Uncaged And On The Loose

“I was wild until I was tamed by shame. Until I started hiding and numbing my feelings for fear of being too much. Until I started deferring to others’ advice instead of trusting my own intuition. Until I became convinced that my imagination was ridiculous and my desires were selfish. Until I surrendered myself to the cages of others’ expectations, cultural mandates, and institutional allegiances. Until I buried who I was in order to become what I should be. I lost myself when I learned how to please.” ~Glennon Doyle, Untamed

Opening myself up to the world (or in this case stunning Positano)

You often hear that people, around the age of 50, come to a place where they run out of fucks to give. (I’d apologize for using that turn of phrase, but that would be giving a fuck and I am working on not doing that.) People who have run out of fucks have stopped worrying as much about what they look like or what the neighbor’s think of their yard or how their opinions and choices and goals and dreams might upset others. They put down the baggage others have handed them, and they pursue their interests because their life tank is dipping below half full and they don’t know when they will hit empty. For most of my life, I’ve known that getting to the end of my life only to realize I have lived someone else’s life would not be an acceptable outcome for me. Still, I was conditioned from early childhood not to be a bother, not to stand out, not to choose myself, not to believe I mattered at all. So these two ideas, to take up as little space as possible and to live my life my way, have stood in opposition. The former has been my default setting since I was 3 because my parents taught me that if I wanted to be acceptable to others, I had to capitulate and do what they wanted. I learned that to be loved, I had to leave myself behind and be the me others could tolerate.

My parents chose themselves before they hit midlife. They chose themselves by ensuring that their progeny didn’t get in the way, that we fell into line, that we behaved and developed in ways that suited their wishes and caused them as little discomfort and annoyance as possible or else suffer the consequences of their displeasure. I learned I was meant to be a good girl and a blessing to them. When I spoke out, when I tried to assert myself, I was told I was foolish and labeled a selfish, self-centered, spoiled brat. This is how I became caged. I’m estranged from my parents now so I can heal and find the inner strength to live my life out loud, as the badass, indomitable woman I am and have always been deep inside. There are days when I fall back into old patterns and feel guilty and cruel for putting space between my parents and I because I know they are confused by it and because I am reminded by others that I am breaking a societal norm by turning my back on them as they near 80. But I am learning how to be my own person and prioritize my mental well being, even if other people don’t understand or approve. It’s absolutely okay to carve out a life for myself on my own terms. No one else has to sign off on it or agree. And, oddly enough, for the first time I am feeling the rush of confidence that comes with moving along my own path. There is power in relinquishing control of the state of others’ feelings. There’s strength in allowing others to weather their disappointment because it means I am finished disappointing myself.

I am working every day to step out of my comfort zone. I’m practicing asking for what I want rather than being told what that is. I’m practicing hearing my own voice say aloud what is in my heart. I’m practicing calming my mind and letting it know it doesn’t have to protect me anymore because I am safe now; I am brave, strong, and awesome exactly as I am and no one can prove otherwise to me. I’m practicing having a choice, or many choices, about how to proceed. And, yes, I am practicing too how to be at peace knowing others are unhappy with my choices. After a lifetime of trying not to make waves, I am learning how to break them, to rise above the surface and revel in my own agency. I’m practicing not giving a fuck in situations where others would tell me how to live my best life. As Glennon has advised, I’m done asking others for directions to places they’ve never been. They don’t know what they are talking about.

Yeah. This probably sounds selfish, and I’m am okay with that too. It’s about time I began advocating for my self and acknowledging my right to do just that. I will see those who truly love and accept me in the future. As for those who would prefer I stay caged in your expectations? Hasta la vista, baby.

Ten Things Yoga Teaches Me About Life

Life, like yoga, is all about the here and now.

Another night and the clock is rapidly approaching 10:30. Nearly a year ago when I started this blog, I promised myself one entry per day, sometime between midnight and 11:59 p.m. The minutes on the clock are dwindling down to my self-imposed deadline, and I sit here with an empty brain. An empty brain is good when you’re trying to fall asleep, which is what I should be doing. An empty brain is a bad thing, however, when you’re 1.5 hours from your writing deadline and no inspiration has arrived all day. Some days, it’s simply a struggle to get through. On those days, when I should be writing, I want nothing more than sleep. Today is one of those days.

To ensure that I get some sleep tonight, I’m going to go back to my mindset 1.5 hours when I was in yoga class. At the end of this coming January, I will have completed my fourth year as a practicing yogi. Hard to believe that four years ago I was so afraid to attempt yoga that I made my sister come with me to my first class. True story. Now, I can’t imagine going through the rest of my days without it. It’s not just exercise. It’s a metaphor for my life. I’m flexible and can bend over backwards, but I’m still not open. I’m strong and can stand on my head if I set my mind to it, but some days I am incredibly off balance. Yoga helps me find the peace I lack.

As I was cleaning up after class tonight, my mind was racing through the valuable life lessons yoga has taught me. So, I think I will share those tidbits here because…well, I need something to write about.

Ten Things Yoga Continues To Teach Me About Life (and trust me…I need the frequent reminders)

  1. The most important thing is to show up.
  2. When something doesn’t feel quite right, don’t force it. You’ll only end up hurt.
  3. Everyone is wrapped up in their own world. No one is paying attention to you, so let go and be free of ego.
  4. When things get tough, just breathe.
  5. We all have our struggles and our gifts. Mind your own.
  6. Try something new. It might not be your thing or it could be your new favorite thing. You’ll never know until you try.
  7. If something doesn’t serve you, let it go. No sense in lugging around worthless baggage.
  8. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Instead of criticizing yourself for what you can’t do, be grateful for all that you can.
  9. Discomfort is okay. Acknowledge it and let it go. It’s in discomfort that you find opportunity for growth.
  10. Wherever you are, be there.

Namasté.