Category Archives: Radical Self-Acceptance

Something Good

woke up to this, April snow

Woke up to this, April snow, Spring in Colorado

four hours later, it's still coming down

Four hours later, it’s still coming down

1. How Yoga Turned Me Into a Superhero. ~ Steph Richard
and Sleep: More Important than a Healthy Diet. ~ Katja Heino on Elephant Journal.

2. From Patti Digh, your daily rock : practice and your daily rock : you are not broken.

3. From Pema Chödrön,

The present moment is your ally: We might ask, “Given my present situation, how long should I stay with uncomfortable feelings?” This is a good question, yet there is no right answer. We simply get accustomed to coming back to the present just as it is for a second, for a minute, for an hour—whatever is currently natural—without its becoming an endurance trial. Just pausing for two to three breaths is a perfect way to stay present. This is a good use of our life. Indeed, it is an excellent, joyful use of our life. Instead of getting better and better at avoiding, we can learn to accept the present moment as if we had invited it, and work with it instead of against it, making it our ally rather than our enemy.

4. From Geneen Roth,

I tell my retreat students that having a practice they do everyday is important. It doesn’t matter what it is. Meditating, gardening, writing, walking, feeding birds. What matters is that you pay attention. What matters is that you have the intention to show up for yourself and have the chance, on a daily level, to ground yourself in the you that isn’t caught up in the emails, errands, natterings. It’s a way you get to be loyal to what matters to you. A promise you make to yourself that this day can also be for you.

And a really cool video of her feeding hummingbirds,

And this,

When I am willing to question and therefore feel whatever is there–hatred (that’s a big one!), anger, sadness–with tenderness and curiosity, the feelings relax because they are met with kindness and openness instead of resistance and rejection. The hard part is that I have to be willing to tolerate discomfort for a moment. Or three.

Think about what it’s like for you to be met by someone else with kindness. And then think about being met with rejection. It’s such a difference. Think about what you would give to a child who is hurting. And then take a leap. Be as loving to yourself as you would be to a child. As you would be to anyone you love who needs your attention. Over and over, this is the practice. A fierce kind of love. An unwillingness to devolve into pushing and blaming. It starts with you, now.

5. From Sakyong Mipham, “We want to infuse our day with good habits so that we can turn seemingly mundane situations into a ceremony of goodness,” and “In order to be brave, we must trust that underneath it all, there is sanity and openness.”

6. Becoming the Person You Were Meant to Be: Where to Start by Anne Lamott.

7. Type So Hard You Bruise The Screen writing advice collected and shared by Owen Egerton on Huffington Post.

8. This from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross,

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

9. The Last Day from Sas Petherick.

10. Call Me Cupcake, shared by decor8. My eyes and mouth were drooling.

11. 11 quick + dirty things about writing, a brilliant list from Justine Musk.

12. The Five Stages of Clutter on Be More with Less.

13. Design Terms explained, from Eva Black Design, shared by Pugley Pixel, one of my favorite blog design sites.

14. Susannah Conway’s Journal Your Life Pinterest board, so many pretty things, so much I want to try.

15. The 40 Best Animal Cuddlers Of All Time on BuzzFeed. Who knew turtles could cuddle?

16. 90 Pieces of Wisdom for my 9-year old Birthday Girl from Tanya Geisler. I’m not nine years old, but I needed to hear these too.

17. My Well-Fed Life: Vivienne McMaster from Rachel Cole.

18. Tara Brach: Radical Self-Acceptance on A Good Minute from Sounds True.

19. A Guide to Practical Contentment on Zen Habits.

20. My (new) favorite question of all time from Alexandra Franzen.

21. You are more beautiful than you think, the new Dove ad. It made me cry.

22. Thoughts for a Friday: Pressures of Social Media on SF Girl by Bay. We need to stop comparing our blooper reels to other people’s highlights.

23. 50 Self-Care Ideas from Back to Her Roots.

24. This song, Gorgon City – “Real” ft. Yasmin, shared on Kind Over Matter.

25. Shared on Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list: this recipe for spinach and smashed egg toast (which I’m making with a hard egg), and this one for Superfood salad with black rice, butternut squash, sweet potato, cranberries, goji berries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds (*drool*), and this cool home design site, the selby, (and look, it’s William the crystal guy on the selby!)

26. 12 Things You Will Never Say Before Dying on the Daily Breadcrumb.

