Sunday, September 11, 2016

Riptide

This week has been an interesting week for observing myself. 

I feel like my internal pressure to achieve and feel connected has brought up some interesting stumbling blocks for me. The first 2 weeks of this journey were simple; start to declutter, put down routines, and see what I pick back up. I knew what I had to do, what questions I wanted to ask, and what I was hoping to find at the end of this. 

Like some starts, after the initial push to actually act, it was easy. I had energy, enough consumer waste around my house to make decluttering easy, and enough surface social activities that weeding them out gave me instant time back in my day to refocus on important relationships.  I was doing good... I was on my way. 

Enter one more week. My internal thinker is starting to say different things. 
  • You am bored. 
  • You don't feel fulfilled.
  • You are not getting the quality of conversation you were hoping would fill the blank spaces.
  • What if you are throwing away good enough and great doesn't arrive?
  • What if you end up alone?
  • What are you going to fill your time up with?
  • How will you maintain your relevance to others. Yup. That again.
  • Maybe you should just stop, and get your butt back in that gym working on your body instead. You can control that and it blocks out all these thoughts. 
I am finding myself searching outward for solutions. I am feeling panicked and seem to be collecting self help mind clutter as a solution. I have explored a number of routes to take and half taken many of them, instead of discerning their worth to me and choosing one or two to serve as a guide to my own internal compass. It all feels a little desperate and surface. Sound like a familiar pattern?

Remembering what has stabilized me in the past, I have started to listen to some guided morning meditations. Admittedly, this has been somewhat half-hearted (see above). My hope is that in delivering some intentional, positive reaffirmations, my quasi focused brain will uncover a useful tool or insight to assist me in refinding my footing in a meaningful direction. Since this is still an observation period for me, I am trying not to be hard on my lack of commitment, but just observe, asking questions such as: Where did I go to seek out enlightenment? What themes did I seek out? What was I feeling  was I experiencing when I decided this was/was not not the meditation for me?

After my meditation YouTube yesterday from Hay House Presents, an interview came on with a few of the teachers, speakers and authors from that group. I heard something that I have since gone back to about 4 or 5 times. "No amount of self improvement can make up for lack of self aceptance." BAM. Here it is. Me. Where I am. 

Okay, Jenn. Here it is. Again. Your wall. Your furthest point. I have chosen friends based on this. I have choosen jobs based on this. I choose partners based on this. I choose activities based on this. I too often let this stretch my internal value system, so that I can control what another perceives about me. Maybe it comes from my uber religious childhood, where I was taught to judge and align myself lest I go to hell with the planet, my time as a child when neither my parents, foster system (I was a ward of the government), or group homes wanted me, only a street that ebbed and flowed between accepting me and wanting to eat me alive. Maybe it was the way my virginity was stolen in a bathroom when 13, as well as the time after that, a month later. Maybe it was all of those things. OR maybe its just my attachment to my story; to things that had more to do with other people than me. Maybe those things are gone, and I can give my mind permission to release them. 

Here is another quote I heard in that same video. "Self sabotage is simply misguided self love." 

I think I know where I need to go this week. 

This Week's Goal: Meditate every morning and evening, using Hay House Affirmation Meditations. I am narrowing my own field to only Hay House, so that I don't redo what I did last week which is let the riptides of my old habits keep me shopping around, and not doing the real work. Join me in listening here, if you would like!

Let's see what this week brings for us!

"No amount of self improvement can make up for lack of self aceptance." 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Observation

I am still in the fledgling moments of my renewed desire to self discover.

I have known for a while that I have needed some life housecleaning if you will, but not knowing what kind of house suits ME at this moment of my life has created some interesting obstacles, questions and moments for learning. I thought that I would share them here.

 If any of these thoughts, questions or moments speak to you in any way, maybe take a moment to sit and think on them a bit with me. If not, that is okay. Like all things, you can choose to just observe my thoughts with no attachment to them at all :)

Where I was: (aka my internal narrative) 

  • I had just spent the last 8 months of time, money and mental energy on another fitness competition goal that at the end of the day brought me a killer physique, however in the weeks before as well as on the night of my show, I was the most UNHAPPY I had been in a very long time. 
  • I was coming to realise that I had voluntarily placed my happiness in the palms of others' hands. I was feeling tousled and unanchored in the waves of their wake when our paths diverged. When I would blame them, I sought with my eyes, around me for how to correct this, instead of within. I was starting to feel POWERLESS
  • I lost a very nostalgic from my childhood with my mother, and felt the most colossal of LOSS, PANIC, BETRAYAL and ANGER.
  • I had depleted a good portion of my savings on non essential items, and was starting to feel a LOSS OF INDEPENDENCE. 


