BREAK SOMETHING

I had a breakthrough today.

I’ve had it coming for about five years, and today, finally, I had it.

I sat in a room with my ex husband and I looked at him without anger.

I looked at him without a taste of bitterness in my mouth, my jaw ungrimaced,  my arms uncrossed, and my brow relaxed.

I met him at eye level. Not above.

I saw him.

And this time, I felt compassion and peace.

Finally.

We were together for almost fourteen years, bitterly divorced just before my thirtieth birthday. Our marriage was lousy. All of it. We were terrible for each other, co-dependent maybe, toxic for certain.

I’d try to control our worlds and he’d drink. The more he drank, the more vigilantly I lived. The more I tried to fix and save him, to maintain appearaces, to be a perfect everything to everyone all the time and in every way, the more we both grew darker.

I hated who I let myself become in that relationship.

Our divorce was a relief, for both of us.

But it still stung, and I was angry.

Really angry.

I was fuming for what didn’t happen, indignent for what did, and resentful for what would never come to be. I was a bundle of negatively charged emotion, ready to catch flame at the slightest whisper of a breeze. Prepared to pass judgement and pounce at the first indication of things not going my way. Looking. Seeking. Keeping score.

Raw.

And I kept that fury in my pocket for a long time, allowing it to fuel me. Anger gave me drive and purpose and a mean determination to prove myself to the world.

See me? I am right. He is not. I am good. He is bad. I am best. He is worst.
I win. He loses.

But nobody gets a gold medal for these games. Not a single victor remains standing.

For two years I worked to come to terms with that. I tried softening. I took new approaches. I learned to better control my reactions. I poured over books, listened to endless hours of input from speakers and coaches, did exercises, wrote about it, reflected on it, modified my thought patterns, I was dedicated to making a change.

But it wasn’t enough.

I was still angry. Still judging. Still skeptical. Unwilling to trust. Preparing for the other shoe to drop. Waiting— to get hurt, more, and again.

I was carrying anger not just for myself, but on behalf of my children.  Holding space for things that hadn’t even happened yet, assured that it was my duty to bear the burden of their pain and thus perhaps prevent it from ever happening.

What a waste of living space.

I knew it. But I still wouldn’t let it go.

And then, last week, I lay alone in my practice in half pigeon, arms outstretched with palms open, ready to receive. Suddenly, unexpectedly, I felt my arms drop to the floor with a ponderous thud as though someone were pressing my body into the earth.

My hands were heavy.

Too heavy.

And I knew, with complete and utter understanding, that I was done. The anger had become too cumbersome for even me, with my very strong arms, to shoulder any longer.

I was ready to sever the anchor chain and move forward unburdened.

And so I did. And so I am. And so I will continue to do.

Anger does not serve me. It offers no function, produces no benefit and prompts no goodness in our lives. It does not have a place at the table in my heart.

The load has been removed from my care; I’m done. Five years later, and I’m ready to lead from a place of love.

Really.

Are you?

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Loose ends. Lack of closure. Abandoned home repairs. Partially completed projects. Half finished dirty dish piles in the sink.  A stack of papers graded but not entered and sitting on my dresser in between piles of (probably) clean laundry.

Boxes stacked precariously in makeshift pillars in corners and blocking doorways. Tax information collected but not filed. Court paperwork received without response. Bills opened and not paid. Questions and invitations sans reply.

Dangling prepositions. Incomplete sentences. Introductions without conclusions. Beginnings, middles, but, alas, no endings.

This is how my story is being told right now, in little spurts. It’s:

Life.In.Progress.

Usually I’m cool with that. I like not knowing how the story will end. I do, however, like knowing which book I’m reading and in which chapter I’m engrossed.

Also, I prefer a bit of logical organization to the storyline, granting me permission to follow along without quite so much effort.

I’m typically a rather organized person. I like calendars. And lists. And containers.

Clutter is not my friend. 

I can only handle messy for so long before I try to put it in a basket. With a label. On a shelf. In a cabinet.

However, in my pursuit to produce rapid and immediate change in my life, I’ve let a few things pile up.  I’ve been pretty busy getting happy, going places, growing and expanding. The things I want to show, I’ve been keeping proudly on display. The things I don’t? Well, I’ve just been shoving the door to my bulging closet closed every night and trusting it will all be alright in the morning.

It usually is, somehow or another.

I sort. I shift. I purge. I shift again. I change the direction of objects in motion.

But now, I have literally run out of closet space. I have no room left.

The repercussions of my deliberate avoidance are spilling out and interferring with my day to day interactions; I can’t keep stepping over them anymore.

Well then, perhaps I ought to put a note in to the author, shall I, and suggest she wrap a few storylines up?

I’m all done building intrigue and suspense, and rather than continue to write the anticlimactic theme that is becoming my reality, I say it’s time to craft the conclusion to a few of the big plot twists.

I created this mess. I can narrate my way out of it. I already know how.

First step?

Let go.

Duh.

Second step: Get.Shit.Done.

Like now(ish).

No wait. Like now, actually. Right now.

When overwhelmed with tasks, the answer is not to ignore it (believe me, I’ve tried). The answer is not to give a new name or a new home (and yes, I’ve tried that too). The answer is to just get started. Deal with it. Embrace it. Own it. Pick up your boxes, papers and feet and get moving.

The journey of 1,000 pages, err, steps, begins with the first action.

So here we go.

You know the drill.

