Friday, July 16, 2010

DD#65: Leader/Follower

Between busy-ness and lazy-ness, I've managed to distract myself from my writing since June 20th! In fairness to me, I have been writing pretty intense, introspective emails, and sharing profound bits of wisdom via phone conversations and personal contact, so I haven't really been avoiding my "work", it's just been expressed in venues other than my blog:>)) Time passes at a different speed since I don't have a J-O-B anymore.

I continue the process of sorting and clearing, but my work is sporadic at best. I'm much more interested in being with family and friends and doing fun stuff like dancing. Like a dream-come-true, I have been inroducing dancing into my life again and I'm so happy to have it. I'm grateful that I can still feel that wonderful body rhythm and move semi-gracefully. Not the flexible youth I was in my 40's but still no slouch on the dance floor. I have danced enough to lose my initial fear and rigidity and have begun to regain my confidence about being a good follower.

In dance, partner roles are referred to as "leader" and "follower". Now, these are a couple of pretty loaded words for me. While I easily (and gratefully) accept the designation as a follower in dance, I'm not so sure I'm comfortable with it in my life. In dance, being a follower means I don't have to use my brain for any of the dance steps. I don't have to do any mental manipulations about right or left foot, any combination of steps to remember, no technicalities. I can simply relax and feel the music and the subtle (or not-so-subtle) signals from my partner. I have a natural rhythm that guides me. When I'm in my head trying to remember steps, I tend to anticipate my partner's next move, therefore shifting my role from follower to leader, which tends to create confusion or frustration for the leader.  So, I appreciate being able to enjoy my "follower" status.

Years ago, before I earned all of my wisdom from dancing to my life's music, I refused to be categorized as a leader or a follower. I didn't want to fit into any mold - I liked thinking of myself as unique. (Don't we all?) Imagine my surprise when my Hand Analysis mentor read my hand and told me that I was a leader. I immediately told her that I really doubted that. I didn't need to be in charge and boss people around. I was particularly sensitive to the idea of being a leader (aka: bossy) since I'd been so harshly accused of bossing my little brother around like a tyrant. Although it chafed me, it was an accusation I bore because as I matured, I realized it was true. I've made my amends...:>))

My mentor then launched into an explanation of what being a "leader" really meant. A leader is a person who is willing to step up and take the responsibility of the choices and decisions inherent with the role. It's a person who recognizes the natural dynamics of groups and can take charge and keep order when necessary. What it's not, is someone who needs to be in charge or boss others around. At this, I calmed and began to embrace my role as a leader. I liked the idea of having the skills and wisdom to know when it was the right time to don this mantle and move forward. But, uh oh! There was a new fear! What if I made a mistake?!? What if I made a bad choice? My little commitment phobic, people pleasing demon reared her head up and said, "Oh no you don't! Don't accept this because everyone will  hate you! Everyone will be mad at you!"

When I expressed my fears, my brilliant mentor looked at me with a grin on her face and said, "Toni, it's not all about you." What did she mean it wasn't all about me? It most certainly was! I was the one who'd be in trouble if anything bad happened. I was the one who'd get blamed. It would be my fault.

She listened to me vent for a few minutes then gently reminded me that the reason it wasn't all about me was that I'm not here alone. My leader part knows to check in with the Universe and be the simple tool - be a channel for Divine work. I kept my sense of being unique but had a new level of awareness about what that meant. I was unique - my leadership gave me the opportunity to be creative and I understood that it wasn't all about me, but about my connection to the Divine and acknowledging not only my spark of the Divine, but recognizing it in others as well. I could shine by giving others permission to shine. I was free to express everything that I learned so I could lead others to learn about themselves. Wow! Now this I can do - with love in my heart. So, I am a grateful follower and also a grateful leader. Where do you lead and where do you follow in your life's dance?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

DD#64: Father's Day

OK, I think the whole Father's Day thing has brought up some stuff in me that needs to be released. I don't have any happy memories of Father's Day Past and always had a confusing and troubled relationship with both my bio father and my step father. I'm certain I transferred plenty of that confusion and trouble into my relationships with all the men in my life, too.

