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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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.