I was reading a some yoga based literature last night that I started while on my trip to Alaska (and thinking during reading it that I should just simply start the book over because it is good, I don't want to miss the point and I had so much on my mind there that I feel like I HAVE missed several points)....
But, the chapter I was reviewing pertained to cleansing. It discussed philosophical and physical aspects of the same, talked about some hardcore yoga practices related to it and as I drifted off to sleep while reading (something I often do), little bits of what the author was saying were floating through my mind. Mainly, that there are many kinds of cleansing and some are quite painful, mostly emotionally.
It reminds me of my favorite quote from the modern version of Batman. And, why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.
Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. I've heard that all my life and I must say I do believe it to be true. I have come to think of this winter almost as a cleansing mechanism for everything not gritty inside me. Because, despite my desperate (yet apparently half-hearted) attempts to maintain my independence, my gypsy soul, for the past decade or more I have somehow slowly become detached from the salt of myself.
Why describe it like that? Because I have this notion that people, deep and powerful people, people that experience life and live it, have salt. They are the "salt of the earth" types. They are the people when told to "go pound salt" say yes I will and my blood, sweat and tears will form oceans of promise. They are tough and kind and sometimes weary but they keep going. They are independent, resourceful, magical.
I have been reminded more than I ever care to this winter of life's hard days, whether they be simply due to our own personal struggles, the inconveniences of duty, home, work, weather, or the so much more painful truth of mortality, suffering and lack of hope in the world. Everything had started to leave me feeling beaten and worn down. I got nothing else I said one day in relation to the very real drudgery that winter heaps upon my own mind.
And yet, don't I? I mean, really, can I do anything else except form an ocean of every experience to feed my soul? What other choice is there for me but to go on?
And not just go on but go on well. Go on hard and with purpose. Move forward toward the light like everything else in the living world. Reach up and claw and scratch my way to the surface and taste the salt of my sweat (and tears). Relish in what I can do, remember how to do what I have forgotten and learn to do what I need to know.
Those are the lessons that winter is teaching me. May you come out of the Dark Season with your own hope and knowledge and may you use them well.
Sam and I were talking the other day about life transitions, responsibility, careers and that sort of thing and at one point got around to discussing how people do or don't have a plan.
I said very clearly - I absolutely have always had a plan. It involved being on the very cusp of recognition and success without ever really having to "go there". It protected me from the inevitable pressure of societal expectations and allowed me to spend time inside my head and not give up my "freedom" of time, space, expression, anonymity. I took great pains to protect my plan and carry it out. And now my plan has gone up in smoke and I'm standing here thinking about how all this involvement and recognition and expectation is every damn thing I always knew it was cracked up to be. LOL.
(See prior entries on Fear and Imposter Syndrome for background).
I'm sure many people do not understand this sort of thinking at all. Hell, sometimes I don't either. But, it is apparently in my make-up and has served me well on many levels throughout my life, while, admittedly on others probably not so much so.
I feel like the "problem" is that I become a victim of my own capabilities. LOL. You know how you might experience a mentor or a coach or even a parent or partner telling you that you are capable of so much more than you are putting into something? Hell, maybe you even say that to your own kids or partner. Well, I just lived up to my capabilities one (or a few?) too many times and when I turned around to grab my magic invisibility cloak someone had stolen it and now I am standing there with people expecting things of me. ME????? And I think ugggghhhhhh I don't even like to go out my house most days except to muck a stall and take my dog to potty what could you possibly expect of ME? It is comical really.
I guess I take comfort in the fact that despite being dragged into some matters of this new phase of life reluctantly I am generally not a "half-asser" once the decision to pursue said matters is made. So, it is an experiment for me right now to forge ahead and see whether I can be successful at it while maintaining enough of myself so as to not feel that I have lost my freedom. It is a limited time frame, most of this, by the manner in which it has been set up so there is time to evaluate, reflect, decide.
The uniforms of our existence. Everyday, we get up and go out into the world and we, hopefully, are making an effort to be as authentic as we can be.