In the past, I've just treated Father's Day with a sense of obligation - find a gift and card and try not to tell the truth about what I really felt. I did the very same thing with my Mom. I remember many years of standing in front of dozens of cards, reading all of them to find the one that wasn't an obvious message of sappy love and devotion I didn't feel. "To the BEST Dad", "I want to be just like you, Mom", all sentiments that were not in my heart. I wanted to be a little honest - I loved them, but didn't feel any love for them for many years. I was just too angry at them for all of the things they did or didn't do as parents. I held their failings against them, never understanding how that played itself out in my life.

I carried my wound around like a weapon to use against me. I lived in a perpetual state of the victim - embracing my role. I accepted, mostly quietly, all of the abuse that I felt was heaped upon me by those who could sense my cooperation in that dynamic. I may as well have written an ad and posted in on Craig's List! "Looking for someone to punish? Well, here I am! Believe me, you don't punish me nearly as harshly as I punish myself - I'm the Mistress of Self-Abuse. I'm such a coward, I'll never tell you to stop. When I can't tolerate your behavior, I'll leave - until then, pile it on because I'm here to take it."

Gratefully, those days are mostly gone. But something is lurking around underneath and it's been poked by Father's Day. Painful memories have peeked up and asked me to take notice of them - shine some light on them and clean house again. This time it's not a complete disaster - it's not epic in its proportions - these are gentle nudges, not catastrophic shoves off cliffs into a free falling sense of impending doom. I'm able to feel them and see them for what they are: history. I can move through them as if lifting a veil that shadows my wholeness. I can walk through them with a sense of safety because I know my wounds no longer define me - they're not who I am - I don't feel hostage to them any more. So I can reach this Father's Day itch and scratch it feeling relieved that it hasn't de-railed me for more than a momentary lapse of remembering - a reflection on the pond of my life that fades quickly. Gratefully gone...

Monday, June 7, 2010

DD#63: Countdown

The countdown began today. On Saturday, June 12th I'm participating in my neighborhood garage sale. There are at least 75 homes scheduled to have sales. That's a lot of stuff people are trying to sell! I have more stuff to sell than space to display it. 

Because of some financial decisions, I'm divesting myself of many years of accumulated stuff - downsizing, simplifying, clearing, cleaning, making room for new energy to enter my life. I have been doing my release processes - it's just stuff - nothing I need to live a happy, fulfilled life. I've done my mental inventory and have a good idea of what I want to keep and what I'm letting go. Since I don't need it, it's part of the energetic balance I'm working with - recycle, re-use, re-purpose. Move things along to those who want or need them and voila! I'm ready to expand my amazing life even more - beyond what I imagined possible at any other time of my life. There's only one problem with that - expand how? beyond where? imagined what? What is my vision for my future? What do I really want? No cliches, no magical thinking, no fairy tale - what the heck do I see for myself in my future? How can I ask for what I want from the Universe when I haven't clearly defined it for myself?

So, even though the countdown has begun for the physical task of sorting, clearing, stacking, deciding, releasing, selling my stuff, an even more important countdown has been ignored. I'm pretty sure what I want is to clear out some things so I can take a deep breath and see some progress before I can make this real. I'm such a great planner, that so far it's been a challenging intellectual exercise - including, (promise not to laugh) an excel spreadsheet. I have mentally (and sometimes emotionally) let go of so much, but am resistant to jumping in and actually doing it. 

My daughter is a great purger - she is relentless about donating or selling what she no longer needs. At a garage sale, when I hesitate to sell something for a teeny tiny fraction of what I paid for it, she says, "the idea is to get rid of it, isn't it?" which snaps me out of my reverie about when I bought it, what I paid for it, what it meant/means to me. Surely the buyer can see the VALUE of this precious item that they're offering a pittance for, can't they? What this has taught me is to be much more judicious about my purchases, because if I don't need it, I certainly don't want to be torn over how much I paid for it when I either give it away or sell it at a yard sale. Now I have to get rid of so many things I wasn't judicious about purchasing and be OK with not only letting them go, but waving good bye with love - no regrets - release them to another's care.

