Feeling the Fear…Finding the Way

I have really missed this space. I miss writing. I tell myself almost every day, “I need to write.” And yet this space has continued to remain empty. For months, I haven’t shared a thought, a quote, an inspirational passage…nothing. I’ve had moments where words have hit me and I thought I would write something. But still nothing has come to pass. Sometimes this scares me, because I call myself a writer and yet, I am not writing. More so, I was told by my Godmother that my greatest success would be in writing. She transitioned last year and I now consider her as one of my ancestors. She had a very knowing way about her and was a sage in her own right. She spoke to the higher level that lies within me. A level she’d always known was there, but that I would eventually have to find my way to.

I’m still finding my way.

I digress about my Godmother because in my heart, I feel and believe that if she saw the writer in me, then it must be true. But if I am not writing, then how can it be my greatest success? I always state that I want my writing to be organic and not forced. But I wonder sometimes if I don’t write out of fear. As I grow older, more mature, more awake and more enlightened, I realize that I tend to fear that which speaks to my greatest potential. I know I am courageous, because for the most part, I have felt fear and moved forward anyway. This was made evident through moving to the Washington, DC metro area from New Jersey for grad school and not knowing a soul when I got here. When I got married and gave birth to my son. When I filed for divorced and became a single parent. When I trained to be a Yoga instructor and for Thai Yoga massage and Reiki I certifications. But it’s about taking things to the next level.

I teach one Yoga class per week, but have somewhat avoided taking on private clients, even though I have had my fair share of requests for private sessions. In being completely transparent, I fear that even with all my formal training, I am suddenly not going to know something or that I am not going to be able to help someone, or worse, that I could hurt someone. This fear translates into avoiding reading emails that I know have requests for private sessions or not really putting myself out there for obtaining clients. And the funny thing about this all? The people who I have done private yoga with just for fun, or who I have practiced a Thai Yoga massage or Reiki on, have all said the same thing: that I have warm, healing hands and energy work is exactly what I should be doing. What’s even funnier is that almost every day when I drive to work, I ask myself what else can I be doing? What is it that I want to do instead of spending so much time in traffic and constantly feeling like I’m rushing someplace? I ask myself as though I don’t know the answer, when answers have clearly been placed in front of me.

I’m still finding my way.

In my mind, I live on or near the beach. My home is an open, airy space with a room that is dedicated to Yoga, meditation and other forms of energy healing. When I wake up in the mornings, I do my own Yoga practice. I meditate. I read affirmations. I write in my journal. I am able to prepare breakfast for my son in a leisurely manner and I am able to drop him off at school without constantly trying to move him along and make him go faster because there is a looming clock to beat. Instead of sitting in and fighting my way through traffic to get to a place where I mainly sit behind a computer all day, I go teach Yoga classes. I meet with private clients. I write contributing pieces for like-minded publications. I share affirmations and writing pieces in my social media spaces. I am able to pick my son up from school and take part in his extracurricular activities. I am at peace.

At this stage in my life, I know enough to know that peace is what you make it. The true work of Yoga and meditation is being able to find peace and solace in the midst of even the most chaotic situations. But what I see in my mind’s eye makes my soul feel at peace. I have pictures that speak to this life on my vision board. I know what it will take to get me there, but it’s that initial first step I have hesitated to take. This is the fear I speak of. The fear that I know is preventing me from my greatest potential. The fear that I believe plays a part in my lack of writing. I am at Point A and I can see Point B. It’s the bridge in between that I have held myself back from crossing. On this side lies questions and wondering. On that side lies a life I envision for myself. It’s another experience of having to feel the fear and doing it anyway.

I don’t know if this particular blog post makes much sense. But I am now sitting here, proud of myself for having finally written something. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to write. I just knew I wanted to share that I have missed this space.

I felt the fear of not writing and I wrote anyway.

I’m going to keep that vision of the life I want at the front of my mind.

I’m still finding my way…



The Art of Forgiveness

"Forgiveness from others is worthless, if you can't forgive yourself."

“Forgiveness from others is worthless, if you can’t forgive yourself.”

I have been hearing a recurring message of “letting go” lately. Whether expressing frustrations to friends, calling my mother with emotional meltdowns or talking about life challenges during a monthly meeting of the women’s social group I’m involved with, the advice given has been the same: “You have to just let it all go, Rachel.” While I understand “letting go” in theory and believe I have been working on that for the past few years, especially through therapy, I find myself wondering: what does letting go actually look and feel like? One response I recently received was quite simple. Forgive others for any hurt they may have caused me. And most importantly, forgive myself.

