Mini Post #6: Saying Goodbye

This week we said goodbye to our old lady, our dog, Leila. She always had attitude, took every opportunity to be a rebel. If she wasn’t a dog, she would have been a brash, no nonsense woman who drank red wine and smoked cigarettes while giving you her many critiques on things you didn’t ask about. I know this because she lapped up spilled red wine and had a penchant for cigarette butts. And let me tell you, she let you know exactly what she thought about everything.

Animals are such a gift and I am grateful to have had such a badass one as my furry companion for the last 18yrs.

In workshop some weeks ago we wrote about “A Ritual Gone Wrong” and I thought it might be fitting here.

With so much love, goodbye you tiny little diva. ❤🍷🚬

“Technically this is illegal you know. Throwing ashes off the pier.”

“It’ll only take a minute, come on!”

I begrudgingly grabbed the Trader Joe’s bag and got out of the car. Flowers, a fig, her favorite fruit, and a jar with all that was left of her inside.

“Isn’t it beautiful? Perfect timing, look at that sunset.”

“People are looking at us.”

“Stop worrying, it’s fine.”

We reached the end of the pier or as far as we could get. A large fence cut off the path. DUE TO CONSTRUCTION THIS AREA WILL BE RESTRICTED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

“Maybe we should go somewhere else.”

“No, no, this is fine. This was her favorite spot. Give me the bag.”

She handed me a couple of flowers and took a couple for herself.

“We love you and we miss you.”

She throws her flowers in the water.

“Love you”

I throw my flowers over the edge and quickly glance around for witnesses.

“Okay, throw in the ashes and let’s go.”

“Wait, I want to throw in the fig.”

“Ugh, ok”

She grabs the fig and tosses it over. Now the reason we came. The jar.

“Do you want to do it together?”

“No, you go ahead”

She holds the jar for what seems like forever. Tearing up, she dumps it all. The wind takes a lot of it, but the rest gets carried out to sea.

“Goodbye, you’re always in our hearts”

As we grab the Trader Joe’s bag and start to leave, a huge flock of pigeons fly over the fence and I get a special offering of my own, right on my head.

Laughter

“That’s definitely from her! Stop worrying so much!”

I got the message loud and clear.

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Get Out of Your Head and Get Into Your Body

I mentioned before that I have been detached from my emotions for a very long time and am just now starting to reconnect with them. As the process has started to unfold, I’m learning its not as easy in practice as it is in theory. And that got me thinking…which is not helpful! Thinking is great, don’t get me wrong, but there is so much of this life that is too big to be encompassed by thinking. It has to be felt. Feeling is much bigger than thinking can ever be. Thinking happens in your head. Feeling happens in your entire body, through the levels of physical sensations as well as inner emotions and intuition. So, following that to its logical conclusion, you cannot fully feel this life without your body, physical and emotional. I should say, you cannot fully LIVE this life without your body. And so, being detached from your body is being detached from life itself.

If there is anything that I have been more disconnected with than my emotions, its my body. For most of my life my body has just been the thing that gets me, my mind, from place to place. I feed it, I bathe it, I do what it needs to be maintained, but for the most part I am not connected to it. In fact, I basically ignore it for much of the day, preferring to spend as much time as I can distracting myself with outside things or mental escapes. I now know, that is neglect. I have neglected myself. I would never dream of neglecting someone I love or a pet, or even my work. So why has it been not only easy, but a preference to neglect myself?? Ahh, there is a hard-hitting question.

I think you have probably guessed it by now. SELF LOVE. Or actually, the lack of it. That’s the root. And as always, the door you keep so tightly closed, is the door that holds the way out.

This brings me to getting reacquainted with my body. There is a great film called “Little Miss Sunshine” that is just spectacular. It hits so many emotions and is definitely teaches lessons in a lovely sugar coating. There is one scene in particular that has stuck with me over the years that is a perfect demonstration of how the body is a way in to your emotions. Frank, played by Steve Carell, has recently tried to kill himself because he lost his love to a career and intellectual rival. He is depressed and is forced to stay with his sister and her family because he cannot be trusted not to harm himself again. The family embarks on a road trip in an old VW van that cannot turn on without a running start. And so, the family must push the van until it hits enough speed to get the engine going. One by one, the characters have to run and jump into the van once they’ve got it started.

Unfortunately, this clip ends right before the moment that is so enlightening. I will do my best to find it and add it later.

Once everyone is in, you can see Frank in the most exuberant state. He is out of breath, he is smiling the biggest smile, and for a moment, he seems to forget that he is depressed. His wrists are still bandaged, but somehow, in this moment, he is the most alive he’s been in a very long time. He shouts “No man left behind! No man left behind! Yes, soldier!” In that moment, he has exerted himself, he was part of a team, and he was connected to himself and his emotions.

