*Trigger Warning - I’m about to tell you about some of my triggers which may or may not trigger you...or if they didn’t already trigger you, you may find a new trigger to ruminate on...I’m sorry and you’re welcome.
I am constantly fighting a battle.
Clinically, I will call it ‘Ineedtoknow-itis’….and you may suffer from this syndrome as well, if you:
As living, breathing, feeling humans, I don’t think I am making a broad generalization to ascertain that we often want to feel reassured. We want to feel secure in our choices and in the feelings we feel; at times, not wanting to feel them unless we know they are right, or true or safe...or at the very least, worth it.
So how do we resolve these feelings, doubts and the chaos that is often associated with matters of the heart?
Well, for a really long time, I assumed they could only be resolved one way. In the arms of that man, holding me on the jetty, in the above picture.
I told myself I couldn’t do this life without him. That together we made a whole. That he was the peanut butter to my jelly and that he completed me. If I was spiraling or upset, lost or angry...or even hangry...all of these things could be resolved (which thank goodness for our sanity and our relationship, Juan figured out very early on) by enveloping me in a long silent hug.
Because he could calm me, and I did not yet understand how to calm myself, I assumed only he was capable...which is a belief that is really damaging when your person up and dies…
Today - I understand just how sensory-based of a person I am.
Yes - a good hug by a trusted person can really melt stress away - but so does an immersive experience like sitting at the beach alone, rocking a baby to sleep, or taking a yoga studio class with dim lights, music, incense burning and movement.
Basically, I am constantly seeking to be hugged by the universe. I seem to want someone or something to hang on to, to hold me tightly, so that for a few moments, everything can seem alright.
What This Means:
So despite what some may assume about this ‘Ineedtoknow-itis’ condition, wanting to know isn’t a matter of control (at least not of others) but an attempt to make an educated decision as to how open to stay, or how much to protect myself from another potentially hurtful situation. (a.k.a. trauma)
Yes, these are the things I think through. Sorry for giving you the sneak peek you never ever asked for!
Somewhere along the way I have seen patterns and internalized some of the lessons life has sent my way...these include:
All of this leads me to the conclusion that it would seem my preferred genre is Choose Your Own Adventure...and that my close reading skills (a.k.a. Spidey senses) include eyes darting back and forth, like on a forest road at dusk, always alert for that family of deer who may run into your path. I want to know, or at least suspect the danger ahead of time. I want to prepare myself, or find a way to fix it, or make so much of the remaining moments, that I won’t have a single, solitary regret as to how I lived them. Again...trauma response.
As prepared as I have tried to be...I keep getting caught off guard by pain.
Chapter 1: I knew Juan was sick. I knew I couldn’t help but love him anyway. We knew he was getting worse. That eventually he didn’t qualify for a lung transplant anymore. I even knew he would die...eventually. But when he did die, I was shocked.
I was shocked that someone thought I should be capable of living this life without him. That I wouldn’t actually grow old and wrinkly with him, that he died without us having a chance to build a family or a home or a real adult life of our own.
How did I console myself?
I decided to find what must come next. Because being alone and childless, without a plan, wasn’t the adventure I had chosen.
I decided to love again. I decided to find joy again. I decided to travel the world.
All while waiting for that child to arrive.
All while never giving myself the chance to learn who I was or how to seek a hug from the universe on my own.
Chapter 2: My favorite hobby in the world is a selfish one, because I already revealed to you that I am a sensory person...and that for me, holding a baby is the most mind blowing experience I can fathom. The warmth of this new little body, the smell of a brand new human being, their kissable heads...I figured that since I chose love again, it would ultimately lead me to this comfort I was seeking...this child...or 5- 8 children if we are being honest.
Gotta love happy chaos!
So I Choose My Own Adventure again...this one started with planning out lists of baby names, Pinterest boards full of baby nursery decor and ended years later, with failed treatments, countless injections, more tears than I ever thought possible to cry, and a diagnosis that revealed that I wouldn’t be having my own children.
This hard stuff…. this awful, soul-destroying stuff, this is the living. Not the hallmark movie where the cute girl next door gets the hardly flawed guy with the adorable smile and they live happily ever after.
