Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When in doubt . . .

When in doubt, look back. When was the last time your spirit felt whole? When you found yourself at peace on a more regular basis. Mine was at 19. Life was different, of course, but there is a chord - a thread - that remains within me, that links me to her (younger me). Even as life changes and we develop and grow up or older, we harden or become softer around the edges, we shift from right to left and back again, or not, and expand and contract within our beliefs about God, love and the world, even within all of that, we stay the same in some way. A chord that keeps you YOU or me ME. And when I follow my chord back, it is to a simpler time. A 19 year old girl, new to university, living with her sister, constantly re-arranging her apartment and seeking a peace in her soul.

At that time what was I doing. A little bit of yoga. A LOT of humor. Yes, many tears and heart break (and drama) but to feed my art and soul, to remain unblocked, I wrote. But I was writing with instruction and intention. I was reading Julia Cameron's the Artist's Way. I was doing morning pages. And when you purge in stream of consciousness for 3 pages, for 30-45 or 60 minutes and then DO NOT re-read it or worry about it but turn and close the pages of your notebook or put them away in an envelope for a few months, you realize that your day is different. Whining, decreases. Pettiness decreases. Productivity and efficiency improves. You become free from the muck that was cluttering your brain. You are taking a vacuum to your unconscious and letting yourself go.

I was also reading SARK. She is a flamboyant, wild, art loving, brilliant woman. She is knocked for possibly holding to new ageyness, but really she is trying to exude life and walk in healing - allowing us to confront pain and see our connection to the rest of humanity.

In those days I liked bright colors. I liked being outside. I did not stay inside on days I could just because I could. I embraced things. I was still depressed sometimes, but I don't think I was so ruled by fear as I am now.

So when in doubt . . . go back. Back to a time that was successful. A time where I felt whole. Whole will feel differently now. My bruises are different. My hurts tell a different story. My entire story has been written and re-written so many times. But I can go back and pick up those pieces and make them part of a new mosaic. Sitting in pain and accepting it, even labeling it, is good. Embracing and living in it, is not.

For me, I have to loose my hold on other things. Like perfectionism. "Perfectionism is a pre-requisite for pain" (Tara Branch). And I am tired of seeking out pain - academically, relationally. I want to live with intention. With love. Not frustration or bitterness. I do this, but not like I CAN, but I also live up to the negative expectations people have of me. My friends who treat me like I am mentally ill (intentionally or not and who probably do not even know it - because I have not told them) often get a broken or down version of me. Because I choose fear, I choose to not be LIVING and I feel that they will not see me beyond the gray version of me they have cast before their eyes and I give them that girl. She is so familiar, but she not who or ALL of who I am. It is painful, but I rise to this bleak occasion. It is painful that I am treated like I am different and painful that I engage.

Anais Nin wrote, "People who live deeply have no fear of death." Living deeply is a choice. I can't promise to make it daily, but I can find the time that sparked that depth. It feels like ages and ages ago. But I can reclaim myself because no one else can.

About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, counselor and colleague. I am a work in progress. There may be some pieces out of place and things might be messy, but it's okay. I would rather accept that I am still unfinished than think that this is it. You can find my comments on faith and spirituality on my blog: http://themessinessoffaith.blogspot.com/ And my comments and anecdotes on life at: http://sheisaworkinprogress.blogspot.com/

Books That Matter. Well, some of the many that matter.

  • Magical Shrinking: Stumbling Through Bipolar Disorder, Chris Wells
  • Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • An Abudance of Katherines, John Green
  • Dave Pelzer
  • Franny & Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
  • The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris
  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, Daniel J. Siegel