Notes on Courage
Inner work for outer action.
Without even realizing it, D and I had our first (what I hope is annual) Self-Love Day yesterday! Neither of us are super into Valentine's Day and with the whirlwind of special days leading up to the 14th, it's lost its remaining luster. (D's b-day, Christmas, Anniversary, my b-day = tapped out)
This year's Self-Love Day was all about purpose. courageous heARTS has been my purpose for almost my entire life. Before it became real, I figured it was my end game-- the thing I'd spend my life trying to achieve. Given that I opened the doors to the heART Center during my 30th year, I started to wonder what was next-- how else I could use my experiences and expertise to influence the world around me.
I started the day finalizing a grant for heARTS then moved on to other opportunities to influence. I'm going to be a guest blogger for MinnCAN this year and have been developing an idea for my first post. Yesterday I had an aha that moment that could really change the conversations that are happening in the world of education (at least, if people dig it), and spent some quality time further developing the idea.
Meanwhile, D has been dealing with some pretty significant work stress. As he has been processing with me, I've been able to practice the other vision I have for myself as a resilience coach. Yesterday we both felt triumphant when he was able to make meaning and FIND PURPOSE in this really hard situation. By paying close attention to the lessons hidden within the situation [his own strengths and skill sets, the needs that exist in the world, and (probably most important) the *joy energy* that whooshed through his body when all the pieces clicked], he was able to move away from resentment and into gratitude. Not only has he found the purpose, but he also has a plan-- and I'm super freaking excited for him!
My last act of self-love for the day was creating my sacred studio! We've been cleaning out lots of unneeded stuff since the beginning of the year and I had a vision for my studio space in the basement. It had previously been our litter box room along with the place all the stuff that doesn't belong anywhere in particular goes.
It feels so good to be giving attention and intention to my own creativity again! When I started heARTS, ALL of my art supplies went there. Understandable at the time, but looking back I wish I had loved myself enough to keep my own stash of materials at home. I deserve to have my own practice and giving to others shouldn't come at the expense of my own needs. I've been slowly learning that lesson, re-accumulating paints and brushes, and making space for creativity in my life again.
Our non-traditional lovefest was the perfect way to spend a Saturday. As we took care of ourselves, we found connection through our happy hearts. Like I said, I'm looking forward to the many years of Self-Love Day ahead!
I've been wincing a lot lately. Sometimes when I'm laying down, and sometimes while standing up. Other times, the sharp pain that shoots through my back is tied to completely random movements.
Finally, after much procrastination, I went to the chiropractor for the first time in way too long. I told her my "spot" was acting up. This spot in my lower back, just to the right of my spine, that feels like a ball full of sorrow.
Since my back brace came off seven years ago, I've done my best to ignore that spot. It's been this elusive pain that seems inescapable. During this first visit in way too long, the pain was as tricky as ever-- the questions of, does it hurt now? as my body is shifted and contorted, so often answered with no.
How is it that this pain can cause fleeting moments of crippling discomfort and then disappear in the presence of a doctor? They always say they believe me, but sometimes I feel like the girl who cried wolf. So I've spent the last seven years chalking it up to life. Accepting that a certain level of pain is just what life is like now. Penance, perhaps.
This time, when I went to the doctor, they had a new scan machine that showed how my vertebrae were zigzagging down my back. 150% one way, 200% the other--like a pin ball pinging off the sides of the machine. Official diagnosis? Your back is jacked up! (I love my chiropractor for her formal style and unwavering professionalism, it really makes for a much more pleasant experience!)
It's nice to have some validation that the pain is clearly real. I've got this image on my fridge as a reminder that I need to care for my back as much as I care for my heart.
This time my pain feels different. It's alive again, in an excruciating way. There are memories attached with this pain. The physical sensations and the limitations.
I'm pulling out the adaptive moves I learned so long ago. The log roll has been helping me out of bed, and there are some really smooth moves to help with getting dressed in the morning. I'm trying to keep from sitting too much-- which means make shift standing desks and evenings laying on the couch.
I'm trying really hard to care for my spot-- which amounts to some ill placed bones and a sprained muscle (or two).
Since my brace came off, I've spent so much time trying to heal my heart so I could seize the day, that I've neglected a critical element of life--a body that feels good. It's actually a really amazing thing to feel present enough to want a body that can help me live this extraordinary life!
So I'm seizing the pain right now, in order to truly live life to the fullest. Enough with feeling like I'm ninety, at least until I am ninety. (Later than that will do too!)
I'm going to leave you with a post from my old blog. I wrote it as I was transforming my brace into something worth keeping, titled Healing Embrace. Healing is truly a state of embrace--pulling the tough stuff close and giving it all the love you can.
My mom said “get rid of it”. How could I do that? This object represents so much.
Pain. Anger. Tears. Restriction. A bulls eye—a target. Baby steps. "You’re still wearing that?" Security—I am safe in this shell. Healing.
Instead of creating a burden for the earth, with something that will never decompose, I transformed it. It’s still a work in progress—just like I am—but it will tell my story, in ways my words may not.
Between writing grants and ushering in a new session of arts activities at heARTS, I've been re-engaging the world of Pinterest. I used the site a lot before heARTS was a really real thing and it helped me to fine-tune my vision and it inspired action.
In my journey down the rabbit hole, I found a pin from the Arts and Healing Network that quoted ME! I read it and was able to give myself a little pat on the back for the words. Those were good words I used!
For me, painting is a way to look inward, and for others I think art can be an opportunity to express themselves outwardly - something that might not come easily. Either way, I think the power is in the story. Artistic expression offers the opportunity to share parts of ourselves we might not otherwise share.
I'm still in awe of the fact that the Arts and Healing Network recognized me for courageous heARTS' work just 6 months after opening the doors! It's pretty *magical* actually. When it first happened, I was elated! I felt affirmed for all the hard work and it bolstered my heart to keep moving forward.
The public acknowledgement was also a huge wake-up call for me, because as wonderful as I felt, I also became aware of my tendency to shrink. My inner critic was quick to tell me not to be too happy or too open about it. People will think you are boastful and arrogant.
I've spent the past year, grappling with this tendency. Thanks to the loveliness of Liv Lane's Project Light Year (2015 registration ends today!) I've been learning how to shine. My tendency to shrink is quickly diminishing. Like I said in my last post, I'm ready to celebrate my life with abundant gratitude-- and that means all the amazing, magically extraordinary parts of it!
About the blog:
This space holds thoughts and ideas generated from my personal journey of healing and recovery from trauma, co-dependency, and white supremacy culture. Opinions are entirely my own.