2018 was a potent year for inner reflection and opportunities to raise our awareness, move our blocks, own our mistakes and decide what to do with the lessons. Here are the biggest lessons I learned over this past year. I'm curious what you learned and would like to share too!
Labels - Labels are something I don't really use nor think about anymore except for when they were used to define me by other people. How do you describe yourself as you are still learning to discover who you are and what you have to offer others? I've been told to listen to others describe you and allow them to do that for you but this caused triggers for me because so many of the words used were associated with 'evil' or 'demonic' influence when I was growing up and I began to feel defensive wanting to proclaim how much closer I feel to God, the divine, my Higher Self and all than ever before; how important prayer is in any ritual or practice I'm using from herbalism, intention setting or working with tools.
Witch, Shaman, Alchemist, Medicine Woman, Spiritual Advisor, Moon Goddess, Lover, Artist, Writer, Model, Mother - I had to accept that these words are simply words used to understand the archetype the person sees in me and is actually a clue as to the type of medicine that person needs and where their gifts may have been lying dormant and are ready to begin to awaken. I'm a Pisces Rising which means one of my natural abilities is to morph into whatever a person or situation calls for and this year has taught me how to use that as a tool for the greater good without getting lost in someone else's archetypal definition of me. I am all of these things. I am also fluid and in constant evolution simultaneously embodying all and none of the definitions people need to try to understand me. It's a gift and an honor to witness who someone else is by what filter they choose to see me through. It also makes it easier to accept, teach, connect and love these people exactly the way they need it.
Unconditional Love - Unconditional love was something I thought I was beginning to understand and then I was faced with things from my past I thought I had reconciled to challenge where I thought I had grown and to push me closer to understanding and accepting what unconditional love is. I was shown where my old ego still clung to fear and pain and once I allowed myself to feel the pain I had pushed down for so many years, for the sake of survival being at the forefront of my mind back then. This year is closing with me accepting that I have a love in me that will never die, no matter how much it hurts when it resurfaces. I am compassionately accepting that the pain is only because the story didn't end and begin the way I had wanted - but that was my ego and if it was for the greatest good than it would have worked out that way. I added the most important missing piece to the book I'm writing and I allow myself to feel everything as it pours out of me. As I accepted this and allowed myself to express it, my heart burst open, any remaining walls around it fell, and it felt as though it continued to bleed on the floor around me. It no longer had a hold over me though and my tears weren't made of blood; I was in love and that was ok. Love doesn't begin or end, it just is and the more we try to control it or harness it the more damage we do to ourselves and others because that isn't love at all, it's fear.
Generations - The other major take-away I have from 2018 is that we focus too much on generations assuming that every person from a certain generation is a certain way. We use the lens of fear to judge people that see the world and approach problems differently than we do when we should actually be interested in another way, to be open to having a healthy dialogue and work together towards solutions. Most humans want the same things but our collective dream has us all easily triggered and overly defensive instead of open to hearing another story, another reality, another way. When I treat generations the same but individuals as uniquely as they actually are, we connect deeply and we find much more things in common than differences. When we blame generations that follow us we only have ourselves to blame because we were responsible for offering those people a safe and loving environment to grow up in. When we blame generations before us we close ourselves off to hearing about the lessons and the wisdom those mistakes offered them. When we blame our own generation we blame ourselves. When we blame we remain victims, throwing our hands into the air, giving our power away to anything or anyone instead of taking responsibility and having the courage to learn from our own mistakes.
I make resolutions and set intentions daily and throughout each day. The ending of a year offers us the opportunity to measure our personal (and professional) growth at a macro level, just as reaching a long-term goal measures our personal (or professional) success. We have this opportunity on more micro levels with each passing day, week and month too. Keep a journal if your personal development is important to you so that you can truly see how far you've come at the end of the year. What intentions do you want to set for the year? What lessons from 2018 can you take into 2019 and build upon? Allow your inner work to be forgiving and fluid but also find a way for you that helps you measure your progress so you don't get discouraged during those really trying periods that life inevitably throws at us.
Sending you all my love and blessings for a prosperous New Year filled with more opportunities to have the courage to live life in a loving and compassionate way towards yourself and others. Together we can begin to change the collective dream.
Someone demonstrated their love for me yesterday. This happens everyday in one way or another but this moment left me awe-struck. It was one of those surreal moments that your mind is having so much trouble computing you feel frozen knowing that moment will be captured in a timeless resonance forever. I've had a lot of painful moments like that but not as many beautiful ones which may be why it hit me so hard. I was at work on a slow day and went to the back for a moment and when I came up front a young woman was sitting in my chair. I had worked with her for nine months at a location 45 minutes away so I stopped in my tracks and just stared at her. I was so happy to see her sweet face I am pretty sure I said out loud, "Is it you?! Am I dreaming?" She was teasing me about getting to work but knowing how far away she lives and works from the location I now work at had my mind reeling with why she could be there. That's what trauma brain does to you, it searches desperately to look for holes in something that seems too good to be true to keep you safe. The computer part of my brain accepted that there was 'no threat here' as she stood to hug me. Did I mention she's in her early twenties and pregnant too?!
