Receiving Boot Camp

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While I was pregnant, I heard time and time again, “Ask for help.” I said, “I won’t hesitate to ask.” In my head there was “But I’m going to do as much as I can all by myself.”

I wasn’t resisting the idea of people helping so much as resisting the idea that I am worthy of receiving help. I was also hesitant to open up and be vulnerable. Being vulnerable felt harder then receiving although the two are deeply connected for me. I was able to practice receiving in ways that felt safe for me.

Learning to receive, in some ways, is about relinquishing control. Allowing love, kindness, help, whatever it is to flow to you and into your heart.

After the insane delivery of my son, I was pretty much incapacitated for days. I came home in slightly better shape. I’ve spent since then trying to heal the physical issues that resulted. For as awful as it all was, but it has gift moved my ego and the stories about my worth and what receiving help means out of the way so I can receive.

I am by far a master at receiving but it comes with so much more ease today than yesterday. Receiving, like anything else, is a practice. Every time I allow something in, like someone’s kind words or them folding the laundry, I feel a little fuller and more alive. I’m more open, vulnerable, and available. To be able to feel those ways in among everything else is pretty incredible. To all those who’ve been helping me open and receive, I cannot thank you enough! 📷: Frederic Forest

Fragmented

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My body feels fragmented. My mind feels fragmented. I’m a mom to a 3.5 month old… My every moment is fragmented. I knew being pregnant and his birth would change me but there was no way to know what exactly those changes would be or how I’d feel about it all.

There are moments where I wouldn’t change a thing and just love it all. There are moments when I ask myself why I thought this was a good idea. Many tears of joy and many of feeling not good enough have been shed. This experience is asking me to go deeper, stretch further, and step into myself more than ever before. But I question who is this self I am stepping into.

His birth was incredibly traumatic. I lost more than half my blood volume and needed a transfusion. I almost died. Having a baby changes you enough but adding seeing my mortality has shaken me to my core. I look in the mirror and wonder who is looking back at me. Is it still me? Am I the wife, friend, daughter, sister, and healer I was before? Am I still Viki?

The answer is no. I’m not and I won’t ever be her again.

I am mourning the loss of pieces of myself as I was. I am reconnecting to my body which has proven she is a force to be reckoned with. I am doing things I never thought I’d do. I am experiencing life in a completely different way. I am putting the mosaic that is me together slowly but steadily with love and compassion.

Photo credit: Rosco Flevo

It has been a long time

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Since I have given much thought to my business lead alone sat down to do any work.  I don’t even remember the last time I did a reading for someone or taught a Pilates session.

By the end of November I was totally consumed by being prepared for my son’s arrival and all else fell away. Part of me feared what that meant for my business and even for myself as a person. I had only ever been consumed by my work before now. To feel so drawn away from it was scary yet oh so necessary.  My energy was needed for creation not of a new program but of a space for this little boy to make his way to the other side of my womb and into our lives.

His birth went very far off the course we had hoped for but regardless I had created the space needed for it to be whatever it had to be.  (I’ll be sharing his birth story and the lessons I learned in the future.)  I had no time to even considered my business afterward until this morning.  As he lay asleep snuggled against my chest, I had a moment of panic.

Holy shit!

Do I even have a business anymore? Will anyone remember me? Will I ever do another reading or teach another class? How long will it take me to get re-established?

As all of this and more streamed through my mind I received a text from a client looking for support.

I let go of the breath I had been holding and said thank you to the Universe.

A moment later I realized my business hasn’t gone anywhere.  My business couldn’t have gone anywhere because it is an extension of me and, in some ways, a separate being. I can come to my business at any time and say “Hey! Let’s do this thing!” And that is exactly what I just did and then I sat down at the computer and let these words pour from my fingers. It was that simple.

We let so many things in life fall away and many of them can be brought back. It isn’t always the easiest process but it isn’t impossible. I’m back and ready to help you reclaim the things you’ve let fall away or support you in new endeavors. Whatever it is, I am with you. Just reach out.

Grief Has No Expiration Date

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For a very long time, I fought against the reality that life doesn’t slow down or stop because something has happened or is happening. The death of a loved one or a tragedy of epic proportions wasn’t enough to make it all stop.  Demands were still present even though I had no emotional supply to meet them with.  It felt like the Universe was out to make my life as hard as possible and there was no way around it. I was thinking, reacting, and living as if I was powerless over my life and myself and was a victim of my circumstances.

We all have been wronged, hurt, and victimized by someone or events in our life.  Those people and events matter because they shape who we are, how we see the world, and how we relate to others but they aren’t the whole picture.  It isn’t conscious but we get caught up in what has been done to us.  We fail to see where we have a choice and can make a change, often times, because we aren’t taught how to handle the feelings around those situations.  Rather we are told directly or indirectly to stuff it down, pull up our big girl/big boy underwear, and keep moving.  Living with unacknowledged hurts makes it easy to see the world as out to get us.

