FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real or F@%k Everything And Run

I got called a “love pussy” the other day. I’ll admit that I had to ask for clarification as to what exactly that meant. The explanation I was given was, “you’re a pussy when every thing is perfect.” I was still a little confused. Sometimes I can be a little dense. She broke it down for me a little more, “you get scared.” Viola! I got it. Sadly, it is true. I can rush into a burning building, and have as a matter of fact, with minimal fear, but when everything seems to be moving along at an even keel and everything is good, I freak out!

I could probably go into about a million different reasons as to why I constantly expect the worst or how and by what life experiences I have been conditioned to do so. I think that they are valid reasons, but what I find most interesting and problematic is what goes on in my head on a regular basis, whether that other shoe is going to drop or not.  Sometimes these thoughts cause a lot more damage than if the shoe had actually fallen.

My mind can be an absolute torture chamber sometimes. I am not positive, but my guess is that it has always been this way. As a child, I was a constant worrier, terrified of everything. I remember having panic attacks during Desert Storm, just from watching the news. I would write letters to George Bush, imploring him to think about the ramifications of war. Hey, on the bright side, I was am activist! I was constantly working myself up into such a state that hyperventilation was a regular occurrence. I spent my fair share of time breathing into paper bags or with my head between my knees trying to gulp in air. It was a serious problem. I don’t think that my mom had any idea what to do with me.

Fast forward twenty-something years and you have a (kind of) grown woman who has learned to grit her teeth and face her fears, for the most part. I have learned over time, that if I just meet things head on, then the amount of agonizing is substantially less than if I hide from them. I know that it will have to be dealt with one way or another, so I might as well get it over with now. My threshold for discomfort is much lower than it once was. Thank God.

I am still scared or frightened by a lot of things, some real but most are imagined these days.  The fears are no longer paralyzing as they once were, but are just as disruptive. When I was a child, I would wake up from a bad dream and not be able to move. It would take what felt like minutes for me to gather the courage to scream for my mom. Those seconds after the scream before she answered are still burned into my mind as some of the most terrifying moments of my life. I do not know what exactly I was afraid of, but afraid I was. Now I just spin around inside my head until I have no idea what is true and what is false.

Today what I am left with is this mind that is an accomplished terrorist. It likes to scare the hell out of me! My mind looks for anything and everything with which it can unsettle me.  It looks for anything that it can grasp onto that could in one way or another be considered even remotely problematic.  It can locate and hone in on even the smallest negative and blow it completely out of proportion until it is the only thing that I can see, and then use it to terrorize me unceasingly until I am a basket case.

Over the last couple of years, I have been working to change these kinds of thought patterns. I am not sure how they were created in the first place, but they certainly do not serve me any longer. I have made progress, but there are days when I cannot get out of the loop. A day like last Friday happens and I am reminded that I have much more work to do.

It was a day just like any other, nothing much was going on and yet I was in complete fight or flight mode, as close to melting down as I get these days. Everything was/is going very well in my life, school is good, my internship is going well, my finances are stable. Hell, I am even making a dent in my minimal credit card debt, and there is this man who gives me butterflies. Everything sounds pretty great, right? Everything in reality is! It’s the imagined problems that are troublesome.

A friend of mine says that I like to collect evidence. It is completely true. Now, this wouldn’t be so bad if I collected only good evidence, or even any! That is not what I do though. If out of 300 things that happen in a given day, only three are bad, then those three will be the only ones that I will see and they will become larger than life. My mind only collects the evidence that proves my own misguided belief that I am not good enough. This is a belief system that has been very hard for me to disassemble. I keep chipping away at it, but it is pretty damn entrenched in me.

There was about eight years of my life where I lived in full on self-destruct mode. That time has given me plenty of evidence that proves these negative beliefs that I have about myself. There is almost as much time since that show me that I am a different person, yet somehow the good cannot outweigh the bad in my mind. My mind is a tricky adversary. The “you’ve done it again, why can’t you do better, you’re so selfish, he doesn’t really like you, you are making things up” thoughts are challenging to see around sometimes. And once I buy into just one of them, the downward spiral is quick and awful.

