Even more truth telling

I was having a conversation with Alex this morning and we were talking about going to the gym. I’d shared with her my feelings and we talked about how no matter your size or physical ability, the gym can be an extremely vulnerable place. As we came to the mutual conclusion that people very well may judge, I shared with her that I was getting over being anything other than what I was in that moment.

So, that means if I’m terrified to step foot in the gym, I show up that day terrified. And if I tremble, I tremble. If I cry, I cry.  What I’ve learned more than anything from this blog is that people respond favorably to authenticity.  It is what all my favorite bloggers, writers, artists have in common. They have carved out some space and through some medium they have managed to communicate their truth clearly and courageously.

speak+the+truthIt has been my greatest lesson of 2014: honesty.  In the beginning of the year when I told P2AD that I couldn’t do it anymore it changed so much. I lost a very dear relationship and in some ways I lost an image of myself I’d been holding for nearly 20 years. Because of who I thought I had to be in relationship with him, I refused to own all the parts of myself, because some wouldn’t fit. There wasn’t enough room, enough air for both of us to fully breathe. And when I was honest with myself and with him I let go and I took my very first deep breath in a long time.

The tailspin of that loss caused my work to suffer. I wasn’t completing assignments on time or at all. I was giving the bare minimum but it was genuinely as much as I could do because I was so checked-out. I had to be honest with my professors. I had to tell them where I was, and I had to ask for more time. I had to or I was going to have serious repercussions for my actions and inactions.

When it came time move, I was overwhelmed by the cost of everything. Deposits, furniture, lights cable, and all of this while my teaching contract was ending and I was heading home for my sister’s graduation. I had to just be honest. Told my roommate what was going on so she could understand my frustration and my hesitation. Then I told someone who could help and I got my finances fixed.

Little did I know my finances would take a dive over the summer. Things out of my control and things I couldn’t help. I struggled and held it in and I tried to keep it together for months. Summer bled into fall and I finally reached the point where I told my friends what was happening. Not for help with the solution but because it was killing me to just be struggling, feeling hopeless and unsupported. Well, I wasn’t receiving support because no one knew I needed it!

They all serve as examples, but they happened one after the other in quick succession and from it I’ve taken the lesson that you cannot be afraid of your truth. Repeat:

YOU CANNOT BE AFRAID OF YOUR TRUTH.

Further, you cannot be afraid to ask for what you need. Asking for help has always made me feel gross, for lack of a better term. I feel irresponsible, I feel incapable, I feel like I should know better, and more than all this, I feel other people think these things of me. If they do, they never say so.

I believe it was time to begin to tell a different story.  That it is perfectly okay to need. That is perfectly okay to struggle, in fact we are all struggling with something.  That it is perfectly okay to not know. That is is perfectly acceptable to make a mistake. To fall down, to cry, to hurt, to bleed to scream, to take your time getting up and to ask for a hand to hold for a while. It is okay to ask people to give you time. It is okay to let go of the people who cannot, trust that it has little to do with you and more to do with them. Similarly, it is okay to tell someone their time is up with you. I am of the opinion that people may not like the truth, they may be frustrated by it, they may hurt as a result of it, but when the dust settles, they are deeply appreciative for it.  Because truth makes room for other truth.  It allows for all of us to show up in a more authentic way.

My truths have put me through the ringer this year. I’ve wondered if I’ll find a life partner who can accommodate and appreciate all of me. I’ve wondered how I can balance both financial stability fulfilling purpose. I’ve wondered how I can own temporary inabilities without incorporating them into permanent states of being. There will always be questions. There will always be more to unearth, but because I am always becoming.

And honestly, it is a privilege to be doing so.

Love and the woman I am

I knew I was different when I asked you to share the sky with me.

I had a thought the the other night, one I’ll reserve from saying outright because despite my own belief that this is my personal private journal, I know many people read it. Anyway I had a thought which fundamentally changed the way that I look at myself. In a great way.

