life of m

Sustaining the Self and Beyond

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The power of story

When I tore my ACL tendon and dislocated my shoulder in a freak ultimate Frisbee accident on April 1, 2001, I imagined that many activities were simply no longer available to me. I tried to run here and there after corrective knee surgery, but I would experience sharp pains in my knee and dull, aching in my shoulder.

I didn’t let the pain stop me from getting outside and being active. I went on hikes and long walks. I tried a few times to play ultimate but felt unstable in my body and more nervous than I had before the accident.

Before the accident, I didn’t even know I had an ACL tendon. I didn’t realize how easily my body could break. I also didn’t realize the remarkable ability for a body to heal. It was difficult and also empowering to learn to use my right leg again after surgery. It was like learning to walk all over again. The atrophied muscles in my right leg took years to build up to match the stronger, more defined muscles in my left leg. It was not until I moved out to Washington state after graduating from college and hiking as many mountain trails as possible that I began to see the difference (or the lack of difference, in this case).

In injuring my body, a new seed of doubt had been planted, however. I was not invincible. My body was fragile and could easily break.

I hurt my back while studying abroad and another seed was planted.

The summer after college, I worked at the Audubon, leading kids on trails around New England. On the final hike of the season, I twisted my ankle while descending Mount Washington. Even as I type, my ankle is achy.

Another seed.

I began telling a story about my body to people. When invited to play a soft ball, volley ball, or pick up game of ultimate Frisbee, I would respond, “I’m not allowed. I break too easily.

I told this story so often that I came to believe it. It was a story born of fear. I was afraid of injuring myself again, needing surgery, being bed ridden, and having to undergo weeks upon weeks of physical therapy and strength training.

So I stayed away from any kind of activity that might possibility do me in.

Until I found yoga.

I was teaching English in elementary schools in the northwest corner of France and a fellow teaching assistant asked if I might be interested in joining a yoga class with her and a few other teachers.

Yoga, I mused. My only memory of yoga was taking a Bikram class and walking around in a dizzy, dehydrated fog for several days after.

I joined the class. It was Ashtanga with a strong focus on breathing and meditation. And there was the added bonus that it was all in French. Very relaxing. As I moved through the poses from one class to the next, I found that the shoulder I had dislocated began to move more easily. I felt less nervous to move it, too.

Magic?

Perhaps. I might go so far as to say that yoga really is magic, but I think the magic is within those who practice anything for which they hold true passion.

When I returned to the United States, I could not find room in my life or my transient living spaces for yoga. There was too much noise and commotion going on all the time.

Years passed, and I fell back into a rhythm of telling myself that I really was broken.

I threw my back out on multiple occasions when my stress level rose to extreme levels during times of transition and by way of reminding my mind to slow down and reevaluate my life choices and the path I was following.

I think my return to yoga a decade later was because I was looking for it. It was not an accident. I was desperately treading water and wondering how to find healthy ways to deal with the inevitable surprises the universe sent my way.

It was not a completely smooth transition. Yoga intensive studies requires long hours of sitting between asana practice, and this sitting was difficult for my back. My body expressed the stress from my transition into yoga from a part-time job that was not serving my soul through pain.

I was uncomfortable in my body. I was worried that maybe I was too broken even for yoga.

But something happened. I changed my story. I decided that there was no way I was going to let myself be too broken for something that was quickly taking on deep meaning for me.

And as I shifted my story, the pain in my body began to dissipate.

It hasn’t disappeared altogether. My ankle still aches, I get sore from practice and from sitting during weekend trainings.

But every once in a while, I detach just enough from my concentration on an asana to notice how much has changed in my body in just a few short months.

This morning, I was poised in plank pose, which is similar to a push up position above the ground. A push up was something I had long since given up on after my shoulder injury. There was no way my shoulders and arms were strong enough to hold me up.

Yet there I was, holding myself up, strong and confident.

When my teacher invited us to lower with steadiness and control into chataranga toward the floor, I did just that. Only a few months ago, when I first began teaching myself the series of asana for sun salutation, I would simply put my stomach down to the mat in a quick, easy motion. There was no slow and steady.

I was using my body in ways I had told myself I would never experience again in my life.

I guess that old phrase never say never still holds true.

I will do my best to never say never again.

Yoga Anatomy


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Empty to fill. Repeat.

The first question our anatomy teacher at the training this weekend asked us was to think about our favorite part of our body.

I sat there miffed. I really couldn’t think of a part of my body I liked. So many parts of my body cause me pain. Many parts I am told are beautiful, but I seem to see them through a wildly different lens than the rest of the world.