Luckily I have amazing women (and men) in my life, who I trust enough to share ALL of my crazy with. They don’t judge me too harshly and often laugh and remind me that I am, indeed, crazy when I cannot see the good, the truth, that is obvious to everyone but me. I have solutions that work more often than they do not, when I actually bother to use them. I know that these old patterns were some kind of weird coping mechanism that kept me alive when my life was a darker, sadder place. I also know that they do not serve me any longer and that I am letting them go bit by bit. I have learned that I can go to a yoga class and drop it all on my mat and leave a lighter, saner woman.  I am thankful for these things. I am also thankful that I have learned to see that these are only thoughts, that even when I am experiencing a day like Friday when I am full of fear, I can know logically that they are not real. Today I know that I am enough, exactly as I am. Maybe I can do better next time, or I am deluding myself, hell, maybe he doesn’t like me, but I know that if that is the case, there will be someone else who does. Everything is okay as it is. I know that God made me as I am and I know, without a doubt, that God does not make mistakes!

Confessions of a Bad Yogi

I have a confession to make. I am a bad yogi.  I did not practice one asana or mediate more than a few breaths at a time from November until February.  I did not even really want to. Hell, thinking about it made me physically ill. It was uncomfortable. I felt like I should want to practice. It made me feel guilty.

I know that I am not unique in this. I have read numerous articles that guaranteed, if you practice long enough, you will eventually come to a place where the thought of getting near your mat will be revolting.  I used to laugh when I came across these.  I’d think to myself, that will never be me, or, why would I stop doing the one thing that makes me feel grounded and whole? That’s crazy!

Well, it happened. In November I went through a break up, if you can even call it that. We had been together barely any time and yet it was hard on me. I was very angry, and I was disappointed. I think more than anything I was upset with myself. I had been swept away by little more than lip service and the rush of the fall. I had known that I was treading on dangerous ground and I had chosen to do it anyway. I put my trust in someone and it hadn’t panned out, again.

Prior to the morning when I received the blow off text, I had been working hard on establishing my daily yoga practice. It was really paying off in so many ways. I was more connected, more confident, and more centered than I can ever remember being. I have found that the more I practice, the better I feel. The calm and strength that I derive from my practice is addictive. It quiets my mind so much that I can actually hear that tiny voice inside me that lets me know what path to take.  I find so much joy in the small improvements that I see in the studio when I am diligently working towards bettering myself and being more present. My perspective on everything is noticeably different. These small breakthroughs on and off of my mat keep me coming back for more.

So when I received the “sorry, I’ve met someone” text, you would think that I would turn to my mat for solstice. If you did, you’d be wrong. It was 8 in the morning, the day before Thanksgiving and I simply didn’t want to deal with life. The thing about yoga is that it forces me to be present in my body; therefore I have to feel and process my feelings then release them. I wasn’t anywhere near ready for that.

Instead of turning to my mat, I cried, I railed, I engaged in some character assassination, and I found comfort in my friends. I traveled to New York, I hung out on Adam’s couch and ordered takeout, I went to the theatre, and saw bands that I loved, I danced, I laughed, and I cried some more.  I felt the loss and the disappointment almost every moment. I was bereft. I completely fell in love with New York City during this time. It was like a balm to the pain, which has turned out to be pivotal in my life, regardless of whether I end up there or not. I spent time alone thinking about what I want from my life, thinking about where I want to go from here, reevaluating, once again, what kind of woman I want to be.  I created a plan on how to get from here to there and I began taking the actions necessary to bring it to fruition.

All along though, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking about how I needed to get back to my practice. I was praying, but I wasn’t really listening. I connect with my God on my mat. It is where I am able to really feel his love for me and bring it along with me throughout my day. It was as if, at this point, I had decided, “No, I’ve got this. You let me down.” I had essentially turned my back on God.  I was angry with him and with myself.

I accomplished quite a lot in the two and a half months that I couldn’t get myself onto the mat.  I found an internship for the spring and then one for the summer. I began writing. I took the actions necessary to graduate and keep making progress in my life. I took control of the things that I could actually control and ran with them. Feeling in control kept me from feeling like I was completely falling apart.

A little over a week ago I spent the morning kayaking with my friend Elle, an amazing woman who I went through my yoga teacher training with. She is a light and an inspiration to me always. She is one of those people who upon first sight, I knew to be a kindred spirit, a soul mate. We spent hours on the water out in the sun. It was the perfect peaceful morning.

Later that evening, for the first time in a long time, I had an actual desire to practice yoga. There had been points in the preceding weeks, where I had wanted to, I would even set my alarm, so that I could get up and go to early morning classes. I was just never able to make it out of the bed. This was different. I got my mat out and placed it in my “yoga space” aka the kitchen. I went through my practice, albeit more quickly than I have been taught. It wasn’t an earth shattering practice, there was no burning bush, but I did feel better.

