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in the middle of the night

I was going to blog about Lou Dog but I’ve written so many stories about him as the protagonist, all nonfiction because that damn dog saved my life.  I’m falling asleep early lately and waking up in the early morning/very late night and liking the pattern of observing others from afar while I know they sleep and heal and dream of whatever needs integrated, whatever needs attention.  While they sleep, I reflect.  I sink into sadness, I sink into playfulness, I write, I dance, I social media like a bad habit, I take baths.  In my watching from afar and in my folding back into myself I’m starting to feel more clear, confident, concise.  I’m starting to understand, at least for myself, the unraveling of me and maybe how to approach intimacy next time.  The edge, the place I seek, is where I individuate, stand in myself, keep a clear confident head, even in the arms and heart of another, the canyons and peaks of a new geographical area, the thick air of my dark thoughts.

I’ve been quietly studying for the National Counselor Exam, experiencing significant distress in the section on children and attachment.  I make comments here and there in my new office where I share a space with two other child welfare case workers and while they work on active cases I feel my eyes blur and stomach hurt as I move through childhood trauma in reading and memory. Replicating a feeling in graduate school, in the fraternity and sorority life office in the basement of the University of Wyoming where so much change occurred, so many memories and emotions sifted through like cake flour.  I would sit listening to conversations about Greek Week, reading and taking in concepts of moving toward and away and fearful-avoidant attachments.  Oh my god its me.  But I need to remember now as then, we were all secretly diagnosing ourselves and each other.  I know now—humanistic, client-centered, and existential—I don’t have to diagnose clients in a way that will harm them and I can collaboratively diagnose, if I diagnose at all.

Now, as then, I move through my feelings on attachment disorders, my potential attachment disorder, and its bearing on my last relationship.  And then I smile quietly because I know if this is the case, I’ve made relationships with secure individuals and sometimes to tell the truth to others doesn’t keep things easy and brings about more bitter truth I’m not keen on hearing, either.  I feel especially aware of anything I’ve failed at in my life and even stop writing to think of my best friend in Texas and how I’m missing out on the life of her child because I feel I can’t get well.  I create this unwell person around her because she has always been the sage and my substance abuse affected her and others.  I’ve apologized, maybe its time for action.  I can only do so much to make it right and then we have a leap of faith.  And I keep working or we grow apart.  We grow apart as I grow further and further from any suburban lifestyle whether I like it or not, and whether she does either—I do not know. I feel all the separation and loss of my father, my best friend, my lover, my dog.  It’s important to move through the negativity, the loss, the grief.  Branches can only grow as high as roots grow deep.  Nothing is ever good or bad, only thinking makes it so.

I pass the National Counselor Exam, and complete week one of my training.  I knew I would pass the exam because it’s my life’s work.  I’ve been taking standardized tests and studying my entire life.  I’m proficient. To be in that place of mastery feels good.  In the training I become heated during a discussion and find myself vindicated when I’m right.  Here’s where the work lies—I’ve got some good shit to say but I can be kind, confident, and clear when I say it. I can read the books, and remember my theory of change and conceptualize all my relationships and my own mental illness or lack thereof, and unpack how I create all my own problems.  We have a choice in any moment how we will respond to ourselves and others.  Breathe in, breathe out, and in that tiny catch in between I have time to cultivate my awareness to be mindful of my language—say only that which will truly help the other person or myself.   I know the pendulum still swings back and forth in the realm of attachment but I do not apologize for feeling things deeply but do feel regret for clinging to the deepness longer than the present moment.  Sometimes, there are lessons and goals to be pulled from experiences, but who I am doesn’t give a shit about lessons or goals, but cares:  how are we?  how am I?   how is this universe?  Right here, right now.

“We must exist right here, right now!”

–Shunryu Suzuki

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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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a prayer

Dear sky-father, mother-earth, source, divine, that which brings us together;

Complete gratitude.  Thanks over and over for this very moment and for my connection with You.  With Me.  With Our Infinite Power.

As I type this, as I think this, as I read this—my energy, my essence, my soul, my spirit—which really we all share—attains a higher vibration, a deeper blessing that fills my cup, fills my soul, my body, my mind, my emotions.

I am You, and You are Me and I am filled with love, energy, and it is Divine.

I feel the source, the spirit, growing within me, pure, strong, unstoppable.

Limitless, love builds and builds as I train for the race of life and get stronger and stronger in heart, radiating outward, knowing that time is an illusion, this race isn’t to be won.

All fatigue, all illness, washed away a divine storm, cleansed by lighting, framed by clouds, increased vibration giving my intention the vastness of the sky.

We lift ourselves up, we are gathered together, collective, conscious, unconscious.

United with You, WE are an unstoppable force of joy!

Quantum leap into love, healing, abundance, wisdom, peace followed by miracles, surprise, belief, acceptance.

We are held in Our arms, in Your arms, as we tolerate the anxiety for growth and we feel, we feel, as we grow and transition and see the forest for the trees, the world for what it really is.

We are blissful.  We are soothed. We are comforted.  We makes choices aligned with Love.

I am drawn to the mountains, I am drawn to the sea, and I am to that which strengthens my Divine Connection with You, my life is energized with new, exciting purpose.

I wake each day in joy and authentic dedication. I radiate joy through my smile, my life, through my being.

I vibrate at the level of love and Divine Power.

My mind is clear.

I love my life, and I have abundant energy to live it.

And so it is.
Amen.

