Sunday, June 24, 2018
I hope your week was fruitful. I had an eventful one with the summer solstice falling on Thursday. It meant for a second ceremony this week beyond my Friday prayers.
This week for me was all about self care. I'd hit the wall as far as tiredness goes. I have obligations that are usually easy to meet, a weekly prayer ceremony and quarterly drumming (sometimes accompanied by despacho). I didn't know how I was going to be able to show up and be effective. So I asked for what I wanted. I took a meditation break in the afternoon rather than heading to the store to get flowers and other despacho supplies. I was ready to let go of doing the despacho ceremony, but other people agreed to step in and bring what I needed. I was glad that I went ahead and included it as part of the solstice ceremony, but I am equally glad that I honored my individual needs and delegated some of the tasks.
Lately when people have asked me how I have been I have one word that describes it, tired. You'd be surprised how often that response is ridiculed or down played. I've been helping with caregiving this past month for not one but two relatives while trying to continue my normal work activities. The reality of it is that I have one relative who is in the process of dying, the other has a long recovery from a serious surgical procedure. So my fatigue is both physical and emotional. I haven't been able to follow up with self care like meditation, and plain old sleeping to recuperate. Amidst this I've had people say things like, "Well no one ever died from lack of sleep," , or this, "You don't have kids how can you be tired?", or my personal favorite, "You can sleep when you're dead." Let me respond to those statements by saying, "Fuck you and may thousands of voracious fleas infest your genitals!" I'm sorry that was inappropriate, maybe I'm just a bit emotional, maybe it's because I'm FUCKING TIRED!
I don't know who started the Cult of the Perpetually Exhausted, but I hope they died in a horrific accident caused by their sleep deprivation. Now sleep isn't the only form of rest sometimes just sitting quietly with no plans or expectations can be wonderful. For some reason our society has waged a war against being well rested. If we aren't on the go and being productive we are deemed weak or lazy. The go till you drop mindset has infected our workplaces and we even carry that into into our personal lives overcommitting to events and activities. There are times when you do have to put in extra effort and push past limits, but in times past you'd expect to rest afterwards. These days it is just onto the next overpacked scheduled task.
So why am I telling you this? Well I've had less patience for people lately so I do apologize. It's become taboo to take care of our own needs. Good intelligent people actually feel guilty for taking any amount of time to rest. This cannot stand. Lack of rest and downtime might not immediately kill you (unless you operate heavy machinery regularly), but it does suck the life out of living. I am lucky that usually my schedule is fairly flexible, but many of us don't have that option and no matter what people say it is slowly killing us.
How about you? Are you a card carrying cult member? Are you at war with getting rest? Do you put your physical needs for downtime on the sidelines? If you do, you're not alone. Many of us have this habit, and like any habit we can change it with a little effort and consistency. If others have unrealistic expectations for you, tell them. I mean somebody should. Think of it as doing them a favor, maybe they'll start to tend to their own needs a bit better. So I hope this missive finds you well and well rested. Take a summer nap and think of me.
Peace and Blessings,
Sunday, June 17, 2018
I may actually get my blog post out on time this week. I feel so accomplished.
Well this week I was at my lowest I've been in many years mentally and physically. I was exhausted in my body and in my heart. A lot of people think that life doesn't happen to me because I'm all magical and mysterious. That of course is complete bullshit. I have the same struggles and challenges that everyone does (plus a few others that come with being 'special'). What I have been dealing with lately is the decline of a grandparent and the convalescence of a parent. That has been the backdrop to some longstanding interaction patterns that are unhealthy and in some cases toxic in my family. You know what they say if you think you're enlightened go spend a week with your family.
In times of stress we don't think clearly. Well at least I don't. It is easy to shut down and become fixated on the current dilemma. For me it is like a script in my head telling me what's going on and where it will lead. Normally there is some balance with that, but in certain instances it is like our brains get stuck on the same station and for some reason they are playing the same bad song over and over. The thing that I have noticed is that the voice dictating the script in my head has been repeating other people's projections of me (or if we want to get real technical my perception of their projections). What was alarming about this projection was it was wearing my face, and masquerading as my identity. I had internalized these projections true or not, and now they were ruling the roost. So Mr. False Face was reading my internal dialog and it was pretty nihilistic. So sometimes I forget that I have tools. Luckily I also have many allies, and some are very persistent with getting my attention. Long story short, I went to see my power animal and they shook me loose a bit. After that journey I still had that inner monologue in my head, but I now had other counterpoint voices saying things like, "I don't think that's true," or "Well that's not helpful at all," or "You only think they think that about you, odds are that's not right."
Yes I have voices in my head. I talk to myself, sometimes I crack myself up too. I was telling another practitioner that was working on me that having multiple voices in my head was far preferable to having just one. One voice makes it very easy to obsess and get stuck in an unhealthy idea. To quote a favorite show of mine, "A delusion starts out like any other idea." Having multiple inner voices actually helps me to hold more than one perspective. This is a useful skill if you are giving intuitive readings, but it is also useful tool in general for discernment. In this middle world we have to discern truth from lies, balance from imbalance, and love from fear. We have to be able to examine our own thoughts, and having multiple points of view in your own head is a great start.
