Therapy and Tightropes

Therapy. The term in itself describes a process of self discovery and solutions. You go to therapy because you are dissatisfied with current situations (physical or mental) with the goal of the situation going away, to be fixed.  You’re aim is to make it over the tightrope, cross over the scary pit underneath, and make it to the other side.
My goal this past year has been just that; being “fixed.”  Throughout this blog I’ve oscillated between behavioral changes and acceptance to make it to the other side where I’ll feel better.  This has not created the balance needed for success, at least the balance I had imagined. Balance in itself is a perilous state of two opposing forces working against each other at the very point neither force outweighs the other; this is a far cry from the zen-ness I had imagined.  I had romanticized the journey without taking into account that learning to adjust to disturbances is a requirement.
I needed to develop a new outlook on growth that allows me to not be perfect or remain in the state of ideal balance.  In addition to understanding the journey, my view of the destination has began to change as well.  Life is neither black and white, neither balanced or unbalanced; it is a constant interaction between parts of a whole. Life is about constant adjustments and the idea of balance is a constant dance of falling and flying.
I hope to take this new perspective of acceptance and continuous adjustment into 2015. I desire not to be fixed but to allow myself to grow.  Excited and nervous, this is a tightrope I’m excited to practice walking on.

Lessons from the honeymoon: Play in all things

ImageJust a little fun in the rain 🙂

Play.  Do you remember that word?  It was a magical time as a kid where you could be and do anything you wanted to.  In the words of Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus, “Take chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy.”  Play allowed all of this and so much more.  However, as we grew up play became separate from our life.  For example, school clothes were for most of your day while your play clothes were only used briefly.  Boy, did we put in work when the play clothes came out; digging in the dirt, hula hopping, or just building an imaginary Barbie world.  I have realized play time kept getting shorter and shorter and is at the point where I no longer have play clothes at all.  I have “work out clothes” or “yard work clothes”…. no play clothes because as an adult I don’t play.  That is for children.

I’ve had a lot of time to think while on my honeymoon and have been reflecting on this loss of play in my life.  Things are so serious.  Everything is directed towards achievements and maintenance.  As you can imagine this makes for a grumpy, stressed out Elise.  Not what I want or, frankly, what I was designed to be.  I decided while in Miami that play needs to be reintroduced, not just for recess time, but in all things.  As stated in previous posts, we are told to “be as a child,” and in that innocence is truly living.

This notion came upon me while my husband and I were at the zoo.  It was a lot of work, and money, to get there.  I was worried about our schedule and budget.  Then…. it started to rain, like torrential down pour rain.  We hid under our tiny umbrella and then under a gazebo with other families.  I, like I do, was listening to other peoples observations of the storm.  People were frustrated, complaining, and fussing about how long it would take for it to stop raining.  Somehow my mind silenced and drifted to a childhood memory of playing in the rain.  It was such a carefree and effortless moment in my life; it was magic.  Greg and I made the decision to leave the safety and security of the gazebo; we took a private tour of the zoo, playing in the rain.  It is ironic how adults can take the gift of rain or time and make it work.  Life is not work, it can be effortless if you just get out and play in the rain.

I did all other kinds of playful things in Miami but was worried about how I could bring this feeling back with me to my real life.  I decided to be intentional in creating playfulness in my every day life.  I am allowing myself to smile and giggle when my husband kisses me.  I was inspired by my niece to paint without direction and have no qualms about expressing my emotions during the process.  This morning in my yoga practice I focused on how I felt and redirected my patronizing thoughts to playing with my body.  As a kid we fell all the time, and God forbid, laughed about it.  I am aiming to reclaim the place were I allowed myself to play and experience humor in both success and failure.

Now go out and play.  Get messy, make mistakes, and authentically embrace every moment of it.

 

Safety

Let’s take a minute to talk about safety.  The reason we don’t move forward with most things in life is fear and lack of trust.  This has been talked about over and over in my posts.  But how do you identify safety in a world that is full of trap doors?  It’s a hard one, but it becomes clear when train your brain to see reality and not your past.

Unfortunately this distinction is not always clear; even if you don’t flashback to an actual event you may revisit a similar feeling from a prior situations in which you felt taken advantage of, hoodwinked, bamboozled, had… Skills can be learned to bring yourself back to the present moment to really identify what your needs are and if it’s a safe situation to get those met. Many times, I have to take a deep breath and say, “Elise, it is ok.  _____ would never do anything to hurt you.  What is it that you want right now?” The second part of this is to listen.  The same way I’ve talked about listening to your authentic self applies here.  Your inner voice not only tells you your dreams but also if those around you are safe people to nurture you.

