Two things that signal to me my desire to connect to others. As I write there is pulled pork braising in the oven, covered and seared in homemade rub and the scent wafting through my office.
I am sitting with gratitude for my circle and an overpowering need to write what is coming to mind…(and the need to speak it too, feels like time to reconnect to the podcast). I have an amazing circle of support: from lifelong friends & family who have known me since birth; cousins, aunts, sisters and mothers to my friends & colleagues of more recent history; some who know me better than most after being co-pilots on the journey through shadow-work land…Thank you to those of you who hold space to integrate the experience of this skin-suit experiment together.
In the last couple of weeks, space has opened up and been filled with conversations on what we are feeling is both present and ahead. I have felt this full-on sensory pull to make space. For what? I don’t know. But a time of impending transformation has settled in me as a visceral sense of discomfort. An audible invitation to let go of what wasn’t working; in all areas of life.
Where is this coming from? From the wealth of treasure in my recent conversations, I know I am not the only one feeling this pull. That is my impetus to share these thoughts. I know I am not alone. I know we are all connected in sensing this.
When the epidemic hit, there came a beautiful analogy about the painful and unknown process a larva undertakes to become a butterfly. Curiosities around what was happening, the invitation to go inward, not knowing what the result would be, as well as the undoubted discomfort of dissolving in a container of your own juices, without knowing why, only that you had to.
This morning as I shared time with one of my favorite space holders, I reflected that this moment feels like the precipice of time before we emerge from the pupae. Still very much in the discomfort of dissolution, still not knowing what is to come, but innately sensing the time was near to transform, to become the next version of ourselves.
I feel this both personally, as well as collectively as humans. As we come back together in community, in contact, in connection, we are different. How we do things will be different. That was the whole point. This past week’s call to create more space for myself feels like life asking me to get crystal clear on what I want to create moving forward. My characteristic M.O. would be to plan the shit outta everything, having back up plans to the back up plans. But this time is different. I am being asked to “Just be.” It is SUPER UNCOMFORTABLE. We are meaning makers. We want to know WHY?!? Why things happen, especially the “bad” stuff. Why do people come into our lives, only to leave? Why does sickness come? Why do lives, do relationships have to slowly, (or quickly), slip from us? Why don’t our plans work out the way we wanted them to? And so, we are asked to sit, in the unknowing, trusting the process and what wants to come next.
To me, this is the greatest lesson the breath has for us as teacher. To live like the flow of breath; to let in, to pause and digest the experience, to let go and pause in the trust that the next will come. Breath holding and grasping are like expectation and “should”. Both invite suffering. “Should” brings guilt and shame, where expectation brings blame and the pain of not getting what we want. Neither are helpful in finding more freedom.
The lesson for me has been to use “should” as a highlighter. Noticing when it enters my thoughts or comes out of my mouth, whether directed at myself of others. I swap out “COULD” for “should”. Leaving the guilt, judgement and expectations behind in favor of CHOICE. Could creates choice. Could is self-responsible. Awareness is knowing the difference. Could is the awareness that I have the choice to change. Whether I do so or not is mine to choose. With awareness and with intention. It is a shift from living at the external whims of others, giving our power away, to choosing to be responsible for our RESPONSE to life. When we are asleep, unconscious, unaware we are acting on auto-pilot. Auto-pilot comes from the survival-mode personality we created as children to have our need for safety met. Auto-pilot is full of old beliefs and identities we have about ourselves that once served an important purpose, BUT might not serve us anymore.
An example I use is my armored-up personality I unconsciously built during my career in corrections. The fiercely independent, self-sufficient, body-builder persona was well on its way into the suit of armor long before I found a perfect expression for its talents in corrections. Looking back on it, it’s comical. Where I am now, I know that that skillset I created in my youth to belong and feel safe, although it helped me succeed in my career in corrections, it was not helpful or necessary in personal relationships. THAT awareness of choice came like a kick in the ass. Painful but needed in order to wake up and ever hope to find harmony in personal relationship.
So, as I sit in this space I’ve created, uncomfortable, exhausted. I’ve cleared a lot on my plate, not knowing what will come next. Using the time to be in nature, to walk, to cook, to sleeeep, (my god, I’ve slept), to connect with my circle, my favorite people…you have all been on my mind. And I’m SO thankful for you, your perspective, your willingness to share your vulnerabilities and your authentic selves. This is search for growth, integration, for happiness and freedom, is NOT EASY. But we are here to do this work together. To first connect to ourselves, to listen, to experience, to contemplate, to self-regulate and choose to be self-responsible. After all, nobody can make changes to your internal landscape but you. Then with courage and vulnerability we take the risk of being seen, of showing ourselves to another. Risking rejection to have the need for connection met. The beauty of life is in this. In waking up. In growing awareness, growing choice, persuing freedom and then holding that space to share with others.
I know that’s why I’m here…to wander in total freedom, holding space for intimate connection. Even when it’s hard. Even when it’s uncomfortable. And remembering to live like the breath…
Just Breathe. Just Be.