I know that there are proponents out there who believe that physical exercise can be the answer to mental or emotional problems. I do not believe that. I believe that physical exercise can be a way to reconnect with mental or emotional problems so that you are more easily able to access what needs to happen in order to feel better. And that’s the point, of everything, of all of this. It is to simply feel better.

So, I will be incorporating more time devoted to reconnecting to my body in a positive way in this spiritual journey. I want to approach my body with love, curiosity, and an openness to feel whatever it wants to feel. I will report back. You should too!

Mini Post #5: Close your eyes

Writer’s block. We sat in front of her computer screen. Writing. But the writing had come to a stop. What comes next? What should that character say? We stared silently. She put her hand over my face. “Do it”, she urged. “I can’t” I said. “Yes, you can” she said as she pushed my head down onto the desk. “Go to your place”.

I didn’t have a place, per se. It was more like closing my eyes and watching. Waiting for a scene to appear. You see the work already is. I just watch and listen and try to catch it.

So I did as she asked. I closed my eyes. I waited. Allowed my mind to go still, hold its breath so as not to scare the work away. It took some time, but the picture began to appear. Faint at first, but the colors began to saturate as the sound of the next lines reverberated silently in my head.

It worked. It always did. But somehow I always forgot.

We all have our ‘place’ just behind out eye lids. Everything you could ever need is back there. The answer to any question, any blank spot, any block. Close your eyes, invite the stillness, and wait.

Mini Post #4 – Solace

We were given a photo and asked to write whatever came. This isn’t the exact photo, but it is similar. It was a wooded forest with light coming in through the trees. Here is what came.

Did you ever notice that solitude sounds like solace. 
I suppose they can go together.
Finding peace, alone, among the trees.
I've come here to be alone and in a way it's peaceful.
But I'm not running towards peaceful.
It's more like running away from not peaceful.
Running away from not alone.
Solitude is a hiding spot.
Perfectly masked by these great big shadows cast by these great big trees.
Streaks of sunlight busting though leaves, giving just enough light to chase away the
monsters.
If there are monsters.
Passers by pass on by and for now I like it that way.
Don't disturb the solitude built limb by limb.
A cage to some, a shelter to others.
Others like me, hiding from one another, 
Wearing their solitude like armor.
I know they are there because I am here, among the trees.

Radical Honesty: Let’s Get Vulnerable!

What is meant by radical honesty?  Radical honesty means you not only identify what your are feeling and why you are feeling it, but also get vulnerable and link that ‘why’ to the deeper why. Here is an example to clarify that point. Say you have a pang of jealousy when your best friend makes a new friend. You identify the emotion: jealousy. You identify the why: because you fear losing your friend. Radical honesty would be to identify the deeper why: that you feel you are not enough and fear being abandoned and replaced. Maybe you’ve experienced something similar in the past and this reopens an old wound. With radical honesty you challenge yourself to dig deep and own your fears, insecurities, and past pain. Trust me, I know its not easy. But I also guarantee that the clarity you uncover is the only way to really move past emotions you want to resolve. 

Now I also want to make a point that radical honesty does not mean getting into a victim frame of mind. It is meant to be used as a tool to build yourself up, not tear yourself down. 

Just because you may be feeling a low or negative emotion does not mean you always will. The goal is to take the sting out of that deeper why so it doesn’t produce those negative emotions. So how do we go about taking the sting out? Let those emotions hit the air. They have to come out, whether directly to someone, into a journal, through physical exercise, or in some form of artistic expression. 

Since delving into my own emotions like never before I’m not only learning about what I’m feeling, but also learning how to more honestly and openly share them. That is a huge achievement for me and I am noticing that there are some positive side effects that I get from doing that other than just working through my emotions. It’s enabling me to connect with people and also create more understanding, especially during arguments. Here is an example of what I mean.

My roommate is my sister, so we already have a closer bond than a typical roommate situation. We have a wine holder on the wall, so its both a practical place to hold wine, and also kind of acts like an art piece on the wall. Recently, my sister and her new boyfriend have been drinking wine more regularly. One day, I came down and saw that there was an empty space in the wine holder, so I went to our stash of wine in our cabinet and replaced it. I chose to replace it with a bottle of wine that was a gift from a friend for my birthday. A couple days later, that bottle of wine was gone too. I asked my sister if she drank that bottle. She said yes, and that she didn’t realize it was mine and she would replace it. I told her it was fine, but that I didn’t want her to replace it because it was a gift and so it was more about the sentiment than the wine itself. She got defensive and we started to argue. It was dumb. But about halfway through, I realized, I wasn’t mad about the wine. I was mad because I felt left out. I saw bottles of wine being drunk and because I have not had an occasion to drink them felt like I didn’t matter. 

Normally, that would be a super embarrassing thing to admit. But, I said it out loud. For the first time, I wanted to be heard and understood instead of being right. So, I blurted it out. And you know what? It worked. My sister looked at me and something clicked. She wasn’t defensive anymore, I wasn’t mad anymore, we were just cool. She has been more aware of replacing wines she drinks, offering me a glass if I’m around, and I know that in those small gestures I’m being reassured that I do matter. 