I questioned different parts of my body, and a voice inside of me responded.

Do I like my eyes?

Your eyes have caused me pain and still would if I didn’t wear glasses.

What about my hair?

Seriously, your hair is crazy. Do I need to remind you of the football effect…

Oh yeah. How quickly I forget.

What about my fingers? I looked down to see the raw cuticle edges where I had picked or chewed at them. I saw the still swollen and angry scar on my left pinky where it had been attacked by a plate over a month ago during a routine round of dish washing. I didn’t need a voice to answer that question for me.

People started answering the question. They would share the part of their body they liked, and the teach would ask them what they liked about it.

Shit, I thought. What the hell I am going to say?

I was still wondering when the woman beside me answered.

Marieke? Am I saying it right?

Mar-ick-uh.

Then she said a line about putting the emphasis on the first syllable, one which I have used often in name pronunciation situations.

Crap, I thought. Am I just a walking cliché? I didn’t even have humor to like about my body!

Well, I still had my pirate line.

It’s pronounced, Marrrrrrr-ieke, I responded. Like a pirate. Arrrrrrrr.

She laughed, and I could feel the tension in my body relax. My world made sense again.

Is the voice a part of the body?

It most certainly is.

Then I like my voice.

What do you like about your voice?

Well, it isn’t that I like the way it sounds. I often think it sounds weird when I hear it. I think it is because of what it represents; it is something I have learned to use to express myself and sing with power and confidence, not by myself but thanks to many people who have helped me.

The class carried on. There were questions and answers, slides, explanations using skeleton models, and demonstrations with all of us standing on our mats in different asanas. The time passed more quickly than I had anticipated, and I found myself drawn into a world that I imagined had only belonged to my dad, who was a doctor.

My greatest fascination from ten hours of anatomy was with my diaphragm. A propos, I suppose, considering how important my voice has become for me.

Seriously, though, the diaphragm is amazing. It is the largest muscle in the body surface-wise, and it wraps around the entire lower inner periphery of the rib cage. I love my diaphragm!

When I breathe in, it contracts because I am asking it to work. When it contracts, I have the feeling that it is moving upward because my stomach expands and my chest rises. However, it is actually pushing all of the organs down toward the bladder, which sits below it all, nestled just above the pelvis.

When I exhale, it relaxes and becomes small once again.

It repeats this exercise over and over, without fail, whether I am awake or asleep.

It is a subtle source of great power and one that should not be taken lightly, literally or figuratively.

In yoga, I have heard teachers invite me time and again to ground to rise, push my feet into my mat to bring my arms up to the sky.

I am asked to create a solid foundation to hold me up as I into poses that defy gravity to varying extents.

I have been asked to empty my cup in order to fill it and to think of breathing in as a way of filling my torso with air.

In practicing my assigned yama for the month, Aparigraha (non-attachment), I have been working to empty the clutter in my life (material and metaphorical). I have been peeling back the layers of all that does not serve me and setting them aside, as far aside as I am able. With all of this clearing away of clutter, I am left with space and lightness.

It is in this realm that I am finding myself free to be with my deepest self.

Don’t get me wrong. I am still very much in flux with the culture of consumption. I might give away a bag of belongings and then feel the desire to buy something new. But I am working on shifting this pattern, if even in baby steps.

I have joked in the past that it would be scary for other people to experience what happens in my mind. That I get tired of being around myself and my thoughts all the time.

With less clutter, I find myself more enjoyable to be around. I feel less burdened by being surrounded by stuff. The monkey in my mind is more relaxed and focused. I breath more easily.

I still get worked up periodically, but I find that I have more spaciousness to be witness to what is happening and make choices about what I do and say and how I respond to situations where I previously might have gotten upset as a natural reflex.

I can be more present with my self and the people with whom I cross paths over the course of each day. It is almost like I am intentionally choosing to move in slower motion.

And I like it. To some, it may seem like I am doing very little with my life, like I have taken a voluntary vow to step aside from the pulsing world.

That is not so far from the truth.

I am not doing very much, at least not compared to the 40+ hour work weeks I used to experience and all of the activities I tried to squeeze in on top of that.

At the same time, it is miles away.

I am working very hard, each day, to create new behavior patterns and healthier alignment and fluidity in my body—on and off the mat.

I am working to let go of the wondering what other people think of my choices. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I learn how to create sustainable happiness in my own life so that I may be to guide others along their own paths without losing myself in the process.

