Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"Let me teach you how to let go," she said.

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I could feel my heart pounding, my palms sweating and in that moment it seemed the world slowed down.
"I will teach you how to let go," she said.
I didn't really know what to say. I looked at her and she looked at me. I could feel life staring at me, asking me, "Will you play it safe?"

This question comes up ever so often; checking in with me, as if it wants to know where to go next.

I've always answered the question the same way; ripping off whatever idea I had of safety to set myself free. I breathed deeply and knew that I had to keep going.

There was something else. I'm not sure what, but I knew I had to trust myself enough to let go...
over and again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Verge of 30: Have I really learned anything?

Being that I am on the verge of turning 30; literally, staring it in the face; marching down the aisle, I can see it."I am not going to freak out," I tell myself. Up until this point, I have been excited about turning 30. "I've earned it." And yes, although this is true, I can't help but to be a little reflective, being that I am in the last two days before the final approach. "Have I really learned anything?" In high school, I took a psychology class and we were asked to write a certain number of pages each week. I am so thankful for these pages. Last spring, when I opened the journals up, I thumbed through the pages and could hear the voice of a very wise 18-year-old girl on the brink of setting out on an adventure. Since then, I have watched her grapple with change. I have witnessed her question every aspect of existence, worth and ability to be a successful human on this planet. I have watched desires change, while values have shifted into what feels more in line with the truth of the heart. I have watched as I, myself have fallen in and out of love while trying to figure out what it means to be in relationship, but slowly figuring out that the relationship I wanted the most was the one with myself. I have picked myself up off the ground more times than I would like to count and have whispered over and over again to my own sweet heart, "keep going". I will say this, I have lived my 20's well. They have been every bit of confusing and as I rest here in the experience of my own "growth," I will say that I am proud of who the 18-year-old girl has become. I continue to wrap my own arms around myself every day and whisper, "keep going". No one really tells you how hard it's going to be. No one tells you that if you choose a life of authenticity and truth it might feel as if you're marching to a drum beat that makes no sense to anyone else but you. While I sit here and write, I could not be more thankful for the practice of yoga in my life. The time when I lived in Houston, was a turning point in my 20's. I developed the best of friends who continue to stay with me in my heart every single day. They are the ones who have their hands on my back at all times encouraging me to keep going. Perhaps, we have those moments in life, when we are in this dip of healing. It might feel like a place in the valley between mountains. That is what Houston was for me. It was the place that fed me before I climbed one of my biggest mountains yet, which was my move back to Arkansas. I created a safe haven for myself in Fayetteville, where I currently live. The safe haven is a yoga studio affectionately called, Maitri and she is a light to be reckoned with. She has seen many teachers and students come and go. She remains steadfast, open and a soft comfort where I not only rest my head, but others do as well. I have made no money running Maitri. Maybe it is a fault of mine, but I realize that I am a terrible business owner especially when it comes in the form of a yoga studio. From the time I opened Maitri, I knew that I would rather fail than never try, so I have poured my heart into it and will continue to. When I was asked early on, at what point I would call Maitri successful, I said, "she already is." I have never publicized what people have shared with me about their experiences at Maitri, but I will say this, everything has been truly worth it. Maitri is a light in my life. I refer to Maitri as a "her" and I know it might be weird, but I feel that Maitri has become a place that belongs to itself and everyone who walks through the door. I don't feel that I actually own Maitri. The person who practices there and moves away carrying a piece of Maitri owns just as much of it as I do. My job is to make sure Maitri is taken care of so it can do its job in holding space for others. Maitri has taught me and continues to teach me more than I could have ever imagined. In a way, I know I could never repay Maitri in what it has provided for me, maybe not monetarily; but in every other way, Maitri has shown me my strength and perhaps, that is what I have learned the most about in my 20's: my own strength. I moved back to Arkansas, a place I thought I would never live again. When I packed up for college, I had no idea that I would later return. I thought I was returning to heal something, but maybe that wasn't it at all. Perhaps, when I was younger I fooled myself into thinking that I wasn't enough. I needed to move, to go... I got on a treadmill of trying to prove something to myself only to grow tired and realize that none of what I was doing mattered if I wasn't happy. I think we all have this picture in our heads of what our life will be like. My reality is an entirely different picture than the one I had in my head. I think that we have to always keep moving forward and do the best we can in listening and following our hearts. Right now, I am trying to listen to my own heart as I decide which graduate school to attend starting in May. I am down to the wire and a part of me goes one way and the other part of me goes the other. I have always been a "flight risk." Ugh, the thought of being tied down scares the crap out of me. One school allows me the freedom of movement, while the other school provides me with community. What I have missed out on most over the past few years is a community, what I value most is freedom. Which one? Which one? I think I am going to have go to yoga tonight, and as I breathe, maybe the answer will be revealed. Meanwhile, I will just pray on it. I am excited for grad school because in some ways, it is a new chapter. I am going back to get my masters in counseling; something I never thought I would do, yet it makes so much sense. Even as I read my journal pages from my psychology class last year, I realize now that I had everything in me then, and now it is just being revealed little by little as I get older. I am so grateful for the gift of 30. I think I have talked my way back to the excitement of the phrase, "30, I have earned you." The journey continues...