So these are the two really big chapters...there are many more in between...and by now, the message that first whispered, and then screamed, “Katie, stop with the Choosing already...it clearly hasn’t worked out for you...” has finally started to get through. What I am understanding, despite how difficult it can be, is that sometimes, you have to just wait and see.
See I was born equal parts doer and dreamer. The problem with that is that I have the dream or thought or feeling or inspiration, and I am super driven to act on it, pretty much immediately.
I got the message somewhere along the way, that prepared people, successful people, know what’s happening and they are the directors in life, not the bystanders.
I love being a director so much that I am very uncomfortable with the whole not knowing thing.
But lately, many wonderful happy bits of happenstance have wandered into my world that I never planned, never sought, and they have brought me great joy.
Joy….CUE the trauma response….”What will this look like in a year?”, “Do they really like me, or am I being used?”, “Am I falling into bad habits and old ways again?”, “Is this too good to be true?”.....and so on.
Now would be the time for a hug!
So...I soldier on. I go to that yoga class...I move and breathe and realize everything is just fine.
I go to the beach. I listen to the waves, and smell the salt air, become a human lobster, and realize, everything but my sunburn, is just fine.
If it is meant for me, it will be there. If it speaks to my soul, I will know. If my body tells me it’s right, it’s okay to listen to it. If my body tells me it’s wrong, it’s okay to listen to it. I know myself, I love myself and I trust myself. I don’t need to know what someone else thinks, or what the future holds to know that I will continue on, listening to myself, living my most busual life, and making the next right choice for me, one choice at a time.
Without intending to, we have become a culture that sends subliminal messages meant to save ourselves from the discomfort of other peoples feelings. (I'm guilty of it too!)
Popular phrases such as Good Vibes Only and Be Positive are meant to inspire and motivate, but the reality is, they gloss over what every single one of us encounters....real life.
The stigma of being a "Debbie Downer" or a "Buzz Kill" has previously stopped me from openly sharing how I was truly feeling. I replaced "okay" or "I'm struggling" with "I'm good!"....because honestly, it's what everyone prefers to hear. I have smiled when I didn't feel like it, I have said yes when I wanted to say no, I have cancelled plans and gone to the trouble of coming up with a more socially acceptable excuse surrounding physical health, instead of burdening others with the knowledge that it was my heart or my head that caused my need to stay home.
Observing the emotional struggles of others is not easy and I do not believe that society has prioritized ingraining the tools and strategies for sharing, listening and holding space for others into our culture.
I DO think that I see a trend that may change that: lots of attention on mental and emotional health including podcasts, non-profits, groups like Better Help, aimed at making therapy more financially accessible, social media pages devoted to grief or sharing - I feel like if someone wanted to find an outlet for their feelings, they probably could...all steps in the right direction.
So now, the work needs to be
1. normalizing ALL of our feelings
2. breaking the habit of our automatic responses
3. getting comfortable with vulnerability
4. learning how to hold space for the feelings of others.
All small tasks right? : )
I'm going to type this in big letters because this is how strongly I feel it....
There is SUCH BEAUTY in walking through this life living your TRUTH.
It is more freeing than I ever thought possible. Here I am world! This is me! Not the me I wanted you to see, not the one in perfect shape, doing stunning yoga poses, the one who knows exactly what she is doing and where she is going.....
Nope...it's more like...Hi there! I'm Katie and I love myself! I have been listening to the needs of my body and eating foods that bring me joy, I have been moving when I have the desire to move, there are many yoga poses I cannot do and I am still scared to do a headstand without the wall behind me, I really have no idea exactly where my life is going or what it will look like, and I am okay with that. I make a ton of mistakes along the way, but I am happy in this moment...and when I am not happy, I will tell you. When I ask how you are, I want a real response. I want to hold your space. I don't want to solve your problems (because I can't) or heal your heart (because only you can do that work) but I do want to support you and love you on your journey.
Let's normalize THAT.
I am interrupting your regularly scheduled blog post reading to tell you to Live Loudly!
Let's pretend that you weren't already sure of my bold mission based on my outfit choice today! What can I say? I woke up feeling the need to be loud!
So ask yourself how you are showing up in this life....and when in doubt, start by mirroring me and dressing brightly!
