Half Way Fierce

It’s the summer solstice here in the northern hemisphere and a good time to choose where to put all the awesome solar energy.

Being mid-way through the calendar year, it seems like a good idea to check in on my word for this year and see what has manifested and grown. Using Sas Petherick’s Solstice Six questions, here’s how I think it’s going …

1. Did you have a word for this year? How has it manifested itself? If you didn’t have a word, what is the theme that has played out in your life so far this year?

My word for this year is FIERCE! 

To be fierce about living my life to its fullest. Fierce about allowing myself to be seen and heard and not silenced by fear. Fierce about protecting my creative time and nourishing my passion. Fierce about my self-care, treating myself with respect, exercising my body and feeding it well. Fierce about my friendships. Fierce about my connection with nature and the Sacred.

Fierce has absolutely manifest itself in my life. To be more accurate, I feel like I have manifested IT in MY life. I have made so many decisions in the last six months that put my needs and my life first. Choosing to travel where I want to go, even if it means going alone. Choosing to not attend events that I really don’t want to go to, even if I disappoint people. Saying no bullying and drama and gossip even under peer pressure to participate. Choosing to not sacrifice my own needs to help others with theirs. Making decisions for me even when I know it’ll affect other and might cause them hurt.

It still feels really selfish but I am learning that subsuming my needs to others just makes me unhappy and resentful. And an unhappy and resentful me is not able to be who I want to be in this world. It leaves me less able to be a loving and compassionate friend, less able to focus at work, less able be fiercely fabulous, less able tone brave and less able to get a peaceful night’s sleep.

In some ways, being fiercely me is the hardest and scariest thing I’ve done. It is also gives me peace and serenity and is helping me love myself.

eecummings

2. What are you most proud of?

I am most proud that I am better able to love myself and to forgive myself for not being perfect.  Especially around my physical self-care. I still struggle to eat well and to exercise my body. I still have days when I all I see is failure and not-good-enough. But, I am proud that I am slowly learning to not beat myself up about it. To do my best each day and accept what is. After all, treating my spiritual self poorly is not going to help me treat my physical self any better.

3. What have you chosen to let go of? 

I have chosen to let go of a number of obligations in my life that were not feeding my soul.  I still have lots of obligations but they are things that I am happy about doing and that make me feel good.  I am excited about them. Whenever I am forcing myself to do something or go somewhere, I have tried to stop and ask myself, “why are you doing this?”. If the answer is “because I should” then I am rethinking my actions. No matter how scary and overwhelming the consequences might be. On the other hand, if the answer is, “because I want to” then I ungrump myself and enjoy the moment.

4. What has been your greatest joy or surprise?

My greatest joy and surprise has been how wonderfully supportive my friends have been. While they might miss me at some events I’ve chosen not to participate in, they are always enthusiastically cheering me on for the things I am doing. It does make  me sad that some friends seem to be dropping away and seem to judge me without talking to me but the quality of the relationships with my friends who have stayed in touch fills my heart with gratitude and joy and love. Hashtag blessed.

5. What book, movie, exhibition, tv programme, play, concert, article, photograph, or website has been your favourite find? 

This year, I’ve discovered Rebelle Society. Full of amazing poetry and writings and articles that reach in and connect to my heart and open my mind.  As it says in their creative manifesto, “We are editors of life. We cut and paste its daily beauty and pain with the sharp scissors of our minds on the canvas of humanity.”  It’s a fierce site!!

6. What three things do you want for yourself by the next Solstice – 21st December 2014?

This is a hard question. I tend to not try to want things. I feel like my job is to keep showing up and working hard, and the Universe gives me the most amazing gifts. My thank you is to actively practice gratitude.

If I think of three things I’d like to have achieved by the Winter Solstice, I would say that I’d like to have a healthier, stronger body in order to do the things I want to do. I’d like to be back in a groove of daily spiritual practice especially meditation and journalling and I’d like to take my creative endeavours, either my photography, writing or glass art, to a new level.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep being lovingly fierce and let the Universe take care of the rest.

Happy Summer Solstice!!

summersolstice_2014

An invitation to the Universe

The word that I picked for 2013 was joy and, I gotta say, I’ve spent most of the year feeling I was stood up for a date. I invited joy into my life and felt like I was left with a big no-show.

I am not talking about happiness or contentment, both of which are in my life, but the pure joy that makes me feel 100% alive. That makes me feel entirely present in the moment, spirit and body passionately united in perfect purpose. As I think back over the year, it was mostly a tough slog to heal my heart and get my feet back under me again.

But amidst that incredibly powerful healing journey (of which I am very proud) there were, in fact,  a few moments of pure joy.