This is difficult, but not impossible.  Still after 6 years and a wedding this weekend I have remind myself daily that my fiancé is not “out to take advantage of me” but his only desire is to shower me with unconditional love.  Unconditional love means that my needs are above his and by nurturing me to get my needs met, he is fulfilled.  It’s amazing and scary for me at the same time.  However, I just have to close my eyes and say to myself, “Greg is safe.  He loves me and has never shown me otherwise. I am safe.”

Who makes you safe and do you interact with them in a way that allows you to safely grow?  Be vulnerable with them because they are safe forces in your life whose purpose is not to let you fall.  When you acknowledge, accept, and explore your reality you will begin to experience  true security, safety, and freedom.   I’ll be back to do more writing, reflecting, and art post wedding! Everyone enjoy your safety.

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Unmet Expectations

I have heard before, and have been a strong proponent, of how important it is to make a goal.  By having something you’re striving for you can find the underlying motivation to keep going.  However, in addition to having a goal it is important to remember two things: is your goal your REAL goal and to consider the stress that comes with unmet expectations.

Most of the time we make goals that are arbitrary like I’m going to weigh this weight or I’m going to make more money.  We do this without actually identifying the core goal: to feel more confident or to have more freedom to do things.  By not having the insight for our REAL goals, we either eventually lose stem because we get distracted or if we meet our goal it doesn’t fulfill our expectations because it wasn’t the thing we were REALLY looking for.

The idea of unmet expectations was something I’ve never thought about before.  This is what can lead us to feeling unsuccessful, worthless, helpless, and generally crappy about ourselves.  We develop the feeling of learned helplessness because nothing we do ever fills the void, our expectations continually don’t get met.  I believe this is because we focus too much on the “what” or “how” and not the real “why” we make a decision to move.  The “what” may evolve into a million different possibilities, but the “why” can be fulfilled by any of them; the key is we have to be flexible.

I don’t DO flexible, at least not anymore.  I have settled into a state of rigidity and patterns that make me feel safe.  The funny things is that I don’t feel safe, I just feel scared of never reaching where I want to be.  What this has actually  done is limit my potential and fill me with that continual feeling of unmet expectations.  My expectations are unmet because my routine does not allow for the “what” or even the “how” to change to reach my “why.” Through a variety of self-healing activities I am constantly pushing myself to let go of the reins and trust I will get to wherever I’m suppose to if I, you guessed it, listen to myself and breathe.  My expectations may not be what is actually going to fulfill me.  I have to let that go and remember my “why” and just keep putting one step in front of the other.

What’s my “why”?  My “why” is to be an example of the healing found with self-expression and encourage others to do the same in whatever way they want to honor their voice.  It does not have to be through art, be flexible on the medium and it will be the right fit for you.  What is your “why” and how can you give yourself permission to loosen up on the “what” or “how”?

 

-> I’ve been allowing this to translate into my art recently.  Adding to projects I’ve started based on feeling.  I’m liking where it’s going but have no concrete expectation on what it will become.  It is so much less pressure and enjoyable.  I also am finding the more I let go, the better the product is.  Maybe I’m not always right after all.

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Introverting is OK… Listening is key

All my life I’ve thought being an introvert was a bad thing.  I thought it was selfish; something must be wrong with me to want some space.  Through the practice of meditation and turning off distractions (TV, bad radio) I’ve really started to listen to my true voice. I need space to refuel.  I need to create.  I need to read.  I need to breath without feeling like someone else has already claimed that breath for themselves.  It is completely ok to need “me” time.  My voice is loud and clear. I realize more and more when I don’t listen, I scream and throw tantrums like a child (usually with food).

By allowing myself to turn inward I’ve gotten a TON of art ideas and have a growing list of songs to learn on the guitar and piano.  It’s nice to have a non-pressured to-do list just for me.  It is important to take the time that you have and turn that wisdom into fruition.  Time blocking is important sure, but I’m realizing more and more that there are pockets of time throughout the day to get a tune up.  I’ve even started sketching and/or meditating at work between clients.  Sure I get less paperwork done, but guess what, it’ll get done and I actually will have the positive attitude to do it.  When you listen to yourself and breathe into your needs, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, things happen effortlessly.  Who would have thought? It is really THAT simple.

