Do you ever hear the same information over and over again until you want to scream, “OK! I’ve got it!!” No? You’re not as stubborn as I am and it doesn’t take …
A funny thing happened the other day. I had an epiphany on Facebook. Yes, right there amidst political posts, angry anti this or that posts and cute animal videos it happened. A friend posted this question or something like it (I couldn’t find the post again)-
Looking back on your past, do you ever think “wow, I’ve overcome a lot”?
I replied with “Hell yeah I have and I wonder how in the world I could ever be scared of anything ever again.”
I am not trying to call people out, that is not my purpose. Everyone has their “demons” and people can only be present from wherever they find themselves at any given moment in their lives. It has taken A LOT of reflection, meditation, tapping and forgiving to get to the point of that belief. It wasn’t easy. That being said, to sum up for this post, I’ve been physically, mentally and emotionally abused and then abandoned by my biological father. I’ve been sexually abused by other male relatives. My first husband was a meth addict who would drain our bank account leaving no money for food or rent. I’ve had a gun held against my head and mine and my children’s lives threatened if I dared to leave my ex-husband. I’ve had two children and no money, no job and no home.
Pretty intense stuff. Yet, here I am. I’m all in one piece. My children are wonderful. I met and married a wonderful man who adopted my first two children and we have a third child. We are happy and comfortable. I am grateful every day for the life I’ve been blessed with.
However, I still feared little things. I feared putting myself out there with clients. I feared explaining what it is I do and having people judge me. I feared not having enough clients and having my business fail. I feared asking people to actually pay me for my services. I feared having classes and having no one show up. I feared finishing my online classes, meditations and hypnosis MP3s because what if I really pour myself into them and then no one is interested? I still feared being abandoned, being on my own with my children again without being able to support them and heights.
These fears gave me physical anxiety. I would tap on these fears and still they would not go away for good. Sure, I would feel confident and empowered for awhile, but then these fears (and others) would creep back to raise their ugly little heads and taunt me time and time again.
I have walked through what at times I felt was a living hell and come out a champion on the other side. Why should I be afraid of little petty thoughts? Ego. Not as in I have a big ego and think I am all that and a bag of chips, but ego as in the part of the psyche that judges every little thing. The ego likes to keep us safe and warm-even if that is within a den of demons we KNOW as opposed to the GREAT UNKNOWN where anything could happen. The problem with this is that outside of our comfort zones (created by the ego) is where amazing things can happen. We can grow and expand our minds and experiences. We can travel to wild places on the map or within our imaginations. We can take hot air balloon rides when the opportunity arises (like I did on Sunday) in spite of having a fear of heights. We can find (like I did) that we will be too busy being amazed to be frightened.
I’ve done difficult work in my life. I’ve lived through difficult circumstances. I’ve come out of it a better person in a lot of ways. When I meet people or have clients who have faced hardships I KNOW what they are speaking about because I have walked through the fire, too. I also have faith that they can heal because I have experienced that as well and continue to experience it. I believe in something better for them and know they can obtain it because I have too.
So when the fears and doubts raise their heads and taunt me I will tell them to “SHUT UP!” I will not ask politely. I will not say “please”. I will demand they be quiet because I know I am capable of great things. I know I can rise above, just like I did in that hot air balloon. I know I am not bound by the confines of my comfort zone and cell. I know I can walk through fear and come out on the other side. And I know you can, too.
It began in December of 2014. A friend of mine messaged me on Facebook and told me about a gratitude group he had been in with his life-partner and her family for the past year. They set up a private group on Facebook and invited people join as a social experiment to see how their lives would be changed if they practiced gratitude daily for a year.
The challenge came with rules:
- Everyone had to post 10 things they were grateful for DAILY.
- If they missed a day then the following day they would have to post for the missed list.
- Each member had to read the other member’s posts and “LIKE” them (whether they agreed with the statements or not) to show support.
- Those who failed to fully participate and follow the rules would be removed from the group.
- After 30 days no new members would be added
We began with 14 people and finished with six.
For some of the remaining six, the positive changes they experienced came quickly. One of the members had shared her experience with some friends who were also interested. She messaged me and asked for the rules because she wanted to start a group of her own and asked if I was interested in joining her group as well. I agreed. Now let me say this. I agreed because I felt I wasn’t really “getting” enlightenment from the practice I had been doing daily for 10 months. How is that possible? Well, some of my gratitudes went like this.
