Reevaluating the concept of intimacy

Since turning 28 last week, I have been evaluating a laundry list of personal tendencies and fundamental patterns that sway me to the habits that invade my daily existence. Granted, some habits are positive — thank you self care! However, I am looking at those reactionary tendencies to guard and harden myself instead of choosing to spill open with compassion. My intention is to embody the light-hearted image I illustrate in my imagination, however, often, I get distracted by cultural competitive conditioning.

I am lucky enough to have a partner who challenges me to be more “me” each day. When I am single, I get farther from intimacy with others, but even more so, with myself. I am seeing clearly as I look deeper at my mind and actions, that intimacy – the one that breaks boundaries and sings to your soul – is not dependent on how we share time with anyone outside our own being.images

Across the numerous Elephant Journal articles I read each week, there has been a theme about intimacy and connection. Per usual, these articles highlighted the barriers to and benefits of intimacy. But in reading, I was decoding the bigger message and realization: I am not healing from heartbreak from another. I am avoiding being my best “me” because I am still trying to rebuild my internal trust and safety after breaking my own damn heart. Up until this moment, after years of therapy and long-winded, tearful phone calls to my mother, I’ve never fully acknowledged that I completely broke my heart to the core.

Oh, and it gets better! Thanks to prolonged hours on my beloved road bike, I get the time to deconstruct my innermost (brutally) honest mental patterns. My monkey mind monopolizes on this opportunity to create a battlefield of conflicting thoughts; between increasing the adrenaline inspired-confidence boosting mindset and defeating the (over) analyzing mindset of those pieces of criticism that I swear “need to change.” Most rides, I make more sense of my life and come to some sort of pacifying acceptance. But my experience today was quite frankly, a slap in the f*cking face. In the tough love kind of way though. Where I couldn’t help but agree – yep, you’re right monkey mind. You win. Hands up. I surrender.

 

I stay busy to avoid being bored because in that very same adrenaline-inspired monkey mind, being bored = total (worthless) laziness. My ego finds free time ‘unexciting’ and convinces me that I ‘should’ collapse into a bed of failure. So, I do my upmost best to plan for the protection of my insecurities. Can you say: Ouch!

This wKeep-Calm-And-Be-My-Life-Partner-qaz211hole epiphany thing manifested twice in two days — a) intimacy starts with you and we can’t avoid REALLY being with our being, especially when it’s most uncomfortable. So it’s not who we’re with or what we’re doing, but the absolute quality of our mental health that quantifies intimacy and success. That idealized “life partner” that everyone talks about finding, that some people search most of their adult life to attract, is indeed OURSELF! Boom. Take that self-help books.
From this realization, I recognize that the only route to inner peace is unconditionally loving myself as a “life partner” would. Intimately and whole-heartedly. The American Dream has lost its luster. Yes, it’s that painful and raw. But I choose to trust that it is also transformative and uplifting.

Finding the exit from the “caution zone”

“When the things we fear the most happen — and we survive — we finally get to the end of caution. When we finally surrender to loving all of what comes, we can begin to live.”

I read this quote yesterday in Mantra Magazine. One of my favorite magazines out there in the yoga and health world. Thanks to the marvelous Kate Bartolotta, I was rocked to the core of me. I couldn’t even finish reading the quote without crying. There are so many little gems found in each issue of this amazing publication. Like this sweet reminder:

“Life has a way of bringing us the unexpected, breaking us open, and eventually transforming us. It forces us to go deeper within ourselves, to heal, to really challenge the cultural shame and the unrealistic and unnatural standards leveled at women and our femininity.”

This specific issue centered on celebrating our biggest struggles as human and how #yogaheals. I have personally seen how yoga has provided doses of medicine to heal my tainted mind. To help us get into the body and out of the stigmas that hold us back. We are conditioned to accept the negative  The mind that got brainwashed to prioritize idealism over individuality. And to fear what I lived with most: MYSELF. This quote was a blunt testament to an important fact that I was blind to until reading this crafted string of words.Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 3.37.29 PM.png

A) DUH! We all know that. Based on our experiences, we learn how resilient we are as human beings. Somehow, we swim ourselves out of the sinkholes that struggle and pain unknowingly creates.

