Category Archives: Soul Speaks

whirl

There is this weird optical illusion about life, I can’t tell what’s real or this altered state of perception. Its trippy, but not usually in the feel good, crystals and oils, mystical nature kind of way. Its more like the “what the fuck is all of this?” kind of way.  I’m constantly asking myself, what do I feel? Where am I in relationship to all of these weird people and things I have created around me? It’s starting to feel like a cage. From this point of view, it’s the center of the hurricane. And it is impossible to grab onto something true, its all a blur as it goes by.  I’ve been standing here probably my whole life, but it seems like in the last year the roar of the winds have gotten louder.  “Who are you Jennifer?” it screams?  “stand up, stand up, stand up on your own two feet!”

“I can’t, I don’t know, I’m not good enough, I’m weird, what I like it isn’t gonna work, what I want isn’t sustainable, it might hurt me, what about my kids, what about my life, my comfort, my marriage? ” goes the internal response, over and over again.

Someone told me that different parts of the brain has different personalities. That its my hippocampus’ job to keep me alive and not make a complete fool of myself or ruin my life completely. So its doing its job and a damn good job at that. It finds ways to show me its undeniable truth that I cannot dare to create my life. That structure, function and safety are above all the highest on the survival skills list.  To be honest I can’t remember if its called the hippocampus, so we will just call her survival girl.  She’s shouting in the wind, “When you try to create something your life gets chaotic! Remember college??” And her voice is personified by all the advice that is thrown at me like a dish towel. “this is how to run a business, this is how to make people happy, this is how to be a mother, this is how you show up to life!”

These swirls of advice, the shrapnel of expectations, the couches of comfort that are caught in the voluminous wind, break my arms, break my fingers, breaks my heart, when I reach my hand in to grab at them. No one in the swirl seems to understand me. Or I don’t seem to understand them.  They can see that I don’t know how to do this life that well. I can’t seem to prop myself up enough or make it look any different from painful. I have clenched down trying to find my place in the wind, and I am afraid of who might come out if I unclench too much, because she seems to ruin everything. She seems to have a vendetta against comfortable. She doesn’t have a savings account. She doesn’t know the obstacles sitting at her own toes…. But she knows something about that creative force from the ether that zeros down in the center of the destruction. The vortex, that tornado that lifts you up out of comfort and throws you down into something more true.

She is beckoning me forward and her call has gotten so loud its making me ache! I literally feel her churning around in my uterus, that goddess of creation and she’s insatiable. She used to be like starting up an old chevy. Turing over the transmission, over and over with no luck. But this time she started and shes purring to get out on the road.  She’s sexy and creative. She’s tough and unapologetic for who she is. She wears boots, has wings and listens to her heart. Her heart’s beauty radiates and calls everyone’s attention and she knows it and it only encourages her onward. She understands life and loves it through ALL of her senses. She shows up in ways that no one else would and can feel the power in that affect.  She dances, she moves, she loves, she works, she creates and says yes and says no and eats pizza. She might worry, but won’t admit it. She might be tired, but still stands up. She just keeps fucking going.

She asks me, “do you trust me?” I don’t …but I respond, “I do. I trust you. You are the artist. You are the creator, the goddess of the universe. You know what you need to make this vision happen and I trust you will find the resources to see it through.”

The Weight of Busy

I don’t like the word “busy”.  The weight of its energy sits in my guts. In the spirit of exploring how to stay out of nervous system shut down, I’m exploring this feeling of busy for myself.  Not just how busy as an action feels, but “busy” as an idea of being.  So there’s the common statement, we all use when asked how we are…”I’m just so busy” or  sometimes its not even a statement, its this look of exhaustion as the eyes look upward and the body moves down in a slump with a sigh.

I get it. I get the reality of busy. It happens. I’m a mom, a business owner, a wife, a dog owner, and live in a town where it takes 30 minutes to drive 5 miles. Every phone call, text message, email and Facebook post seems to want to pencil in another task on my calendar.  But I’m starting to get a new awareness, thanks to a good ole fashion, 3 month sabbatical from teaching. The crazy part is I felt busy before, but now as I have canceled most of my daily calendar it amazes me how life fills itself back in. I can still find myself to be busy or even worse, not busy and not knowing how to cope with that.  So I’m examining this phenomenon. What comes up in my body when I think of being busy?  Whats my payback to busy?

