No matter what’s going on, you have blessings. I have blessings. In the last year, I have had some very painful disappointments to the extent that I questioned my faith in God.
For my entire life, as long as I could speak words, I have instinctively prayed. There were many dark moments where prayer was my only solace.
Yet, what happens when ugly, terrible things happen, and it feels like our prayers are not answered? Why keep believing? Why keep asking?
Part of me thinks we call certain experiences to us, so our soul can learn something from those experiences. Yet, part of me thinks that evil is an active force, and we must not let anything take our faith away from the good that exists within us or in our lives.
This year has tested me. I left a toxic job. I had a boyfriend who I thought was the kindest man I’d ever met, and I had to break up with him because he wasn’t. I was attacked. I had a cancer scare, and I had to let go of some friends I dearly loved because they will never be as good to me as I was to them.
I’m no holy roller or born again, but I decided I must deepen my faith when things look the darkest. I believe what we water grows, so I decided to focus on my blessings because my blessings are real, and there are many.
Does this mean that I was in denial about the unpleasant events this past year? No. It means that I faced them. It means I found out who my real friends are. It means I asked for help when I needed it.
Focusing on my blessings means I don’t use misfortune as my calling card or identity. I don’t trust people who introduce themselves by all the bad things that happened to them. I don’t trust people who smile all the time either. I trust people gradually, over time by getting to know them. I trust people who are real.
Each night as I write in my gratitude journal, I’m learning to trust myself a little more, and trust in the universe a little more, and trust that no matter what happened that my blessings are real and many. Each morning, when I wake, I pray because I decided I’d rather live my life having faith in goodness and love.
Feeling better is emotional rehab, and I equate this to physical rehab. It’s painful and hard, and I find myself using emotional muscles I forgot I had as I rely less and less on my old emotional crutches.
Years ago, when I weighed about 60 pounds more than I do now, when I was in a marriage that felt like a vice grip on my spirit, and when most of my dreams were nightmares, I started my wellness journey by going to therapy because I wanted to lose weight.
At the time, I didn’t realize all of these things were tied together, nor did I realize I’d have to dredge up a bunch of shit I thought I’d flushed away again and again because sometimes old shit is like swarm of fat flies that returns unwanted every fall to find a warm place to stay.
Getting better means dealing with old crap like a practice, much like a yoga practice. We must keep dealing, not denying, but facing the unpleasantries when they rise instead of letting the toilet overflow so to speak.
Once I decided to get healthier, I didn’t realize how hard it would be. Because of my spiritual growth and increasing love for my own feelings, I have had to let some old friendships slip away. I had a few friends who live in a constant crisis, who always wanted my support and attention but who never gave those things in return.
I had people in my life who said things to me I would never say to them. For example, I had a friend who told me my then boyfriend looked too old for me (he was 4 years older than me). Then she dated a man over 10 years older than her. When I called her on it, she became hostile and defensive.
When we grow, we outgrow old ways of being, and sadly we sometimes outgrow people we love. Setting boundaries, dealing with the pain of old resentments, and new rejections that are a result of trying and taking risks are all part of getting better and growing stronger.
Getting stronger means there are times that are lonely as hell. In addition to sometimes dealing with old shit, and losing old friends, I am still waiting to find a man who is strong enough to walk beside me. This is hard.
But I’d rather walk alone instead of being crippled by fear, anger, resentment and misery because I already had a life filled with those things. I’d rather have the life I have now.
At this point, I struggle to keep my hopes up about men. Part of me thinks that it’s my nature to get my hopes up because I don’t want to be fricken’ Eeyore, but at the same time, it takes a while to get to know someone.
Things should be great in the beginning of a relationship. We should be ourselves, but we should also be putting our best foot forward. I went on one date, it was my second date with a guy who I thought could have boyfriend potential, and he kept farting after dinner. I didn’t count, but I’m guessing he farted more than 50 times. Thank God we were outside.