Today I am grateful for
- not hurting anyone today because my hormones are out of whack and the doctors can’t seem to get them balanced
- not flipping off the jerk who nearly ran me off the road because he was too busy texting instead of actually driving
- noticing the bird poop on the bench before I sat down
Get the point? Yes, I was happy these things didn’t happen but was I truly grateful? My lists weren’t always like this, but some of them were. There were just too many that were filled with anger and passive-aggressive “gratitude”.
I thought if I had to work to come up with 20 gratitudes a day instead of just 10 that I would really have to work and think about it and that would make me really feel the gratitude. I was wrong. I found I really struggled to find 20 things in every day that I was actually grateful for. One day I listed my limbs, including my toes. Yes, it was a really rough day, but the whole point was to look beyond the rough day and see the beauty and stop and appreciate it.
The past two years have been very busy and difficult for myself and my family. My father fought cancer for a few short months before he passed. My daughter got married and moved to another state and is currently pregnant with my first grandchild. My son had open-heart surgery, a few other medical procedures and was recently diagnosed with mild Cerebral Palsy. My youngest daughter was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Prolapse as part of a connective tissue disorder with suspicions of it being Marfan’s Syndrome. I’ve been going through perimenopause (the crazy part of the process before actual menopause) and had a hysterectomy. My husband thankfully is all good. It was not always easy to come up with ten things a day and 20 was just too much. When the year ended on my first initial group I decided not to continue it and only remain in the second group.
The creator of the second group did ask the members of my group if they wanted to move over and all but one of them did (and he was the one who had already put in two years). It is great that they moved over because of the original 16 members in the second group there are only 4 of us left so now we are seven.
It was May 26th that I noticed how long I had actually been listing my gratitudes. One of the members puts what day we are on and I’ve never given it much thought, but on that day I did. It was day 281/365. For some reason on that day it really hit me. Wow! I have been creating my lists for 647 days and about 80 of those days I created 20 different gratitudes. Even if some of them were shared from a place of anger or sadness or exhaustion I still showed up each and every single day. I decided that since this day is the day that I suddenly noticed how much time and effort I put into this process that I would take the next three days to really evaluate what I learned.
- Everybody relates to the world differently
I noticed how each of our lists play out most days. There is one who is grateful for people and hopes she has, one who is grateful for all these great experiences she has and another who is grateful for his travels or how people and things remind him of his travels and connections he has all over the world. There is someone who is grateful for all the significant and positive changes she has experienced over the past few years, another who writes her lists like poetry and is a mixture of blessings and aspirations, someone who is grateful for what she has and her wishes. And then there is me and I seem to be thankful for people and moments in my day that tell a larger story and things. * I am vowing to work on exchanging things for experiences.
2. When you share openly you connect with people
The people in our group come from different states and countries. Some of us know each other personally and some do not. However, we have touched each other’s lives by having a safe place to share our fears and hurts and insecurities as well as our gratitude when we overcome them. Facebook is usually filled with superficial interaction, but in our closed and private group there are deeper connections being made
3. Gratitude releases stress
These daily gratitude lists, even when I created mine from a place of worry or frustration still had a positive outcome. I would feel a sense of relief, like a weight had been lifted. I was able to set it aside for the day and relax a little and as I fell asleep let my final thoughts be “Thank you, thank you, thank you God. This day may have been difficult, but I thank you for allowing me to be here and have the experiences I did.”
4. Gratitude opens your awareness
Gratitude makes you really look at your day-to-day life. If coming up with three things to be grateful for each day is a struggle for you then I dare you to practice coming up with ten or twenty. At first you will want to pull out your hair but then a switch is flipped and you will begin to play back your day and really see it for what it was. Maybe you forgot the kind check out girl at the grocery store who looked you in the eye, smiled and asked how your day was and then continued looking at you until you answered. But ending your day replaying that will put a smile on your face. Maybe you had a special moment looking out the window while you drank your coffee and noticed flowers blooming or a bird who came to visit and that moment made you smile. If you are not paying close attention then you will miss the actual experience of those things. Missing experiences is NOT part of living your life and it is not recognizing your life is a gift
5. That dedication to gratitude expands your heart and your senses
Showing up each and every day in your life is important. Dedicating time every single day to take note and to be thankful is even more important. Is it difficult? Some days it absolutely is. Are there days I wanted to quit? Yes. So many did. Between the two groups and the people who moved over there were 33 and we ended up with 11 (it might be less than that by the time we reach day 365). Less than half were able to take 10 minutes every day to be appreciative of ten things and make a quick post in our private group. Showing up each day and feeling that appreciation and really experiencing each and every day opens you up to taking time to acknowledge others you encounter. It makes you stop and see the beauty of nature. It makes you appreciate the smell of rain or the first warm day of spring. It allows you acknowledge how truly fabulous clean sheets feel against your skin or how excited your taste buds get over a really great glass of wine or a decadent dessert. We are blessed with these senses that allow us to really experience living in this world. That alone is worth being grateful very single day. The dedication also helps you expand your heart because feeling so thankful makes you want to share it with others. To spread kindness and joy with people you love and complete strangers.
