Hold It: Reflecting in WAIT

I’m not so good at waiting.

I tend to be a girl who, when she makes up her mind, jumps into action. This is a quality I’m proud of, you see. And something that a former sufferer of Generalized Anxiety Disorder didn’t naturally come to. I had to fight my way towards my “yes and…” sensibilities. I had to relearn that to freeze the wasn’t the best and exclusive option.

So this month’s verb had me stammering a bit. In a bit way that I would start then pause, but momentum would drag me forward a bit. It took some relearning and leaning into the discomfort that had previously been sanctuary.

It’s hard to deprogram, I guess is what I’m saying.

But anytime I resisted the first waiting game, I recallef one of my Rules of Adulthood. Anything that I feel must be said or done RIGHT NOW absolutely should NOT be said or done.

The immediacy is the key here. Anything that I’m so wrapped around that it cannot wait another second has yet to go exactly the way I wanted/planned it to. Rather, my rush ends up morphing my intentions so that things are missed, incorrectly articulated, or haphazardly done.

So even if/when it is against my revised baser instinct, sometimes it is best to not proceed forward. To give things time to marinate.

The TEDFellowship application.

Asking for a raise right after discovering disconcerting news.

Severing ties with my tarot group.

These are all things that I hesitated on. Deliberately. Effortfully. Intentionally.

Not only because of this month’s verb but because, dare I say, maturation. Evolution. And perhaps a bit realization that the in-between space I’ve avoided for so long isn’t as much of a compromise as it is a place to strive for.

A Big Shift: Reflecting on CROSS

Smack dab in the middle of May was when Uranus made a major transit, CROSSing the part of the sky where the constellation Aries is to the part ruled by Taurus. I’ve become increasingly interested in astrology over the past several years; similar to the tarot cards I read, I don’t know how these things apply but they certainly appear accurate.

Uranus shakes things up. It’s a Big Picture planet that shakes things up so it can rebuild them. It’s about evolution and innovation, destruction and replanting. The Sign it crosses is big picture and the House is how it manifests in your personal life. (I’m by no means an expert, so you best head to AstroCodex if you want to know more).

Case and point, from 2011 through May 15, 2018, Uranus crossed Aries in my 4th House, the one that rules your family and home. During that time I got divorced and moved five times in six years; one of which was across the country and the most recent into a house that I love and can see myself in for a very long time. Josh and I moved the last weekend of April and were all settled by mid-May.

Y’all, I felt Uranus in my 4th House. It was really fucking hard a lot of the time but it brought me where I was meant to be. In fact, throughout that transition I discussed that feeling a lot. That things weren’t perfect by a long shot, but I felt settled in ways I’d never experienced before.

And this month, I really let those lessons marinate. I took stock and expressed thanks for all the good in my life — the man I love, the home we’re building, the city I now call home, all the opportunity and growth that have come as a result.

So now that Uranus is entering Taurus, my 5th House of romantic relationships, creativity, and… kids (given mine and Josh’s medical backgrounds I doubt an unexpected pregnancy will be an be an issue. While this can be a little daunting I have a hunch it’ll be an enlightening seven years. We’ll be able to grow into and with one another. I’ll feel more settled in my creative outlet. And in all my reflection, I spent a substantial amount of energy thinking about what I want to manifest this cycle. How can I express my creativity both at work and personally? What can I do to expand and grow my relationship with Josh? How do I prepare myself for the upheavals that are bound to happen?

This month will surely prove to be a challenging one, as it will force both Steph and I to go against our baser natures… this June we WAIT.


Check out Steph’s #VOWcross post (coming soon!)

Exactly this…

Sister forwarded me enough articles from DailyOm that I started subscribing, too.

This darling little article that so perfectly fit our #OneWord2018’s and this year’s VOW schedule. I couldn’t help but share and if this resonates, you may want to get on their daily newsletter list, too.

Contracting Before Expanding

by Madisyn Taylor

It is a natural part of being, that our lives sometimes contract before expanding.

Sometimes our lives contract before they expand. We may be working hard on ourselves spiritually, doing good in the world, following our dreams, and wondering why we are still facing constrictions of all kinds–financial, emotional, physical. Perhaps we even feel as if we’ve lost our spirituality and are stuck in a dark room with no windows. We may be confused and discouraged by what appears to be a lack of progress. But sometimes this is the way things work. Like a caterpillar that confines itself to a tiny cocoon before it grows wings and flies, we are experiencing the darkness before the dawn.

When things feel tight, it’s easy to panic or want to act in some way to ease the feeling of constriction. We might also spin our wheels mentally, trying to understand why things are the way they are. However, there is nothing we need to do at this time other than to be patient and persevering. We can cling to the awareness that we are processing the shift from one stage to another, and the more we surrender to the experience, the more quickly we will move through the tightness into the opening on the other side. Just like a baby making its way down the birth canal, we may feel squeezed and pushed and very uncomfortable, but if we remember that we are on our way to being born into a new reality, we will find the strength to carry on.