Think about your own day, week, and month. Is there tension from life that you are holding onto very tightly? Are you already worrying about the days, weeks, and months to come? Can you feel it in your body? Where in your body are you holding this tension?

Do you feel the weight of all the material things piling up around you?

I invite you to just with it all. Really feel it. You might even talk to it. Ask it how it is serving you. Why does it stick around with such unyielding loyalty?

The answers you find may be ones that have been lingering just below the surface, itching to get out. Or you may feel like there are no answers but to carry on the tension treadmill.

Either way, you will learn something about yourself. And is that not worthwhile in and of itself?

To me, it is the path to the self and also the path to learning to create happiness in life.

But I will leave it to you to decide for your own self.

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Find your yoga

 On my way home from yoga training, I started thinking more about the class I am in the midst of preparing to teach. I have three weeks. I wondered if I should allow myself to start panicking? It would not be very yogi of me to panic. Or would it be completely yogi of me to panic?

According to the teachings from today’s anatomy training, the greatest purpose of yoga is to wake up to the essential nature of you.

Is my essential nature to freak out about things? Or is this more of a learned habit? My vote is for the latter, though learning about anatomy could certainly send me into a spiral of doubt and concern for the health and well-being of my own body and those of the people I may someday hope to teach.

So I shifted my perspective and thought about preparing and teaching the class as an opportunity to learn and be supported by my teachers and the people who attend the class.

I could think about the money I have spent on yoga and worry about having spent so much. Or I could think about it as the ultimate gift to myself. What better gift than one that gives me complete permission to delve through the many layers of external expectations and teachings to get to the heart of who I am and what I desire for a yogic existence.

Every Saturday morning, we travel together—my fellow yoginis and me—to Skull Valley to learn about Ayurvedic yoga.

Ayurvedic yoga is the practice of bringing balance to our shifting pranic selves.

This morning, our teacher suggested that the healthiest way of being a yogi is one where we are honest about who we are and where we are in our practice. There is no need to rush to the finish line, and skipping steps will catch up with us eventually and influence the kind of karma we spread around.

So it’s ok to be attached to things? One of us asked.

Of course it is, she said reassuringly.

I thought about this. I remembered how each time I put a bunch of things to give away into a bag, there seems to always be one or two items that I take out of the bag just before giving it away. I don’t know why. It just brings me some comfort to know those items will not be lost to me forever.

I may give them away the next time, or I might not.

Either way, it’s ok.

I am ok.

I don’t need to be anything that I am not. I only need to be honest first and foremost to myself and then, as I am ready, to the rest of the world.

I thought about all of this and reflected on the kinds of asanas I had been envisioning teaching in order to lengthen the spine and open the heart. I tried to remember what I hoped to accomplish in terms of non-attachment through these poses.

And an epiphany-like thought came to me. Without a firm foundation, all of that lengthening can lifting could be detrimental. I don’t want my students to float up and away.

And how was I to know where each student was in their own process of letting go and detaching from whatever they were holding on to so tightly?

It could be an unhealthy relationship or a sweater they with which they were not yet ready to part.

Having no way to really interview each person who was to walk through the door or to send out a pre-survey questionnaire, I realized that I needed to think about the most important first step to letting go.

For me, it has been becoming aware of the desire to move through this process and then creating a solid foundation of strength and faith in myself that I really can let go. I needed to be given permission and to give myself permission to go to that place of letting go of one aspect of myself in roder to discover and create another aspect.

So, just as we empty our diaphragm to make room for new breath to come in, I think it is important to learn to be solid in ourselves before expanding outward.

How does this translate to a yoga class? I harken back to an earlier post that I wrote after my first weekend of training: Tadasana, foundation, foundation, foundation.

It begins with being able to stand on my two feet with confidence and strength. From there, I can invite poses that build from a solid center and core. Tree pose. Chair. Warrior 1 and 2.

Without a solid foundation for these poses, it is easy to lose your balance.

Should some people in the class be reticent to expand outward too much from their center, they can create a solid foundation in these poses. Others who may be further along their own path of non-attachment can modify the poses to branch out with arms, legs, spine, head, or heart.

There is no race. We are each on our own path, however parallel it may seem to another person’s.

And what I learned today is that We use yoga to figure out what is actually going on, not just the stories we create from the misinformation and misinterpretation our senses and emotion bring in.

Repetition equals learning

The more you repeat something, the better you get at it

Habit extends to movement, breathe, alignment

The more I practice standing on my own two feet, the better I get at it.

