I feel Ugly

I feel ugly. On the inside.

Just to be clear….I am not ugly. I am a beautiful, loving, kind and generous person….doing my best in the world. Trying to be all I can be, to make the most of my life and the gifts I’ve been given. But, like most humans, I struggle sometimes. And now is one of those times.

An ordeal.

I struggle with forgiveness. I get my feelings hurt by other people’s behavior.

I feel furious. Wounded. Betrayed. Resentful. Angry.
I will not go into the details, but it is with a group of people. A so-called community. A community of selfish and poorly behaved (in my opinion) people.

How will I heal my heart? Here is the prescription:

  • Focus on the good: Yes, there are a lot of assholes in any community. That is the nature of all communities…people are at different points in their personal evolutions. (And the assholes never recognize themselves as the assholes!) But there are also amazing people. Tremendous, kind, loving people or at least people who behave according to social conventions and try to do the basic right thing. Why, when I am upset, does my mind constantly move toward the negative instead of focusing on the positive? It’s an act of discipline, when the negative story begins telling itself yet again, to pull the mind away and refocus on something good. There is always something good.
  • Gratitude: Much like focusing on the positive, activating the healing power and perspective-shift that comes from gratitude. There are many ways to practice gratitude. Taking the time to notice the many gifts for which I have to be grateful, and then taking the time to say thank you. It’s a simple yet powerful remedy.
  • Give: I also try (probably could and should do more!) to practice generosity. Givers are happy people. I have been given so much. I know that it is my obligation to pay everything forward- material gifts as well as gifts of time, love and energy. There is ALWAYS someone in need. In this age of social media, you can just go on a website and see all the people struggling right in your own community. It’s painful to read people’s stories, but a simple donation can help. Even giving a tip at Starbucks or adding an extra dollar to a tip counts as generosity. Give. And then give some more!
  • Be the Change: This is so hard. We only want to change others’ behavior. However, if I search deep and honest, I can recall times when I was the asshole. I don’t want to be an asshole. Even when I was the asshole, I didn’t want to be. I didn’t mean to be. Sometimes I even knew that I was doing something unkind, but I rationalized my behavior. The hardest thing is to show kindness in the face of someone else’s unkindness. However, what the world needs most is kindness. I don’t know what is going on with those people, why they have their heads so far up their asses. I will never change anyone else. But I can possibly soften my own heart and do better in my own behavior.

Thanks for listening. Wish me luck as I work through this!

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I Think. I Write.

Sometimes I write just to make my thoughts transparent. To myself. Obviously. Although I write in this public space (and actually have a few followers…even though I’ve not published anything in ages) I am pretty shy about putting these inner thoughts out there. But….in my whole letting-go-separating-from-ego process of growth, I figure this is part of that process. Not being embarrassed to open my mind and let it spill without worrying about who might read it and judge me.

Now that that is out of the way….there are these things on my mind today: 1. yoga practice. 2. being old as in having a large number of years of life and being perceived that way by other people because I have wrinkles and gray hair and how weird that feels. 3. comparison as the thief of joy and what that means in life and learning.

Going to let it ride….stream of consciousness.

Yoga. Practice. I’ve been getting on my mat six days a week since January 1st of this year except for the 10 days I was in Israel. Today is the last day of July. So that’s 7 months of daily practice. I don’t have a specific practice, but I have been incorporating a lot of ashtanga primary series. Often I go to a class because I like being led. Sometimes (rarely) I choose something less energetic like a restorative or yin class. I’m really committed to the practice. And that makes me so happy. Just getting on my mat. I can’t even tell you the love I have for my yoga mat.

So what am I learning about myself in this time I spend making shapes with my body, breathing, feeling sensation and listening to the voices of my head? Well….the last few practices have been ugly. Like, I’m hurting. I feel stiff. And sore. I have less energy. And that makes me judge myself. But then I remind myself that it is a practice. The practice is not about outcome; it’s about showing up. And I’m showing up! I’m showing up!!!

Today I did a home practice with Sharath Jois leading. I skipped several vinyasas. But I did the whole primary series. Then I took an advil to calm the aching in my thutt (where the thigh meets the butt). My thutt always aches after ashtanga. Sharath says that pain/soreness is how you know you have a body. So, what I was aware of today was my tendency to panic when things get challenging. There are a few poses that are really challenging, and my breath starts to get quick and shallow. I breathe through my mouth and my mind starts to panic. I have to smile and tell myself, “It’s only yoga!”

I have this thing I do where I always think that everyone else is doing it better than me (comparison!) It’s so evil! Part of having a practice is acceptance of being exactly where you are. Another thing Sharath says is not to have #yogagoals. He says that if you set a goal, you will achieve the goal but go no farther. He says just practice. Just. PRACTICE. And you will transform.