Even as we endure the contractions, we can find peace within ourselves if we remember to trust the universe. We can look to the natural world for inspiration as we see that all beings surrender to the process of being born. In that surrender, and in the center of our own hearts, is a willingness to trust in the unknown as we make our way through the opening.

 

#VOWcommit: The price is high; the reward is great.

My first question is this: How the fuck is it May?

I think back to March, to #VOWseek, and I was so set on taking respite. I needed it. I basked in it. March was lovely.

Then April hit, #VOWcommit, and it was full speed ahead. I can’t say that I necessarily took on anything new in April, but I did get serious about a few things in my mind: working out, creating, my Tribe, and my person.

My goal is always to exercise more days in a month than I don’t. I normally make it, but last month it was a solid 18/30. I felt good about it. I still do. I can see the changes in my body.

I made all of the art. I created a visual resume. I got my website up. There are prints for sale. I took a couple of classes. An art dealer came to my apartment (i.e., my studio for a visit). She sparked something in me. I’m doing another 30-day creation challenge.

I showed up for my Tribe. They showed up for me. I don’t know that I was as present for Sister as I needed to be, but she was always on my heart. I was always celebrating her moments, and she had some big ones. I spent a lot of time at my church, a little bookstore with a lot of heart, where my Tribe was born.

I feel like my person and I made a transition. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but I think we have settled in for a bit.

And all of these things have left me, over and over again, completely breathless with gratitude. I am so incredibly thankful for this life, because I know I have a lot—and I am fucking in love with it.

April was lovely.

But other things happened in April too, even though I don’t know exactly how.

The work-life balance that I have put so much effort into cultivating has turned into solid 10-hour days. I’m having trouble sleeping again. My mind is constantly on a low buzz, chewing on not-enoughs and should-ing all over itself; I spent hours between sleep and awake digesting. My body is in revolt. I watched two of my dearest friends’ hearts break and then shatter all over East DC. I began to let anxiety start to steal my joy, to follow those breathless moments of thankfulness with fear—what if it goes away?

 And today, I woke up—after a beautiful weekend—groggy, wishing for more sleep, more weekend. And I cried. Because it was the only thing I could do in that moment. And then I went to work, and I emailed Sister and texted the Tribe with a sort of SOS. And they got me through the day.

And tonight, when I sat down to write this post, I remembered an April five years ago.

I had just come through a battle. With alcohol. With a love that I almost singlehandly destroyed (with a little help from Afghanistan—probably a war that was never meant for me but taught me a lot). With myself.

But I fought hard for my joy, and I remember waking up in Baltimore one morning, in my favorite apartment ever—Apartment 207 was formidable—and realizing that happiness is a choice.

There are moments when life in life when it is just easier. And maybe life itself isn’t easy, but there are times when joy and gratitude come more readily. When they are your default.

And then there are moments when it doesn’t. Even if you are doing all the right things, and everything seems exactly as it should be. In fact, you know in your bones, you are exactly where you should be.

I think that’s when the real battle begins.

You start to realize maybe there are things you could be doing more right. Thoughts you could let go more quickly. Anxiety you shouldn’t trust. More art. More writing. More reading. More yoga. More meditation. More.

And you find yourself fighting invisible enemies on more than one front, and they are sinking your battleships.

That’s today.

But happiness is a choice; joy is my default—it’s tattooed on my arm, my ever-present reminder, as a dear friend put it.

So, it’s May now, but I am committing to that declaration: happiness is a choice; joy is my default.

I have no idea what this month, #VOWcross, will bring, but I am ready.

To wake up tomorrow and remember that I’ve been here before:  this wilderness, where, as Maya Angelou put it, “You are only free when you realize you belong place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”

And you go to HRH Brené and find the words that speak to you:

Rarely do you have the gift of knowing you’re inside a moment that will be part of what defines you….What do you do when you’ve spent the majority of your life moving to try to fit in, and all of a sudden Maya Angelou is singing to you and telling you not to be moved? You learn how to plant your damn feet is what you do. You bend and stretch and grow, but you commit to not moving from you who are. Or at the very least, you start trying.

So tomorrow, I will wake up in my bed and spend a few minutes breathing, because meditation doesn’t have to be more than that. And I’ll start looking for a new yoga studio, where I can breathe just as freely.

I’ll remember that the wilderness is a place I have chosen, and I will choose happiness.

This month, we

cross.

 


Be sure to check out Lin’s #VOWseek and #VOWcross mashup post here.