Here is the thing...if Juan saw my Busualness (for those unfamiliar...better than usualness), why can't I? In the search, I have dug deep, unearthed , overthrown barriers, both natural and woman-made, and I now, quite loudly announce, that I have Arrived....with a captial A.
I used to proclaim what I wanted in a small way. I used to think about it and quietly work hard for it, attempt to mold it and create it and control it until I reached my desired result. I would agonize over it, want perfection before proceeding and want to give the impression that I had it all together.
Then in the evolution of me...I began to tell others, very openly, what it was I was working towards, whether it was a new business venture or infertility treatments, or a household or personal cleanse...sharing each new endeavor for accountability and sanity, and reporting on each outcome, whether heartache or success fueled. I began to edit less, caring only a little bit about the possibility of someone not liking, preferring or all out rejecting me and my life.
Today, I have taken it a step further and finally fully understand that this life, my purpose and calling, are not dependent on the approval, needs, emotions or desires of others.
Today, I speak a new language...all things healing! I want love and connection and feeling and beauty and community.
I want authenticity, in it's highest form; I don't preoccupy myself with the version of me I "want" others to see because I love this version of me; the only changes necessary are the growth that organically occurs in this journey and on this path.
Now that I know what I know, now that I am ready to heal, I want it all.
I will seek it, I will chase it, I will defend it with every fiber of my being.
I will be loud, be bold and be bright.
I won't shrink. I will kiss timidity good bye.
Live Devoted (capital D!) to your purpose and your calling.
Look at life through that lens when things gets messy; sift through decisions and scenarios with your Devotion in mind. Seek and ask for clarity. Wait with patience and an open heart.
Symbolically (or actually, if that floats your boat) Shout!
Assert Yourself with Grace
Be More Self-Assured Than Ever.
This doesn't necessarily mean that you need to share so openly...like me, or outside of your comfort zone/ your cone of silence (any Get Smart fans out there?).
It means live your convictions, live your purpose, in such a way, where everything you stand for is
Say it out loud or make it actionable!
Make it obvious through observation, LIVE it loudly!
If you are about healing and helping others heal...then immerse yourself in healing things; go on retreats, carve time out for yourself, journal, listen to podcasts, read books, surround yourself with support, go to therapy, find a creative outlet to express your feelings, move your body in relation to how you feel.
Find the reasons why you are you, why you are here, in this world, and maximize them.
If you are still on the journey to being Loud, I am leaving some signposts to guide you.
I cannot wait to continue seeing how you show up in this world.
Live bravely with Love!
9 Signposts for Becoming Boldly Busual
Proclaim It Brightly
Celebrate yourself Where.You.Are!
If you care to share, tell us what signpost you feel you are currently on in this journey of the self.
Which has been the hardest? Which has brought you the most understanding?
Above all...continue on!
Recently, the young boy who I home-school, and I, had a conversation about focus.
I told him to think of an ice-cream shop.
I said that right now, he’s allowing his brain to run a soft-serve machine on automatic - because he’s forgetting that the real power is being the scooper.
He needs to understand that he controls the button of the machine, and needs to help his brain focus on one flavor at a time. He needs to turn the swirling machine off and scoop thoughts up instead, and focus only on them, one flavor at a time.
I asked my teary friend what flavor he wanted to practice scooping together, and in his very emotional state, he spit out, “pumpernickel”, which made us both laugh.
We both know he meant pistachio - but now, when he’s getting distracted, we have a fun reminder to keep us on track…”Scoop the pumpernickel!”.
But, what I didn’t want to tell my sweet little friend just yet, is that unlike long division and essay writing, scooping the pumpernickel isn’t necessarily something that gets easier over time. In fact, I don’t remember struggling so much with focus until I was a full-fledged adult (sigh).
We do not live in a world that is kind to our ability to focus. So, how can we create the space to allow us to truly be present while immersing ourselves in a task, activity or conversation? Create a mindful ritual, using some or all of the ideas below, to prepare your body and brain to hunker down and stay present.
Calm Your Spinning Mind - Create The Space - Introspection
Calm Your Spinning Mind:
- Discern: Chances are, if you are encountering a spinning mind, you will be unable to devote your full attention to the task at hand. But not all thoughts end up being ones that we need to hold space for. Train your brain to ask the following questions before handing permission over for thoughts to enter the sacred space of your attention.
