Grateful Five Week 13

Photo of Session Yoga courtesy of Session Yoga.

Photo of Session Yoga courtesy of Session Yoga.

1. Game of Thrones.
Season premiere. Sunday. Nuff said.

2. Session Yoga
I feel like I’m cheating on my yoga studio. I’m whoring it out to anyone with a sun salutation and a challenging asana for sale. My latest mistress is Session Yoga, the class led by co-owner Chelsea. From the moment I walked in, I felt good about the decision. She was smiling and bright, she said hello (I know, it shouldn’t be a big to do, but it’s amazing how many business owners don’t greet their customers!), and the class ended up being super great. AND the studio is cozy and adorable. They’ve even got dressing rooms and hair ties (Sorry I broke mine, ladies! It’s this thick hair…). And it’s a hot power studio! Yup, this chick’s wet dreams! I’ll be seeing them a lot more in the future, I think.

3. Hot tubs
My buds just bought a new house and this includes the most amazing hot tub (wait, I’m sorry, SPA hehe) known to man. We sat in it running our mouths and sharing stories for many, many wrinkle producing hours. Oh, and my nails turned green. Told them, they’ve gotta work on that. I’ll be back to test it out.

4. New running trails
Since I’m now vehicularly mobile and training for a half marathon, I thought I’d check out some new running trails so that I can get outside and get to foot peddling away. I found one, which was just an okay trail, over near my house, but there was this lovely tree near it. I’m a sucker for trees. What can I say?

5. Honesty
I second guess myself sometimes. I want to share things with folks, tell them how I feel. I don’t. I’m scared they won’t feel the same, they’ll run away, they’ll make me a fool. I keep working up the courage, because a life of truth is much more loving that a life lived in fear. And honesty really IS the best policy.

 

NaPoWriMo 2013

Yay! It’s here! I’ll be participating in NaPoWriMo again this year. Many of you know that I get busy eeking out poems every April, and it’s one of my favorite times of year. Follow along, and check out other poets by looking up NaPoWriMo!
And get to writing!

 

Living a Life without Blame

My relationship of almost three years ended last year. After a breakup like that one, I often try to figure out where I went wrong, and more importantly, how I can be a better person because of it.

Shortly after the breakup, I bought a book called Beyond Blame. I realized long before the breakup occurred that I wasn’t getting my needs met. And instead of continually striving towards constructive measures to get them met, I fell into a cauldron of destructive blame – of both myself and my ex.

It was the constant blaming of myself that was the most damaging for me. I took too much responsibility for the dysfunction in the relationship, not allowing for my partner to step up and own his own shortcomings. I realize now that I should have walked away when it became clear that he couldn’t or wouldn’t step up, but hindsight is always 20/20, right? At the time, that route seemed like giving in to defeat, taking the easy way out, giving up. It would’ve been a better alternative to what happened.

We’d had a fight. It was a nasty one. Recently, I came across the letter I wrote to him two days after that fight and two days before he stated “It’s over.” I won’t reproduce it in its entirety, but basically, it was an admission of the pieces of our fight that I felt responsible for, a declaration of my love and willingness to move forward, and it ended with, “I’m sorry. Forgive me.”  

I believe that when we hurt others with our words and actions, even when we feel we were right or did not do anything wrong, we owe the other person an apology. As a way of owning the consequences of our words and actions. As a way of showing love and respect for someone we care about. As a way of putting love above the needs of our ego.

As you can imagine, his response to the letter wasn’t positive since he broke up with me two days later. He never apologized for his part in the showdown.  Perhaps in his mind, the culpability was entirely mine. Granted, I took a lot of the responsibility for the incident I reference, trying to be the bigger person, trying to get to a place where we could fix things; I’ve had a lot of regret over it since, wondering if I shouldn’t have put myself out there. That is not how I operate though. At the end of the day, I want my head to hit the pillow knowing that I took responsibility for my behavior, that my conscience and heart are clear.

There is a passage in Beyond Blame that was very healing for me. The author, Dr. Alasko says, “Being constantly angry about another person’s bad behavior keeps you from developing healthy coping skills and making important decisions that are in your own best interests”.

Had I read this sooner, I would’ve realized that my anger over not getting what I needed was causing both of us unnecessary hurt. My anger was not changing his behavior. My anger was not accomplishing anything but making me feel more and more insane. Had I seen that passage earlier, perhaps I would’ve left him to live his life and me to live mine. Maybe this is what prompted him to take the action he did. 

