Chill

Notes to myself that serve as reminders in this very strange period within this absolutely bizarre time. Reminders I still need, every so often.

  1. Take your time
  2. Find your rhythm
  3. Make space for play
  4. Get out more often
  5. B R E A T H E. And H Y D R A T E.

Most times in a crisis, until I figure out the big thing that is needed of me, it is the small thing that has taken me through from one moment to the next. Small things like taking a moment. Stepping back. Taking a long breath. Getting out if I have the space and opportunity. Drinking a tall glass of water. Lying down. Speaking softly, unhurriedly.

And yet, I forget the simplicity of it all. So very, very often.

Monday Tarot Message: Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing

Between watching the painfully drawn out US election with my breath held, feeling confused about how gleeful Arknob’s arrest was making me feel and generally being caught up in a whirlwind of hopelessness and hope and feeling extreme FOMO about possibly never having a fighting chance with kicking out our very own Fascist, it’s been a long and hard week of questioning ideas of good and bad, right and wrong (left?), yet again.

The unconscious holds information about how and why our rigid ideas of “good” and “bad”, “palatable” and “ugly”, “right and “wrong” came to be. When we observe our own patterns, triggers, traumas and all the cover motivations for overt actions that silently guide our behaviour, we can accept the innate humanness in ourselves. We can also then let loose the rigidity around these ideas, and see others around us, as just as human.

This is the truth about our humanness. And an important piece to understand and integrate. Because good people are capable of devastating actions. Safe people can act in unsafe ways. Trustworthy people may let you down. Proficient people also make mistakes. Well-intended love can sometimes take hurtful forms. Fair people have biases too. This is what it means to be human.

There is safety in categorising experiences and emotions into watertight opposites. Traumatic experiences make it difficult to venture into grey areas in-between. It makes it hard to accept that everyone has a rich life experience that colours the canvas of their personalities in different shades. Just like our own.

This leaves no room for humanness, causing disappointment, stress and further trauma in the long run. Looking within sets off a beautiful cycle — what we notice and acknowledge in ourselves, we notice and acknowledge in others. The more we accept our own humanness, with all the grey areas, the more we are able to see the world and how human beings tick with gentler eyes. Whether it is understanding family dynamics, relationships or global politics. I see this as a soft space where opposing emotions, opposing human beings may meet. In ideas, if not reality.

This is not to advocate a blindly neutral (or apolitical) stance, or to tolerate injustice. It is just to remember often that life exists in the spectrum between the polarities. That everyone has a story and an inner world influencing them. That while we are all drawn to fit our experiences into extremes and labels, a fuller, richer understanding of life and people is one that allows for expansion into the spectrum. Into the wild in-between. A personal reckoning with this may help us meet the world with more understanding, softness, openness and curiosity.

Gentle reminder

It’s been the kind of day that made me realise sometimes all I need is to get out without procrastinating, be with something larger outside of myself, get some fresh air, breathe, move my limbs, gab my heart out, and forget about my feelings for a while.

Sweetness

I’ve been so consumed in just the shittiness of life that has come my way, feeling utterly unmoored by it all, and also allowing myself to just float through it, resisting the urge to constantly fix, make better and optimise every moment of awkward discomfort, that I have missed acknowledging the sweetness that life has also brought my way.

How sweet it has been to be in Goa during this shitty shitty, challenging, troubling time.

How sweet to have been offered a forced break from all the things I thought I ought to be doing.

How sweet be able to to find my way to the sea, again and again and again.

How sweet it is to have space to just be. Even when I’m feeling shitty.

Life is green

Today was a good day.

It was nice to get out, meet S, walk amidst the greens, take our masks off, gab as we walked till we lost track of time. It was nice to feel normal just for a bit.

Considering it’s been so hard getting myself to meet anyone, it particularly was refreshing to hear that S has been having many of the same feelings. Yawning distance that’s only growing, so much inward focus and a feeling of being somewhat incapacitated with where or how to pick up with people again.

And yet, since Monday, I’ve been feeling like life is slowly creeping back. Green, fresh and juicy.

Monday Tarot Message: Fear is not your enemy

Monday Tarot Messages return, after a brief hiatus (which has ended up seeing another unplanned hiatus within the intended hiatus — hiatus inception, if you will!). I took a break to focus on some constructive plans and productivity for where I want to take my work with Tarot and Constellations in the coming months, but life had other plans and I ended up laptop-less, in Goa and was blissfully forced to really STOP and take a break. So no, I didn’t really fuel the plans to “move ahead” but somehow I feel refuelled, if that makes sense. And I’m attributing this sudden burst of energy to do this NOW, on a Tuesday, rather than wait for next Monday, to that refuelling.

I know it’s Tuesday, but these days I’m learning to strike when the inspiration visits, and not wait for it to arrive on schedule. This feels like a come back, and I’m aware I have a lot of catching up to do. But I feel ready. For one, I have a new laptop. Second, it feels like the dark clouds have parted and some blue skies are showing through. And at this point, I’ll take it. With both hands.

So let’s pretend it’s Monday, shall we?