If you answered no to any of the questions above, consider practicing allowing those thoughts to go, temporarily or forever. I don’t mean to make this sound easy, but as someone who has been accustomed to taking things on that aren’t mine (other people’s emotions, others reactions to my own decisions, anticipatory stress) I know how much space can be salvaged in the mind and heart by the act of surrendering.
-Write It Out: Once you determine what is left, try getting it out of your brain and onto paper….not a little scrap piece of paper that you will lose and then stress about losing…(been there!) but a notebook or journal or Google doc devoted to catching your thoughts and creating your lists. This can be a quick bullet point list, a slightly more detailed Now and Later list or a list that is created by (1) a brain dump and (2) a numbering of said brain dump in order of priority.
- Respect The List: If you are attempting to accomplish something that is not an item on your list (perhaps something for relaxation or enjoyment), understand that this can require a non-judgmental acceptance of what may feel like the opposite of productivity. If you have read some of my other blog or Instagram posts, you will already know that I, historically, have not been great at sitting with the sense of being unproductive. So, mentally, if you need a crutch to defend the importance to yourself (ha!) refuse to make a list that doesn’t include the item, “Meet My Own Needs” as numero uno. Go ahead, actually add it to the list, I do it all the time!
Create The Space:
In school, we utilize the term, ‘least restrictive environment’ when we are addressing the needs of our students. What conditions might be most conducive to their academic, social and emotional growth….that’s where they belong. We deserve the same type of contemplation here. Depending on what you may be focused on at the moment, you may need to physically adjust your space (I’m leaving you some ideas below), if where you are currently situated is impeding your success.
Quick Adjustments for Space and Mindset:
If you feel like you have tried everything, and focus is still a pipe dream, it may be time for some deeper introspection. It could prove really helpful, long term, to institute a pause if you find a pattern of feeling scattered, unfocused or are pestered by the notorious monkey mind. What is really going on beneath the surface? What is weighing on you? I have found that my inability to focus is often only a symptom of something bigger - a truth I have been ignoring (denial is a river in Africa AND a state of mind!), an emotion that I have yet to sit with, old habits or stories that I have outgrown but have yet to remove from my life or a need that I have yet to meet. This could be as simple as someone trying to make themselves be productive, when what they really truly need (as much as they may hate it) is a day to relax and reset. Try using some of the questions below to diagnose and identify the root of the problem.
Whatever it is that is important to you to focus on, whether a big project, or just small everyday tasks, don’t forget to infuse joy, gratitude and love into each moment. It’s easy to allow stress or concern or frustration to take over, but we are in the trenches, doing the living...the living doesn’t begin when everything is in order, so make it all count. Elevate your tasks and don’t forget to live busually.
Remember those growing pains that we used to get - somewhere between the ages of 8 - 12, those times when our muscles and ligaments really stretched and expanded and started to transform into the bodies we now have? Well, growth hurts. It aches to outgrow what we once knew - but imagine trying to continue to wear the clothes and shoes that fit us before that growth spurt? It would continue to be painful - it would restrict our movement - it would be nonsensical - exactly like putting the work into ourselves as individuals and refusing to unapologetically set and maintain boundaries to defend what we have discovered about ourselves. I personally have done this - and I wouldn't recommend it!
Boundaries are critical.
I'll say it again. Boundaries are critical. Boundaries are also hard...hard to develop, to write, to accept, to establish to maintain and to alter when needed. After giving this a lot of thought - I have broken this constant practice into 5 steps. I hope you can use these as a guide when you feel like you are unsure of where to begin and a reminder of your worth and why it's essential that you see it and claim it.
Step 1: Work the Mindset
Okay - raise your hand if, when you were younger, you were given the subliminal or very literal message that we should smile and be accommodating, helpful and kind individuals.
Keep your hand up if you allowed this message to infiltrate every area of your life and it has caused you to be smiley, accommodating, helpful and kind to a fault - to your own detriment.
If your hand is still up - lower it, and use both arms to hug yourself.
This is not your fault - it is a result of our conditioning and we can retrain ourselves!
