Monday, May 5, 2014

Changing the Patterns of Love

"The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove
than the hunger for bread."
~Mother Teresa

"I'm not a pattern," he says to me. And, while my brain was on overdrive yesterday, I realized that if I don't want the same things to happen in relationships as I've had before, I need to change my own patterns as well.

My coach once told me that he was in a relationship with someone where his girlfriend was convinced that he would cheat on her. It'd happened to her in the past, so she was sure it would happen again. My coach, on the other hand, had never cheated on anyone and never had the impulse to. Yet, her energy around this belief was so strong — as were her behaviors — that she was willing this misbelief about him to become truth once again, to the point that he said to her, "Look, your words and actions towards me are now making it so that I want to cheat. And I've never wanted to do that with anyone before. So, we need to do something about this."

Just like that. Our beliefs are that strong. People are willing to live or die by their beliefs, but even more so, they're willing to suffer for them.

I've been willing to suffer for mine.

My patterns have kept me safe. They've kept me confined in a world I know, even if it's not a world I want to be in anymore. Patterns are habits and as we know, habits are extremely powerful.

I realized that if I don't want this beautiful and special connection we have between us to falter or fade, then I need to do things differently, too. It's wonderful that he's aware, he's open, he's willing to communicate any and everything with me, even admitting that sometimes, he might be more direct than tactful. But that's only one side of the equation and there are two of us on either side of this addition sign.

So, what do I need to change?

I need to change my belief that he will change somehow. Of course he'll change, I get that. I'll change, too. But what I've been anticipating is the other shoe to drop. When will the "real him" come out, I've wondered, because this "him" that he's shown me so far has been a dream come true, and I haven't knows what it's like to receive such good.

Which brings me to the next thing I need to change, which is the idea of struggle. I've been so used to fighting for everything, of competing, of attacking, of aiming to win, that I haven't let things come peaceably to me as they would like to. I'm slowly (and sometimes a bit more swiftly) adopting the belief that life can indeed be easy, and it doesn't mean any less for lack of fight.

I haven't allowed for the fact that just by being, I am enough. I could sit there beside him, sharing space, and he is as contented as if I were to gift him his favorite things or make him a delicious meal. There is nothing I need to DO other than to BE me and that is more than plenty.

Going back to "the other shoe dropping" phenomenon, I believe that I've been waiting for that moment when will everything come cascading down. Like, "Haha, just kidding, you thought you could be happy?" Because if that's what I'm seeking and that's where my energy is going, then of course, ta da, it's likely to happen. None of us — not even him — can predict what'll happen, and the other way to assuage that worry is to live in the now.

He often catches me staring off into space, knowing that I'm lost in too many thoughts. He gently brings me back into the present with a smile, a touch, a question. And then when I tell him what's on my mind, he encourages, "How about we don't live in the 'what if's' but we live in the 'what is' right now? And, what is right now is wonderful."

He's right. He's not like anyone I've ever met before, which means that the work I've been doing on myself attracted a different match. Since we're all on an upward spiral movement in life, I'll keep evolving too. Change is good.

Actually, when it comes to patterns, change can be pretty damn great.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Surfing Into Surrender

"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I've realized that my approach to life is what I'm bringing onto the water... and, given that everything is intertwined, it's no wonder that I'm learning how to commit. 

What else has surfing in Kauai been teaching me?

  • Learning how to drop in — into my heart and intuition as much as dropping into the face of the wave.
  • Surrender — being fluid to go with the flow rather than fight forces much more powerful than me. 
  • Abundance — understanding that I don't have to go for everything. I can be discerning about which waves to catch, knowing that there are plenty more to come. I can choose the one that feels right for me.
  • Balance, being centered, resilience — when I pop up, it's imperative to be in the right place; when I fall off the board, I paddle back out. I shake off what I project people might be thinking after watching me fall, because what matters more is cultivating a confidence in myself and my relationship with the aina (land) & kai (ocean).
  • Humility and presence — getting knocked around by Mother Nature immediately gets me out of my head. Being distracted even a little bit means missing a wave, getting injured, or pure foolishness.
  • Real patience with myself — to be grateful in this awkward novice phase, because being a constant learner is a mastery practice.
  • Having fun! ('Nuff said.)

