Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Enter the Pain

Every now and then we come up against things in our life that hurt. When we're confronted with pain - emotional or physical - we usually want to make it go away as quickly as possible. No one wants to stay in pain; it hurts.

I read a book a few weeks ago that made me start to think about pain differently. The author relayed her birth experience and her decision to fully embrace the pain of her contractions rather than fight them, and her experience was far different than she ever expected.

That got me thinking. How many times did I reach for some sort of analgesic for the pain rather than facing it square on? I wonder how different my experiences would have been if I had entered the pain at those times instead of fighting them? Would I have healed faster?

I can't speak for long-term, serious, chronic physical pain - that's an experience I won't pretend to understand.

But there's a plethora of painful emotional experiences for me to look at. I've buried a bunch of things I had hoped never to unearth again. But you know what? They didn't go away. I thought I could shove those painful experiences way down deep and they would go away. They did leave my consciousness eventually, but years later, they've reared their ugly heads and those memories came hurtling back.

HURT-ling back. I'm pretty sure it hurts even more when they sneak back into our lives suddenly, catching us off guard. Those unprocessed hurts have to be faced, accepted, and fully embraced before we can move on. It only gets harder to face later. When we experience pain, it means there's a lesson there - the pain is telling us something. If we don't allow ourselves to understand the learning, then we'll have to repeat that lesson again. 

I wish I had figured that out years ago.

My discovery about emotional pain is that it's usually tied to my ego. I've done a lot of work to try to break down the ol' girl, but she still sneaks in there and shows up when I least expect her, reminding me that there's always more work to do in that area. Always.

I'm working on entering the pain. When something hurts, whether it be emotional or physical, I'm stopping to take a look at it in the moment and experience it fully. No more burying. That doesn't help...it just festers and oozes out into other parts of my life, making me confused as to why things might not be working. Only in the depths of scrupulous self-reflection have I been able to trace those long threads back to their origin and subsequently release them.

I have come to be grateful for the pain; those lessons have helped me forgive and grow. I'm learning how to shift my perspective so I can keep expanding and understanding myself, others, and how I fit into this world.

Agreeing to face the pain has an added bonus. If I can embrace the full depth of the hurts, then my heart is also open to deeply experience the joys.


May your hearts be open to receiving all of life fully...there are so many blessings to be had when we open to it all.

Love & Light,
Sue

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Truth and Dare

Truth: I intended to blog more this month than I have, and I'm working on improving that now.

Dare: I took up the dare to create a weekly newsletter, so my writing time has been going into that, with a mini-blog in the newsletter each week. Hence, my absence here. So now I double-dog dare you to join my mailing list if you enjoy what I babble about here. ;)

Anyhoo...
 
Over the past week, I've had several people thank me for being "clear" in sharing my thoughts and responses. I tend to take notice of things when they happen more than once, and today it gave me pause when the third person specifically thanked me for being clear.

Being the perfectionist, I immediately started to wonder...am I not normally clear in my communication? I always aim for being completely clear, especially as I spend most of my life teaching and writing. Being clear is very important to me - right up there at the top of the list. Miscommunications cause all kinds of problems and I work hard to avoid that sort of thing. So what's going on?

Then I scanned through posts on Facebook. I noticed that some folks are really starting to put themselves out there and state very clearly and explicitly what their thoughts are. There's always a few posts that have the feeling of simply repeating rhetoric, but others have had this genuine, heart-spoken, truth to them. I found those posts so refreshing, so empowering!

Then it hit me. I spent time last week really focusing on who I am and what I want out of this life. I made some decisions based on the calling of my heart, and since then, I have spoken my truth. I've turned down some opportunities so that other doors could open, and indeed they have. I've stated clearly what I wanted and didn't want. I was honest with myself and others about what commitments I could make and what I couldn't. Not only did I say it, I meant it...it was my truth, and I stated it respectfully and from my heart. Not only were my words clearly communicated, so was my intent. 

When we speak our truth, there are no pretenses. Just us, the bare essence of who we are, with nothing to hide. To be honest, it's a vulnerable place to be....it's daring. Judgment from others can quickly make us want to run and hide or waffle in our decision to show who we are and stand in our choices. When we decide on Truth, we dare to be all that we are, and we dare others to accept us as we are. It's scary, yet empowering and so much simpler to be ourselves!

Truth: speaking my truth is still quite a new and shiny way for me. I've always weighed other people's opinions of me very heavily. I've been swayed when I should have stayed and stood still when I should have moved. It's time to walk my talk, on a regular basis, tripping as I may at times.

