Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Jet Lag and the Sweet Moon and Sun

Jet lag is narcotic sleep laced with missing hours, missing moments, with slow waves that weave waking and sleeping. Time is slow when jetlagged -- it refuses to be rushed. The days and nights are strange and endless and beautiful, like a good acid trip, where too much light is let into the eye (oh, those tattletale dialated pupils) to reveal the crystalline opalescence of incandescent bulbs even when swinging from a tattered rope.

I keep moving from one to the other and getting lost in between. The missing time is so strange. How sensitive I've become to all the cues of day and night, of time, of hours, minutes, and seconds. How programmed. The tick of the second hand is so present -- alive for each click -- very present and calm and sleepy but not asleep, sitting on the edge where I could, at any time, close my eyes and find dead, sound, glorious sleep.

If only I could hold on to this strange new place -- jet lag is so interesting. The way time is reframed even though it's the same that it always was -- or almost the same-- the light is longer now, in the last two weeks, spring has moved into my home. The sun comes earlier and stays longer in the room, that too is a difference that I not only see but can feel deeply.

Without getting too wildly deep, time is a construction -- a manmade order to make sense of the change from night to day, from dark to light, sun up to moon up. Time isn't real. Days and nights are. Someone (who, I wonder?) invented seconds and minutes that make up the hour, and then hours that make up a day. Calendars too are mostly manmade, some of the days on a calendar are days that people noticed over time -- full moon, new moon, shortest sunlight, longest -- the cycles of the moon and sun inform the calendar, but it's more of an outline --way less rigid than what we all subscribe to now. Month follows month and then another year passes by. We are older.  If we only lived by the sun and the moon our days would be very different.

Maybe I'll try it.

My head still swells and retreats like the ocean that I spent so much time with. Like days and nights the sweet surrender of light and light and dark and dark, a dance of passing. The dance, the dance.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Elephant Blanket (a poem)

The elephant blanket still smells like the sand, like the surf -- even though I washed it--
like the little bits of dried up oceanic life that came out of the ocean dead riding a casket wave to a sandy burial
or came out alive and toiled for awhile, picking out nits from the sand, then meeting the maker, face-to-crustacean-face.
The elephant blanket smells like sunscreen (lavender, coconut, biodegradable), like sweat, like our bodies, mine and yours
like rain from Napili, like wine spilt at Makena, like nakedness on Little Beach -- my breasts smashed into the fabric, ass up, free to the breeze,
but mostly like the sun.
The elephant blanket smells like the sun.
I will wrap it around my body tonight to see if I can feel its heat dive deep into and through my skin, to make me feel alive again, to feel whole under the eye of God.
To drive away the cold rain and gray of the sky we live under once again.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Let's Dig In: Q & A [How to Own, How to Forgive, How to Become Wise, How to Love Myself]

There has to be a balance between holding myself accountable (for my thoughts, words, and actions) and accepting/loving my imperfections. This is an exploration of those two things (which I think I've decided are NOT opposites -- at least for now.) 

In what ways am I accountable? How do I own my shit?

I write about it here. I live through it. I don't drink through it (most of the time). I don't hide from it. I face it. I take it to the mat. I sit still with it. I stay in my discomfort. I make amends. I apologize to my people. I turn over the rock. 

What happens to my accountability if I let myself off the hook too soon or too easily?

When I let myself off the hook too soon, I don't spend the time investigating myself to know more about my whys, whats, hows, and whens. When I'm too easy on myself, I miss out on learning. I squash my curiosity about myself.  

Is there a threshold where I am brushing off my failings disguised as acknowledgment of my imperfections? 

Yes, there is a threshold. The borderline comes from a place of hurt. When I fail, I go to extremes --either I beat myself up, take myself to the cross, talk about it; or I hide it, lie to myself, and keep it secret. How bad was it? The threshold is measured by the quality and depth of the sin. 

I need to distinguish between failing and imperfections. Or maybe not. What does it mean to me to fail? It means that I've gone against my own beliefs with purpose. I've done, said, or thought something that is against my own system of well-articulated, deeply researched beliefs. 

Imperfections are what make me beautifully human. Imperfections are the things that make us unique, that makes us loved, that make us different and special. But we are also taught, raised, programmed to be like everyone else. Deprograming. Guess what? We are like everyone else in that we are all perfectly imperfect, we are all misfits, special snowflakes and yet (the paradox) sharing the same experience, the experience of being human. 

