Unconditional Love

I ended up watching an amazing movie tonight called The Adjustment Bureau. It was incredible and after class, I didn’t end up getting much accomplished in the blog post that I had trouble with yesterday.

I still feel like I have some important stuff to say about behavior…but I haven’t got it right yet.Hopefully I’ll be closer for my Saturday post.

So for now, I want to leave you with my aunt’s pugs. I watched them over the weekend and was melted when I noticed that they snuggle as they sleep. My aunt says they always sleep this way. They are brother and sister. They clean each other’s ears and chase each other around the yard. They share their treats and love each other unconditionally.

Love has been on my mind a lot lately and I thought this was a nice image to hold in my heart. I’m still working through some of the same old stuff, but I have a couple new books I will be reading in July including The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I’ll keep posting updates as usual.

I will keep working through my post for Saturday and in the meantime focus on the unconditional love of snuggling pugs.

So I had already started a post for today…but I just can’t seem to finish it. The post is a bit hard to write. I keep editing and writing and erasing it all again.

I think I need to come back to it with new eyes tomorrow.

Til then…

Root Cause

I had a chance to work on the second lesson in Marianne Williamson’s book A Course in Weight Loss. It was very enlightening. The lesson talks about the only way to change a situation is through kindness and acceptance, not criticism and negativity. Marianne writes about how each person has various elements of their personality, just like there are various shades of the same color. We have hunter green and lime green, but we can trace those shades back to the root…back to green.

People also have different shades and our overweight or “fat” self is a part of us. Until we embrace that fat self, it will continue to get bigger in an effort to get our attention and be acknowledged. She has you write a letter from your skinny self to your fat self and then let your fat self respond with a reply.

It felt silly at first and I couldn’t imagine what I would gain from writing these letters. How very wrong I was!

I said a prayer before I began and asked that all the important stuff that needed to be acknowledged be brought to the light in these letters. I was amazed at what my different shades had to communicate. The letters are funny, sad, and gut-wrenching. They are honest and gritty, but filled with heart.

I learned that my skinny self is ready to have a life of first’s, passion and confidence. To feel at home in her skin, not at war with her body. She is strong and sassy and is ready to take the reins. She is willing to get hurt and takes full responsibility for her dreams coming true. My fat self is wise and skilled at protecting us from heartbreak. She eats the feelings that we are unwilling to express and takes the brunt of the world’s injustice because she hates to see us in pain. She knows things need to change, but she was only acting on what she thought was best for us.

These letters are a bridge between where I have been stuck and a new future on the horizon.

I have many shades. I am many selves all wrapped up in one vessel. I am strong. I am learning. I am changing.

Trying to Find My Way Home

This is my first official picture. It was taken a couple of hours after I was born. I have been looking at it a lot lately and wondering to myself how I can get back to that pure innocence and trust that I would always be cared for.

I don’t usually post until Wednesday, but seeing that it is almost 11:30 pm on Tuesday, I am figuring that it’s close enough. I finally finished the first lesson in A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson. I have been working on it essentially since the beginning of 2011 and tonight I was able to write out the last of my feelings and fears that have been holding me back from living in truth and authenticity. Marianne asks you to write out all of your thoughts and feelings on twenty-five words that represent the bricks in the wall you have built around your heart as pounds of excess on your body. These words include shame, embarrassment, inferiority, greed, selfishness, disdain, burden and heartbreak. She asks you to not go unconscious and to write it all out.

I did write it all out. It took many months, but I did write it all out. Seventeen pages to be exact. It is freeing and liberating to finish all of that work. It was work. Hard work. I would spend hours working through a couple of words and then not touch it for weeks or months. It was too much to work through. However, now it is done. It is out of my body and my mind and I can move onto the next lesson.

I had an epiphany today during a conversation with one of my best friends. We sat outside in the shade on her parents deck and discussed our lives and their complications and wonders. Later on in the afternoon, we discussed someone from our past. He had hurt both of us in different ways and in varying degrees. The kindest words I can use to describe our tumultuous relationship would be to say that he destroyed something in me. Do me a favor and scroll up to my first official picture. He destroyed my sense of innocence and turned my heart into a battle field for many years. After our demise, I learned how to build walls and deny trust. I learned how to avoid vulnerability at any cost, because it just wasn’t safe.

I also learned from the actions of others around me who continued to allow this person to remain in their lives that I didn’t matter. My life and my pain wasn’t worth enough for them to stop spending time with him. I didn’t matter at all. As I verbalized this today to my friend, I was struck with how profoundly sad it was. I gave all of these people the power to shrink me. I gave everyone else the power to harden me with lies and shame.

I have been trying to find my way home again with this project. I have been attempting to break through the bricks I have stacked around me in an effort to protect myself from any more harm. I know it is impossible to get back to the little person pictured above. I know that even the people who love me the most aren’t always good at taking care of me and my best interest. However, I am learning or trying to learn how to take better care of myself.

