Posts Tagged ‘insights’

Disappointment, acceptance, begin again.

Last Tuesday morning, I was ready:  ready to write a blog entry about May Day, ready to begin teaching a new Nia class the next day.

And then the sharp, shooting pain started, enough that at one point I curled up in a fetal position on the floor. After hours in urgent care, the verdict was kidney stones, which I’d never had before in my life. If I have any say in the matter, I’d greatly prefer not to experience that kind of pain ever again.

That blog post still sits in my drafts folder, but is now outdated, irrelevant.

I had to call that next morning to say I couldn’t teach that Nia class that day, and hoped to start the next week (today). But largely due to past disappointments about someone else not making it to teach numerous times, people ended up losing interest. They weren’t willing to go again. The studio owner called me today to cancel the classes. Completely out of my control, all of it.

Having the kidney stones knocked me down for several days; the pain gradually receded to a dull soreness and exhaustion. Each day, I’ve gotten a little more energy. Now, I don’t feel quite 100% yet, but I’m getting closer.

Part of me thinks: this is a lesson in acceptance. Sometimes things happen and other things happen as a result. I did not hold control or blame in having kidney stones or losing the class. I also cannot pretend that it would have been helpful in any way to try to teach a first Nia class somewhere while that depleted and in pain.

I used to hate when my ex would say, “It is what it is,” but that’s true sometimes (Granted, I used to think that she said it in a way that really meant, “Life sucks, so just suck it up and deal with it.” I don’t mean it like that). Sometimes things happen, and they can be unfortunate and disappointing and invoke all kinds of emotional responses.

Earlier, I had a moment where I wanted to say to the people who wouldn’t try going to another Nia class to give me a chance. But I don’t know them. They don’t know me. My health issues aren’t personal to them. They don’t know that I would only miss teaching a class if I absolutely had to; they do know of the others who weren’t there to teach and disappointed them.

I can reason and rationalize and say that it was a huge unknown anyway, that it was a risk, that I didn’t know how it would go. And that’s true. But meant to be or not meant to be, that class isn’t happening anymore due to circumstances beyond my control. And maybe there is a better opportunity. Perhaps there will be another opportunity. For the moment, maybe not. In the meantime, I’m still teaching my one class per week, learning more routines, and continuing to practice Nia in my living room.

And I can allow myself to be disappointed, to let unfulfilled anticipation slowly ebb away in its own natural time. It’s a new beginning, a new activity that did not come to fruition. I need to step back for a moment before planting new seeds.

Whatever else is true, I have to have a kernel of faith here that my next ongoing class, wherever I teach it, will work out. Faith and hope are crucial for trying again. So maybe at some point,  I’ll reach out to another place, and see how it goes from there. Even in the midst of disappointment, other potential new beginnings are out there.

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Practicing mindful existing.

Watching from the second-floor window of the doctor’s office where I waited for my doctor to come in and see me on Thursday, I noticed a cat wandering around the grounds below. I first saw the cat by the bushes, where it unsuccessfully stalked a group of pigeons. It then walked closer to the entrance of the medical center, where other people noticed it and tried to coax it to come to them (being a true cat, it didn’t).

The sky was a bright blue that began to fade as the afternoon went on. I looked at the details on the nearest palm tree, the patterns on its tall trunk.

I also noticed details inside the room as well, such as the new technology of a tablet-like device on the wall that flashed images and different offerings: from an anatomy library to contact information about support groups. I didn’t go up to it to investigate further, but it still caught my attention every so often.

Sitting on the exam table, I practiced several of the Nia moves with hands and fingers: finger flicks, creepy crawlers, finger extensions.

By knowing roughly the time I got in there and the time I left, I could estimate how long I was in there. But during the time I was waiting, I didn’t look at my phone. I didn’t know what time it was or how long it had been.

In the past, I might have allowed myself to space out while waiting in a doctor’s office. I would drift off, allowing my thoughts to wander from this to that. Ultimately, I would detach from my own experience. That no longer feels like an appealing option, especially since it can mean that I might feel out of my body during the actual appointment, which doesn’t improve the overall experience or how I feel afterwards.

During my time in that office, I was practicing mindful observing and existing. I could have grabbed my phone or my iPad from my purse and given myself something else to do, but I didn’t. It wasn’t about impatiently waiting for the doctor or thinking about what I would do once I got home. I gave myself quality quiet time just to exist.

It’s often hard for me to carve out time like this, as there are often things to do at home, and I often go places with the specific intention to actively do something. But perhaps I can find more opportunities like this and create the space to just be.

