Category Archives: Life Rehab

Three Truths and One Wish

Paradigm: A conceptual model that is used…to understand complex phenomena. A paradigm includes assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that determine how something is understood. New paradigms develop when observations cannot be explained by current assumptions and beliefs, (source).

I am undergoing a paradigm shift. It is difficult, scary, and slow, but necessary. As I “live into” this change, there are some things I am discovering, finding to be true.

1. Truth: Paradigm shifts usually don’t happen quickly. At the very least, they probably won’t happen as fast as you’d like. For most of us, it’s not like flipping a light switch. We have to ease into it, take it slow, give it time and space, stop and start, over and over, again and again, take a few do-overs, wait almost to the point of boredom or giving up–because the full shift doesn’t happen all at once.

2. Truth: Your intellectual understanding of the new paradigm will happen before you are able to fully embody it. You know, but find yourself still acting in those old ways. You move through your habitual patterns and ways of being, watching them with a new awareness, but still stuck in them. It’s tempting in this in-between to think it would be easier to go back to ignorance, to wish for that blindness, to see it as a sort of bliss, but there’s nothing there for you anymore. Once you see a new way, a better, more sane way, you can’t unsee it.

3. Truth: “Love is always in the room with you.” You’ve got this. It’s so certain, it’s as if it’s already happened. You don’t need to be afraid of freaking out or falling apart. The things you are afraid of either won’t happen or won’t be nearly as bad as you’d imagined. You can soften, surrender, let go, relax. Allow yourself stillness, silence, solitude, and space. Shine your light, sink into and manifest your truest self, embody supreme confidence.

One wish: If you want to shift your paradigm, may it go quickly and without obstacle. If you are lost in a fog of confusion, about yourself and the world, or in the midst of change, may you awaken to the light of your true nature. May you know your basic goodness, your innate wisdom and compassion and strength. May we all soften and relax and maintain good cheer, no matter where we are on our path.

Learning Things by Heart

Epiphany: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

I met with my meditation instructor this past week, and during our discussion about something else, she inadvertently gave me insight into a bigger issue I’d been contemplating, struggling with.

I’ve talked about it before: I have trouble staying on a middle path. I practice and live too tight–work too hard, try to do too much, smash myself to bits–and because of that, I end up collapsing into practicing too loose–exhaustion, numbness, depression, and smashing myself to bits, (notice how I can work that in no matter what end of the pendulum swing I’m in?).

I have been on a mission to “fix” myself, to change, to break out of old habits that no longer serve me, a life-rehab, but my approach has been a lot of the same old, same old. And is it really about changing, becoming someone new, someone else? Do I need another self-improvement strategy, another self-help plan? Another diet, another book, another workshop or class?

And you, when will you begin that long journey into yourself? Rumi

The reminder from my M.I. is that instead of grasping or searching for something else, anything more, I could try sinking deeper into my practice, the wisdom that’s already with me.

For example, instead of reading six books at the same time, rushing through so fast I barely remember it once it’s over because there’s a long list of ones that I have to get to right after, I could try reading one, maybe more than once, really know it, savor it. Or instead of training to be a yoga teacher, I could remain a practitioner, sinking in and truly embodying the practice, learning the full measure of what it has to teach. Or, instead of filling most of my week with regularly scheduled blog features, I could spend more time writing, straight from my heart, exactly where I am. I could remember the importance of naps and staring at my toes. I could connect with reality.

As Susan Piver so brilliantly shared in her Huffington Post article, Meditation, Relaxation, and the Self-Help Demon, “stop, slow down, look within and allow for both your brilliance and your brokenness.”

If we are looking for or saying “yes” to one thing, we are essentially saying “wait” or even “no” to something else, maybe what we’ve already committed to, what we’ve already found, who we already are.

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. ~Pema Chödrön

I was rereading the above quote, and realized I should try and memorize it, make it a true mantra–anytime I feel the pull to try something new, to push myself, anytime I feel like I am not good enough, anytime I am beating myself up for some supposed failure or mistake, every time I wish I were something other than I am, somewhere or sometime other than right where I am, I could repeat it to myself, remind myself.

Or maybe the simple, gentle reminder to relax is enough?