Being a good person doesn't require everyone to like everything we say or do. Being a good person merely requires you to live with intentional respect for yourself and others. That's the part of the lesson "they" (society!) left out over all of these years.
We also need to work to understand why boundaries are important, what they mean and why it affects our self-worth to refuse to set them.
Here is an example:
A toddler asks for a cookie. The adult says no. The toddler screams and cries and rolls on the floor. The adult is tired. The adult gives the child a cookie.
Listen - I'm not accusing the adult of anything - someone should give that adult a hug, a glass of wine or a cup of tea and the opportunity for a nap - but the lesson the child learned is cause and effect. I guarantee they will try it again, and again, and again...because it worked that one time.
Cause and effect is real: What we accept from others, sends them the message that it is acceptable and effective.
It's like we are saying, not only is this okay - you now get whatever it was that you were seeking - so go ahead - keep using this method.
The message we then receive on a regular basis could be something like, this is what I am deserving of, this is normal or this is because I am not (good, strong, pretty, smart or capable) enough.
Here is the mindset to work on.
You are so worthy of defending exactly as you are right this second.
What is on your heart, your mind and the needs of your physical body and space are real and true and important.
It is not selfish to assert your needs. It is not selfless to put others needs above your own.
Your feelings and goals are not wrong because they do not align with what someone else wants of you.
Step 2: Decipher Your Needs
I have found that one of the best ways to do this is to check in with yourself to see what throughout your day feels uncomfortable and unnatural vs. what you decide would alternately feel real and true and beautiful. Taking the time to know yourself is not a quick journey - and there is no final destination because you are constantly evolving and changing. You can begin this work, only when you accept that.
Needs can be tricky because it is so easy to confuse them with wants, but by needs we mean what we consider to be basic humanity like respect, intimacy, space, interaction, solitude, healthy communication and to be valued. If we focus on these core themes, and are presented with an inquiry - we can better decide if we should say yes because we want to be involved, or no because maybe we are already over-committed or are disinterested. Our reaction to the needs of another should not be confused with the existence or absence of love and kindness. It's not that we won't say yes ever again, to something that we don't want to do, but it's learning to look inside, find what need you are experiencing and deciding what to do with it.
If you decide to temporarily ignore your need for the sake of another, you have some questions to ask yourself....1. How will I fill this need I have in another way? 2. Am I getting out (of this relationship) what I am putting in? 3. Why am I choosing to forego my needs and can I proceed without regret and bitterness?
Learn about yourself - honor yourself.
Step 3: Communicate Clearly
My training as a student of English has allowed me to believe that I am quite capable of intelligently communicating feelings, ideas and concepts with others. This is a fact. What is also a fact is that this was one of my weakest areas in some of my relationships over the years.
I was too scared to speak my mind and viewed it as selfish to put my needs before another's needs, so I very often waved the surrender flag and accommodated everyone else. In addition, I wanted to be perceived as helpful and capable and strong, I assumed I would ruin others impression of me if I wasn't able to do it all.
This led me to feel unseen, unheard, disrespected and bitter - but I have to take ownership of the fact that things may have been different if I had spoken up about what was and was not acceptable (like the toddler). This has been my cause and effect.
I have gotten much better with this.
I have seen what communicating clearly is not...it is not over-explaining, justifying or seeking approval for what we need.
Clear, concise and confident statements can still be kind - but are unmoving when faced with backlash and is as much in what is not said, as in what is said.
Step 4: Acclimate to Discomfort
The feelings I had trouble moving past, became easier over time because I had caused myself to become bitter, exhausted and desperate for the fulfillment of needs I had long ignored. If you can avoid getting to this point...avoid it! The discomfort comes in the same form as growing pains. You may find that some people are unable or unwilling to adjust to the boundaries you have set, and it may alter your relationship forever. That is okay. If someone in your life is unwilling to hear you or see you as you really are, that is exactly the reason for the boundaries to exist in the first place - to protect yourself. You should not be putting more energy into fiercely protecting a fraudulent relationship with someone who is unable to accept you and what you need.
This is not to say that you won't gain more respect and love from those around you, and some surprise others over time, because they have watched you honor yourself.