So while there are a few tweaks I would like to make, in WHAT I am grateful and how I relate to the world, I find that just taking the time every night to take stock of my day and share that has taught me so much and for that I am grateful. I thought after the second group ended I would just call it good and not ante up again, but I realized that would be a great disservice to myself and everyone I come in contact with in my life. I have every intention of going forward with A Year of Gratitude #3 and knowing this makes me happy and grateful. I suggest gathering a few of your friends and doing the same!
Choosing to give up my female organs was an easy decision. At least I thought it was until I realized it really wasn’t. Now, in this moment, I wonder how one can so easily give up a part of their being? Could you easily give up a leg? An arm? What about a thumb?
At the time of the decision I only knew that I no longer wanted to be in pain. I was done having children so I thought the choice was simple-get rid of the parts that are causing the pain. I actually felt good with that decision. I felt excited and happy about the prospect of not suffering in horrible pain each month.
I shared these thoughts and feelings with a small group of friends and one of them told me how she had a Reiki client that had a hysterectomy and so they envisioned something wonderful and symbolic to fill the void. I loved this idea. Up until that very moment I hadn’t given the emptiness much thought. I thought back to the women I performed Reiki on where I felt a deep void of energy within their 2nd chakra and then come to find they had all had hysterectomies. Why had it not occurred to me to have them fill it with something else? Why had it not occurred to me to fill this soon to be empty space with a beautiful creation of my own making?
I told my friends I loved that idea and then the topic turned to having a hysterectomy party including a uterus cake because my friends are wonderfully crazy like that. I immediately scrapped the idea of a uterus cake, but I felt strongly that I should honor my feminine organs in some way. I needed to pay homage to them in some significant way. I felt I had done this until today when I was overcome with emotion…the whole…entire…day. Something was left undone.
So it is with great honor that I now give gratitude to my uterus, fallopian tubes and cervix. They served me very well and I am deeply appreciative. They brought me 3 children that I love with my entire being. I even give thanks for the 3 other attempts they made to bring children into my life, but who did not make it. I hope their souls found another wonderful mother to love and care for them. Thank you for bringing such joy and light into my world and experiences that I was blessed to have.
Thank you for blessing me with my oldest daughter, she is full of spunk. She has always had the heart-filled desire to care for others and will stand tall in her 5’4″ petite frame to fight for the underdog-ANY underdog. She will viciously fight for those who cannot stand up for themselves or for a cause she feels is worthy. She is strong and full of fire. She is now pregnant with my first grandchild and is so beautifully radiant in her love for her unborn child. She has always wanted to be a mother so I am very proud that she is living her dream.
My uterus delivered unto me a beautiful baby boy. While he was born with a broken heart in the physical sense he has always made up for it with his huge, loving heart-filled spirit. He sees the best in everyone and it is nearly impossible for him to speak an unkind word against another person. He will go hungry because he gave away his lunch money to a homeless person. He wants only to do good in this world and help others where and when he can. I am so very proud of him being the person he is.
My youngest daughter is smart as a whip and has a razor-sharp and lightning quick wit. She is headstrong and willful. She is very artistic and really enjoys creating things. She sees the world through a very logical set of eyes and tries to make things fit in a way that makes sense. She too has a tender heart that I am amazed by occasionally when she chooses to bare it because she has always kept it well-guarded. I am so very proud of the person she is and that she is coming out of her shell.
So I thank you dear uterus, tubes and cervix for allowing me the privilege to birth these three wonderful people into my life. I cannot, will not even try, to imagine my life without them. You have blessed me well and I am very, very appreciative for your part in my story.