Well, first thing that comes up is when I identify as busy, it gives me a sense of self worth.  Busy means I’m working hard, and I do what it takes to make it. At all costs, I am in survival mode and to survive means I am doing something important. Which this serves me at times, when I am building a business or raising a baby. But the flip side of that feeling is I’m in survival mode. My nervous system is firing off and nothing is regulated. I’m stressed and moody and it leaves me feeling lonely because “survival mode” isolates me. It keeps people from being able to help me. One my nose is to the grindstone, I’m resentful about it and no one knows where to jump into my crazy, to help. Its funny throughout the years of being in business for myself, the busier and more frantically I have worked myself, the harder it is to find staff to help. As I have gotten more aware and balanced, help has appeared, which has allowed me to expand and find balance in my life in other ways. But back to busy.  Busy provides kickbacks…adrenaline, which is highly addictive.

Busy also is kind of an image. “Look at her she does it all. She’s so busy.”  I mean part of that could be the accolades of looking busy.  But part of that is a buffer. If I look busy, then they won’t ask much of me.  Or I will have some sort of excuse to say no. Because its hard for me to say no just because I want to.  Built in excuses of motherhood, business commitments etc. are way too convenient and become a way of isolating, and not honest.

And then there is the action of being busy. How does that feel in my body? Well at first it can be invigorating. A way to prove to myself my strength, commitment and determination. But overtime it gets exhausting for sure. The reason for this to me is that it usually tends to speed up frantic behavior (think: burning the candle at both ends). So my nervous system cranks up and my ability to be present drops dramatically.  I can’t hear what people are saying to me, I resent being disrupted and get short with people that show up in my day.   I start shutting down and hating life. Left over time, my body knows how to pull the plug, sickness sets in.

When I’m weening myself off this busy high, its tough. Big fears start to creep in like lazy, what do I do with myself and not knowing how not to obsess about surviving is a throbbing ache. Shifting out of busy takes a different kind of work. A willingness to let go of the driving force of busy.  A willingness to let divine timing and even some grace, step in the center of my task.

I’m learning that my body is a large walking nervous system, and its feeling its way through my day.  Words carry energy and busy is one of those words that sticks to my head space and automatically creates a state of being.  In small doses slipping into busy is harmless but overtime seems to snowball into an array of self-destructive thought patterns that take a simple, very common phrase like “I’m busy” into dark places.

Does feeling busy really have a positive impact on my contribution to my community?  I’m finding it does not. In fact, in slowing down, staying present, mindful and nurturing myself, I notice my creativity is up. The production of what I can offer has way more value and insight.  I am listening more and more available to people that need my support. I am working on choosing what makes me busy and staying present to what boundaries make most sense for me to stay protected, even when I am “busy”.

 

Featured Image art by http://www.ilovemega.com/blog/massive-wheatpaste/

 

the mother

I have ovaries and I grew up babysitting as my first business, but I still didn’t know how I would be as a mother. I like to think maybe I had to be born into motherhood, just like my infant babes had to be born into this crazy existence of person-hood. I had to be initiated -tired and bumbling, so vulnerable and unsure, while keeping this new little thing alive and thriving, 24 hours a day.  A beginning phase to the many unfolding phases on the journey of mothering, survival…for them and me.

Then having a second one, I was to be born again. This time, now how to mother a Max? Max is different than Emma. Max is loud and opinionated from the moment he took shape in my belly.  Emma has different needs. And needs me in ways that could feel smothering to an independent, only child, loner of a mother.

I was intensely mothered. My mother is a recovering co-dependent, alcoholic turned deeply in to recovery and the support of the group. Only the dingy, smokey, cold church basement rooms and late night coffee hours at Denny’s would comfort her.  As it looked to me, I (and my dad, my family, anyone outside of the group) was the source of the worry…the reasons why she was there. So she tells me she was there to learn how to be a good mother, so I would never have to go thru what she had to go through. But during her long therapeutic phone conversations, AA meetings, and work, there I was coloring, waiting…waiting, waiting, while she rehabbed her soul.

I didn’t have a bad mom, I wasn’t neglected or even abused. Her fierce intensity felt like love. She didn’t run from mothering, in fact all of her trauma ran her full force into the kind of staunch maternal instincts to know the right way of living  from the dead wrong. Now she knew what not to do. And if she just held me accountable to the strictest right ways of living, I’d (or maybe she’d) be okay.

