An arrow to the heart: On the fruitlessness and tuning in

“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart…”  ~ Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are

There have been what has felt like a lot of arrows flying recently – not necessarily aimed directly at me, but affecting me nonetheless. And as I’m being reminded in the In Full Bloom course I’m taking with Mara Glatzel, there’s a lot of stuff going on energetically (full moon, Mecury in retrograde, lunar eclipse…) and so, Pema Chodron’s quote above settles me down a little bit, because I’m just as guilty about screaming, railing, whining… and it doesn’t help the fact that there’s a freaking arrow in my heart. It doesn’t help me calm down (in fact, it usually ramps me up even more, and I get more upset, and even less able to deal with the arrow in my heart.

I’ve been wrestling with one aspect of school since the beginning of the semester. I’ve been unsure how to handle it (and how it would be received), so I have ignored it. Then, it was addressed earlier this week and boy, did it feel like that arrow was yanked, twisted, and pushed in further. My first inclination – and action – was to (internally) yell about the situation. Which, oh so suprisingly, didn’t make it any better at all.

There’s a part of me that wants to keep going on with my same patterns; it’s got to help at some point, right?

Right?

And yet, I find no relief. I’m just as cranky, just as frustrated, and there’s still that burning, turning, pointy arrow sticking out from my chest.

Today, when I ran across Pema Chodron’s words, I wondered, what would it do to stop railing about it and simply turn toward it and take care of my own stuff (to stay on my own yoga mat), rather than keep lashing out.

So I check in, asking what I need. I check in, feeling my feet on the ground. I check in, over and over and over, noticing that the arrow is there and yanking, pulling, trying to get rid of it is actually dangerous for me. How do I nurture myself and allow the process of removal – of turning my attention to the situation rather than just trying to block it out or make it go away? How do I understand the ways in which I do that, so I can keep coming back to that check in and truly listen to my heart and what it needs most to deal with this arrow?

And my goodness… it doesn’t make it go away, but it also doesn’t exacerbate the issue. It doesn’t take the arrow and twist it (or make me feel like a bad person for being so cranky).

It softens me. It allows me to be real. It allows me even a glimpse of what is really going on. It doesn’t “solve” it, but I can better see the situation, rather than just saying “You are the cause of this.” It requires a helluva lot more self-compassion, too… and that can be hard.

Perhaps today, we can each spend a moment recognizing the arrow we’re ignoring and then tending to ourselves the best we know how.

Singing together: Lifting one another up

Yesterday, I was talking with a professor about some challenging family things going on, just to let her know in case I wasn’t in class, or had to be called out of class unannounced. She commented that, if I wanted, I could ask the class for prayers, good intentions, whatever for my family – that there is strength in being able to bring someone (or the family) into the light of good things. That prayer, good intentions, good thoughts – they are a way of surrounding others and ourselves with positive light and strength, to hold the challenge and remember we aren’t alone.

Yesterday, I was singing along in the car on my way home from class. Music loud, voice getting lost in it. Music is a form of therapy for me, sometimes. To allow myself that voice, that loudness – it opens me up in different ways. I wasn’t thinking about what my professor said when I later posted it as my #365feministselfie on Instagram. At the end of the comment about the post, I requested prayers. When I looked back a few hours later, there were people who had added their voice in the mix, praying, lifting my family up with good intention.

Today, as I was driving into work, thinking about all of this, I realized that the circle of light we create when we lift each other up is a song unto itself. It is a way that I am consciously choosing light over dark, of remaining present with the difficulty without hiding or running away. The lilt of the voices around me, who also care, who are asking for specific names to hold us in prayer and good thoughts?

Another musical balm for my aching heart.

This isn’t just about faith or religion or spirituality. It’s also about meeting each other (and ourselves) where we are. It’s about being real and being present – choosing awake over numb.

May we each find light (or hold that light for others) in the midst of darkness – not to push away the dark, but know that we can sing together and hold the present (in all its messy beautiful), as it is.

Please leave a comment (anonymously if you wish) if you also need or want voices to join in your own song of holding the present.

Weekend Treats

So, with my intentional Facebook use, I find I’m on a whole lot less. Which means that I don’t always see the links shared there (which is one of my favorite, though rabbit-hole, parts of social media). Most of these were pulled from my Bloglovin’ feed, which I have trimmed down tremendously. If there is a blog you think I would love, leave a comment (yes, even [especially] if it’s yours).

Links of the Week

When Too Much is Also Not Enough by Mara Glatzel
Yes, there’s always at least one post from Mara. It’s because she hits the nail on the head, each and every time. (What would be your first step to return to yourself? Such a powerful question.)

What if Your Passion Becomes a Chore by Laura Simms at Create as Folk
This really spoke to me, especially as I (still) sometimes beat myself up about not teaching contemplative writing, etc. But, recognizing that my passion was in a different space gives much more space (and compassion).

To Be White and Reckon with the Death of Michael Brown by Courtney E. Martin at On Being with Krista Tippett (Blog)
A call to White folk to keep unpacking your knapsack of privilege and what that means.