But how successful are we? We ALL have masks. We all have a persona to some extent that we are forced into or even choose to don on a daily basis in order to somehow fit in, maintain order, get ahead, or even just cope with daily life amongst the mass of personalities and other drama that pulls us in one direction or the other.
I am thinking about this a lot lately due mostly to some inevitable changes and ensuing upheaval at work. But it is worth it to ask ourselves in most portions of our lives what our masks allow us to contemplate and achieve as well as what they hold us back from and whether they interfere to some unacceptable extent with who we are. Who we really are.
I contemplate this stuff because I am afraid. I'm afraid of losing myself within a role that I must play. I'm afraid that the miniscule amount of empathy I have left in me for the human race is going to fall away as I struggle through uncharted territory and dealings with said mammals on more numerous occasions. I only have so much room on my stupid meter and most days I already find it close to maxed out so what will it mean to add to it to the point of overflow? I don't know and I'm afraid.
I'm afraid of how it might overflow into my personal business and my mental health. Anger management is sometimes an almost impossible task in my line of work. Separating life into boxes is not something I'm good at. I'm a global kind of "feeler" and as such, my moods tend to lend themselves to a universal language.
The simple answer would be to be authentic and be done with it. And it is true that being authentic is not difficult for me. What is difficult is the world's reaction to my authentic nature. I am, for instance, not exactly hiding in a closet as far as spiritual matters go but by the same token I do not advertise my beliefs. I have found in life that most people are just as clueless about spirituality and religion as they are everything else so few even notice that I wear a small pentacle or that I mention a solstice in relation to the calendar, etc. But, those subtle parts of my day to day dealings with people are masks within themselves. I WANT to be open about who I am spiritually. I WANT it to not matter. But, reality is that it would be used against me at work. Don't kid yourselves my friends, there IS no separation of church and state in terms of employment in the public sector. The reality is that it matters.
And on the subject of being authentic, what would most people's reaction be to the true nature of Gillian on other philosophical matters? I can't even type them HERE for fear that someone, somehow, will stumble upon this world of mine, this haven that I have created with dear friends miles apart through blogging and podcasting... They'll stumble upon it and rat me out, manipulate my beliefs (not only spiritual) and opinions as something not becoming of the role I hold or may hold.
Am I being paranoid? Am I being a coward? Am I just still being a scared little girl laughed at and bullied because she believed that animals went to heaven?
When we sell our souls it is often times not a grand affair like it is in the movies. It isn't like Al Pacino offers us the sweet life in a high rise penthouse complete with every manner of every favorite sin. It usually happens in a much more subtle way, little by little, until in our times of quiet contemplation we are faced with the truth. And that truth is that we have somehow lost ours along the way. We compromise in the name of "cooperation" in relationships, parenting, friendships, working. We give here and there and little by little we sometimes find ourselves living the reality that someone else would have us live rather than our own by nature.
I have, in my life, tried very, very hard to ensure this does not happen. I've walked a tightrope and mostly saved myself from waking up in a panic one morning and not even knowing who the fuck I am and how I got to a place I did not want to be. Mostly. There have been slip-ups along the way. Deviations from my true nature that cost me dearly in terms of time (which none of us have enough of) and the opportunity for true, genuine experience (which none of us have enough of either). I am now at the point in my life where I am too old for any further deviations. Even small ones. My time is limited and I must live it accordingly.
So, I have not answered any of my own fears or questions with this Sunday morning rambling. I'm just still thinking...
I realized something this morning on my way in from dog duty. Winter, such as it is, has not been this much like true winter in over a decade here.
When I say "true" winter I mean one in which it snows. And snows. And snows some more and the snow never really melts because the temperature never really gets high enough.
I'm not a baby. I grew up in a place with "true" winter. There are just reasons I don't live there now and winter is one of them. LOL. I live in what is normally a more temperate portion of the state. See, normally we'll get a couple of decent storms per year and the snow will hang around for a few days but then melt away fairly quickly. Or it may snow several days in a row, but not amount to much. Or it will be frigid but not snow. Snow OR cold is what we generally deal with. Not both for weeks on end, dragging into months on end, extending into the entire season.