The more I practice letting go and detaching from judgment, material possessions, plans, and expectations, the more readily I can practice patience and acceptance.

For my class design, I might have an idea of what I would like to create for a person in attendance. However, I also need to accept that people will respond through the filter of their own past experiences and what they have been grappling with and may bring to their mat.

What I would like to do is to help people “put everything else on the shelf,” as my teacher suggests to us at the beginning of our weekends together. This does not mean to forget everything in your life that may be troubling you. It simply means to de-clutter your mind so you can be present and focused.

This afternoon, our teach told us, The purpose of yoga is to wake up; to wake up to the essential nature of you.

And she extended an invitation that I now extend to you: Find your yoga.

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Lifting my heart

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My recent return to yoga after a decade away was inspired in part by a dear friend of mine. She told me that her yoga practice has changed her life after taking have a teacher training in Rishikesh, India. I read her reflections on yoga and began to understand that it was much more than the physical practice. It was all encompassing.

I like holistic approaches to life. I look for ways to create balance.

And I have been searching for a way to heal the trauma in my body, both physical and emotional. I want a healthy way to create a spiritual defense that moves in harmony with the surprises that come my way from the universe each day.

I have no desire to wage war or battle against anyone, particularly my own self. When I go to bed angry or upset, I wake up feeling even worse.

A week or so ago, my yoga teacher sent an email reminding everyone in my class to come to the studio or to be practicing at home at least three times a week. I instantly worried that she thought I was shirking on my commitment, and then I realized that the only person I should truly worry about was myself. If I was not practicing, I was not honoring the commitment I made to my own self and the desire to be whole and well.

Despite the fact that I am working for no financial compensation at present, I purchased a month pass and have been practicing at the studio for the past two weeks, learning from incredibly beautiful and patient yogi teachers.

I have taken copious notes and started to imagine the kinds of asanas I would like to include in the class I will be teaching in July. My class will focus on Aparigraha, non-attachment. When I think about holding onto something tightly, I imagine a body hunched over. To create a way to release this firm grasp, I envision creating a flow of poses that will help to lengthen the spine and open the heart.

It takes time to build the confidence and readiness for non-attachment. I would like to design a particular flow of asanas that start with gentle encouragement and build to create a place of spaciousness where people feel safe letting go.

For many years and especially the past several weeks, I have been practicing one of Patanjali’s ethical rules for “right living:” Aparigraha. Aparigraha is a sanksrit term for the concept of non-attachment.

Aparigraha comes at a tumultuous time of transition for me. Sometimes, I wonder if I will ever be free from transition. Even a temporary respite would be nice. I have been moving through an unexpected shift in the vision I had for my professional career.

There were many reasons I chose yoga, but I think the most important was to create the balance I mentioned above. And this balance comes with building a solid foundation from which I can stand steadily on my own two feet.

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I can create the safe space for letting go and lifting my heart to the sky when I feel supported from below. This support comes from the people around the globe who believe in me and send love and words of encouragement and faith that I will succeed.

It is now my turn to trust in my foundation and stand tall.

Foundation

Sources cited:

Aparigraha

Yamas

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If you can’t beat ’em, break plates

Let me begin by saying that my hero is an 18-year-old woman. I wonder what kind of person I would be today if I were anywhere near as self-aware at the tender age of 18.

Let me continue by saying that while I have been practicing patience and acceptance and breathing through anger, sending positive energy to people with whom I have not seen eye to eye, sometimes I just need to feel the anger and let it out in order to fully let go and move on.

This afternoon, this is exactly what I did thanks to guidance my hero.

I couldn’t sleep last night after several frustrated and failed attempts to resolve a dispute I had made for a charge on my Bank of America card. This dispute had originally been found in my favor, months ago. Suddenly, I received a letter asking for more information to support my claim. The same day I received the letter was the day the information was due. Call me crazy, but this did not seem reasonable.

I then received a notice that I was now required to pay the fee and if I didn’t I would also be charged additional interest.

After waiting on hold, being transferred several times without success, and disconnected, I spoke with five different customer “service” representatives before speaking with Julian, manager of billing for the entire nation of Bank of America (at least, he told me there was no one else in all the company that I could speak with).

Julian was direct, unyielding, and did not seem to possess the ability to listen or make a choice that would advocate for a long-time customer.

I was so frustrated by the time I got off the phone that I walked into the house and started screaming expletives toward Bank of America and Julian.

It was then that my hero came to my aid.

I just want to scream and break things, I told her.

Well, I think it’s time to break some plates, she said.