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

~ Mary Oliver

Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop Intro

Sometimes, when Eric or I have a big presentation to give, we like to “talk it out,” to practice, either alone or with a small, respectful, safe audience (usually the dogs). I am going to introduce the Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop tomorrow, explain why I instigated it and invited Rachel to come. I’m anxious, a little nervous, and so excited for this, the whole event, the whole weekend, and the introduction, so I’m going to practice it here. This is going to be a longer version of what I’ll actually say tomorrow, because although I am planning and practicing, I won’t have notes and am going to trust my heart in that moment to tell me what to say and how to say it, but it will help me to write it out, to share it in a safe space with a gentle, loving audience.

First I want to say: you all are so brave for being here. Signing up for this, you knew you wouldn’t be able to fake your way through it, sit in the back of a large lecture hall and pretend to be invisible. You knew you would be making yourself vulnerable, taking a risk–your heart might open, you might see and speak truth, you might be shocked, uncomfortable, comforted, and inspired to do different, to be different, to wake up, to live the life you have imagined, and to imagine that it’s exactly what you deserve, to know that you are enough. You knew that shit might just get real, but you signed up anyway. I hope that you have given yourself credit for how brave that is.

As the instigator of this event, I have my own reasons for being here. Two years ago, I lost two beings that I loved very much, both too young to die, both taken by cancer. I was also in the midst of a toxic work situation, and even though being a writer was the thing I had wanted most since I was in the second grade, I had struggled with writer’s block for 20 years, and I was a highly functioning food addict. I was at a crisis point. Something had to change, everything had to change.

I decided to start by being a better friend to myself. I renegotiated my job. I took my practices of yoga, meditation, and writing more seriously. Early on in this process, I had a realization: I had been in a long-term abusive relationship, with myself. To work on that, I embarked on a life-rehab. I started by reading Brene’ Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I started writing this blog. I took online classes, the first with Andrea Scher and Jen Lemen, Mondo Beyondo: an Online Class about Dreaming Big. I had already been reading Andrea’s Superhero Journal blog and Jen Lemen’s blog, and one day, Andrea posted about her friend Rachel Cole. There was this picture of Rachel leaning in the doorway of her kitchen, wearing an apron and holding a cherry raspberry pie. Her smile made me smile.

I clicked on the link and went to Rachel’s website. The content and design of her site communicates so perfectly who she is: creative, alive, vibrant, but also calm, peaceful, stable. She is both inspiring and supportive, she glows with energy and love. I became a faithful reader, a follower, and hoped I’d get to meet and work with her some day–so when she mentioned she was “taking it on the road” and doing a tour, I emailed her and asked how I could get her to come to Colorado.

And now, she’s here, we are here with her, so let’s not waste any more time. Everyone, I’d like you to meet Rachel Cole.

Day of Rest

Yesterday, I took vows. Other than with Eric, I have always been reluctant to take vows, become a member of anything, to be contained or defined and responsible in that way. My spiritual path, as I have mentioned before, is meditation, yoga, writing, and dog. There isn’t a single church for this, and yet, I do feel as if I “belong,” feel like I have a sangha: an association or assembly, company or community with common goal, vision or purpose–it’s just that I don’t typically find them all gathered in one place. Some are at my yoga studio, some in my writing group, some are my friends, some practice meditation with me in various locations, some are walking the trails I walk, some are online, and some are even where I work.

And yet, when I read the Shambhala Vow and the Enlightened Society Vow, there was nothing there I disagreed with–plenty of things that would be difficult, but nothing that I didn’t already wholeheartedly believe, nothing I wasn’t already committing my life and practice to, so why not vow? Make a solemn promise, take an oath, speak the words in a ceremony with witnesses, swear it, make a pledge to it. These were the socks I wore, and while it is a brand name they are marked by, it was true–no nonsense. This was me, speaking the truth and making a promise.

These vows solidified, stated and celebrated what I am doing in this year of retreat, this life-rehab. In the first, the Shambhala Vow, one section says: “From now on, I will honor my vow of basic goodness by being gentle with myself, kind to others, and courageous in my life.” If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you know this is what I am trying to do, exactly. “Having compassion for others and kindness toward the world, I will regard my entire life as a journey of deepening and training” — a year long retreat, a life-rehab, yes. “I will share humor, sadness, and delight with my fellow warriors. I will reflect on the profound wisdom of humanity daily, never losing enthusiasm for human potential.” That’s you, kind and gentle reader, fellow warrior, and what I am doing here is a reflection of my gratitude for, my awe in the face of our potential, the tender and open-hearted vulnerability and bravery, the sadness and love I have for all of it, the chance we have to heal ourselves and heal the world.