Mary Morrissey, an inspirational coach who's spent time with all the leading luminaries, says that if you go to the ocean of potential and you ask for a teaspoon, the ocean happily offers you a teaspoon. If you go with a bucket, the ocean joyfully shares with you a bucket. But if you go saying, "I want to dive in and play," the ocean welcomes you into the healing ebb and flow of the sea.

As a surfer and mermaid at heart, I love this idea that however much capacity I allow is how much divine love and inspiration flows through me. I choose how much goodness will wash over my life. No matter what's happening around or within me, the moment I get into the water, I'm brought back to a humbling sense of peace. And, even if I might feel frustrated throughout my session, when I get out of the water and my feet touch the sand, I'm inevitably more joyful than when I got in it, renewed at being immersed in Mother Nature. 

Recently, I stopped by a local restaurant after a surf session. My hair was wet and salty, remnants of sand on my toes. "Beach feet," a friend calls it.

"Did you just go surfing?" a familiar face asks.

"Yep," I smile.

"I could tell," he responds, "You can just see it on your face. Look at that after-surf glow."

Where do you find your ocean of potential? How much are you asking for? 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love Day is coming up!

"To find someone who will love you for no reason,
and to shower that person with reasons,
that is the ultimate happiness." 
~Robert Brault

I haven't written in this blog in a little while, partly because since moving to Kauai, what I've been working on is becoming the woman who I've always wanted to be. True, this is a lifelong process, but the thing that no one tells you about moving to an island is that if living in paradise were easy, everyone would do it. 

It's not. 

There's an initiation phase, some say. There's this proving of yourself and this willingness to demonstrate commitment, before the island will reveal her love. Or, there's the simple understanding that what we believe is reflected back to us all the more quickly, similar to karma, because what we're living on here is a small little circle, so that what goes around comes around — fast.

I love Love. I realized that the other day, as I've been moving from haze to clarity in fostering a new voice. My friends, my coaches, say they can hear it in my voice, that real growth has happened. Even though, in the midst of everything, it may not feel like it so much to me, what I've done apparently is learn to love myself more than ever.

When I was in Maui visiting a friend, we went to a restaurant, where the busser was this unexpectedly accomplished man in that he not only worked at an organization for the blind and deaf, but that he himself used to be blind six years prior. Through the donation of organs from two separate individuals (a middle-aged man and a young girl), he was gifted sight once more. He told me, as were chatting briefly and sharing similar stories of why we found ourselves on Hawaii, that after a year of being there, he could say with confidence that he loved himself more than he ever has in his life.

"The dark parts about you will be darker than you thought; the light parts about you lighter than you thought. But, I'll tell you this, you'll know all of yourself very well," he smiled.

He was right. I've encountered dark nights of the soul here. Very, very, dark nights of the soul. I thought for a second that maybe I made the wrong decision, but in my gut, I knew I hadn't, because even though I thought of somewhere else I could move to, I already knew from experience that no matter how far I flee, I will still meet myself. So, where better to explore and discover everything than in this isle of Kauai? 

One of my coaches said recently that it's vital we self-generate that which we're looking for, because it's in doing so that we attract what we ultimately want. I want love. I have wanted love since before my birth, I feel, and it truly is the most important thing in the world to me, that I'm only now freely and willingly admitting to myself and then to the world around me. While I tend to be hard on myself, my coach pointed out, "You haven't been doing this process very long! You're still a sprout! Give yourself time to grow!" And yet, a part of me feels like I've been on this journey forever, so would Love hurry up already? 

That's where Divine Timing comes in. Trust. Faith. Surrender. And this amazing practice of letting go, so that I don't have to be in control anymore, because shoot, at the end of the day, I'm still human. No matter how much I tap into my Infinite Self, I came into this incarnation to be human and experience everything to the fullest. The bigger picture stuff, the really vital and crucial stuff, that stuff isn't for me to determine solely. It's a co-creation. I set my intention, and then I ask for "This or something even better" trusting that the "even better" may not have even come into my imagination yet. 

