Relentless: The Blog
That quote, translated as "I am still learning", is attributed to Michelangelo on his 87th birthday and could not be a more fitting phrase for my week, and my guess is for yours as well. It seems to me that we are all here learning multiple lessons, many times over. Just when we think we've mastered one particular hurdle, it presents itself directly in our path once again, only to cause us to stumble and fall.
My knees got skinned up this week as I too tripped over my own obstacles. It was a very familiar theme that I battled, that being fighting a losing battle. The title of my blog is by no means an exaggeration, I am relentless. I have held strong in the face of many assaults, but the hardest war ever waged has been within myself and has been about knowing when to disengage.
A relative's verbal onslaught returned me to that place in my mind where I charged the gauntlet that had been thrown down, with the tenacity of a bulldog. I become hell bent on engaging their irrational behaviors, hoping only to convince them of their outlandish and utterly ridiculous display. That quickly I am returned to the days of my childhood where I stood toe to toe with the insanity of my parents. Then it was truly about my survival. Today, time and space allow me to see the futility in trying to convince them of anything.
I had to walk away, from the bloodshed and from them. It's one of the hardest things I had to do because I am not a quitter and my heart had hopes of bringing them into a place of healing with me. The toughest lesson for me to learn, by far, is that a smart soldier knows when to turn and leave, not admitting defeat but instead displaying acceptance. In that acceptance the rage of a warrior is replaced with the grief of saying goodbye, cutting one of the last tenuous strings that kept us connected. It was ultimately a loving act not just for myself, but for them as well as I refused to continue to remain in conflict; playing a game that had only losers.
And so, I faltered for a few days on lessons not yet fully integrated, but the good news is that I was embattled for days, and no longer years. I have learned, and clearly, am still learning. I played out old energies within my mind but ultimately returned to my heart and permitted the tears to add another layer of healing to a time and place that is long gone. Today's family member had taken me there, but it was me that found my way out. I had come full circle, my dogged personality returning me to a moment of healing and truth, not a place of entanglement.
It is true, each and every one of us shall fall but the lesson is always, "What is the lesson?" With that spirit in mind we will remain victorious wherever life may lead us.
Be well and happy.
December 22, 2014
I believe we could all be proved culpable of misusing the human emotion known as guilt. We utilize it as a tool to mentally and emotionally flog ourselves for acts committed, or for having fallen short of what we think we should have done or been doing. It is the predecessor to shame and allows us to feed the cacophony of noise in our minds that speaks of our unworthiness. It seems we have learned that the deeper the degree of guilt, the greater our remorse and so we coddle and nurture it incessantly, often for a lifetime.
We've all heard, "You should feel guilty!" or, "I hope you do feel guilty.!" Guilt is our penance for perceived sins and shortcomings and we're merciless to one another as we dole out the well deserved punishment. We want people to feel badly, as if it will somehow tip the scales of power and justice back in our favor. Yes, there is a strong cultural belief that guilt is to be ingested and served at regular intervals lest we all forget what truly fallible creatures we have proven to be.
But what if...
What if guilt is simply there as a personal barometer, the warning light that flashes on the dashboard of your life? The signal that says, "I know this is what I did, but it's not who I am." It's a system's alert that foretells of a potential problem, and just like you would get your car inspected for any warning that appeared, this is your opportunity to do an internal check. If you ignore the indicator in your car, the problem will build and cause greater damage. The same is true of our inner world, left unexplored the issue will only lead to greater struggles and turmoil.
Guilt is making us aware that we may be behaving, or not behaving, in a fashion that comes from our true selves. It's offering us the opportunity to examine our actions and their motivations so that they may be in better keeping with our authentic expression. Once it has alerted us, it is intended that we reset ourselves within and move forward. You get your car fixed and the warning light goes off, the same should be true for our personal vehicles. It's not a device or tool that is meant as a standard method of operation in our cars, or ourselves.
Guilt asks us to learn from a situation or event, nothing more. Sometimes the lesson offered is that we really have nothing to feel guilt about. Many times we take on the "shoulds" of those around us or in our society. Again, the outcome is the same for it's allowing us to see that these are not our truths but the constructs of someone else's making and instead urges us to realign with our true expression.