B) More importantly, after living so many years strangled by fear of impossible things, I can see how as I’ve brewed the courage to take risks in my choices, I’ve survived, and not only that…I’ve changed for the better.

Breaking the caution tape to fully living was not really a one-time decision. It’s actually a decision I battle with every day. Some days, I’m in a crime scene of destruction. Others, I feel liberated from the cell of  self-judgement. And I can say that I am grateful to know the feeling of liberation. I hope to keep surviving past the limitations I put on myself that often feel like death. I want to thrive, no matter the fluctuations I experience mentally, physically, emotionally. I desire for the quality of my heart to be the source of my worth, not the measurement of my weight or size of my muscles.

I’m coming to honor that “exiting” does not resemble an escape. Exiting the caution zone is a process of investigating and never closing the case. It is a mystery that evolves into a story worth understanding. I must believe if I want to see — kind of like Santa and Rudolf. I’m only just beginning to see the magic.

 

 

Embracing the truth of reality

While being trapped in the false, pop-up world of Sin City this week for work, I am discovering parts of me that I did not know were buried in the first place. For many years, I was drawn into the Disneyland-like idea of perfection, luxury, and beauty. I strived for quite some time to acquire few signature, classy items that would falsely gain people’s attention in hopes I would be seen as special and noteworthy.

Unknown

This mentality is the exact root of what drove me into the spins of a 5 year eating disorder. I say five to quote the legitimate years I suffered from behavioral impacts far beyond words I can or should describe. However, still to this day, I am approach close to a decade of disordered thinking around food. I see the world etched with ingrained views of disordered thinking beyond food. The root is centered on those exact themes of perfection, luxury, and beauty.

What I am learning in my adventure in the non-stop land of indulgence is that I do not seek indulgence in the way that stuffed me full (literally) for years. Rather, I am quite turned off by the over stimuli because I am more enlivened by the light within and those around me. It is hitting home that perfection, luxury, and beauty are all qualities that manifest from within every one of us as we allow ourselves to embrace our inherent wholeness as humans.

images.jpg

Thanks to the fiery passion I feel for my work, it is easy for me to be more entertained by creating presentations, coordinating, and writing this honest expression than any of the glamorous showcases of excessive dream-like structures around me. I guess what it really comes down to is my recognition at the core of my being that I am indeed living the dream I never imagined would come true.

For years, I held onto threads of fantasy illustrated in my mind as “ideal” because I so firmly believed my authenticity was tainted by my down-to-earth simplicity that didn’t fit in the outline of a high-functioning, socialite lifestyle. I am the farthest from wanting more outside of myself than I’ve ever been. I am existing in the vibrant and yet vulnerable  reality where clarity derives from tears and bliss radiates from gratitude and connection. I humbly bow to the truth with a capital T and the beautiful ways in which life aids us to grow in the clandestine and subtle silent ways that only become visible as we develop the lens to see. And the truth is, I still have no idea what truth really means…but I try to feel it more than think about it. From this place, I can learn the depth of intuition and look toward the horizon with curiosity.

 

images

Chasing the Sun: Learning to navigate unexpected pain

There’s no easy way to tackle the unfortunate situation when we are greeted with an unexpected turn of events. Sometimes it’s happens as a perfectly sequenced string of tragedies or it invades as a huge slap in the face. No matter how it happens, there’s a universal point that leads us to surrender our hands up before immediately coupling them over our eyes. As adults, we spend a large majority of our lives trying to avoid the too-close-for-comfort sensations that arise when we are reduced to the basic suffering of humanity. Those that leave us sprawled on the ground questioning how, why, and when to get up. Sometimes being rooted into the earth is more comforting than chasing the sun.

imagesThe sun is way too bright and enthusiastic when we’ve been drenched in stress, pain, and sorrow. The dark layers of hardship can bury us deep into our hearts and mind when we get lost in the cycles of negative self-talk. So how do we confront the most unexpected moments, where you recognize that your reality is not the reality of those around you; where existence feels fleeting. Somehow, we deal. As adults, we learn to deal with what is in front of us. In my case, I was greeted with the harsh news that I was not loved the way I loved another. My deep desire to cultivate an intentional and powerful relationship was just temporary proxy for his fixed idea of simplicity.

