I Didn’t Deserve That

I’ve always lived in my head. Since I was kid. I was a talker, a reader, a thinker. I was not an athlete. There was a serious lack of hand-eye coordination and body awareness. I couldn’t tie my shoes until I was 6 and learning to ride a bike was a long, painful process. 

Some kids lived in their bodies. It all came so easily for them. The jocks, the athletes, the dancers, the gymnasts. They seemed so comfortable in their own skin. They knew where their bodies were in space at all times. They didn’t trip over their own two feet, like I did, daily. They moved with ease and grace. 

They took up permanent residence in their bodies. I only visited mine from time to time, preferring to reside in my head. My noisy, active, cluttered, chattering head. 

I spent a good deal of time and energy engaging, embracing and indulging that chatter. I figured it was where all of the creativity lived. But I also spent a fair amount of time, energy, and money trying to silence that chatter, do battle with it, drown it out. 

When I finally tripped over my dharma and landed on a yoga mat, I found the ultimate anti-chatter weapon; my breath.

As I moved on the mat and focused on my breath moving through me, there was silence. For just a second. 

I wanted more, so I practiced more. A few more seconds of chatter-free silence…

It was in those seconds of silence that I began to hear the whispers of my body. The more I moved, the quieter my head got, and the more I realized that my body had some things to say.

It started speaking to me. It told me to stop smoking. So I did. It told me run more. So I did. It told me to eat healthier. So I did. 

It told me stop drinking beer… I said ‘No’.  My head strongly influenced that decision. So, my body simply whispered back, ‘Daily meditation.’  (tricky bugger) And I did. 

As I sat in meditation, the chatter got quieter, and the whisper grew louder. It was all because of the breath. The breath was the great equalizer. Now the mind and body were more evenly matched. I could hear them both stating their cases.

Mind: Eat another piece of chocolate. Mmmm. Sooo good. 
Body: Why would you? You already had one.
Head: You work hard. Reward yourself. You deserve it. We deserve it!

Head: Have a beer or three.
Body: Why should we?
Head: To unwind, relax, de-stress. You work so hard. You should reward yourself. You deserve it. We deserve it! 
Body: Who is this ‘we’ you’re talking about? Certainly you’re not talking to me and Liver? Do we deserve that?

The more connected your mind and body become, the more you start to question what it is you actually deserve.

I never bought in to the idea that I might think I was worthless, or that I was carrying around shame and thinking I didn’t deserve success.  But as I tuned in to the power of my breath I began to question all of the subtle little ways that I was rewarding my head, but ignoring, and even harming my body. 

I kept coming back to the question: Is this really what I deserve?

Do I deserve to disconnect? to disengage? to escape? 
Maybe my head deserves to disconnect, but my body cannot afford to be disconnected for another day. My body deserves care, it deserves compassion, it deserves nourishment.

The more I sit quietly with my breath, the stronger the mind-body connection becomes.  Breath by breath, my mind becomes quieter, and my body becomes more articulate. 

It says ‘Treat me with kindness, and compassion. Treat me with respect, and love and great care.’

So, I’m listening to my body a lot more now. Because I deserve health. I deserve happiness. I deserve love, kindness, and compassion. I deserve peace. And I can give these things to myself. 

I’m living a healthier life. I deserve to. I’ll never be an athlete. I still prefer to live in my head. And it’s still pretty messy in here. But it’s a lot less cluttered. 

*****************
My ear worm  The Smiths Still Ill 
(p.s. 80 days with no added sugar and 307 days alcohol free)

***************

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Me, Myself and Madness

I used to wrestle Madness in the middle of the night.
Tossing and turning in the dark, and praying for the light.
He crept away when morning came and hid in the back of my head.
Crouching in the darkest corner, until I came back to bed.

I was afraid that Madness might find me in the middle of the day.
Would he show up uninvited? What would he do, what would he say? 

I walked the streets with Madness, once.
I could feel him right behind me.
It was a dark and gloomy day,
so it was easy for him to find me.
I tried to run from Madness but didn’t get very far. 
He followed me through the city, and met me at the bar.
I bought a drink for Madness, then I bought another round.
I thought that if I got him drunk, maybe I’d keep him down.
But I found myself dancing with Madness until 3 in the morning. 
I really should’ve seen this coming, but I didn’t heed the warning. 
So I went home with Madness and I let him stay with me.
I thought if I kept him close and tight, he might not ever break free. 

I spent my time alone with Madness, with no one else around.
Tortured by the silence, tormented by each sound. 
Just me, myself and Madness, face to face and eye to eye.
We kept our solitary company as the ticking time went by.

I got to know my Madness in those deepest darkest days.
And knowing him has changed me in so very many ways.
It turns out we’re so similar, we really are two of a kind.
I don’t know what I was afraid of.
I must’ve been out of my mind.

I used to wrestle Madness 
in the middle of the night.
But now, 
I just embrace him in the light.

