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spiritual vomit

I spiritually vomited all over myself last week.  I felt the panic and fear come on Monday and I ran out of my house to get away from my trembly dog who shows me my own anxiety through ear flapping and panting.  Running away in shame knowing that my frantic energy has affected him but these are the moments I spin out and cannot take any outside stimulation.  I feel out of control, triggered, scared, like a child.

I joke about this workbook I scribble in here and there designed to help me with my self-esteem.  Shit gets better every day but I still feel my cheeks burn when I’m told—you’re intense, you are too much, you intimidate me, you are loud.  I internalize all these things but I’ve always been big and loud and would come tramping up the stairs in my childhood home singing or speaking languages that might have been just of our family clan.  We would yell, giggle, the neighbors commented on our loudness.

We all sang and had rituals like most families I’m sure.  Some of my favorite memories are the songs we made for our pets. Our three legged dog: “Tripod—no bipod, he is a friend of mine.”  Or our black sleek lab mix Albert: “Ali-berto gentille Aliberto, je te plumerai.”  Then there was our sheep dog Buddy who we would provoke by making the letter O with our mouths and wailing up and down, up and down so he would sing with us.

These things did not seem weird or intense or intimidating as a child.  As I find myself interacting with children, much more rarely than I wished, I find that they are the most accepting of me.  They even appreciate my weirdness, my intensity.  They know my intentions without my having to say so they know I still speak the language of un-nuance, of simplicity, of utter straight forwardness. And they speak straight forward to me, sometimes in a cheek burning way—Miss Jen you are sometimes pretty but sometimes not pretty at all.  And I say thank you because all I see is not pretty at all.  And so I scratch in the self-esteem workbook.

I don’t understand some of the unspoken rules of the adult world and have professionally crippled myself numerous times—in school, at work.  Anxiety is supposedly rooted in low self-esteem and in my tradition of receiving high marks, I’ve got A’s in both.  I think every day how I know I’m intelligent but if folks are too intimidated to listen, let go of that achievement.  I can listen to NPR but I still sing nursery rhymes in the shower.

I used to get pretty stinkin’ drunk to deal with who I was because in drunk world, Crazy Jen (the name I obtained for myself in my asshole years) was accepted that way.  People found it fun.  I was a pretend extrovert, the life of the party sliding around drinking fellahs under the table watching them vomit beer as I challenged them to shotgun contests.  Slamming my car keys into aluminum, drinking, drinking, hoping someone would stay until the sun came up and I became my true introvert self so we could talk about books and God.

I will vomit again I’m sure.  Maybe beer, maybe this confusing stream of spirituality but sometimes it’s not too bad to have the warm insides come rushing out, to feel the relief and release of pressure that builds constantly in a world that isn’t ready for my vibration.  Lou Dog, who has many songs and phrases, will continue to show me when I’m off the ol’ rocker and then the choice Is mine to act on the fear or to laugh at myself and use the mantra I heard a child say this week–I am what I am.

“All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.” 

-James Baldwin

 

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i close my eyes. i close them again.

I close my eyes. I close them again. Again. And again. Until the gaze is completely inward. There lies the work. There lies accountability. Instead of blaming the oppressive paradigm of society or of being misunderstood because of my education, I take accountability.

When I look inward I am able to face the demons of what I might not want to know about myself. I am controlling. I am pretentious. I am insecure. I stay after the class I teach at the local community college to answer questions about children and psychology. The parent always knows best. Each family situation is so different. I begin to realize with ruddy cheeks that I have not given this space in my own personal life. I thought I knew best. And now I know the value of of patience and acceptance.

I look inward and realize I still do not love myself enough to receive unconditional love from another. My value is still intermixed with other factors that are changeable and dynamic like my sense of self.  As long as I continue to rely on outside sources for a false sense of control I will be fragmented. And now I am alone and see that I co-create all of my experiences and until I create love and compassion for myself I will not create it for others. Instead of being so mystic about it all it boils down to folks likening to be around someone who has a sense of self that doesn’t require too much work on their part. A steady energetic presence.

I lie. I lie about how I self soothe and I lie to others to avoid always feeling so awkward. I tell my story to thousands of people.  The truth is not always wanted or needed, though, and I can’t seem to get the love and affection of one. Today instead of overanalyzing my actions in a freezing bathroom with singing malfunctioning pipes I ought just let some sleeping dogs lie.  Because I’ve beat this dead horse into the ground. 