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Photo Credit: Agathe Padovani ifilmyoga.com Taken in Miami in June

Which brings me to my last thing….being fifty years of age. Suddenly (ha!), everything looks different. I find myself being one of the oldest people in every group or situation (except when I visit with my dad and his friends). It’s odd. First there is the way other people respond or at least how I think they are responding or looking at me. Then there is the way I feel about myself. Like thinking about the importance of practicing and wanting to transform. I start to wonder if there is enough time for me. I’ve already done a lot of living, a lot of growing. I think I’m in an ok place. But I also sense there’s more to go. I want to keep growing. I want to transform. I want to become stronger and more flexible physically. I want to take more energy from the earth and use it in my body and my life. But part of growing older is a physical downsizing of sorts. More later…. Peace

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emotions

Emotions are part of being human, right? We learned in yoga teacher training that we have an “emotional body,” and we have to become able to separate from it when we are interacting with others or when making choices.

I think of myself as a particularly emotional person, but I wonder if that’s true. Are some people really “more” or “less” emotional than others or is it something else? Maybe it’s that people find expression of different types of emotions more often than others. For example, when something upsets, threatens, frustrates or disappoints me, I tend to feel sadness. My husband, on the other hand, expresses these feelings through anger.

Or maybe it’s that some people find ways to separate themselves from the emotional body earlier in life than other people. I wonder, too, if all ways of separation from the emotions are equally positive. For example, a meditation practice is a positive way to grow a sense of detachment. It has no negative side effects. Using drugs or alcohol to dull the senses or to change brain chemistry is not similarly positive, although it may work for some people what happens when the chemical is no longer available? What about the negative side effects on the physical body?

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Self-Improvement

One of my favorite yoga teachers, Kate, says, “Yoga is not about self improvement. It is about self acceptance.
I am all about improving myself, but I also understand that true self-acceptance allows us to accept others which is also self-improvement.

I am, in many ways, a decent person. And I am, in many ways, a not-decent person. I try hard, work hard and am highly motivated to learn and grow, to be better. But every single day I fail.

I plan to be calm, and I get angry.
I know I should speak less and listen more, but still I assert my opinions as if they matter.

Self-improvement, in my mind, is about growing beyond the “self” as in the ego self. Trusting.

What am I learning with Rivka? She is such a true believer, a religious person. I am a skeptic. I believe….. sort of. And not enough to become religious, to make religion and ritual and God the main focus of my life. What is the main focus of my life? Why do I want to improve myself?

It’s complicated, and my reasons are confused.

One thing Rivka said last night that really stuck in my mind is that “hell” in the next world is shame and regret over the good we could have done while in this world but did not. Wow.

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Free. Write.

Summer is space.
Space. time. freedom.
A
little
more
sleep.
The list so long of things I need to do want to do should do will do.

If only I can find the time.

Life
is one moment
and then another
and, if we’re lucky, another and another and another

We don’t notice the changes
Gradually
We look at pictures from the past and gasp with surprise
So many years gone by. So many changes.

Is this the so-called midlife crisis?
This realization –
These moments are all there is.
Each one more precious than a diamond.
Each breath. Each kiss. Each day. Each dream.

It is time. Time to take another breath. Time to do and be. Time to think and remember. Time to grow. Time to be kind.

Enjoy your time.

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Letting Go. Part 2

I’m still working on the art of letting go.

I’m letting go of my identity attachment to the job I have held for the last nine years. I say identity attachment because my work here has been so much more than a job to me. I know in my heart and mind that I have made a difference, both to the school as a whole and to many individual children and teachers.

Making a difference is important to me. I have a need to feel like the work I do is meaningful. It’s difficult to walk away and realize that there is no void created by my absence. There is little recognition of my contributions, no one will “miss” me. That does not make the work I did less meaningful. The work is the path. We are only to do the work, not to become attached to what results from it.

It’s hard to let go and trust that there is something meaningful waiting for me in the future. It’s murky. Unclear. Letting go feels risky.

I recently read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” the popular bestseller by Marie Kondo. My husband and I are excited to follow her detailed plan for tidying, the first part of which is thoroughly discarding that which does not “spark joy.”  Letting go creates space. When space is created, new things can grow.

How do I detach enough to regenerate? How do I not stand in my own way, allowing my fears to take over? I do not control the path, only myself as the walker of the path.

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Letting Go

Letting go is a huge, unavoidable part of life. Why is it sosososososo hard?

I had to learn letting go earlier than many people when I lost my mother at age 12. Other than losing friends and loved ones, I felt, acutely, the pain of letting go when I moved from California to Florida. It felt like a death, and in a way, it was.

I don’t hang on to things, don’t give them sentimental value. I am not the best at keeping in touch with old friends the way some people do. Yet I still fear letting go. If you think about it, every moment is a letting go. If we are to be present, we must let go of the old and let go of any worry about the future.

Right now in my life I am very conscious of my need to let go. I am growing older, and it is hard to let go of youth, both physically and mentally. I am aware of the shortness of life and the many things still to do. I know that some things might be for the last time, and that is painful.

How does one get good at letting go? How do I detach from what I love enough to change when change is necessary?

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