Go Read This

“You are worth so much more than you are giving yourself credit for.”

The above much needed validation should be enough to motivate you to go and read this brilliant post on shame. Go. Now. Read. Your Welcome.

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That Uncomfortable Place Called Change

Sun through trees (All Rights Reserved)

I completely and utterly underestimated how uncomfortable it is to live with your heart wide open.  In hindsight it seems naive and foolish of me to have overlooked this more painful side of change and learning to be myself.  I expected a bit of it of course, but not quite as much as it has been.  Sitting in something that’s totally unfamiliar, not at all sure what to do with yourself. Hate that. It really doesn’t look good on me.  I feel myself trying to run from that kind of situation one million different ways – burying myself in my day job, procrastinating, fixating on some other issue to distract myself.

Then yesterday I came across a quote that was clearly a message from the universe.  It was enough to make me stop, realize what I was doing, and bring myself back to this little spot of icky, uncomfortable, but desperately yearned for change.  Now of course I can’t find the quote.  I think it was from Geneen Roth (one of my favorite authors, who writes about women and freeing ourselves from complicated relationships with food).  It was something along the lines of it’s easy to want to change, but few people are willing to go through the discomfort that’s required to actually change.  I’m sure I’ve garbled it, but that’s the general idea.  Anyway I got the message, I had to actually do something, take some action if I wanted to change.  For me, that means leaning in to the discomfort and sitting down with it.  That’s a first step, and I’m alright with that for now.  It brought me here tonight, and I’m writing.

I’m here writing, even though part of me cringes to sit down and admit this.  Part of me wonders, what am I doing here anyway.  I’m not going to let that critic scare me away, I’m staying, pulling up a comfortable chair and setting down.  I’ll stay and see what happens.  The pain of change won’t last forever. The transformation from living open-hearted will.  I’ve got to trust in the process.

On being blue

Icy Blue Heart - Flikr LittleMissPip

Being blue, or feeling depressed if I want to call it what it is, sucks.  It really, really, really sucks. There’s no way around it.  Thankfully I haven’t had an episode since right before I got married. (Let me say that’s a brilliant time to be depressed. When everyone you know expects everything to be all puppies and rainbows.)  At that time, I’d feel completely overwhelmed by my feelings, as if I sinking down knowing I was drowning, but not being able to get my arms or legs to move to swim back up to the surface.  The worst part about it is how isolating it is.  It happens on the inside, so you look like your same old self to everyone who knows you.  Nobody sees the deep, dark, black hole you’ve fallen into.  The most crazy making part about it for me, was that it made me feel like I couldn’t trust myself. Depression lies to you, and after a while it’s hard to find the knotted-up thread of truth in the pitch black, cold hole you’re sitting in.

I also really struggled with the idea that something was wrong with me.  No one else I know is sad for no reason, completely devoid of energy to even eat.  Depressions is so often kept quiet or hidden away, as a dirty little secret.  Part of what helped me recover was realizing I wasn’t alone, that depression happens.  It happens to a lot of other wonderful women.  That realization doesn’t make it any easier, but it at least helped me accept myself and my depression.

When I was sorting out the complicated mess of emotions that happens around a wedding and marriage, I found one – one single resource – that talked about the real stuff around weddings.  A Practical Wedding.  This life-saving (and I’m not being over dramatic here) blog discusses the hard stuff, the fun stuff, the stuff that it’s really actually about.  Not the dress, not the details that cost thousands of dollars, but about the fact that you are creating a new family with your chosen partner.  More specifically this blog saved me because it talked about what it’s like to grapple with marriage and anxiety or depression. And that it’s okay, it doesn’t mean you love your partner any less.

The fact that I read about more and more women being honest and sharing their battles against depression makes me feel like we’re moving in a really good direction. I’m so grateful that women like Dooce and The Bloggess are sharing their stories.

By no means am I glad that anyone has to face depression, it’s just heartening to feel like it’s possible to shine a light down into the holes we crawl in when we’re depressed.  With this little flashlight lighting the way, it’s easier to realize you’re not alone, and have hope for healing.  I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

Cheers to 2012

It always takes me a few days after the new year to actually catch up to the fact that we’re in a new year.  I need a few days transition, to do some journaling, figure out what matters, and think about what I’d like to see in the year ahead.

This year I found a great workbook that helped me think through a lot of these things, thanks to Susannah Conway.  (I’ve always admired her truthful writing, and hope to write half as well someday. But that’s a whole other story.) Any who her workbook helped me get to my word for the year… FULFILLED. That’s my word.  My one word to ground me and carry me through what I’d like to see for the year ahead.

It’s all tied into living with a more open heart. Which truth be told I haven’t been practicing all to well lately either. But I hope to do much more more of it.  I looked into the definition of the word. I love that words can have multiple meanings, and especially love seeing how they change over time. This one word can mean to fill, to put into effect, to bring to an end, to develop the full potential of, and to convert into reality. The more I learned, the more sure I was that this theme is the best one for my year ahead.

What does fulfilled mean for me this year?

Bringing to an end those things that I’ve grown out of or would like to let go of.  Big things like perfectionism, procrastination, and smaller things too like overindulging in food, wine, and TV.

Developing the full potential of living with an open heart. Experimenting with what this means each and every day and reporting back here.

Converting my dreams into a reality.  Believing in myself enough to take small steps towards realizing my dreams. Becoming a full time writer, publishing a book, working for myself, traveling more…Thankfully there are lots of dreams to choose from.

I think this will be a good start for now, anyway.

Where’s my heartbeat?

She Never Told Her Love – George Eastman House Collection

Being a Saturday morning, I was pretty impressed with myself for making it to the 11:30 am yoga class.  Seeing as I haven’t practiced yoga in over a month.  But there I was settling into my seated posture, hands on my thighs, eyes closed, breathing ready to begin a session that I was sure would cure me of all my ills.  The teacher’s voice was soft and soothing.  She led us through a guided meditation, drawing our attention to the sensations in our body.  Encouraging us to listen to the sounds of our internal rhythm. What does your breath sound like? Then listen for your heartbeat. 

I relaxed my shoulders down from ear, felt my belly relax moving in and out with my breath.  Check and check. I mentally moved to my heartbeat, waiting to feel the slow thump, thump pulsing in my chest.

I didn’t feel anything. Okay, strange I thought, I must not be concentrating.  Try again.  Nope, gah where’s my heartbeat?!  I’m such a hypochondriac I did then try to check my pulse, and make sure my heart hadn’t just decided to take  a little break after the beating it took over the holidays. Pulse, check. I settled in, tried to hear it again.  Nope. Nothing. I couldn’t sense my own heartbeat in my chest.

Not being able to feel my own heartbeat caught me completely off guard.  It brought me a moment of clarity too.  I asked myself what my body was trying to tell me? The answer – I’d hidden my heart away behind layers and layers of crud.  I’d sidestepped so many feelings, thoughts, and emotions, sweeping them under the rug over the holidays, I didn’t realize they’d piled up on top of my heart.  Ignoring feelings, pleasing others, putting aside my own wants needs and desires, I’d buried my own heart deep in my body.  All of the sudden it was quite obvious why it was so hard to hear my heart beating in my body.  I’m glad I still had  a pulse. 

I was now an asana or two behind, but grateful for my little wake up call to move back to an open-hearted life.  One where I live close to my true self each and every day.  At the very least I’m writing about it again.  I’ll take that as a promising start.