Her opinions over rode my own, so I battled myself a lot. It seemed as if, when I tried against her guidance, I missed the mark most times.  Bad choices, weird outcomes, I couldn’t really find what worked. All this second guessing manifested depression that sank me into my bed, TV, binge eating, work…whatever made me numb. I still have nightmares of being lost in the hallways of high school, symbols of the psyche inside of  myself that perpetually feels lost and about 15 years old.  But I make it through okay in reality. The feelings of lost only help to initiate action, to find out what’s real about where I stand. So its served me in some sort of profound way. I love how Tony Robins says, (paraphrasing here) “If I blame them, I should thank them too for making me who I am today.” And I do. I do not blame my mother. I just am reporting on the facts of my own experiences of being mothered.  Looking to find some semblance of reconciling these patterns that keep showing up in my own mothering. Because here I am now, estranged from my mother. And as a motherless woman, the ghosts of being someone’s daughter hangs in my shadow. Feelings I try to move through, move past, let go of, but seem to stay vigilant in inflicting their shame on a daily basis.

I see myself peeking out around this wall,  looking to see if the choices are clear on the path. If there’s an undeniable action to take. I try to mother, thru the fact my daughter-hood has been severed. Sometimes I feel like I mother in the best way I know how to pretend. Its all very confusing for me. The grief will stir deep when I retrace the places I went with my mother, back before I knew what was to come. It pops in on the regular. I manage to skirt past it just brushing by the gooey ache before it sticks too deep. Even when I open up to talk deeper with someone on the loss of what I thought a mother was supposed to be, it almost feels outside of myself. Outside of the experience of what is real for a good person, like myself.  But then again, maybe this loss officiates what I’ve always feared, and is what pins the badge of shameful living on my vest.

But somehow the estrangement feels like it was inevitable. We were on a one way track to something far too unreal. Covered in tension, quiet disapproval, yet trying to be “normal” interactions.  Towards the end of our relationship, my throat would just tighten almost like I was dying right in front of her. She knew something was terribly wrong. I knew something was terribly wrong. And maybe she was just the only one of us who had the guts to do anything about it. My therapist is impressed by the very clear way we ended our relationship. We said to each other what we needed, and unfortunately neither one of us could bend on our boundaries. It was actually pretty healthy in family standards. But painful none the less.

So now I’m recovering or uncovering those parts of myself that went numb for so many years. The parts of myself that were wrong and were hiding.  And by the way, they were probably actually wrong, and its fine. Please don’t do the nice thing and tell me how they weren’t. But that is part of my process in this life, I’m finding. That I’m uncovering the very things I try not to be. But that in itself is this bumbling practice too.

I just don’t know how to show up in what ways, most times.  I mean feeding my kids dino nuggets or a healthy meal…how many arguments do I want to have everyday? How do I get us out the door without loosing my temper? And when I know my kid is only screaming to get his way and I give in just to make it stop…am I ruining him forever? Creating a serial killer? This is only the tip of the iceberg of the phase of mothering that I have now entered. Holding space for the social development of bickering 8 year old friends, not sure how to have these basic conversations. I try to give them tools that I’m not sure their 8 year old minds can wrap their heads around. But I don’t know, its something that I needed and need to hear, how is it that we have real relationships? How do we relate to people when it scares us?

I know all the self-help answers. I’ve been working on myself since I was born. Maybe I don’t have the right answers but what’s even worse is hearing advice, I’ve had a lifetime of advice. When I want to I can rally to the bright side.  But the affirmations seem to disappear when I walk through the ghost of my past.  When my senses pick up the loss.  I’m not sure I will ever get over my experiences being mothered. I am sure I am doing my due diligence to offer my children their own experiences to overcome. But it is in the loss of my mother, the loss of my daughter-hood that stems its own unique pain to overcome. Reconciling the human roles and trying to reduce them to insignificant and unnecessary roles of the world, does not seem to take the sting out for very long. My therapist reminds me I am in grief. Which helps me to identify. But how long does the grief last? How many journal entry’s, expensive therapy sessions, shaman ceremonies, will aid my recovery? Maybe it never will. Maybe this is exactly what I ordered up in this lifetime to recover myself. To evolve myself. To grow. To hurt. To love.

