“I’m so scattered.” “My mind doesn’t process like that.” “I’m not business savvy.” “I’m not a business woman.” “I’m not sure people will take me seriously.” “I don’t know.”
These are all things (and then some) that I’ve been telling myself. I get up each day and physically do the work and take steps towards what I feel is my calling. But what is the point of working hard if your mind works against you? I’ve been working with a mentor lately and the focus has been on breaking limiting mental patterns. The “stuff” you tell yourself that you don’t even realize you tell yourself because you’ve been telling yourself the “stuff” for so long. As I was sitting in stillness to greet this day, my eyes fell on this Marley song lyric I have propped up on my bookshelf. “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.” We have the power to free ourselves from ego- and fear-based thoughts that keep us trapped and hold us back from fulfilling our purpose. The lyric is from “Redemption Song.” Take time to reflect. To meditate. To feel yourself come back into your body through a gentle yoga practice. Breathe.
Let your life going forward be a redemption song. Find someone who can help you recognize your patterns and who is willing to call you out every time you fall back on them. Take it from me. The day will come when you recognize the patterns within yourself and you check yourself on the “stuff” you tell yourself. None but ourselves can free our minds.
I know the title of this post is just about eight months old. Earlier today, I was flipping through some journal entries from last year (how is 2016 “last year” already?!) and I came across this one I wrote on May 23. As usual, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog. I’ve been quite busy creating “the free” I’ve written about in my postings over the years. There’s much I want to share and I keep saying I’m going to write a blog about my experiences, but that particular piece has yet to come to life. I’m going to keep it non-existent for now, because in time – and when the time is right – I will share the whole story of leaving my corporate job, plunging into teaching yoga full-time and making it my career, and everything else that’s happened in between. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but anything that’s worth it is never easy, right?
I’m going to write verbatim from my journal what I wrote on May 23, 2016. Perhaps it will resonate with some. Perhaps it won’t. I’m just following my spirit, which said to share this entry, so here it is:
My son’s last day of being 8. Reminding myself to be more present with him. Even though I am his sole present parent, I am still not always mindfully present. Rushing him to get to bed or a space where I can have quiet. Being on the phone (sometimes and necessary times are OK; but be more mindful). Often (not always) rushing out of his room for my time when he asks me to lay down with him for a few moments. Sometimes I am tired and hungry. Most times, I can make the time.
Yes, it does feel like a lot as the only parent caring for my son. (The story about his dad will be shared in the aforementioned blog posting). But I can’t let the anger and frustration of that define me anymore. I have to still do what I think or feel I would do if I was in a supportive and loving relationship or co-parent relationship. I think I’d have more ease if I had more support. I have to find and be the ease without the support.
One day my son will grow and not be the same sweet little boy he is now and I need to cherish each and every moment. Especially since he is my only one I have right now.
My strength will become his strength. My confidence his confidence. My love and peace his love and peace. Living my life purposefully so he will always be aware of the choices he wants to make to live his own life of purpose. Focus more on what is and less on what isn’t. Don’t focus on what isn’t at all. Live in gratitude for what we have and wait with open arms and an open heart for all the joy that is coming.
And it ends there. Maybe there was a message in that for someone. Or maybe this was just a reminder for myself.
As an interracial woman, I have often been asked the question, “What are you?” A running joke between me and my mixed comrades. I remember telling a social media friend once that I’m going to respond “an alien” the next time I get that question. I am not offended by people asking. I am often curious about people’s backgrounds myself. But the joke is in the “what,” as though I am not human. That is what I am. A human. A woman who is very much still trying to find her place in this world.
At 37 years-old, I continue to grapple with the question of not what am I, but who am I? This year of 2015 has been a very defining one for me. The biggest thing that happened occurred when I decided to take a leap of faith and leave my corporate job after 15 years of being in the professional workforce. I am focusing more on teaching Yoga and aligning myself with my purpose, which I know, above all things, is based in service to humanity. Leaving a corporate job, especially with not a lot of money saved nor a real plan outside of honoring an internal calling, is quite scary. More than anything else, it will show a person how they have defined themselves within a box. What’s scary is learning to think and live outside of that box.
In many ways, I have pushed past boundaries that were either self-defined or created by others. This mainly relates to my spiritual journey, where I was raised as a Baptist but explored Islam in my 20s, ultimately deciding to convert and be a practicing Muslim for two years. From there it was Yoga and a completely new spiritual path opened up for me. I pull Angel cards and believe in Angel therapy. I consult with spirit guides, although I don’t know exactly who my guides are outside of some who have transitioned from this life and who I feel are with me. I light Palo Santo sticks and sit in front of my meditation altar when I write in my journal. I believe in Universal law. My present spiritual station is not one that is defined by religion, but after years of continuos seeking, I feel closer in my relationship with God than I have ever felt. It is not easy embracing such a path when you’re the only one in your Christian family who is doing so, but I am proud of myself for honoring the course that continues to be laid in front of me. Through all my years of constant seeking and asking questions, I was looking for a space where I fit. And when I sit cross-legged in front of my altar with my incense burning, I realize I have found that space. But the question of “who am I?” still remains. The following is what comes to mind.
I am a hippie girl and a Black revolutionary. I love people. I love my people. My vibe tribe scattered throughout the world, sharing their love and light and gifts with others. Helping to create a better, more humanistic global society. I am my maternal family. My mother. My grandmother. My aunts. My brothers, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins. All shades of brown. Rooted with history in Texas, with an extension in New York and New Jersey by way of my mother. I am proud of my mother’s heritage. My Black heritage.