A resolution towards more gentle self-talk.

Last week, I accidentally hit a button on my phone that somehow ended up with Instagram recording me live in a tired and vulnerable moment without my knowledge.  I had just gotten home after a busy day without a full night’s sleep the night before, I was muttering to myself, and I was having somewhat of a sensory meltdown. I turned to my phone and realized it was recording live video…and that there were at least two people watching, one of whom was an acquaintance who I’d seen that day.

I alarmed her, and she did message me and then called me out of concern. She had good intentions and meant well. I hope I reassured her enough. I had to remind myself that I don’t owe anyone long explanations on why or when or how. It was enough to tell her that I was really tired, that I was safe, and that my husband would be home soon.

Aside from feeling embarrassed and self-conscious that I could so easily accidentally record my own actions while I was alone and completely unfiltered, I’ve also had the thought: I need to speak more kindly to myself, even when I’m alone, even if there’s no one around to hear it. And that’s not because I might accidentally hit that record button again, but because it’s better for me. It is less distressing overall and keeps me in a more open and less reactive emotional state. Speaking gently to myself helps me receive myself with more love – even when, and perhaps especially when, my energy is low.

While I don’t really remember the exact words I might have said in this instance, I do know that I do sometimes say things to myself at home that could be distressing to someone on the outside. Sometimes that’s out of habit, coming out of a past where I did mean those things in a more harmful way. Sometimes I say something and what it really means is, “It’s hard to function right now. I need to rest.”

But no matter what the reason, there’s other ways to comfort myself and meet my own needs. It’s also an importance practice to say what I mean. It’s a lot more affirming to say “I need rest and quiet right now,” rather than “I don’t want to deal with people anymore, ever.” The “ever” adds a sense of extreme finality; I may not want or need to interact with people in that moment, but the “ever” part is not actually true.

So, here’s to not accidentally hitting that record button again. I also resolve to work on speaking gently and truthfully to myself, whether I say the words out loud or not.

From 34 to 35

It’s about 9:30 p.m. on the eve of my 35th birthday. And so I write to 34 before I turn 35.

34

sometimes, I felt in between
settling in,
living a full year
in my new home.

some hesitation
what’s right and when and how

and also: finished a course. started a new business.
got clients. making money,
working from home on my own terms.

contributing more to our household
cherishing the love we have that grows stronger and
stronger each day.

it’s still hard to give myself credit
for all I have done
all I am doing
it’s a work in progress —
I am

giving myself more:
sunlight
dancing
walks
time to be

thank you, 34,
and all you have brought me and
taught me.

35, right in the middle of the 30s,
maybe not significant in some big way
an age demographic shift in surveys
where the choices are 25-34 or 35-44

maybe time is running thinner on some things
but it’s expanding in others

welcome, 35, whatever you bring
whatever I bring into being this year
as the day turns,
I shed this age and take on
another.

A moody week.

I had a moody week this past week. It was the kind of mood, heavily influenced by hormones, that creeps up on me every once in a while and makes me grateful that it isn’t always like this.

But in the midst of it, it felt downright depressive and it was hard to see much light in anything. And it was hard to do much of anything, aside from what was absolutely necessary.

To give myself credit, I probably did more than that. But there’s something frustrating about starting a week with a “this is the week I’m going to get organized and do the things I need to do” and then realizing halfway through that I’d have to narrow it way down.

I sat with the mood sometimes: it felt heavy and slow and sucked the meaning out of activities. I distracted myself from it at other times. I cried at the drop of a hat at moments and knew that it always didn’t make sense and it didn’t have to.

Sometimes I judged myself for it, and had thoughts that I should know what I want and I should be clear on what all my next steps are. Despite these moments of “shoulding” myself,  I also knew that it wasn’t a practical time to make decisions other than what to make for meals or what to do next in that particular day.

I have moments where I see moods like this as something to be wrestled with, to get through, to overcome. Perhaps if I add something to my day, a formula of getting enough sunlight + Nia + good food + whatever else, that it will lift, voila. While self-care and doing these activities help, there’s not a fail-safe guarantee that I’m going to feel better and stay feeling that way.

I used my DBT skills and checked the facts of what was really going on. This doesn’t always make feeling and being easier, but it does allow me to see my vulnerabilities. It takes me a few more steps closer towards accepting the mood rather than fighting it.

Now, the mood continues to lift. There’s more grays in it, more rays of sunlight, more hope and desire. I still feel somewhat exposed and cautious. I feel the fear that this mood will continue and become something more. If it does, I’ll take steps to take care of myself. Last week felt deflating; this week may feel different.