I think it began last week at yoga. I was on my mat struggling though poses, and willing myself to just stay with it. I hate downward dog. For many reasons but mostly because it’s supposed to be a resting position and it instead feels like my body is going to implode from all the work I’m doing.

I was shaking and went to my knees and into child’s pose. But every time downward dog came up, I would try again. Even if I only held it for a few seconds. And I made an important decision: that a few seconds was enough. I also, at the end of class right before corpse pose, told myself I loved myself. And I meant it. I love and appreciate who I am and I know and respect who I am not. I felt a great peace in both speaking and receiving that message.

Then Saturday night I asked myself if this person I believed so ardently was me, was really me? I was telling myself a story about having to have a certain type of life and certain type if career and really income. And I looked at it in a totally new way. And I asked myself why not THIS? Swirling the decision around in my mind like red wine in a glass. I breathed it in and felt the rich full bodied flavor of the consideration. It was sound. It felt good.

20140310-072623.jpgImmediately after liking the thought I said, “Wow! You have NEVER thought that before.” It felt impossible. It felt improbable. It felt like someone other than me. But in coming to terms with myself, I realize that it is a part of me. A part. As is independence, ambition, competence, humility, and love. Love is a big part. And I want to be a woman who loves.

That was the theme from the women’s retreat I got to attend. “Let us be women who love.” And why not? I want to live a life that maximizes the amount of love in the world. Not just for me but for others as well. So if that means entertaining new thoughts; being a new and improved (honored and accepted) version of you, then that’s what it means.

My Person Our Morals

down_the_rabbit_hole_by_fit51391-d5m5uk0My best friend, whom I refer to as My Person (as does she for me) has always been judgmental.  I say this matter-of-factly, she has always had an opinion and a very clear view of right and wrong.  Mine definitely used to be stronger and we shared our judgy ways, but I abandoned clear-cut opinions long before she.  As much as other people and sometimes I wanted her to abandon her strict judgments, she rarely ever did.  As we grew closer it was something I came to rely on, her moral compass always pointed North, so to speak.

However, as we have grown older we have often found ourselves in situations that we never thought we would be in.  We have been the women we said we would never be, I have done things and put myself in situations that I thought could never happen to me.  Through all of it, we were witnesses to each others’ lives and if we were judging, we suspended it in support of one another.  Never were my feelings as hurt as when she told me how she left out details of a past relationship because she didn’t want me to judge her for being naive or dumb.  I, of course, had felt similarly at times but figured that we have already seen each other at our worst, nothing I could do could be any uglier than that.

Lately, I’ve been indulging my ID.  Knowingly engaging in not-so-good-for-me behaviors in an effort to not feels so consumed by the P2AD situation. I do not enjoy ruminating or obsessing not even over the good things.  I can feel myself get annoyed when yet another journal entry or blog post becomes about him.  So I’ve been living other life. Life that is perhaps more questionable and murky.  I’ve been telling My Person and when I most needed her to publicly shame me into snapping out of it, she’s been amazingly supportive.  You don’t understand, I’ve told her, I need you to tell me its wrong!

I realize how this sounds. Damn my best friend for not judging me and understanding my situation…but no, literally, damn her.  As I slip down the rabbit hole she was the one person I could count on to tell me not to go, to turn around, to remind me that none of it was real.  I wish I could say that I was strong enough to tell myself.  Well…part of me knows. The parts of me that sound like the old her exist and voice their opinions, “You should be ashamed of yourself…” “You should know better…” should should should. I ignore it.  And she’s let me.