“I close my eyes in order to see.” —Paul Gauguin

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the lies we tell

So, I’m single.  I’ve been in some committed relationships but I messed those up just like I tend to do with things of an intimate nature.  I don’t know how to shut up.  I don’t know how to keep things to myself.  I don’t know how to always keep the peace.  But I love these things about myself.  I am authentic. I am genuine.  I am Jen.

I cried the other day, the chest collapsing, stomach folding, breath catching tears because I realized I am simple and I am like everyone else.  I want to be loved. I just want to be the love of someone’s life.  Or one of the loves of someone’s life.  I want to at least be an important part of someone’s life.  I want to be worth the risk for someone.  I want someone to tolerate the anxiety of growth, of riding a huge wave of uncertainty.  I think I am worth it.  But I always question this and retreat back into my salty, crusty, self.

I will lie about some things.  I will pretend to be happy for someone because my real feelings aren’t appreciated.  I become so frustrated with the lies that people live to be part of the status quo, to be perceived as hip and contemporary, as totally normal yet edgy.  The marriage. The house. The car. The child, or children.  The investments. The 401k.  Store treasures in heaven, I say.  Store them in the heart.  Because we all die alone with nothing.  An inheritance is just sentimental perceived power.

I am poor in terms of American capital.  I have what could be perceived a middle class salary but I’m a product of a generation ridden by debt, paying tens of thousands of dollars for degrees that are marginalized daily.  I’ve been accused of spouting psycho-babble if I discuss theories of change.  I’ve been told I could never fully understand how to work with children because I am not a parent.  I still try to defend myself.  To what end?  I have stopped practicing clinical counseling because I don’t know if people change.  I don’t talk about books despite having a degree in English.  I am rich in my mind and heart but no one wants that currency.

I thought I had changed at one point but really I feel I floundered from who I was and then came back to the same person who would argue with teachers on principle, share my faith and religion to others with bravery and compassion, work hard and play hard.  I used to say I was like black licorice and hard to handle.  Why do I have to take on others insecurities because I stir up shit for others?  It’s exhausting being called a strong woman, which as all feminists know is a cover up for bitch.

I feel self-involved for writing this.  I am feeling spiteful today.  Yet, as I run to contemplate and meditate, I realize the world owes me nothing.  Folks may not love me.  It’s my job to love myself in order to create a loveable person.  I certainly do have some pathological tendencies.  I could be called a narcissist.  I have created the life I want.  I am a teacher. I am a writer. I am a friend.  And I can tell you even without the house, the car, the husband, the kid, the 401k, my legacy will last far into the future.

Folks don’t remember the quiet, well-behaved individuals who they have come across, just as they don’t remember the boring paintings in the dentist’s office.  What is remembered is the art that moves, the art that disturbs, the art that pushes buttons.  My life is a painting and with each stroke I will offend, I will repel, I will love, I will welcome, I will be.  And it’s the choice of others to love me, and it’s a choice I have already made for myself.  Salty, crusty, and loveable.

We tell lies when we are afraid… afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.

-Tad Williams

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the most selfish person i know (a biography)

Every day is filled with tiny baby setbacks and tiny baby victories and I’ve been putting off blogging about it because I realize how much I exist in my own head.  My head is not in the bell curve, it’s not appealing to many folks, it would be cancelled after one season.  I am so very selfish and spend so much time alone.  My world is all I have.  My thoughts are my friends, my thoughts are my enemies. As I work to share my world I create experiences to validate that which I already believe—I don’t understand intimate relationships.  I don’t understand friendship.  And I certainly don’t understand the intimate/friendship combo of a long term relationship.

I set the stage for my lonely, tragic, existential play at a young age, ready to be analyzed over and over like an awful Shakespearean play that I have to pretend to like because it seems to be what I ought do.  What ought I do?  It was Valentine’s Day and I was sixteen.  We skipped school and filled a brown, sticky, stained bong with snow and took rips of the dirtiest ditch weed a kid could get their hands on.  We skipped from house to house where parents would have us or where parents were gone and we could drink stolen brandy or Bud Light and listen to Tom Petty.  We would often drive around the dirt roads that connected coal mine to oil rig to ranch to old schoolhouse.  As we passed the same plastic bong around I thought—this is it.  This is all I need.

We arrived home and my parents had tried to show me love.  They sent me flowers only to find I had skipped school and had come home smelling of booze and weed.  My parents had never sent me flowers, all of us had trouble understanding these human relationships.  My face felt hot and I bit the pieces of skin around my fingernails that smelled like Marlboro Reds.  Harsh words, questions, and raised voices.  I swung my hair over the tie dye shirt I was wearing and told my parents:  I wanted to spend the day with someone I love.  That one is drugs.

