Posts Tagged ‘reflections’

From frustration to acceptance

The experience of being me is challenging sometimes.

It’s challenging after spending a weekend reeling from sensory input and having to slow way down.

It’s experiencing intense overwhelm and heaviness after trying a healing technique — one that others are praising and saying how good they feel afterwards and how much it benefits them.  I try it, and it feels like so much. Too much?

It’s my thoughts that “other people aren’t experiencing this,” and “Why is this happening again?”

And perhaps many people are not, maybe not specifically sensory processing issues or other sensitivities, but, as my Aikido/Tai Chi instructor reminded me on Tuesday night, everyone has limitations of some sort that they have to honor, and also reach their “too much” point at times. He said that being at the edge often means learning, and going over can lead to burnout or injuries.

I sometimes really want things to be easier, simpler, more relaxing for me. Not to get exhausted, even from doing things that I want to do. Not finding it challenging to be in my body at times and stay anywhere close to grounded.

And then, there’s returning to acceptance. There’s softening towards myself. There’s having a vulnerable moment after Aikido that opens up a conversation and other people sharing vulnerabilities.

 I realize that often when I feel overloaded and scattered, I often interpret it as I’ve done something “wrong.” And maybe whatever I did was too much for my system at that particular moment, but it may not need that strong of a label. My nervous system is giving me a signal that I need to slow down, back off. That requires honoring myself, pausing, and resting. It does not require a label or a value judgment. Once in a more grounded place, I can have more perspective about that experience and think about what to consider in the future regarding that activity. Experimenting and finding that that activity was too much at that moment doesn’t require chastising myself for wanting to see what it would be like. It may be an opportunity to give myself space and to learn from that experience.

I have done so much work the past few years around creating a life that more fully honors my sensitivities and limitations. I have so much more respect for myself and what I need. I still have moments where I get frustrated, where I want to do more, be more, and where I want to push through.  I also have more moments of acceptance, of giving myself space to be how, where, and who I am. I’m taking this moment to honor and acknowledge all of this.

Aikido life lessons.

Me, after my Aikido instructor complimented me on a specific technique:  “I get that I got that, I just don’t know if I can do it like that again.”

Him: “Hopefully, you never will, because every attack and every partner will be different. Even if any of us [gestures around the room] attack at another point, it could be totally different, and you’d need to react differently.”

Me: “Oh…”

So, sure, there’s repetition and technique.

And there’s also knowing that, in this case (and perhaps many others), it’s not about being exact. It’s mainly about knowing how to respond appropriately — and recognizing that that may never look the same.

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. Brené 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 Brené 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 Brené 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.
 

Evolving perspective (stream-of-consciousness poem)

I began this soon after the election in November, and it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for a while. I finished it this past weekend.

**
We categorize and decide what is and should be
these broad sweeping labels cross borders and state lines
dividing this from that, us from them,
and we find ourselves pointing our fingers at each other

We go on defense
I’m not like that, I’m not like them,
It’s you who is pointing the finger, not me

Maybe all our fingers are pointing at someone
Maybe we want an explanation, a rationale,
someone to applaud, someone to blame

When we generalize,
we can cut others down to

less than life-size.

It’s hard to be part of the problem and
part of the solution,
our cells are divided and our selves are
torn and
our communities are split into
many
different

pieces.

Sometimes, we turn away from
each other even
when we literally stand
side-by-side.

I don’t know
if i can tell you that
it’s always best to turn to each other
when we’ve got our boxing gloves on

I want to say:
Put the gloves down first, then listen.

What if we aren’t really fighting each other
but a system
that keeps us separate, apart
the words unify and compromise
don’t go very deep
when they’re used to
pacify, console,
cajole, silence.

We are a nation of many people,
interests, and opinions.

We are a nation of many communities,
individuals, identities.

Perhaps we have many definitions of what
freedom means,
whether freedom opens doors for free thought
or guarantees security
and safety from what?
the world outside our neighborhoods
an existential threat
a real life danger
the story changes with each teller

I want to be realistic without losing
my idealism, but it’s hard to live the
everyday reality where rights are
peeled away, day by day.

I tell myself to breathe,
take care,
take small steps.

Another day, another headline, with
more fears brought to light.
I watch the protests, the brave souls
on the front lines

I want to say
I am ready and willing to fight.
I see people comment about
the best way to stand up:
what and when and how and where…

I pick my battles, follow my own rhythm.
I pick up my pen
and begin.

My daily “what I did” list

One of the biggest myths I have is that I’m not doing enough.

It’s also very untrue. While I don’t have a typical 9-to-5 work schedule, I keep myself busy. There are many things I’m working on and towards, and I’m rarely bored.

So, as part of my routine of unwinding and getting ready for bed, I’ve started doing a “what I did today” list. It helps me see what I’ve done and accomplished throughout the day. I also sometimes write notes to track my anxiety levels, sensory triggers, and moods so I can look back and see if there’s a pattern.

I suppose I could call this a form of a bullet journal (more information on bullet journals here ), which is like a combination of a planner and a journal/diary. Overall, it’s a method of writing things down, whether it’s goals or thoughts, in short, bullet-point form. Before starting this practice, I didn’t spend much time researching bullet-journaling, but it is a something that I’ve heard that many people enjoy. .

Here’s an example from my journal from a few weeks ago (I made slight edits to put it more into context):

  • Took L (husband) to work
  • Brief call with Mom
  • Nia
  • Lunch
  • Got mail and some sunshine
  • Took short nap/reset
  • ~ 3 hours proofreading practice
  • ~ 1 hour workbook punctuation practice
  • Made dinner
  • Picked L up
  • Did Dishes
  • Took one online survey
  • Nia song review (listened and watched, then tried)
  • Did rhythmic movement and reflex exercises

It’s sort of like writing a to-do list after the fact. It gives me perspective. It helps me think of other things I might need to focus on in the days ahead. It helps me value the small, day-to-day activities more, such as making a meal or having a conversation with my love.

At the end of the day, when I ask myself, “Did I do enough?”, seeing this list helps me feel more assured that the answer is, without question, “Yes.”

Marching in spirit

womens-march-on-washington

I love that there are going to be women’s marches all over the country (and world!) this  Saturday, January 21. I definitely believe in the issues they are be marching for. I stand in solidarity with them.

And…I’m also choosing not to go to the one in my city. This isn’t a political decision, it’s a personal one. The probable sensory and energetic cost of going to an event like this is higher than the rewards of going. These kinds of events tend to highly-stimulating: There are many people going, it may be challenging to leave, there may be unexpected situations, noises, etc.

There is part of me that is wistful: I would like to go.

There is part of me that says I should go, should be doing more in terms of activism in general. However, a lot of this”more” includes things that may stress out my nervous system and throw me out of whack for an unknown amount of time. Yes, I am being cautious and discerning. I am also trying to be realistic and compassionate with myself.

I’m brainstorming other ways that I can help: donate a small amount to an organization I support, look for a volunteer opportunities, keep my eyes out for activities that may be more supportive. While I sign online petitions on a regular basis, I don’t know how much impact that has; I also acknowledge that it is something.

For those of you out there who are marching this Saturday, I am marching with you in spirit.