We should be ourselves, but we shouldn’t get farting comfortable on a second date. Dating has been an adventure. There was one guy who called me from the toilet. I answered the phone and heard some weird noises. He heard my voice saying hello, and realized he butt dialed me from the toilet. It was an accident, and we both later laughed, but after one date, he was a no.
Sometimes, I think I’m being too picky, but then I have to remind myself that honesty and thoughtfulness is not too much to ask for. Those are two things I bring to the table in all my relationships be they romantic or just friends.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I have to offer a man. I’m intelligent, funny, fun, adventurous, thoughtful, honest, ambitious, hardworking, stupidly loyal, and kind, and I ain’t bad looking. These things are not too much to expect in return. May we all take a good inventory of what we bring to the table, and may we remember such good things as the things we offer are not too much to expect in return, and may we not eat foods on a date that make us fart uncontrollably.
I have always felt like the outsider, the watcher, the listener, a dreamer. At times, it has been painful to feel left out and be the girl who did not get asked to the dance, to be a woman with a failed marriage, but I am the one who always chooses her own path, and my greatest joys have come from following my own heart.
I grew up in rural Montana, and it was unheard of for girls like me to move far away from home to attend college. It was unheard of for a girl like me to be a published poet. It was unheard of for girls like me to expect respect and protection. It was unheard of for girls like me to rise up and be heard. But I dared to defy the status quo.
Why? Mostly, because being an outsider gave me a sense that I had nothing to lose, so I might as well do what I want.
I must remember this. I’m venturing into uncharted waters in so many areas of my life by starting my own businesses, becoming a yoga teacher, deciding to make documentaries, and I must remember the most basic and ultimate paradox of my life.
The more I’m willing to be myself, the more I’m willing to fail, the more I’m willing to be unliked & unpopular, the more I actually connect to others. I’ll never fit in unless I’m willing to be myself.
I’m 44. I’m absolutely a late bloomer. I’m still becoming who I’m meant to be. May we all have the guts to be still enough to listen to our own hearts. May be all be brave enough to look foolish. May we all be strong enough to rise up against the voices of self doubt in our own heads. May we be willing to be alone in order to remember that we are never alone.
I’ve heard about the study where rats chose sugar over cocaine. It’s more than likely that I am addicted to sugar. I’ve had times when I stopped eating sugar, and I felt okay after a while and the cravings went away, but once I have one bite of cake, it’s as if something fierce and beastly is awakened inside me.
On Saturday, I went to my favorite coffee shop and ate a macaroon dipped in chocolate. I wish I felt that kind of bliss from yoga. The next day, I contacted a friend and asked we could meet in two weeks at that coffee shop, so I could have another macaroon. In the next two weeks, I might forget about it. Maybe if I win a million dollars or fall in love or something else monumental, I will forget about that macaroon.
This brings up the issue of lying. I’ve dated some guys who lied to my face. Nobody likes being lied to, but the worst is lying to myself. I keep telling myself that I can have fun size candy bar at work occasionally. I tell myself that I exercise almost everyday, and I’m losing weight. I can have a little chocolate once in awhile. Maybe some people can, but I’m becoming increasingly convinced I’m not one of them. Shit.
So, if I’m lying to myself when I eat some sugar by believing it won’t make me want more, then what happens if I get honest with myself about this? Smokers can get a nicotine patch. I wish I had a sugar patch to slap on my arm to wean myself off once again because I’ve fallen off the sugar wagon.
There are no national campaigns to warn and educate people about sugar addiction or help people stop eating refined sugar because lots of companies make big money off getting people addicted to sugar and keeping people addicted to sugar. There are no billboards with warning signs about eating too much sugar or anything really promoting safe amounts to eat. All I can do is focus on this minute, this evening, and not eat any refined white sugar filled with empty promises of helping me feel relaxed. If anybody has any ideas about how to get through intense sugar cravings, let me know.