I’m not going to lie, sometimes when you spell out your emotions like this it all seems so trivial. But, its the only way to build up your own emotional strength. Just like a muscle, you gotta work it out to get healthier. 

Mini Post #3 – What Matters?

The very first workshop I attended, this was the very first prompt. It’s a big question. But also, simple, if you really think about it. Here is what I came up with.

There are so many things that matter to so many people. All different, all individual. But what should matter, to everyone, I think, is kindness. Kindness doesn’t mean niceness, that’s a different thing entirely. Kindness with yourself above all. I guess it all comes down to love in one form or another. Love can hide in harsh words and it can be in grand gestures. Kindness is taking care in what you do and say. It’s an awareness that others exist as wholly as you do. Everything else can fall into place if your first step is kind.

It’s a challenge, don’t get me wrong. But then again all the most important things are. All the most powerful things are. Imagine, just for a second, how differently moments in your life would have played out if you could have stopped whatever direction you were going and thought, “now, what would be the kind way to do this, say this, be this?” You could still be the boss, the bitch, the boss bitch, but do it kindly, knowing you thought about the other person as much as you did about yourself.

What are your thoughts on what matters? Do you agree or disagree with this stance on kindness. Have you every been put in a position where kindness was a challenge? Please share in the comments.

Be Your Own Interrogator

Just like an interrogator’s job is to get to the bottom of something, to get the truth out, you have to approach yourself in the same way. The more I learn about self awareness and self improvement the more it’s become evident that we as humans have a very interesting relationship with ourselves. We, more often than not, have no idea what we want, why we feel certain ways about certain things, or even who we truly are. It’s really strange to think that I don’t know why I feel something, but to take it a little further, sometimes I don’t even know what I am feeling. 

First and foremost, this is a discussion. I am in no way a doctor and anything I share is solely from my own experience. Please seek the care of a licensed professional if you feel you need to. As I mentioned in my last post, LET YOUR EMOTIONS BE YOUR GUIDE, I am notorious for hiding things, ie feelings, from myself. In that post I gave some advice on how to feel your emotions. Once you identify how you feel you can move on to figuring out why you feel that way. Now this might seem a little strange, but I have found that talking things out with myself really helps me clarify a situation and my feelings towards it, or at least start the process of clarifying. When I say talk things out with myself, I mean exactly that. I usually do this in the car, when I have a long drive, or in the shower. Basically, somewhere I can be alone and won’t be interrupted and that I find relaxing. You can pick wherever you feel most comfortable. Once you are in a good spot, think about the situation that has you feeling something. Get yourself to feel that emotion. Once you are there, literally ask yourself in 3rd person, “Why are you feeling this?”. It sounds crazy, I know, but it opens up a dialogue with yourself. Here is an example of how a conversation with yourself might go.

  • –Ugh, I’m so pissed off!
  • -Why are you feeling this?
  • –Because its not fair!
  • -What’s not fair?
  • –Its not fair that my co-worker is getting rewarded for something I did!
  • -Why is that pissing you off?
  • –Because I work my ass off and nobody notices, and she comes in at the last minute, does one thing, and suddenly she’s getting praised.
  • -So, are you mad at your co-worker, or mad that you aren’t getting the credit?
  • –Both, I guess. More that I’m not getting the credit.
  • -So are you mad or are you hurt? Hurt that no one is noticing your work?
  • –Hurt, I suppose. 
  • -And who are you hurt by? Your co-worker, your boss?
  • –I’m kinda hurt by my co-worker. She should have said something. Even a thank you would have been nice! But she just took the praise and didn’t say anything!

Ok, so that is obviously a simple example and things don’t flow that easily usually, but hopefully it got the point across. If you question yourself and the reasons behind what is causing you a certain emotion you will often find that there is more under the surface that what might initially present itself. This is where phase 2 comes in. Phase 2 is the fun part where you can confront the person or people that have caused an emotion without having to actually confront them. This is especially beneficial when you can’t say these things to the person, maybe they are not physically around, there are consequences for saying certain things, like to a superior at work, or you just need to get some things off your chest or further explore feelings without going as far as starting a fight.

Out loud say what you need to say to that person or people. Imagine what they might say and respond back. You will feel a little crazy at first, but if you allow yourself to get into it you will open yourself up to discover thoughts and feelings you didn’t know were there. Sometimes you will even understand the other person’s point of view better when you allow yourself to play both sides of the conversation. 

No, this doesn’t directly solve your problem. What it does is clarify what the problem actually is. It will help you process whatever issue is coming up for you and will help you navigate the feelings that come along with the issue. And honestly, its just helps you feel better for the time being. It feels good to let out some of the unspoken chatter that gets stuck in our head sometimes. 

Let me know if you try this out and if it helps you at all. Or if you have other methods of getting to the root of an issue please share!