The next step was to fill the empty space energetically. The timing allowed me to begin this process on a new moon. The time for new beginnings and growing things into fruition. Once the pain had subsided and I could focus I began the process. *Side note-the worst of the pain came from the side effect of being pumped full of gas to create space so the surgeon could do all of her work via laparoscopy. You can’t really release gas trapped inside of you and yet outside your digestive system so it works its way upward leaving your diaphragm feeling bruised, your lungs in pain and it is difficult to draw a deep breath. The pain even went up into my shoulder, neck and upper back. I wasn’t warned of this beforehand and did not know to expect it.
Once the pain dissipated I was able to lay down an give my abdomen Reiki. I also envisioned the creation of a golden heart that would reside where my uterus used to be. I made it shine with a heavenly glow. I made it strong and yet supple so that it could hold a multitude of ideas. This golden heart I made the birthplace of my creativity, where dreams would grow until they could be birthed into reality, where Divine sparks of inspiration could turn into action. It would also be the home of unconditional love that I could share with people, animals, places, thoughts and things that needed it. I will continue to work on building this golden heart until I feel it is complete and whole. It might take 3 days or it might take a month, but I will know when the time is right.
Today I spent a lot of time crying. I would cry deep and hard before I was even aware I felt like crying. A mentor pointed out that it was process that needed to be mourned and while I thought I had given it the proper attention I realize I have rushed it a bit because I just wanted to be “back to normal” and “on my feet again”. My surgery was Thursday morning and as I am reviewing these emotional outbreaks it is Sunday afternoon. It was during my review that I realized I also needed to release the idea of being Super Woman. That it is ok to be sad. It is ok to take time off to heal. It is ok to not be everything to everybody at the cost of my well-being. I didn’t have to hurry though it because people needed me. The truth was they were doing just fine without me being fully present and needing to lean on them for support.
I went on to realize that it is ok to let go and move from the role of Mother and into the role of the wise and aged Crone. It is ok to not be youthful and fertile. My body has served its purpose and is moving on to a different phase of life and that is just fine. Everything is as it should be. While surely I must mourn the loss of one phase of my life I also must welcome and even celebrate moving forward into the next stage of my earthly being. While my female organs may have been removed in a few shorts hours I am allowed to take my time stepping fully into this new version of myself. I am allowed to unfold and blossom on my own terms. Leaves may turn (beautifully I might add) and fall away but there are flowers that still bloom in each and every season. With each season comes a different sense of wonder and beauty and it is with this thought that I feel blessed and welcome myself into the autumn of my life.
Autumn has always been my favorite season anyway. 🙂
After trying meditation on my own for a few weeks and “failing miserably” I decided to really take control (hahahahaha!) and make it happen. First, let me say that I am now a recovering control freak. Secondly, I’ve come to realize that believing you are “failing” in your meditation attempts is simply our human tendency to judge things. There is no such thing as failing anything as long as you are trying. This especially applies to your meditation practice. It IS called PRACTICE.
I tried reading a few books on the subject, but they were more on the concept of meditation instead of actually being a guide on how to begin a practice. It never occurred to me to try looking for Meditation for Dummies! What I did do was stop and think about how I was going about it and where I wanted to end up. Where did I…
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I grew up practicing self-deprecation. I assumed it was part of my “Aww, shucks…” backwoods country girl persona and felt it was in good humor. Keeping your sense of humor and laughing at honest slip-ups is a good trait to have; however, setting yourself up to be the scapegoat or the butt of a joke is not.
Not terribly long ago I had an epiphany. Until that moment I thought I began the self-deprecation out of some need to make others feel better about themselves in order to be polite. If someone made a mistake I would effortlessly throw myself under the bus if possible or make myself seem even less capable than they were.
I first became aware of how this made me appear around the year 2000. As part of my job, I came across a financial black hole that no one seemed to be noticing or doing anything about. I wrote a letter to my boss and sent copies to some of the Vice-Presidents of this and that. My boss asked me if I had actually written the letter myself. I admitted that I had and then quickly concluded that she had not seen me as being capable of such a thing. It was that moment when she realized I was more intelligent than I had appeared. Seeing her reaction brought light the situation, but I could not yet pinpoint the cause and so nothing really changed.
Very often when dealing with our own issues we tend to go about with blinders on. It allows us to hide the truth from ourselves as a self-preservation method. Sometimes we are completely unaware and other times we simply choose to float on down the river of denial. This particular issue I managed to keep my blinders on for a good long while…much too long. I walked around humming along never quite understanding why people thought I was a bit ditzy. Then something triggered a memory and I knew that everything stemmed from that one moment in time.