I realize now that it didn’t matter what I said in that letter. It didn’t matter how many times I apologized. I took the steps I needed to own my part in it, and the person I loved chose not to take the same steps. His own personal limitations, a concept discussed in-depth throughout the book, wouldn’t allow him to say “I’m sorry” or stay committed to working it out. 

It’s painful to think of it that way, but I’ve learned a very important lesson in all of this: no matter how much work we do on ourselves, we will mess up and people can choose to forgive us or they can choose not to. And no matter how royally we mess up, that gives no one the right to treat us with disrespect or as inferior human beings because guaranteed, they too have messed up. We all have weaknesses and flaws. A strong person is capable of acknowledging them, addressing them and doing whatever needs to be done to strengthen them. We cannot lord mistakes over someone as if they are the sum total of those mistakes because no one is all bad. Not even the worst of the lot on the earth. Well, except maybe my uncle, but that’s up for debate too, I suppose.

This aspect of the concept of mistakes is addressed in The Four Agreements. Don Miguel Ruiz asks the question, “How many times do we pay for one mistake?” and also, “How many times do we make our spouse, our children, or our parents pay for the same mistake?” To me this concept would be the equivalent of trying a criminal every month for the same crime. And yet, we do exactly this, rehashing, regurgitating, and recycling the same offenses over and over again as a way of healing our own pain. It’d be so much easier on everyone if we just did the work to process the hurt, heal it and move on. 

How many times do we pay for one mistake? The answer is thousands of times. The human is the only animal on earth that pays a thousand times for the same mistake. The rest of the animals pay once for every mistake they make. But not us. We have a powerful memory. We make a mistake, we judge ourselves, we find ourselves guilty, and we punish ourselves. If justice exists, then that was enough; we don’t need to do it again. But every time we remember, we judge ourselves again, we are guilty again, and we punish ourselves again and again, and again. If we have a wife or husband he or she also reminds us of the mistake, so we can judge ourselves again, punish ourselves again, and find ourselves guilty again. Is this fair?”

Of course, this isn’t fair. And consciously, we can all agree on that fact. It’s not as easy in the thick of it. It has taken me months, but I am learning to release myself of the excess culpability that I took on. The needless blame didn’t help me, and it didn’t help him. I am releasing myself from the constant “what ifs”  and “if onlys”. It didn’t matter what I did, said or felt if he couldn’t see me. If he continually chose to blame me for all of our problems. 

Thankfully, I see me. I see my heart. I see the tremendous love I had for him, and the love I continue to have for myself. In the end, the best thing that could’ve happened to me was letting go of that relationship. I now have a chance to nurture myself in love without anger and resentment towards a person who could not accept their own flawed nature or love me in spite of mine. 

I know that I am flawed. I will always be flawed, in the sense that as an imperfect human being, I will make mistakes. I will act irrationally. I will overreact. I will fail to control my anger. I will raise my voice. I am imperfect, and I will continue to make mistakes. I will also do all of those things that make me a fantastic partner, make me loving and lovable, caring, and a conscious human being. I am constantly striving to be a person who makes me proud, to see myself clearly and to breathe healing into the spaces that hurt the most to grow. For that, I can have no regrets, neither about the person I have been nor the person I am. I am grateful. I am hopeful. And I am free. I hope that he can say the same. 

If you’d like to read more about blame and its destructive nature, or as the author coins it, “the most toxic form of emotional bullshit,” I highly recommend the book, Beyond Blame by Carl Alasko, PhD.

Quote

Unless awareness rises in you, all your morality is bogus, all your culture is simply a thin layer which can be destroyed by anybody.

Dang. Leave it to Osho to mince words.

Grateful Five Week 12

1. Yoga Workshops
Yoga Altar
I am grateful that I have the means to participate in yoga workshops. Even ones that make me angry. Even ones that result in bubble up pizzas and excessive amounts of red wine. Even ones that hurt like hell.

2. Freedom

The Open Road

I have been really low-key about it, but I bought a car recently. It has wheels and speakers and therefore, it is one of the best things that has happened to me recently. I now can plan my days around what I can accomplish and how much energy and monetary resources are at my disposal. I’ve spent several months tied to public transportation, to a limited schedule, limited energy and time and travel companions that sucked the little energy I did have right on out of me. I feel like I have sprouted wings. These wings carry me to yoga class and to the gym and to the coffee shop when I want to write. They let me have dates and outings and too many rendezvous at Target. These wings carry me towards freedom and inner peace. I forgot how happy freedom makes me. And for the reminder, I am grateful.