She had drove all the way to our location to bring me a present with the most heartfelt card. I cried. I'm crying now as I write it. Another girl I work with bought me a small heart music box that plays, "I Only Have Eyes For You". How romantic is that?! To be clear, everyone is straight. This is what loves looks and feels like. I've noticed that younger women are the ones who seem to be most open and honest with expressing their gratitude to me. I connect with young women quite easily. I guess this surprises me because I grew up in an environment where the girls were petty and cruel. I never had real friends as I was the sensitive, awkward outcast, different from everyone else. This didn't change when I was married. In fact, it got worse. The venom that women came up with to make my life hell was beyond my belief, especially when they knew the danger their blatant lies would put me in. I didn't realize how much this needed healing until now.
I'm nothing extraordinary. I have my stories of pain and struggle too. The only difference is I see people; I mean, really see them. I see them outside of my own stories. Sure my stories come up because I'm human and I look for reasons to relate to other people and feel accepted, but when someone is in pain or needs a listening ear I give them everything I have so they don't have to feel alone or any of the other awful things I've felt. This young woman who brought me this gift, let's just say that she was sure she wasn't going to like me from the beginning but to her credit, she let her guard down and let me in and the rest is history. The most caring and sensitive spirits are usually the ones that care the most though; that's why they feel they need walls or at the very least, very firm boundaries you need to work to navigate around in a respectful manner. You never want to manipulate boundaries, just honor them and show up as you are anyway, they will do the rest in their own due time.
I share this for two main reasons... the first is that I don't want to hear crap about Millennials and their attitude. I raised a Millennial and can tell you that any grievance you have with that generation is on the shoulders of the generation that raised them. I made mistakes too but people are people and every person and every generation has its own unique approach to how you deal with them. Don't be lazy, see them as another human being, do the work, be the example! If I can do it anyone can! The younger you can reach someone and show them what it's like to be accepted as they are as you reflect their true gifts and talents the better the world will be. It's like tending to a young garden and watching it bloom. It's awe-inspiring. Of course, this goes the same for older generations, respecting the work they did, the lessons they learned and can offer - which brings me back to all these young people showing their love in so many ways towards me. They're already learning that without any prompting from me, just watching me and getting to know me.
The second point is that my heart bursts open thinking about how this seemingly small act burst my heart wide open. In my mind for the years I've been single I have told myself over and over again the kind of love I deserve and won't settle for less in a romantic relationship. Then, through all these small acts of kindness and love from people sending me cards for the first time to the little acts from the heart from people I work with, all this shows me that I'm openly receiving the love I know I deserve already. This young woman had the courage to reflect to me what I have offered others in a way that resonated deeply with me; a way that seemed to encode in my DNA my worth, my value. I don't love for attention or to gain anything, love is its own reward and now the people demonstrating it more get to see and experience that which is the greatest gift any of us can receive. Love grows exponentially when it comes from a space of gratitude and an abundance mind-set rather than looking at where we are lacking or feeling bad about what we don't have.
Two years ago I wrote 'A Step Deeper Into Love' and ended it with this, "...love is meant to show us and others our vulnerability and how this only empowers each person that has the courage to stand in that space and to hold that space with another person. Love does not come with restrictive expectations but with respect and honor. Love affords you dignity as you offer dignity to others. Love holds people when they are in pain, it sits silently when someone invites you into their experience, it reflects everything in the self and the other person and accepts it with compassion. Love is our fortitude." The Yin/feminine energy of December is a beautiful energy to experience.
In an extended management training we were taught about the concept of risk vs. reward. At the time this concept blew my mind wide open. It was so simple but I could see how this would play out into every life decision I could ever struggle with. On some level I know we all do this but for me this was better than a pro-con list because lists seem to trivialize and over-intellectualize things that usually need the heart and maybe even the spirit involved in the decision making process.
Risk vs. reward is rolling around in my awareness again because sometimes we are faced with the opportunity to handle a familiar situation the same way you always have or to decide to handle it differently. As we grow, evolve, heal, learn to fall in love with ourselves, our risk vs. reward ratio changes. There was a time I willingly jumped on a carousel (for lack of a more appropriate metaphor). The carousel was something I had longed for since I was a teenager and it opened up when I needed it most, it mixed up my world, shook things up, and helped me connect with the deepest part of myself again, the inner child in me was once again acknowledged and embraced; I was found, I was seen and I discovered a carefree love. My rewards were far beyond the risks so I took the risk and jumped on the spinning carousel and embraced the joy as my heart burst open.
Over the years however, after the power would unpredictably go off an on over and over again I took the time to get to know myself and do the work I needed to do for myself. Now when the carousel lights up I stand next to it and the risk is now greater than the reward. I have everything I need within me and the risks have become far greater than the rewards I once received. Maybe it's maturity, maybe it's just fear of getting motion sickness from years of spinning around and around, up and down, off and on for years but it feels good to love the carousel but have no need to get caught up in it's whirlwind again.