Thanks for listening. Thanks for letting these fingers type away as I try to make sense of the way I feel. 90% of time it's an absolute mystery until I can create enough space and stillness for myself to process in the comfort of the only sound being the keyboard keys beneath my fingertips.

I'm curious: Were any of you reflective upon turning 30? Did you feel sad? Excited? Scared? Proud? Did 30 feel different than other ages?

30 to me doesn't feel all that different, but it provides the best opportunity to say, you know what, "I am fucking proud of myself."

Love you all!

P.S. My birthday is Thursday, feel free to make a big deal out of it. Eat some cake! 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Becoming Friends with Anger

I feel like I am learning the delicate balance between honoring my feelings; using my voice; establishing boundaries; creating a non-negotiable relationship with my sense of self-worth and being authentic in all the ways I show up. Whew, yeah, that's a lot of learning and I guess I have been in this process for a long time. At times, it has been easy, while at other times it has been a pain in the ass to learn because I get the same hard lessons over and over again. In the midst of it, I am realizing things about myself, especially when it comes to my emotions, words and actions lining up.
I'm learning that honoring my feelings takes guts.  As I am navigating my way through this, there is a part of me that feels bad or guilty because as I get stronger in my sense of love and value for myself, the less I am willing to tolerate.

I have been known by many as being "too nice." I have also probably been known by many as being a "bitch." I think they go hand-in-hand because when you get to the end of your "being too nice," rope you become a bitch or, at least this is what I've noticed about myself. This is the most feared person in the world, right? The person who gives and gives and gives, then suddenly blows up.

I have had to work long and hard on becoming friends with my anger, my hurts, my vulnerabilities, my humanness and my insecurities for a long time. When my boyfriend and I started dating he noticed this tendency I have to not say how I feel. But because we compliment each other in the way that we don't have the same kind of crazy, he has been able to hold space for me to look at this part of myself without taking it personally. He invites me to get angry at him. No, he doesn't say, "Sarah, please be angry at me", but he would rather that I tell him how I feel than hold it in. He knows it's not about him.

Watching myself work through this, I realize that I developed this coping skill of keeping my feelings to myself when I was young. I think somewhere along the way I began to doubt my sense of value and I lost appreciation for how I felt thinking that my feelings did more harm than good, so why share them? I also became afraid that if I was ever angry, my parents would take it in as something they did wrong and beat themselves up. I held myself responsible for their relationship and everything else around me. I thought if I could always be okay, I could keep everyone else okay. I realize now that this was extremely self-centered of me, but nonetheless, I didn't know any better. It's taken all twenty-nine years to re-learn what I learned in Kindergarten. How I feel matters.

In a yoga class yesterday, we were all in warrior I. I could feel myself heat up as I was in the pose. I felt agitated. I wanted to move, but through the class instead of trying to "let it all go", as I so often do and say, I just sat with myself. I didn't try to see the blessing in what I was feeling. I just let myself feel the way I felt. Something miraculous happened....

For the first time today, I told someone, outside my immediate family/boyfriend/safety net that they had hurt my feelings. As the words came out of my mouth it didn't feel natural, but it did feel better to be honest and authentic than not. I didn't pretend like I was perfect or bulletproof. I didn't pretend that the way I had been treated was okay.

Regardless of the outcome, my heart felt lighter, any anger that I felt disappeared and when I hung up the phone I knew I had just honored myself in a big way. Did I just graduate emotionally?

P.S. I liked the movie, Inside Out a lot.