Now, as the pin on my moral compass dances wildly, the lines of right and wrong have become debatable.  Start and Finish look the same, and any and all action can be justified. All but one. The want I want most and have to keep reminding myself I can’t have. The shoulds haven’t stopped me from wanting it and I’m hoping if the opportunity ever presents itself, my morals will return to me.  Something tells me they won’t. Just the guilt of, after the fact. Just like last time, and the time before that…

Woman as only I mean it

I was sifting through tumblr wasting time until sleep caught me when I ran across the following quote: “Life is too short for shitty sex and bad relationships. So go find someone who fucks you right and treats you how you deserve to be treated.” I immediately reblogged it grateful that my Tumblr which is largely unfollowed by anyone I actually know is still a space where I feel free to express all parts of myself. As I contemplated tweeting the quote I was hit with the notion of, “well who follows me?” Professionally, personally I want to be cognizant of how I say things and what I say. And in the same moment of consideration I thought how stifling. And so I tweeted it. And here I am writing about it in a blog post that will later be published to facebook.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Beyoncé Grammy performance and the backlash she received over being so openly sexual. Since when is it anti-feminist to be a sexual being? Isn’t that the exact point of the feminist movement? So that women get to make their own definitions of self? I’m aware of the arguments that say well women fought so hard for us to be so much more than sexual beings for the pleasure of men. Well, and does that mean I can NEVER be a sexual being for MY man without derailing years of sorority? I don’t find myself in defense of Beyoncé but certainly of her right to be whatever the hell she wants to be as an artist and as a woman. I want the same for myself.

I think so many people are uncomfortable with their own sexual selves that the projection of sexual images upsets them to no end. We can’t stand to look at the parts of ourselves in others we openly intrapersonally ignore. So how does that become my problem?

I have to do constant work around this. I recently had someone tell me after reading my blog and then meeting me in person their experience of me did not match my online presence. And I apologized that her experience of me was different than she expected. But the more it sat with me the more I wondered, why am I apologizing? How much is me and how much was their own projections into the situation? And even if it were me, even if on that day in that moment I was the biggest bitch of the west, is that cause to apologize? That was me in that moment. I am allowed to be sad. Mad. Angry. Cold. Dismissive. Stoic. Introspective. Allusive. Or whatever else, right? And it’s not about right or wrong it’s about understanding that however you treat people has a consequence. I genuinely didn’t mean to treat them poorly (if in fact I did which I did not recall). But it’s about that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. But maybe I’m okay with that and whatever it might mean. It’s really no ones call but my own.

I just find myself really calling into question so many of the rules and pictures I used to hold so sacred. I lived and died by precedence and tradition, Shoulds and supposed-tos. And now it’s just not that cut and dry. I write “woman” in my own handwriting and it means exactly what I mean it to. Nothing more or less. I define it myself and others opinion of me is of little concern to me, in that regard. I care immensely about those closest to me and how my actions affect them and how my actions affect my greater global community. But I simply cannot live in fear of disappointing, or in hopes of being affirmed. I’m learning to affirm myself.

20140202-030314.jpgThere’s a line in Perks of Being a Wallflower, “I would die for you, but I won’t live for you.” It’s kind of like that. So for me it means talking about sex. And emotions. And love. And sometimes not talking at all. My womanness is swollen with pride she stores in her hips and thighs. I don’t need to apologize for that. I don’t need to feel ashamed of a need or want to be touched, cared for, adorned, or taken care of be it sexually spiritually emotionally all of the above or otherwise. I read this article yesterday titled, “All I really need is a good f*ck and someone to pick me up at the airport.” It was satirical yet honest and I wanted to share it but felt the shame pour over me as I considered what other people would think about me reading such things. I shared it with a few friends but felt disappointed in my inability to shake the Shoulds. Who is this person I’m supposed to be? What ideals am I living up to? Who am I really disappointing by silencing myself? This is who I am. Let me be her. All of here. Let me carry her where ever I should go.

If I’m making my own rules, my own path, my own way then let it start with that. No apologies. I’m tired of being sorry for shit I’m not sorry for. I’ve been telling the truth, my truth, more than ever lately. As I grow my evolution has been such a shedding. I don’t feel the same pull to protect myself. I feel more secure in who I am and strong enough to handle the consequences of my actions. And more than that, I want people around me who understand that, who understand that I love them but I love me, too. And who, in some way, are doing the same things: Working. Living. And throwing Emily Post out the damn window. Looking for joy in small cracks, dancing when the mood strikes, and having sex when the itch needs to be scratched.