Here is the takeaway - if you had to choose temporary discomfort in the shifting of your relationship with someone else, or lifelong discomfort in your relationship with yourself as you deny your needs forever, which would you choose?
Step 5: Release Guilt and Embrace Peace
Ahhh....the guilt that lingers from speaking up, out or against the whims of another...let that go. I know it's easier said than done, but choosing to hold on to it is just as toxic as accepting the behavior that required the boundary.
You are not wrong for taking a stand. You are not wrong for saying no.
Speaking your mind and heart is essential. Silently acting in accordance with your heart and mind is essential.
I grew up in a home, as do many children, where "talking back" was punished, corrected and frowned upon. This meant if I disagreed, the respectful thing was to keep it to myself. A different opinion was unwelcome.
I carried this into adulthood in a major way. This is a regret I carry - that needs to be released.
What I am seeking, is peace; Not the peace that comes from keeping peace with others, but the peace that comes from within when I know I acted in alignment with my soul.
Food for Thought:
1. Which of the 5 steps proves most challenging for you?
2. What is your experience in boundary setting over the years?
Therapy is something that has been essential to my well-being over the last 7 years. I truly cherish the opportunity to have a sounding board for the work I already do with my own self-development...with the evolution of unlocking what I hold on to and the processing of how I have been changed by trauma. Therapy is not meant to 'fix' - nor is any one person...no matter how intimately they are connected to you, meant to or able to provide you with a clear roadmap for your life - only you have the responsibility for and the access to your own healing and development - everyone else is a bystander, a witness, and absolutely impacted by your willingness to Do The Work.
If you thought that the external events of my past year looked intense, wait until you realize the amount of self-realizations I have gone through. I don’t mind saying it’s pretty mind blowing.
Perhaps my largest transformation - which, like most life-altering transformations, happened without my realizing it - has been the shift in how I view myself in the story of my life. I think for a long time, I thought I was the main character - the driving force in this novel. I acted like the heroine should act - dressed the part, knew all of my lines - but I have spent a lot of time being the main character of someone else's story. Let’s face it, I’m not seeking to be a character at all - I am the author - the narrator - the crafter of my tale.
This means that while the behaviors of characters, both main and supporting, affect my decisions in the writing of my story - I am not stuck or trapped in a story that is stunting my development. I am the one with the power. I decide which characters stay on as main characters and which ones need to be assigned a smaller role.
I have realized that my decision making process has changed entirely. I now ask, “What does self-care look like in this moment? If I decide to stay up late tonight, and miss out on my self-care time in the morning in order to sleep, is that what I most need over the upcoming few days? Is that going to be best for me?”. No longer am I quick to make the easy or fun decision….or concerned with making a decision to please those around me...I understand that to care for those around me, I MUST never abandon my own care again - and not only not abandon - but I must prioritize my self-care above anything else that takes place.
I call the shots without judgement of the self - without beating myself up about it - approaching it as more practice in loving kindness and tuning in to my needs.
Previously, I would have chosen to do something like stay up late, both because it was fun and because I would have felt guilty to do otherwise - but would have never shifted the expectations I had of myself early the next morning. I would have expected to follow the same routine and would have beat myself up for being tired or less productive. How quickly we make moves to accommodate everyone around us….but ourselves. The first issue was that I had never built daily self care into my schedule….the irony... I know!....Yogi and former studio owner can’t practice what she preaches…..but it’s true. Self-care was the occasional massage, was the nice breakfast out with friends, it was irregular and most often external. The piece I was missing was the daily, non-negotiable space for reflection, movement, creating and serenity.
I have news for you - life changes completely when you make decisions with self-awareness and self-compassion. You see very clearly what is most important and are willing to fight for it - you become the fiercest defender of your work - you more easily see what is meaningful because you don’t allow things to become diluted anymore….diluted by the opinions, expectations and reactions of those around you. Conforming to what you assume is expected, is not love, is not blazing your unique path and is not living; thereby robbing both yourself and all you come in contact with, of the beauty of your true self.
Repost from the blog at Present Yoga Community (July 2020)
Well - my world is upside down - in some ways, like everyone else’s current worlds - and in other cases, unique to me, myself and I. And what does everyone wish that they had when their worlds are in such a state?… all of the answers (a.k.a. An instruction manual).