Over the next week some things unfolded that helped me to see that I was finally ready to let go. I had been holding onto the pain and sadness, wrapping myself in it like a blanket. I wasn’t holding on because I was still mourning the short-lived fling. I was holding on because as long as I did I would not be open to getting hurt again. If I stayed in the pain there was no risk. I knew what was coming and I was comfortable in it. There was no room for anyone to come into my life, not even God. I was protected by the anger and sadness. I had been playing it safe.

That Thursday I decided to go to my first class in a long time and it was difficult. My body wasn’t used to the heat or the postures, but I was glad that I had come.  The next day, after my 10 hour work day, I was hoping to stop and try out a raja course, which is very unlike my usual practice of active postures, it was all about relaxing into them and letting go. I, of course, tried to talk myself out of going throughout the drive up from Miami. I had a litany of rationalizations: I was too tired, my day had been too long, I was sore from the day before, and I wanted to practice in the morning so it was probably best if I just went on home to bed. Somehow though, all of these did not make a difference.

I walked into a packed room of yogis waiting to go into the studio. I felt intimidated. I was a little nervous and scared. I knew that this kind of class would have a lot of hip and heart opening poses, where emotion would be released. I was right. The class was challenging and at times downright painful, but I powered through, finding humor in my imperfections. The last ten minutes of the class, were spent on our backs. Mine, in body racking sobs. I cried through the last two postures and until the end of relaxation.

At first, I was conscious of the fact that we were packed into that room like sardines, that the gentleman to my right had to know that I was falling apart, that the teacher could see the tears streaming down my cheeks.  I was so overcome that I just let go.  It didn’t matter that anyone could see me or hear the sobs. I let it all out: all of the junk that had been trapped inside. I cried until I was out of tears, until I felt calm and cleansed. I left the room with an amazing lightness of heart and spirit. I couldn’t stop smiling.

My point through all of this rambling is that we all have our own journeys through life and each may look different than the last. When I start worrying about what I should be doing or about how things look different than I think that they should, I discredit what is actually happening in and around me. I am saying that I know better than God. That I know the right way and that this is not it. I do not give myself or God any credit and I am unable to appreciate the growth and changes that I am going through.  The beauty of life is wasted on me.

Looking back on the last couple of months I see now that I did exactly what I needed to do to heal. Each and every thing that I did and didn’t do had some kind of impact on me. I feel clearer and more centered than I have felt in a long time. I am stronger. And I know now, at least in this moment, that everything is as it should be. I am, once again, grateful. I am no longer playing it safe. I am not really that girl anyway. My heart is open and I am excited about the possibilities that each day brings. I can again see that life doesn’t have to be painless to be wonderful.

Wear My Heart On My Sleeve Or Take Off My Shirt?

I am a hopeless romantic. I am a seeker. I feel as if I am on a constant mission to find a man with whom I can share my life. This is something that I have been aware of for as long as I can remember. It as if it is already written and my soul knows the path that I am walking.

Most of the time I have real faith that eventually, when the time is right, I will find a person who will complement me, someone to be the yin to my yang, my partner in crime. Other times though, I fall into that pit of fear that exists inside me. The fear that my path does not include this kind of partnership pushes out the faith that I have. I think that maybe my God has other plans for me. I waffle between embracing my unfailing desire to find this individual, knowing that he awaits me at some point in my journey and hating that I cannot say, with complete honesty, that I am content to remain single forever.

Don’t get me wrong. My life is absolutely amazing. I often find myself in a moment observing the absolute perfection with which everything has unfolded around me. I have more friends than I have moments to share with them. My family is loving, supportive, and always there. I have a relationship with my creator that only strengthens and deepens with time. I have a yoga practice that blows my mind on a regular basis. I have a belief that everything happens for a reason and gratitude for the experiences that life has brought me. I have more than I need. I am truly blessed.

That being said, I often think that something is missing in my life. It manifests as a physical ache in my chest: it is longing, strong and sharp that cuts to the center of my being. It is a desire for a partner: someone to cook for and with, to fight with over the blankets and closet space, bicker with about whose turn it is to do the dishes, an accomplice for Home Depots runs, someone to come home to, and someone to make a home with.  I simply want to share these mundane tasks with someone on an intimate, daily basis.