Next time you're faced with a difficult decision, personally or professionally try this tactic. Weigh the risks vs. the potential rewards. Include everything you can think of to measure, money, time, energy, emotions, lessons... there can be an ROI (return of investment) on any risk we take. Remember too, that sometimes you can be someone else's risk. Are you worth the risk for another person? Or are they stuck in old patterns, never really proving the reward of you is worth the risk of opening themselves up?
"The cure for the pain is in the pain." ~Rumi
How can I attract emotionally available people if I don't first learn how to be emotionally available for myself? This question has nagged at me for days after a friend / therapist / psychic prompted this question in me. I exhaust so much energy trying to understand the 'why' of something I don't allow myself the space to feel something, no matter how old or painful. I know I do this and have worked hard at it but sometimes something old that I once thought was resolved creeps back in to my subconscious and I get all frustrated and judgey of myself, reprimanding myself for 'not being over it already'.
It's easy to not feel safe in our emotions. Sometimes it feels as though our emotions have the better of us whether it's sadness, anger or even joy - because constant joy can be a sign of an imbalance or be used as an avoidance tactic as much as constant anger can. There was a time when understanding offered a sense of safety for me. Understanding something (or someone) on a deeper level helped me make important and compassionate decisions remaining an observer of my experience. However, this mentality, this belief of the value of remaining detached to a specific outcome, remaining an observer, almost got to the point (and probably more often than I realize) of disassociation. Logic allowed me the space to forgive, to let go of pain, to survive. Logic made me a warrior and a victor. Somehow I got lost in logic, almost as though I believed that my emotions would make me a victim again, so I would stuff them down or judge them in fear of wallowing. Wallowing makes me frustrated and angry so if I found myself moving into wallowing I would call myself out on it. After knowing abuse, it's not uncommon to fall into unhealthy, even self-abusive patterns you've adopted from others.
The thing is though, some emotions return because we haven't given them enough space to be processed. Certainly we can be swallowed by imbalanced emotions and getting professional help in balancing our minds and bodies is critical but we also need to give ourselves permission to feel. Stifling our own emotions only causes them to become imbalanced and subsequently "rule our lives" later on, forcing us to address them anyway. It's easier to do it in the moment but sometimes we don't have (or make) time. Sometimes it isn't safe yet...
Now I reflect on the people I was drawn to when I didn't feel safe. I was drawn to people who were familiar even though familiar doesn't necessarily mean 'safe' but those people who remain a sort of constant offer a sense of stability, of safeness so we cling to them when everything feels like it's spinning. Why though would I cling to people that are always the same if I am intent on evolving? Why would I cling to people who were once drawn to me because of the chaos that was my life, because we resonated with one another at the time but as I strive to transmute everything I can they remain in old chaos... Chaos has its place, it's important for new beginnings but I'm talking about constantly digging and clawing their way into looking for reasons to be a victim, to complain, to pretend they have no power, no divinity. These people are emotionally unavailable for themselves and now they can no longer be emotionally available for me.
I feel great empathy for people in pain, who struggle, who are trapped in their own shame, patterns, etc. This is why I have had so many people like this around me. My reflex, my ego's reflex, is to help but after a year, or two or three go by and the cycles remain the same I have to look at my own unhealthy patterns or trying to rescue people who don't actually want help (and no one really needs rescuing), they want to complain, they want to stay addicted and trapped in their own drama, their stories, always looking for new ways to justify their chosen path of self-torment. People who want help ask for it and take what is offered and run with it, you can see them evolve, learn, grow and even begin to do their own alchemical process, whether they realize it or not.
Last night I dreamt I intentionally consumed parasites with the goal that I could purge things I needed to let go of physically and all it did was make me sick with the parasites AND what I was wanting to eliminate. If that isn't telling of my past patterns demanding to be recognized now I don't know what is. I don't NEED anyone else to help me purge my past, not anymore. I have grown into having the resources within that I need and I have a solid support system of people who do not become overly attached to me or their own dramas. I have people who refuse to become enmeshed in the past but instead fight to learn and grow, seeing pain as an opportunity to see what it can become with some TLC. If I am to truly become emotionally available for myself I need to not get distracted by the "woe is me" stories that come at me from those who seem to almost beg the universe for the next opportunity to reach out with another story of woe. I need to end my pattern of falling in love with potential regardless of whether it's a friendship or romantic encounter or the potential of a relationship of any kind. That isn't remaining present which is one of the keys to emotional availability. The most important thing I realized *for me* is that safeness includes emotional availability. Healthy vulnerability creates beautiful bonds and opportunities for growth. Healthy vulnerability allows... free of control, judgments, attachments, agendas. Healthy vulnerability holds space for the uncomfortableness to move and evolve into whatever it's meant to. If one or both parties doesn't feel comfortable being open and vulnerable in a healthy and productive way, free of criticism or judgment from one's self or another how can that truly be a safe relationship?
I found this excellent article that explains how to spot emotional unavailability early as well as to check in with yourself to make sure you aren't also the one that's emotionally unavailable: 10 TIPS TO SPOT EMOTIONAL UNAVAILABILITY
Micah's confessions and lessons that have helped with self-forgiveness, healing and acceptance.