Posts Tagged ‘introspection’

2018 highlights

I don’t write here as much anymore, and not as much as I’d like to. Life has been busy.

Perhaps more on that later.

But now, I am reflecting on this past year. 2018 has generally been a good year for me.

Here are some highlights:

  • In March, I visited my mom in Bellingham, Washington, and we also spent time in Langley on Whidbey Island. We spent our time walking around on the beach and through the town. We spent a fair bit of time browsing local shops. We also sorted through her photo albums for the photos we’d like to keep in the long-term, so we revisited a lot of memories together.
  • In June, we bought our first home, a beautiful condo in a quiet neighborhood. I sometimes forget it’s in the middle of the city. We are continuing to make it more homey. I’ve been feeling much more settled here since we moved into our new place.
  • In August, I took the Nia Blue Belt training in Portland, Oregon. There’s something about Nia trainings and events that resonates with me deeply and makes me feel more at home in community with others and within myself. Blue Belt is all about relationships, communication, and intimacy. I’ve noticed the most difference in my relationship to myself: I’ve been more kind towards myself since taking the training. I also feel more connected to my learning process and practice of Nia.
  • In October, my husband and I celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary. Our relationship continues to grow and deepen and we enjoy being our quirky and silly selves around each other. đŸ™‚
  • In December, we took our fourth annual holiday trip to the Sedona area in Arizona. It’s become a sweet tradition of us meeting my father in the relative midpoint between Las Vegas and Albuquerque and spending time hiking, dining, and enjoying each other’s company. Also, it’s a breathtakingly gorgeous place.
  • Several trips to my hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Having quality time with my father, Nia friends, and family friends. Enjoying being in the high desert. Feeling the sense of home that lingers with me even as I feel more at home where I currently live.
  • I completed two college courses (Spring and Fall Semester 2018): one English and one math. They are prerequisites for a program I’m considering applying to in the future. Taking classes reminds me of how much I love learning.
  • It was my first full year of proofreading legal transcripts! It’s become a good source of supplemental income, and I have a few regular clients. I also enjoy it.
  • First full year of consistently teaching a Nia class! I also started teaching private Moving to Heal sessions. In December, I taught a one-time class at a studio in Boulder City in December and got to experience teaching a group of people who were completely new to Nia.
  • Various explorations of local places: the mountains, Red Rock Canyon, Fashion Show Mall, Caesar’s Palace (I prefer exploring out in nature on a hike, but the sights and sounds of the Strip are interesting in their own way too).

Thank you, 2018, for the blessings you have brought me and the lessons you have taught me.

Now, on to the next…

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Perspectives on being a beginner

I wrote this a few weeks ago. It’s still relevant to my process, and a great reminder.

My Tai Chi and Aikido instructor said this to one of my classmates recently (paraphrased): “I’m kind of envious of the beginner space you’re in. I love being new at something. When I realized, at age 50, that I was basically good at everything I had been striving for, I decided to learn an instrument. I chose bagpipes. After four years, I still suck at it. And I still love it.”

Perhaps there is – or can be – a certain joy in beginning, in being new at something. Yes, it’s raw and vulnerable and full of mistakes. It’s also, for someone who loves learning, a chance to gain new knowledge, experiment, do something in a new way. My instructor practically beams when someone asks him about an inconsistency in his own form; it becomes a learning moment for him and also helps him be a better teacher.

As a recovering perfectionist, there is still part of me that wants to “get it right” in my recent pursuits, from Nia to Tai Chi and Aikido to proofreading legal transcripts. But perhaps the way to get there is through not getting it right, through stumbling, correcting, modifying. Maybe someday my form and movements will be more precise and closer to the original. But the only way to get there is to be new, to practice, to feel how repetition makes my muscles remember. To throw out concepts of good or bad, and learn so I can improve. And most of all, to enjoy how it feels when I begin to feel more at ease, and take that into my practice.

What’s my story? It’s mine.

 Owning our story

Picture of card with text:  “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” Dr. BrenĂ© Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection.

For quite a while, when I saw a quote about owning my story, I would cringe. While I knew that BrenĂ© Brown and others meant well by this concept and phrase, it would remind me of a time when people asked me, “What can you own in this situation?” or “What’s your story?” (and story as in “what is the story you’re telling yourself about this situation?”)

I realize now that in some ways, these questions and statements from others may have been more about their perspective and their narrative of me, as in “I think you’re not taking ownership” or “I don’t think that’s what really happening,” etc. It wasn’t my narrative, it wasn’t my story.

We are makers of meaning, and sometimes the stories we tell ourselves about a situation or others are narratives based on something else entirely – belief, a past event, a judgment, etc. These kind of stories are informative in their own way. For me, I think the question, “Why do you think that?” provokes more thought, more discussion than a “what’s your story?” I remember reading BrenĂ© Brown’s Rising Strong, and she has a chapter where she gets angry at her husband, and realizes that it relates to a dream she had the previous night. She tells her husband, “the story I’m telling myself is…” And in doing so, she opens up, she opens up another level of honesty, part of how she thinks and how it causes her to react. And I recognize that she is the one claiming this, just as much as she claims her vulnerability and her truth in other circumstances that may appear more tangible.

Going back to the time about 3 years ago, when someone asked me the question, “What’s your story?” I felt volatile, vulnerable. I wanted support; I often got invalidating comments back. I was headed towards rock bottom, and it wasn’t a helpful question for me. It wasn’t a “where are you, how are you feeling, what’s happening for you when you say that?” I often grabbed onto sense and it feel through my fingers; communication was challenging, figuring out where I was and where I stood and how to make a coherent decision felt next to impossible. If my self had a narrative it had been wrapped around a goal, and now that I know longer wanted that, I felt like I was unraveling, as though I didn’t have a story.

My narrative of myself then was different: I felt like I had a number of successes, a number of times where I would rise to the occasion, and then I would crash: my energy, self-esteem, sense of self. I often blamed myself. I didn’t fully know what was going on, but every time I fell I got up again and tried harder. Several years ago, I wrote a lot about my personal growth; when I read it now, it doesn’t ring true to me. Nevertheless, I believed that narrative, and there are pieces of it that certainly held value for me.

When sensory processing disorder became part of my narrative, my perspective on the past changed. It wasn’t a story about trying and failing in the same sense anymore, or about my behavior – it was about the underlying cause that I once had no words for. It was about trying to voice what was going on and people labeling it as something else, a narrative based on misunderstanding. I’ve been working my way, on my own terms, towards understanding, and having compassion for the years of not knowing.

I think owning one’s story is about claiming what resonates personally. It’s about telling my story from my own perspective and allowing the details, as nitty gritty as they may be, to come to the surface.

And, of course, other people can say things to me or about me, and give perspective or feedback that can help me tell my own story. But there are ways to do that without wrenching the narrative away.

In the end, perhaps owning my story is taking the reigns of my narrative for myself; shedding the assumptions and projections; finding what is true for me in the moment, deciphering what is not.

What’s my story?
It’s mine. And I’m still in the process of telling it.