August 29, 2014

Love and Let Go

I spoke at my grandma's funeral. More accurately, I spoke, cried, spoke some more, sobbed, and spoke again. Later I described the event to my therapist. She said, "You felt. You trusted your feelings, Joy." And then she gave me a hug. 

I did inhabit my feelings on that July weekend in 2010. I allowed (publicly!) for sadness, love, regret, and gratitude. I laid open my heart. 

"Don't tell me what you think. Tell me what you feel," my therapist used to say. Most of my life I'd spent in my head: thinking, planning, or judging. I could analyze an issue. I could understand the reasons for my anxiety or self-doubt. But nothing really changed until I opened my heart. I found sadness needn't overwhelm, but it longs to be felt. And I unraveled my protective armor--armor that spared me hurt yet also denied me love.

Just last night, I sat on my back porch, crying. Many of my close friends are in difficult situations. If I love completely, my heart will be broken. Yet it will also burst with joy. Things only get murky when I believe I can save people. In this mode, my sadness morphs into fear and I retreat to my mind. I try to think of an escape. 

From Mary Oliver's "In Blackwater Woods":
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let go,
to let go."

My therapist again: "Joy, your life and growth will mean continually giving up control." Let go. When I emerge from my murkiness, I find balance between loving and letting go. I feel without the delusion of control. My heart expands. A smile forms naturally. I accept all the blessings of pure, unbounded love.

August 15, 2014

Now for Something Completely Different

Where has my silliness gone? Yesterday I reread my latest posts. The topics: self-judgment, difficulty, fear, over-thinking. All important topics. All exactly where I was at the moment. Yet I've left out my happiness and childlike wonder. Life is heartbreaking, but it's also joyful.

Last night I made a different choice: take my camera, tripod, and remote shutter-release outside. Jump around. Leap, bound, play, and laugh. My first stop was the backyard--a safe place. But my neighbors were gardening or eating, and the mood felt calm not playful, so I walked to the park.

(me walking backwards, a little giddy)

The park felt festive. Families gathered. Smoke rose from grills. Children laughed. Cars drove past. I placed my tripod in a patch of sunset light next to the road. In that spot I jumped and twirled and giggled. I felt playful and free.

When we most need it--when we feel sad or angry or hurt--we forget that life is fun. We're surrounded by joy, laughter, and beauty. Sometimes we need to jump around, do the unexpected, or make our own adventures. When I'm playful, my heart opens and my thoughts subside. I see the magical world that is my life.

(me walking forwards, relaxed and happy)

August 14, 2014

Sacred Space

Meditation acts as a microscope on my mind. Certain thoughts trigger bodily tension. That tension attaches to emotion. That emotion triggers thoughts. And around we go, in mere seconds. These seconds speed by, as do my habituated reactions. In meditation, I observe this cycle, but it doesn't define me. In meditation, there's no "me" to define. 

Yet in daily life, the story of me plays loud and large, in not so pleasant ways. I'm trying to find more space. This space I seek is not grand. It's the space between moments--the gap in conversation, pause in movement, or break in workflow. Viktor Frankl describes this place: "Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

When I allow for that space, I access and respond from my heart. When I rush through that space, I act out of habit. I'd rather choose. I'd rather be free.