy, my lack of boundaries and my inability to set them, my belief that I was unlovable and a host of other things. I was so supported. What I found out was that most everybody dealt with these things, but only a small percent of courageous souls will actually take on the rumble. Most want to numb out or lead half-lives or double lives in quiet desperation. I just didn’t want to do that anymore.

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When I was in the midst of the rumble, I thought that would be my life. It was very hard. It was time-consuming. It was expensive with therapists and workshops. But after a time, the rumble stopped being my life. And my life got better. Brown hadn’t written Rising Strong, and I didn’t have a process. Re-writing my story happened in bits and pieces and with individuals, but my most powerful part of the process was when I started this blog. One of my main motivators was that I wanted to continue to rumble with my perfectionism. I wanted the people I knew to know the real me. I didn’t want to sugarcoat it, and I knew that it was hard for me to do that with the short times that we could spend together. I knew that telling my story in a blog for everyone to see would push on every button I had. And I was ready to strip away the facade and see what would happen

There are times when the rumble with my perfectionism has been painful, and I’ve truthfully felt shame after some blog posts. But I’ve never taken one down. I used blogging as a spiritual practice, and my blog is sacred space for my own work in being authentic. It has been powerful for me in that way. But I’ve been most surprised by the power of writing itself. I’ve always heard that writing will help bring closure. That first year of blogging I slammed doors shut all year long. I wrote my story. I re-wrote my story with the power of hindsight. It was profound, and it literally changed my life.

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Today, I blog more about my daily life than I do my past. I’m not rumbling so much with past anymore. My fear about rumbling being my life was unfounded. The rumble was and is worth it. I am at peace with who I am today. I know my boundaries, and I set them. My relationships are real and authentic. Surprisingly, I have many more friends than I ever had before. I thought I would have less, but boundaries help me be cleaner with the people in my life. And if we don’t mesh, the connection dissipates rather quickly. I still rumble on occasion, but the process is just how I “do life”.

Brown’s book is helping me define my process a little more. Rising Strong outlines a process for something that is inherently messy and hard. It gives me structure and a language that makes sense. And I just love the fact that her books are becoming mainstream. I dream of a world where we all rumble with ourselves instead of each other. If we could do that, we could all rise strong – as individuals, as a culture and as a world.

 

 

“You Already Have the Key,” She Said.

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I started applying for some jobs online the last few days. The only thing I hate more than this is online dating. In fact, in many ways they are the same. Job descriptions and online profiles rarely paint an accurate picture of what you’re getting. Both are usually a vague and boldly optimistic fantasy of what the job/man would be like if we were in a perfect world where people were not involved. And in both cases, the resumes/emails are sent blindly across the airwaves into a technological garbage dump never to be seen by human eyes because they are really not looking or you are not using the right key words. The applicant (in both cases) is left with this horrible sensation that they are invisible, and there is no way to grab the attention of the would-be suitor. It’s horribly depressing.

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I just had to be in the energy of all of that rejection for a few days before it got the best of me. I had my first job search meltdown yesterday morning. I let it happen, and my friend Lexlee happened to call me in the middle of it. I chatted with her a little about the root of my distress. It’s not really the fact that I lost my job that is so emotional although that’s a really big deal. I just hate the whole job search process. I am a sensitive person, and it’s so hard for me to navigate the inevitable rejection inherent in the process.

I have a few core patterns that really push my buttons. One of my biggest triggers is a scenario where I’m trying to get someone’s attention or am wanting to be accepted by someone and I’m not for some reason or another. A traditional job search is definitely that scenario. For me, it’s like walking into a fire and trying not to get burned. Lexlee offered to do some energy work with me today, and I eagerly agreed.

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During the session, she asked me to think about an event in my life where I’m on the outside trying to get in. I meditated for a bit, and a couple of scenarios came up. In both of these scenarios, I could see myself outside a room or a wall banging desperately to be let in. The people inside could or would not hear me, and I was left begging and crying on the outside, isolated and alone. When we debriefed later, this is exactly the scenario that she sensed, and we got to work on how to best shift that energy to something else that is better for my well-being.

Since this is an old, powerful trigger for me, it rocks me to my core. That feeling of being on the outside looking in is so “comfortable” for me that I often overlay it onto situations that are not like that at all. People could be busy doing something else, and they aren’t even aware that I’m trying to be a part of their circle. Their lack of attention could be a hundred different things that don’t have anything to do with me, but my trigger gets tripped and the same old story gets told. When I’m in that “energy”,  I get desperate and needy and afraid. Luckily, I know how to recognize it now, but for a very long time, I had no idea it was a trigger. I thought it was reality.

During our work today, Lexlee asked her guides to help us with transmuting this energy. She saw me banging on the door trying to get in. Finally, I simply looked down and pulled the key out of my pocket. “You already have the key,” she said. We laughed about that. All of that angst and fear for years and years, and I have the key right there on my person.