Intent vs. Impact: Why Your Intentions Don’t Really Matter by Jamie Utt at Everyday Feminism
A powerful look at why saying “I didn’t intend to hurt someone” isn’t a valid excuse… and some possibility of what to do.

Living the Subtle by Miriam Hall at inside space
This: “That’s the kind of subtlety I am talking about. Seeing the whole picture, watching, looking back with wide eyes and open glances, with as little blame as possible to see how we arrived here.”

Praying for My Life by Mara Glatzel
How do you measure success in your life? What does it mean to you? Again, powerful questions.

What You Really Mean When You Say “I’m Not Motivated” by Laura Simms at Create as Folk
A powerful reframe of motivation, as well as a gentle kick in the pants to do what is important.

The Creamy Kung Foo of of Writing True Stories by Laurie Wagner at 27powers
A reminder to me about the power of stories to create community and reflection.

Open for Business! by Heather at Heather since November
A lovely ode to what makes our art OUR art and why we must do it. Also? Her jewelery is beautiful. Take a peek at the shop!

An Announcement, an Experiment, and a Contest by Brandy Walker at brandyglows
Talkin’ about quests, their importance, and a fun contest (contest entry ends Sunday at midnight PST)

9/11 Thoughts by M. Fenn at skinnier than it is wide
Some of the words M. Fenn wrote in 2001 about 9/11; haunting in how they still ring true today.

Reboot or Die Trying by David Roberts at Outside
Powerful powerful experiment of going offline, socially, for a year.

Healing Self-Doubt by Tara Brach
Powerful dharma talk about self-doubt from last fall. An hour long, but so worth it.

Why One Life Hack Can Change Everything by Tamara Star at elephant journal
A really interesting look at the phrase “How you do anything is how you do everything.” Gave me some food for thought.

Musical Interlude

This is becoming my anthem for when I feel worthless, when I feel like there is nothing that I can give that is worth anything. A way to bring me back to myself.

What does it feel like to speak the truth underneath?

Do you ever have blog posts that you are like, this should be in my journal, but every time you think about it, it starts coming through in blog post format? This one is like that… it’s personal, but it’s also the type of thing that, kept in the dark? It builds. It grows, like the mold that shame is. Because, I’ve been struggling with self-worth the past few days. There have been a number of incidents – in and of themselves, they aren’t a big deal. But taken together?

It left me in a puddle of “Nobody likes me.”

I felt like Hermione from the first Harry Potter. Ron and Harry are walking through the courtyard after Charms class and Ron says something along the lines of how insufferable Hermione is, and “it’s no wonder she doesn’t have any friends.” She brushes past them, crying. If I could’ve, I would’ve gone to an out of the way bathroom. But, there might be troll, and we know how that goes.

Harry Potter Sorcerers Stone 1What caught me, though, in following through this line of thought is that Hermione is the one who takes responsibility for actions of Harry and Ron running after her, taking the blame. While on the one hand, that’s a really noble thing – but it also dismisses the fact that she was there because Ron was a jerk to her. For me, as someone who has often played nice, taken the blame, and pushed my own experience to the side in order to keep the peace, it’s hard to know what the “right” reading is.

Earlier this week, I had my first individual supervision session with my supervisor. At one point in the session, while she was asking about my goals, I commented that they seemed a pretty tall order and I laughed. Pretty common for me.

She paused, looked at me, and asked. “What did you just do?”

I stopped, thought. “I laughed?”

“What was that about?”

And, with a quiet voice, trembling a bit, I told her. I told her about the anxiety of doing this work, that there are times I still I can’t believe I’m doing it. We talked a bit about it, and then she paused again. “What was it like to speak your truth underneath the anxiety?”

That question was powerful for me and has been rolling around my brain. What is it like to speak the truth from underneath the anxiety? From underneath the shame? From underneath the possibly constant message that we aren’t worthy enough to tell our story, to speak our truth?

What would it be like to speak the truth that yes, Hermione was kind of the reason that Harry and Ron were in the bathroom with the troll to begin with… and to speak the truth that Ron was being a dick? Because it’s neither one nor the other – it’s both. Both are true and both are real and both are worth telling.

Even before this most recent experience, Hermione’s character resonated with me. What I have particularly appreciated and has caught me as I write this is how she grew into her own throughout the series. She wasn’t always willing to take the blame. She owned all of her qualities, even if it was unpopular, even if it meant there was trembling voice and perhaps standing in her own power.

It was enough that she learned to value herself and her skills, and to allow others to bear witness when things were not perfect. That is part of her strength and power.

It amazes me how much I still learn from the Harry Potter series, even years after reading and watching them.

25 Things that take my breath away

Bethany is hosting a blog hop today, centering around the great question of what are 25 things that take your breath away… in light of hard things going on (come back tomorrow for some thoughts), this was a perfect way to bring my attention to beauty.

