The body says what words cannot. ~Martha Graham
It takes great courage and energy to cultivate non-doing, both in stillness and in activity. Nor is it easy to make a special time for non-doing and to keep at it in the face of everything in our lives which needs to be done. ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
Riding the wave of powerful cleansing energy from my Reiki attunement, I thought I would just continue to feel better. After all 21 days of cleansing and balancing just happens, so why wouldn’t it be possible for me to just feel energized by that? So I continued to do too much, and stress too much, and after the first few days, I fell into bed without doing self-Reiki, and went to work in the morning without doing meditation…and you know what? I feel lousy.
In some ways, even though I do feel less drained than I did before, I feel worse, because now my body is even more aware of what I’m doing wrong. When dinner is cheese and crackers and applesauce, my body knows that something is missing. When I’m too lazy to take my vitamins before bed, the things those vitamins are supposed to be balancing act up. Now, all the messages that my body has been giving me all along are too loud to be ignored. Something has to give, and my health has been that something far too often. Even now I feel the ache in the back of my throat and the dull pain in my temple that means I’m dehydrated and overtired, and last night I was wide awake in the middle of the night with thoughts bouncing around in my head.
Self-care is not optional. I knew this when I began training to be a psychotherapist; I knew that in order to treat and care for others, I had to have a way to care for myself. And yet, as soon as I get busy, it’s the first thing I let slide. I wasn’t going to write today – caught up in the whirlwind of final papers, I thought, I should take this time to write papers, not to write something “frivolous”. But this is important. This blog post may not change anyone else’s life, but it’s a reminder that I am committing once again to changing my own. I need to write. I need to sleep, and meditate, and eat good food, and do yoga, and do self-Reiki and make myself a priority. Because when I put everyone else first, we all lose out, because I can’t give them my whole self until I make sure that I’m making myself whole.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; but spiritual beings having a human experience. ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“Who are the women in your story, the ancestors, who have walked the path of their own true stories?
How do you find your beautiful reflection in the world?
How do you tend and nurture your core story, as you would tend a tree in the forest?” ~Sara Blackthorn
I think a lot about the unsung women. Some of my favorite stories are of the women who history glosses over: Japheth’s wife in both Many Waters and Children of Eden, Eve (not glossed over, but much bedraggled) in Children of Eden, Mary Magdalene, the wives of the famous names in history – the presidents’ wives, the generals’ wives, the arranged marriage royalty and nobles, the mistresses of the Popes and Bishops, the cloistered nuns, the mystics…there are a lot of stories that haven’t been told.
But I never really thought about the women in my story…not in this way. My mother, my sisters, my aunts, my grandmothers…they all have stories too…stories that may or may not ever be told to the world.
My story has had its ups and downs…I’ve told parts of it in allegory, in poetry, in personal sharing with friends and family. But will it ever make its way out into the world in its entirety? Would anyone read it if it did?
I focus a lot on the stories of history’s women…especially those tied into religion and spirituality in some way…but the women of the present, and the recent past…their stories are just as valuable in their own way. If I value their stories, I should also value my own. But that’s harder.
How do you feel about telling your story? Do you think anyone would listen? Do you want them to?
This week I received a long message from a young Mormon man in Canada. In several thick paragraphs, he poured out his story—a story of an orthodox Mormon family wrecked by illness and addiction, of divorce, poverty, and growing up on the streets, of an overworked single mother and an oldest son looking out for disabled younger siblings, while taking abuse from his addict dad, who after much struggle is trying to get his life together.
It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.
~ Wendell Berry
I’ve mentioned that I like to know the answers. And I do. I like to know where I’m going, what comes next, and what will get me an A+ on it. But there are a lot of things that I value that don’t work that way.
I am a feminist. Unapologetic, vocal, in your face, feminist. This is not a question. But I think I’m at that place where I don’t know what direction that takes me in anymore. Because being angry alongside other angry people can only go so far. And the people who don’t agree may not change their minds. But somehow, in the midst of that stalemate, change has to happen. And I don’t know what the steps are to make that change.
Today is International Women’s Day. And a lot of people who are feminists feel like a “day” is a silly way to address what needs to happen. And I don’t disagree, because I don’t think a “day” really does anything in itself. Except that it makes the struggle visible to people who might not want to look at it. And the invisibility of privilege is what makes it dangerous. So while I agree that International Women’s Day is not the answer, I don’t feel like it’s without value. Because if even one person thinks a little bit more about suffering and inequality, isn’t that a step in the right direction?
So, on this day that I wish we didn’t need, I’m thinking that for right now, I don’t know what the next step in my feminist journey is. Just like I don’t know what the next step in my spiritual journey is. But I know that if something that I say or post or advocate for today makes someone else see through the fog to the oppression underneath, that’s something. And maybe that’s all I need to know right now. Because my real journey is just getting started.
”When I am able to resist the temptation to judge others, I can see them as teachers of forgiveness in my life, reminding me that I can only have peace of mind when I forgive rather than judge.”
- Jerry Jampolsky
It’s really hard not to judge people. It’s something I struggle with almost every day. I make snap judgments, jump to conclusions, make statements that are broad and sweeping…it’s been something that has damaged relationships with friends, caused friction with co-workers, and generally made me a difficult person to interact with in many cases.
And I’m training to be a psychotherapist. My job is to be the person who holds people in warm regard and offers them a non-judgmental safe space. This is hard. But I think this is one of the lessons that I’m in this life to work on. All the years of struggling with my own judgmental impulses is a part of the journey, and I hope that I can weigh all of those experiences as ways that I have learned. I’m not saying I’m there…I don’t know if I can get there in less than a lifetime…but I’m trying.
So for today, I am trying to open my mind a little more than I did yesterday. For this moment, I am trying to take a deep breath before reacting. But I can’t promise that I can do it every day. All I can do is try.