Growth – a poem

A false sense of safety fills me as I peek out from the walls of my imaginary box.

For now, I will lay down in the corner of this space and wrap myself up in my warm comfort blanket.

Then, comes the time, that I will step forth out into the infinite unknown.

My breath will be taken for a minute, for my lungs only know expansion through a well defined space.

The familiar will become foreign and all sense of knowing will dissolve.

I will turn inward, then, to search for answers.

My heart will flutter as it scurries to make sense of what is happening.

I will try to crawl back into my box, but it will not fit and the sight of it will make me sick.

The feel of its cramped walls will make me scream as if it is suffocating me.

I will look around at everyone else in their boxes and feelings of envy will wash through me.

Look at how comfortable they are, sleeping so soundly.

Can I crawl in with you for a minute? Can I escape my new sense of uncertainty?

It feels good for a moment to have an escape and I welcome it.

But, as time passes, I recognize this is not my space, and I must leave in search of my own.

I hang on to something inside of me, a voice, a knowing that has always been there.

I hang on to the sound of unbridled childhood laughter.

I hang on to the sound of the ocean and the vantage point at the top of my favorite mountain.

I hang on to the wisdom of the great elephant and of my dream of the rhythmic river.

I hang on.

I hang on to cherish the mystery and to dance with the unknown.

I ask if the great mystery can be my new home.

I step out into widest deepest parts of myself and I take a deep breath.

I just keep breathing.

Some realizations…for the morning.

Yellow Flower

I am writing a paper and am reflecting back on my life. I was doing this just this morning while sipping my coffee, sitting by the plants, watching the blue jays and letting the wind blow on my face. When, I thought of realizations…or quotes or something.

1. I am extremely sensitive. I feel the emotions of other people. I have binge ate many times just to dampen these feelings to a tolerable level. I am an open person, but I can also get tired interacting with so many people. I have had to create self-care techniques to combat this and learn to set boundaries. Not in a bad way, but a healthy way. So, I thought to myself, “Don’t be so open that yourself falls out.” I realized if I let myself open up so much, I have at times lost myself in the emotions of others. This is not healthy or helpful.

2. As a seeker of “information” I like to ponder things. I read and read and ask many questions. Which, of course, only leads to more questions. I realize I have to stop searching for the TRUTH and allow for the answers. This can really only happen when I am quiet enough to hear them. In addition, someone else’s answers are someone else’s answers. Can reading an inspiring quote offer a new insight? YES absolutely, but then stop and ask, “how does this fit into my life?” How do I personally feel about this. It can deepen the experience even more.

Just some morning ponderings!! Thanks! Good day!

Taking a leap while still having fear and not having all of the answers.

Taking a leap while still having fear and not having all of the answers.

I want to admit something…I love having answers. I have always loved this. Is love the right word? I have always been drawn to pondering to wondering to asking the questions. My parents tell me as a child one of my favorite sayings was, “but why?” Still to this day that remains with me. And now as an adult, I understand that we can never know the entirety of any answer. Be it all the viewpoints in a disagreement, or the the way the human liver works. I think as I “relax” into adulthood, I have come to realize that this constant need to intellectually know has held me back at times. Be it, in my career or in my personal growth and facing my eating disorder. I have felt so often the need to get a perfect answer. My need to have the perfect answer to things has also, at times, translated into wanting to “be perfect.” What is this drive for perfectionism? It is a roadblock to happiness that’s what it is.

My need for perfectionism could be seen in my early days of counting every calorie down to the very last one, or weighing myself 6 times a day to see if I had gained or lost any weight. I also sometimes found myself stuck in my work at school because it would never be perfect enough or “complete enough.” This need to perfect something takes away the joy and the awe for actually experiencing it. To deconstruct every detail takes away from the wholeness of the thing itself. I was slowly breaking myself into pieces. I was reducing myself to how well I “followed a diet.” Thinking about this now I actually get tears in my eyes.

I was and am so much more than how I do one particular thing. I feel my heart beating now and I know my capacity to love. I know that the moments I sit in love with my family and friends, that I am realizing my true self. As I type these words, I feel deep gratitude that instead of being stuck in this place of self criticism, I have somewhat been freed.

However, recently, I have been wanting to take on new endeavors. I have not felt “ready” to do so. Many deep loving friends have encouraged me and think I am crazy for believing I am not ready. One of the things I have come to know is that people may never be truly 100% ready when a challenge arrises, but there is a transition point that comes when one takes the leap and when one begins to fly. There is a middle point, when the fear is palpable, but despite it the answers arise.

I have encouraged many people to follow their dreams. It is easy for me to see the potential in someone else, and tell them about it with great enthusiasm. However, when it comes to myself, I am less inclined to do so. Perhaps, I am just afraid of failure.