  1. Random acts of kindness
  2. Wheeking guinea pigs who clearly love seeing us come home
  3. When I learn new things about my partner
  4. Sunsets
  5. Cloud formations
  6. Taking time to savor decadent items (like expensive tea, good coffee, rich sweets)
  7. Watching birds fly above me
  8. Speaking/hearing someone speak from their truth
  9. Waimea Canyon
  10. The hushed silence surrounding great artwork
  11. Live music
  12. Watching Cirque du Soliel acts
  13. Laughing so hard my sides hurt
  14. Diving head first into a project, not knowing what direction it will go
  15. Thinking about the largeness of the universe
  16. Really great writing
  17. Reading poetry that resonates
  18. Long, interesting conversations with people I trust
  19. Dreaming big
  20. Sometimes, what technology can do
  21. Looking up into the sky at twilight
  22. Seeing a full moon
  23. The smell of the perfumed lotion I wore in high school
  24. Certain memories
  25. Connecting with others in real ways

How about you? What are some things that take your breath away?

Waxing, waning: Honoring my own process

School has begun. In all honesty, it started about two weeks ago with getting geared up at my graduate assistantship, with leaving my part-time job, with my new internship orientation. All signs pointed to the beginning.

And I looked honestly at my life and realized that there are so many ways that I lose time – through Facebook, through randomly surfing the web. I realized that one of the things I need to be this coming term is much more focused. In face, that’s kind of a meditation word for me right now. Honing myself in on what it is I am pursuing and what it takes to do that. (One of the posts I will share in tomorrow’s Weekend Treats has really spoken to me: The Spiritual Art of Saying No. Good stuff.)

Focus in on the goal(s). What is my intention? What is my focus?

It’s meant looking at my own patterns and learning to do things a little differently. I deleted Facebook off of my phone and iPad. I have logged out of Facebook on my laptop and have a complicated password I have to look up any time I want to log on. My time on Facebook is now becoming more intentional than it was before. I have started cutting down on the number of people I follow in Instagram.

It’s amazed me how much time and space has opened up. How I’m trying to trust my own voice and intuition, rather than seeing what’s most popular on my feed. It’s meant less wandering around the internet, but when I do? It’s more intentional. It’s more focused.

I’m entering a new phase of life – personally, professionally. I am learning to stand in my own power – my own intuition, my own knowledge – and trust that. This is part of the unfolding this year holds for me. I am not unwilling to hear others – I am less likely to brook bullshit, in some ways. I am more willing to make waves – even a little bit – which is huge for me.

There is a shift, and part of that is recognizing my work patterns and my world has a rhythm that I want to learn to listen to. That rhythm includes this space. Because I want to learn to balance Everything Ever… and yet, I have to be able to be present in ways that are fulfilling and encouraging my work – not detracting from it.

So, in that turn – I will not be on Facebook (personally or through V+R) much. I will blog when I feel it’s appropriate and in service. My intention is to give my all when I show up… and allow things to rest when I can.

Leaning into the waxing and waning of this life, and embracing it, rather than fighting it.

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This world makes no sense to me: One of the reasons I tell my story

I’ve been thinking about what matters in our culture and what it means to be open to the hard stuff that goes on in this world. I’m taken back to a conversation I had with some clients when Phillip Seymour Hoffman died of an overdose. I was in charge of leading group that week, and the news had hit earlier that month. So, I brought an article, which ended with the statement that addiction is not inherently selfish, that there are a lot of factors at work. I wanted to talk about what they thought about that, given their own experiences.

What comes to mind now is the comment from someone that people die from overdoses every day. That just because Hoffman was famous didn’t make him better than the struggles other people faced. In the moment, it was a sense of “Yes,” but also my own struggle to “stay in control,” to go back to what I had meant to talk about in group (which, as an aside, you learn in Counseling 101 – don’t do that. It’s not helpful.) And yet, that thought keeps coming to mind today – of who is allowed to matter, what is allowed to count, and how we talk about the hard things? Who do we give voice and attention to? And what happens to every day experience, when there are those who struggle with the same thing(s)?

And I’ve been thinking about Robin Williams’ death in similar terms… but there’s more than that. I think one of my friends on Facebook said it eloquently, that part of what resonates is that the story (depression, suicide, hopelessness) is not one unfamiliar to so many people. It’s getting press coverage because of someone famous – but we also want to say, “Me too!” because it’s important stuff and perhaps, this is a time we get the forum.

And when it hits close to the heart (if you’ve read even a few of the posts, he was beloved of many – probably because he DID make us laugh and see the world in new ways), we reach out toward our own experience. It’s our way of understanding… it’s a way to make sense of the fact that someone who was best known for joy and laughter was feeling such pain and struggle. There is no sense in that. We pull in closer to our experience, to share so that others might not feel as lonely. Because depression, thoughts of suicide – all of that is a lonely, hopeless place to be.

And so, we hold on to the things that we can – our experience, our loved ones, the ways that our story does matter. To share our own experiences and bring to light the ways that we have shown up on this planet, whatever that looks like. We tell stories to make sense of a world that is so senseless – with children being taken, unarmed people being shot and killed, with good people dying and taking their own lives. Stories help us feel connected, whether to others that we know or that we don’t. It allows us the opportunity to find even a sliver of hope.

Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
– Stephen King (Rita Hayworth & Shawshank Redemption)