My favorite part of the second vow, the Enlightened Society Vow, is this:

This brave and fearless mind will constantly strive, day and night, to create enlightened society on this earth. This is the warrior I will be. May creating enlightened society be my first thought in the morning, my last thought in the evening, and even accompany me in my dreams.

Knowing that such courage intimidates others, through enlightened reflection and deep contemplation, I have come to this conclusion: if humanity and all beings who suffer at the hands of their own doubt are to be truly happy, they must discover their own basic goodness.

A society of such great and courageous beings can change the tide of humanity from a force of environmental and self-destruction to one of personal confidence, self-liberation, and environmental harmony.

Yesterday was a long and beautiful day. And today I rested. I am bound by these vows, as I am by the vows I spoke when I married Eric, but in both cases, the connection, the obligation, this statement of faith and love is a path to freedom.

I want you to believe yourself

We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. ~Anne Lamott

For the past week, I have been a mess. I am dealing with a health thing, an imbalance that is making me anxious and depressed and tired and cold and heavy, (if you have a functioning thyroid, thank it right now for all the good work it does for you). I don’t want to get out of bed, and if I do, I certainly don’t want to leave the house, sometimes can’t trust myself to open my mouth, and a lot of the time, I feel like I’m about to cry. I have a doctor’s appointment early next week that will hopefully begin the process of getting that balance restored.

Then there’s Sam. He is sweet and goofy and I love him so much, but he’s also a challenge for me. We had our training session yesterday with the amazing Sarah Stremming from Cognitive Canine, and while I’d hoped to feel better, lighter, more confident and calm afterwards, instead I felt overwhelmed and shaky and discouraged. Watching him be frustrated and anxious and feeling like I don’t quite understand how to help him navigate that just makes me so sad. Sarah gave me a lot of new information and I was trying to process and remember, what to do and what not to do, but I felt myself sinking lower and lower. I went to bed at 8 pm, because I could no longer keep myself upright and I needed to have a good cry. I know that a lot of this is due to my thyroid being out of whack, and because of that I can’t completely trust myself right now, but when you are in it, it’s hard to be rational, to remember that there’s that thing that is distorting your perception–you just feel what you feel, and it doesn’t feel good.

On Kind Over Matter’s Friday’s Lovelies list this week, there’s a link to Tanya Geisler’s “Thing Finding Thursday,” (you might remember, I wrote a post about “The Thing” before), which she describes as “stories of people who found their Things, and how they did it — so you can do it, too.” I looked through Tanya’s archives, and found two videos I wanted to watch: one with Dyana Valentine and one with Jennifer Louden, two of my favorite women.

Dyana Valentine talked about rooting what you do, your thing, in your strengths and core values. And she reminds us that “just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you have any business doing it.” Towards the end of the video, when Tanya asks her “what do you want for the people watching you right now?” and Dyana’s answer had me in tears. She says:

I want for you to believe yourself. And I don’t mean believe in yourself but I want you to believe yourself. I want you to believe what you experience. I want you to believe what you say to yourself and to other people. I want you to believe that you are on the planet and we are happy that you are here. I want you to believe that if you know something is not working for you that you can make that change–you don’t have to make it now, but I want you to believe that you know the difference between right and right now.

Jennifer Louden said of The Thing in her “Thing Finding Thursday” video with Tanya “it’s okay if you found it and abandoned it and found it and abandoned it and found it and abandoned it. And we can be ashamed that we’ve given up and we’re here again, or we can celebrate and get support.” She finishes up by saying:

Sometimes the things that you most care about are the things that you’re most afraid of, so you may know very well what your thing is and you may know that you may not be able to bring it to life the way that you want and that may break your heart, but don’t let that heartbreak stop you from trying.

“Warriorship means that when there are obstacles, we do not back off,” (Sakyong Mipham). So, as I feel discouraged, brokenhearted, and messy, I choose to get support and help rather than to give up. I believe myself. And I don’t let the heartbreak stop me from trying. This is my dog, my thing, my life. “I know the more I embrace My Thing, the more exciting and dangerous the adventure of life will become,” (Brandy Glows on Thing Finding Thursday). I am challenged and afraid of failure, and more than a little tired, but I am not broken, I am not done. I am already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who I was born to be.

Full Snow Moon Dreamboard

The Full Snow Moon asks: “What desires lie deep within?”

Restore yourself. This is your year for retreat, your year to learn to rest, to study, to practice, to find your middle path, to pray and meditate, be mindful.

Bringing your practice to life. You walk the walk, the middle way. You meditate, you sink into your yoga poses, you write and make art, you learn what your dogs have to teach you, take the walks with them and notice. Peace of mind, yoga for life.

