“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 have been thinking a lot on self-worth lately. Particularly when it comes to relationship spaces. I struggled with posting this at first, because I don’t want to seem like I’m pushing a subliminal message to someone, nor do I personally want to put out “I’m good by my damn self” energy to the Universe when I know my heart desires true companionship.
But this is not putting out that energy. This is more a declaration of understanding who I am. My value. My worth. As a human. As a woman. And it’s been weighing on my heart to share this message. For so many years, I was more willing to remove my crown than I was to walk away from situations that weren’t healthy. Hell, there were days where I couldn’t even recognize that I was wearing a crown. Yes, I was loved growing up. But it was just my plight to try and fill myself up with love from the outside. It has only been in my later 30s that I finally started seeking, learning, and truly understanding real love that comes from within. I’m 38 and I’m learning to be ok with uncomfortable conversations where, in the end, the conversations are based on defining my worth and choosing me. I’m not perfect and I know I’m not. I’m strong in will and mind. I can be stubborn. I have an opinion. An educated one at that. I’m passionate. I’m intense. I’m a Scorpio woman. I’m emotional. But I damn sure am worthy.
Honor your self. Accept who you are – the good stuff and the rough edges. Choose you. Decide who and what is worth your time and energy. Learn when to stay and when to walk away. And this is not just in relationships, but in Life. Wear your crown proudly and be the Queen you are. I myself am learning to get more comfy with my own.
Acknowledging my fears.
Speaking my truth.
Standing in my truth.
Learning my truth.
Let it go.
I don’t know.
Keep moving forward.
In spite of…Keep loving.
Following my heart…
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.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change those things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.”
I’ve heard of and read the Serenity Prayer many times in my life. As one who can have a tendency to be anxious and worrisome, my dad has often said to me, “Rachel, remember what the Serenity Prayer says. Only focus on what you can change.” He’d ask me if I really understood what it meant and I would answer affirmatively because in theory, I did understand it. But as I spent a few moments in quiet reflection in front of my meditation altar this morning, the words really hit me. I have my beloved Grandmother Ruby’s framed copy of the Serenity Prayer in the center of my altar. She passed away seven years ago, and of all her possessions, this was one of the things I really wanted. I remember exactly where she hung it in her bedroom. She lived to be 101 years-old, and I imagine that the Serenity Prayer played a key role in her living such a long and fulfilling life. I look at the words every day, but this morning I felt them sink in and touch a place deep in my spirit. I read the words over and over to myself until I was brought to tears. In my mind’s eye, I saw a parenthesis behind “cannot change” that included the word, “people.” I saw another parenthesis behind “those things I can” that included the word, “me.” I already knew that we cannot change people, but sometimes there can be a gap between what we know and really making an attempt to apply the concept to our lives. I acknowledge there is a gap within me.
I came to my meditation altar this morning heavily contemplating a certain relationship in my life. This person has been in my world for 15 years and as such, there have been plenty of ups and downs. We were friends, we were married and we now share custody of a beautiful 7 year-old little boy. I’m only one child in, but my experience so far has shown me that co-parenting can be one of the toughest relationships to navigate. I often find myself challenged by the way I do things as a parent vs. the way my ex-husband does things. Like my knowledge of the Serenity Prayer in theory, I have been aware that I can place high expectations on my ex-husband, but it wasn’t until this morning that I allowed myself to feel it. As I read the words over and over, I fully acknowledged that I can’t change him. I can’t make him be the parent or person I think he should be. I can only change myself and how I allow our relationship to affect me. I see clearly now why my dad always said that my life would be so much easier if I truly lived with the Serenity Prayer as my guiding principle.
As I went into meditation, my mind being what it is had a million thoughts running through it. I’ve learned that as thoughts arise in meditation, we should acknowledge them and then simply let them go. Yet one thought in particular just kept popping up. And oddly enough, it was a thought about a phone cord on the telephone I use at work. Strange, I know. But instead of trying to force the thought out of my mind, I allowed it to pass through. Once it did, it made total sense.
When my company moved offices a few years ago, we received new telephones. Over time, the cord on the phone I’d gotten became tangled and gnarled. It was a pesky little annoyance, because it prevented my phone from hanging up properly on the receiver. At times, I’d try to untangle it but then would become frustrated and just left it as it was. The company eventually moved offices again and the tangled cord came with me. We moved from a space where I had my own office, to a location where many of the employees, myself included, were collapsed into an open workspace. “Cubicle World,” as many of us call it. As such, a co-worker who has become a good friend was stationed behind me and had a bird’s-eye view of my telephone cord. She saw me fussing with it a few months back and asked if I ever put in a request to have it changed. When I told her I hadn’t, she said, “Here, let’s try something,” and she proceeded to go to another workspace that wasn’t being used, took the handle off a phone with a perfectly fine cord and replaced my handle with the new one. Then laughing she said, “See? Isn’t that better?” We shared a few jokes about it and moved on. What I didn’t realize at the time was how profound that gesture was.
By allowing the thought of the phone with the tangled cord to pass through my mind during meditation this morning, it landed with an eye-opening realization for me. Just as I replaced the handle with the tangled cord, I can apply the same concept to relationships in my life that have become tangled or convoluted. I can either keep fussing with trying to detangle things, or I can simply stop and replace the frustration with an untangled state of mind. Replacing the telephone cord on my relationships, if you will. It can be as simple as it was when my co-worker/friend replaced the handle and cord on my phone at work.
When I came out of meditation with that thought in mind, I read today’s reflection from “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo. It’s about allowing to come to surface all of what’s growing underneath the “stuff” that we’ve always known, been or done. We have to learn to let the old skin shed so a new and refreshed approach to life can make its way through. In Nepo’s words, “Little deaths prevent big deaths.” I do understand that. And not just in theory. Peeling back layers, acknowledging our egos and admitting to ourselves that perhaps we are not always right is not an easy thing. It’s downright vulnerable and scary. But it’s so necessary if we are to move into higher levels of consciousness and bring ease into the journey of our daily lives.
It was after my meditation and reading Nepo’s reflection, that my eyes fell on my Grandmother’s framed Serenity Prayer. Then I looked at her picture that’s just off to the side of it, and I said out loud to her, “I’m trying, Grandmother.” I can only hope to be as wise as she was.
Wisdom is best derived from experience. I cannot change my past or the decisions that led me to where I am today. I cannot change the people in my life who I love or who I’m tied to by circumstance. But I can make the choice to have a more peaceful coexistence with it all from here on out. I now better understand the difference.
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…