So why am I telling you this? Well many of you may have noticed that I haven't been on my stride the last few weeks, or that my posts have been sort of morose. This happens, sometimes life knocks us down. The important thing is to find a way to get back up, or ask for a hand. It is easy to obsess over what is not right in our lives or what is 'wrong' with us (or someone else). It's okay to have those thoughts, but you probably don't want to have them on continuous playback.
How about you? Do you have a monolithic voice dictating your identity and circumstances to you? Is the voice kind? Is the voice helpful? Is it accurate? Does it wear your face, but seem to act like a past authority figure you've encountered? What if we opened up the internal forum for more voices of reason and feeling? None of us are just one thing, so why should one voice speak for our psyche? In the coming weeks encourage your various voices to speak up. You might be surprised to find that what you thought was you, is really a masked figure from your past. Thank them for their input and then pass the microphone.
Peace and Blessings,
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
I hope you had a great first week of June. I've been kept busy between assisting family members with caregiving this week and also officiating a wedding. However I did get out one evening to see a movie with friends and that was wonderful.
This morning as I was teaching my Tai Chi class I had an interesting experience. The fitness room that I teach in has mirrored walls on two sides of the room. One of those walls has doors leading to a supply closet They were not quite latched so the mirrors were slightly eschew. Now as I led class toward that wall I noticed I had no reflection showing, due to the angle of the doors. I was seeing all the students but not myself. This struck me as very strong metaphor.
Often we don't see ourselves, only those around us. For me personally I've struggled a lot throughout my life in envisioning a positive future for myself. Having no reflection showing in front of me was a clear reminder that this is still an issue for me. I got used to not looking too far ahead or making plans beyond the next project. I don't see myself on the path before me. That is of course one interpretation of this coincidence. Another could be that none of us really see ourselves only the people around us, and it is through their actions that we form our self image. Sometimes though we don't even want to look at ourselves, afraid of what we might find there.
There comes a point in life where many of us settle for just getting by, because the way our society is structured makes that very difficult. Not all dreams should come to fruition, but there are deep yearnings in our hearts that when we deny them, we die a little. I'm not talking of dreams of huge homes and fancy cars. I'm speaking of how we live, relate to each other, and how we spend the bulk of our time. Why do we accept so much less? Is it because we don't think we deserve what our heart longs for? Is it because we think we cannot have it? Is it because we are afraid that if we get what we want we'll still be unhappy and it is better to not risk the disappointment?
I do apologize this post is not exactly up lifting. Still even in darker musings there can be some wisdom and value to be found. I have found that living through hard times has made me get very specific about what I don't want, which makes it easier to seek out what I do. I hope that your time in the shadow land is brief, and that you learn something to your advantage while you are moving through it. While you are there it can be tempting to just focus on getting through, but try if you can to envision where you want to come out of the tunnel. Beyond pain there is more than just relief, there is laughter, joy, and love...always love. I wish for all of that for you.
Peace and Blessings,
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
I hope you are doing well. I know this post is several days late. Be thankful there is one at all. The post is late because I've been overwhelmed lately.
So there has been some health issues in my family and I am stepping in a bit more to help out. This has left me tired both physically and mentally. At the same time it seems people in my social sphere are all going through some rough patches. Last month I was feeling grief for the past quite acutely. It has not left me, but I am currently also dealing with current issues. In times such as these where things must get done, I tend to unplug emotionally. It seems to be the way that I can cope with demands on my energy. This does of course make me less receptive to holding space for others when they are feeling tender.
I don't think I am unique in this. We all tend to dissociate from time to time if we feel things are too intense for us to handle and function, or we have breakdown. I've had those but only on the inside. I kept plugging along on my have to do list whilst I quietly freaked out behind my eyes. So in the past 2 weeks I've been less empathetic than I normally tend to be. I've not had the energy. I've come to a place where no matter what I do somebody is going to be super pissed and project their struggle onto me. I can't help that. I started to worry over it, and it was just more to carry. So I stopped and put it down. I realized I couldn't hold space for anyone else right now but myself. This had nothing to do with any personal flaw or being a bad person.
Why am I telling you this? Well there are times when we just don't have it to give of ourselves. All we can do is hold ourselves gently up and acknowledge our limits without judgment. We can't be all things all the time, nor should we. Compassion starts with the self even when we can't show up the we think we should for others.
How about you? Are you burned out from your own trauma, but expecting yourself to help others process theirs? Are you past exhaustion but piling more duties on your plate? Do you give yourself the space to hold your own feelings in compassion, or do you just do that for others? Well at some point you will stop, and in my experience it is better if you make that choice consciously rather than having it made for you. Be gentle with yourself, and forgive yourself. Those around you will do so in their own time.
Peace and Blessings,