And doing so without apology.

Torchbearer’s Creed

There are very few things I love more than my alma mater, and anyone who spends any extensive time with me can attest to that.  From my Tennessee home key, to my “you’ll always be…” necklace, to the orange and white checkered post-it notes that sit on my desk, I am a Tennessee Volunteer through and through. But if I had to choose one thing that stood out among the traditions born on Rocky Top I would solidly choose the Torchbearer’s Creed.

One that beareth a torch shadoweth oneself to give light to others.

I found myself standing with these words on Saturday as I thought of a goal for myself: to be the torch and the torchbearer. When I made the proclamation I was thinking of being fire–owning the power that is within me that, yes, has the potential to destroy but also has the potential to warm and sustain–and also being the giver of light to others.  This brought my life long goal full-circle.  I have always only ever wanted to inspire people. Simple, right? The piece that was missing was the former part, recognizing that in order to give others’ their light, I have to first be the light.

I woke up this morning in a curious predicament. I was wrapped up in my blankets and sheets, quite literally they had formed a cocoon around me and as I came into full consciousness I wondered what on earth had I done in my sleep? I rarely ever move in my sleep, and yet here I had swaddled myself in the night.  My morning ritual is to begin by saying thank you to God and expressing gratitude for anything that comes to mind.  So I began my thanks, and as my feet hit the floor I knew something was different. I felt different.  Now, it would be awfully cliche to suggest that on the night I cocooned myself in my bedding that the next morning I emerged this wonderfully transcendent and enlightened butterfly, and I am not suggesting that.  What I am suggesting is that today and everyday after today will be markedly different than the days that have preceded it.

Last night in hearing the incredible gifts that each of my colleagues, friends, and confidants shared in class was was so therapeutic. One in particular though was in so many ways my story and as he offered how he would go through it all again just to be where he was today with us, that there was and is a divine reason and order for everything.  So when I woke this morning I said thank you to my father. And I thanked him for the hard time that I/we went through between 2007-2009. I thanked him for loving me in the very best way that he knew how.  I forgave myself for making him the villain in so many stories I’ve told and I understood that had it not been what it was, I could not be where I am.  Similarly, in the moments of last night I thanked my weight. It sounds weird to admit. But, had it not been for the sheer volume of my physical body…I remember it was raining on perhaps one of, if not the, darkest days of my life and thinking I could just as easily disappear…and that I would go through with committing to my physical nonexistence if it were not for leaving this ugly body to then be handled and seen by all sorts of people. Its really…honestly its fucked up to think about and it seems so far away in the emotional memory of me, but it was there. I couldn’t die without being beautiful first, and that meant thin. So I thanked my weight because if I had been anything but 334lbs in that moment, I might have done something irreparable.

And then there is right now, the moment where I see the immense value of my life and am very aware of my purpose during my time here. The space where I see what I have to offer and am beginning to find outlets to engage and grow. The place where I recognize the gifts that those around me have to offer and I am inspired by them. I live in a garden with so much potential around me and it is exciting and inspirational and a blessing.

When I consider where I was and where I am, I have this overwhelming feeling of gratitude. It is with absolutely grace that I look over the events in my life and think, my god was it beautiful.  I learned to stand alone when I was left. I learned the gift in living when I most wanted to die. I learned the power of my own voice when I was asked to be quiet. So I suppose this is but a continued portion of my morning ritual, a moment of thanks.