This desire has brought some amazing men into my life over the years as well as some real jerks. Some of these men I still count as my closest friends and know that I can call on them anytime. They are a blessing.The others have shown me what I will and will not tolerate, how to communicate it, and how and when to set boundaries. These experiences have made me a stronger person. They have each taught me how to be a better partner and  a better friend.

This journey has taught me so much about honesty and open communication. It has taught me that love, whether brief or forever, is a gift that should be cherished. It has taught me to love myself a little more each time a “happily ever after” crashes down around me. Over time I have learned that relationships are challenging, but absolutely worth the effort. Romantic or platonic, these bonds are what this life is about.

Yet I sometimes wonder if life wouldn’t be simpler if I stopped the search and called it quits. It can bring a lot of pain along with the joy. Letting people in to end up disappointed, hurt, and feeling rejected can take a toll on the soul. The instinct is to show less of myself, to be less vulnerable, to put up a wall. This is what rationality tells me I should do: stop feeling so much and falling so fast, be careful, protect myself, be a watered down version of me. Thanks, but no thanks. I would rather stumble and fall than never run at all.

Today I choose to see dating as an adventure. I believe that the fall is exciting and beautiful even when it sometimes ends with me scraping myself up off of the floor. I have no plans to cease exploring every opportunity or close off my heart to the endless possibilities before me simply because I sometimes get hurt. I believe in love. And if I were to close myself off, even a little, I’d miss things that warm my heart, bring me joy, and make me laugh, like yesterday’s rapid fire texting with the charming #cajuncasanova, my frustrating twitter #luriatextcampaign, and all of the extensive and hilarious conversations that BH and I have about our own special kinds of crazy. And I ask, where would the fun be in that?!

Life is good my friends. You just have to take a risk and open your hearts to receive the gifts.

Be fearless and enjoy the ride.

Do It For You

Writing is a very new hobby of mine. I have always believed that I hated writing and thought of it as a chore. This blog and the occasional journaling kick have been the exceptions. I think it is because I get to write about things that matter to me and are directly related to my daily experiences. I put my heart into it and put my truth out there for others to see. It’s a bit unnerving at times but immensely rewarding.

Last week I was told that there was a group text between some guys making fun of my blog. Then when I mentioned it to a friend he made an offhand comment that those guys probably weren’t the only group making fun of it. I had gone into this expecting some flack from a certain group of people, but the idea that others were saying nasty things about me was really uncomfortable and something that I had never even considered.

There were a couple of breath-constricting moments where I tried to pretend that it didn’t bother me. I was unsuccessful. The tears started to well up in my eyes. This thing that I had seen as a challenge and a way to share myself was being mocked. Ouch. I picked up my phone and shot out a text to one of my closest friends. His response stopped my panic in its tracks. Don’t pay any mind to those people. You are amazing and I love your blog. Do it for you. Such simple words, yet they made all of the difference.

I would be lying if I claimed that my feelings weren’t hurt by people making fun of the things that I do. After all, I am a sensitive girl regardless of how tough I pretend to be. I’m just like everyone else. I want to be liked, respected, and loved.

Do it for you. It was exactly what I needed to hear. In that moment of panic I had forgotten why I do any of the things I do: travel, love, write, follow my heart, and open my life to all possibilities. These things are not done for other people, I do them for me. I do not do them to gain acceptance or love. I do them because they make my heart happy and fill my life with joy. I do them because they are challenging and help me to grow as a person. They build my character and they give me strength. They make me excited to wake up and in the morning and begrudge getting in bed at night because I want to experience more. They make me know that I am exactly where I should be. They make me someone that I have grown to respect and love.

What does it matter if others don’t understand me or judge the things that I do? It doesn’t, but it is hard to internalize this lesson. Thankfully I have reminders of how amazing life is all around me. I have a wonderful, loving group of friends spread out all over that I can count on to lift me up and encourage me. They are the ones whose opinions are important. Sometimes though, it is easy to forget about that amongst the fears and desires for acceptance. Then I get reminded, I am truly blessed. Even moments like these that are painful have their silver lining. They make me realize just how lucky I am, how full of love my life is. They also remind me of the kind of person I do not want  to be. If it weren’t for the moments of feeling hurt or judged, then maybe I wouldn’t appreciate living the life that I live or how beautiful it is to have the friends that I do. Even when I don’t see them they are there and it is nice to be reminded.

 strong peopl 2

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