In 2009 I lived in hilly San Francisco with no car and on the third floor of a huge house. I walked, took the bus or rode my bike everywhere. I was strong, mobile and in great shape. I took a bad fall and ended up having knee surgery. The stairs to my room were winding and narrow. For months I had to crawl on my butt to get up them. I paid for cabs or relied on the few friends I had with cars to get me around. The logistics of life in SF with a limitation of mobility is very challenging. I felt imposed upon by my body. I became depressed.
My mother had Lou Gehrig’s disease, so as a child I witnessed her daily practice of managing frustration as she lost her motor skills—one by one—fully aware of what the end result would be. At the time of my surgery, I was the same age she was when she was diagnosed. When a disease like that takes your parent there is always a part of you that awaits your own diagnosis. My healing process took longer than I expected. My mind kept playing tricks on me thinking that maybe my immobility was now permanent. Read more
I have been thinking about resistance a lot lately. About a month ago I began the process of writing a book. My friend flew down from Seattle a few weeks ago to help me develop the theme of the book—something I asked her to do. When she was discussing different publishers and speaking engagements it felt like a lot of pressure. My mind told me, “why is she trying to take this over?!” I was rejecting everything she said. When she challenged me on it I found that underneath that resistance was a lot of fear. Fear of exposure: What if this project is beyond my capabilities? What if it sucks and then people will see that I suck? Having this information in my head is one thing, but the audacity to put it in print or stand in front of people and claim that I have something to say about it is a whole other thing.
In the moment, my body felt like armor. My chest felt like it grew as broad as my upper arms and turned into metal. Nothing could get passed it. My head was hot and my forehead tight. I felt an instant aggressive outward energy toward my friend as if she was the cause of it.
It’s important to know what resistance feels like in the body, because did you notice what my mind did with it? It told me a story about my friend. It was an untrue story—a story that, if it were to have been believed, could have caused a big hullabaloo between my friend and me. Read more
There has been a theme of guilt running through my calls with clients this week. Lots of “self-flogging” for mistakes made in the past. Each time I’ve asked the question, “What’s it going to take for you to let yourself off of the hook?” It’s been met with long pauses or tears.
If we aren’t these horribly bad people we have told ourselves we are, then who are we? Maybe it feels too groundless to let go of the story of our deficiencies. It might be worth a shot though, no?
Imagine: what would life be like if you were to forgive yourself?
Are you familiar with the 5 Languages of Love? It breaks down how we like to give and receive love into five categories. I have found it to be such a great tool in learning about myself and the people I am in relationship with. I scored top level on Personal Touch–followed by Words of Affection and Quality Time–and zero on Gifts. It makes sense, as I am much more interested in connection than things.
I have been thinking a lot about touch. I come from a family of touchers–there was a lot of hugging, hair-playing and hand-holding in my house. I am a toucher. If I am talking to you one-on-one, I am most likely touching you. When I became a teacher, I had to train myself not to touch, because not everyone is OK with it. It has always felt restrictive to me. The older I get and the more time I spend teaching, the more I allow it to enter the classroom, because I learned that students are attracted to teachers that are like them, which means I most likely attract touchers.
To touchers, not having touch can feel like malnutrition. It can lead to depression. It can feel like the body is constricted and tight. Read more
When I discovered the concept of “the shadow” back in college, it blew my mind wide open. It answered so many questions about who I am, what makes me tick, and what gets in my way. It has meant everything in my quest for true self-knowledge. It has given me access to a level of compassion and empathy that I would have never been able to know without it.
Sometimes when I bring it up in conversation people have this “deer-in-headlights” look on their face as if I am about to ask them to reveal the darkest parts of their being; but that is not how I see the shadow. I love and respect my shadow. It is where all of my power resides. Yes, it is often referred to as “the dark-side”, which gets misinterpreted as “bad” or “evil”. More accurately it relates to what has yet to be illuminated: our blind-spots. By understanding my Shadow I can see into my blind-spots with superhero-vision. Read more
The other day I heard an interview with Stephen Cope, author of The Great Work of Your Life. He was discussing the process of finding one’s true calling. As someone who has dedicated the last 14 years of my life to exploring my true calling, I found this topic interesting.
I left a well paid career in search of some part of myself I had no idea where or how to find. I was drawn to the idea of committing my life to work that would put me in service of others and the greater good. When I told my brother I was leaving my job and enrolling in school to do something, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was he said, “People go to college so that they can make the kind of money you make. Why would you waste your time?” Good point! For me it wasn’t about money, it was about finding my Purpose. I will tell you it wasn’t easy. Read more