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I could easily get down that I'm spending it solo, but I'm actually not. I have this whole Divine Guidance Team of angels surrounding me, and I have friends and family who love me, and most importantly, I have myself. 

I've been asking myself a lot lately, when I get stressed or worried, "What do you need, honey? What do you need in this moment right now?" And surprisingly, I know. And even more shockingly, I'm able to give it to myself. THAT is growth. That is huge. That is where my life is now. 

I want to celebrate that. We don't have very many rituals in our society anymore, and practices like these give us comfort. They help us know what to expect and to honor what we're surrendering in order to grow into the next evolution of who we are. 

So tomorrow, I have an opportunity to create a new ritual. One that celebrates my relationship with myself. It'll be like my very first Valentine's Day, because I really never have loved myself like this before. I haven't ever allowed myself to embrace that I'm amazing. And that in shining brightly, in being all of my light, that I don't take away anything from anyone else — rather, I help illuminate the path for others to discover that brilliance within themselves, as well.

How will you celebrate your Love Day? 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Learning to love my body and my entire s/Self.

"The power of love to change bodies is legendary, built into folklore, common sense, and everyday experience.  Love moves the flesh, it pushes matter around.... Throughout history, "tender loving care" has uniformly been recognized as a valuable element in healing." 
~Larry Dossey

There's a reason that this photo only shows my legs, and my body is in a reclined position. This is how I feel that you can't see the flab around my middle — my "problem area" as I've repeatedly berated myself for throughout many years now.

The other thing that's not being seen in this photo is the fact that I'm in Kauai, one of the most beautiful places in the world. You don't see how I just finished rockin' in while surfing for the first time on this island in Hawaiian waters at Rock Quarries. You don't see how there's a river behind me and the ocean in front of me, and that my body has processed a healthy lunch that gives me fuel for playing and thinking and being.

You don't see any of that, because my obsession is with what I don't want you to see.

Last night, I didn't sleep hardly at all. I had bad dreams, couldn't get comfortable, and know that a large part of it was because I had purposely overeaten before bed. Binge-snacking is one of my comfort mechanisms, and up until now, I've found such solace in engaging in behaviors that I know won't serve me in the long run (other than to create material to write about).

Have you ever had a really big meal before bed, then had awful dreams throughout the night? That was somewhat like what I went through, except that this time, there's an added kicker. I feel that this island does not want me to be unkind to myself, it does not want me to do the things I would normally do, which would hurt me mentally, emotionally, or physically.

I desperately want to love myself and the body that I'm in. Yesterday, I asked myself why this is happening, if this is indeed a mental and emotional issue, or if it goes beyond that. If it truly is a spiritual hunger that I've been aiming to satiate in only the broken ways I've known how.

I want the freedom on the other side of [THIS]. This place. This way of thinking. This way of being, when it comes to how I feel in my body. My coach had said to create a relationship with this island as Mama Kauai being the mother I'd always yearned to have. What would she say to this? How would she respond to me, as I'm beating myself up for not being thin enough, for not being fit enough, for bingeing when I know that it doesn't nothing good for me.

She'd open her arms and wrap me in a warm embrace, hold and comfort me by telling me that I am indeed enough, that I'm more than beautiful inside and out, that there is no shame or guilt I need to hold onto. She'd be sweet in caressing my skin and soothing my heart.

And, I'd believe her. Because she's my Mom. And, because she's unconditionally loving and always accepting. I need help, Mama Kauai.

I need help to become the woman I've always dreamed of being. Thank you.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A birthday wish...

"Wherever you go, go with all your heart."

In a few days, I'm going to be 35. 

I'm sitting here, because I know there are things I want to say, I'm just not quite sure how to verbalize them without writing an epic novel of the events and relationships that have transpired over the past couple of weeks. 