How many times, over the past few months….and how often over the course of my adult life, have I wished to effortlessly understand what is right and best and true??
My brain started the processing attempt here… (yes...this is a conversation with myself - don’t be worried! It wasn’t out loud!)
Q: How do we solve a problem?
A: Ask a series of questions
Q: What do you need when you are lost?
Q: Where do you get directions?
A: From someone who knows where they are
Okay - let’s try - from a set of principles (north, south, east, west)
Q: Where do we get these principles from?
A: A knowing of established principles or an establishing of principles/directions of one's own (landmarks, following the stars in the sky, etc).
Now we are getting somewhere…...
If it’s a knowing - the only thing I know... is that I have to learn to find my answers/directions/self within myself. That’s the only thing I know for sure.
If it’s the establishing of principles...I can do that.
When I was an elementary school teacher, I displayed very few posters or charts around the room. My goal was for the kids to focus their attention in on ONLY that which was most important. So I hung little delicious squares of inspiration - which were called “Non-Negotiable’s” in frames on the chalkboard. They stayed there all year and we discussed them often. They said things like…”Take pride in all of your work”, “Stand up for what you believe in” and “Encourage others to be their best”. Basically - it was a general instruction manual for life.
So - why not make our own compilation of non-negotiables? Why not write principles that are true to us, to hold tight to when we find ourselves feeling like we have nothing, or are unsure of what comes next? A reminder/tool/sanity check for when life gets sticky - and something that, like our cardinal directions, can be applied to any situation.
So...the teacher in me...decided to make a list!
-When in doubt - pause
-Remember to let yourself feel the feelings
-Don’t take on what is not yours to feel.
-When feeling unsure - pick one, small actionable step that feels true.
-You can do hard things and still be okay.
-You are human - and perfectly imperfect.
-Trust your body - if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right.
-When met with a strong emotion - do the work and always ask “why”
-You are always changing - that’s okay.
-I am the only one who knows what I need
-Start by honoring yourself
This list is never done - as I experience something that causes me to develop another direction - I will add it to my list. This is becoming my home base, my constant guide - when the warning light illuminates on the dashboard….I can flip this open - practice dropping in to a space of clarity - and see the world with fresh eyes.
So, if you feel like you are floating up the creek without a paddle….if you need to find your North star….consider what your non-negotiables are ….write them - list them - recite them - make them part of your Knowing. Suddenly - you may find that upside down, isn’t such a scary place to be.
See you on the mat,
Okay - total disclaimer - I am about to recommend that you get up at 5:00 in the morning (but the title probably gave that away already).
I should start by saying that, for a long time now, maybe since middle school, I have possessed a passionate dislike of rising any time before 8:00 am. I would wake up angry, usually rushed, feeling like I didn’t even have time to drink a cup of coffee, led alone do anything fulfilling for my own life - before going out to serve others. I was always tired and felt heavy - because I was stuck in the rut of maximizing awake hours at night to “decompress” with TV - not being at all prepared for the morning - and hitting snooze as many times as possible.
Now - in a way - I feel like I have very little room to even be talking about this yet - since it’s so new - but I do feel like a different person already - so I am going to anyway. : )
This is day 4 of 5:00 am.
Each day it is hard to get up - but I am excited to rise and to have time that I know is only for me. No one else is awake - the house is quiet and dark. Each night I go to bed thinking about what I want to achieve the next morning - and I prepare by laying things out downstairs to as not to make any noise. For a long time, I said this would never, ever, in a million years be feasible because of the dog - or because I would be too tired - but actually - my new routine has proven to be not only doable, but also transformative.
Stay downstairs watching TV until between 10:30-11:00 pm.
Wake - tired and heavy at 6:45-7:00 am.
Sit to have coffee - shower and dress and then make breakfast (then take care of everyone else all day long).
Always be mad I didn’t have time (or energy after dinner) to work out.
Go upstairs with Finley at 9:00. Shower and get in bed by 9:15/9:30.
Lights out no later than 9:45.
Alarm goes off at 5:00 am.
Quietly slither out of bed and sneak out of the room so Finley doesn’t hear me (he is hard of hearing anyway - so it’s achievable).