Drugs won’t purposely miss your call.  Drugs don’t give you an STD.  Drugs don’t say that you text too much.  Drugs don’t call you insecure.  Drugs don’t avoid eye contact with you but stare at your overdeveloped thighs and hips.  Drugs don’t tell you that you remind them too much of an ex and would-you-just-quit that.  Drugs don’t stalk you for seven years.  Drugs don’t punch you so hard during sex you lose your hearing for three days.  Drugs won’t fuck you only past 10 pm because you are the other woman.  Drugs won’t take money you left on the counter.  Drugs won’t ask you to suck their dick for blow.  And yet, drugs take you all these places emotionally.  Maybe I ought treat them like an ex.

My uncle once told me that my brilliant grandfather experienced setbacks in his career because of the fire.  The crazy.  That which runs in our family which I have seen firsthand and experienced even more deeply firsthand.  I knew I was round the bend when I seventeen and I shot up a half gram of meth that had been cooked up hours before.  I lost my vision.  I lost my hearing.  I barely made it up the stairs.  When I had finished lying on the bed staring at souls circling above me, I walked to the bathroom and looked in the mirror.  I had switched, something had turned.  There goes the screw.  Like Alice, I had gone to the other side.  Manic.  Depressed.  Crazy.  Gifted. Touched by fire. Out there.  Ridiculous.  Ludicrous, preposterous, risible, farcical.

Will I ruin my career?  Will my soul mate be crystal meth?  I don’t believe in either of these things, because maybe I’m crazy enough to understand that while my attributes aren’t valued by all, or many, or a lover, I am not unworthy.  There is no manual of human contact and we create just miniature projections of ourselves.  Some cells want to be with others.  Some organs stand alone.  But no part of the human body is wrong, and no part of me is wrong.  I am selfish.  I am crazy.  I am the most beautiful person you will ever meet.  I say the ugliest things you will ever hear.  Will you still love me?  Because I sure do.

“I do a lot of crummy things, and I do a lot of beautiful things, and I’m neither good nor evil, I just am. There is good, and there is evil, and here I am.”

-Ram Dass 

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the unspoken anne shirley

I’ve been struggling to know what to write lately—even how to approach blogging stylistically, which I’ve always thought was a strong point along with attention to detail and honesty (what do I know—not much!). I regularly delete posts on my Facebook wall along with blog posts I’ve deemed too scandalous. There’s a few haunting me right now, including one in which I mention my dick. No, I don’t have a dick. Yes, I want to work proactively to diminish binaries that separate us including mostly arbitrary ideas of dicks and vaginas. I have daily self-talks in which I shame myself for my past, shame myself for my thoughts, and wish I understood more of these social conventions, these unspoken rules. I’m perpetually offending. Wikipedia (crowd-sourced, dynamic, in the gray) defines unspoken rules as:

“…behavioral constraints imposed in organizations or societies that are not voiced or written down. They usually exist in unspoken and unwritten format because they form a part of the logical argument or course of action implied by tacit assumptions.”

So, what the heck is a tacit assumption? What are we assuming?

“A tacit assumption or implicit assumption is an assumption that includes the underlying agreements or statements made in the development of a logical argument, course of action, decision, or judgment that are not explicitly voiced nor necessarily understood by the decision maker or judge. Often, these assumptions are made based on personal life experiences, and are not consciously apparent in the decision making environment. These assumptions can be the source of apparent paradoxes, misunderstandings and resistance to change in human organizational behavior.”

This is the paradox of my life. Somewhere, along the way, in my own personal history I missed the boat about 7 billion times. I didn’t realize I was not supposed to invite people into a business or endeavor that is not mine. And unfortunately, people can choose to be very hurt by the things you don’t know. I lost a job and my passion over it. (friggin yoga, another blog post). I didn’t realize that I cannot talk candidly, expressively, or truthfully around most professionals. It’s not wanted, needed, and it really doesn’t matter.

I spent my graduate program in near remediation because I was perpetually docked in the professionalism area. Folks wrote about me on a survey after a conference saying I was bothersome, got up too much to pee, talked too much. I really throw some people off.  Yet, the exact (non)skill that hurt me during social interactions helps me inter-personally in counseling sessions.  Thank gawd these unspoken rules go out the window in therapy where saying that which hasn’t been said is suddenly healing.  My clinical work pulled me through my graduate program (watch as I invoke ego to feel better about paradoxically falling short).