How can I accept that I am imperfect while making myself an owner of mistakes and wins?

I am just like everybody else. We share the same breath. We are all imperfect and human and will fall and rise again and again. I accept this. I forget this. I remind myself and you over and over again. 

Now back to owning my mistakes. Now back to owning my successes. Taking responsibility, becoming an owner in my own life is what this whole experience of mine is about.  Moving from passive observer, from being the person who says, "why do bad things always happen to me?" to saying, "why am I making bad things happen? How can I shift my thoughts, speech, deeds to make better things happen?"  

My brain knows that mistakes breed invention (and reinvention.) I believe that. I would tell you that if you came to me and said, "H, I fucked up." I would say, "Where's the lesson here? How is this an invitation?" 

WIP

Can I raise myself up to higher living by pouring in self-compassion?  

Yes, I can. Will I? Yes, I will. It's a practice like all others. Be a friend to myself. Love myself. Be kind and give myself a soft place to land. Let me learn my lessons without harsh, critical, hateful, negative  self talk. Be my own coach. Own it with compassion. 

I'm really proficient in negative self-talk. Can I move that needle to elevate self-love without allowing bad behavior? 

Not all judgement is a negative thing. Judgement is a thing that keeps us alive by giving us discernment to pass up dangerously spoiled food and helps us to skirt dangerously spoiled people. Judgement is necessary. In the movement to be less judgemental of others I am also moving to a knowing place where I see my judgements as valuable, necessary, important, life-saving, life-affirming. As long as my judgements of others are NOT focused my limitations, my un-learning, my hubris, pride, jealousy -- it's wonderful to value my own voice, my own gauge, my bullshit detector. It gives me clarity, it's deeply honest, and it knows me very well. I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. 


I want to hold space for others and for myself. To give myself a soft place to land when I'm trying to learn something the hard way, by failing, by fucking it all up, by making a mess. I want to be nice to myself, to love myself, to have positive, friend-like self talk. I also want to keep that judgement in tact. That voice that says, ok sis, now you've landed softly, you've been coached by your inner friend, now, let's get to work and suss this out. Why are you re-learning this lesson? Now that you've been through this, what are the consequences and are you ready to own those? Can you sit in this knowing and come up with a plan for more work, reformation, attention (not detention), and lessen attrition? Can you then ask yourself new questions, regain your curiosity, and openheartedly move forward? Where's the invitation?

Move the needle. Elevate. Self-love. 

Now what?

Stories written, stories released, stories forgiven, become wisdom. Explore. Write. Forgive. Become wise. Repeat. 

Now the practice begins. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Go Back In (I Am Never Done)

I worked through feelings of worthlessness and isolation and profound loneliness, my feelings of self-betrayal, self loathing. I've read, danced, laughed, cried, and yoga'd my way to a safe, sound, foundation of self-love, inner peace, and freedom. And yet... when left alone, instead of feeling full, surrounded by my gurus, my god, my love, my loved, I fell back into the shame, fear, worthless frenzy of me before I started the work. The old me. The old shell. The old script. 

In my Christian family, this was called "backsliding." It means simply that you found faith, and then lost it. That you found God, found The Way, and then, lost your way to Him. In judgier circles it also meant that you drank beer again, or smoked pot, or danced on tables, or fornicated -- but whatever the thing was, you had heaven in your grasp and then you turned back on heaven and moved toward the depths of hell. 

I traveled alone to a town where (almost) nobody knows my name. I worked and happy-houred and dined and slept. And then I found myself alone, in a city, invisible, isolated, off-course, far from the people and places that keep me honest, and I slid right back into that old script. The one that I've written about too many times, the one that I thought I burnt, I buried, I wrote and reread so many times that I exorcised it. And then, there it was. Drink another. Drink alone. Try on danger. Do it. Feel alone. Revel in your loneliness. After all this work you are still a scared, drunk, stupid, danger-seeking, little worthless piece of shit. Boom. [The inner critic lives.]

All it took was taking myself out of intention, out of breath, out of my light, and I was back into thoughtless, reactive living. I looked away from heaven. I looked away from what I hold that holds me accountable. My mat. My loves. My yogis. My family. Me. 

Then I inserted the self-loathing. That old comfortable beat-up, worn-through boot. You know the one. Even though I've bought new boots that are comfortable and beautiful and feel great to walk in for miles, I have that one old pair in the very back, dark corner of my closet and they just feel so good when I slip them on. (They do, don't they?) 

