Category Archives: balance

Reminders

super moon portland wftvReminders

It’s been an intense weekend, friends.

The kind of weekend that drives me back to my personal-development focused blog, rather than my writer-focused blog. And how telling is it that I haven’t been here since March?

Ouch.

2017 has been an ouch-y year for a lot of us, of course. I found myself slipping into the restless mindset: “I’ve been in Portland for four years now; I’m probably ready for a change of scenery.”

But that’s all it would have been: a change of scenery without, when what I really wanted was a a change of scenery within.

I’m sort of glad now that I didn’t have the means to travel in 2017. Instead, I moved from the aristocratic lifestyle of 2016 (no job on purpose for a few months, then no job on accident for several months) to the scrambling-for-dollars lifestyle of 2017 where I stressed about spending and was thankful (sort of) for the three jobs I juggled.

One of my life goals for the year was to be more open to things I ‘d been skeptical (or cynical) about: astrology, tarot, and crystals are examples. I started off well, then spiraled right back down into money worries and loneliness and the scarcity mindset. Yes, I still did fun things, but my days were infused with the feeling of mis-fitted-ness: ‘This isn’t how I want my life to look forever.’

Over the summer I worked and fretted, drafting work deadlines only to rewrite and rewrite them, dissatisfied and resentful that others made me change my plans.

Over the autumn I stuck with business goals, devoting time to social media posting, and cultivating local relationships that could be useful in future.

Now it’s almost winter solstice and I realize how distant that open-mindedness goal seems.

So when asked to join a moon circle for the fourth time, I accepted. The timing felt right. Prompted by someone with pink and yellow hair, sitting between a home altar and a cozy fireplace, surrounded by women who threw around words like ‘oracle,’ ‘shamanism,’ ‘releasing,’ and ‘surrender’ as they chatted over herbal tea and chocolate.

I journaled with everyone and shared: loss of confidence, issues with entitlement, difficulty loving and trusting. And I was wowed by the level of genuine sharing, vulnerability, and trust that I witnessed, and that I practiced.

At the beginning I felt alone, walled in the cynicism story I carried about women like this in Portland. Then I looked inside at my scenery. And realized that we are all in the same boat, looking for connection, carrying a light, trying to be our best selves.

I’m not sure what I’ll do to honor this recommitment and reconnection to myself but I do want to celebrate it–this reminder that the moon is always full, it is only that we can not see its beauty all the time.

 

Image via WFTV

Letting Go for the NEW New Year

Did you know that the Romans celebrated their New Year on March 1?

Mars, the God of War, oversaw the start of their calendar. Makes sense, because ROMANS.

terminalis statue wikipedia

As part of their ritual, they celebrated Terminalis, the God of Borders, Transitions, and Neighbors

I came across these facts randomly several years ago, and had the bright idea to use a random holiday as an excuse for a party.

It was great in DC, so I repeated it in Portland, as a way to meet my neighbors in the rather cold, anonymous apartment complex where I live. It worked out okay a couple years ago, but was less pagan-ritual and more corporate-ice-breaker vibe…

cheesy corporate icebreaker trust fall

So this year, in line with my intention to be more open to the mysteries, I deliberately invoked the pagan side of the holiday in my invitation.

I invited people I thought would be into rational discussion of neighbors. Borders. What being a good neighbor meant. What having a border meant.

My definition of neighbor expanded to include those within a few miles, since the people I’d met two years ago had moved on. We talked about the definition of neighbor.

IMG_7130

I got 4 No’s and 2 Yes’s and 5 Lack of Responses. Portland.

My two Yes’s showed up and we had baked goods, wine, tea, and enlivening, enheartening conversation. It was brilliant. More evidence that quality over quantity is what counts.

It also affirmed my intention to Let Go of the effects of my generosity this year. For 2017, one of my intentions is to offer what I can, without the expectation of returns. This means not holding onto disappointment when no one comes on an outing, not seething with resentment when someone says they’ll come then blithely doesn’t show, not refusing to offer my generosity because I don’t get the feeling I desire.

It’s hard, but I’m learning. And my two Yes’s helped that little monster in my brain relearn the importance of a few deep connections, rather than the buzz of a crowd or the validation of popularity.

What borders around you need tending? What neighbors could you invite to your (metaphorical) hearth?

 

Images via Wikipedia, Expert Beacon, and property of Margaret Pinard

Self-Aware Bodies

systems of the body

How well do you know how your body works?

  • better than you know your car?
  • better than you know your career field?
  • better than you know your way through your house in the dark?

Have you ever wondered why this playground that you were born with came to be shrouded in secrecy, only to be revealed to doctors with pedigrees and trusted lovers?