Really? We can do that?

We took out six plates, and I used a large, black, permanent marker to write the name of each of the people (all stereotypical men) who had ripped me off financially or caused me emotional harm in the past several years.

On the final plate, I wrote the words: prayer to Shiva the destroyer and drew several squiggle lines around the edge. All plates were stacked and placed into a small backpack.

We then put on shoes, attached a leash to the dog, walked across a creek (carrying the dog, who was afraid of the water), and out to a rocky outcropping.

Go for it, my hero said.

Oh shiva, I apologize for feeling so angry. Rather than sending out negative energy into the universe, we are going to break some plates.

And to the plates, I whispered the words, I’m sorry plates. Thank you for your sacrifice.

And we there the plates. The first throw was not very successful, but we found that if we threw them like a Frisbee, they broke into many small pieces and made very satisfying breaking sounds.

We walked down to throw the larger pieces that remained and then ran back up to the top of the rocks.

We screamed, high fived with both hands several times, and screamed some more.

Then we returned across the river, washing away all the negative energy, and emerged radiant on the other side.

Hallelujah, we called out.

After we had both taken cold showers, my hero brought a burning bundle of sage and waved it over me.

You’re ok, she said. You’re done.

And even though I could feel some residual shaking inside of me, I really was done. I was and I am ok.

And now, I can rest a little easier. I couldn’t beat them. And I know that there really are no victors in this kind of battle anyway. I only hope that they realize someday that they are causing harm to people and find the strength to create a new path.

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Creating calm within

I spent most of the day yesterday with seriously ruffled feathers. I worked through much of the tumultuous energy by writing for several hours in the afternoon and taking my dog for a walk through the somewhat less broiling afternoon heat of north central Arizona.

It was not until the evening’s activity, which may better be described as inactivity, that I was able to finally find calm within my being.

Where did I find this calm? And how?

Well, I’ll tell you.

I went to a small, somewhat stuffy room in the basement of a church at 216 East Gurley Street.

I parked on Gurley just in front of the church. The front doors were large and looked very locked. There was no activity that I could see to point to the meditation circle I was attempting to join.

I looked at the photos on my phone that I had taken of the 8 ½ by 11” flyer on the wall at the yoga studio. The directions pointed me around the back of the building.

I walked down the sidewalk and saw a young man with a Rottweiler with no collar on. I had seen him earlier in the day after noticing first his dog and wondering if it was a stray. I had decided against this possibility because it seemed far too fit and healthy. It was after this deduction that I noticed the owner. I had seen him at the Garchen Institute several weeks earlier. I wondered if he was living out of his truck. It had the look of being lived in.

I doubted he recognized me as I walked by. I smiled at the two women setting up sandwich board signs for the evening’s circle.

I walked in and found myself in a hallway. I walked past the room first and then looked down to see a sign directing me back to it. (Note: I have never been one to follow directions very well. Ask my mom. She will tell you all about it.)

Outside the room was a long bench. Over the course of the time I was there, more and more sandals and worn out sneakers appeared in a long, tidy row beneath the bench. I watched this progression each time I went to use the restroom, which I did often thanks to my thimble bladder.

I looked into the room before walking in. there were rows of chairs, each with a pillow on top, a couch in the back, and a round table with a fan on top to the far right. The introvert in me wanted to sit somewhere where there would be an easy, less noticeable escape should I need one.

I eased my way into the room and walked to the back. I saw a small rocking chair and moved it away from the other chairs nearby and toward the table, where I placed my bag and bottle of water. I could create my own safe nook in this space. Maybe, I could be invisible altogether.

An older woman turned her attention toward me.

I’m sorry. I don’t remember your name she said in a soft voice.

I think it’s because we have not met before. This is my first time here.

She laughed. Well, that makes sense to me.

I’m marieke. I extended my hand out to her, and she took it gently in her own and introduced herself.

I’m in the yoga intensive at Cheryl’s.

Ah, don’t you get a point for being here?

I suppose I do.

Are you going to become a yoga teacher, one of the women who had been setting up sandwich boards at the entrance asked me.

Maybe. I’m not sure yet.

I turned my attention back to my safe corner space.

Did I want to sit on the floor on the meditation cushion I brought? I wasn’t sure.

I tried sitting on the cushion on the rocking chair and found it quite comfortable if I scooted my butt all the way back.

My small sanctuary set up, I headed out of the room to find the restroom. This is generally the first reconnaissance mission I take when visiting a new space, and I figured I might as well empty the thimble prior to sitting in silence for 30 minutes.