And as such, I am normally not wearing snow boots to work daily. I am not washing my two pairs of lined, winter pants constantly and wearing them interchangeably because it is too damn cold to wear anything else. I have long since giving in to foregoing fashion this season and in its place I stand in my closet and think about what is most warm that I can put on my body. I'm on autopilot these days. It puts the layers on as it knows is best, it starts the truck early, it goes out in the cold because it must...work, home, chores, bed, repeat.
It is no wonder people get depressed this time of year. February is always especially hard because it is approaching spring but not really, the holidays have been over for quite some time, people are tired, grumpy, light deprived... Given all this I am trying to be most gentle with myself. Even though I felt on one level like a complete slug over the weekend I feel like it was important for me to just not have a damn thing on my agenda for a day and a half. Real winter makes everything more complicated, more tedious, more time consuming. I just needed to be able to make the choice to do absolutely nothing. And to know that it doesn't matter that I haven't been to yoga class or been dripping in proper sweat for a week. I do what I can to cope as does everyone else and that is good enough. I know that I just have to ride the sleigh for this last few weeks and make it work. Everything is always most challenging just before you turn the corner...
And I damn sure am gonna kiss the first flower I see pop its head above ground.
THIS is how I feel about 2014. I have to because 2013 has been deemed one of the worst.in.recent.memory. It isn't just me I have heard this from several people so the trend ends officially today.
Briefly, what made 2013 so lackluster? For me it was simple. I had the realization and consistent reminders, over and over again, that despite my best life's efforts and people seeing me on the surface as someone who takes no lip, I was in the habit of eating shit. LOL. Whether it was believing in things that were too good to be true/real, trying to be someone I am not to meet expectations set by others or myself due to believing said things, making excuses and concessions for others because I felt I had to (either because I deemed it not worth the energy, because they controlled something I needed/loved, because I was afraid of the long term consequences), or hiding from my own personal truth I have done myself a disservice of the soul in the past year.
I have been on autopilot and trudging through the mud like a zombie too lazy to even search for brains. As a lazy zombie, I know I need brains, I just don't have the gumption to find them so I just trudge along, one zombie foot in front of the other, on and on... LOL.
I talked in my last blog entry about ending the year and placing a word of focus for the new one. I had not yet settled on a word. I have now and the word is
That's right. TRUTH. As in what is mine? What is yours? With every breath and every decision and every action I will consider my truth and whether that decision, action, choice is reflective of it. There will be times when it is very clear. There will be others in which finding truth might take some digging. And there will be instances when I will have to concede in order to get to truth eventually. But, those will never again outweigh the former.
So, no matter what your resolution is or whether you even make them, I would invite you in the coming year to search for your own truth and live it. I think it is the most important gift we can offer ourselves.
Part of my core belief system is that we are all a part of something bigger, something expansive, something that we cannot even imagine. And as part of that Whole, it is also a part of us. We come from it. We will return to it. The earth, the stars, the universe itself.
To us, since we can see far off into space and we know what our earth is made up of and can comprehend the oceans, the land, the mountains and beyond, our world might seem big but easy to keep track of due to our technological nature. To a butterfly, home is the flower and the leaf. The universe is however far it can fly. To a wolf or a bear the earth is the forest that makes up her habitat. To a spider my basement is an entire galaxy.
It is the season of thankfulness and giving so they say. Yet, today the internet is filled with stories of shootings at Walmart, people getting trampled by others looking for the best deal on mass produced junk to stuff under their tree and those working are actually getting "fuck you" as a greeting from those shopping. I wonder at these times what the spider in my basement would think if it could comprehend all this? Hell, I can't even comprehend it. I feel like I have to withdraw from it. I have to be aware enough to know that it isn't what I want in my life and then walk away. I have to do that with several things in order to get back to myself and to have hope.
Hope. Always a good place to start when you are trying to reconnect with yourself and your own world. I have heard that gratitude can be a tool in reconnection and grounding. It seems logical and as the universe is so vast - gratitude can help you concentrate on individual concepts, help you zero in, calm you and therefore ground you.