 

 

Step 1: Acknowledge the Crazy

The only thing that truly changes in life is your perception. My greatest, life changing growth is not when I changed my external circumstances but when I changed the way I perceived them.  I realized (yet again), that what I think of others and the big dramas that take over my life,  in the midst of the cyclone of thoughts and played out scenarios, is when its best I take a second look at myself and my part in the whole picture.  Every episode of dramatic thought in regards to someone else, is a direct invitation to the party of deeper work on my own behalf.

It is never about them and how they aren’t measuring up. Those are judgments.  The questions I am starting to ask myself…What wound in me would have me see it this way? What story or pattern is coming up that has come up in my past?  How am I attempting to write this off and check out as fast as possible? How do I avoid, deflect and give up going deeper to save my precious point of view?

When I can see my relationships from god’s point of view, I can see things in a way that shifts me.  I am not in control of others behavior or any external circumstances.  I choose to continue to grow and uncover those places inside of me that want to hide out.  I remember that emotions are a way for my soul to get my attention. If I follow into places of joy I can learn what I love. If I follow into places of anxiety, anger, fear, I can learn how to uncover what I love and how I might grow towards love.

 

 

 

the untitled title

Once upon a time, anxiety ruled. It lived in my psyche like an overgrown bush. I was too overwhelmed to cut it down. Like where the fuck do you even start?! A life riddled in self destruction, driven by this beast. What do I do to just feel like a normal human being? The more normal I try to be, the more the beast would start to talk.

“You can’t do this…why did you say that?…you can’t relate to them…you aren’t anyone people want to like.” ah the voices, the analytical, judgmental voices. They like to come in right after a social situation. The voices convince me I have no social skills. Which I probably don’t…but “so what! Who does?” is what my oh so mindful voice would say in response.

I’ve buried myself in the self help books and the shamans, the irresponsible relationships and work to show my world how good I could be. Desperately trying to fix myself and prop myself up so I could get out of the car. All the while, lying and stealing, hiding and drowning in the street drains while trying to appear to be normal.

The weirdest thing is, the chaos of the anxiousness became this strange addiction. I’m an expert at creating the perfect storm to conjure this thing up! Like not paying bills on time can really get the heart racing. Or avoiding creditors phone calls can really be a way to bury yourself in deception. Because it really isn’t about the “right” or “wrong” of the late paid bills, but the way I find nooks to hide out in and bathe in the anxious juices of self sabotage. If I didn’t have my own way to conjure up this capital A,  I’d hook on to your monster and feed him a little, so he’d pay me some attention too. So maybe as I reflect on these days that I want to believe are in the past…the truth of it is, maybe I am not so far away from all this as I had hoped.

Ya know, I want to be zen, I really do. I do a lot of things to help curb the appetite of the anxiety monster. And most days I stay true to my diet of feel good and strong in my own skin.

Something just dawned on me… maybe that anxious burn arising in the center of my core, is a bat signal to my soul somewhere hiding out in my consciousness. The ping to the universe….ping…Jennifer. Earth to Jennifer.

Because when I get home alone, and the house is quiet, and my to do list is long and/or my kids are doing the kid things, and I’m full of guilt and anxiety, and all I want to do is watch the Real Housewives or read my tarot cards or smoke weed so I can numb out the call of my soul. Because who is this person anyway? And what the hell does she want? I can’t understand her, she seems so different than what I want to portray. She’s kind of like all over the place, and she doesn’t know what the fuck to do, and isn’t quite sure that any of this matters. And she likes potato chips and herbal tea. She loves people, and would give them anything they needed because it actually makes her feel good. She would rather be an artist than any other job because its way more fun to create than to maintain. She sees herself living like a gypsy or a hippie or a “I don’t give a fuck and I am peaceful about it kind of soul”. But she has no clue of how to actually attain that in this world, I mean she tries, moments at a time. But this full of duality, anxiety driven world we all live in has got her surrounded some days. So she prods me to acknowledge the monster and sit with the burn. To trim back that over grown bush, limb by limb, even if it grows back. She sends out her bat call so I will finally look for the places shes hiding and acknowledge shes there and she wants something. She wants me to know her, to listen to her and to quit acting like there is something or someone out there that is so much more important.  She’s tired of that shit.