27. This from Sri Prem Baba,

The process of awakening is a movement towards the real. In order for this to occur, the false will unavoidably have to be deconstructed. This is never easy. What is easy or hard to deal with is intimately related to what it is that is going away. Oftentimes, you believe that the walls that are falling apart are the walls of your house but, in truth, they are the walls of a prison cell.

28. And Dog Wants a Kitty,

I Surrender.

treeshadowicecrackThe ponds at Lee Martinez are singing as they melt–humming, gurgling, snapping and cracking. The places where the ice is softening around the edges form patterns that look like the shadows of trees, their bare branches stretching out over the surface of the water.

Today feels like it could be spring. The sky over Fort Collins is clear and bright blue, the sun is shining and it’s warm. It seems like the population has suddenly doubled because everyone is outside.

aqua

I feel like my color this year is aqua–sea glass, soft turquoise mixed with deep blue. The color of water, the color of the sometimes sky, the color of the typewriter and the water and the arrows on my 2013 vision board, one of the colors in my eyes. Bridget Pilloud wrote about it on The Intuitive Bridge today, saying of the color:

It’s speaking your truth. It’s hearing the truth of others. It’s synthesizing intuitive information with observed information.

Aqua is especially important to speakers and writers, to singers, to teachers, because in an Aqua year, you grow in your ability to speak and listen, to synthesize information, to integrate your energy.

Aqua also gives the gift of the greatest healing and the strongest connection. And when your heart is healed, you learn that life is much simpler than you’ve thought, that you’re a better person than you ever imagined and that you knew the whole story all along.

myeye

I feel inspired by the students in Mondo Beyondo, allowing themselves to want what they want, to dream big, some of them for the first time in a long time, some of them for the first time ever.

I feel inspired, as well as supported and encouraged by the students in Cultivating Courage, who are practicing bravery, making big and small moves every day, who are pushing against their edges, daring greatly, opening their hearts and telling the truth.

I am inspired by my friends who are learning to ask for help when they need it, who are reaching out for support, asking for assistance.

I am inspired by Andrea Scher, who creates safe spaces for her students to connect, to contemplate, to dare, to take chances. I’m also inspired by her own acts of courage, her willingness to ask for help, her willingness to invest in herself.

In the midst of this contemplation, this thawing, softening, this cultivation of courage and inspiration, this practice of bravery and dreaming, I am considering the obstacles to my freedom, and what I need to do to dissolve them.

freedomthanksgivingcrow

Last week, I had to make a big deal doctor’s appointment. There was some shame, guilt, anxiety, panic involved in the multistage process, and after it was all taken care of, scheduled, I ate half a bag of chips (popped and organic, but still), two slices of toast with butter (organic bread, but still), and a whole box of Annie’s Organic mac and cheese for “lunch.” I have told you before that I am a highly functioning food addict, and there was something about this particular incident that brought me to a “I give up, I surrender, I’ve had enough” moment.

I feel afraid or stuck when I see myself falling into old and discursive habits, ways of being and thinking. While I’m better than I used to be, more aware, kinder and gentler, healthier, when I get too stressed or tired, overwhelmed, when I start to go off the rails, when I feel my body getting heavy and my thoughts racing and my heart feeling dull, it’s hard to not freak out, hard to not feel trapped, having never truly been without this “thing,” this monster that lives in my belly, this frozen spot in my mind and my heart.

And you know what, kind and gentle reader? I’ve had it. I am over it, done. I need to be free of this. I surrender, and I’m admitting I need help. Just before I started writing this post, I contacted a therapist (whose practice is a mix of Western and Buddhist theories) and requested a meeting.

crow

I surrender. I surrender to radical self-acceptance, to truth, to reality, to this:

There is no love affair, no perfect best friend, no all-mighty parent, no incredible career, no ideal body, no distant and separate God/dess that can make up for the aching want, the hole, the yearning, that exists beneath the surface and at the center of our lives. It can only be healed by cultivating a dangerously authentic, reciprocal love affair with the bare truth of who we are, and allowing ourselves to become infused with a sacred courage that teaches us how to embody and articulate the essence of a truth that we’ve had since before we were born. Holding that truth so close to ourselves that it cuts into our hearts as a real, deep love and moves through our breath as the sound of our truest voice is all that we have ever looked for in anything or anyone else. It is also the only thing the universe has ever looked for from us. ~Grace Emilie

Step by Little Step

Dex's snow feet

Service is your heart’s desire made visible. Service is the act of sharing what you most care about for the greater good. It requires no special goodness, thankfully. After our basic needs are met, we all yearn to make a difference and service springs from listening to that yearning – and taking action on it, step by little step. ~Jennifer Louden, The Week of Inward Looking

My most intense longing, my deepest hunger, my heart’s desire is to ease suffering, in myself and in the world. As I have been retreating and reverbing and unravelling and reflecting and contemplating and practicing this past month (year?), it has become clear to me that the “basic need” I still must meet is the essential requirement of self-love and self-care. I need to learn and practice radical self-acceptance.