Try. Fail. Learn. Repeat.

P.S.- Anyone wanna come over and help me unpack? I’ll pay you in jokes. Probably bad ones, but you know, if you can’t laugh at yourself. . . then others will.

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THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE

Guess who’s back, back again?

Bonus points if you can spout the next lines. Super bonus points if you can name that artist. Super super bonus points if you can change the lyrics to match my story. . .

I’ll give you a hint for the theme,

It’s pretty fucking happy.

I’m back from Africa and I’m kind of, sort of, mostly, positively BEAMING with joy and light, even through the jet lag and the rather abrupt re-entry into western civilization. I am all lit up inside. Inspired. Motivated. Clear. Determined. Grateful. Humble. Willing.

There now exist two new significant time periods in my life- before Africa, and after.

Life was pretty amazing before I left. After? After Africa, well, I think I have a new definition of amazing, because now it’s kind of, um, amazingER.

The incredible people, the united force of willing energy, the gentle and playful inspiration generated by authentic experiences, and the omnipresence of hearts and souls on fire, living their purpose, collectively created a transformation that leaves a mark in the timeline of our histories.

Things will never be the same.

They’ll be better.

And for everyone.

Really.

The work we did created a ripple effect. The beacon of light we brought and shared was catching; it’s spreading, like a wildfire, from our hearts and minds out into the world.

Consider this- when I am full, I have more to offer to others. The impact I can make is greater than when I am stuck within the walls of my own egocentric reality.

However, rather than viewing this fullness as something that can be contained, and thereby quantified and limited, instead, see it as a perhaps as cellular growth. The more I split and share with others, the more I too will expand and regenerate-

I give one and grow two more in its place.

Now consider that this is true for each and every person on the seva safari. Not just the 14 teachers, not only the 21 teachers-in-training, not only the organizations with whom we worked closely, not limited to the students of the schools where we worked, but everyone whose lives were and are impacted as a result of our interactions.

Each of us got a little bigger and a little brighter. In turn, we share that light with others, who share it with others, who share it with someone else. And on it goes.

Or rather, on it grows.

I’m not saying yoga is going to change the world (but it might). I’m not saying this ten day trip broke barriers and changed life as we know it (but it might have).

I’m not saying everyone had the same experience as I did, or that every single one of the people we met even remembers us this week (but they might).

What I am saying though, is that it’s the start of something big.

This yoga thing- it’s growing. This internal happiness gig, it’s changing lives. This confidence building, it’s real.

We are making a difference. Together. Empowered. Strong. Ready.

We will be back in South Africa, and soon. We planted a seed, made some big decisions and commitments and laid the foundation for change. From here, we grow.

Care to join us? Best take a look at your calendar, next Spring is looking rather. . . African right now.

In sum, to throw out another (dated) pop culture reference;

I’ll be back.

Will you?

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(I’M FEELING) HAPPY

I leave for Africa today.

Gulp.

By Tuesday evening I’ll be staring at a sky full of stars in the southern hemisphere.

Holy.Shit.

I’m not even going to pretend that’s not blowing my mind a little.

 

My heart is bursting at the seams. There is light shining out of my face. Out of my fingers. Out of my soul.

I.am.so.excited.

The obstacles I have overcome to get to this place, including but not limited to the three (very recent) attempts to leave North Carolina to get back to California to fly back across the country (fewer than 24 hours later) to jump over the pond to get to the other side (of the world) have been . . . exhausting. Challenging. A bit, um. . . unstable, uncertain, and unpredictable.

You know, kinda like life.

 

There have been moments when I was pretty sure I was going to sell my car to finish raising the required funds for the Africa Yoga Project. There have been hours where I was so overwhelmed by the work in front of me I chose to shut down and do absolutely nothing. There have been days where I felt irresponsible for leaving my kids and my students in the middle of the school year.

But I pushed through anyway. Because I can. Because I do. Because I know.

Every setback was resolved through release. Every obstacle overcome with a few creative pivots, some crafty adjustments, an open mind, and the willingness to ask for, and receive, help.

I’m not bullshitting you.

I could tell endless stories about what has occurred to make this happen. I could share anecdotes that reveal how I reaffirmed repeatedly that I was doing the right thing. I could go on, and on, and on.

But I won’t.

 

I’ll just share this one, actually. Because this one — it’s enough.

Last week during a conversation with my daughter we somehow landed on the topic of parents and children and how they are alike. This led to a discussion about her perception of me, as in, when she says she is like me, what does that mean? What does she think I am “like?”

Here’s the short version— happy. My kid sees me as happy. In her words, I’m happy “like almost all the time.”

I could not possibly ask for more. No way. No how. To me, this is the greatest form of validation I could ask for. My kids perceive me as happy. They can articulate to me the ways in which they see that manifested in our lives. And, more importantly, they can identify that it is a choice, one that I keep making every day in the way that I choose to live.

They get it.

My kids know I’m happy.

I know then, that they are too. I know then, that they will continue to be. I know then, that the work I’ve been doing the last few years— defining my purpose, listening to my gut, refusing to return to conventional, normal, predictable, or to take “safe bets,” has been a total win.

Mission. Accomplished.

Happiness is a choice. It’s mine, and it’s theirs too.

I’m leaving for Africa, and I’m happy.

I hope, most sincerely, that you are choosing to be too. Life is beautiful. Go and get yours.

 Try. Fail. Learn. Repeat.
 Be happy.

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