Most certainly, guilt can lead us down the road of self compassion and personal growth when not wielded as a sword. I invite you to lay down your weapons.
Be well and happy.
December 15, 2014
Leading by Example
Recently I was made aware that someone very significant in my life was keeping something from me. No one enjoys this type of revelation. Initially, it was a bit disorienting for it called into question what I thought I knew about this person and our relationship. It also brought to the forefront what I did know to be this person's stumbling blocks. Interestingly, for me, I reacted in a calm and conversational manner.
As I sat across from this individual, I internally marveled at my ability to rationally convey my thoughts and feelings. I was honest, and at times vulnerably tearful, yet never shameful to them. In fact, I felt some degree of compassion for them. They had behaved in a deceptive and self serving manner, I did not skirt around that truth, but I also realized that I too have behaved in the same fashion at various points in my life. Who was I to judge them?
While I was grateful for my reactions in that initial phase, I knew there are always multiple levels of awareness waiting for our discovery. The next morning brought me to that new level. I woke feeling betrayed and foolish, foolish that I dared believe in this person and their love for me. When I took the time to identify what I needed I heard, "Comfort." Immediately following that word I saw that person's face as my source of the comfort I sought. A mental debate ensued as logic dictated that this clearly made no sense for they were currently my source of discomfort, but my heart spoke a different truth and instead called to them. That I could receive both from this person in this situation was a bit mind blowing to me. My old patterns dictate that when feeling hurt by another I banish them, seeking solace within as my boundaries go up. I had a choice to make. Logic or heart, old or new? Never one to give up, I found the courage to follow my heart, having not a clue as to how this would play out.
The beauty of the moment was that I asked for what I needed and remained true to myself on all levels. I truthfully conveyed my mixed feelings, fear and pain while receiving connection at the same time. Both experiences were what I needed at that time. I didn't pretend that I wasn't affected by their actions, nor did I deny my need for consoling.
Further along the self discovery trail I became very aware that I had felt similar feelings before. It was no great surprise to me, as these feelings tapped into what I have felt to be the greatest betrayal of my life. The memories remain vivid. This is where I was being led, to an opportunity to continue to heal that energy that still had a hold on some level of my being. So, I went there. It didn't feel good.
I was left feeling so very alone and grieving. Bonds felt irreparably and violently severed, with apathy following close behind. What I could not process many years ago was making itself known today. I didn't run, even though the person responsible for setting this release in motion was desperate to see me "move forward", as they so clearly stated in their desperation to alleviate their own feelings of guilt. The waves of the stone they had caste were still rippling through my life. Their emotions were their's to manage, I was focused on me and felt not the least bit responsible for where their lessons were leading them.
I sat with it. Old mental tapes whispered, the mental sirens of my mind tempting me into my own personal dark abyss. I felt the pull of resurrected coping skills from my childhood. I wanted someone to pay. I was at another fork in the road, allow myself to be blindly led down the familiar path of those past patterns and beliefs, or muster the strength once again to put into play all I have learned in my efforts of personal growth. Inside, it was a battle royale as each jockeyed for position; but I chose to return again, and again, to my new set of tools. It took great focus and effort as the behaviors of days gone by proved to be tenacious.
Several days into it all I found myself itching to pick a fight, with anyone. I began to ruminate on beliefs I held strong, targeted a person I knew would have a conflicting standpoint, and have an argument with them in my mind. These debates had never happened yet I was wasting time and effort on these imaginary exchanges. Yeah, I thought the same thing, "That is crazy!" So, I traveled deeper still into my psyche and sought the motivating factor for this irrational behavior. What I discovered was that I was seeking power. In my mental brawls I was seeking a sense of superiority and thus, a place of power above another.
The triggering event in my present life, and that from my past, had left me feeling utterly powerless and so, unconsciously, I was desperate to regain my footing. Once I had that insight I could make the mental shift, reminding myself what I have learned to be a truth, no one can take my power; then or now. I pictured both scenarios and saw myself standing in that truth, my power holding strong and firm. It didn't change their actions but it did allow me to create a different ending for myself. With that, I let it all go, feeling lighter and centered within.