Our part in life, almost always, boils down to how we handle what has happened, our feelings, and how we want to change those things to live a more full and happy life. During the hardest times, we get to choose how we handle life happening around us.  Seeing our options isn’t always easy and there are times when we are just going to feel like a victim of circumstance. It can be at those times that we feel like we just have to make it through whatever it is. When the dust settles, we then can examine what we want to do now and how we want to be.

About a week before the one year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing, I saw this Glennon Doyle Melton quote over and over again in a variety of places:

“Grief is love’s souvenir.  It’s our proof that we once loved.  Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world: Look! Love was once mine.  I love well.  Here is my proof that I paid the price.”

From when she died last September until now my life has changed dramatically.  All the changes have been wonderful but change, regardless if we categorize it as good, bad, awesome, shitty, etc. takes time, energy, and emotions.  I didn’t feel like life was happening to me or coming at me; I did and continue to feel like an active participant in my own life. But the first time I saw this quote I immediately felt guilty and ashamed.  I let life get in the way of properly mourning my grandmother.  I had a moment of wanting to tell the Universe to back off, to stop giving me things to work on and deal with, because I had lost a year’s worth of time to grieve a significant loss in my life.

The second time I saw the quote it hit me hard that all the major life changes I’ve been going through are ones I never thought about doing without her.  Add on more guilt for not actively grieving her passing.  Add it on because I know how wholeheartedly she would have supported me during these challenging times.  I know she would have shared her wisdom with me for getting through these challenging times with grace.

The next time it popped up, I barely had a moment to acknowledge this was the third time I was seeing it before more guilt and shame rose up.  I felt it all come up and took a moment to ask myself why I am seeing this quote again and what all this guilt and shame was about.  The answer was I am feeling this way because of who my grandmother was, is, and always will be to me.  She was a force of nature and a source of never-ending unconditional love, support, and guidance.

How could I have let days go by without even giving her a thought or two? How did I let life keep me from carving out time to grieve her?  How can I sit here and say she means so much to me when I haven’t done anything to honor her?

But I have been grieving her all along.

I’ve thought of her every time I find a frog in our pool and take him/her to the creek by our house.

I’ve felt her presence every time I see a cardinal in the trees outside our kitchen window.

I’ve cried every time I look at the picture of her holding me as an infant on our refrigerator.

I’ve seen her and my grandfather in many things I do and all that my sister does.

Long ago I stopped thinking of grieving as a linear process.  There are no stages but rather our feelings.  No formula for working through it; there is a fluidity to it that can’t be contained.  There isn’t a right or wrong way.  The ways in which we mourn are unique to us and each loss.  Grief is a gift with no expiration date.  We don’t have to open it up right away. We don’t even have to open it within weeks, months, or years of our loss. We can look at it in its entirety or peek inside to catch a glimpse of what is there.

I am grateful for all of these aspects of grief. There is no want to avoid the feelings of loss because they are, as Melton says, love’s souvenir.  How she loved me was beyond well and that love will always be mine. My sadness can stay as long as I need and I know it will always be present to some degree.  I embrace that fact because it is in honor of the significance of her not being here.  I can also embrace it because I know some of my sadness will transform, when it is meant to, into happiness for the time we had together and the connection we still share.

This piece is written in loving memory of Betty Lou Arnold.

Slow Down September

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When I saw this title on an Instagram picture the other day all I could think was “Absolutely brilliant!” This wasn’t the first “slow down” message I received from the Universe but it really drove the point home for some reason.

We’ve been hustling our asses off since January and the joke has become we will be the only couple who’s life slows down with the birth of their son.  We will have no choice but to change our pace and, for us, it is a change we are inviting in with open arms.

Realizing what relief came with that thought gave me pause because it means we haven’t stopped since January.  We have hit one item on our to do list after another after another.  We are doing it all with joy, smiles, and laughter but we are still doing a lot all the time.

I bet most of you are, too.  Can you see where you’ve been doing and doing too much?  Where you haven’t taken a moment to take in all you’ve accomplished?  When your body is saying “break please!” but you keep plowing ahead?

We measure our worth on any given day based on what we checked off our to do list.  If we aren’t doing, we feel we are being lazy and worry things won’t get accomplished.  I felt this way for a really long time and the desire to not be seen as or feel lazy drove me to push past many breaking points. All I got from those trips past were sickness, feeling drained, and even more pressure to get back up and get back to it.