4736433638_c21b813e01_mSince the time of my depression I have not considered my own mortality. I have never thought of what it might be like to not be here anymore, and while I do not fear death it is quite an awesome (in the true sense of the word) state to contemplate. What I smile at is that by spreading my own light, that pieces of me will exist in anyone ignited by my flame. And in that way, we are all infinite…as is by design. What is perhaps the most cool thing about the universe’s way is that it only works if we are a we…we are not an multitude of i’s. That is the only way it works, as a collective; the creed too because it is with the other that I, the torchbearer, find my purpose. And to that I have to say thank you to you, simply for being and in doing so, bringing me into existence.

My 2nd Palm Reading and dream residue

Yesterday when I woke up I knew I wanted my palm read. My first reading was more card pulling than palm reading and I know that energy can shift…I felt like I had made a shift and I wondered more about it. So in a round about way, I ended up in Balboa park forking over $10 to an Indian clairaudiant.

Before I sat she told me about herself. As she rattled off her stories of incredible proximity to improbable phenomenon I thought to myself, when she touches me, I’ll know. And she did, and I did. She felt like a barely moving river; thick glass surface with ripping currents and bellowing life just beneath. I felt all of time as she navigated my hand with her own.

You’re going to live just past 85, you’ll get sick around 62 but it won’t take you out–you’ll get weaker though. She made mention of it being the same thing my mother and grandmother deal with: diabetes. Nausea crept up into my throat and I was suddenly very aware of just how much I hate that disease. Next she spoke of my career, how it will change twice. I followed her gaze and silently agreed, well yes. Academic to writer, and writer to…I am not quite sure what to call myself other than a servant. Each career change taking a bigger and bolder step into my calling.

I see lots of travel here, have you begun to travel? I laughed and told her I’d just gotten back from a trip, she said mm and there are more. My heart did not soar the way it used to when I thought of travelling. Not because I am less excited by it, but perhaps because it is no longer lingering over my head reminding me of what I perceived as some sort of social deficiency. I realize how silly that may sound, but for a long time it was my truth. And it took my trip to realize that nothing really ever gives you validation–there are always those with more and those with less and you have to be okay with where you fall.

Romance…you’ve had three loves, but they are fading away in order to make room for your great love. You’re a romantic and love the love story. You believe in love at first sight, you’ll only be married once and your husband will be sensitive to you, caring and protective. She said all the things I am afraid to really want. I guess it boils down to vulnerability. What if I admit I want it and don’t get it? But honestly, is it any secret? This notion of a great love…when I breathe it smells like sunshine and makes me smile from my liver. Oh, she said, you have a weakness for beautiful men, better looking than average. Be careful of that because it wont ever go away. Nail on head. She continued, they are beautiful and pull you in, then they hurt you and when you pull away you retreat completely. You just said a mouthful there, Sister.

Its one part me, I love beautiful things. I like flowers, fashion, and art, and dance, and colors…why should men be any different? And its one part insecurity, because it obviously says something about me if I am able to capture (and hold) the attention of coveted men, right? And I’m working on that. I don’t want to be defined by things or people outside of myself. I don’t want to measure my own self worth by my affiliations…

Which begets a Sidebar. Some of you know I was finally going to pursue Sorority X. Their alumnae chapter was having a line and I had all the connections keeping me informed. Well, 5 days after I leave for South America they had the rush meeting. So I missed it. You cannot imagine the devastation and the heartbreak. At one point I said, I wish I’d not made it on my own accord versus something like this awful happenstance. Then I think, no…because I needed to know that there is nothing wrong with me. That it was just not time. That I am not any less of an incredible woman because of my lack of sorority affiliation. And while that lesson was painful, it is perhaps the only way I could have really learned it.

And I knew it. I had a feeling I was not going to do it a month ago. Which leads me back to my reading. She pointed out stars in my palm, stars she says which indicate psychic and intuitive abilities. Everyone has intuition, she explained, but yours is heightened. Its strong. Oh I know it is, its how I knew she was a piece of my truth.