Where was I during the development of these unwritten logical arguments, courses of actions, decisions, and judgments? I was doing drugs, drinking. I probably might have been having sex. Most likely, I was reading a book to try to connect to folks on my own terms. Books where unwritten rules are more explicit and develop through words, words I know. In a book, often the thoughts of the character are exposed, and I suddenly understand why Gilbert Blythe (Anne of Green Gables) keeps bullying Anne Shirley even though he likes her. Her red braids swing and her bangs puff out as she smacks him back which she wasn’t supposed to do not according to any rule but because she was a lady.  Gawd forbid.  And gawd bless, she did it anyway. She imagined her life and she created it exactly how she wanted to be. A few people upset along the way, but this Anne, she’s an archetype. One that I will continue to live.

“It has always seemed to me. ever since early childhood, amid all the commonplaces of life, i was very near to a kingdom of ideal beauty. Between it and me hung only a thin veil. I could never draw it quite aside, but sometimes a wind fluttered it and I caught a glimpse of the enchanting realms beyond-only a glimpse-but those glimpses have always made life worthwhile.”

-Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)

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there is good, there is evil

I’ve been going through some stuff lately.   I feel junior high spring dance insecure—hunched in the shoulders, standing in the corner of the gym in my socks with my pants too short and my pointy bra creating uncomfortable tic tacs in my silk shirt.  I look at others hoping they will notice me for me, and stick around for the anxiety of growing with me. But, as in junior high, I don’t know who I am.

I’ve had the same situation occur twice now—I have walked away or was asked to walk away from yoga studios for reasons that won’t matter in time and that I can’t understand because the discourse, the vulnerability, the connection is gone. There is no space for reconciling, and it’s not for me to convince anyone of my worth. If I’m not seen with compassion, I am not seen. But, I can’t separate that it’s somehow me being asked to step away from yoga.

Of course I have mommy and daddy issues. We all do. Families are hard. But there is space in the family to mess up, to do crummy things, to make a mistake in earnest because the love is there. The non-judgment is par for the course. The daddy issues run deep. I miss my deceased father more than words could ever express because he really accepted me. Anger, idiot moves, and all. I miss my mother too for who she was and for her letting me grow.

It comes down to the only thing I know—my experience. I know more and more I don’t know much but I came to yoga because I was accepted. I was allowed to sweat buckets, to cry, to suck at poses, to show up a few minutes late. I don’t think everything is love and light. There is dark space in the universe, there is dark space in my heart.

To teach what I know is all I can do. And the lessons I impart in yoga aren’t how to wrench your spine in a backbend, wrench your neck in a headstand, or tear your ligaments in eagle. It’s how to sit with yourself (the self you might hate, if you are anything like me) for a few minutes without running away from your body or your breath. I can teach how to sit with the shadows, how to let emotions circulate through the system.

I am driven by ego. I am driven by compassion. I am neither compassion nor ego, I just am.

 

 

“I do a lot of crummy things, and I do a lot of beautiful things, and I am neither good nor evil, I just am. There is good, there is evil, and here I am.”

Ram Dass

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pathologically indiscreet

Never underestimate the value of a candid person. So much of our time is spent trying to figure out these unwritten rules like how firmly should I shake her hand or how many sentences of small talk before I delve into an emotional topic?

I was never very good at regular rules, much less unwritten rules, and brutal honesty can catch others off guard or it can open up a space of vulnerability. If I spent time trying to understand social conventions it might take a while. While I understand the power of acting couth, I appreciate the candidness of the raw, the unfiltered.

The types of people I appreciate most are ones who dance whether anyone is watching or not, who sing whether they know the words, who make love without worrying about fat or fur, who eat with appreciation. Secrets can last for years, secrets can change the paradigm.

Imagine if we started being ourselves, if we stopped holding back or letting out too much of what is inauthentic. Imagine if we let go of social conventions just for a day, how many would become comfortable, and how many would receive a gift? Take time today to receive those in your life exactly how they are and exactly who they need to be.

I’ve always been a pretty candid person. I’m not a very secretive person; I’m not a very discreet person. One of my best friends once described me as pathologically indiscreet.

