Tag Archives: resiliency

Are We Broken?

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Are We Broken?

Remember that time when you thought your cancer would break you? Your divorce? Your child’s crisis? The death of a loved one? That rape? That abusive relationship? What if this presidential outcome is America’s cancer? What if it is an opportunity to go through chemo and radiation and hair loss and find ourselves again – individually and collectively?

Do you remember the day when you realized you had survived? And then the day that you could finally say you were thriving? Perhaps even finding appreciation for the lessons learned in the space of pain?

To move to a place of surviving and thriving, you had to find a source of strength that you didn’t even know you owned. You had to rely on the love and support of friends and family. You had to own the feeling of broken to find whole again.

Somewhere in that process you gave yourself permission to be different than you were before. More of YOU emerged. You were more honest, more forthright, more authentic, more empowered, more mindful, and more compassionate. You chose to take more risks, more adventures, and have more fun.

Those around you have said things like, “She is different now. Ever since the ______, she is living life more fully. Sometimes I think she is crazy, but she is incredibly happy.”

I know. I have done this many times in my life, just like you.

This time is no different. Dig deep, find the strength that you know is there for these times. I find a simple strength in the rising of the sun. No matter what has happened, she rises, gloriously to face another day. Her consistency reminds me that I can rise each day and be fierce and resilient while shining brightly. Remind yourself of what feeds your determination.

Give yourself permission to volunteer with any population that may feel unsupported today. Give yourself permission to start up a non-profit helping to meet the needs of an underserved population in your area.

Find YOUR fierceness that will keep your fires burning for the changes that must happen in America. Be part of the solution and don’t give up hope. Press forward with determination that LOVE MATTERS and will prevail.

Attacking the institution, the process, the President elect really does not serve the greater good. Have your temper tantrum and MOVE ON to being your best self. Ghandi said it so well, of course, “Be the change you wish to see.”

Rise Up and Be Love. Step Into Kindness with Each Step. Bring In Strength and Purpose with Every Breath.

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What Forgiveness Meant to Me – Literally

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What Forgiveness Meant to Me – Literally

I wrote about the 3 day retreat that ended with an unforgettable experience here. And I wrote a poem expressing my pain here. Now it is time to share exactly what freedom meant to me after the exercise of forgiveness. I had no idea what to expect – the possibilities were endless.

In the days following the retreat, I felt that my heart space had doubled in size. In my daily prayers I asked God to bring things up so I could let go of even more. I would think of old painful experiences and I forgave myself and others easily. Since I had tackled the biggie in my life, all these other wounds were senseless to hold on to. Sometimes tears accompanied my prayers of forgiveness, but overall, each time I practiced forgiveness, it just got easier and easier.

It seemed pointless to hang on to anything that weighed me down – forgiveness was my new happy pill and I dosed myself frequently.

The second miracle is that the SHAME that clouded my whole life, simply evaporated. I had not understood the roots of my shame until now. I had worked on it from so many angles, and now with the choice of forgiveness, it was gone.

An old journal entry describes my feelings:
“I feel like I am drowning in shame. I take more of it in with each breath. It stinks like rotting flesh. Its voice is eerily comforting as it fills my ear with lies. Sometimes I play hide and seek with shame trying to escape its grip. But I end up feeling naked and exposed and put out the SOS – Shame Oh Shame, please return. Wrap yourself around me like a cloak and help me feel safe again.

My head knows that being raped was never my fault, but I cannot release the grip of shame in my being. Ok, God, let’s heal this shit. Enough already. I am 46 and I have proven I can do shame – with gusto, flair, and grit. It is time to make a change.”

I don’t know if I can adequately express how much shame was woven into my being. I always had shameful thoughts about myself running my brain and body ragged. I used so many tools to neutralize this shame, but they only helped me keep my head above the drowning level.

Obviously this shame took root in my being just from the nature of the violence I endured. I think it was easy to allow shame to grow and perpetuate because so much of the world mirrored that I was not enough as a girl, as a woman, as a human.

I do still have moments when I feel vulnerable without that cloak of shame. I feel exposed and yet I realize that I was always the first one to attack myself. Being and sitting with vulnerability is a worth while practice.

There are many layers of vulnerability and just when one gets comfortable, another emerges, inviting us to expose more of our heart.

Freedom from shame and old wounds of unforgiveness would not have happened if the seed of wanting forgiveness to happen had never been planted. Even if it seems impossible for you to experience forgiving someone that harmed you, I encourage you to say, “Someday, I would like to be free from the weight of unforgiveness. Prepare my heart so when the moment arrives I step into the miracle of unfolding.”

The last little miracle to happen from this is that for 3 days after the retreat ended, I heard my grandpa saying “Angie” in quiet moments. Just before bed on the 3rd day, I said, “Ok, grandpa, I am listening.” He appeared in my mind’s eye sobbing and repeating “I’m sorry.” I thanked him for his apology and released him to continue his own journey. While it was completely unexpected to hear from him (he died 25 years ago) it was beautiful to feel his sincerity and hear his apology. I certainly was not anticipating this experience.

So, if his soul found a new level of peace, that was previously beyond imagination, I am a-ok with that.

Won’t you plant some heart seeds today?

In case you missed it, here is Part 1: Forgiving the Unforgivable

My Poem Related to this post: Feisty for $25

Read more about who the heck I am: https://iamangela.org/about/

Day 6: The Yoga of Self-Care

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Day 6: The Yoga of Self-Care

Why am I writing about self-care? All I had learned and understood was how to live in survival mode which is chaos and mayhem. Very exhausting. Self-care was a vague and foreign concept – something I am still cultivating an understanding within myself. I believe listening to my body is the foundation for learning how best to take care of myself. It has taken me years to develop healthier habits. And I am still very much a work in progress. Consistency is my challenge. I find myself in a state of resistance or flat out self-sabotage regularly.