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Sweet Surrender

No sugar- Day 67

As I was getting ready to pour a cup of coffee, I realized that I was standing there with my hand on the sugar bowl. I had mindlessly, instinctively grabbed for it.  

As I pushed it back to its place on the counter, I started to wonder just how many other old patterns are buried deep in my muscle memory? And how long it might take to fill in those old grooves? 

When we first moved into our house, we kept the silverware in the drawer right next to the stove. It hasn’t been there for over 13 years, but sometimes when I’m moving through the kitchen lost in the rhythm of a recipe, I find myself opening that drawer and reaching for a spoon, only to remember that they are on the other side of the room. 

There have been a few times when I’ve mindlessly opened the cabinet door under the sink to toss garbage into a waste bin that hasn’t been there since 1995. 

Last week we went to a wedding and as we were driving from the church to the reception hall John said, ‘This the part where we would light up a cigarette.’ That was years ago… Later on in the evening he went outside and stood on the patio, huddled around the propane heaters, sipping his drink, with the smokers.  

Old patterns. Old movements. Old habits.  

The ones that we’ve let go, the ones that we are certain no longer serve us, are still buried deep within us.  The ones we have struggled to give up are even closer to the surface.  The ones we are clinging to live on our skin.

How long does it take to fill in the grooves? 

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Be The Light 

(for my kids)

Grab your things! It’s time to go, 
forget about hindsight.

Keep breathing, keep smiling, keep moving forward. 
Keep that disposition bright! 

The path will be obstacle ridden and steep, 
And dangerous at night.

You may panic, your voice will crack, 
your chest will feel so tight.

But you will meet others along the way,
willing to join the fight.

When you find them, you will know, 
and things will just feel right.

They will help you clear the weeds, 
and keep your goal in sight.

Walk together and don’t give in 
to sadness, anger, fright. 

Now that you know where darkness lives 
Go there and be the light. 

Now you know where darkness lives. 
Go there. Be the Light.


Namaste

——————–

—-

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Die, Die My Darling

I don’t watch The Walking Dead, (spoiler ahead) but apparently a beloved character was killed off this week. I know this because people were up in arms on social media. 

The unexpected death of a main character is not as surprising as it used to be years ago. So many shows, movies, and books have taken to killing off the main characters well before the end of the story. Some characters meet their demise at the height of their popularity in the (seemingly) middle of a really cool plot line.

Good writing requires a murderous hand. Writers have to kill off sentences, phrases, chapters, and characters we love, all in the interest of the story. ‘Kill your darlings’ is what we’re taught. 

One by one I am killing my darlings, writing beloved characters out of my life story; the cynic, the beer drinker, the choco-holic, the runner, the panicked worrier, the brown haired girl. They’ve been written out. They can be resurrected of course, like Bobby in Dallas, but for now, they’re gone. 

Imagine all of the characters you have played in your long life story. Some of them have been written out already. Some of them were killed off for good.

Imagine which of the current players you might write out. 

You could write the worrier out of your story, or the smoker. Write out the procrastinator or the alcohol user. Kill off the control freak. Erase the neurotic. Write out the doormat, the couch potato. Do away with the workaholic. Kill off the victim, the drama queen, the hot head, the perfectionist.

They can leave temporarily for a new job opportunity, or to go to college. They can die quickly with a bat to the head. Or fade away slowly, from some blood borne disease, after one Make-a-wish last fling. 

You can do it, because you’re the writer. You know them best. You know all of their flaws. You can cut them off at the Achilles heel. 

They are all going to be dead some day any way. ‘Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything’. Why not let them die right now? Give yourself a chance to play another part. 

Try it. 

Write them out before the next episode. Do it in the interest of the story. 

Good living takes a murderous hand. Kill a few of your darlings. 

It’ll be epic.

——–
The Misfits  Die, Die My Darling

——-/ 

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Another Teachable Moment

When I was around thirteen I took a trip to The City with a group of people. I think it was a church youth group, but I can’t remember the specifics. I do remember it was a cold day. We were moving through the city streets, and when we arrived at Rockefeller Center, the crowd grew thick. I remember looking up at the tree. I remember hearing the sounds of the city, and smelling the roasting chestnuts and pretzels. I remember people pressing in all around me.

And I remember a hand, reaching between my legs from behind and grabbing me. I was so shocked by the experience that when I realized what had happened and turned around, they had disappeared into the crowd. I remember the feeling that I had. Fear. Nausea. Panic. Shame. I could feel the hand on me all day. I can still feel it now.

 

(So many women I know have a story like this.)

 

This was not the only time something like this happened. I rather enjoyed slamming around in mosh pits when I was an older teenager. For the most part the music lovers I engaged with were respectful. Of course there were accidental familiarities, but they were almost always followed by an “Oops, I’m sorry”, and a “No problem”. They were simple hazards of the dance,  like an elbow to the nose.