Andrew Sullivan

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what i can and cannot do

Untitled

Truth is, I get intimated and down on myself every day. There is a good chance I will never do a respectable yogi push up or hold pigeon on my right side again. These are because of injuries trying to press bone onto bone for bending that my body was just not meant to do. Knee and elbow out of commission for a while. Even sitting cross legged is painful. That’s the thing about yoga—it’s not until years later that you realize asana is preparation for death—the ultimate life experience. No one dies in a handstand. But sometimes when we die we are lucky enough to know that our worth didn’t come from a handstand or peacock pose, and that holding the hand of the person next to us is the most challenging, rewarding, and soul satisfying pose of all. The king pose called #gratitude.

#yoga #selflove #love #loveyourself #mindfulness #beyourself #asana #Ustrasana #Gomukhasana #PinchaMayurasana #death #EkaPadaRajakapotasana #bodylove #practicenotperfect #iamenough #MeatlessMonday #pilates #contrology #infinitebalancelaramie

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big gulp breath

I’ve started to do things I like because I like myself more and more each day. I run–not lose a billion million calories but because I love feeling the sun on my skin midday. I don’t worry about walking either and stop to gulp breath like diet soda which I also drink because I like the way it feels and tastes.

I love my job. I don’t try too hard because I don’t have to. Part of the love is that I can just be myself. I do yoga with weights because I favor strength over flexibility and I like the way my arms are starting to take shape again.

I go out every now and again and hang out with the people I choose. Ones who I can be my complete and utter self around—no matter how that self may feel. I still get defensive and worry about others approval but I like that I’m working on that too.

I listen to all kinds of music because I can. I don’t care if there are cuss words in a class. I listen to what moves me. The word fuck sometimes moves. I don’t go to live shows as much as I used to. I’m okay with that, too.

I love teaching yoga because its more about being with people than alignment. Its more about being humble together than showing off a handstand. Its more about loving yourself than loving the illusion in the mirror. Its more about seeing your true self, rather than what the world has tried to create.

The moment you over think how someone sees you, is the moment you stopped being true to yourself.

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stand in your space

“Stand in your space and know who you are.”

I’ve been worried lately. About me. About the yoga studio where I work. It’s become a numbers game and I want to know where is my yoga in all of this? I must be true to myself. I must teach what I know. No matter if I’m the best yoga teacher ever, or just kinda ehh. 50% may like me, 50% may not. It’s all an ebb and flow, it’s all BALANCE.

I’m not a new teacher, and I’ve taught hundreds of classes. I started teaching at the University of Wyoming in summer of 2013 a week after my first yoga sculpt (yoga with weights) training. Turns out, I’m the only instructor in Laramie who has been certified in using weights in a yoga practice. I have done my research and I have developed a relationship both with the practice and information. I have done over 50 hours of mindfulness training and completed my masters of science in counseling. But, what makes my classes isn’t my knowledge or letters behind my name. What makes my classes is that I live my practice. The teachings of yoga come from me because I have lived them. Let me back track.

Summer of 2009 I spent the entire summer in jail. I remember every pop song that came out that summer and could dance with Beyoncé, I learned to make intricate letters and drawings with color lifted form newspaper with deodorant and toilet paper. I measured the amount of steps in the 18 by 18 foot box outside so I could run a mile (back and forth 138 times). I was in jail because I had broken the law. I had broken myself. I had revoked my probation that I was on for my second DUI by catching a charge for a third DUI. Automatic 180 days in jail. I did my time and go out through the Albany County Court Supervised Treatment Program. Saved my friggin life.

I am a human being who is working through my stuff. I went through a two year treatment program to gain sobriety and learn tools to deal with intense emotional trauma (dead dad, drug abuse, etc). I spent the next two years in intense psychotherapy using EMDR, dream analysis, and just plain hard work realizing how very much I hated myself. HATED myself. But only through yoga did I wake up. Only through yoga did I realize I am divine.

My daily yoga and meditation practice is a practice in being mindful, just being, really. Not a saint. Not perfect. I even walked away from my practice for a few months because I doubted my ability. I came back. Still flawed. But a flawed human who teaches yoga from the only place I know—my heart. I teach not because I want to be the yoga queen or self-important but because I don’t want to die anymore. I want to live. And I want to live amongst others who are divine, star-dust, magnificent. The ancient teachings come out of me backed by my history. I know darkness. I lived it.

Whether I have a class full or just one, the message is the same—you are so, so important. This comes from a life I lived where I didn’t understand this and my movement, my breath, my sweat, my voice, was lost in addiction. I’ve found it again through yoga. And I remember, just keep doing the poses, just keep teaching, and all is coming. All is already here.