I was in 3rd grade and had just been tested for the GT (Gifted and Talented) program. The GT teacher had called my biological father to explain that I scored exceptionally high on the test and would be attending the new classes. I remember sitting in the front seat of his car while he explained my score, where that placed me within the school and where my score placed me on a national level. He then told me that in a lot of ways being so intelligent would hurt me and I needed to downplay my intelligence. He told me boys didn’t like girls who were smarter than them and that nobody liked a smarty-pants. Then he took on an air of disbelief in regards to the score itself. He wondered if I had cheated, then questioned the validity of the test because his IQ was such and such and just because I scored higher didn’t mean I was smarter than him. That I’d never be smarter than him.
That moment froze deep in my subconscious like a scene on a Polaroid picture that was buried in a box of miscellaneous things and stashed in the attic. I had never stopped to actually think about that moment and how it affected the way I treated myself, but now the blinders were off.
My self-deprecating humor was about making others feel better, but it was even more so about making myself small. Every time I took the blame or commiserated by playing ignorant when something went wrong that wasn’t my fault because “oh silly me, I just wasn’t thinking,” or “wow, I should have been born a blond-giggle, giggle,” to “I’m sorry, there’s a lot of inbreeding where I come from,” I purposely made myself small. I let someone else always play the hero, the smart one, the best one in order to reinforce the story I was told.
Each time I cheated myself I hammered the idea that I was lesser than into my subconscious. I kept myself from knowing I was capable of more. I made myself inferior. I was cheated out of a strong sense of self every time I made myself the punch line. I became smaller and smaller with each passing year and believed the untruths told by the character I molded myself into. Eventually I no longer saw opportunities that should have been present. I no longer saw the possibilities that long ago existed. Instead I saw roadblocks everywhere painted with sayings like “not good enough”, “not smart enough”, “college drop-out”. I came to believe all those lies and more instead of the truth I had long ago buried beneath my self-deprecation.
Words have tremendous power. Even as a child I knew that old rhyme adults loved to quote about “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” was all a bunch of bullshit. What I didn’t realize was that the words and stories you told yourself counted as well.
Words have meaning, great strength and power. They settle deep into the recesses of your mind and do not quickly fade. You can lift someone up or you can tear them down with a handful of words. We do this to ourselves as well.
Words don’t even have to roll off your tongue to do their damage. It begins with a thought, just a tiny insecure or negative thought. Dr. Emoto spent years studying the effects of words on water molecules (see video) and it is truly amazing. If words can have such a powerful effect on water imagine what they do to you.
Pay attention to the words and stories you tell yourself. It is NEVER too late to use them to create your very own masterpiece. If you have to begin with a small daily affirmation of “I love myself” then do it. Make it your first thought upon waking and your last thought before falling asleep. Try it for 30 days and then tell yourself another beautiful story such as “I am worthy, fabulous and smart” or you can use my current favorite, “I am a badass ninja pirate warrior!”
I LOVE YOU.
Post by @meditatingmoma.
Ten and a half years ago I was a smoker. Not some light-weight social smoker. I was a hardcore, 2-3 packs a day, lighting one cigarette off the other, chain smoker. I had been a smoker since my early teens. It was the only coping mechanism I had. It was my security blanket when I felt lost or afraid. It was my suit of armor when I was in awkward or uncertain situations. It was how I dealt with every stressful situation in my life-from driving in Las Vegas traffic to going through a divorce…and then I quit.
I gained 72 pounds in less than a year. Just the thought of a trip to Walmart so I could get the best price on my toiletries gave me anxiety (I still do not shop at Walmart). Driving made me want to cry. Hell, I probably DID cry at times.
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Pearl is her name. I wanted nothing more than to get her home, make her feel comfortable, and show her love. Pearl was having none of it.
For months I thought about adopting a pet. When the day finally arrived, my son and I drove to the shelter. Checking my mental list we made our way to the cats. My list was short. I knew I wanted young female cat, but type didn’t matter, color wasn’t a concern, just that we made a connection, created a bond.
Then there she was, Pearl. The pretty grey and white long haired young cat had amazing blue eyes. She was alert and responded to my gentle petting through the metal grates on the cage. I spent time talking to her and asking her questions as if she was going to answer. I soon found a volunteer and asked if we could officially meet Pearl and spend some one on one time with her. We made our way to a large chain link cage. Over the next twenty minutes we spent time associating with her. I truly felt she was going to be a great addition to my family.
