Sunday, March 31, 2013

Being Present, Being Mindful

One of the things that this time has given me is time.  One of the things that yoga has given me is the ability to be present, to be mindful.  And what a beautiful combination time, presence and mindfulness are.

Jon Kabat-Zinn writes about Mindfulness in Wherever You Go There You Are:
"The key to this path which lies in the root of Buddhism  Taoism and yoga, and which we also find in the works of people like Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman and in Native American wisdom, is an appreciation for the present moment and the cultivation of an intimate relationship with it through continual attending to it with care and discernment.  It is the direct opposite of taking life for granted."
I know about and have taught students about active listening, the importance of being present to who you are engaging with, to being present in that moment.  With the rushing by of life, being constantly pulled in a number of different directions at any given moment it becomes really challenging to be present for everyone who needs you to be.  I have recently learned what it means to not take life for granted.  I have learned, well relearned and newly implemented,  that if I am able to take care of myself, treat myself with the love and kindness that I deserve then I can fully be present for and mindful in all of my daily interactions.  
I say to people all of the time, "You are no good to others if you are not taking care of yourself."  In the work I have done with students I try to be a role model in this area, though my last position made that very difficult for me at times.  I have spent a lot of time since September taking care of myself, figuring out what I need and want and this has all allowed me to be so much more present and engaged with other people in my life.  I believe that this time has truly served me in this way.  My yoga practice has certainly supported this.  This taking care of me, this being much more introspective, this has truly served me. The extrovert that I am, this person who can multi-task because my head can be in a dozen different places at once has learned to quiet my mind.  I have also learned to be more present as I walk down the street, to take in what surrounds me and to value each interaction I have in my community. With presence comes mindfulness.  This mindfulness shows up daily in many different ways even when I am eating or drinking as well as the interactions I have in my community.  With this mindfulness comes deeper relationships with people I have known for years as well as people I have known for weeks.  Being mindful, being present and filling my time with this positive way of being has all contributed to me becoming a better version of me.

"Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.  I drink at it; but while I drink, I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is.  Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.  I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars." 
~ Thoreau, Walden

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I am your ally

I am your ally.  I will walk beside you, stand alongside you until you have the same rights that I do.  These things that are rights…not privileges.

I am not married, I have not met Mr. Right, or Mr. Good Enough for Now, or even Mr. Let’s Get Drunk and Married in Vegas.  But if tomorrow I do, if tomorrow I meet any of those men I could without question marry any of them, love aside, values aside.  I can travel to any part of this country and marry that man. 

I have a lot of people in my life who identify as LGBTQ, I have seen what love means and what happy, healthy families looks like.  I have watched the children of my friends understand what it means to be loved, taught to be open-minded and compassionate.  A lesson that we could certainly all use to learn at a young age.  I have learned a lot recently and understand that while we say Marriage Equality is what the Supreme Court is deciding it is so much more then marriage.  If I were to marry Mr. Vegas he could then be on my health insurance or I on his, we could visit each other in the hospital no questions asked if the time came, and receive a number of other federal benefits because we were recognized by the federal government as married.  I am fortunate to live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but I know that this  is not enough, that until the Supreme Court finds the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, until same-sex marriage is recognized nationally rights are still being denied.  Until we can just say marriage.

What is on the line are basic human rights, things that I have taken for granted, things that I, as a straight woman, do not have to give a second thought about.  But I do, I think about these things on a daily basis, and until the people I love (and people I have yet to meet) have the same rights as I do I will continue to raise awareness and support you.

To me this is a no brainer when it comes to constitutional rights.  People can stand behind their religion or their God as a scapegoat for hate and discrimination.  But I stand on the side of love, on the side of freedom and on the side of equal rights for all.

"I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear." ~Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Springing into Happiness

All week in yoga I was reminded that we are heading into Spring, that the weather is transitioning (or should be soon anyway) and that we too can look at this time to transition.  There is that word again that has become all too familiar to me: TRANSITION!  I have said that I am ready to be transitioned, but was I really?  Or as we move out of the darkness of winter and into the light of spring, maybe now is the time.  The winter is a time to go within, a time to plant the seeds that will bloom in the springtime.  I entered the darkness, I went deep into the dark and am slowly emerging into the light.  My transition is in sync with that of nature.  I have planted the seeds, both personally and professionally, and am slowly seeing these seeds that I have nurtured slowly emerging into something beautiful.  I can share the physical representation of this with pictures of an Amaryllis I planted in early January (the depths of winter) and here we are a few months later and it is starting to bloom nicely and if I had to make a guess I would say I will have a flower by the first day of summer.
I call him Bert

This week was also the First ever International Day of Happiness as declared by the UN.
Both the Spring Equinox and this Day happened to be March 20.  I signed a pledge on that day to "Try to create more happiness in the world around me." And I shared with anyone I could what this day was about.  I would also think that it is appropriate that this Day of Happiness fell on the Spring Equinox.  I would say that happiness and light, joy and growth represent both of these "events".   On this same day, Wednesday March 20, at the workshop I have been participating in about Finding your purpose and calling, we focused on strengths and 'innate gifts.'  In one activity "Bringing Joy" emerged as one of my strengths and when I went to rank it on the bottom of my list I was encouraged to make it one of my top 5 by someone I have only known for just a few weeks.  In just our brief interactions she saw something in me that I had a hard time seeing myself.  Something that I do naturally yet apparently have a hard time acknowledging that it is something I can do well.