***

Fear often brings a sense of inadequacy. A feeling of not being good enough when we don’t push through, or we don’t make it at something we wanted, or that someone may have wanted of us.

Popular adages that ask us to quell fear and push on are all very well. Because it is true: moving beyond fear and out of our comfort zones is a vital step in growth. But, there is something to be said about timing, about listening so keenly to your intuition and knowing when it is just right.

It’s important to remember that fear is also a necessary mechanism of self-preservation. It is a feedback system that guides how we should proceed, in which direction, and when we should stay. To begin to understand the nuances requires befriending fear. To accept it, welcome it, understand it. To drop our stories and judgement around it.

To understand the difference between when fear is holding you back, and when it is actually a vital signal that it is not time, not safe yet, requires gentleness. A soft approach to understanding yourself and where your fears come from. When we soften up, it gets easier to accept that fear is useful. That fear has a place.

This process may ask for patience and humility of you, to accept that when we respond with fear and choose to stay; sometimes, that is the right choice. That we are not lesser for it. Then, we can move past the judgement — and that sense of inadequacy.

Moving forward may not always the best option, and fear reminds us of this fact. That sometimes we need to slow down, take a break, see if there’s a deeper lesson we are missing, to check if we need to change course altogether.

Knowing when not to moving forward doesn’t mean you are weak, or useless, or a wuss. It might mean you have learned to honour and listen to your inner voice.

Fear indicates when certain choices could bring potential futures that our systems are not ready for as yet. We can ease in to this growth by moving at a pace that is comfortable and sometimes guarded. We can do the work to build internal safety that allows fear to rest, slowly and over time, by really welcoming fear in a way that helps us learn what we need in order to feel safe, healthy and to move forward.

There is no rush, and fear is not your enemy. Can you make it your friend?

If I had to do 2020 over

Wordless appreciation post for these two humans, that have stayed by my side, even when I didn’t ask for or express that I needed it.With whom I have unknowingly, unintentionally journeyed (literally and metaphorically) and grown (literally and metaphorically) in so many ways this year.

It was a year that pulled me away from all humans. Physically, of course. But also mentally and emotionally. I have withdrawn more than I saw it coming. My only other support, my parents who are otherwise just next door, and who I unwittingly lean on, are now in another state. My inner circle has dwindled down to just these two.

Even with all the utter rubbish 2020 brought our way, I’m super grateful these two were my constants — punching bag and body pillow, alike.

(What, year end thoughts coming already?!)

Carbs on carbs

No trip to Goa is complete without standing under a street light, on a dusty corner of my neighbourhood market, somewhere between 6:30 pm and 7 pm, smashing a khapa-pao like the pre dinner snack I absolutely didn’t need. When all else fails, I always turn to carbs on carbs to uplift me.

Humanness

This time away, being still, quiet and uncomfortable has resulted in many a brain fart. I will be pouring it all out here. Just giving you fair warning.

If there is no light without the dark, no moving up without going down, no joy without sorrow, no rainbow without the rain, no good without some bad, no journeying within without knowing what’s around — then maybe there is no knowing wholeness without knowing what it is to be a bit broken?

I have reminded myself over and over of this one fact that I now know to be true, but forget so, so easily: the goal is not to feel good or relaxed or peaceful all the time. It is to be able to move through all experiences and emotions with relative ease, moving in and out of the entire spectrum of my humanness.

Sometimes it takes getting your heart broken, over and over, to understand this in a healthy way. To find a sense of self in the truth of what it means to be human. To find the capacity to love this innate humanness that makes me. To use grief and hurt and pain as goalposts to move through. To find a way to expand, rather than contract through it all.

I don’t know, I’m beginning to feel like 2020 has been a series of opportunities in meeting my own brokenness. And 10 months in I’m finally feeling the brunt of what a heavy year it has been. This past few weeks have felt endless, the last month has felt like a year, and this year has felt like a lifetime. This whole entire year has been a lesson in realllllly getting to know my humanness.

Silver linings

Of course now that the worst of the shittiness has passed, it’s been easier (and lighter) to reflect and look back on the silver linings in the shadows. The gifts amidst the tribulation.

Meeting myself in a deeper way, I’ve learnt yet again during this time, means encountering parts of myself I didn’t know I had, some that I thought I’d dealt with and dusted, some that I’d hidden away unconsciously, that make me hella uncomfortable to now see, leave alone embrace and sit with, will keep surfacing again and again. Until the work of looking it all in the eye without flinching, but with empathy, is done.

Making room for all those parts is harder than I imagined. Even after all these years, even with all the work put in. It has been humbling to remember yet again that this is not a big deal — just the human condition.

I’m flirting with the idea that meeting future versions of me may very well be surprising, sometimes just as discomforting. Can I look at this as training then? Preparing the muscles of courage, patience and acceptance for when I’ll really need to work them and do the heavy-lifting again?