Once home, Pearl’s disposition changed rapidly. I knew there would be an adjustment period, but I had no clue how unsettling things would quickly become. I was bitten almost right away. This was not a little warning bite. This was a jaws locked on my hand, “fight or flight” bite. She was protecting herself, confused by her new surroundings, the only way she knew how.
I didn’t understand how or why her behavior changed so quickly from our time in the shelter to bringing her to her new home. I felt there had to be something I was doing in order to make her feel the need to protect herself, biting and clawing at me. Over the next week I kept my distance, feeding her and making sure her litter box was clean. Pearl was so distraught that she refused to come out of hiding, not to use the littler box and not to checkout her surroundings, nothing.
The following weekend I returned to the shelter were I purchased Pearl. I explained the situation, hoping to get some pointers on how to handle her. I showed them the bites and claw marks and explained they had gotten quite infected and I had to seek medical care and at that point they checked her records. They explained that she arrived both feral and pregnant. They terminated her pregnancy, spayed her then basically put her up for adoption. I was told due to severity of the bite and her erratic behavior a report had to be filed, mostly likely resulting in her being put to sleep. I was not only heart broken, but furious. Filing a report was not an option for me. I refused and left.
Once home, I checked on Pearl. I softly talked to her trying to coax her out from under the bed. I slowly slipped my hand under the bed to show her love and was attacked again.
Kim was helpful on the phone taking the time to explain the process and answering any questions or concerns I had. We scheduled a time for the following day. Speaking with her gave me hope.
Kim traveled to my apartment, reiterated the process briefly again, then started her work. Watching from underneath the opposite side of the bed she laid on her stomach softly speaking to Pearl, reaching her hands towards her. Kim laid with Pearl reassuring her that she was safe and loved, moving closer towards Pearl until her hands built a loving shield around her. It amazed me that she could not only get so close to Pearl without upsetting her, but that Pearl seemed to become physically relaxed. Kim stated she was depressed and scared. That completely made sense to me.
After Kim finished with Pearl we sat down. She asked if she could place her hands on my hand where Pearl had bit me. After seeing Pearl’s transformation in just a short time I said, “Yes please.” As we sat I felt a tingle in my hands and a general calmness come over me. When Kim lifted her hands from mine, I was shocked. My new wound was oozing. The Reiki not only helped calm Pearl, but helped my new infected bite. I had no clue that my body would react in that way. I cleaned my hands and we continued this process once again only to have my body react in the same way.
That evening Kim called to check on both Pearl and I. Things were much better. I made one more appointment for Pearl with Kim. It went splendidly. Kim was able to get even closer to Pearl and soon she began to purr. It was a beautiful sound. It was a sound I hadn’t heard since I adopted her. I was extremely happy with the outcome.
Kim with her Reiki and energy work was able to help heal Pearl. Kim had brought calm and internal peace to Pearl. I was finally given the cat I had hoped for, a loving, sweet, playful cat. I just can’t say enough about Kim and her work. Thank you will never be enough, thank goodness it’s a start though.
* This blog post is guest written by a client as a testimonial. It is largely the reason I have decided to begin working with animals. Shortly after this event I came across two feral cats outside our neighborhood. Being the animal lover I am once I saw how thin and scared they were I knew I had to help. I began feeding them, but they wouldn’t allow my daughter & I near them. They would hiss and then run. Eventually, as we fed them daily and they became used to us they would let us within 10-15 feet of them. While they would eat I would sit on the sidewalk and send them loving and healing energy. I am happy to say that today, as I type this, one of them is sitting on my desk next to my computer and the other comes to the house now to eat and hang out in the morning and evening. I love working on humans, but healing animals is something extra special that speaks to my heart. -Kim
Hmmmm…vulnerability. The word seems harmless. A few too many syllables to roll off the tongue easily, but that is not a reason to dislike it. Yet, we do. I do anyway. I’ve always taken great personal offense to vulnerability. Not when I see it in others. When I see it in others I feel empathy for them. I want to hug them and tell them they are not alone. In myself, it has been something I have always tried to avoid.
On the occasion that I divulge information I find as being emotionally sensitive, I tend to make a joke out of it. Add a touch of snarkiness to spice up the flavor of my emotional weakness. Or, I tell the story as though I am being interrogated. It is a story that I witnessed and nothing more. Just the facts ma’am.
Lately though, it seemed everywhere I turned someone was bringing up vulnerability. My mother was even pleading with me to tear down my walls. That I needed to allow myself to be vulnerable. I said “Ok, I will work on that,” and I meant it or at least that I would put it on my never-ending list of things to do before I die.