I write this on my blog about having an eating disorder because, one’s relationship to food and body image highlights but one area of someone’s life. When I let go of my need to “diet” I let go of something very real. Slowly, other things I wanted to do have crawled in. And, so without having the all the answers or the “perfect” set of wings, I must try to fly.

Reflection on the discussion of the “ego.”

Lately, much discussion has centered around letting go of the “ego” etc. I have been pondering this lately and asking what does this really mean and is it good? I know in my life when I am making a decision I sometimes ask myself am I making this decision from a heart-centered place or an ego place? What do I mean by this? For example, would going to school for another degree fulfill me in any way? Am I trying to get another degree so that I feel good about myself or so that society can view my title and think I am more accomplished? This would be that type of question. The answer is I love school, I love learning, but yes having a certain title sometimes feels good and yes society loves titles. Do I NEED to go to school to learn? Do I NEED a title to have knowledge? No, not at this time and not about what I want to learn about. If I was going to learn surgery, sure maybe I would need a specialized skill.

So, the answer to this is not as easy as it may appear and in addition, it is based on mixed sentiment.

I think instead of the ego, I would like to call it belief systems. Belief systems can either stand in our way at certain times, or help us. I think it is a mistake to say the ego is bad or judge it in this way.

Why do I think this? I think this is because usually it is trying to protect us. An example is, I have fear surrounding certain things in my life. These fears have limited me in different ways. However, to say they are false beliefs also isn’t exactly true either. They were or are true for me at some point in my life, and served that purpose to keep me safe. Did they keep me safe? Maybe, Maybe not. Do I still need to hold on to them to reach new areas of achievement in my life? No. No I really do not need them.

Thanking these beliefs for being there is an interesting experience. I recently read an article and one of the things it mentioned was to thank the negative emotion for being there, for trying to protect you. So, I did this. What I felt inside was interesting. Instead of the usual sense of resistance towards emotions where I get mad and say, “uggghhhh I wish I did not have that fear.” I thought, “o, it was a defense mechanism.” The resistance went down a little bit. Is my fear totally gone? No, but my understanding of it is completely transformed. In a sense, it is like during relaxation exercise where I am imagining being by the ocean and the day’s list of “to-dos” comes into my mind, I accept that it is there, say hello, and allow it to pass. The more I focus on being annoyed or try to not think about the to-do list, the more I think about it.

Acceptance-This word/this theme comes again and again. What is it about acceptance that is so powerful? It is not giving in and saying, “I don’t care.” Instead, no it is taking a step back noticing and integrating that thought. It is like the river that finds a new way to flow around the rock.

So, I wonder, what is the point of fighting with “the ego”. What is the point of fighting our negative beliefs and emotions? What if we turn and face them and look at them. What if we thank them for trying to protect us? Will they transform us?

Just some thoughts…

Feedback is always appreciated ūüôā

Remembering to listen to my inner wisdom in a chaotic world….

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Can you believe this sun? I took this picture as a passenger in my sister’s car. I just could not believe how beautiful it was. It seemed to take up the whole sky. It was a busy night, with cars rushing by, but the beauty of the sun captured me and took me away to another place. I forgot for a moment all the hustle and bustle of the world around me. Lately, I have been a little distracted to say the least. I have been doing a lot of reading and research on different topics and all the while completely ignoring my own inner knowing. But luckily, a little voice whispered within me and said, “hey, pay attention to me, remember me.” Wow!!! It was all this soul searching that had lead me to let go of so many hang ups about my body. It was this inner-love that had allowed me to see the big picture of unconditional self-love, but I had turned from it to seek advice from anyone but myself. How had this happened? I thought I had kicked that anxiety habit. I was standing strong on my own and knew who I was. I had found what I needed to be happy, healthy and whole. How in the world had I landed back in this place? Well, it was different this time, because I had done so much personal work to understand myself. Therefore, in some ways the betrayal of ignoring this deep meaning felt unbearable.

So, I remembered what my wisdom had told me before about beating myself up or feeling shame. The same thing applies to to this situation. I have to extend self-compassion once again. I have to understand that I am not perfect and can not expect perfection from myself or anyone else. I remember where expecting perfection got me before. The same concept should be applied to spiritual or self growth. There will be times when I forget, or chose to ignore what my heart is telling me. There will be a learning that comes from this. I must trust in the process. Had I not allowed myself to stray and forget myself a bit, I would not be here now remembering how important it is to cultivate and embrace that deep love. It is like coming home to a lover after months away. Absence really can make the heart grow fonder, whether it is for yourself or a loved one. With the awareness of loss, comes the yearning of presence.