So here I was on the Spring Equinox, the threshold to light and joy, and the International Day of Happiness and I was being affirmed in my innate gift of bringing joy.  It feels almost cocky boasting that here, however, if I am going to be able to fully transition to what is right, to what I want and need, I must own and affirm my own strengths.  Also, if I am going to be successful in any sort of interview process I must be comfortable speaking about the thing that are my strengths, what I do well and the places where I can be most successful.  And I guess bringing joy to others is not a bad thing to be boasting about!

"Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!"  ~Sitting Bull

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sometimes right back where you started from is right where you belong.

As the year began I wrote about what I want.  I have had to travel a little bit deeper and really think about what I want for a job, work, a career (not sure which of those I am seeking right now).

I have been thinking a lot these past few months about what I want and need from work.  I have applied for a number of jobs and am starting to be offered phone interviews.  This is certainly forcing me to truly understand what I want from a job so I can speak to that with conviction and passion in these phone interviews.

At the retail gig I am currently in we sell greeting cards, probably the best assortment of greeting cards in any store I have been in, and I am a huge fan of the well meaning greeting card.  Anyway, I came across this quote on one of them yesterday and the light bulb started to glow, "Sometimes right back where you started from is right where you belong." 

I have been thinking a lot lately about my start in higher education, why I chose to do this work, when I knew I was making the greatest impact as well as gaining the most satisfaction.

When I started my professional career I worked at Colorado College, a small liberal arts college, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I was a Resident Director and oversaw a Freshman Residence Hall.  This was probably one of the most challenging and rewarding,stressful and enjoyable, overwhelming and affirming times of my career.  I really connected with the students, connected even more with my colleagues and felt supported and appropriately challenged.  With the exception of the stress and overwhelming feelings those are the things I want from my career.  

I need to feel some of those things I felt then, I need to connect with why I originally started this work, I need to know I am in a place that supports me.  And as I have grown and matured I also know that I need to have a work life balance.  Also, important is to to focus on what I need as opposed to what I want.

I am slowly gaining back my lost confidence and this job search process has already started to test that.  Interviewing and writing cover letters will continue to push me to evaluate and reevaluate what I want and more importantly what I need.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Soul Retrieval

Throughout this entire process, these past few months, I have been saying soul searching.  I have been doing a lot of soul searching, digging down deep inside to figure out the direction I want to head.

I am attending a workshop once a week for the next few weeks that started last week about crossing the threshold, finding your purpose and calling.  It is just the beginning of this workshop and I already know I am going to gain a lot from participating and I am sure I will have a lot to think about and process. As we were winding down last week one of the facilitators used the phrase soul retrieval instead of soul searching. He said it very matter-of-factly and it really struck me as being profound.  I commented on how I thought it was an interesting choice of words and explained that this entire time I had been soul searching but just hearing soul retrieval once it made so much more sense to me. It seemed less beyond me and more from within me.

When I looked for the definition of search provided the following (and some others):
1. to go or look through (a place, area, etc.) carefully in order to find something missing or lost
2. to look at or explore (a person, object, etc.) carefully in order to find something concealed
3. to explore or examine in order to discover
4. to look at or beneath the superficial aspects of to discover a motive, reaction, feeling, basic truth, etc.
While some of those definitions may resonate with me I see the soul search now as a very external pursuit, like I would be looking to find something out there that would complete me.  Something that was lost, something that has been missing.  Others may argue with that but after thinking instead about the word retrieval or retrieve I see a search as something out there that I must get to, something I am seeking, something beyond me.

Now when I looked up the definition of retrieve I found the following:
1. to recover or regain
2. to bring back to a former and better state; restore
3. to make amends for
4. to make good; repair
Recovering, regaining, restoring  to me all connotate digging up something that is already in you, something that is deep down inside.  I am working to retrieve what is already there.  There is nothing missing, it is all there it just needs to be retrieved. It needs to be manifested into next steps.  Now, external forces may come into play, absolutely this does and will continue to happen.  But, the answers that I am seeking are within me and will someday soon surface.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Six months have passed...

Holy crap can it be true that Thursday will be 6 months since I left my job in higher education?  Is the calendar correct? How is it March already? Half a year has passed me by and I may be starting to freak out a little bit.  A month ago I wrote about how I am ready to be transitioned and I am.  It is time for something to happen.  I have been applying for jobs in higher education both close by and far away (after all that is what I said I would be doing at this point).  And this is the time of year that job openings start to really surface. So I remain hopeful and I am also freaking out. Something will work always does.  There have been other times in my life when just at the right moment doors that needed to open did indeed open.  This always happens. So why should this time be different? I need to continue to breathe, to keep doing what I am doing.  What more can I do? What more should I do? Better yet what do I want to do? I did think that by this point in time I would have it all figured out.  This gift, the time I have been given, would manifest itself into some amazing outcome.  This has not happened yet, but it will happen, and wouldn't it be nice to know when.  Where is that crystal ball I have been looking for.  When will it all unfold.  Like I said I am ready, ready and now freaking out because in reality if I do not have this all figured out by the summer I am going to really have a problem.

I am a work in progress.  My life is a work in progress.  

One positive right now is that I have in these past six months done a lot of work on myself.  Any sort of self-love lost and self-respect lost in the year prior has slowly been restored.  I am stronger now then I have been in a very long time (mentally, emotionally and physically) and now that I have gotten that figured out (sort of) it is time to get other things in my life sorted out. I know this in my heart of hearts, deep down in my soul, in the depths of my core, I know that everything in life will work itself out but this still does not stop me from freaking out now and then.

"I find that when we really love and accept and approve of ourselves exactly as we are, then everything in life works." ~Louise L. Hay