Since our move at the end of April and being pregnant, I have been working on incorporating slowing down and not doing into my daily routine. Given my statements above, it obviously hasn’t become a perfect practice but perfection isn’t my goal.  I am not here to be the sidewalk superintendent of my life yelling out directions and barking at any turn off course from the to do list.

My goal is to be, as one of my mentors says, a compassionate observer.  A compassionate observer doesn’t criticize or demand but rather sees the full range of human experience as neither good nor bad or anything in-between.  It is to witness myself in situations and see where I have grown and where I can continue to grow.  It is do so with love and understanding that we won’t get it right all the time and we won’t be able to do all the things every day.

I am here in this body to experience life and to learn many lessons.  One lesson I am learning is that life has peace, quiet, and ease to offer just as much as it has things to do, places to go, and people to see.

I am so much more mindful of when I am overdoing it and identifying when I have been on the mental crazy go round for too long.  When I feel this, I say to myself “Time to stop the ride and get off.” And that is exactly what I do.

I sit and I breathe.

I notice where my breathe is going and where it isn’t.

I listen to my body, asking her what she needs, and respond appropriately.

I am always doing even when that appears, by traditional standards, to be doing nothing.

It takes 2 maybe 3 minutes.

It is that simple.  Pause.  Take a breathe or two or ten.  Go back to the task at hand or move on to the next one.  I think you’ll find you do so with more ease.

Slowing down is an act of self love.  It is a simple way to care for our bodies, minds, and spirits.  This concept is what we will be working with in all of my September classes and circles.

I invite you find ways to change your pace this month and to love yourself with each change you make.  If you’re having trouble getting off the crazy go round and making a moment of peace happen for yourself, reach out to me and let’s create a slow down plan together.

Brooklyn Was My Chrysalis

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In the beginning of this year my husband, Michael, and I decided it was time to say farewell to Brooklyn and move to New Jersey.  We spent months looking for houses on the weekend and getting our apartment ready to sell during the week. Somewhere in the whirlwind of simultaneously selling our apartment and buying a house, Michael got promoted and the baby we had been trying to conceive for the last year made his way into my womb. I found out I was pregnant three weeks before we were closing on both places and moving.

In the midst of making all of our major life changes at once, I didn’t have a chance to acknowledge what leaving Brooklyn meant for me.

As the months have gone by, I’ve noticed every time I see a butterfly I think of Brooklyn. Seemed weird to think of the borough where butterflies aren’t abundant until I realized butterflies are the first creature that comes to mind when we talk about transformation.

Wrapped in the safety of the chrysalis, the caterpillar breaks itself down and digests all of what it had been, leaving behind only what it needs to become a butterfly.  It emerges looking completely different and with new abilities.   It goes in one creature and comes out another version of that same creature.

Brooklyn was my chrysalis.

I always smile to myself when I think about how I had never been to Brooklyn before meeting Michael and yet it became, in a very short period of time, a personal slice of heaven.  I started to live life differently than I had before.  I explored our neighborhood and got around on the subway.  I was interested in events and fell in love with the flea market.  I found peace in the chaos of the city and a love with Michael like I had never known before.  I felt different and somehow the same.

Shortly after my move to Brooklyn I remembered something I had learned in my 20s after moving out of my parents’ house: You can change your location but your issues don’t stay in your previous zip code. They were already packed up and ready to go before you even thought about moving, and during times of transition, those issues tend to get exposed because it is challenging to make it to the other side of change while keeping our grip on the veil we’ve held over them.

When the veil slips, we have the choice in what to do next.  We can choose to keep replacing the veil knowing that it is going to slip again or we can invite our shadow self into the light to be witnessed and healed.  I chose to become the caterpillar in the chrysalis, lovingly breaking myself down and digesting all that I had been.  I discovered many pieces of myself I liked, some I loved, and some that still need tenderness and care but all came with me into the next phase of transition.

My metamorphosis continues here in New Jersey.  I’ve healed and continue to do so on levels deeper than I ever thought possible.  My shadow and my light have become equals. I am facing the challenges of my life now with compassion, grace, and curiosity. As I was writing this piece my thoughts kept going back to the caterpillar and how s/he only gets to go through metamorphosis once in a lifetime.  We as human beings get to go through it over and over again, on different levels, and in different ways.

I am getting ready to launch my new business.  I am leaving behind the work that didn’t feed my soul and embracing my calling as a teacher and healer.  I am 6 months pregnant. I am no longer a maiden and am stepping into the role of mother with the birth of my son in the next three months.  I am seeing my wings emerge and am remembering fondly what it means to be a caterpillar. I will again be the caterpillar held within the chrysalis, breaking myself down, digesting what does not serve, and emerging a new version of myself.

Metamorphosis is not for the faint of heart but it sure as hell is worth it!

 

butterfly 2 from lisa pm