So, what am I thankful for and what do I want to become during this dark season of hope? Smaller. Yes, that is how I am thinking of it. I want my world to become more focused, more sharp, more authentic. I sometimes feel like in the world of over-connectivity my key to not getting so overwhelmed (and therefore paralyzed) is to isolate some of the noise. So that is what I mean by smaller. I want to go inside, to find that person that I have been losing. I want her to speak softly and be heard. I want her to live bravely, by her beliefs and her truth.
I'm thankful to be able to contemplate all this, to work through it, to know there are still people in the world that feel the same about the planet and the creatures we share it with. I'm thankful for hope.
We all lose it occasionally. We don't know how or why sometimes and other times it is quite clear. We may get tired of trying or we may just stray off track a bit or we may even look around ourselves on a cold morning and realize it is gone. Life passion. Self awareness. The complete inability to feel anything more than meeeehhhhhhh about pretty much everything. Some people would call it the "blues" or even depression. I suppose you could define it in those ways. It seems odd that being depressed would not include being sad but I guess it could happen. "Experts" say it does happen.
In relation to this, life, the new year (witch style), and in hopes of dragging my butt out of this lackluster ditch, I am looking at the whole from several different angles and breaking it down into manageable (hopefully) parts - see last weekend's blog entry for the beginnings of this concept in my brain...
So, SELF. WHO AM I? Many times for me it is much easier to describe who I am not than who I am. It is like, I know me when I "see" me but I can't put words to myself. I spent some time with my mom over the last couple of weeks and had forgotten SO many of the things that I was made up of long ago. She told stories about my childhood. They made me laugh. They made me sad. They made me want to walk into the woods and pick flowers with my dog. To pack a lunch and sit on the ledge overlooking the forbidden pond in which no one was supposed to swim but everyone did, sharing my sandwich with that same dog and kicking my feet leisurely back and forth while plucking rocks toward the pond in between bites. To build snowmen with funny hats and be scared to the point of screaming (pointlessly) by my big brother (who can still scare the shit out of me anytime he sets his mind to it) and then break down in a severe gaggle of giggles over the whole incident.
I am THAT person, somewhere, deep inside she is still there. I have to find her. I have to spend time with her daily. Losing her somewhere along the way is an inevitable part of adulthood to some extent but the spark that is her must still be in all of us or, really, a portion of our very soul is already gone.
So, over the season I am going to break the search for her down into manageable parts, just like I would break down a problem at work or a home project or any other thing that seems overwhelming when looked at in a global manner. I will find her. I MUST find her. Everyone else I have been is so boring.
Tonight is a Full Moon. I hardly ever pay attention to moon phases now. My life has just sort of been floating along in the state of indifference I described yesterday. I'll look up at the sky and say "hello" to her on occasion but...
Anyway, you get my drift.
After blogging yesterday I got to thinking about a conversation that I was having with someone last week. The conversation was about problems, basically. It was related to work and assignments but the gist was that things seem overwhelming because when you look at Godzilla he is really, really huge. If you stab his toe though, that is a start.
So, I have this problem with feeling listless and not particularly excited about anything in life and this problem has now had me in its grip for over a year. It extends to ALL aspects of my life. I live in a shade of muted blah right now. It isn't grey, hell it isn't a color at all it is just...muck.
I wouldn't call it depression. It is just a long, ongoing case of what we call "the fuck-its".
I started thinking about it further yesterday because we had some Godzilla sized issues at home.
Basically, it is the season of The Leaf and we live in the middle of a Forest. Clearing leaves is a daunting job. There is NO WAY we can just rake. We used to use two leaf blowers in tangent and then Sam would out the plow blade on the ATV and push the leaves to the edge of the woods. It took approximately 30 total work hours spread over several weekends and we never would get to the flower beds, herb garden, etc so there would still be a mess in the spring. A couple of years ago Sam bought a piece of equipment that actually sucks the leaves up and grinds them so now we are looking at around 12 hours total AND get to the gardens as well.
But, I digress...
We had leaves to clear and a tree came down on our fence that surrounds our garden shed/my magic shop. It bent a good portion of the fence to the ground, creating a huge mess.