Love the weight off. You have carried the physical weight of your suffering and grief and anger long enough. It’s time to let it go, lay it down, but remember this will only happen as you love yourself. Imagine yourself filling with light.

Uncover the hidden brilliance in you. It is there. You can no longer deny it. Its luminescence shines through the cracks, a love and truth that will burn you if you try to contain it. The world needs your light.

Document your journey, a transformational journey. This is the dream, this is the work, this is the task, this is the magic, an epic journey on which you will encounter rough terrain and harsh weather, get lost and hurt, but you will be helped and find love. You must make a map for the others who have yet to travel here, who will go on to make the same journey themselves. And remember, just because you feel afraid and vulnerable doesn’t change the fact that you are courageous, brave, and open-hearted. You are a warrior of truth and love.

Live the life you’ve imagined. This is your dream, your desire, your deepest wish, your passion.

Three Truths and One Wish

The theme of last week’s A Year With Myself (AYWM) was “In Love With Me: Getting Good at Self-Love and Self-Acceptance.” I had a rough time of it. I was in this place, deep and old and sticky, where I could see, was aware, but couldn’t seem to move. It felt like I was stuck in cement. I felt broken and hopeless. “All this work, all this time, and I am still here?”

As I have mentioned before, I realized last year that I was in a long term abusive relationship–with myself. I had lost Kelly and Obi to cancer, was reeling from a longstanding abusive work situation, and dealing with some difficult family situations. I was carrying around so much grief, carried it into the year that followed. I couldn’t seem to let go, to process everything that had happened. I was a ghost, broken down the middle. And, like Jackie Walker said in AYWM Chapter Four, “The boat was safe, and it floated. The fact that it was uncomfortable, and going in the wrong direction didn’t matter, until it did.” What I knew was that I had to save myself. So, not knowing exactly how, I started.

Since that realization, I have been trying to be a better friend to myself, to even love myself, to learn how to do these things. But, 30+ years of habitual patterns, ways of being is really hard to shift. Maybe the worst of it is I generate even more suffering by punishing myself, criticizing the fact that I am smashing myself to bits–I beat myself up for not getting there yet, then beat myself up for beating myself up. It is utterly ridiculous.

As I try, struggle, fuss, collapse, get back up, and let go, I practice patience, love, forgiveness, kindness. I am unlearning self-hate and relearning self-love. I am figuring out how to care for myself, really care and not just feed my neurosis, fuel my dis-ease. I am creeping, crawling my way towards the truth, one small step at a time, sometimes on broken hearted knees.

Brave Belly

1. Truth: Your relationship with yourself is the only one that will last your whole life. It is the only one you can trust will remain. Everything, everyone else will at some point leave, be lost, or let go. Our relationship with our self, that partnership with our one true soulmate, is the only constant. Everything else is external, apart in a way that makes it transient and impermanent. All the other people, places, things, (even our own body), will eventually leave us, fail us, even if they don’t want to, even if they desire and try to stay. But You, you can count on her. She will never leave you, and if you would only let her, she will always love you.

:: Something to read:It’s You” from Tiny Buddha.

2. Truth: No one can ever give you all that you can give yourself. As Daniel Collinsworth explained to me, “be the source of what you need, let it come from that central still point. When you feel that restless searching bubbling up, stay with it — let it show you where that healing and restoration is needed.  The rest is a journey that unfolds in time, not always easy, but so worth it.” Remain kind, gentle, patient, mindful, and aware. Relax and trust your own intuition, your own voice, your understanding of what you need and who you are. That self, You, can be trusted. She is faithful and committed, and if you would only let her, she will always love you.

:: Something to read:The Great Lesson of Loneliness” by Daniel Collinsworth on Metta Drum.

3. Truth: The best you have to offer, the best you can be is exactly who you already are. You have nothing better to give. Who you become for others or who you trick yourself into believing you are can only ever be a deluded, weakened, watered down version of your true nature, your essence, your power.

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.”
― Pema ChödrönStart Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

One wish: Easily and naturally arising self-love and self-care in our lives. “If we are doing our true work and living authentically, it will be with ease, naturalness,” (Gwyn-Michael on Scoutie Girl, “Returning to Self and Life’s Simple Pleasures“). My wish is that we unlearn all the bad habits, the ways of being that no longer serve us, and we learn to love our self, be our self wholeheartedly and completely, always.  And that we remember if you would only let her, she will always love you.