“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.
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.
I have been in a place these past few days. More like these past few weeks. Tomorrow (July 4) will mark exactly five months from the day I took a leap of faith and submitted my resignation to my corporate job. I was making almost $90,000 per year with excellent benefits for myself and my son. And I decided to walk away from it without a clear plan of where I was going and a savings account that could be laughable. I just knew after ten years with the same company, doing work I was unfulfilled by and feeling a calling in my heart for a more purpose-filled life, that it was time to go. My soul had to find what it was looking for. I was teaching Yoga part-time and I knew if I had nothing else, I had that. Within three months of resigning I landed two teaching jobs, in addition to the classes I was already teaching part-time. I am now up to teaching six classes per week and take on substitute opportunities when they are available.
In the beginning of June, I signed on for a one-time weeklong teaching gig which, for some reason, left me exhausted and energetically depleted. It was my first lesson in the business of Yoga. Learning that I didn’t have to take every offer just because it seemed glamorous or would connect me with a certain level of clients. I have found it difficult to fully pull myself out of the space I felt I was left in after that gig was done. I have been questioning my decisions and my choices, more concerned about my finances and experiencing bouts of Yoga burnout. I know I am not alone in this and I find relief in this knowledge. I also know it takes every day work to keep a positive mindset and not give in to the feelings of worry and anxiety that can lurk in our hearts and minds.
Struggling with this feeling as I woke up this morning, my eyes landed on a book I purchased months ago but have not yet read. “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers,” by Debbie Ford. I picked it up and within the first few pages, I came across these words from the I Ching:
“It is only when we have the courage
to face things exactly as they are,
without any self-deception or illusion,
that a light will develop out of events,
by which the path to success
may be recognized.”
Once I read this, I knew Spirit led me to finally picking up the book. Instead of being hard on myself for what I am feeling, I am going to honor myself for having the courage to see and feel things exactly as they are. The road to peace comes with having honest conversations with yourself. I know I still want to serve. I still believe in my Light. But to be able to truly assist others with their healing process, which is the work I want to do, I have to know what my own dark sides are. I have to embrace my shadows. And right now, I am dealing with the shadow of questioning everything and feeling somewhat unsure. I know the answers will come as long as I keep moving forward with an open heart and a commitment to serve.
These are the spaces in which we are challenged to follow our own intuition. As the words from the I Ching remind us, when we accept things as they are, we learn and recognize the direction in which we need to go. This is when we truly begin to live an authentic life. That is my ultimate goal. And inner peace. Always inner peace.
Have faith that all will be will. This is a reminder to others as much as it is to myself.
Love and Light. Namaste. And Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
My Soul Mate. My Companion. My Life Partner. The One with whom I share the most intimate love.
You accept me for who I am. Quirky. Questioning. Talkative. Sensitive. Emotional. Energetic. Passionate. Wild. Free.
You accept my moments of co-dependency. You let me be when I choose to withdraw.
You support my Yoga. My dreams.
You understand my quest for peace, but calm me when I get anxious. Worried. Fearful. Some of the things I try to work through every day.
You call me at random times. Ask me on random lunch dates. Share my dream to travel. To create. To have a family.
You hold nothing back in loving me, and allow me to love you in return.
You love my son as if he were your own.
You encourage me to always love myself.
You accept my irrational moments. My moments of run-ins with my family. My debts. My mistakes from the past. My hopes for the future. My journey of trying to live in the every day present.
We love. We laugh. We live. We are.
Because we allow each other to be.
From the author: I was thinking of love today and how I’d like it to show up in my life. It took many years of living, learning and being “in love,” to truly understand that more than anything else, you have to be and let be. I decided to write the words down as a vision. Intentions I am putting into the Universe. Love self. Love others. And allow yourself to receive love in return.
“As for us, if things fall, we will reach for them. If things break, we will try to put them together. If loved ones cry, we will try to soothe them – because that is what we do. I have often reached out, and sometimes it feels like a mistake. Sometimes, I have been stung. But it doesn’t matter, because that is what I do. That is what we do. It is the reaching out that is more important than the sting. In truth, I’d rather be fooled than not believe.”
This is the closing paragraph from today’s reflection from Mark Nepo’s, “The Book of Awakening.” Man, it hits home.
It’s the blessing and the curse of being an Empath. Your heart makes you want to reach out and help. To reach out and love. But putting your heart out there also means subjecting it to the energy and actions of others. In a nutshell, your heart emotions can get hurt. In a word, it’s vulnerability.
As I continue to grow in life and along my journey, I realize I’ve always been okay with being vulnerable. It’s what drives this blog and probably part of what draws me to Yoga. A true commitment to the yogic path, both physically and mentally, requires a certain level of openness and willingness to come face-to-face with who you are. It’s the place where you learn that it’s more important to you to reach out, than it is not to be stung.
Like Nepo, I’d rather be fooled. Because it’s in those foolish moments where it all happens. Where you experience the dizziness and passion of love. Where you taste freedom – if even just for a moment. But enough to know that freedom is what you seek and what you won’t compromise. In a way, choosing to be fooled is what gives you the strength to take another step and keep on trying. It is how we learn to surrender to the flow of Life.