I look now at this picture. I see that the light shines so bright it can not be ignored. However, I wonder how many times, I have traveled this road and been caught up in the rush of the traffic or the list of “to-dos” that I have failed to see the light shining before me?

The lessons I have learned are still there shining bright. The wisdom is still there expressing itself, it just takes tuning in and paying attention.

 

On this summer day, I sit outside and look all around me at all the splendor that is nature. When things were not right within, I failed to see the beauty outside of me. When the anxiety trickled in, it blocked out the calm and the peace. The peace never left, I just couldn’t see it.

Feeling gratitude now for remembering this.

 

Embracing my body and bathing suit season…

Embracing my body and bathing suit season…

 

Just let it go…..Let what go? What does letting go feel like? Why should I let i go? Don’t I need to hang onto it? If I don’t hang onto it will I be safe? What am I safe from? Am I REALLY safe if I hang on, or am I hanging on to a false sense of safety? If I don’t let go, what will that be like? Well, a lot like right now and how does right now feel? Well, it feels like I am death gripping so tight to a hope for a reality that is not my current reality, and might not even need to be my reality if I just opened my heart a little bit. No, letting go¬†feels like living somewhere outside of now. But, what about now? Shouldn’t I be able to have now? Shouldn’t I be able to string a thousand nows together and create a piece of art? I think so. What kind of art will I create? …art makes me happy….

Weird…I thought all those things I wanted so desperately would make me happy?

Maybe, you should be happy anyways, and then what follows will be way for meaningful. oooooo, THAT’s why you want me to let go.¬†

 

* I am 100% aware of how fast and chaotic the above thought process appears…and for good reason. It is. It is not calm. It is not peaceful. It is disorganized and disjointed. But, it is mine nonetheless.*

I have just given a snip-it into my mind over the last year or so of trying to let go of some damaging beliefs about my body and my world. Fascinating I am sure! I have no idea if anyone reading this can decipher it, but I’m ok with that. Maybe then I have successfully painted the back and forth chit-chat rattling away in my “youngish” brain. I think what is most apparent is fear and thinking that if I can just get to a magical spot or goal THEN I will reach the golden egg of happiness and self-acceptance.

For the purpose of this blog, the thing I was always searching for wasI “reaching my goal weight.” I am talking about fitting into society’s version of a “sexy sexy” body. OK? get the picture? (I put 2 sexys in there to really highlight having a sexy sexy body.) I am talking about EVERY single diet commercial offering us what we have always wanted: LOVE.

L-O-V-E.

Unconditional Love FOR OURSELVES does not come conveniently packaged in a 100 calorie package. It can not be found in an app where we measure everything we put in our mouths. Our self-worth is not measured this way. GUESS WHAT? Here is the good news: you are already worth 100% of what you are externally seeking. It is there. It has been there this whole time.

So, what does this have to do with bikini/bathing suit season??? Well, I came to realize something. Basically, for my whole life except now, I have been always trying to lose weight for something. I have a wedding coming up: better lose weight, I have to see old friends: should probably do a cleanse. It’s almost summer: maybe I should sign up and start tracking points…. When I think back on how much energy I wasted doing all of that shenanigans, I feel a bit sad really, and it’s ok to say I feel sad. I feel like I wasted parts of my life. You know what, I already was a hot sexy mama in my own way. And even if I wasn’t I can tell you in the most recent past, that I usually didn’t lose weight. In fact, all that focussing on dieting really lead me to gain weight. There was a point in my life, when I controlled every piece of food, and ya my weight. However, I usually felt starved. Constantly starved. I felt starved for love, for satisfaction, to be thinner. I felt starved for connection, for expression and most of all I think I felt starved for myself. Helllooooo self where aaaare you??? I am here a little voice would tell me. Sometimes it told me lies like, if you lose 20 pounds then you will find a partner that will love you. Sometimes, those lies still creep in. I take an honest look at them now. They are not as scary. Because, they are trying to tell me something I need to hear.

I recently read that sometimes when people emerge from a place of pain or darkness into hope again, this can be one of the most traumatic times. It sounds contradictory, but I now believe it to be true. As I emerge from this place, I feel such deep gratitude, but yes, I mourn those years I spent hating myself. I also feel fear. What is next? I am still afraid in many ways to truly let go. Like, if I do not control everything, then I will be vulnerable. Well, that’s why I am still on this path. That’s why this is all a journey.

I am excited for this bathing suit season, because I am excited to swim, to feel the sun on my face and to find enjoyment in all of my favorite things. I did not see ,that to come first from this place is the only way for me to go. I thought if I stopped trying to lose weight and have the perfect body, I was giving up on myself. The opposite is true. Every time I looked in the mirror and said, “yuck”, or pinched my skin, covered myself up, or avoided seeing friends out of embarrassment. THAT is when I was giving up on myself. THAT is when I was slowly bit by bit losing me.