The last bits of interest were about my life. I will have fame and fortune that I do not want. Again, nail on head. However, she said, it will allow you to provide and so you’ll accept it. Also, I’ll have one child. She said, I see an undeveloped line for a child and another strong one. And she paused and looked at me and I knew. I could feel her not saying it, loss. But the one will be a joy to you, she said. And you’ll always have people around you, people who love you, but you keep a smaller circle than it seems. You really only nurture 2-3 relationships at a time. Not because you don’t want to, but because it takes too much energy.

She gets me.

I paid my bill, and added a tip and she turned my hand over and looked. She commented on my artistic nature…my creativity and my intellect. My stubbornness and heels I dig in the sand. And she sent me on my way.

And while people may not agree with how I choose to spend my Saturday afternoons…I have decided I can’t care in 2013. I’ve resolved that in addition to surrender, I will not be accepting poison in the form of negativity when it is offered to me. I will acknowledge it for what it is, call it by its name and go the other way. Something she didn’t tell me was how familiar I have become with myself. Which, ironically, was how I could appreciate her gift to me and accept it with earnest.

I suppose it is time to make amends with the dreams that scare me. Because now they’re not so secret, the mystics know.

Brene Brown and the entire kitchen sink

I have mini panic attacks that my advisor is going to me angry with me. I keep finding elements that have to be a part of my dissertation. Right now it feels like I’ve got all these extremities of work and yet I sorely need them to be a body. So far I have:

  1. Spirituality
  2. Leadership
  3. Creativity
  4. Grief
  5. Decision Making

While that does not seem like a lot…it’s a lot. What is even more frustrating is that I have become increasingly more patient through uncertainty, despite myself really.  I have developed the ability to sit and wait for things to unfold rather than force them or manipulate them in any way. So, I’m waiting, and in the meantime I think my advisor is going to kill me.

Very few writers, researchers, “storytellers”, have influenced me in the way that Brene Brown has; mind you this is an extremely recent thing, too.  The way that she talks about her work, the way that she conducts her research it does not seem like work! It looks joyous, and fulfilling, and there is so much passion in that work–she’s inspirational on different levels.  And while I realize that she has been researching for many years, it appealed to me, and I cannot do it any other way.  Again, my advisor…

When I think of what I want to do, the outcome of my own work, I want to understand the role that spirituality plays in the decision making process.  In that, I believe I will find themes of guilt, grief, creativity, and self-care practices along with many others–I am open to being surprised. I also assume that as people are more developmentally mature, they will experience and describe spirituality in very different ways. I definitely find that where we are in life greatly shapes the perspective we have on it.

My work is on the individual, but it is about a collective. Are “we” recognizing that “we” are connected to one another? Do I consider this connectedness when I made decisions? Do others? My guess here would be that if there is an external consideration that it is likely family, or if its a professional decision, the system or organization.  However, how many people are thinking globally? Jung describes the presence of a collective unconscious and I wonder how many people not just know about it, but live in constant awareness of it?

Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.”
― Brené Brown,The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

When I heard Brene speak about her work, specifically her experience with her research topics, I felt like I was given permission to be present in my own work.  Honestly, how could you not be? There is something in us all that draws us to our passions, our vocations.  I loved that her cognitive aptitude did not excuse her from the very human experience of shame that she was studying.  I love that she admitted that.

If I sit back and think about what got me to this topic it was literally a moment sitting in Terri’s office crying thinking, “How did I get to this place? How did I arrive here?” My answer, that came later, was that a series of very spiritually governed decisions led me here.  And an idea was born. Brene says to “dance with the one who brung you.” And for me it is going to be those two things: spirit and choice.

Perhaps it’ll be as “simple” as this: Understanding the role of Spirituality in Decision-Making: A Comparative study between Student Affairs Professionals, and Tenure-Track University Faculty.  And perhaps it won’t.

One last thought, Brene mentioned that shame will often try to make us question ourselves by asking, “Who do you think you are?” I experienced that earlier this week, and earlier this month. Those moments where I call out my audacity, and side-eye myself.  WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE.  My mind answered in a small tiny quiet faux-humble voice and began, “I am just…” and my heart said with great certainty, NO. You are ANYTHING but “just”.  And I liked that answer. I told it to shame and I haven’t heard anything since.