3. TRJ, my friend

She so easily implanted the idea of a half-marathon in my head this week. I’m grateful to her for providing another thing – and another being – that I have to look forward to in this beautiful life of mine.

4. Babies

Elle in Hat

Sporting my “tea hat” for the tea party

I went to a baby shower today. Talking about and thinking about babies is hard for me. But I made it through an afternoon full of baby only slightly tearing up. No moisture ever escaped my eyelids. It was a beautiful shower, and my friend is a gorgeous pregnant woman and is going to be an awesome mom. Just like me. Someday. AND I got to wear heels. I never get to wear heels.

5. Sage

The scent, not the plant, though the plant plays a huge part in my life too. It’s a scent that has always caused extremely visceral and physical reactions every time I smell it. I recently have been claiming it for my own. For the pure joy of it. To indulge in heady attraction to myself. To draw from the well of my own sexiness. It’s been an empowering experiment.

 

Yoga Lesson for the Day: Faith

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Today my faith in myself was tested. So much so, it led to me doing a somersault in the middle of yoga class. I kid you not.

Generally, I’m okay with my limitations. I recognize that there are certain poses that my body cannot execute just yet or cannot do anymore. I accept this and do my best.

Today, however, I was confronted not by the limitations of my body, but by those of mind.

I love handstands. I feel like a warrior upside down, and for a few moments, I’m able to see the world in a different light. I am attached to the wall, though. My warrior bliss is consistently interrupted as I wiggle and jiggle my toes to and from the wall. So then, what happens when said wall gets taken away? Well, my friends, that’s when shit gets real.

Which brings me back to faith and somersaults in the middle of yoga class. Instructor took away my safety net. Had us free balling it in the middle of our mats. No wiggle. No jiggle. And for me, no handstand.

Faith. It’s a funny thing. You’ve gotta balance reality (human beings, outside of Hollywood and the circus, people, cannot fly) with self-limiting thoughts and behaviors (“You’ll never be good enough to be a published author so why even try!”). Stepping off a four-story building and having faith that you won’t end in a splat will not yield the sort of faith-related transformation that yoga demands of us. Tightening the muscles in the quadriceps and abdominals, straightening the legs, kicking them into the air and knowing that I am strong enough to hold it-the fear, my legs, doubt, my aching abdominal muscles- I can hold all of it. That’s the sort of faith yoga asks for.

There’s also a second side to faith, and this is often the lesson I get in meditation: in order to get where we’re going, sometimes we need to let go of the reins. A religious person might say, “let go and let God.” I’m not at all religious, but surrender is a lesson that continually pops up for me. We want to control. We want to fashion and create. Which can be good. Faith without action is asking the Universe to make me a doctor even though I refuse to take Biology. But we also become overly attached to outcomes. For instance, during sex. Sometimes we get so caught up in the attainment of orgasm that we not only fail to orgasm, we fail to connect with our partners, with our bodies, and with the experience.

Due to this, I got a very unpleasant reality check today. During yoga, not during sex. Not only did I feel like I couldn’t do a handstand without the wall, I tried to muscle and control it into existence to cover up my lack of faith.

Apparently, I’m all bravado and self-esteem when my conscious self is talking, but the moment I hit the mat, my underlying insecurities are brought to light. The cants and wonts and shouldnts begin to take over. Yoga is an exquisite mind exercise. It asks that you recognize fear and shortcomings but do not identify with them. It’s meditation. On the mat. It asks us to merely watch as all those sequined and feathered doubts go parading by.

And you better believe that parade will happen. There’s no way around it. There are days when our legs just will not cooperate. There are days in which we will be less bendy, highly agitated or unfocused. This is human nature. We have good days and we have bad days. Having faith simply means that no matter what state we were in the moment before, the one we’re currently in is the one where we should be. And our previous moment doesn’t need us holding onto it for dear life. It needs room to breathe, to just be, to come and go.

There will come a day when my handstand will be perfect enough. Today it wasn’t because I needed to learn something about myself. Sometimes, we have to embrace ourselves and just listen to what the Universe is trying to whisper in our controlling, compulsive ears. Else we end up in a perpetual somersault through life. And really, who’s got time for all that. 😉

And on that note, I leave you with little Georgie, who frickin ‘knows what’s up.