I long for the chance to lay all my baggage at someone’s feet, shrug my shoulders and say, “This is me. Warts and all. I am scarred inside and out, but I am capable of great love. What do you say?”

They will look me up and down with eyes that drip with kindness and compassion. They will open their arms and their heart and say, “Welcome home, baby.”

This journey will not end anytime soon. Em, thank you for being honest with me, even if I get defensive and start to push away. Thank you for being quick to apologize and embracing of my whole self. You are helping me to dismantle all this hurt and find my way home again. Thank you for pushing me to be brave.

Faith, Wisdom and Hope

This last week the irises began blooming in my back yard. I’m always blown away by how beautiful these flowers are. The irises are transplants from my late grandmother’s garden in Colorado Springs. It is so nice to see them return every year. They remind me of her and her grace. I miss her still more than I can imagine.

I photographed them yesterday and then did some research about their symbolism. I found some interesting facts. I learned that irises symbolism faith, wisdom, hope and valor. All qualities I loved in my grandmother. They take their name from the greek word for rainbow. This is also important imagery – a link to one of my other grandparents who passed away when I was five.  The Greek Goddess Iris was the personification of a rainbow and acted as a messenger for the Gods –  a link between heaven and earth.

I learned that irises are commonly found in Mary gardens. This was very interesting as I am extremely connected to Mary symbolism and am named for her. The french also fashioned their fleur-de-lis symbol from an iris. I took this next picture before I did my research and now I see it so clearly.

The Chinese  recognize the iris as the dancing spirit of early summer and when their soft petals sway in the breeze, it reminds them of butterflies. I had no idea how much deep symbolism was to be found in the beautiful fliting flowers in my back yard. I knew they made me happy, but I had no idea how central they were to my life symbols.

As I type this, I sit on my front porch protected by shrubs and invisible to the passersby. The light of the evening lilts through the leaves and the soft breeze cools me inside and out. A bird I can’t identify warbles a sweet song. It is very peaceful.

The iris represents all that I am after right now – beauty, grace, faith, wisdom and hope. A butterfly growing tall and strong in the summer sun.

Building a Lasting Foundation

This is a small Saint Francis shrine that my mom has outside her house. A couple of weeks ago, a frantic blue bird began building a nest on top of the shrine. In her urgency, she built a lopsided mess. It fell less than a day later. I never saw her again. I wonder if she was able to build a second nest in time for her babies. I wonder if they have a safe home.

I thought it was fitting that she built her nest on the patron saint of animals and the environment. I also thought it was a lot like my own life lately. I have been frantically trying to build a nest for myself (and perhaps, my future babies) and in my urgency, I may be building it all lopsided. I may have spent all this time and energy on something that is bound to come crashing down.

I know that teaching is definitely one of my callings. I feel blessed to be so close to that being a reality. But in the process of doing all that needed to be done to complete my teaching license, I have been ignoring the parts of my nest that really constitute a foundation. Like sleep or healthy boundaries, good nutritious food and creative expression. I also have been putting all my trust out into the ether and not enough trust in myself. I have been building a faulty nest that isn’t safe for me or anyone else.

Things are way up in the air right now. I have been trying to exert my control over situations and relationships that I have NO way of controlling or manipulating. I don’t mean that to sound negative, but I have been trying to orchestrate my life for so long that it’s incredibly unnerving to just allow things to unfold. I’m learning how to react and respond to what is actually happening instead of retreating inward and deciding what reality really is.

I stood up for myself last week with a friend who was being unreasonable. I had to. I hated saying it, but I had to. I couldn’t pretend that it was a situation that was perfect for me even though I knew he would be hurt. I may have fatally injured a relationship I cherish, but I also understand that if this could fracture us in such a profound way, maybe our friendship had been built on a faulty foundation. Maybe it only seemed sturdy because I was always agreeable to his demands and needs. Once I exerted my own needs, maybe that was the last straw…

I want to focus on myself. Not in a selfish way, but in a healthy way. A lot of my support systems are changing. One of my best friends and biggest supports is more than likely moving soon. It is the right thing for her family, but I can’t help but be sad and scared about not having her here to help catch me when I fall.  But I think it may be exactly what I need. I’m building new relationships that are proving to be important to my evolution as a human being. These relationships are healing me – I don’t know what will happen in the long run, but I do know that I am building something strong as we slowly peel back the layers and get to know each other.

Part of building a lasting foundation is taking the time to look at what you have to work with in reality…not in fantasy or delusion. I’m wanting to build something lasting and strong. I know that in order to do that I have to slow down and take a breath. I need to continue to protect myself and erect healthy boundaries with some people while also being brave enough to let other people in and learn to be vulnerable and trusting. I need to trust myself and believe in my own talent and skill. I need to carefully pick each branch and twig and find the proper place for it in my nest, constantly reevaluating the filler that doesn’t assist me in my quest. I need to look at this nest, this life, from every angle and build a foundation that I know is safe and sound.

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