My friends were mentioning vulnerability, clients were dropping the V-bomb, people kept throwing Brene’ Brown’s name around (had I read her???) and posting her TED talk all over Facebook (I confess I have not made the time to sit and watch it as of yet). I thought vulnerability, blah, blah, blah…is it really THAT important? I prided myself on sealing myself off from the difficult experiences of my life. It helped me survive, as I saw it. If anything unpleasant happened I had, what I considered to be a gift, the ability to close my emotional self down in an instant and to detach myself from the situation. I’ve been very good at detachment. So here is my mom telling me I needed to tear down this great wall like it was 1989 and I was Berlin.
You’d think, being a person who looks to signs from God or the Universe when making almost any major (and very often medium and yes, sometimes even minor decisions) that I would have taken a hint. But no. I admit I might have a bit of a stubborn streak. I suppose that is why I didn’t want to let go of this ridiculous notion that in order to survive life that I needed to separate myself from whatever the heck I thought I was separating myself from. That I needed to be “one tough cookie” except to the very few I allowed into my Circle of Trust. That was before “The Event” that led to my Yucky, No Good, Very Bad Week.
So, it was a Tuesday, I think September 8. It was a day at the health center for me and my schedule was so light I only had one person booked. I took my time that morning, I worked out, sipped my coffee and perused the interwebs, did a little laundry and had a long meditation that left me feeling wonderful. I decided to wear a new dress I had just bought. I usually stick with long skirts, but this one was cute and flouncy. It had no sleeves making it a possibility for massage work and something just told me to buy it. I usually wear a pair of workout shorts under any short dresses or skirts, but I had loaned mine to my daughter. I decided that I’d wear a larger than normal pair of panties and just wear my new, flouncy dress and look cute. For the record, they aren’t granny panties, but they do cover nearly all of my tushy.
So, I drove to the office, got everything prepared and then my client calls 10 minutes before her appointment and cancels. I shut everything down, packed up and decided to grab some lunch before picking my daughter up from school. It is something I rarely do. I usually carry a lunch bag full of healthy snacks and green juices so it was kind of a treat.
Not being familiar with lunch places in the area I drove west looking for something that would be quick. The problem is there are very few “quick” meals you can carry out when you are a vegetarian. So, when I noticed this restaurant that is a mix between fast food and diner style that I knew had vegetarian options I pulled in and parked. My first stop was the bathroom. I drink a lot of water and have the bladder the size of a gnat, so the bathroom is pretty much my first stop anywhere I go. I did my business and washed my hands noting how strange it was that they didn’t have a mirror in the bathroom. I ran my hands down my dress and proceeded to go wait to order my food, I was third in line.
After I ordered my vegetarian burger, I headed over to the drink station to get some iced tea. I felt someone watching me and turned to look over my shoulder. I see this enormous, mammoth of a man with a long beard and overalls looking over his phone and smiling at me. I thought, “Well, I guess I do look cute!” Then I realized his smile was really more of a leer and it left me feeling very uncomfortable. I walked across the restaurant to stand at the far counter, with my back to the doors, to put as much space between us as I could.
I passed the time perusing Facebook on my phone, barely noticing the few people who came in the door or who passed behind me to go to the bathroom. About ten minutes had gone by when a lady who worked there came up to me and whispered, “Ummm…your dress. Your dress is in your calzones.” “Excuse me?” I asked. She used her dustpan to point to the back of my dress. “Your dress…” OH…I calmly reached back and pulled the dress out of my panties and raised my head up to look for the leering guy. He had changed his seat so he was now facing me and his phone was out and pointed in my direction and his grotesque leer was in full effect. I registered that but I didn’t THINK it. What I THOUGHT and what I mumbled was, “Great my old lady ass was hanging out for the whole world to see.”
I smoothed my hands back down over ALL of my stupid, flouncy dress (silently cursed the restaurant for not having a mirror) and then I went right back to my phone and pretended I didn’t care and continued to wait on my food. When my order was handed to me I said, “Thank you so much!”, turned and walked out the door. I remember thinking how grateful I was that my car was parked facing the restaurant so that awful man couldn’t see my company name which is on the back in vinyl.