Grateful Five Week 11

1. Spring break

Empty Campus

Yay for Spring Break!

I work on a University campus. Students, as much as I love them, were gone this entire week. I got coffee in under 20 minutes. I walked through the mall without throwing elbows. I didn’t have to see anyone’s errant butt cheeks hanging out of their shorts. When I meditated outside, for the most part, I heard birds and wind and construction workers. I would have to say it was an amazing week. And it almost feels like I had my own mini spring break. Ahh, que refreshing!

2. Wide leg pants
I have a bona fide obsession with high-waisted, wide-leg pants these days. It’s hard to find ones that fit folks with hips, thighs and ass. But me and my charmed life… It’s almost summer and it’s time for them to come out the closet. It’s time for everybody to come out the closet. Celebrate, celebrate, dance to …

3. Driving in the Sunshine
My car’s name is Sunshine, a nickname that has followed me for years. And she’s fun to drive in the sunshine.

4. My amazing lady friends
My buddies. My absolute favorite women. Strong. Beautiful. Human. I want to marry them all! (hmm, together they would make one hell of a mate!)

5. Yoga Certification

Handstand Prep

Walking up the Wall

I’ve been contemplating and discussing getting my yoga certification for  a while now. I love to teach. I love to train. And I love yoga. Why not put them all together AND add another notch to my list of certs and classes? I’ve put some things in the works so that can happen. And I’m super proud of myself.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time… For the Truth.

People want you to lie to them.

No one wants to hear what you honestly think of their new outfit, drug habit, disrespectful boyfriend or their decision to sleep around without protection. Nobody wants to hear what you actually think…. if it negates what they themselves think or want to hear. 

Whether the reason is denial or self-importance or unrealistic expectations of the people in their lives, people would rather you grin and bear it and tell them a bold-faced lie than have to buck up and swallow the truth. To accept themselves as less than perfect. 

Once, I was with this guy, let’s call him Notjake. Notjake got a new haircut, which I hated. I thought it looked ridiculous. He, on the other hand, could have walked around wearing ice cream cone suspenders, a tube top and magenta biker shorts, and I would have still thought he was the most beautiful person alive. 

So I wasn’t too worried about the haircut. It’s hair. Who cares? Apparently, Notjake did. We were in the car driving home, and I could tell he wanted me to comment on it. Which of course was a trap. Because I already knew the cardinal rule: People want you to lie to them. I try to be a woman of integrity. I wasn’t about to lie to make him feel better. Instead of saying I hated it, I chose not to say anything at all. 

We rode in awkward silence for a bit until he couldn’t take it anymore and mentioned said haircut. I simply replied, “Yes, you got a new haircut. Do you like it?” To which he replied, “Yes, I really do.” I said “Great! That’s all that matters!” and hoped that that would be the end of it.

Well, I may as well have just blurted out that I hated it for the reaction my silence elicited. He got so pissed at me that the veins in his neck started bulging. He accused me of being a bad person and not supporting  him. He yelled. We fought. I still hated his haircut. And at that moment, I didn’t much like him either. It’s not like I said “You look like your head got run over by a lawn mower.” Or simply, “Baby, I hate your new haircut.” He wasn’t pissed at me for what I said. No. He was pissed at me because I refused to lie to him. 

He put me in a lose-lose situation during which, I just kept thinking, why the hell would anyone rather someone they love lie to them? What was it he wanted in the first place? What is it that people really want when they would rather hear a lie than the truth?

My guess is that people are really just looking for support and validation of themselves and their decisions. This person was so in need of my approval regarding his new haircut that he would have preferred that I smile and lie with, “It’s great, I love it!” rather than receive the approval that I was offering: “You love it? That’s great! Who cares what I think!”

Here’s another example. Say we have a guy friend whose girlfriend is a total skank and is sleeping around with his best friend. If we tell him about his girlfriend, 9 times out of 10, he’s going to get mad at us. Why? Because people want you to lie to them. For whatever reason, he doesn’t want to hear the truth. Perhaps he’s not ready to hear it. Perhaps he has his suspicions but is trying to hold on to the facade. Perhaps, he is too weak to let go.