I guess being in my mid-40's has given me the wisdom to realize that it's just far too complicated to pretend to be something I'm not. And I don't know how much time I've got left here on this earth, so I'm gonna spend it doing the things I love with the people I love. I love to spend my time with people who speak their own truth and will lovingly hold me to mine.

Any "mistakes" I make are just things I need to learn. It's all part of the truth of my life: the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the klutzy and the graceful.  

Here's wishing you all the strength to stand in your own truth and dare to be all that you are, in all your wisdom and beauty and grace and share that with the world. I dare ya...

Love & Light,
Sue
  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Fog and the Cliff

I'm not talking about the fiscal cliff. This is about the edges we walk in life and how we wander around in a fog sometimes, with no idea where we've put our feet, which direction we're going, or where the edge is. 

Life is filled with peaks and valleys. Hard work and focus bring us to the top, where we can fill ourselves with the beauty of what's possible after an accomplishment. The valleys are the starting places where we choose our path to the next peak. And though life may feel as if it's a series of stops and starts, it really is all one flow as our journeys up and down create the landscape of our life.

And then there's the fog.

I'm very familiar with the fog in the valleys...the confusion that reigns when we're at the bottom and need to decide where to go next or how to get out of a bad situation we've gotten ourselves into. The fog can leave us running into things we can't see, tripping and finding sharp edges, or off in a direction we never intended. 

What always catches me off guard is the fog that occurs at the peaks. We work hard to get through that last little stretch and reach the top. We pause to breathe, appreciate our efforts, and see the vastness of all that is possible because of this new perspective. It's lovely at the top, and we feel alive with so many possibilities.

And then the view can become dizzying and overwhelming. We can become confused about which way to go down the mountain when there are so many different paths. Some paths lead to dead ends, others to treacherous outcrops, and a few are smooth and easy.

The fog closes in when we run circles in our heads and fail to choose our next step. We can get numb and lost, and start wandering around aimlessly. The hike down from the top can be just as difficult to start as the one up from the valley.  

If we allow ourselves to stay in the fog, we'll fall off the cliff. That can be a painful lesson, as we find ourselves tumbling down with no direction, grabbing onto whatever we can to stabilize ourselves, which means we're grabbing onto what's there instead of choosing to reach out for what's best for us. 

I don't like the fog. I've tripped in the valley and I've fallen off the cliff a number of times. 

When I start to feel out of sorts, I need to have a way to pull myself back together and figure out what's going on so I can step back from the edge. I finally learned that the trick is to have some practice of regular self-care that helps me recognize when I'm in a fog so I can stand still for a moment and consciously choose where to go next.

For me, this has been meditation. My regular practice allows me to keep in flow with the valleys and peaks and be aware of when I'm in a fog. If I don't take time to care for myself on a regular basis and get a feel for who I am and what is "normal", how will I know when I'm out of whack? It's a lot easier to prevent a rock from rolling down a hill when it's at the top than once it's started moving.

I've spent years of putting many other things ahead of my own self-care and well-being. I've held the titles of Queen of Excuses, Procrastinator Extraordinaire, Perfectionist Princess, and Fearful Philanthropist. I've agreed to projects that didn't fit me to make someone else happy, I've done volunteer work that ate me whole, and worked at jobs that stripped me of who I was. This was the price of floating in the fog and not choosing from my heart and taking care of myself.

There will be more fog. I've just worked through a little patch, but I was able to catch myself from falling off the cliff this time because I knew I felt "off" and returned to the meditation routine that I had carelessly abandoned during the holidays. It took me a few days to sort things out, with some restless sleep and strange dreams, but I peered into my heart to see what was causing the fog.

I'm a hard-headed case, as I've often abandoned routines because I get bored with them. But I have come to learn that meditation is the one routine in my life that I need to keep. It's the one thing that always brings me back to my center, reminds me of who I am, and brings me peace of mind and heart even in the wildest storm. It helps me clear the fog so I can see my choices again. (Sorting through the choices is a whole other conundrum in and of itself, but one I won't deal with here). 

My point is that we need to have something in our lives every day that feeds our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits. We need things that support and nourish us in every way...we need that anchor so we can handle the fog and the occasional storms. There are so many things to be distracted by that can lead us astray. We need to have a self-care tool that will bring us back home, whether it be meditation, running, writing, or a favorite hobby.

Here's hoping this year will be filled with many peaks and that we all have the tools needed to weather the fog and storms that may arise.

Love & Light,
Sue