 

Sincerely, Jess, “Anything but Just” J.

The end of chapter 2

I just read this: As someone who knew me during the dark days, Simone even suggested that I had found my heart’s calling. “You needed something to propel you out of your survival story, Jane,” she said. “It wasn’t working for you. You didn’t know how powerful you are on a universal level…”

So naturally, I cried. But it was okay because only moments before I read, “I’ve never been a crier. But when the heart is this full, it must overflow.” The words come from an article by Jane Ganahl about her calling to rescue cats–a topic I’m not particularly passionate about, but pulled relentlessly on my heart strings. As I read the first quote I mentioned, I placed my hand over my heart and wept. And I thought, that’s me. That’s me, with people. People are my cats.
image

I rarely claim to do things well. Which, I suppose, is befitting because my motto in life is do less, well. However, I an excellent writer and I am an excellent listener. When I listen to a person its a spiritual experience, much like my writing process. I’ve learned not to close my eyes, though that would be my preference, and its like I plug in to right now. I hear things sometimes that I do not call attention to. I used to say I’m not sure the other person was ready for it to be spoken. Though, I think it may also be that I am not. Ready, or willing. Because see, when you call people out on an intangible “truth” they can easily deny it. Then my ego takes a mighty blow. Whap! Right across the jaw. That’ll teach you to meddle. And then I shut up.

But this past week as I was writing a paper for a class I have with Cheryl (my advisor), I found myself accidentally telling the truth. After I submitted I remember thinking, I don’t know what she’s going to say about that… that paper is the first assignment I’ve had since Zachary’s very accurate accusal of leaving myself out of my work. As I sat to write, I felt like I do when I’m here writing. In a zone, a trance and at total peace. I had a short conversation with myself in my head: Ego: Cheryl said specifically, don’t copy one of your blog posts, but here you are blog writing. Self: academic me, blogger me, same-same.

So, I wrote that. I wrote that my goal in life professionally is to not lose my Self in this world of academia. I cited some authors but wrote that I wasn’t sure yet who all I wanted to study, but as I live I’ll know. And after it was done I said to Cheryl (in my head) give it the grade you think it deserves, but I didn’t complete that assignment for you. I did it for me, so it had to be my way. I am at peace with that. All is well with my soul.

And so it seems this PhD journey just got a bit more interesting. There has definitely been a shift, a shift since this summer. A shift since the kundalini. And a calling out by Zachary, but not in a superficial way. He literally called me out of hiding. The space that used to feel safe and secure now feels restrictive and confining. He called me OUT. He pulled me out of my survival story.

So begins the next chapter…

Everyday miracles

I believe in all the things that are normally left in fairy tales and make-believe. I know angels to be real and love when I see little timestamps in my journey that tell me I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Last night I had statistics class. I hate it. For a lot of reasons, but mostly because its just not my cup of tea. It also does not help that every example we get to make the content “real” is biology related, but I am taking it in the nursing school. Needless to say I spend a lot of the class lost. Yesterday ways particularly difficult for some reason, I am not sure why. Normally, our professor gives us the last 45 minutes or so to do our homework and everyone stays to take advantage of her help. Last night, I couldn’t do it.

I walked out of class frustrated at not being even the slightest bit interested in a class at this stage in my education, and then the funky spiral. I got upset because I wanted to go home and couldn’t because it gets dark so early now that walking home is not the best idea. And I hate that my plans to get a car are always ruined by some unfortunate circumstance. I had worked myself up and just wanted my bed to be my fortress of solitude.

Then I looked down at my phone and saw an email from my student asking about extra credit. I remembered that I’d sent them to “some leadership workshop” and thought, well let’s see what I’ve sent them too. I walked to the UC imagining how nice it would be to have my own car finally and to be able to just come and go as I please. I was lost in thought the whole walk over. As I arrived to my destination I thought about a classmate who works in the building. I thought maybe she’d be around and I could ask her for a ride home. So, I touched the handle and said outloud, “find something to be grateful for.”