Now, I breathe in. I look at the first thing on my to-do list. And I begin my day.

From imagining others’ lives to finding my own.

I tend to write more than I post, so I’m working on finishing what’s in my drafts folder from the past few months.

Around five years ago, I used to work at a place on the San Diego harbor. There was a period of time where I didn’t drive, so I would take the bus to work. The bus would wind its way from where I caught it in Golden Hill, through the streets of downtown San Diego, and drop me off about two blocks away from the harbor. I would walk the rest.

This thought pattern may have lasted days, weeks, or months. But I would often look at someone during that walk and imagine what their life was like, and if I would be happier having a life like theirs. I would wonder if that woman was happy as she went to her 9-to-5 job; maybe it was one she had worked hard to get, a dream job. Maybe that man in a suit was smiling because he was looking at pictures of his children on his phone. At the time, I was working at job that wasn’t a good fit for me. My passion simply wasn’t there, and some of my values clashed with their mission. I kept telling myself that it was a temporary job, but temporary ended up lasting two years. I had a life that I invested a lot of my passion into after work, but that gradually lost its luster as well.

I think I was longing for something else, something more to fill my days, and I sometimes translated that into thinking that I wanted to be someone else. Maybe I would like someone else’s life better, maybe they were living their passion, maybe they felt more comfortable in their own skin.

…Or maybe they were miserable at that moment as well. I have no way of knowing.

It definitely is food for thought though, of how I would imagine these lives that were not mine and focus away from my own. How some of my personal growth work around that time ended up being on-point, but some of it ended up being me try to mold myself to be a certain type of person. I sometimes unconsciously went away from myself while doing work to try to find myself.

And maybe this is all part of the stumbling blocks of self-discovery. Perhaps I needed to learn who I was not in order to learn who I am. After all, I can’t be true to myself if I don’t know who that is — or isn’t. However, I also recognize that there may have been an element of disconnection/dissociation from my own experience as I looked outside of myself and imagined the contents and emotions of other people’s lives.

There’s definitely a difference between striving to be the best version of myself versus the person I think I ought to be. I’m currently doing much better on former, although I still struggle with “shoulds” sometimes or wish that I didn’t have sensory processing challenges, etc. In my current personal growth journey, I strive to focus on my own strengths and challenges.

These days, while I may sometimes be curious about those around me, I’m not longing for someone else’s life. I’m grateful for the the life I am currently living, with its ups and downs, struggles and wins — my own life.

 

Not a stranger to myself — responding to a note from someone I used to know.

Don’t be a stranger, she writes.

I find myself thinking
how can I be anything but?
I was somewhat of a stranger to myself when I knew her,
in the midst of a getting-to-know-self dance. Getting closer, but always a
few steps behind.

Now I generally keep up but my
self keeps me on my toes.

On a person-to-person basis,
Not being a stranger implies visits,
intimate and casual conversations
some form of connection
we may or may not have.

It’s always a risk,
but to you, stranger/acquaintance/community sister,
it could be like facing a flame of my past, my past beliefs
or like facing the awkward silences of the I-used-to-know-yous,
and who are you now?

She writes that she hopes to see me soon.

I’m not sure what to say to that.

I am thinking of the dream, a few nights back, of people from that community yelling at me, of the nagging feeling that stayed with me most of the day.  I am thinking of well-meant phrases that came across as antagonistic that day with her in the garden. I am also thinking that this matters, but less and less.

I am thinking of the feeling of wholeness and happiness that lingers with me longer as time goes by. Of standing with myself, of being in partnership, of doing art, of finding ways to sustain my livelihood.

I am thinking of dancing.

Don’t be a stranger, she writes.

Maybe that time — time for not-stranger-ness —  has passed. Perhaps it has not. I feel distant from that-which-was. I am not sure of what will be.

I put the letter down. At face value, the mailing is a year-end letter from a nonprofit organization asking for money. Her note is scrawled across the top, turning the letter into a more personal appeal.

letter fragment

It does appeal to the part of me that wanted — and wants to be part of something. But I remind myself that I am part of something, of some things: my own life, my marriage, my friendships, my Nia communities, large and small.

And I think of what it means to belong, not merely fit in. And how at some points in my life, I felt like I belonged and fit in, but often confused the two. While I’m still at odds with myself sometimes, in feeling “not enough,” I feel more like I belong. I belong, most of all, to myself. I’m not sure I want to fit in, at least not in the way I once did.

I don’t know how much thought she put into writing this short note. Clearly, I have put some thought into how I am reacting and responding to it.