All of these things left me feeling emotionally off balance, and helpless to the currents around me. Here, in this moment in time where i was supposed to be at my highest, I was not; most confident, and able, i felt small and less than. Here, where I was supposed to feel my most powerful, I felt weak and vulnerable. Where I was trying to maintain a sense of connectedness to a loving emotion, I only felt the sting of loss and hopelessness.

 How had I gotten here? And more important than that story, how might I start to regain my positive and natural belonging and ease in life? What do I need to change? What do I need to add? Remove? Where do I put all this energy?

This blog isn't anywhere near an answer yet, I am still at the beginning. Any good experiment starts with a problem and observation.

Problem: I feel unhappy, dependant, powerless, lost, angry and betrayed. 3 moments that I chose, specifically for the purpose of making me happier, weren't. they were in fact, doing the opposite, and my bank account was in danger.

Observations: Here's the plan:


Be still. I have allowed myself this time to come away briefly from my regular routines, social media discussions and friendships, to just observe my natural ebb and flow. Stepping out of my old patterns and habits should give me a few emerging emotions to begin to question, to see what I am really drawn to, and seeking to fulfill in myself. In analysing this, I will ask if this need is best fulfilled in these places or perhaps somewhere else (maybe even in me) or even if they need to be fulfilled at all.

Observe. When I am still, what do I see? Who do I see? Who or what am I prone to reach for? Why? I am aiming to answer as instinctively as I can where able. 

Here are a few examples:

  • Acquaintances: Why are you friends? What needs are met with this friendship? Companionship? Reciprocal trust and support? A safe confident? Or is it darker, or more one sided? Are they using you to find their happiness alone? Do they consider you? Are you friends only to promote each others egos? i.e. to have more followers, market on Instagram, while perhaps selling arrogance as inspiration. If you were to change everything you did today, would they still invest in you?
  • Objects: What do you use this for? Why did you buy it? Did you buy it shortly after a friend did or you saw an advertisement? How long before you bought it did you know you needed it? If you don't need it, why are you hording it? When is the last time you used it? How does it make you feel when you see it? When is the last time you needed it to feel this way? Why did you feel this way? Was there some other way to find that feeling other than buying this? Does it bring up bad emotions that no longer serve you? Do you feel a sense of loss when you keep it?  
  • Goals: What is the purpose of this goal. How much of this goal is vested in other's opinions of you after its execution?  Why do you feel you need to impress them? If you were to let this goal change, what would you lose? What would you gain? Are you intrinsically in your happy place when you work on this goal? Why or why not?
  • Emotions: Why are you accepting this emotion? Who or what is is tied to? Does this emotion make your life better? If not, then why are you allowing it time in your precious and one life? Is it blocking what you perceive to be a harder emotion? Is there something you need to deal with, so that you can let these guard emotions go. When are you happiest? What does your internal dialog say when you are? Or is it quiet? How much of your happiness do you delegate to others? 
  • Really, it boils down to: What objective and underlying feeling are you trying to achieve when you reach outward? Is it pure and unassuming? Or is it tied to your own fears and expectations

Declutter. 
I personally have just restarted this process. I would say I definitely ebb and flow with minimalism, and there are clear points in time when the term #minimalist does not fit me at all. I have always found that this is the place where I am able to do the most good, and be the most altruistic to my higher being, that being the Jenn behind the walls, my inner child if you will.

A few ways I have started this are:

  • Daily reaffirmations from people in the minimalist and mindfulness communities. While I am not really a commenter on these blogs and YouTubes, being more of a silent observer, I come to find I am not alone, and for me, since this is really about finding ME, I have been more than okay with that. 
  • Decluttering the easy stuff first, and building off the momentum. I like to get a couple of quick wins under my belt. The endorphins from seeing my good work and progress feeds me the fuel to keep my resolve until I start to see the bigger changes. 
  • Making time to empty my mind, through some form of meditation every day. Whether I choose to observe a tree, knowing that it doesn't count minutes or dollars, just stands anchored and open regardless of the weather, or if I loose myself in the serine vibration of crystal bowl, favorite artist, wind against the grass or my skin, or wave against a shore, I can feel washed over and whole without any attachment to things. Also just as enlightening on the other side is: what did I pick back up afterward. 

Think about that for a moment. What did you pick back up afterward?