So, problem: the yard is a mess, our fence is broken, there are limbs and leaves everywhere, it is an overwhelming friggin onslaught of the nature army LOL.
I could not afford to fall into my present state of being with this. I had to break the problem down into steps.
1. Don't even look at the whole picture. That will surely overwhelm you.
2. We took the tree first. Sam used the chainsaw, I worked on dragging brush and limbs. Then he cut usable stuff into firewood. I stacked the same. Then we bent the fence poles back to upright and assessed true damage. A supply list was made. A trip to Lowes was scheduled.
3. Yard. I raked leaves out from under all bushes and from beds. Sam ran the Leaf Terminator ;) and within three hours we had cleared the space.
Now, we probably have another partial day of work to finish the leaves that does include blowing where the machine can't get and I have to do some hand work in the pond garden but - for the most part, Godzilla defeated by breaking things down into manageable parts.
How does this relate to my state of being? Well, I am formulating that...
WHY are people so friggin unwilling to do what needs to be done? Or even what they are supposed to do, or being paid to do? Ya know, I too have dreams, aspirations and hopes. I want my world to be a certain way. I want to be free and feel magical everyday. I want my life to be full of love and light and only hang around people that make me feel good and I don't want to have confrontation in my life and if I feel a little off I don't want to have to go out in the world.... I want what I want. We all do. I also have bills to pay and a lifestyle I'd like to keep. Actually I strive to improve it. Again, most of us would like to improve our lifestyle whether we say we would or not. Now, that doesn't have to mean anything big it could simply mean have enough in savings for emergencies, trade in our clunker of an automobile that is always breaking down for something reliable, finish school, move forward in our careers....
And, OK, I fully understand it when a person wants to be true to herself or himself and that perhaps what they want to be true to isn't on page 17 of the "standard equation for optimal life advancement" manual. You know, they say they don't want to "sell out" to "the man". OK, I got that. I embrace things that are a little different, obviously, and I too pride myself on being a little left of center. I admit that I get a little chuckle that people work toward cookie cutter houses with white picket fences and 2.2 kids, perfect sets of dishware, and minivans with those little stick figures in the rear window.
But it does amaze me when perfectly intelligent people - people capable of being gainfully employed - pull the "I'm not gonna sell out" card and yet they always seem to get into one bad situation after another, usually directly related to the fact that won't get a "normal" job or a job at all and expect everyone around them to understand, bail them out or ignore the fact that they are full of sh^t.
Let me tell ya - i want to get paid to sit in the woods and write poetry! I really do. It would be my "dream job". Unfortunately, this will most likely NEVER happen. So I have little choice but to suck it up, go out there and try to earn a living. And so that's what I do.
Are there things I'd rather be doing? Most days absolutely. And let me stop you before you say - well, you are wasting your life then - because I'm talking about HELL YES I'd rather sleep till 10:00 everyday, I'd rather ride my horse at 10:30, go to the gym at Noon, then get sushi with my girlfriend every afternoon and go pub hopping and to the movies with Sam after that. I'd love to do ALL those things most days rather than DO MY JOB, I mean, wouldn't you? Do I allow that to provide me with an excuse to be a slacker? Absolutely NOT. Because without my JOB I would have no horse, couldn't afford sushi or movies and certainly not beer!
It is like this. You learn, you work hard, you (hopefully) get more experience and can better your circumstance through that experience. So, you earn money and improve your lifestyle. Yes - You improve your lifestyle. You might do this because you think it is just the way things go or because you feel like it is what is expected or for a million other reasons.
Maybe, like me, you might do this because it is the means to the ends. Doing all this - playing THE GAME that so many people claim to disdain, earns you money. Money earns you freedom. And freedom earns you the ability to experience more of the things you long to experience. Back to horses, sushi, movies and beer.... ;)
If you spend all your time trying not to sell out but you can't pay your bills and you are in credit card debt up to your eyeballs and your car is breaking down every week and....and....and....well how FREE OF THE MAN AND THE RULES are you really? You are more bullied by society than ANY of us that just embrace a
little dose of "societal normal" and do the thing that provides us with the freedom to BE WHO WE ARE without the baggage of worrying how we are going to pay the electric bill.