Go Big and Go Home: Reflecting on Seek & Commit

April was a full on sprint. We closed on the house March 30th, flew to Cuba April 5th thru 10th (gorgeous, amazing, you should go), wrote a 18-page paper on the impacts of frequent porn use, submitted for edits, revised by the 23rd, packed and moved into a new house on the 28th. And at the close of the month, we have every box unpacked (thought art has yet to be hung on the walls).

May 1st thru 4th we hosted my dad and his girlfriend then an old college friend stayed the weekend. Yesterday was yard work (I LOVE mowing grass, it’s better than therapy), bought a couch, got some art framed, and finally, *finally* sunk into our chairs to catch up on Westworld.

I didn’t post my March reflection because I flat out didn’t have a single evening to parse my words. But SEEKing came in the form of reading over 50 academic journal articles, working through a mini personal branding course, and scouring Facebook marketplace for furniture and other items we needed for our new home.

But there were smaller moments, too, when I looked around our little apartment and really saw it for the home it already was. I truly loved it’s features; what it lacked in size it made up for in modern details. The horizontal stained wood accent wall, the original black and white bathroom tile, the ginormous farmhouse sink. I snuggled with Josh in the perfectly lit oasis of our bedroom. I inhaled incense on the faux cowhide rug of our meditation room.

I looked for all of it… and then released it.

Because I had some COMMITments to make. I bought my second house, though it’s the first one I’ve ever been deeply, truly, and wholeheartedly in love with. I COMMITTED about as much as a person could in April. I journeyed into debt with My Person, my new city, and my job. For better and for worse, I’m staying right here. And I feel like that’s exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Going big (with EXPANSION) and staying home (with COMMIT) made April hands down the best month in a very long series wonderful months.

 


Be sure to check out Steph’s #VOWcommit post here.

A Series of Fortunate Events (#VOWseek)

“There are times to stay put,
and what you want will come to you,
and there are times to go out into the world
and find such a thing for yourself.”

– Lemony Snicket

 

It’s mid-April, and I am still struggling to write about March, about #VOWseek. I think there is a lot to say, profound things (at least to me) to say but…it’s all still soaking in. Making me think. And that’s all I can ask of it.

When I finished yoga teacher training, at the end of February, I promised myself that I would not take on any new commitments. As I have mentioned before, I have this habit of jumping wholeheartedly into deep journeys, one after the other, without giving myself time to just lie out in the sun—and believe me, my pale skin could use some color.

So, I took the month.

And instead of taking on fresh obligations, I simply took in moments.
I breathed in deeper than I ever have before.
I exhaled without a weight on my chest.

I loosened my grip.
I tried things.
I found things.

Some that I was looking for.
Others that I hadn’t even considered.

But there are passions and plans that made themselves known, and I’m getting serious.

This month, we:

Commit.

The 3 F’s: Reflecting on FREEZE

I spend a large part of my job talking to people who have experienced significant trauma — true trauma that results when a person is fearful for their life. When those type of situations happen, the brain floods the body with a cocktail of hormones which results in one of three options: fight, flight or freeze.

Your brain and body respond to trauma the same regardless of the situation  — be it having a gun pulled on you (in a parking lot, on the field of battle), getting in a car accident, or experiencing a sexual assault. When your brain thinks it is in danger, the reptilian brain stem responds before your frontal lobe can process.

There is no telling what response you’ll have — as much as law enforcement, the military, or gun lobbyists want you to believe. Studies do show that sexual trauma has a higher likelihood of resulting in the freeze response, which is why so, so many victims report that they wanted to do something (run, yell for help, fight their assailant) but for some reason couldn’t move. That’s called tonic immobility and this pseudo-paralysis is a result of the hormone cocktail your brain is dishing out.

In addition to the spending FREEZE I personally challenged myself to this month (I did quite well actually, aside from some frivolous spending when dear friends came to visit), I also spent most of my work days listening to people recount some of the worst moments of their life. People who would discuss the feeling of tonic immobility and wonder what was wrong with them. And I, due to the impartiality of my job, wasn’t able to explain to them that feeling was normal.

So how is this relevant to our VOW? I got sick (again) at the end of this month and was out of the office for a couple of days. I have two tendencies when I get sick: I get bored very quickly and highly emotional. Usually I’m either clingy or weepy, but this time I felt restless. Not because I was essentially bed-ridden but moreso that I wasn’t enough. I felt stuck professionally, spiritually, intellectually, physically. Which is insane because I have so fucking much going on right now — we’re thisclose to closing on our house, I am mentoring a new colleague, I’m kicking ass at classes, I’m in the healthiest relationship I’ve ever known.

I felt so confused about why I was feeling that way, because let me tell you, it was strong. Palpable. I felt FROZEN in my life. And then I realized that perhaps what was happening was a sort of psychological immobility because of the physical manifestation of my illness. Or residual second-hand trauma from my job.