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yoga and the wounded healer

Coming back to the subject I’ve thought about over and over. My falling outs, meltdowns, burning of bridges, loss of friends, passing the point of no return, crossing the Rubicon, nailing my colors to the mast. I’ve dealt with some shit. I’ve caused some shit. Acute conflict felt from the edges of my heart into the corners of my soul.  I caught myself in a moment with another when I began to talk about this stuff. Eyes glazed over and the gaze becomes distant like trying to talk to my father right after work, staring at the coal dust in his eyes know he might not hear me through his own clouds and questions.

I’ve sometimes heard that being a leader comes with people you love hating you a little more each day. No matter what decision is made, there will be an angry soul who is convinced the devil is running the show. Then I wonder if it’s not just my silly little ego to call myself a leader to protect me from the thought that people really don’t like me. That I’ve been banned from spaces, from hearts.  Big, universal, hurt.

I also know it takes two to tango. Yoga attracts wounded people. Every person I talk to in yoga has come to the practice because of abuse, a crappy family life as a child, their own or others’ mental illness, social isolation, family life as an adult, bereavement, life-threatening physical illness and a whole wide gambit of crap. These wounded healers, these who take issue with me, have their own wounding experiences and two wounds don’t make a healer.

I wonder, too, at the lack of integration in yoga and search for the old souls, the professionals, the ones who have spent years letting it all sink in. Then I get caught up in teach more, achieve more, get more students, buy more leggings. What if we all took a class, sat on it for a few days. See what happens. Or what if we fight, let it runs its course, and tolerate the anxiety of growing together. What if we stop being ashamed at the way we treat each other, acknowledge our wounds and evolve toward greater cohesion and solidarity.

Instead of wondering when my soul became less human or less beautiful, I can wonder how another’s wound has affected vision and perception. And through the vulnerability of suffering and universiality maybe we can self-reflect, look outward, and meltdown in a way that leave puddles of our own gorgeous human essence.

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam’s curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

T.S. Eliot “East Coker,” from *The Four Quartets*

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limitlessness

I’ve been at a lot of races lately and some sounds and sights are familiar. Cold mountain air in the morning, frantic energy at the starting line. Heavy breathing and panting, feet grazing and flopping on dirt roads, quiet muffled sounds of headphones, and the crazy eyes. Those crazy eyes. Watching as the normal gaze of distraction turns shiny and human desire bubbles up from the belly of determination–color unnamed yet so familiar. Ruddy cheeks frame the eyes,  the blush of anticipation that transcends anything sexual. Eye color doesn’t matter because it’s not the color that’s doing the talking.  The hue becomes the energy of someone who has tapped into what it means to be elite. This person will be fast. This person is creating their experience.

What inspires me is being around limitless passion.  Passion that transcends suffering, pain, or any imagined barrier (because they are usually imagined, this life is limitless if we create it so). Raw, messy, passion that pulled Viktor Frankl through a concentration camp—creating meaning in an inherently meaningless world. His spiritual strength fed the fire that fueled his will to continue on, to survive, because life took on some kind of meaning. It became bigger than him.

Struggling and suffering are not always bad. It is through struggle that growth occurs—when the river is forced to find a different path because the force of the suffering, the winter melt-off, is too great. The path might be slow at first but the river carves land, edges of rocks, rumbling loud in spring, gathering strength in winter.  It becomes its own artery of life and aspiration. Find something bigger than self and struggle becomes universal.  A mountain to climb. One hundred miles to run. A prayer to an open sky. A race to win. A story to write. A fable to tell.

Take the first step by going out of your comfort zone. See yourself as part of an infinite story.  You are not the first or last to arrive on this path. And the key is to do what you have to do to get what you want and realize your own strength. 

What is it that you want?

What is it that you will do?

How will you become limitless?

 

“If you can’t run, then walk. And if you can’t walk, then crawl. Do what you have to do. Just keep moving forward and never, ever give up.”
― Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

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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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why i gained 30 pounds

Why I gained 30 pounds and am starting to be happy for it…

1—no one should lose 30 pounds by telling herself that he wouldn’t have left if she weren’t so fat

2—ass moves mass and lifting weights is fun

3—soda (beer) and a burger after a hike are worth not being Muscle and Fitness cover-worthy

4—working out 6 hours a day is not okay

5—your hip bones shouldn’t have bruises from lying down

6—cleaning the vomit off your toilet after a binge really hits home

7—I AM ENOUGH no matter how you quantify me

8—fight, flight, or freeze modes are no way to live 24/7

9—doing yoga in a 100 degree room wearing booty shorts and hating yourself is ridiculous

10—everyone should eat a whole pizza in their lifetime

11—counting calories is BORRRRRRRING and sometimes obsessive

12—now I don’t have to post every workout

13—relationships are more important than the gym

14—cheese is just too damn good

15—measuring your worth through the concave shape of your tummy ain’t no way to live

16—I don’t ever want to see my backbone jutting out of my back again

17—I am not a greyhound, I am a big hipped Jen and seeing my ribs means I’m not eating

18—researching laxatives feels really dirty

19—feeling pain in my chest when I see the girl at the rec center with ankle weights on the bike for 2 hours

20—identifying with other random people with exercise and eating disorders because we have been at the gym for 3 hours…we see each other and know our shame

21—NOT EVERYONE WHO DOES YOGA IS SKINNY

22—I can’t run away, to, or around my problems, especially on a treadmill

23—I am not an Olympic athlete and don’t have the sponsorships or support to train like one

24—because I’m just so darn counter-culture

25—sugar cookies

26—I shouldn’t have to decline invitations to restaurants because I know I will throw up my dinner

27—guys don’t really notice who’s skinny and not—they notice when you love yourself

28—to spend a day being in every moment without worrying about poundage

29—to stop telling myself that I’m more happy when I’m not healthy

30—I AM DIVINE. So are you. Love yourself just how you are.