Just freakin' sayin...
And legs, and well, all those other parts we complain about.
I have to give credit to my beautiful friend Saturn Darkhope because it was her Facebook status I copied this from. And to Wild Woman Sisterhood, which is where she shared it from originally.
Because it got me thinking once again about the same old subject so many of us get our minds and souls wrapped up in. That conversation with ourselves ~ you know the one. The one in which we are not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough - oh shit wait it isn't just thin anymore it is STRONG enough (meaning it isn't enough to just be thin, as one blogger said not long ago, now we have to be ripped too), tall enough, sexy enough, smooth enough, perky enough (I speak of breasts not personality), hot enough, blah blah blah blah blah....
As a side note does anyone ever notice that the list of what is not "enough" about us usually doesn't include smart enough? Well, why would it? As a whole if we were smart enough we wouldn't be worried about any of the other "enough" that we worry about.
But alas, I digress....
I think that people mistake quotes like the one above as saying that we should all rebel against weight loss or exercise, being aware of how our bodies look, or the desire to make life changes for weight loss or exercise purposes. It is like some odd backlash - you know, like slut shaming only it is shaming women into the belief that if they are interested in their physical appearance they are just superficial nitwits.
I don't take it like that at all. I think it refers to the excesses we go to in pursuit of perfection, whatever perfection is at the moment. It also refers to the idea in our minds that we are not "enough" right now at our very core. That the essence of us is not worthy so we need to pursue this momentary preference for being ripped yet boob enhanced with lips like Angelina and able to run in four inch heels without breaking a sweat or an ankle.
I feel like there isn't anything wrong with wanting to lose weight or build muscle or, hell, even wanting to look great in a bikini. But you DO have to be able to separate your reality from what your are being sold as universal reality and whatever things you want to make happen once you have separated those "realities" cannot interfere with your choice to like your body NOW. To love your soul NOW. To celebrate your spirit NOW.
I'm not saying that getting exercise and eating good, wholesome food is not necessary. I tend to believe both are an important part of the puzzle of what makes us whole. But you don't need "industries" to do either of those things. Now, you might join a gym because it is easier to utilize than any other option - but, the gym itself doesn't have to make you question whether your like your body in the present. Unless you let your experience there and all the other static that chicks face on a daily basis related to our physical selves find a way in.
So, I think, related to the quote, which I LOVE btw, that we need to pay particular attention to the word "decided" when we read it. Because stuff like this doesn't just happen. Ironically enough, mind shifts are like exercise and diet themselves. They take practice. They take commitment. They take deciding each and every day and sometimes each and every minute to make a choice. So, that would mean that when it occurs to us to dislike any part of ourselves we must not only redirect those thoughts we must work consistently to make sure that it doesn't even occur to us.
Huge mind shift isn't it? A revolution inside our own heads. A quiet revolt against deep rooted negative talk and beliefs. Where can we even begin?
I think that first we have to be aware of the whole reality vs "sold" reality. We have to call it when we see it. We have to tell ourselves what it is whenever it finds a way into our own mind. We have to remind ourselves of our own personal reality often. However you decide to do these things is up to you but it is part of retraining your mind.
Then we have to celebrate ourselves daily. Just as we are. And know that we are part of something bigger and acknowledge that. For instance, I have come up with a morning ritual involving the use of my body and connecting it with the earth and the sky. I learned it in a recent workshop and have put my own spiritual twist on it. It involves thanking the spirit of each direction for their daily gifts and acknowledging the universe within my body (we ARE stardust ya know) and the earth on which we stand. It can be done in a short span of time or a longer one depending on what the morning holds. The point is to ground oneself through gratitude and to use the body to do so. So, basically you are shifting the focus from outside influences to one of thankfulness and the acknowledgment of the truth we are all part of.
And we have to keep doing these things. And keep ignoring "sold" reality. We need to hide it on our Facebook feed and not purchase it in the check-out lane. We need to change the channel. Literally and in our minds because this particular revolution HAS to start from within each of us.