It might be enough to say for now that everything's turned upside down, which apparently is actually right-side up. There's a settling that's happening, an adjustment and reevaluation phase. Life is exactly where it's supposed to be and while I'm having a bit of difficulty in not wanting to run away from what I'm experiencing, this is as close to truth as I've ever felt myself to be. 

There are lingering parts of me that tug at insecurities, and I'm asking for grace in clipping and untying each string by string. If my gift for this 35th year on the planet is that I become the woman I've always wanted to be, that would be the best way that I've ever honored myself. 

It used to be that I didn't like my birthdays, that in fact, not very nice things would often happen on them, sometimes caused by the person I was dating at the time. This year, I've opened myself up to more love than I've ever thought possible, and the outpouring of people who tell me that they want to celebrate me — and would do so day in and day out a thousand times over — is phenomenal. 

This one is going to be special. I can feel it. And, even if it didn't turn out the way that I expect, I have faith it'll turn out even better. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Finally, just me.

"Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another."
~Juvenal, Satires

Y'know, sometimes, you just reach a limit. There's a max capacity for certain things, and occasionally, you stumble upon it without realizing that you hit it weeks, months, maybe even years earlier. That's what happened with my mind-body therapy program. I had enough. I hit a wall and have been banging my head against it for months. 

I walk into my session with Barry and the first thing I say to him is "I just want to be done with this already."

Barry then goes on to offer 30-minutes of knowledge as to why I'm likely being resistant, why my admonitions or ego might be getting the best of me. Yet, while he's talking, all I keep thinking is how I want to get out of there and move forward with my life already. 

"This is only the start of the program," Barry continues to tell me. "After releasing these admonitions for your mom and dad, there's more to do."

I could not believe it. "There's more to this?!" I exclaim. 'Oh no no no,' I think to myself. There's no way I'm doing anymore of this. 

And, this isn't denial, as he's alluding to. I'm a very self-aware person, I know what truth is for me, because I can feel it in my body and in my heart. 

"Barry, I've been in some form of therapy or healing since I was 26, if not earlier. I'm done. It's time for me to trust myself and be empowered to make my own decisions."

Just the day before, I went to see a very experienced bodyworker about my knee, which still needs healing from the accident. During our conversation, he suddenly wouldn't let up on the idea of my having a Peter Pan Syndrome. 

"Judy, you're very much like me. You'll always have this youthful spirit about you. But, you need to grow up. I can see two very clear-cut paths for you, I've seen a lot of people choose the one that won't serve them in the end. I mean, you're highly intelligent and accomplished, but sometimes, you act like a bimbo. And, I have to give you credit, for you to act like a bimbo takes quite a bit of talent, because you're anything but that. You could easily get into a relationship, and you'd likely stay in it, since you're very agreeable. But really, you've GOT to stop this Peter Pan Syndrome."

I wasn't sure whether to be offended or grateful, because though he's known me over the course of the past couple of years in and out and remembered lots of details about my life from our sessions, I'd never heard him impart such definitive advice and really want me to take heed of his warnings. In fact, he even emailed about it afterward.

Of course, Life presented this dialogue at just the right timing, as it'd been something I'd already been mulling around for awhile, this idea of growing up. As my birthday is right around the corner, and I'm embarking upon my 35th year, it makes sense that I'd feel a transition is coming. 

What our conversation also spurred was this understanding that I have too many cooks in the kitchen, and I'm over it. Which brings me back to Barry. The more he talked, the more I could see a new revelation coming up, a truth a part of me had always known, yet hadn't really tapped into quite yet. 

'He wants me to continue therapy with him, because I'm helping to heal him,' I thought to myself. This isn't a thought that comes out of nowhere. In working with my life coach, he's also told me, "It's such a joy to work with you." And, more and more, I'm realizing that my presence in any situation, personally or professionally, has a healing effect. None of this comes from a place of ego, but rather an understanding of undeniable purpose that's rooted in both experience and innate wisdom.

After our session, I made a beeline for the ocean. I texted my next meeting that I needed a breather, and marched to the sand until my feet stood in the cool and clear lapping waves. The sun glimmering on the water looked like a cascade of shining lights and the sensation of water on my feet allowed me to sigh into the moment of being loved by what I believe is my most tangible connection to Source — Nature. 