I honor my father. His family with European roots and scattered throughout New York, the Midwest, Pennsylvania, California and now Tennessee. I have less of a connection to these roots, but an unbreakable bond with my father and the stepmother and stepbrother he brought into my life. It was in this world where I learned of Bob Marley, The Beatles, The Eagles, Bluegrass music, Classical music. Woodstock. Politics. Peace. Hope. Yoga. This world shaped my ideals and some of the core principles of who I am.
Combined together, the love my mother and father once shared resulted in my existence. And with it came the elements that would open me to my world vibe tribe. It is all Love. It is all connection. It is all me. Who I am. A balance I am learning to embrace. An awakening and understanding that makes me feel a most subtle sense of peace and happiness
I have often tried to define myself as one of these things. A conditioned way of thinking that comes from living inside the box. But as I continue to grow and make choices that are more authentic and based in how I emotionally, physically and spiritually respond to things, I learn that I don’t have to be just one of these things. I am the sum of all my parts. Parts that I am learning are wild and beautiful. I am feeling myself living more and more on purpose.
I am finding the one thing I have been always searching for. I am finding me.
That is what I am. Human Me. Feeling and being free to be exactly who I am.
Another holiday season is behind us, and another new year lies ahead. We’re already 4 (almost 5) days in and we still have about 360 days to visualize, plan, incorporate and live the changes we want to see in our lives. Like many others, I have already thought about where I am right now and where I’d like to be by the end of this year. Some of the big transitions I want to see in my life are desires that have carried over from last year and the year before that. On one hand, I continue to remain excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and how the unknown will pan out. But on the other hand, I am working hard not to let into my spirit a sense of anxiety that seems to be lurking.
There’s different factors playing into the feeling of anxiousness. I had two luscious weeks off from work and was able to spend a significant amount of time with my family and loved ones. I always tend to get a feeling in the pit of my stomach when I’m hours away from returning to my job after being off for a long while and having to prepare for the regular 9-5 routine. It was hard to leave my family in NY and come back to DC, but I adjusted. I had a chance to spend quality time with a special someone, but now we are back in our individual spaces and I am having to adjust again.
I am fully aware that life is constantly about adjusting, but there are times when the adjustments challenge me. It is all a part of staying present and remaining focused on the work of detachment. Not living in the past and not worried about what the future will bring. But speaking to the latter point, there is also anxiety about what I have not changed; namely my career. At the end of 2012, I thought for sure I’d be in a different place by the end of 2013. At the end of 2013, I thought the same for 2014. Now here I am at the starting line again. The biggest – and most important – difference though, is that I personally feel different. Stronger. More mindful. Aware of the tools I have developed and am armed with as I grow and encounter and overcome challenges that have come about on my journey towards my most authentic self. Whereas at this time last year I would have been emotionally blindsided by feelings of anxiety, I can now see it coming from a mile away. That means thinking positive thoughts and reciting positive affirmations to myself. Instead of fretting about how quickly my two-week break has come to an end (something I really want to do), I am reminding myself to be grateful for the time I had to myself. The time that allowed me to nurture relationships that are important to me. And while I may not love my job, the work comes in reminding myself to be grateful that I have a job to return to. The transition into 2014 found me kicking and screaming about going back to work. This year I am focused on acceptance and gratitude. As my Yoga teacher and mentor always says: The quickest way to change a situation for the better is to constantly be grateful for it. It is my intention to approach tomorrow morning, and the hundreds of emails that are likely waiting for me, with a most triumphant attitude. Perhaps this will make the biggest difference in me being in a different place career-wise by the end of 2015.
At this time last year, I did not desire to be in a relationship and spent most of my time consciously not dating and making overdue investments in myself. Now I feel like I am ready and more adept at being able to truly coexist with another. I want to know what that will look like and when and how it will happen, and while I have “a feeling” there will be big changes in the romance department for me this year, I know that I have to approach this in the same manner as I am approaching everything else. Acceptance of what isn’t. Living fully in what is. While in the past I may have moaned and groaned about being single, I now know to fully embrace this time I have to solely dedicate to myself and my son. The freedom that comes with not being in a relationship allows me to consider new career options that I otherwise might not be able to if I had a significant other to think about. I have often understood in theory the importance of guarding our thoughts. I can now see the value and benefit of actually applying this theory to real life situations.
It’s funny. As I write this, I think about how I strongly desire change in my life. But my intention when I sat down to write was to channel the anxiety I feel about the changes that are occurring. I guess sometimes you have to talk through your own situation or step outside of it, to see it for what it really is. What I really want more of is the change. What I want less of is the anxiety. That has been the focus of my Yoga, learning meditation practices and grounding myself more in faith and spirituality. I also want to write more and so perhaps it is a good thing that I’ve done so on this 4th day of the new year. Especially since it’s been months since I last wrote.
“They” say the only constant in life is change. That statement is a juxtaposition within itself, but I get it. In the same way that I want to bring about change in my life, but am anxious about it once it happens. Even though change is a constant, it is also a process. And with every process there must come a level of patience. For me, it is having patience with my job, patience with my Yoga practice, patience with relationships and most importantly, patience with myself. I believe I have personally changed for the better over the course of 2014. I look forward to and embrace all that is to come with 2015. We’ll see what I’m writing about in 360 days.