Once I arrived at my daughter’s school I was able to breathe. I was near tears. In the past year I had gained 25 pounds and my butt in no way resembled anything being shown as the thing to have all over tv or magazines and I was embarrassed that I had “let myself go”. I felt a deep shame that not only had I done something so completely stupid, but also that I had not brought my “A” game. I was even more mortified when it finally clicked that the man was not really on his phone, but had been taking pictures or filming me and perhaps there was already video somewhere of me walking around with my ass hanging out in public. It was like a nightmare where you are out in public and naked, but everyone else is dressed. How is that for vulnerability? Shoved right on down my gullet with a shame chaser.
I did worry and fret a bit. I texted my small Circle of Trust and told my story. Then I pulled it together and thought, ‘OK, today sucked. Tomorrow you will wear pants and your day will be SO much better!’
The next day I did wear pants. I had another client no-show. Not off to a great start but ok, it happens. It provided me the opportunity to converse with a man on Meetup.com. (If you are not familiar with Meetup, it is where you can start a group on a subject that interests you and other people join if they are interested too and you get together to discuss this shared interest.) Well, I have a Meetup that shows up under the metaphysical category, among others. On this day, an older gentleman contacts me to ask questions about the meetup. He explains he is a hypnotist, that he just lost his wife of 37 years, how they had owned a crystal shop in Sedona and he was wondering if this group was a good match for him. I message back that I am sorry for his loss, it must be a difficult transition, but I think he would enjoy our group.
He replies asking exactly where we meet then he explains that he can’t travel far because he drives a scooter and has to be home by dark because of his cataract. I give him a general idea of where the meetings take place and he replies with not only coming on to me and making me fully aware that he thinks this is a hook-up, but also putting me down. He proceeds to tell me that I should cut my hair. That he isn’t really sure of my age but my hairstyle didn’t do me any favors and I shouldn’t age myself before my time. I instantly thought ‘Well, I guess he really wouldn’t like my hair now!’ The cut has changed; however, I am growing my gray out and I’m about halfway there. Then I think ‘Why the hell is this happening to me?!!!?’ This man, who tells me his first time in Las Vegas was in 1955 and that he has cataracts, is telling me I look old. Wow! I had just found out I needed trifocals so I was feeling a bit dated I guess and I allowed the shame to sink in. The fact that it happened the day after the whole underwear fiasco and I was I was just done. Completely and utterly done.
I took a deep breath and replied to his message. I stated that he obviously had a misunderstanding of what meetup is about and that this group was not what he wanted. He let me know that I was probably right and that it might be the reason he was being kicked out of so many groups and that maybe he should remove “metaphysical” from his Meetup search. I removed him from the group and blocked him.
Vulnerability and shame as a one-two punch. I got it and got it good. I went home and downloaded Brene’ Brown’s Daring Greatly to my Kindle. I poured a glass of red wine and decided screw it all, tomorrow I am wearing a tutu and high-tops. That REALLY had to make it better!
I didn’t wear it the next day; however, I did buy tiaras, wands, and tutus for myself and my sister. I’m older than her so I just pulled the bossy card and told her she was going along with it. She agreed since it hadn’t been a great week for her either. I decided we would go out on Friday, play dress up and try one of those painting and wine places. We looked silly, but it made me happy. People looked at us strangely, but we didn’t mind because it was fun. Besides there is safety in numbers (2 could be considered a very small pack). We drank, waved our wands, talked too loudly (as Texas women are known to do), painted and had a blast. When people asked why we were dressed that way we just told them we were celebrating the end of a Yucky, No Good, Very Bad Week and they cheered us on.
Am I magically transformed? Did I wave my tiny wand and suddenly I was able to knock down my wall in one fell swoop? Hell no. But I made a doorway or two so I can occasionally pass through to the other side. I haven’t come close to finishing the book (maybe 20% in). Matter-of-fact, I am just to the point about shame and about how naming your shame dis-empowers it. You are dowsing that ugly fire with water by telling the story. Now, maybe in the next chapter it talks about not doing it on a public level, but so what. It is out there, no take-backs. Loosening the restraints of vulnerability will come along in baby steps, but it is the beginning of a good story I think. Being a “tough cookie” is a hard habit to break, but cookies crumble…and if you stick them in a glass of milk long enough they turn all soft and mushy.
As for my shame for simply aging (how dare I!) and that I am less than ad worthy…I say screw that noise, at least for today. The week after, I was at the grocery store and a man knocked on my car window, scaring the bejeezus out of me. I started my car and slid down the window. He very quickly apologized for scaring me and said, “I think it is wonderful how you are growing your gray out. You are a beautiful woman and I just wanted to take the time and tell you how great it looks.” I was even wearing my new trifocals!
Next month, we are doing boas and bubbles.