Let’s try some questions:

  1. Can you point to your sacrum?
  2. Do you know a stretch for your hamstring?
  3. How do you avoid a muscle popping around your knee?

If you can answer these, I bet it’s despite your schooling, not because of it. At least that is the case with me. I had a terrible biology class in my Catholic high school, and never took Anatomy/Physiology. Elsewhere, at non-Catholic institutions, I’ve heard tales about Health class also being a joke, a ‘bird course.’ Our equivalent was, I suppose, Family Life.

Exactly.

So, along with many others, I was launched into public society (university) to fend for myself ignorant about:

  • how birth control worked
  • how sex affected the body/i.e. how the genitals actually worked, other than excretory functions
  • how the digestive system could be upset
  • how blood pressure, pulse, breath, and weight relate

Such lack of information led to some awkward/tearful/confused/expensive forays into the health care system. And almost always, there was shame.

Why isn’t my body working normally, like everyone else’s seems to be?

Why don’t I know how to fix this?

IS there something wrong with my body?

From here at age 34, I look back and know this was wrong.

Why were we left in such ignorance, powerlessness, and shame as teenagers?

The first glimmer I had that something was wrong, that it wasn’t just me, was in reading a book called Margaret and I, by Kate Wilhelm. In it, a loveless marriage fails in the face of the protagonist discovering someone who actually accepts her wholly, communing with her through a different dimension… (it’s pretty awesome psychological sci-fi!)

There is a specific scene where, in this loveless marriage, the man comes home to find the wife conked out, but proceeds to satisfy his urges (e.g. date rape her). The wife’s subconscious, the main character/POV in the novel, witnesses this. Margaret’s subconscious already had a resentment of the husband’s ordinary mechanical lovemaking, which then blossoms into a fierce protective shield after this incident. There are other types of betrayals to follow, but this physical one is what made me stop and take notice.

That was NOT OKAY. So what IS OKAY? And how do I share my body with another person in an OKAY way?

The second barrier I crossed in changing my thinking on this issue was a few years later, when I decided to start running for fitness and–haha–fun. I’d NEVER been a runner; in fact I’d nourished nightmares from running since 2nd-grade soccer practice: SO not my forte.

But at that point in my life, I was feeling stuck, unattractive, sedentary. I needed something that would give me confidence, change the routine, and reconnect my ever-churning mind with my body. I eventually ran a couple 5ks and a 10-mile race. After a couple years, the need to run became less than the need to do other things, but while I was in it, I wrote an article titled, The Point of Running My Race.

In writing that essay, I made the discovery that I was running to control one small portion of my life, a segment of my day, because I was not yet feeling up to changing the big things wrong with my life. What was making me feel stuck was a relationship gone awry, a lack of purpose and learning in my job, and a mismatch between my lifestyle and my personality.

In 2011 all I could think about was putting one foot in front of the other, quite literally. I didn’t get crazy, but I ran regularly, with increasing distances, and increasing knowledge of my REAL limits, not the stories I’d always told myself about my limits.

Those stories, including the ones about powerlessness and shame, are still being overwritten today.

This practice of running and its meditative element eventually allowed me to cut ties and move on–away from the toxic relationship that had me ignoring my own body’s responses, to a more flexible part-time work arrangement and writing career, and across the country to a place that aligned better with my own personality.

Fast-forward another few years and I’m here in Portland, juggling a burgeoning writing life and a social day job as a barista. I’m dancing, walking, and yogi-ing my way through some awesome studios and trails, and while there is still no one partner to share life with, I feel much stronger, braver, and truer to myself in my relationships.

So, back to the body:

As I outgrow my teenage and twenty-something ideas about the body, trusting what my body tells me and overwriting those toxic messages, I’ve actually become more fit. My running phase has been succeeded by a yoga phase which shows no signs of losing its appeal.

Meditative and gentle, yet challenging in both mental and physical ways, YOGA has been the third nudge in the direction of listening to and getting to know my body better. I’m even branching out into the amazing barre and strength offerings at Muv Training. Commitment to exercise that fits my goals has helped me figure out those questions from the top: learning to stretch the right way, for me, learning to eat the right way, for me. I’m discovering what works for my body:

NOT because I feel like it’s betraying me (‘why can’t I be more normal?’)

NOT because I want it to conform to others’ ideas of beauty (‘why can’t i look more like that?‘)

but BECAUSE I realize that being grounded in my body is the one and only thing that will keep me alive in this crazy world for as long as I am.

Writing this post has helped me forgive past attitudes, accept present consequences, and commit to radical self-care. It is a hard-won victory, and a long time coming.

I know there are others that have struggled, are struggling. Won’t you share your stories?

Image via Shutterstock and LiveScience