Please do not think “I always think WOW I look great in my bathing suit look at me!” I am not always like you are beautiful, look at you! NO, still those voices creep in. Still, sometimes I compare myself. Still a group of women sitting around talking about their weight and dieting CAN trigger me to second guess myself. But, then, I goto a place of the second best thing. If I can not get to “I look absolutely fantastic right now”, I can at least get to, “I accept you as you are right now. I accept that I love you self. I extend so much freaking self-compassion towards myself that I usually can not help but snap back into reality.” ¬†If not, I usually just wait, or surround myself by positive people. Like I said, self-compassion isn’t easy.

Sayings about living in the present moment do not just exist because people like clichés. I will tell you, I actually historically rejected clichés, I like to think I am original(sometimes illusions are, ok. Just kidding.). But really, enjoy this moment. Enjoy whatever body you have. It does soooooooo much more for you than look or not look good in a bathing suit.

 

Here is a quick list of 10 things not related to the appearance of my body that I like about it:

1. Holding my nieces and nephews little hands when they are crossing the street.

2. Planting any kind of plant— making a garden.

3. Using my eyes to see all of the rich colors of the world.

4. Using my ears to hear the music that expresses the soul’s desire of another human being.

5. Painting.

6. The fact that I held my grandmother’s hand so many times, that I can still remember the touch of her skin.

7. The blood running through my veins carrying messages and nourishment to my cells.

8. Dancing.

9. Holding a baby.

10. Petting an animal.

 

When I look at this list, I remember when I made a similar one years ago as I began to look at my self-image. I think back and ya I thought these types of things were great, but I still really really # 1 wanted to be thin. I guess why I write that, is to say, that progress can take time, but it is possible. Nothing about this journey is easy. But, as I sit here exciting to but on my new bathing suit and I look at this list, I am confident that change is a real thing. It just starts with one step at a time.

 

Happy Swimming!!! And happy Summer!

-No coincidence I love the water, being a mermaid and all ūüėČ

-A Mermaid Named E.D.

 

I’m on this path: pondering self-compassion, empathy, and trust.

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Sometimes people are feeling negative in life, and that’s ok. That is normal and natural. Sometimes people do not trust other people. Again, normal and natural. I have gone through any number of stages of the above emotions. Recently, through a lot of self discovery and realizing some things I was avoiding, I realized I was avoiding facing that there were things I did not like about myself. There were parts of myself, I did not trust. I realized, if I could not trust me, the only real lens through which I see the world, how could I trust or like anything or anyone fully? Were my experience and relationships with my loved ones dulled by my own feelings of inadequacies? I think so. The details of what I mean by this are varied, complex and interwoven. I write in my post¬†http://amermaidnameded.com/2014/04/10/on-forgiveness/ ¬†about a sense of grief I felt when facing difficult emotions. One of the things I was grieving was coming to terms with the fact that I was not perfect, that I make mistakes, and yes (sigh) that I have caused others pain. Through facing this, a shift came. Once I had enough self-compassion to allow for mistakes in myself and understand where they came from, my ability to trust my world around me also changed. I don’t exactly want to say it increased, per se. ¬†I still know people can be mean, and have pain and make mistakes, but in the same way that my expectations of perfection from myself have changed, so have my expectations of others. I am now more able to simply enjoy getting to know someone.¬†

I recently read something related to the idea that the way people see the world has a lot to do with the way people see the themselves. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons I enjoy doing small acts of kindness. I can experience and see the difference they make. If I can see myself as an agent of good for others, I am also reestablishing, in my mind and heart, that good truly exists in the world. It’s completely ok to enjoy feeling good about doing good, by the way. It is one of the beautiful things that makes us human. It is what brings us together. It is empathy. There is another saying about in order to love someone else, you must first love yourself. I have mixed feelings on this. As I think loving oneself if often so much harder than loving someone else. If this saying was 100% true, then¬†there would be a lot of unloved people out there, because I see a lot of people having a hard time with self-love these days. In addition, it is sometimes the unconditional love of someone else that drags us out of the dark and into the light. This is the power of love. However, I have experienced the profound effect self-love can have on the love for someone else. I have seen how loving myself has deepened many of my relationships, and for that I am truly grateful. I think a lot of what I am talking about in this post can vary from person to person. However, the need to ask these types of questions to ourselves seems to be something we all share.

Side note: I also think when reading quotes or someone else’s words, it can be interesting to really ponder them. Try them on like a hat. How does that quote feel to you? So often we take other people’s words as fact or think because they seem deep or profound that they must also be true for us(the reader), but a deeper experience can be had if we jump into them and explore them through our own personal lens. Trust yourself.¬†