I felt free. I felt like I finally, just like when I got my tattoo, took my life into my own hands and started trusting myself more. That I know what I need. And I don't need someone else to get into my psyche to tell me what's best or where I need work on. Because, for the rest of my life, I'll be working on learning and growing and resolving and expanding. There is no point of perfection I'm going to get to, and so long as I can be okay with the unknown, with being patient and living with grace and awareness to the best of my ability, then I'm more than all right. 

Now, it's just me. Maturing into the woman I've always wanted to be. And, it feels beyond amazing.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Keep the woo-woo stuff to yourself?

"What is soul? 
It's like electricity — we don't really know what it is,
but it's a force that can light a room."
~Ray Charles

Recently, I started offering more and more group and individual sessions at an eating disorder recovery center in San Diego where I work with both teens and adults. It's been an absolutely amazing experience thus far, combining all the things I've always been passionate about (psychology, healing, eating disorder recovery, yoga) with the freedom to offer new process modalities to these clients, more along the lines of what I wish I had throughout my intensive outpatient treatment. 

In fact, a lot of what my role at the center has become is one of nurturing — I provide the comfort and the sacred space for these clients to move through what can be quite intense during their other sessions and simply create a bit of reprieve from the thoughts in their heads and the feelings in their hearts. 

However, during a recent treatment team meeting, it was brought to my attention that a bit of what I say can be perceived as too "woo-woo" for several of the clients and that they're afraid my spiritual beliefs may conflict with that of others. 

It took me a moment to catch myself before becoming offended, because I know that I'm open to every belief system available and that what I offer doesn't adhere to any specific one. But, I could see how my words, languaging, and intention could come across in a way that either puts others off, scares them, or challenges them. 

"I teach in a yoga studio that's very spiritual," I explain, "so I can see why I'd need to tone that back a bit for the general population or for others who either aren't open to any sort of spiritual beliefs or have very strong beliefs of their own."

"We know that what you're doing is incredibly therapeutic and valuable," the owner of the recovery center shares. "And we definitely want the clients to try it out or keep coming, but maybe you could change the phrasing of some of what you say or just be cognizant of that?"

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda, a book that features a fascinating study of how ancient Vedantic philosophy has made substantial impressions upon much of Western culture and its leading luminaries, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and The Beatles, without our even realizing it. We chatted over lunch about the idea of "Westernizing" Eastern teachings in order to make it palatable to a different palate. 

"What I came to really appreciate after the book was done," Philip told me, "is that all these teachings and teachers who had an impact on our society had this important skill of being able to adapt these universal ancient teachings to a new era, a new audience, the English language, and Western culture's norms and values. At the same time, they protected the integrity of the teachings, because you can adapt them in a way that corrupts or distorts them. It's a very delicate balance."

So now, I get to learn the balance of stepping back and learning how to teach in a way that's not compromising these ideals, yet at the same time, appealing to those who aren't open to pursuing more than the benefits of what they would get from the practice. 

It's funny, because it took me quite a long while to step forward in what I believe, so perhaps it's not so much a "stepping back," as it is a growing around deepening my tolerance, compassion, and openness about others from different backgrounds and life stories. 

What an interesting way for me to further develop as a teacher, to stand in my truth while also being welcoming of others' realities. I'd spent all of my life being a people-pleaser to garner love and affection, and thankfully, I don't feel that I need to do that anymore. 

Instead, for example, when one of the teen girls was pressing against my authority, I didn't want her to like me — I actually surprised myself that I could care less if she did, because my setting healthy boundaries would be the best way to move forward with her treatment. 

The Universe loves me so much that it continues to present opportunities for my growth and healing, along with that of others. I'm grateful for this chance to define who I am irregardless of what others think or feel, while simultaneously respecting that everyone has the choice to love and feel however they'd like to. 

As one adage goes, "What you think is none of my business." 

How are you learning to find the balance of being you in the midst of a world of both challenges and supports that?