 

There was a time that I ended up dancing with the wrong people and the familiarities were obviously not accidental at all. What started as an energy releasing whirl around the dance floor turned into a groping session. Sadly, I had to give up the mosh pit. Leave it to the boys. From then on I never danced in the company of strangers.

 

(So many women I know have a story like this.)

 

The difference between the accidents and the groping… Objectification. The idea that a woman, or any person at all, is an object to be used for your own pleasure with no regard for their humanity is deplorable. Condoning that sort of behavior, endorsing a person who advocates that behavior is unacceptable.

 

Objectification starts at home. Whenever we are not basing a person’s value on their humanity we are subtly feeding into this type of behavior. Every single time.

 

If we are constantly judging people by their outward appearance, we are sending a message to our kids that other people are there to please us. They are objects for us to judge, and deem pleasing or not. If we find ourselves standing in front of the mirror and complaining about our weight, our wrinkles, our looks, we are sending messages to our kids that we are objects to be judged by others.

 

We feed into a culture of objectification in so many little ways. Superficial judgment. Idle gossip. The catty chatter of girls. Trash talking.  Locker room banter. Boys will be boys.

 

It is objectification, plain and simple, and objectification tries to rob a person of their humanity, to justify it’s own existence. I have been objectified many times in my life. Sexually abused by my grandfather. Raped when I was ten. Slut shamed by ‘friends’. Groped in crowds. It is a horrible experience to be reduced to an object. It is dehumanizing.

 

(So many people I know have stories like these.)

 

I don’t ever want to dehumanize another person. I don’t want my kids to associate with people who objectify other human beings. I certainly do not want them to learn that a man who objectifies other human beings is fit to run our country.

 

This is a wonderful opportunity for us to sit down with our children and teach them what respect and dignity really mean.

 

(Tell them your stories.)

 

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

My earworm. The grabbing hands, grab all they can.

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Livin’ the Dream 

There is a place right before you fall asleep, where you are aware of what is going on in the room around you, but the dreams are starting. You can still have coherent thoughts, but they mix and mingle with the images in your dreams. The song playing on the ipod or what is happening on TV becomes a part of your dream. You are sliding in and out of consciousness. 

Before you travel over to the other side, there is a time when you are equal parts awake and dreaming. 

It happens again just as you are waking up in the morning. The sound of your alarm clock becomes a tweeting bird, or the phone ringing in your house becomes a phone call in your dream.

It is right there, in that place, where the power of suggestion is the strongest. This is where seeds can be planted.   

I attempt to bring other people to that fertile ground when I teach yoga nidra.  I’m hoping that they are drifting in and out, incorporating my words into the dreamy images that flash behind their eyes. 

And then, in this highly relaxed and highly receptive state, I ask them to repeat their big intention.

This big intention, this sankalpa, should be a positive statement in the present tense, as though it is already happening.  

For example, if you’re always stressed, you might say something like I move through my life with ease and grace. Or, I am relaxed. Or I am peace.  

If you’ve been stuck in rut perhaps you would say,  I am open to all new things. Or I am ready.   

If you’ve gotten lazy, I am ambition

If you are anxious all of the time, I am bravery. I am fearless.

If you’re a control freak,  I trust that things will work out. I surrender.  

If you can’t get beyond trauma, I remain always in the present moment, or I am moving on. I am forgiveness.   

If you’re bogged down in the details, I release whatever doesn’t serve me.

If you’re constantly chasing after the next new thing, I am content with what is. 

Make it a present truth.    

With regular practice, this intention can become your actual truth. It’s really quite simple. The hardest part is finding a statement that sums up your truest intention. 

Think about all of the things you really want to do. Then think about all of the things you want to stop doing. Deep down, you know what really needs to be done. Try to come up with an umbrella sentence.

Then become obsessed with this sentence. Beyond mantra, let it be everywhere it can be. 

Make it the wallpaper on your computer/phone. Pin it on your bulletin board. Tape it on your dashboard. Make it your password so you have to type it over and over. 

For a while now one of my passwords has been something resembling: 123ThisIsOneEffingAmazingLife456.  I type it several times a day.  It has helped to keep my amazement practice going. 

I know it all sounds a little hokey, believe me. But what have you got to lose?  

Become obsessed with your true intention!  Let it be the words you repeat on your inhale as you drift off to sleep. Let it be the first sentence that comes to your mind when you wake. Set your compass in the morning and follow it all day long.

After a short time, you will notice small changes. Tiny shifts. 

I am currently, and so surprisingly, living a nicotine-free, alcohol-free, sugar-free, meat-free, hair dye-free, virtually-worry-free existence because the phrase I make good choices‘ has been a part of my daily practice. 

The changes have been slow, but steady over the last few years. It’s been a fine line between a little scary and a lot effing amazing. 

It’s almost like living in a dream. 
——–

If you decide to try it, please let me know how it goes. If you need help creating a sankalpa, send me a message. I’d love to explore with you. 

——-

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