In January, being within 10 feet of molten hot lava as it poured into the ocean, creating new life in a burst of heat and steam and fire.

In July, overcoming my fear and walking through fire over a bed of hot coals.

In November, running along my favourite stretch of coast in the rain with the smell of the ocean and the trees filling my lungs as my body revelled in the opportunity to move powerfully.

And what strikes me is that in order for these moments of joy to come into my life, I must establish the pre-conditions that allow joy to manifest. I can’t just invite joy on a date. I need to prepare the meal, set the table and dress up for the occasion.

So, here are my pre-conditions –

  • Be financially disciplined so that I have the money to travel to the places I want to see
  • Stay the course and not be swayed by what I *think* I should be doing or by what others want me to be/do
  • Be willing to venture alone
  • Use positive self-talk to overcome the fear that keeps me from trying and doing

Which leads me to my word for this year – fierce.

I want to be fierce about living my life to its fullest.

Fierce about allowing myself to be seen and heard and not silenced by fear.

Fierce about protecting my creative time and nourishing my passion.

Fierce about my self-care, treating myself with respect, exercising my body and feeding it well.

Fierce about my friendships.

Fierce about my connection with nature and the Sacred.

I want to be fierce about  setting the table and being the person I know I am meant to be.  I can’t wait to see how the Universe will show up to answer the invitation.

wendy_xmas2013

A gift of fear and joy

Last night the fear that comes with vulnerability and the opportunity for connection came smack up against each other.

As part of my efforts to bring joy back into my life, I have started singing again in a band. A duo this time.  And last night we performed some of our new songs in front of an audience.  Dressed in costume.

I get nervous when we play gigs. Which is okay. I’m nervous because I care. Because it matters to me. It matters to put on a good show. To do justice to the music. To be solid for my fellow musician in the band.

Nervous is different from fear.  Nervous can take your breath away but fear takes your voice away.

And singing is one of the most vulnerable things that I do. The most exposed. Emotionally risky. But one of the things that allows for the deepest connections and the most body-filling joy of breath and sound and sharing.

Peter Sellars (the theatre producer, not the comedic actor) said,

Vocal music is an attempt to take the whole human being and project it into space.  It is the ultimate gesture of getting out of yourself.  You take a part of you that is most private, most personal, most inward, and you hurl it out into space—you project it as far as you can. That gesture of opening this whole region of the body results in an enormous spiritual release, and is felt by other people with tremendous impact.

So I was nervous last night. Not unusual. I was dressed up, too, which I always find stressful. Also not unusual. But, I was also feeling hugely vulnerable about one particular song. It is a slow song which relies a lot on the vocals. It’s high in my range of singing which requires a steady reservoir of breath. The lyrics are beautiful and emotionally evocative  and were written and gifted to the band by a dear friend.  And, I was singing into a mic in a small room where every note seemed louder and bigger than usual.

I sang the first line of the lyrics and it comes out as wobbly and insecure as I feel.  And I am immediately thrown back into a childhood memory. Except that the emotional state feels exactly the same; as though no time at all had passed.

I used to sing in church when I was little. My Mom and I were usually the only ones in my family who regularly attended services. But, one Sunday I was scheduled to sing a solo and my older sister and her boyfriend came to hear me sing. This was a big deal. Well, it was a big deal to me.

It must have been the first time I got nervous singing.  And I got really nervous. My heart was pounding so hard that it shook my whole chest. And my throat. And my voice. My singing was wobbly and shaky and I remember being completely confused about this new experience. But I knew it wasn’t good. And I didn’t know how to make it stop.

No one talked to me about it afterwards. But I knew it was bad because no one complimented my singing like they usually did.  It was clear to me that people were disappointed. And because no one said anything I never got to ask “what happened?”, “is that normal?”, “how do I stop it next time?”. And no one ever said “it’s okay, it wasn’t perfect but that’s okay, you did your best and we love you”. Instead, what I learned was that if it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t okay.  That if I wasn’t perfect, that I wasn’t okay.

So there I stood last night, feeling nervous and vulnerable yes, but it was that emotional flashback, that flashnow,  that took away my breath and voice and left me with a first line that was as shaky and insecure as that little girl who didn’t understand what had happened. Who only understood that she wasn’t good enough.

And this is where the gift comes in. I am not that little girl anymore but I have the chance to change her story. My story. Because the opportunity in being vulnerable is to allow myself to be seen. With authenticity and honesty. With my very human imperfections. To be connected. With others and with myself. To release part of my spirit and let it be seen and heard. To know that I am enough.

And with that in mind, I found my breath and my courage and a little more of my voice and the second line came out a little stronger. And the third a little stronger after that.  It may not have been perfect – whatever that is! – but it connected.  And there was joy in that.