I was naive at the start of this “life-rehab.” From the moment I first realized I had been in a long term abusive relationship with myself, I believed it would be an easy fix, that with awareness and mindfulness would come immediate and lasting change. I thought I could read a book, take a class, attend a workshop, complete a practice or project, and “presto chango” I would be transformed into a woman completely in love with herself, confident and strong.

I was so wrong. You can’t take years of self-abuse, self-hatred, self-loathing, and all of the self-soothing and coping strategies you’ve developed to counter those behaviors, to numb and distract yourself from all the hurt, and fix it so easily, so quickly. It is hard work to repair the damage done, to restore your self to yourself. Almost every single old habit, way of being has to be undone and replaced. This is slow, heavy work, and while so much has changed for the better already, there is more to be done.

loveapocalypse02

Kris Carr’s post The Myth of Finding Your Purpose is one thing that has helped me to see this more clearly. In it, she says “Your purpose has nothing to do with what you do…Your purpose is about discovering and nurturing who you truly are, to know and love yourself at the deepest level and to guide yourself back home when you lose your way.” She goes on to suggest a whole list of “what ifs” that precisely define what steps one might take to embody your purpose. She ends with saying:

Seriously, what if finding your purpose is about finding and nurturing yourself? Not an external to-do or accomplishment, even if that to-do or accomplishment is the most important discovery of all time. Because if you are the one destined to find the most important ah-ha of all time, you will probably find it quicker and easier if you feel good, loved and happy. Start there. It’s that simple.

This is directly in line with the wisdom of two of my primary practice traditions: yoga and meditation. Both used the term “warrior” to describe the practitioner, and in the lineage of Buddhist philosophy in which I practice, I train to be a Warrior, which is described as:

The Shambhala view of warriorship shares some of the qualities of earlier warrior traditions such as those from the Middle Ages that combined fearlessness with dignity and wisdom. The most important quality of the Shambhala warrior is being non-aggressive. The Shambhala warrior is defined by gentleness and fearlessness. As Chogyam Trungpa said it, “the first principle of warriorship is not being afraid of who you are.” ~William A. Gordon, Shambhala The Path of the Warrior

superhero earth necklace made by andrea scher, a gift to myself

Don’t be afraid of who you are. To be a spiritual warrior, face each moment with openness and fearlessness, because “the ultimate definition of bravery is not being afraid of who you are.” Susan Piver, who also practices in this lineage, defines confidence this way, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

If service is the fruition, radical self-acceptance is the path. Tara Brach talks about this in Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha, where she defines this practice, this awareness of radical self-acceptance as “the willingness to experience ourselves and our lives as it is.” She goes on to say that:

Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns…We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.

Stop Beating Yourself Up…Start Loving Yourself Radically!!, a video and blog post by Kute Blackson, explain the concept further, with great enthusiasm and clarity.

As one who practices radical self-acceptance, who is confident, a tenderhearted and brave warrior unafraid of herself or her life, showing up with an open heart, no matter how hard or how much it hurts, I can serve. I can embody generosity and love and confidence. I can manifest wisdom and compassion. I can satisfy my longing to ease suffering, in myself and in the world.

I’m still not sure exactly what shape that will take or what it will look like, how exactly it will manifest. Some of the possibilities are as a writer, a teacher, a therapist or coach, a yoga and/or meditation instructor, an artist, a mentor. Some topics I know something about are grief and loss, cancer, addiction, practice, writing, voice (both losing and finding it), mindfulness, and relationship with the self. I’m not exactly sure how those will come together into specific offerings, but I’m okay with not knowing. For now, I will continue to remember, as Jennifer Louden suggests, that “service springs from listening to that yearning – and taking action on it, step by little step.”

The view of the sky from my front porch, right now

I started writing this post in the dark of early morning, as I worked stringing the words and thoughts together the sun rose, and I am finishing with the sun up and out, the sky wide open and clear blue–something about that seems really, really right.