We sat in silence.

I shifted in my chair. My back started to hurt. I moved to the floor, replacing the black meditation cushion on a small, rectangular pad with my own. I wondered how many bare feet had walked on the floor and touched the pad.

Stop being so weird about germs, I told myself.

I sat down. I sat for a while. Then, I got up and sat back in the rocking chair, this time without the cushion.

I took out my journal and started writing:

There seems to be no judgment here. I like that. After a month of feeling judgment for the way I am. I need and want to be in a space of acceptance.

I do not judge others but simply notice their behaviors feeling the need to comment or criticize.

Other people’s choices might make me feel sad or disappointed, but I do not have to be thrust into the depths of despair over it.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

I notice my breath.

My chest rises and falls.

My stomach fills and subsides.

I am alive. In the end, that is all that matters.

I want to live a peaceful, joyful life.

I want to reduce tangible and metaphorical clutter.

Before walking into the church, I had turned back to look at my car. It was as if I was leaving behind my only chance of escape. Once inside and sitting, I forgot all about it.

I remembered toward the end of the first 30 minute sit, but I remembered that I had told myself that I would stay through the guided meditation that was to happen right after.

So I stayed. More people came in with cushions and pillows and settled in to different places.

And the guided meditation was worth the sit, however uncomfortable.

I listened to the words of our guide, leading me into a quiet place and then bringing me back to the moment, time and again.

She reminded us that our minds are meant to wander. Each time we notice our thoughts digressing, we could say, Hooray, I’m awake again.

She told us, we journey home over and over and again. We don’t need to judge our mind wanderings. We just need to return home.

And with six minutes left to the meditation (yes, I checked the time on my phone), she invited us to think about the people in our lives and in the world who may be in pain and to send them kindness and love.

Have you hurt someone or has someone caused you harm?

Is there anyone in your life who you love but with whom you have recently not been seeing eye to eye?

She asked us questions and let us ponder, eyes closed.

Then, she suggested peace offerings.

Forgive yourself, mistakes happen. Send love to the people in your lives.

Then, we sent that energy out into the universe.

Not too bad for an hour and forty minutes.

I walked outside into a cooler climate than I had left when I walked away from my car and into the basement of the church.

The sun was setting, and pink, blue, and purple filled the clouds and the space between them in the sky.

It had taken all day, but I finally felt calmness within. And I had created that calm.

The Hague


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Shedding light onto the dark

Without darkness, there would be no light. With only light, no darkness.

Sometimes, I can appreciate the light more when it shines into a dark place.

At this morning’s yoga practice, our teacher told us the word Guru breaks down into light and dark.

Gu means dark.

Ru means light.

She told us there was an inner healer in each of us and that we could each find the light within.

“Transformation doesn’t happen alone,” she said. “It can but it is harder and less fun that way.”

I was in a tumultuous place when I heard these words.

I had shared a truth earlier in the morning that has been brimming at the surface and over the side of my cup for over a week now.

The truth for me is that whatever path I follow, I must honor my desire to live a sustainable life. This requires redefining success and sustainability for each new venture. Otherwise, I will know in my heart of hearts that I am living counter to what has taken me so much time and effort to learn about my own self: I cannot make the world a more sustainable place while sacrificing my own health and happiness.

I spoke this truth, but I am not sure how it was interpreted from the other end of the phone.

In response to my truth, I heard one that did not sit well with my own. I was told that I would not succeed without working collaboratively with another person.

What I heard was “you will not succeed if you follow my own path.”

How can I be shedding such beautiful, soft light onto the darkness that has been building for the past month, only to have it darkened so readily?

How can our two truths feel equally just and yet be so starkly contrasting?

What I do know is that the counter truth through my entire being into a tumult that I have only managed to calm through writing and reflection. This for me is evidence that while our truths may be different, mine works for me. I need the spaciousness in my life to feel things fully and to process them in my now way.

And yet I latched onto the one person who did not believe I could succeed on my way, when dozens of others have told me I am brave and strong and capable.

Why is that?

A friend sent me a wise answer: “I think when you are attempting something challenging that you haven’t done before, it’s easier to hear all sorts of reasons why it’s not possible. You can see the difficulties more easily than the success, yourself. You’re in the midst of the hardest part. Once you’ve done the thing, those voices more easily fade into the background.”

It’s easier to see the future from a place of fear, but I think I am going to try something new. I am going to continue the process of replacing fear and anger with acceptance.

I am going to keep breathing.

And I am going to believe in my self.

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