Downward shame spiral. Self-loathing. Self-admonishment. Shame on me. I know better. Why are you doing this to yourself? Who are you? How quickly you lose your way? What the fuck, H, what the fuck?

I'm so hard on myself. Can you imagine me saying this to you? Can you imagine that you had a bad night, and old-script night, and that you came to me to confess? I would sit you down and shame you. Nope. That would never happen. 

I would say -- this is the work. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, "Go back in." 

But, I already did this work. I already re-wrote this script four times and it's done and I'm done and I'm all better, see? Nope. Go back in. This is the work. 

I'm going back in. I broke my own heart again (but no one else's this time, thank God.)  It hurts as much as always. This time I have so many ways to sit with it. So many ways to forgive it. So many new skills to cope through the pain and the pain and the pain again and again and again. 

Go back in. Burn off the impurities, tapas. Light the fires and step into the flames. Here I am. Here I go. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Embarrassment Is a Cute Word for Shame

In one of my favorite yoga classes, my beloved teacher sometimes calls out to her yogis to riff on a class topic. A few weeks ago, she asked me: "how do you mend a broken heart?" I answered, "ice cream."

I don't even like ice cream. I was very embarrassed. I know deeply that food cannot mend anything. Food is not a place of solace or comfort or recovery. In fact, I've been working on the shame and connection/obsession with food for months now. And when given an opportunity to raise up my class, my teacher, myself, the old ancient shit bubbles right back up to the top and out of my mouth - ice cream. 

At first I thought the lesson was to forgive myself quickly and move on. No one in the class thought I was an idiot, so why did I? Who cares what you said when put on the spot in a yoga class anyway? What does it matter, even if I looked stupid? What do I care what others think of me? 

Then I let that sit. And sit it did. Then it festered and blistered into a wound that I replayed in my head. I would worry over it like a stone in my pocket. Bring it to mind from time to time as if to prove that I'm still the same sad sack that I used to be -- all this hasn't changed me. I'm no better. [cue violins]

Then the blister popped. Raw and sore, rubbed down broken skin. And the relief of the ah-ha! Shame on me. 

I allow shame to hold me. Shame throws his arms around me and I snuggle in. Tighter. It's nice to be held, I think, even by shame -- so comforting, so human. I can look around in any place, in every place, and see and hear people being held by shame, conversing with shame, shame flooding from their mouths.   

I ate two doughnuts. By myself. I swear to God. 
Twist my arm, and I'll have another glass of wine. 
If I gain any more weight.... 
She thinks I'm mowing the grass or cleaning the garage. 
I'm a terrible mother -- losing at momming. I love her but.... 
Why did I say that ice cream heals a broken heart when the answer is love or light or time or dancing or laughter or fresh air. 

Today, I'm here to tell you that I'm sick of shame. Now that I can see it everywhere, in everyone. I'm not having any of it. No more shame. I will break the embrace. I will free myself. 

Tell the truth and tell it fast. I may be in part who I am because of shame, but I will not allow shame to raise me anymore. Shame may have built my last home, but I burnt that one down, I remember. I still stink of smoke. 

If I turn away from the light for even a moment, the darkness nips at my heels chasing me further into the dark. Come back to me, my pretty, let me wrap you up in fear and shame and doubt, let me hide you from yourself and from your infinite light and love. Come back to hate - hating yourself, hating people (I used to have a bumper sticker that said "I hate people"), hating the world.

I do all this work. Read. Write. Practice. Talk. Listen. Love. Sit in my stillness, the seat of my personal power and listen deeply - meditate. And shame is the thing that brings the dark cloud over my head. If only I was better. If only I was kinder. If only I was more selfless. If only I was a more compassionate friend. [Insert shame talk here.]

Shame on me. Shame on you. That's a phrase from my childhood. 

No more. 

I'm blowing the doors off. I think Brene Brown's work on shame and vulnerability is epic. I'm re-reading and listening to every podcast now. Also work from Glennon Doyle Melton and Elizabeth Gilbert is keeping me upright. When the shame comes, look to others with light to cheer you. I acknowledge, yes, you are here sitting on the edge of a crumbling precipice. Take my hand, my words, and guide yourself back to the solid ground. 

I will not hang my head. I will lift it up. 

What's wrong with being vulnerable? What's wrong with living honestly and not perfectly? Everything I need is already here. Can I lean back on myself, on the deep knowing, and allow gravity to hold me?