Either way, I decided to grant myself grace. To remind myself that the feeling of being at a standstill wouldn’t last long, and that it was probably only a temporary response to my current situation. That maybe there was a cosmic third-party who could understand my confusion as a normal response.

And here I am, a week later and feeling rejuvenated again. Last month I found something I didn’t realize I needed to see This month I plan to be more active and SEEK out what my soul needs.

Reflecting on #VOWfreeze & Preparing to #VOWseek

I’ve said it before–I’m a woman who does well, exceptionally well, with days that require double what it takes.

What I don’t do so well with is down time. The days in between sticky note goals.

I just finished my 200-hour yoga teacher certification. Just as in yesterday.

It’s been a nearly six-month journey. And I made it. I’m not entirely unscathed, but I’m doing my best to make sure the surface wounds don’t scar.

A dear friend, last year, pointed out this pattern I have…to thrive, survive, and then not take a break. I tend have the next “thing” lined up. And I dive right back in, with barely enough lungs in my air to make it out alive. He encouraged me to remember that, when I was done this time.

I heard him, and I promised myself that after YTT was done, I was going to breathe. I was going to spend time on the surface. Letting my pale skin see some sun.

And when I went to bed last night, it sounded so the plan.

But then I woke up, on a dreary Monday, bone-tired, and I felt it. The little tick I get. My brain is already waxing on the what’s next. Whenever I have a moment of not actively thinking about something, the plans start running around the track. Different ones taking the lead with each corner.

And I start to feel a little sunk already.

But, this time, I am refusing to lean in. I’m swimming up. I am declaring a freeze on making plans as I head into March.

Not all plans…I made some serious weekend ones:
My car’s first roadtrip. A first getaway with the man. A couple days of untimed space to just be.

But the kind that my brain is already starting to taunt me with…I’m saying no.

Because I want days off. Days to appreciate the work that my brain and my body just put in.  Time to figure out what I want to do with that certification. Weekends without alarms. Open calendar space. Nights to dream about what’s next. What I really, really want.

A chance to seek again.

And with that, we head into March.

#VOWfreeze Frame

I’ve been thinking a lot about photos lately.

I take them all the time.
Beauty of an iPhone that is basically another appendage, I guess.

But I don’t print them all that often.
I think I should do more of that.

.  .  .

Jim and Pam used to take pictures of each other.
Mental ones.

They made that camera gesture, and in a single moment, they told each other so many things:

This moment matters to me.
I want to stay here for as long as I can.
And because I know I can’t stay as long as I want to, I want to take it with me.
Because there’s something happening here.
You’re happening.
In all your ridiculousness, you’re adorable.
You’re you.

.  .  .

Pictures of happy people are my favorite.

And by happy, I mean pictures of people who you can just tell–you can feel it–are exactly where they wanted to be in that moment.

It’s like they were enjoying the best glass of wine they’d ever had.
Big, bold, and red.
And they just kept sipping it.

For as long as they could.

Exactly this…

I attended a summit on human trafficking on February 9th — if you want a topic that will FREEZE your blood, human and labor trafficking will certainly do the trick.

One of our sessions discussed social media and the plight (and danger) that is the internet. This landed throughout the entire audience of professionals, parents, and clergy, all with dedication to want to prevent people (particularly children and adolescents) from getting entrapped by very elaborate schemes to groom and ultimately abduct them.

Facebook in particular seems to be the perfect hunting ground for predators. The information I learned blew my mind and made me reconsider all the more my relationship with social media. I have felt desperate to disconnect from pretty much everything besides LinkedIn. But I’m a semi-Millennial living in a modern world and I know that if I totally phase out, there is a huge number of people I love and care about who will slip into the void.

Plus, I’ll be honest, I get a lot of my news from my various Feeds. I hate frequenting CNN.com (it stresses me out and the app drives me bonkers) so how else will I know what’s going on if NPR doesn’t feel like reporting it?

Lo, I came across this article today that perfectly resonated. How to FREEZE your social media use without becoming a total hermit.

Enjoy:

How to Disconnect from Social Media but Stay Connected to the World (Lifehacker)

Essentially, author Green encourages us to use RSS feeds (Sis and I use Feedly so — check) and Newsletters (again, lots of self-improvement zines come to my inbox so — check). Green suggests subscribing to Vox Sentences, TWP Daily 202, No Complaints, and The Ann Friedman Weekly, which did motivate me to do some additional sleuthing this weekend for more news-centric subscriptions. Of course there are old-fashioned newspapers, which made me realize that I somehow am missing NPR’s app on my phone. Substituting one technology for another feels a little like cheating but for reals, the less I scroll through Facebook these days, the better I feel.