And, I think, a gift of healing for that little girl.

wendy_goblin

IKEA Round 2

When Single Girl last battled the mighty IKEA in the Case of the Two Side Tables, the score was a very close IKEA 1.0, Single Girl 1.5. Proud to report that in Round 2, The Mystery of the Six Drawers, Single Girl soundly defeated IKEA with a score of 6-0.

There is something about putting together IKEA furniture by myself that triggers my grumpy single girl bitching (aka whining). And while I’m sure that lots of couplehood people have stood alone and hex-ringed IKEA in frustration, I miss having some shared misery as I stand by myself  in the suddenly vast and quiet space of my apartment surrounded by numerous confusing parts with their slots and precisely drilled holes and their right-side wrong-side left-side right-side challenges.

Problem is, the two side-tables I conquered look so great and there is this matching dresser that would look much better with my bedroom decor. So, if I want to be grown up and have “bedroom decor” on my budget, I figure I’d better just suck it up.

Step One, the bag of parts.

Ikea_parts

Seriously, look at this bag of parts!! I’m sure fewer parts were used in the moon landing. Feeling the need for support, I posted the picture to Facebook.

Now, I don’t want to cast aspersions on my Facebook friends but the three most common comments were “wow, that’s a lot of drugs for one person”, “what’s with the big bag of cigarette butts” and “oooh, I LOVE putting together IKEA furniture”. Two somewhat reasonable responses and one clearly crazy one.

Step Two, mix a gin and tonic.

Step Three, check instructions.

I greatly admire the people who create the instructional diagrams for IKEA. Explaining how to assemble furniture using only pictures and no writing is a truly admirable skill. But, the first thing that becomes clear to me is that not even the gurus at IKEA believe that you should assemble furniture by yourself. Check out this sad single guy, and then how happy he is to have a friend.

Ikea_alone

Ikea_friend

Bravely, I decide the hell with IKEA and their anti-single instructions, I am doing this by myself. Even if, as the later instructions show, it might lead to me attempting suicide by trying to crush myself under the dresser.

Ikea_death

Step Four, mix another gin and tonic.

Ikea_gin2

I’d make this a longer story but things got a bit fuzzy after that.

I’d like to say that I was filled with profound insight as I assembled my dresser. I’d like to say that. But the only things I really learned were as follows –

  • some yoga stretches come in handy when working with carefully balanced parts by yourself
  • finish all the bending over before dinner and not after you’ve filled up on butter chicken
  • good music and a few gin and tonics help take the pity out of the party
  • when you start using the screwdriver backwards, you’ve had enough gin and tonic

It took me four hours and I got a blister on my hand from the screwdriver but I did it. Sure, there were a few leftover parts but I didn’t do any of the steps wrong, requiring an undo and redo, AND I managed not to strip any screws. I count that as a giant victory.

Single Girl 6. IKEA 0.

Self-esteem, priceless.

Thank you, Sesame Street

Sometimes, I have no idea what I’m feeling.

That’s why I love the clip I posted of Dave Matthews and Grover yesterday from Sesame Street. At the beginning, neither of them knows what they are feeling. And then, through a song (of course!) they work it out. What a great thing to teach kids.

I never learned that as a kid. It’s only over the past 5 years or so that I have been learning how to identify my feelings. When I was a kid, my family never talked about our feelings. Eventually, I started using food to just numb them out. Thing is, though, you can’t numb just the bad feelings. You end up numbing out everything.

When I started to feel my feelings again, it was such a learning process of sitting with the feeling and figuring it out. Is it anger? Is it hurt? What kind of hurt? Disappointed hurt? Sad hurt? Is it love? Gratitude? Nervous anxiety or fear anxiety? Anger shielding something else?

And then there are feelings that don’t quite have a good word. Combinations of feelings; layers of feelings at the same time. Happy and sad. Anger with love. Laughter through pain. Disappointment with gratitude. Or, like Grover, to make a wish with all your heart and have it not come true. Or, like Dave, to be happy for a friend but just a little bit jealous, too.

I have found myself during emotionally charged conversations needing to say, “can I just take a few minutes? I need to sit and be quiet and figuring out how I’m feeling.”

Yesterday was a rough day. I was overwhelmed with life and not feeling physically well. I texted my sister and said “I need a hug. I just want to cry.” She texted a hug. And, then, I sat and cried for a few minutes. And then I felt a little better.

In the midst of crying, I thought “wow, this is so great.” Five years ago, I would not have been able to do that. To ask for help. To just let go and cry. To understand the emotional need and then fill that need.

And then, that made me laugh at myself just a bit.

I’m glad Sesame Street is there to help kids. And, sometimes, us adults, too.

beachwriting_justbreathe