In the vast space of my mind, I am many things; a writer, a dancer, a student of meditation, a nature lover, an animal lover, a musician, a storyteller, a photographer, an artist, a poetess and a philosopher. I am an undetermined soul.
Part of me wants to be able to reach deep into each of these areas and rummage around until I find the one that fits the best. At different times in my life, I have tried each of these roles on and they all felt comfortable to a certain extent; some more than others. Yet it has been extremely difficult to choose. Why is this important?
Well, I have heard it said, if you are a jack of all trades then you are a master of none. At last, I have been at war with myself for many years. Who am I?
I love nothing more than to sip tea in a cozy bookshop, getting lost in the pages of a book. Well except maybe settling into my rocking chair in the den with a drawing book and a set of colored pencils, or a journal for writing poetry. Unless I am feeling active and then you might finding me hiking, horseback riding, walking my dogs, bike riding or looking for art through the lens of my camera. Recently, I have been thinking about taking dance lessons again, but then I laugh at myself, as I do not know where on earth I would find the time!
Every once in a while I become still and let the feeling of gratitude wash over me. I allow myself to inhale the moment and then release it into the air; temporarily relinquishing my worries and fears. I pause, to appreciate the beautiful things, experiences, animals, and people I have in my life today. I am humbled by the delicious weight of their presence in my small world.
I recognize my existence, is but a tiny ripple in the time frame we have named Life. Yet I am filled with hope, for even the tiniest of ripples holds promise and has the ability to transform the water in which it traverses.
Recently, I was challenged to write a letter to my 17-year-old self, and this is what happened!
Dear 17yr old self,
Be sure to take care of yourself emotionally and physical. I know boundaries were not properly modeled for you within the family, but they are healthy and will help keep you safe. Learning boundaries and how to implement them will allow you to have healthy emotional connections with other family members, friends, and future significant others. Regardless of how much you love someone, it is never OK for them to abuse you emotionally or verbally. Stand up for yourself and learn to use your voice! You are a kind person, but often allow others to take advantage of you and/or hurt you. You can be kind and still have positive boundaries in place.
The initial physical therapist provided his unapologetic interpretation of my situation and physical condition, as I lay gasping in pain on the patient table. His outlook was poor and his news was less than unpopular; he was absolutely positive my current condition may never improve. I was angry and teary-eyed as I ran out of the physical therapy room.
This information somewhat coincided with my musculoskeletal doctor, who had attempted several interventions only to make the situation worse, rather than finding a way to improve it. After several failed attempts to help me, the doctors convinced me to give in to the idea that this may be it for me, and they asked me to consider taking a break so as to make things easier on my body. After all, my military accident had even caused a neurological disconnect, that was most likely irreversible. This advice included giving up most things that I love, but I was not quite ready. So I convinced them to get a second opinion from a different physical therapist, they then also enrolled me in the pain clinic and set me up with a mental healthcare provider.
Sure, I had almost died from this physical condition in 2010, in combination with my other disabilities. I spent a year and a half in and out of the emergency room, as physical therapy and my primary care physician, attempted to work with me. However, it is unique condition and regular medical treatment and physical therapy was not working. In fact, it was causing me more harm than good. So much so, they decided I needed to take time off from physical therapy and they discharged me from the program. They suggested I spend some time getting used to the idea, my life has changed. A few even recommended looking at going on long-term disability. (I was not down with this concept.)
In moments like these, there are a million moments I wish I would have held onto; spent carefully. I wish I had used time more wisely to make memories, instead of allowing the memories to make me. I wish, I wish….
Time is a fickle friend or so they say; often escaping our grasp and sometimes, our hearts. It can burden you, as easily as it can free you. One blink, as the eyelash flitters lightly on your cheek, can change everything. One small breath, one exhale, can turn your world upside down in unimaginable ways. You cannot conceive of such a day and nothing can prepare you for what life has up its proverbial sleeve.
Tonight in my beginning meditation class, our instructor wanted us to learn what it is like to work with boredom during meditation.
We were to attempt to not let our mind or our body take a leading role in the meditation activity; but rather to simply shush our normal mental and physical activity and simply allow ourselves to be….bored/disconnected/disinterested. To feel what is like to work with boredom; how it shows up in the body and how it shows up in mind.
It can show up in the body as….empty, light, vast, unlocatable or heavy. It may show up in the mind as sleepy, dull, dejected, on edge or complacent.
At first, my mind was like “Seriously? You do not actually WANT to do nothing! Here, let me give you some things to think about!” So random things began to pop into my mind as I attempted to wrestle with my mental chatter in order to get it to stop. (A sometimes difficult task at best…for me.) At some point, I won and my mind begrudgingly decided to be quiet. Sort of like the pouting kid in the corner that just got in trouble and is quietly trying to figure out how to get out of it.
I will not bore you with the details of what you already know about being a woman, as it is well known, that women have had to work hard at changing their circumstances throughout history. There are stories upon stories about women having to fight for their rights. The right to vote, the right not to have to wear dresses 24/7, the right to work and the right to get paid equally. We all know the battles and that some of these fights are still going on today in the social, political and employment arenas.
I do want to talk about some of the things that are rarely mentioned or may even go completely unnoticed by some.
Being a woman is beautifully and uniquely complex!
We are by nature, naturally sensitive creatures. We are meant to nurture, to love with our whole hearts, to feel fully a myriad of emotions in which we often immerse ourselves…… and to feel them with every part of our body and soul. We are capable of great feats, but it is often the little, more important things we accomplish, that often go un-noticed. Or worse, are taken for granite. We are often selfless, giving up what we may desire for what our spouse, significant other, or family desires of us instead.