In addition to trying to listen, I’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries.  Often I hold my breath, tell myself to be quiet, and uphold other people’s boundaries to be a good little girl.  I’m quickly learning not only is this a horrible way to live life, it is suffocating.  In the pursuit of strengthening my voice I’ve become attuned to boundaries for myself.  Alone time is needed.  I need to be heard and respected.  I need to take care of myself through a variety of things.  The biggest gem I’ve gotten in the past week is visualizing boundaries like a house.  Some things are solid and unchanging like a wall and the statements made above, however, some are flexible like a door opening and closing into your home.  For me, that may be HOW I take care of myself: today it may be yoga, tomorrow it may be a piece of cake. The solid wall boundary for this is to listen to my body and honor it’s requests (sometimes cake is not ok because I need more nourishment; my body will tell me what kind of moment it is).  Other flexible doors are how much time I want to spend with people.  Things aren’t black and white.  There is grey and I am learning where to draw lines and where to shade.  It is calming and it is effortless at times.

Our minds are so powerful to identify our true needs, desires, and boundaries.  We should honor that ancient voice inside us.  A good tip to stay aligned with out inner voice is to journal.  It keeps you aware of your inner most thoughts and gives you a place to put your great ideas until you are ready to act on them.  A vital part of a relationship is listening, do you have a healthy relationship with yourself?

Doodles May 2014

Doodles May 2014

 

Spring time and fear

You would think that springtime would be my favorite time of year: gardening, hiking, flowers blooming, more daytime….. But I actually dread it. Despite having many of favorite things, spring also is the introduction of pollination meaning bees and wasps. I know, I know… without this perfect circle of life the organic food I eat wouldn’t be possible and my peppers wouldn’t produce it’s awesomeness. However, I’m petrified of all flying insects. No petrified is not an overstatement. I run away, have a panic attack, hide inside, and actually avoid a beautiful time of year all day until THEY are fast asleep. Pathetic I know but it’s how I’ve operated for over 20 years. It worked out good as a kid to get out of yard work because my dad said, “I can’t with you.” As an adult it hasn’t worked out so well. My friends are over it, my fiancé doesn’t understand how we will have our holistic co-op if I can’t go outside, and I’m restricted from enjoying things that fuel me. I realized during an “episode” yesterday this irrational fear is much like my avoidance of other things in my life I want to do. The fear is rational ( I could get stung, people may hate my art or writing) but I grossly overestimate the possibility of it happening… Leaving me frozen and running away from perceived fear not an actual threat. I have to stop anticipating threats and trust I have been built to 1. Be able to deal with the threat should it occur 2. Realize it won’t be as bad as I hype it up to be and 3. Be wise enough to make good choices. I’m not hitting wasp nests, I’m planting flowers under the glorious sun or going for a peaceful walk. I am not scribbling crayons on paper and going to the MOMA, I’m producing work for myself right now. I’m growing like my flowers. Wasps aren’t worried about me and if I get stung I’ll be ok, I’ll adjust my tactic, and still enjoy the blessing of spring. Spring is a synonym of creativity in my book; the wasps won’t stop me from blooming.

A little art from my Sunday fun day post a refocusing yoga/meditation. Listen to your needs, you won’t be directed toward wasps nests, just towards nourishment.

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Yield to Yourself, It’s Awesome.

It’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve posted.  WAY TO LONG.  I took some time to get things straight for the upcoming wedding and also pushing myself to make some art/create great music.  Several things have happened during this hiatus.  I was able to start meditating again and have really worked to reframe my state of mind.  I spend so much time judging myself and expecting myself to do things a certain way that I don’t actually do them.  I need to have distractions taken care of (cleaning, to do lists, wedding checklists, friends I’ve neglected…. you get the point) before I let myself yield to myself.  I’m beginning to recognize how backwards this is.  If I breath into myself and listen to the voice that I try so hard to shut off, all the pieces will fall.  Sure it won’t be smooth all the time, but it will all happen without my trying.  I’ll be living it.  There comes a time where you just have to get out of your own way.  So when my mind races, obviously I have a great idea and I need to at least put it down somewhere.  When I’m stressed about nothing, I need to focus on right now to put my fears in check.  I’ve watched my fiancé and I grow over the past month and truly be fulfilled because we are making music, singing, writing, and yielding to our true nature.  All the things I’ve kept discovering about myself over the past few weeks and through writing all lead me to the same conclusion. I am fine. I am creative.  I am talented.  I will be ok as long as I’m myself.  God created me beautifully and the more I push against that, the less productive and at peace I am.  Thanks for your patience while I continue to increase the volume on what I already know.  Remember, to take the time to listen to yourself and do things the way you do them.  It’s ok.  If you’re really listening to yourself you’ll hear all the infinite answers you’ve ever wondered.

April 20, 2014. Colored Pencils

April 20, 2014. Colored Pencils