I have spent many years drafting my self-help novel of how to live an authentic partnership. We all have our own versions, sometimes a series containing many volumes. Mine was a story intended to become a timeless classic, you know the one with the back cover half ripped and the pages unraveling from the core (yet you refuse to get rid of it year after year).

At the infamous climatic chapter where true love is expected to unveil, there was a twist in my story where genuine love, the one that takes vulnerability and breeds lasting connection, was undermined by the villain. And now my well-crafted non-fiction novel of “how to” remains a fictional fantasy of “dream on.”

The most difficult part about this turn in the story is the blank pages that follow. I thought I was on my way to catch my dreams amongst the stars; I had my partner who could defend the evil of life with me. Rather, he in turn was the villain testing my strength as the resilient protagonist. So I’m back to being chained to the earth, shackled by defeat.

It’s tempting to want to kick my feet in a tantrum raging to somehow will the chains away. But the truth is that if I absorb the earth around me, get dirty in the muck surrounding my heart, the hurt transforms to acceptance and clarity. Instead of going to old stories that I am trapped or lost, I choose to chase the sun.

I chase the sun, using the light to stay open, gentle, and full. The sun becomes my mentor to imagesfostering the fire within and embodying the ability to warm others’ hearts utilizing empathy. I practice. I go to my mat. I go within. I remain open, gentle, full

And unexpectedly, the sun’s power brightens the way to resolution, to partnership, to grace. The unexpected moments that impacts us so deeply that we close us off magically brew the courage we need to chase the sun. I choose to chase the sun with relentless curiosity in an exploration to fill the blank pages of my own story: open, gentle, and full.

Lost in translation between reality and truth

Reality and truth…aren’t they the same? Or are they opposite? My reality is quite contrary to my truth from my heart. It is filled with overwhelming stress, management of others rather than myself and a never-ending sacrifice of my being for the benefit of others. However, the reality of benefiting others somehow unites it with my truth. It is the most authentically disconnected I’ve ever been. What does that mean? Well, I feel imperfect, vulnerable, emotional; yet confident, powerful, and overly optimistic. When people say “day by day”…I finally know what that means. It means everyday, you try your hardest, maybe resulting in your definition of subpar and others, you are left empowered and inspired.

Lately though, I am not on a consistent kick of either…thankfully, not a totally depressed state of confusion nor an enlightened high of strength and validation. I am resting in an active polarity of CHANGE. I am feeling the effects of CHANGE…the confusion and the confidence. The strength and deep vulnerability, the tears and the inner brightness that turns a frown upside down. So do I fight the uncomfortability or do I accept that CHANGE = a blend of reality and truth. And do we ever end up living our truth 100 percent in reality.

Chances are in this world, NO! As people around me break my heart, make my day and confuse me simply because we are human and face indifference, I laugh internally and frown externally. My emotions are so unconsciously in flux, I can’t even control it. Therefore, I am left questioning, “what is truth and what is reality?”

And I guess I’m coming to the that truth is inherently felt and reality is the everchanging flow of external responsibilities, personal desires, work, play, and the inter-workings of relationships, existence and compassion. Do they always collaborate? In my daily life, my imperfection screams NO as the ideal from my mind retaliates with YES! A.k.a. LOST IN TRANSLATION

between the precious goodness of existence and the hardships of surviving this so-called “life” — the one we only get one of and that we should live to the fullest. And in the midst of it all, I wonder…is “living it all” also the extreme surrender to embracing difficulty just as much as extreme joy. Can they be interchanged? I have never worked so hard, yet been so happy because my purpose feels bigger and more important than ever before. So as we step through our lives, how much is the sacrifice worth it? Is it our truth or is it our reality speaking and how do we know which one is more prevalent?