Reflect on all the times you’ve lied to someone to avoid conflict. A silly example is that commercial where the woman asks, “Honey, do these pants make my butt look big?” Of course they made her butt look big! But was he at liberty to say that? No. It was a trap. What she wanted was a lie. It happens all the time. Mothers with sons. Fathers with daughters. Between siblings, coworkers and friends. We’ve all had to do it at one time or another. It’s uncomfortable, it’s painful, and it’s wrong. So why do we do it? And more importantly, why do we set others up where they have no choice but to lie to us or suffer our wrath?

What would have happened if this old boyfriend of mine had called me before picking me up from work and said, “I got a new haircut. I really like it, but I’m worried you aren’t going to like it. You don’t have to like it, but it’s going to hurt my feelings if you don’t. I’ll get over it. I just wanted to tell you so you’re not put On The spot. ” 

I would’ve gotten in the car, perhaps said, “You’re right, I don’t like it. But you do, so work it, baby!” or something equally dorky. We would’ve had a respectful, honest conversation about it. Perhaps joked and laughed about it. Because honestly, in the scheme of things, his haircut mattered not an iota. Why? Refer to the section up there where I mentioned suspenders and magenta biker shorts. But saying something even remotely close to the imagined conversation up there would have involved vulnerability. it would have involved him admitting that he not only cared what I thought, but that he needed me to approve. Anything less than approval was crushing. And he couldn’t admit that to me because he couldn’t even admit it to himself.

Our western culture spends so much time and energy teaching us that we need to control life and people, their reactions and how they feel about us that we’ll often go to great lengths to avoid disapproval or disappointment. 

The irony in that is this: not a damn thing happens to us if someone disapproves of us. Notjake wouldn’t have died even if I’d said, “That hair has to GO!” The measures he went to to avoid his discomfort at my disapproval caused a lot more damage than the disapproval itself. We didn’t speak for a while. A piece of our intimacy fell away. I couldn’t trust him. I couldn’t be real with him anymore. 

Plain and simple, people want you to lie to them. If you choose not to lie and instead tell the truth, or better yet, plead the fifth, you are accused of being a bad friend. Of not being supportive. Of trying to be someone’s mother. Or any one of a million different things that do not mean you are a person of integrity, you care about the other person or that you wish to remain in a state of non-hostility. 

It’s unfortunate we do this to one another, and it’s time we started taking ownership of our adult selves. This includes being people of integrity. This includes not forcing folks to choose between a rock and a hard place. 

Rock your ugly haircut! Shake your big booty! And love yourself regardless of what anybody else thinks! That will feel a whole lot more empowering than forcing people you love to tell you the sky is green when everybody knows damn well that it ain’t. 

Grateful Five: Week 10

1. The Universe getting me to slow down
Whether it’s fighting with a tangled necklace or being scared into remembering to breathe (damn near peed myself on the sidewalk), the Universe gave me opportunity after opportunity to remember to slow it down and be present. And amazingly, each time I got the hint, things immediately went so much smoother afterwards.

2. Late night text sessions with one of my best friends.
Staying up texting and laughing until 2 AM like we’re 14-years-old? Yup, sometimes it’s necessary and a fantastic reminder of how much I’m grateful to have her.

Me and Dani

She looks mean, but she’s a teddy bear!

3. The insistent nature of memory
We often feel like it’s a curse to remember the bad times in life. We just want that person/memory/time/event to disappear. It’s always helpful to remember that those bad times are lessons. And all lessons are beneficial. Even when they hurt like bloody hell.

4. Giant trees
There’s not much better than lying down in the solid arms of a giant tree. Except for lying in those arms, meditating, and looking up at the sky. That’s admittedly a step up.

tree

One of my Favorite Trees.

5. My iPhone
Meditation, pictures, notes and writing, consistent calls with my mother – I hate to say it, but I’m grateful for it. Those times when I don’t have a notebook or my camera or a pen handy, I am always grateful I can grab my smart phone. I tried living without one. I did it, but it wasn’t pleasant.

Home

Ten legs and two bikes and still no way to get to me. I am not hiding, I want to be found. In this space, I am a world onto myself. A walking galaxy. Guess that’s what really happens when Venus and Mars collide. They ricochet, repel, propel towards earth, the ground. Grounding. Hell. It’s safe down there. You already know the burn. You already see the flames. Those stars and the moon are just so damn unpredictable…

Part II

I bought a map the other day from some alien dude named Rumi who handed me the mishandled symbols and keys and whispered: You are already home. I told him to go fuck himself and to hand over the goods but perhaps I spoke in haste. Aliens know short cuts that we would never uncover.