Recently, I have had the distinct feeling that the stronger I become, and the closer I come to who I really am, the stronger forces of destruction are rising to keep me where I was.
This comes in many forms from people (with smiling faces) who are uncomfortable with my healthier eating habits who say things like “Oh that doesn’t look like enough food. You should eat more.”
Or maybe it’s deciding to only let men into my life who are capable of caring about my feelings and having a few good looking but completely self-absorbed dudes suddenly swim into my territory like sharks who would have no remorse over tearing me apart. The voices of these little devils are not overtly mean; these voices are seductive and welcoming, and they tell me I’m beautiful.
More than any of these outside factors, however, is my own internal resistance to deep down believing that I deserve something good. My own biggest enemy is inside me. For example, when I get up at 5 a.m. to do yoga, and I hear the nasty whisper of some old voice telling me, “Who do you think you are? You doing yoga? You’re tired. Just go back to bed. Yoga and a fit body is for other people. Not you. You can’t really do this.”
My own little mean voice is sometimes like a little breeze that I barely notice, and other times it’s a sick tornado that takes my breath away and destroys my life to shreds, but it never really seems to go away.
I’m not sure how to get rid of this little cockroach of a voice, but I’m starting to think of standing up to it the same way I approach my yoga practice. For instance, there are some poses that I could not do a few months ago which are now part of my practice because I faltered, failed, got frustrated, felt tired, felt humbled, but I persisted even though my muscles shook, and little by little, I learned how to do things like headstands.
It’s easier to realize how other people are trying to derail me than it is to realize and confront the multiple ways I derail myself. I recently thought that destructive forces have increased their efforts to smother me, but someone I trust recently said maybe the destructive voice inside my head that wants me to sleep in and eat tortilla chips and the outside forces of destruction aren’t getting stronger; maybe I’m just becoming more sensitive and aware of what’s been there all along and never previously questioned.
Maybe some people have never really been on my side and felt more comfortable befriending me when I was down or was unquestioningly fulfilling their needs above my own or if I didn’t ask for anything in return like support and kindness. Maybe I was okay with this because I didn’t think I deserved better. I need to think about this. I need to think about a lot of things.
Apparently, I need to keep fucking up, faltering, getting tired, feeling humbled, getting it wrong, and feeling hopeless and trying one more time and one more time until I’m crying and my hands are shaking because this is how I really get stronger.
Every time I recognize one of the many creative ways the sneaky, sinister destructive voice inside my head that wants me to sleep in, eat too much or reach for companionship from someone who isn’t capable of caring about my feelings, I’ve uncovered a hiding place; I’ve shined a light on something that was once hidden.
Even though shining a light on my own various forms of self-destruction isn’t going to make them go away, I’m going to keep discovering whatever I discover, and I’m going to keep getting up, and getting up, and getting up again until one more piece of me gets stronger because I’m worth fighting for.
In 2016, I learned a lot of hard, painful, but beautiful lessons that bring me closer to who I really am. In 2016, I went from being a high school English teacher working in a rural school near the Canadian border (so rural that my cell phone didn’t work there) to being gainfully employed other in meaningful work, to becoming a life coach, and to starting a yoga teacher training program.
Most of the things I did and am in the process of doing have been like a boiling off, a stripping away. I have been letting go of some old crutches, and I have fallen on my ass more than a few times. Hard.
Okay, here are a few examples of me falling on my ass. I gained weight and bought lots of fake cheese in a jar for my tortilla chips. I “danced” with a few toxic selfish men, and told myself I wouldn’t get hurt. I hardly got any writing done. I treated people the way I wanted to be treated, with acceptance, kindness and encouragement, and I felt deeply betrayed when I realized that they are not capable of treating me that way back.
But. After I fell on my ass hard enough to knock the wind out of me, I got back up. I learned that eating well is a process, and after one bad meal to start over, and start over. I decided to let myself feel lonely instead of reaching for easy, but toxic companionship which has been so, so hard. I’m writing something today.
