Since having surgery I have become hyper aware of every morsel of food that goes into my mouth. What I have discovered is that, more often than not, I stuff food into my body to quiet my inner voice (aka dull the feelings).
Cue inner voice…
Welcome to my Friday afternoon my gentle snowflakes – also known as the past 40-some years of my life – a life, as we have previously discussed, pretty much sans any healthy coping mechanisms.
So I knew going into this year if I was going to be successful in my health journey the first thing I was going to have to do was find a healthy coping mechanism to replace food. I knew yoga was probably “the thing,” though I couldn’t tell you why when I chose it. I just knew that, in my mind, it was the thing that was going to get me to old age in one piece.
So I went to yoga once (and farted) with my buddy, Mark, and then went again with Mr. Adams, and then again with my friend Tracy, and then a second time with Tracy and eventually bought a two month unlimited membership to the studio and went all on my own this week.
When I am “in my practice” – which is fancy yoga language for stretching and contorting the shit outta my body in silence - I feel extraordinary. The tape recorder on loop in the back of my head quiets and I become keenly aware of the ying and yang of life. (Sorry to be so “yoga-ish,” but if the rubber grip toe sock fits…)
I am soft, but strong. I am wise, yet giggling inside with joy as I fold forward and my ribs touch my thighs for the first time and I squeal, “Look what we are doing!” to my body. I am in control, yet vulnerable – eyes closed, guided through a practice by a teacher I don’t know yet inexplicably trust. I am part of a community, yet so inside of myself. And I’m doing it all in the middle of a yoga studio in Grosse Pointe, home of the resting bitch face soccer mom. Feeling completely comfortable there is a victory in and of itself.
It is all such a beautiful chaos.
When I started the month, I defined victory as being skinny enough that I could contort my body into a pose that was previously unattainable. I had no idea that the practice of yoga would become so much more and that the lessons learned on the mat would far transcend the physical. As much as I am breaking my brain, I am fixing it.
Adventure number one in the twelve great adventures of 2016? Total success.
They say when the student is ready, the lessons will come. Since I broke my brain and embraced the plurality of my life, I’ve become hyper-vigilant of all the “shoulds” that assault me on a daily basis. “You should be this, you should be that… you should go fuck yourself with a wiffle ball bat.”
Wait, that might not be exactly how it goes. Anyhoo…
Earlier this week I was having a conversation with two of my colleagues about learning competencies we needed in the organization to be successful. Somehow the conversation turned to behavioral motivators.
“People doing this type of work (nonprofit work) can’t be motivated by having their names on awards,” one of my colleagues declared and the other nodded her head in agreement.
I sat with the statement for a few moments. “Do I have to be selfless to do this type of work?” I knew the answer and I knew I had a decision to make – speak up and teach, even though the lesson may not be heard – or continue to buy into the “should” with my silence. I decided to speak up.
“I call bullshit,” I said. “There is nothing wrong with being motivated by awards. Some of us are motivated by public recognition and that’s okay. We don’t all have to be martyrs.”
Admittedly, martyr was the wrong word to use – my own particular brand of judgement on those that are not motivated by public recognition like me. Demonizing those different than me definitely wasn’t helping me get my point across. This, my gentle snowflakes, is what we call a “teachable moment.”
My colleagues argued that those motivated by public recognition would probably be bad coworkers because they kept best practices to themselves as a means to get a “leg up on the competition.” I ended our meeting so very sad that being motivated by public recognition to them was akin to being a sociopath.
With the retirement of our CEO, onboarding of his replacement and subsequent restructuring that resulted in the loss of a few leadership team members (one of my favorite bosses ev-ah included), there is a lot of change at work these days. And, as is typical in times of high uncertainty, people are grasping at straws trying to find anything concrete – something tangible to hold on to. It is to be expected – basic human nature. We crave comfort and safety.
It has resulted in an awful lot of “shoulding” all over the place. Fitting neatly into a tightly-defined mold has become a pervasive theme. And this comes exactly at a time where I have decided to empathically reject all “shoulds” and fully embrace my authentic self which defies a tightly-defined anything. To say that the work has been a challenge lately is a vast understatement. But, in the spirit of duality, a challenge that is as invigorating as it is draining.
When the student is ready, the lessons will come.
So, what does this all have to do with the first adventure of 2016, performing Eye of the Needle without a yoga strap? Continue to Lessons Learned: Adventure #1 (Part 3)
A few weeks ago I broke my brain in therapy. I was explaining to Jillian, Therapist to the Stars, that my life has become a series of increasing noticeable polarities… I am up - I am down. I am happy – I am sad. I am strong – I am scared. I am passionate – I am ambivalent. I am excited – I am hesitant. And, by the way, I have been all these things in the past 24 hours. The highs and lows are wild. I feel like a swirling tornado at times.
“What if you have dulled your feelings for you entire life and you are now allowing yourself to actually feel for the first time? What if it you always feel with this kind of force from now on? What if this is the new normal?” Jillian asked.
“It would be okay,” I answered. “All these things are me. I am all these things.” And then I had an epiphany. “It’s beautiful,” I said.
And I felt it… felt it in my bones. For once I understood the pure joy of allowing myself to be all the things I am – the seeming dichotomies make me complete, whole, complicated, not easily defined, unique and yet so exactly like everyone else.
And then, Zing! my brain broke. Like, literally broke. Something snapped and I started to see in tunnel vision and became disoriented. I had to search for words and couldn’t come back into the present.
“What’s going on?” Jillian asked. “Come back to the room.”
I explained the physical symptoms to her and she explained that I was, indeed, breaking my brain. Allowing myself to feel - as opposed to my normal modus operandi of dissociation, escapism, avoidance, (name your favorite coping mechanism here) - was forcing my brain to reroute neural pathways. In essence, I was short-circuiting my brain.
Therapy is a fascinating thing, my gentle snowflakes.
Continue to Lessons Learned: Adventure #1 (Part 2)