The closer it gets to the garage sale day, the more shaken I become at the thought of having to do this unpleasant task. When I was talking about this to a friend, she suggested that I shift my attitude from dread to excitement about how I'm building my new life. I'm still working on that...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

DD#62: The Unwrapping

I love unwrapping gifts! (Wait - first of all I love receiving gifts, so I guess this is an example of how I can jump past the initial stages and into the excitement of the unwrapping.) So let me back up and start from the beginning.

I love receiving (and giving) gifts. The joy, the excitement, the anticipation, is enhanced by the love I feel for the person giving the gift. It opens my heart to receive something that is a reflection of someone's thoughts and feelings for me. Even though I know there are plenty of people who just buy something to give, the loved ones in my life feel the same way I do about gift giving and receiving. A gift is thoughtful, a symbol of my love for the person. I take my time and creativity into anything I make or purchase for family and friends. I focus on the recipient - our shared time together, my awareness of him/her as an individual, his/her personality, my feelings for him/her. It has to be "just right" and show my appreciation for our connection. So, in my world, gifts are physical expressions of our spiritual/emotional bond. So, imagine the excitement I feel when presented with such a powerful symbol. Of course I can't wait to unwrap it! Could you?

So here's my gift, beautifully wrapped, just waiting to reveal itself to me. I'm imagining all kinds of things about what it will be based upon the size, shape, and weight of the package. The wrapping is beautiful, especially when it's the result of the efforts of your child or grandchild. But what's inside?

Well, receiving and unwrapping a gift is how I perceive the unfolding of romantic relationship. I've asked and have been given the gift of opportunity from the Universe. I can see the size, shape, and weight of this gift, and he's appealing to me. I like the wrapping, but what's inside? 

Now here's where things begin to change. This gift is not to be torn open in excitement without regard to what it may contain. Its contents must be revealed to me slowly, over time. I want to tear into the unwrapping stage before I've honored the gift as a reflection of support for my vision of a loving relationship from the Universe. How loved I feel as I realize how tenderly the Universe has considered me - what I want, what I love, who I am, what I need - before presenting me with this gift. It's the same love and care I use when planning a gift for a loved one. This may not be the perfect gift for me, but I know the Universe will guide me as I carefully unwrap it - allowing the full expression of the loving intent to open me to new experiences along my journey. I am provided with another chance to open my heart and learn more about myself and him, while keeping my good judgment in tact. My wisdom gained from experience tells me that I can apply what I've learned and be both the giver and the receiver of this gift. I am the participant and the observer and it feels very balanced - and new, and a little frightening all at once.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

DD#61: Slow and Steady

I want spring weather! I'm tired of the cold, rainy, overcast days. According to my calendar, Spring sprang several weeks ago and we've only had brief glimpses of it so far. It seems my moods are closely aligned with the amount of sunshine streaming into my windows. 

I love the weather cushion of Spring and Fall - the lovely transition from cold/rainy winter and hot/sunny summer. This is quite unusual because transitions usually create a feeling of edginess in me. Transition equals change and while I'm pretty adept at acting like I'm rolling with the punches, inside I'm quaking with fear, doubt, and insecurity. 

For most of my life, I never admitted to feeling anxious or vulnerable about anything. Showing vulnerability meant that I could be identified as a victim and suffer the consequences - definitely not safe. Over the course of a lot of deep, therapeutic work I've gained much wisdom and have learned that there are circumstances when being vulnerable is productive.

I'm in the beginning stages of a romantic relationship and based upon past experiences, have come to understand that I must risk a certain level of vulnerability during each phase of the process. What to reveal and when to reveal it is always risky. As our connection deepens, true vulnerability is in staying authentically who I am while observing who he is. Are his words and actions congruent? Does he walk his talk or is he all talk? Does he make promises he doesn't keep? Does he remember what I've told him about myself and gather it into his feelings about me? Is he attentive and considerate of me? All of this and much more is recorded in my mind for review after each conversation, email, and time spent together. I know that if he is genuine, all of the same things about me are recorded in his mind, too. 