I decided to keep treating people the way I want to be treated. But, I also decided to acknowledge that some people cannot be who I wish them to be. I can voice my expectations/boundaries, and if people say no, then I can say no too, and let them float away.
On a much more positive note, 2016 has been so fucking awesome in ways that I never could have predicted or planned for. I have a weekly Skype call with an amazing friend who has helped and encouraged me in beautiful and profound ways. I’m connected to people around the world who are also seekers on a path to more self-love and acceptance.
I have discovered so much truth and wisdom in yoga that sometimes that I have literally felt like hugging random strangers. I love my yoga training and the wonderful people I have met though this.
I moved home and reconnected to some really great friends who are a blessing to my existence. I had poems published. I started losing weight. I asked for and am receiving help on my own wellness path. I am becoming more of myself.
I am becoming more comfortable with change, and I’m working on letting go of expectations. I’m becoming more open. What will 2017 bring? I have no idea, but I look forward with an open heart to finding out, and when I falter and fall on my ass, I’ll get back up. When I need help, I’ll ask for it. When acts of grace float into my hands, I will open my arms wider and blow kisses to the heavens. Most of all, may I be grateful for everything good and beautiful thing, and may I be grateful for every lesson that brings me closer to who I really am.
Imagine some random act of nature occurs like an earthquake, and the world as you know it is unrecognizable. Libraries where mothers read stories to kids are rubble, and vehicles are turned upside down and smashed like toys.
Somehow, in your everyday clothes, you are in what feels like lawlessness, chaos, and danger, and you wind up in a high school gym with a bunch of strangers. A place where kids played basketball and had school dances is now filled with injured people moaning, crying, and wrapped in homemade bandages because nobody is really trained what to do.
In one corner, you see a guy with a red flannel shirt tied around his eyes, and he cannot see. A woman is missing part of her fingers, and she is hysterical. There is so much noise that you cannot think, and there is a handsome man in a black t-shirt with a dislocated shoulder.
You wonder why you are here. You wonder why this happened to you. The fact is we can never really know why such things happen.
Would you walk up to a guy with bandages on his eyes and cry because he can’t see you? Would you blame yourself because he can’t see you? Would you pick the hysterical lady to share your fears with and expect her to listen quietly and attentively to you because you are speaking and take it personally when she is not capable of calming herself down? Would you go up to the handsome guy with the dislocated shoulder and ask him to hold you? Would you tell yourself that you’re unworthy of being held because dislocated shoulder guy is not strong enough to bear the weight of you in his arms?
How often in our lives do we try to put our weight on injured people? How often do we blame ourselves when those injured people cannot be strong for us? How often do we ask blinded people to see us? There are times when I felt ugly because I was surrounded by people who were, for whatever reason, blinded to the sight of me.
There are hysterical people I listened to patiently for hours, and, somehow, I was hurt and disappointed when those people were unable to calm down and listen to me when I needed someone to listen to me.
I don’t have to analyze or know what caused people’s emotional injuries or why they are unable to bear the weight of my love, or my voice, or my laugh, but I’m finally getting to the place where I realize that other people’s injuries existed before I entered the picture, and their inability to be what I need or want is not personal. Most importantly, I am not responsible for fixing any of it.
Saving people is heroic, and I have worked hard in my personal life and professional life to save others, to take care of others, and to help others, and I have made great sacrifices to do so. Meanwhile, in the back of my mind, I wanted someone to be my hero. I got tired of waiting for someone who never came, so I give myself permission in this chaos filled world to tend to my own wounds. I give myself time to clean up my own rubble and to do the best I can to create a safe place for myself. Most of all, I'm going to work really, really hard not to blame myself for the injuries or weaknesses of others.
I hope my blog inspires you to believe in yourself more and feel less alone in the world. I, for one, am inspired by the imperfections of others who continue to rise up again and again despite life's challenges. May we find ways to inspire and support each other.