Brain noodles (the beach edition)

Some thoughts I’ve got running about my mind and body today:

  1. is it possible that staying is sometimes a necessary act in moving “forward”?
  2. can I move on without necessarily running down/shitting all over/devaluing where I currently am
  3. does moving on always require some dissatisfaction to be the fire that fuels action
  4. is shame/anger about some aspect of the present a necessary ingredient in choosing something in the future
  5. sometimes moving on means coming back too
  6. perhaps there will be some golden opportunities in life where I won’t have to choose at all, and I can have two/multiple options available to switch between

Off colour

Still no laptop. No idea when or how I’ll have one again. Still very much in this tug of war between what I can’t and can (hah, I wish!) control. STL trying to not give a shit. Still kind of not always winning at it. Still getting on. Somehow.

The silver lining, and what has made it a touch easier? Many, many days at the beach.

All in a day

Today, after many weeks, I had a content, memorable, uniformly happy day that was blemish-free and without surprise chinks.

Woke up rested after 8+ hours of sleep. Had a killer workout (as I have this whole week) and relived the absolute joy that is working out in humidity levels of over 80%. With every passing day that I workout with R I realise I’ve missed this more than I realise. It’s not just the perfect kind form of exercise, but the addition of weather conducive to maximum sweating and the fact that nobody has ever pushed me the way they have (mentally for physical benefits).

Finally, today I had a breakthrough with the consistent string of things-not-working-out and a big, important thing that was causing significant stress, worked out. After much back and forth, painful paperwork, multiple trips to Panjim and what not — it got done.

I felt overwhelming relief. And so I allowed myself this.

Then wandered around previously unknown parts of my backyard in search of this divine chocolate cake we’ve been told was sourced in my neighborhood.

This short cycle of grinding down calories in the AM and using the entire day to build them back up has really worked for me through these particularly challenging emotional times haha.

Put down the weight of your aloneness

There is something about being seen/witnessed by the quiet power of nature — whether in the presence of an immense mountain, a roaring river rolling by or the great wide ocean — that gets the big thoughts going and puts them in small perspective.

Thoughts on friendship and aloneness abound once again. And I notice I didn’t say friendship versus aloneness. Because I see finally that I don’t have to choose. I can have both.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation.

The kettle is singing

even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots

have left their arrogant aloofness and

seen the good in you at last. All the birds

and creatures of the world are unutterable themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

— David Whyte

Bheja noodles

The last straw in the camels back of recent challenges in the shitfest that has been the last few weeks of my life, was my laptop dying on me a week ago. Second time in two months, at what is probably the worst time ever to put me in a space where I need to consider another expensive purchase.

I was distraught and annoyed of course. But mostly, after being wrung thru the grinder in similar fashion for weeks now, I found myself oddly calm and numb when it happened. It was like I’d forgotten what to feel. A switch inside my brain went off. And I decided to just give it up, stop trying to fix anything anymore and just give in to what’s being asked of me.

My work and my workout are pretty much the only two essential things I need my laptop for, both of which can be serviced on my phone. And so I just packed my laptop away and decided I’ll be without one. (hence the lack of posts)

Until a viable solution makes itself known, I decided I wasn’t not going to break my head or throw any more money at this. And I told VC to do the same. In the interim we’ve been to the beach three evenings (so far, I’m making good on this intention) in the last week. So of course I have had ample time to sit back and ponder. To churn up a cocktail of thoughts about this strange strange few weeks in what is anyway one of the strangest years of all time.

2020 is really giving 2016 (the last truly shitty year I had) some time stiff competition.

***

How is it that we want to succeed and reach great milestones, but we’re also afraid we’ll fail?

How is it that we crave intimacy and long for deeper connection, but we’re also afraid of being let down by people?

How is it that we seek heartful vulnerability and honesty, but we’re also guarding ourselves against shame and heartbreak?

Maybe the goal shouldn’t be to want to move from one to the other, in a way that casts away the old, but navigate the in-betweens and know that experiencing both (sometimes simultaneously) is 100% true for all of our lives.

***

A thing I’ve had to contend with lately, through the thick of these challenges: the notion that I have to “make it” on my own. The hardest part of it has been understanding that sometimes I need things that I can’t give myself, and I have the option to articulate my needs so that the people I depend on can show up and help me.

It begins with understanding the need. Beyond the physical, and digging a couple of layers below to see what situation from my past I am recreating, and how I can serve that in the present.

I have much work to do in this regard.

***

It does not strike me as a coincidence at all that in this most challenging month, I have had to in my my work with clients, keep reiterating the fact that growth involves coming apart, falling down, feeling undone, very often. Again and again.

It was clearly a message I needed to reopen force within must. It’s not an easy truth for anyone to embrace. And in the frequency with which I revisit this with clients, I found reaffirmation of the very nature of this process for myself. Timely reminders to handle myself with a little more allowance and kindness.

Over the years I’ve come to understand how much personal growth is non-linear, and I’m looking for a new word to replace Growth. One that doesn’t inherently imply upward/forward movement as a marker of success. One that doesn’t even infact look for a “marker” of “success”. One that is gentler and allows for flow in any direction. Because that is what the process has asked of me: gentleness, fluidity, and grace in picking myself up every time that I have fallen. All these years on, I am only just about learning this.