This slow dance is delightful and so different from many of my past experiences with men when I felt full of rocket fuel and shot out of the launch pad like a nuclear weapon with him as the target. I obsessed about all of the exciting aspects while totally blinded by all of the negative. Red flags? What red flags? I'm having fun, so there are no caution flags and certainly no red flags that I'm aware of! All became visible when suffering the pain of making another poor choice. Why didn't I see them earlier? Perhaps because I was moving at warp speed and everything was a blur except my desire to make this mere mortal my dream man. 

Now I'm older and wiser and so grateful for the slow dance. Sharing, observing, listening, feeling - how does it fit into my wants and needs in relationship. During this time of heady possibilities, how do I see "us" a year from now, five years from now and further out? Will the small stuff become so huge that it will be intolerable? What are the red flags? Maybe they're only pink flags - maybe no flags - all will be revealed as we slow dance our way into what we both  hope will be a fulfilling, loving, deeply connected relationship. We're both looking for the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with. Maybe we just may have found our last first date - we'll see as this unfolds...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

DD#60: 2nd Post - My Two-fer

I'm smiling as I remember how it feels to dance. My body is still feeling the music and movement. I have this extended feeling for Contra dancing, rock, and belt-buckle-polishing slow dance - they all stay with my body for a few days afterward. It's like I have an amazing music/dance/connection echo - the memory is such a reflection of the body/mind/spirit perspective of what I treasure in my life and the vibrations are anchored, ready to be recalled any time I want to treat myself. 

Each time I revisit the experience, I feel the memory of dancing as the physical expression of partnership, yin/yang, leader/follower, cooperation. It takes the subtle physical signals and puts them to music. The gentle but firm pressure on my back or hand to lead me into the next step. The music humming through my body, joining my partner's vibration, becoming a single, smooth, sensual movement together. The powerful aphrodisiac of the eye contact when we spin in Contra dancing while the music leads us through the next step. The energetic connection of bodies dancing to hot, pulsing, rock'n'roll, belying the physical space between us.

It's delicious to tap into these moments of artistic communication, feeling my body, my partner's body, and how we created something beautiful together, something that connects us long after we've traveled to our separate beds. I'm anticipating the time when I can share the night of dancing and keep the physical connection in a single bed and I'm warm with the thought of it...

DD#60: Enough!

What to do, what to do? When there are so many choices it's hard to know where to start! Actually, starting isn't nearly as much of a challenge as knowing when to stop. When is enough, enough?

As I clear out my path for living my best life, I have attracted options I never knew existed while I stayed in hiding, buried by my clutter. As my mind clears out the obstacles, my body must decide to take physical action. I actually have lots of physical stuff to move out of the way and I'm in an old pattern of feeling overwhelmed by the sheer size of the job ahead. I have spent inordinate amounts of time and dedication in my head, I just have to get my body to cooperate. The head has started, but the body has said "ENOUGH" before I even made the first step. 

I've always thought that if I waited long enough the motivation would hit me like a bolt of lightening and I'd be spurred to action like a startled runaway horse who's been spooked by a snake in the path. Well, what I've learned is that, as tiresome and boring as it sounds, I must take action THEN the motivation will ensue. How tedious! I want to think my way through all this tough stuff. I want to wave my magic wand and have it all done. (Aha! I just made a typo that was profound! I typed magic "want" in error. Guess what? That's exactly what it is! Magic Want - not magic wand!) I want to worry about it enough to make it happen without my having to do it. 

So, basically, what I have started is not the work, it's the worry, and I'm having a hard time stopping. When is enough enough? Guilt, worry, and resentment are corrosive, like slowly dripping acid eating away at my spirit.Why is that the first phase of every project? Why can't I just skip it and create my plan and move forward? It's like I have to do my duty to my dark side before I can skip into the light. I'm setting my intention to activate my override command and skip the worry so I can smoothly, easily move into the idea, the plan, the action steps, the action, then any modifications required to assure successful completion of something that's important in my life. See? I'm waving my Magic Want...