Ten steps later I get to the doors of the workshop and its Zachary. And Crystal. And my advisor. I also saw Mass Elle, who I’d been texting earlier about how miserable I felt in stats class. I looked around the room and found lots of familiar welcoming faces and I took my seat and joined the work.

The thing that I have to laugh at was how I so desperately wanted home. Its all I could focus on, and now here I was dedicating another hour to being on campus, but that space with those people was and is home. Not only that, but the work we were doing was work I told Zachary I wanted to do more of with him. Well played, God. Well played.

So there was still the issue of going home. How was I going to get there? Mass Elle told me I could just take her car and drive back in the morning. I could have cried. Not because of her offer, though it was incredibly kind and I am grateful for it. But because of the quick return on my prayer. I needed that independence, to feel it, it have it affirmed and if only circumstantial and if only for one night.

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When I went downstairs to get keys from Mass Elle I saw the book Blue Like Jazz which I have referenced several times. There it was just sitting there on her desk. I asked her who’s it was and she didn’t know, but I knew. It was there for me to notice. For me to be sure that in this moment I am where I am supposed to be. In every sense; physically, mentally, spiritually, etc. I recalled the opening lines…

I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.

I also took one more step in the direction of choosing teaching. Because, after all, it was my students who lead me there. When Henry asked me what was important to me right now (because, he said, this same thing will govern the trajectory of my next years) I thought of two things, family and seeing people go within. That’s really what I want to do. I want to show people the way. Not my way, the way, so really “I” just want to get out the way.

Two things just struck me, the night I saw Henry, he sang this little light of mine with his wife, my advisor, what an appropriate song for the space. And also, some of our students put up a board outside the Student Life building with the question, “what is it you have been called to do?” I wrote big as day in bright orange marker, LOVE~thats all there is~

Way to bring it full circle. Again, well played, God, well played.

After the fact: delayed gratification

I was sifting through my twitter account looking at how much junk ends up on my feed. So, I started to delete some people and follow others.  I started with Wayne Dyer, poaching his followers then Marianne Williamson, then Louise Hay…and as I read the bios of the handful of people they follow it started to get repetitive. New York Times Bestselling Author! Spiritual Healer! Psychic! Etc. I found it a bit obnoxious then asked myself, why shouldn’t they be proud of their accomplishments? It was then that I realized I’d gotten past the “You’re not ____________ enough” part of shame and was now in the “who do you think you are?!” loop. Yuck!

So I thought back to a desire I have sometimes, to be one of these great spiritual leaders. I was literally considering that perhaps there is a new generation of healers, gurus, mystics, that are blossoming right now, and maybe I am one of them. Then I thought, but I want to know the now generation! Then it dawned on me that (omg) I met the Dalai Lama!

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama shaking my hand

I shook hands, was blessed by, have a picture with THE Dalai Lama! Of course, if any of you recall that actual day I met him, I felt so numb to it because I was worried about all the wrong things. Now, however, I look back and am like wait…this happened for a reason. This picture was captured for a reason. The only photo that was taken of him with the 6 students in the entire university and I was the sole graduate student…it has a purpose. I allowed myself to consider it as foreshadowing and total joy washed over me.

Taking also into account my meeting with Jack Canfield (the New York Times Bestselling Author of the Chicken soup series) I laughed as I wrote that. But I met him at age 8 or 9 and he said to me, See you famous! I have to believe that its no coincidence I’ve met these great influences in positivity and well-being. Oprah is coming.

I feel, sometimes, that my Self is the most patient being on earth as she often has to wait for me to “get it”. I worked for 3 years diligently on knowing that I am enough. I plan to get the “who do you think you are” much more quickly. I’ll borrow the words from Marianne as I often do,” We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Now that is something.