These past five years have been somewhat emotionally tumultuous for me. I chose to walk away from a marriage and as a result, went through a pretty sticky divorce. I became a single mother (or “co-parent,” which I try to use more often) in a state that is 4 hours away from any of my family members. A year after my divorce, my house caught fire, causing my then 3 year-old son and I to live in temporary housing for 9 months while our home was repaired. I lost a very dear and close first cousin to breast cancer at a relatively young age during that same year. And while I did find love again, that relationship came to an abrupt end last year shortly before I was in a car accident that kept me out of work for two months. I don’t state these things as a means to say that I have been through anything worse or more difficult than anyone else. In fact, when I hear stories of other people’s life challenges, or a news story such as the tragedies that took place in Newtown, CT., I use that as a perspective for my situation and I remind myself that things could always be worse. Yet, in working on letting go, I’ve had to ask myself if I’ve really worked through these challenges or did I just put them down somewhere and get into survival mode?

I don’t harbor any animosity towards my ex-husband or the man who I was most recently in a relationship with. I am not angry at the Creator for having to lay my cousin to rest. Although frightened, I was not angry that my house caught fire or that I now have a car note as a result of my paid-off car being totaled in the accident. I believe I have made a conscious effort to look positively at the lessons learned from all of these experiences. Admittedly though, there are days when something will trigger a memory and I find myself hitting an emotional wall. For example, my ex-husband and I have to work together in the best interest of our son. Married or not, co-parenting is no easy thing, and there are days when we just do not see eye to eye on something. When those moments flare up, I find myself going back to the moments in our marriage when I was most unhappy. I have tendencies of reacting to something in the past, even though I am dealing with my ex-husband in the present. I also find that I tend to blame myself for making the choice to get married, for if I hadn’t done so, then I would not have been faced with the choice of leaving that marriage and ultimately subjecting my son to a one-parent household (that caught on fire). I have no regrets whatsoever about bringing my son into this world and as I have continued to work on myself, I have allowed myself to better understand that without my ex-husband, my son would not be the exact person he is. I just have these moments where I am very hard on myself about the choices I made for my happiness and the impact they have had on my son, even though I know in my heart that my happiness is the best thing I can give my son at this point in our lives. So why do I still feel frustration at times? Why do I have moments where the hurt from a past situation will be as vivid today as it was when the moment happened? Haven’t I forgiven my ex-husband and my now ex-boyfriend? I don’t wish them ill will and in fact, I still want the best for each of them. I think this is where forgiveness of self comes in.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I can be my own worst critic. Whether I am always consciously aware of it or not, I tend to place very high expectations on myself and when I feel I’ve fallen short of those expectations, I can be extremely hard on myself. While there was a point in time where I solely blamed my ex-husband for the demise of our marriage, that turned into me blaming myself for getting into the marriage in the first place. But as I continue to reflect on the notion of letting go, I am beginning to better understand that without these life experiences, I would not be the woman I am today and the woman I continue to become for tomorrow. I wouldn’t know all the things to consider when making the decision to join your life with someone else’s through marriage. Without the fire, I wouldn’t have gotten all the repairs I desired for my house (but couldn’t afford) before the fire happened. Although the car that was totaled was paid off, it was also coming to the point of being on its last leg. Without the accident, I don’t know that I would have received the same value for that car had I continued to drive it and then tried to sell it or turn it in on my own. I also would not have gotten two much-needed months off of work as a result of injuries caused by the accident. I am not sure that I have a reasoning for losing my cousin to breast cancer, but I will be forever moved by the grace and dignity she exuded during what she knew to be her final days. That is something I will always carry with me. I just have to remember to forgive myself. To let go of the person I was when I made some not-so-great decisions, while accepting the person I am as a result of those decisions. My therapist most recently reminded me that some of these life experiences will never really go away from my memory. They are a part of who I am and it is only human if I have a moment or even a day of reflecting on them and further allowing myself to feel the emotions of those experiences. The important thing is not to get stuck; in the past, in being angry at the person or situation that hurt me and in being hard on and unforgiving towards myself. In her words, she simply said: “It will all be okay.”

So I am learning to “let go” through the art of forgiveness. And like love, forgiveness must start within our own individual selves before we can extend it to another. I know that I have to go easy on myself and not be my own worst critic and friend. I understand that sometimes, I will have to learn to say “no” as a means of saying “yes” to me and honoring my needs. Before sitting down to write this blog, I did a quick Internet search of quotes on self-forgiveness and I came across one that stood out to me the most. The author is unknown, but the words are quite powerful: “You can’t undo anything you’ve already done, but you can face up to it. You can tell the truth. You can seek forgiveness. And let God do the rest.”

“Let God do the rest.” My beloved mother’s mother, my Grandmother Ruby, who transitioned just a few months before my son was born in 2007, used to say something quite similar: “Do your best and let God do the rest.” Perhaps this is why I was so drawn to the quote I found through my Internet search. I cannot undo my past, but I’ve been doing all that I can to learn from it, and I try to be honest and truthful in sharing my experiences with others through conversation and this very blog. I am working on better forgiving myself. I suppose that is all I can do as I continue to put one foot in front of the other on my life’s journey. And the rest…well, according to the unknown author and my Grandmother, is up to God.

“You are yourself, and as you are, you are perfectly good. Accept yourself.” (Osho) Love your self. Honor your self. And always…forgive your self.

Until next time…