Bathroom/brush teeth and downstairs by 5:15.
15-20 minutes of exercise or yoga (whatever floats my boat!).
15-20 minutes of some form of learning or writing (usually writing so far).
15-20 minutes of producing - either working adding posts or graphics to my blog - knitting - planning yoga curriculum, etc.
The beauty of it is - before anyone else comes downstairs - I have spent time on numero uno. This makes such a big difference in my mood and my outlook for the day. I don’t feel last - I don’t have to wait for anyone else to give me time, or make me feel better - instead - I have taken control, and that’s a nice feeling.
I also, already, feel possessive of my “me” time. Possessive...like anyone in the house who wakes up early or during “my” time, will rue the day they decided to interrupt my peace….but maybe that’s only because I am on day 4 …maybe further enlightenment will occur after day 66...or 1,345.
This shift in routine just isn’t possible if you are not willing to pivot from what is familiar and comfortable. It was uncomfortable to draw boundaries and to remove myself from the boys and the couch. It was uncomfortable to change the clock my body has known for a long time. It was and admittedly still is uncomfortable…each day around 2:00 when I do wish I could take just a little 30 minute nap. But so far, I feel like my waking hours are happier, more fulfilled, empowered and purposeful since making this change.
If you would like to listen to the podcast that inspired me to learn more...click here!
I have always had an inexplicable sense that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. If I was going to give myself a compliment, it was that I am willing to try new things and learn new skills. Because of that...it is an apprentice of all... master of none situation. But, if I am being honest, for most of my adult life, my confidence has been in the gutter. Despite my willingness to put myself out there - to learn, to try, to practice….if you asked me if I was a confident person, my answer would be no. Yet….everyone has the impression that I am confident because I don’t hold back.
So this got me thinking….why is it that I spend so much time doubting myself? In the study of myself - which is by default, more and more telling over time - I have found that I follow a series of patterns that I allowed to coerce me into believing that I wasn’t smart. I allowed myself to be silenced by people who stand up taller, speak louder and proclaim to know more. Then I would carry on, holding my own, even when I didn’t agree with said person, but with quiet stoicism.
Upon examination - it is’t that I lack confidence or conviction...it’s that I am not utilizing a strong voice and that my self worth is less than stellar. Now...I don’t want to get into the blame the parents game...but it is only a matter of fact that I was raised in a house where talking back was banned. To compensate, I always had (and still have) the perfect comeback in my head….usually superb counter-arguments….and perfected the dramatic eye-roll or judgegy side glance...the silent approach to saying...not only do I disagree, but I also think you are ridiculous...otherwise known as the easy way out!
I did come to believe that in not verbally standing up or confronting others, that I was showing strength of character...but really, what I was doing was communicating that I accept that you are the authority here - or I do not disagree with what you are saying or doing strongly enough to take a stand.
In doing so - I believe that I have been doing myself and my relationships a disservice. I may not always be the expert on a given topic of conversation, but I am the expert in me. This is what I have failed to remember. It is a matter of self-worth.
I strive for all A’s - to do everything I set out to do well - I don’t like to be wrong. It is uncomfortable. If I don’t speak up - I can’t appear to be wrong. If I smile and appear to agree or understand someone - they can’t think ill of me. I want to figure out all the kinks before anyone knows about them - I want the time to problem solve so others see me as competent and capable. But - here’s the thing - I know I am capable - so what I need to do now is harness it and relinquish this fraudulent idea of control and perfectionism that I have deemed so necessary.
New Rituals to Promote Self Worth:
If I don’t know - I say I don’t know! (I used to find shame in the NOT knowing...like I expected myself to have all of the answers!)
After I say I don’t know - I evaluate. Is it mine (stay in your lane) to solve - what is it’s value to me?
If I decide it is mine - I follow through to find answers! Can I solve it myself? Can I research it? Who can I ask?
Perhaps the biggest change has been a shift in my priorities.
Numero Uno: Me!
It has been important for me to make the distinction between worrying about someone's impression of me versus serving myself as an individual. They are not one in the same….although I have mistaken the two historically.
Don't fall into the trap of waiting to practice self-worth, until you feel like you have it all together. Start right now - start with me.
See yourself - see your worth - show yourself loving kindness.