What is the point of this deeply human confession, you may wonder. I'm using myself as an example to those that call into question the need to explore the past and its wounds. I'm answering the persistent cries of, "What good will looking at all that do for me? It won't change anything." In this instance, it changed everything for without visiting my past I wouldn't have the skills and knowledge to understand the present situation. I would never have been able to make the connections, stretch beyond and create anew. The entire process would have remained stagnant, a quagmire of trauma and drama. I took, and still seek, the lessons my past has to offer so that I might more consciously create my future. The barriers of our present often lie in the rubble of our past. Ironically, looking back can provide us with the insight necessary to move forward.
Be well and happy.
December 8, 2014
A New Level of Physical Fitness
No, I'm not about to advertise the latest physical fitness craze that has taken me from a size 22 to a size 0. Nor can I offer a magical pill that will provide all the benefits of physical exercise, without having to actually perform the exercise. At this stage of the game most of us are aware of the importance of diet and exercise as a means to maintaining a healthy body, but what often seems missing in that conversation is the intention behind those behavior modifications.
A session with a client led me to this moment of wisdom and understanding. Categorically, her age is defined as elderly. During our time together she shared with me all she does to maintain her physical health and what she offered was right on par with advice offered by physicians and experts alike. Following this information she began to share her strong need to take care of herself so that she wouldn't become a burden to her family as she aged. Again, not an unusual sentiment or statement but as she spoke the words I instantly understood that all she was doing to care for herself was based on fear. She was performing all she "should" be doing out fear of aging, fear of being a burden and fear of the process of dying. Fear was the basis of her actions, not love and respect for her body. What she feared, she would eventually manifest.
Sessions with clients often offer nuggets of wisdom for myself as well, and so this understanding caused me to pause and ask what my intentions are behind all that I do for my physical essence. In prior years I was merciless to my body, pushing it to do what I deemed necessary and never listening to the signals it was sending. Years of physical and sexual abuse taught me that my body was not my friend, and so I punished it in a way that reflected the abuse I had learned. My growth came when I had that understanding and ceased relentlessly driving my body, no longer abusing it.
Today, I continue to be mindful of taking care of my body through diet, exercise, rest, meditation, massage, energy work and mind-body connection. What I came to realize is that there is a lot of resentment behind all that I do for my body. I'm "doing" all the right things but the energy which I approach many of these practices feels like an obligation and is not based in compassion for my body. That, my friends, is the next level in physical fitness.
Of course practicing and utilizing all the tools available to us to care for our bodies is a phenomenal start, but how many of you grudgingly approach your exercise routine or lament the idea of adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet? I'd venture to say a fair amount of you. Perhaps the first step in physical fitness of any kind is asking our body what it needs, much as we would do for a struggling friend. When we listen to the answer and honor that which is offered to us, we develop a relationship with, and an approach to, our bodies that is founded in respect and kindness. With that energy we can nurture true health. When we approach our bodies from a place of fear or a sense of burden, that is what we ultimately manifest as those energies are the basis for our actions and are our driving force.
As I embark on this new phase of my physical fitness I invite you to do the same. Ask your body, "What do you need?" Wait for the response. Most times it's not going to say, "Another ding dong," or "Push me harder." What you might hear instead is that it doesn't need to get up at 5am every morning to pound out the latest fitness video. Perhaps it will suggest it might need more rest some days, or you'll feel a walk is in order instead of the intense workout. "Water," might be the answer to your question. Whatever the reply, approach and fulfill it with a tenderness that you would offer another in need. If we approach our bodies with that energy I know that we will all-
Be well and happy.
December 1, 2014
Services rendered through Anam Cara Kellie are not meant as a substitute for medical or psychological diagnosis or treatment.
It is recommended you see a licensed physician or health care professional for any physical or psychological issues you may have.
Anam Cara Kellie, LLC ~ PO Box 311, Lyndell, PA 19354