Personally, I believe if we keep trying as hard as we can, keep feeling AND listening to the people and senses around us, neglecting only the negative energy that comes our way and opening to expanding love, we will rest somewhere between truth and reality. The truth is embedded in us and the reality is a daily battle…they are coexisting in each of us. However lost we all feel, we can ‘be found’ at the center of our hearts; the essence of a deep breath and closing of our eyes can save our lives (even if just for a second). I conclude with not being more clear on what reality is and what truth is, rather the fact that they are part of the CHANGE that creates who we are — the path we follow, whether a clear made trail or a field of bushes and flowers. There is still beauty in both…

Namaste!

Driving responsbility with humor — available to participate in it all

Lately, I have been pulled by the reins of responsibility. Being a general manager in a restaurant that is both a community meeting place, as well as, an example of love, honesty, communication and teamwork, I recognize my role in being a leader to not only my staff, other businesses around Tahoe, and the customers. With the role of a leader, comes an overwhelming amount of responsibility. Now, I could walk through the job day to day without taking the amount of responsibility required to expand and connect, however, the rewards of exuding compassionate effort day after day has started to creep into my heart.

 

Yesterday, at the pinnacle of my exhaustion, I arrived at the realization that without humor, the responsibility will foster into a capsule of resistance due to the lack of lightness. So, if we invite in the willingness to approach responsibility with both effort and humor, do we in turn become more available? And by being available, how do others around us react? As a manager, it’s easy to sit back and delegate but I’ve noticed that if I step up and become available to listen, work, laugh, relate, and ultimately embrace their needs, the result is much more positive.

When we are more available from the heart, we can open up to taking on responsibility, and then, participate in more. From this place of participation, we awaken to a more expansive concept of possibility.  These opportunities are drawn to us as we begin to remain more available to facing the depths of responsibility and humor. And this is determined by how we show up.

As the relationships and expectations around me shift daily, with constant shifts, I notice that if I show up with a deep-seeded intention of resolve, the resolutions come. The trust that everything is going to resolve itself with the benefit of growth is keeping me pushing forward. And the community here continues to inspire me to keep pushing forward…but for them, not for me. This letting go of fear of the responsibility and embracing the humor in the often difficulty of actively participating makes the days unfold with more joy.

It is easy to participate when a situation brings a smile and sense of ease, but can we still participate when our limits are pushed? When things such as doubt and uncertainty spiral us to anxious thoughts of judgment. I have been pushed so deeply in the past two months. But as I break it down, I see that I’m getting through it, and as long as I wake up each day trying to honestly connect with others and try my hardest, the responsibility is actually a privilege, rather than a stress. To intertwine the workings of humor (lightness) and responsibility (heaviness), the practice of feeling both simultaneously brings a colorful balance; neither light or dark. To live in the light all the time is limiting our growth, but to live in the darkness limits our potential to exist with fulfillment. So maybe it’s more about a colorful existence of lights and darks. A brightness that is available to expand our vision of how we show up and how we participate. And although we may have a favorite color, maybe we can start to see the beauty in a multiple of colors. Can we paint a brighter picture with each day?

images

Left lying in a lonely bed — embracing abstract spontaneity

Unheard in the fog of smoke,

Burned from the chill of ice,

Left lying in a lonely bed,

Forced to cuddle with sunken sheets.

Winds howl through the rivers of my veins,

Blood churning to the humming of my inner child,

She sings with a naïve pitch,

Gracefully ignorant to the horrors of cultural pseudo-utopia,

Where love is a number,

And laughter comes only after a tear.

Tears fall from my face,

Dreaming of the ideal reality canvassed over my world,

Mounted on my back for others to receive,

Diving faced-down, hands at my heart,

Humbly giving up the structured work of art for an abstract blend of spontaneity,

Releasing the selfish frames of arrogance,

Left lying in a lonely bed,

Soaking up the space to rest,

Listening to the sound of my own breath.