Category Archives: Resilience

I (don’t) deserve to die

I did something the other day. Something simple. Something small. Something quite insignificant.

But somehow my internal critic was certain that what I had done was horrific – and that it mattered greatly. And the shame rose up in me like a tsunami, threatening to wash me out to sea.

Whereas my rational mind knew that what had happened was no big deal, my irrational self was taking over. And this irrational self had determined that what I had done was so bad – that I was so bad – that I deserved to die.

Now, I know I didn’t deserve to die. I don’t believe in the death penalty, and even if I did, I know that no jury would condemn me to death for the little mistake I had made. But even though I could tell you this – even while I was overcome with shame and horror – my emotions were taking over.

I truly felt like I deserved to die.

I know these are old thought patterns that are, perhaps, deeply engrained in my psyche. I describe my mind – at times – like a luge path. Once I get caught in the course, once the mind games are started, it’s nearly impossible not to rush down, on the icy path at full speed, to the foregone conclusion.

That I am bad. That I deserve to die.

I was raised in a religious cult where I was taught about my inherent guilt and sin and shame. I was taught that I was never good enough. The things that happened to me certainly convinced me of that. I learned – I learned well – that most things were my fault and that I was sinful and bad. Or at least that if I took most things on as my responsibility and fault, I might be able to control what was happening around me. I could repent. I could change my ways. I could try harder to do better. And better still.

Luckily I now know that these thought patterns are lies. Luckily I now have the wherewithal to perhaps not make them go away in the moment, but to remember that they will pass. If I can just keep breathing and reminding myself that although they feel true they aren’t true, they will pass.

Years ago I learned a wonderful saying, “Feelings aren’t facts.” I can be awash with feelings, and they can be based on mistruths. I can be overcome with shame and guilt and horror, and that can be based on lies.

I did my best to love myself through this shame-fest. I did my best to acknowledge my feelings, while I acknowledged they were crazy. And crazy making,

Because you know what, I certainly don’t deserve to die.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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There’s no time like the present to be present

Have you ever promised yourself you’ll be more present? And then gone on to be pulled away from the moment you’re in?

It happens to me all the time.

My childhood was pretty much an exercise in learning not to be present. I was taught to “pay indemnity” (to suffer for God) in order to absolve my ancestors of their many failings and sins and to protect my descendants from having to suffer to atone for my failings and sins. That certainly trains one to focus on the past and future, and to see the present only as an opportunity to endure anything and everything for God.

My childhood experiences also taught me to over-everything. My overachieving, over-sweetness, over-tolerance, and over-responsibility probably helped save my life and psyche. But all those overs are certainly one more way to pull me away from what is here and now.

My childhood in a cult with my mom, the instability of the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” lifestyle of my dad, and the clash of cultures from being stuck between them certainly molded me into my hyper-vigilant and hyper-reactive self. All of this, perhaps needless to say, pulls one away from the present. And away from the present again.

So, when my yoga instructor instructed us in this thought, perhaps, again needless to say, a huge smile came to my face. “There’s no time like the present to be present,” she said. “There’s no time like now to be more present,” I thought.

There are so many distractions to pull me out of my moment. There are so many things to worry about and think about and obsess about. Or there are my feet on the ground – and during my yoga class, my body on my mat – to pull me back to now.

There’s no time like the present to get present again. And again. And again. There’s no time like this instant to breathe consciously and focus on my now. To see what’s actually in front of me, to calm my racing mind, to notice and appreciate.

I may have been, in many ways, taught and trained to stay as far out of the present as possible. I may have escaped my reality in order to feel safer, or more in control, or less sinful. But I don’t have to escape anymore. I am safe.

And I can be present. Because there’s no time like the present to be present.

PS – if you’re practicing yoga, and looking for a new mat, I’ve stumbled across this list of the best yoga mats. Perhaps it will help you ☺

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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Milk it baby!

The snow outside is beautiful. I’m going to milk that feeling. I don’t have to shovel it. I’m going to milk that feeling too.

I’m snuggled inside, sipping my tea, with my feet in cozy slippers, texting with my oldest child (while I’m supposedly focusing on writing my blog). All of this is also worth milking.

I’m going to milk it.

My life is wonderful. My life growing up, not so much (as someone who was there with me reminded me of yesterday). I’m going to milk the wonderful. I have learned that my day can be good or my day can be bad, and much of that has to do with how I choose to focus and what I choose to notice. Today I’m going to – again – notice the good, focus on what’s working, and milk it, milk it, milk it.

When someone asks me how I feel about turning in my manuscript, I’m going tell them how outrageously pumped and excited I am and choose not to – for this moment – give credence to my fear. When someone asks me how work is going, I’m going to tell them “actually better than ever – we’re busy and it’s all fun!” and choose not to – for this moment – add, “and I wonder how I’ll get it all done.”

When things have been sucky, I’ve learned to lean into the suck (with a few reminders from a few good friends). When things are good, I’m going to lean into the good. I’m going to notice and bask and enjoy. I’m going to imagine the book as a book going gangbusters and picture how much fun it will be to finalize the title and sign copies at as many book signings as I can book.

I’m going to see the beauty rather than the struggle. I’m going to relish the fun along the way rather than dread what I might mess up. I’m going to milk every little (and big) thing I can that is going well. Or splendidly. Or even just hopefully in the right direction.

I’ve learned (and studied) that what I choose to look at and focus on has a huge effect on how my day and life go. I’ve learned (and studied) that my mind is mine to direct, and how I direct it matters.

For today, once again, I’m going to find everything I can to be even the littlest bit stoked about, and I’m going to milk it, milk it, milk it baby!

And reap the benefits. And enjoy my day.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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