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When I got home, I let myself sit in the “energy” of possessing the key to the door. It shifted everything. If I have the key, there is no urgency. I don’t need to depend on anyone else to let me in. And it also struck me that if I have the key, I can choose whether to open that door or not. What freedom there is in that! I have had to learn that in romantic relationships and jobs and friendships. Just because someone is interested in me, it doesn’t mean I want to date them. Just because I’m offered a job, it doesn’t mean it’s the right one for me. Having the key changes everything.

People often ask me what I mean when I say I’m getting “energy work”. Today is a great example of why it’s important. I see the world totally different and can make different decisions when I’m in the energy of choice rather than the energy of desperation. I decided that I’m going to apply only for jobs (unless I change my mind) where I have networking opportunities that will lessen the risk of my resume going into a black hole. The experts say to do that anyway. Being in the energy of “choice” allowed me to decide to try a saner, more enjoyable approach. I may not apply for as many jobs, but I’ll have more personal connections and a better chance with the options I choose. I’m sure my strategy will evolve as I learn more, but that’s my lesson today. I already have the key. I can relax while I hunt for the right door.

Sunday Night Check-In: The Messenger

 

 

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On the way down the mountain this morning, a hawk (or maybe a kite) landed on the fence by the side of our driveway. I stopped the car, and I stared at him. He stared waringly at me. I hurried to get my camera and was stunned that he stayed there long enough for me to get it out and get it ready. Unfortunately, he flew away just as I was shooting a picture. Hmmm… I thought.. I need to look up hawk medicine in my cards when I get back home.

The drive to our little townhouse…

 

I am at FoxHunt Resort in Sapphire Valley NC. It’s beautiful. My brother Terry and his wife Laura gave me a week here, and it’s so much more than I expected. In fact, it’s so nice that I’ve completely canceled any plans to camp while I’m up here. My friends Carryn and JoAnn are about an hour away, and we’ll all be hanging out in a very nice townhome on the side of a mountain until next Saturday.

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Since they don’t allow pets here, I found a young man to take care of Ashok for the week about 40 minutes away in Brevard. We’ve been texting back and forth for over 4 months in order to get this together. Ashok is staying with Rick and his roommates in a cute little house on Burrell Avenue. After checking in last night, I drove over to Brevard to have dinner at Rick’s restaurant and then leave Ashok at his home.

Rick works at Wine Down on Main. They serve light meals and a variety of wines, but, of course, I don’t drink so I just had dinner. They had a really nice back porch where dogs are welcome, and Rick gave Ashok a bowl of water while I had Bruschetta and a creamy bowl of Potato and Leek soup. It was delicious. Ashok and I walked around town until he got off, and I followed his bicycle home. Heather, his fiancee, is also keeping an eye on Ashok as well as some of his roommates. They leave the door open so I can go get her anytime I want to go hiking. It works out great as Brevard is very close to a lot of the trails in Pisgah National Forest.

A window in downtown Brevard….

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At Heather and Rick’s suggestion we hiked the Cat Gap Trail that starts at the local fish hatchery. It led me to another trail called John Rock , and I remembered Heather said that place was really nice. John Rock is a huge rockface with a panoramic view of the area. The hike up was lovely.

A stream followed the trail until we got into the higher elevations.  Wildflowers are profuse right now. The dogwoods, redwoods and fruit trees are in bloom as are many other trees that I don’t recognize by name. I saw several types of wild iris, trilium in three different colors (pink, white and blood red), and wildflowers of every other color under the rainbow. Ferns of all kinds are opening up and creating a lovely green carpet on the forest floor. It was a gorgeous sunny day and lots of people were out hiking.

 

While we were taking in the view on John Rock, several hawks soared by. They were catching the wind as it moved over the rock. They played and played and came back for more. Once again, I thought of the hawk this morning. Hawk was definitely talking to me today.

After sitting up on John Rock for awhile, we descended on another trail which was just lovely at the higher elevations. New growth was bursting out everywhere, and the sun and crystal blue sky was a lovely backdrop for scenic overlooks. It was extremly steep going down, and I was really glad we hadn’t hiked up on that trail. As steep as it was, I met a guy trail running. Amazing!

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I bought some fresh local trout, broccoli, sweet potatoes and new potatoes to cook for dinner tonight.I don’t know if I was just really hungry, or the fresh air enlivened my taste buds, but it was delicious. The trout melted in my mouth, and as I ate it I remember a big trout I saw in a stream today. I thanked the trout for giving up his life for my well-being and felt extremely grateful.

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Hawk is called the Messenger in my Medicine Cards. This is what my Medicine Cards say about Hawk.

…..you are to be aware of signals in your life – so notice and receive them. Hawk may be teaching you to grab an opportunity which is coming your way. On the other hand, Hawk may be bringing you the message that you should circle over your life and examin it from a higher perspective. From this vantage point you may be able to discern the hazards which bar you from freedom of flight. Remember: Hawk has a keen eye and a bold heart, for Hawk flies close to the light of Grandfather Sun.

Okay, Hawk. I’ll pay attention. Thanks for reminding me!

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