  • What arrows did you put back in your quiver? What food did you put back in your pack? What water refilled your canteen? What shoes did you put back on? Are their ways you can pack lighter? What is preventing you from leaving items on the ground? You were free for a moment, in meditation. Are you now placing your personal shackles back around your ankles? 

As I mentioned, this is the start of an observation and discovery period for me, one that will require me to stretch beneath the surface to uncover underlying interests and needs. Over time I hope to shed the excess and negative to allow the remaining to realign to a more authentic harmony. I am running a diagnostic if you will.

It is time to stop drinking the proverbial Eno and figure out why our spiritual tummies are creating so much acid in the first place.

Does this entry strike a chord in you? If it does, than lets do this together! Lets learn from each other's insights, whether by silently sharing quiet moments like this, or by commenting below if that is more your style.

"To acuire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe." ~ Marilyn vos Savant

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Resilience

I am titling this blog entry Resilience  for reason.

Without resilience, life can be a disparaging array of starts without finishes, invoking some pretty hefty feelings of failure and inadequacy. This blog and all 3 of its posts have laid dormant for 2 years. I thought about starting a brand new blog now that I am ready to pursue blogging again, but then thought: No, I need to reinforce my resilience, and stay with this one.  

As I get older the one big thing I am learning, that adds the most value to my life, is to give myself permission and credit for being resilient. I am human. I mess up. I drop the ball. I get confused by fleeting 'goals' (usually brought on by a brittle promise of happy), and create some sharp turns and redirects along my path. Like a lot of people, I get confused by marketing... not so much TV advertisement marketing, as I have removed a lot of that from my life, but marketing from friends, family, work... all telling me, subliminally or directly, that they have the answer to my happiness. 

"I feel so much better now that I ______________. You need to do it too!" 

This here statement gets me on a few levels. 

1. I want to be happier and feel better than I do now. 
2. I will already have a buddy to share the experience with. 
3. I will impress them.
4. I will give them a support person as well by joining their journey.
5. Will they like me more?
6. Do they think I am inadequate and need this? I should take their advise.
7. Maybe then they will like me more.
8. I like being better than average.

A few years ago, I left my marriage, city and job (read about that here) and prepared myself to move to a more authentic life. Since then I have noticed that I have again become hypersensitive to this thought process, and it has taken away the very thing that I had sought when I made the changes. Maybe you find yourself in that position as well? (feel free to comment below if you have) 

As is always the case when I am feeling overstretched and misaligned, I have consulted the great interweb. I have a few blogs that are near and dear to me, from people who's language I understand. 
zen habits, the minimalists, and becoming minimalist have all had some very inspiring blog entries on changing your story, redefining yourself and paring back down to find what is important and authentic. With my internal compass ready, and positive inspiration in my pocket, I feel it is time to challenge these points, and add some meaningful quality assurance questions back in.  

Let's change some of the thoughts from the list above to start. 

1. I want to be happier and feel better than I do now. 
How will this make you happier? Is there a simple way to find this without this marketed solution?
Why are you really unhappy currently?

2. I will already have a buddy to share the experience with. 
Reacting to another persons journey by changing your own is a steep price. Do you need this? How else might you relate to another person without altering your own journey?

3. I will impress them.
Will you impress yourself? Impressing others should not be a driving factor, unless it is for an interview of some sort. Respecting and being kind to others is much more rewarding and authentic. 

4. I will give them a support person as well by joining their journey.
We all have the ability to empathise and think abstractly. You can do this even without changing your journey. What other ways can you support this person? Is supporting this person with much of your precious time essential? For who? This isn't to say don't support people, but HOW and HOW MUCH is entirely up for debate. Support yourself first. (remember the oxygen bag in the air plane analogy?) 

5. Will they like me more?
Why do you need to win approval, when so many others will just love you for you. What are you gaining by them liking you, besides a friendship from a person that you see as judgemental? Networking? The illusion of self-confidence? Followers in social media game? 

6. Do they think I am inadequate and need this? I should take their advise.
Why does their opinion of your adequacy equal fact for you? Are you mirroring your own fear here? Consider meditating on what is keeping this fear alive in you, instead. 

7. Maybe then they will like me more.
See answer for #5

8. I like being better than average.
Ugh. My Achilles heel. I am working on this one. What in your head is creating this tier system where one is better or worse? Still working on that one here. 

So with that, I will not ask you to join me on my renewed journey, but if this resonates with you, and you intrinsically feel the same, please feel free to follow me, or comment below.

"It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop." ~ Andy Warhol