There are so many reasons why we, as a culture, resist premium self-care habits in the midst of our platinum and luxurious lives. In my opinion, the lives we are working so hard to maintain, are layers of distraction for avoiding ourselves. I am ready for something different.

I choose to give myself permission to take extraordinary and exquisite care of myself. I give you permission to do it too.

Why all this emphasis on yoga? It spoke to me. Attending weekly Trauma Sensitive Yoga classes taught me what consistency meant for my body. Anytime I see a mat, I feel my body hum. It longs to spend more time on the mat in various states of rest and stretching.

TRAUMA YOGA

Contrary. Oxymoron.
Like me.
Two halves that should not fit.
But must reside in the same body.
The wounded half. The healed half.
I wonder, “How is this yoga different?
My curiosity invites me.
My trauma qualifies me.
My trauma body shows up.
Longing to find my yoga body.

No Eastern ambiance.
Just a conference room.
Filled with a sense of safety.
Created just for me.
And the millions of eligible souls.
Small classes, by design.
No challenge for perfecting the pose.
No call for deepening the experience.
My eyelids shutter closed.

It is just me and the teacher’s calm voice.
My body responds with a small rocking motion.
My self-soothing visits each pose.
Resources on Suicide Prevention keep me company during tree pose.
I smirk at the irony.
Memories of my 15-year vigil with Suicide.
And now I am doing yoga with Suicide.

Several weeks go by uneventfully.
Then my whole being hears the word “choice.”
My body shudders in response.
My mind keeps repeating:
Choice, choices, choice, choices, choice, choices
This is my awakening
I can move a little
Or a lot
Or not at all
The past is not here

Today means
No violent authority
No need to resist
No one holding me down
No one demanding, expecting
It is just me

I immerse myself in the experience of safety and choice
Body memories spasm and sputter, ready to escape
Captive no more
A spinal twist wrings out ancient tears

Yoga connects me to my body
Helps me feel whole
Shows me the path of gentleness
I begin to see a wider landscape of the future
To feel more freedom than pain
To resemble healing more than trauma

Only a teacher than understands
Trauma is ready to witness the depth of my pain
Only a teacher that understands
Yoga will appreciate the stretch of my courage
Today
I practice
The Yoga of Courage
I practice
The Yoga of Choice
I practice
Freedom Yoga

Photo, of the author in tree pose, is by http://www.brittripleyphotography.com/

Previously published on http://givebackyoga.org/trauma-sensitive-yoga-for-rape-survivors-reflections-from-a-poet

This is part 6 of a 7 part series on self-care.

Day 5: The Yoga of Self-Care

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Day 5: The Yoga of Self-Care
1. Remember to notice your breath and how it changes with situations, emotions, triggers, people.
2. Add an intention that includes something that feels miraculous to you right now. Miracles happen.
3. Nothing ever gets resolved with out ACTION. Run, walk, dance, jig or two-step your way into movement.
4. Being willing to seek out the root of your shit-storm is HUGE. Give yourself a big hug and eat some ice cream. Call on a friend and professionals.
5. This self-help method can be used anywhere with any problem.
Massage therapists always say: The issues are in the tissues. I agree – our body holds much wisdom and has a memory far more powerful than we probably know. It is incredibly important to honor, honor, honor what the body has to say during any healing process. This is one method I use in my 1 on 1 healing sessions frequently. There are many methods – use what works for you. I do encourage folks to do this on their own and when receiving care from a chiropractor, acupuncturist, yoga class, meditation time, massage therapist, dancing, etc. There are a gazillion ways to heal and this can be used and adapted for just about any modality.
Sit quietly and note where in the body you feel pain, discomfort, soreness, tightness, etc.
Set intention to be able to hear the message(s) your body has for you and make a clear direct statement that you are seeking wisdom from your body and are willing to hear what it has to say. Do your best to empty your mind and create space for the message(s) to come in without judgement. Use your breath to clear and absorb several times throughout the process.
You can hold, tap, or massage the sensitive point you have identified. As you begin to do this, see what situations, people, relationships, thoughts come to mind.  Allow the tears, anger, frustration, jealousy, etc. anything that surfaces, to flow. Each emotion needs to be honored. Once you think you have the emotional root, thank your body for holding space for this to be honored. Reassure the body that you are committed to resolving the issue and ask if your body would like to have you check in again. If yes, ask when. Send a huge dose of love to this part of your body. Then imagine wrapping yourself in a beautiful soft blanket soaked in love. Give your body permission to absorb the healing of love.
Then do some art, writing or whatever process feels good to you to absorb the new information. Process with a friend or professional if needed.
I suggest ending with a positive mantra/statement (or several) to tap into whatever part of the body feels natural to be tapped on (or massaged or held) and do that until you feel peace in all ways. Mantra suggestions: I am grateful for my innate wisdom. I love my body and our memories. I am grateful for being open to discover a layer of myself that deserves healing. I am committed to healing this wound completely. I honor this wound as a part of who I am and I know that I am whole, even with wounds waiting to be healed. My body is a gift. This knowledge is a gift. I am a gift.
Yoga helps me appreciate my body. And it helps my body release old wounds that I do not want to carry around anymore. Regular yoga practice, in a class or by yourself, is a gift to yourself. Stretch gently into healing. Give yourself loving-kindness and freedom from the past. These women inspire me. I am grateful they gift themselves yoga. http://www.rebelcircus.com/blog/curvy-girls-nailed-yoga-poses/
This is part 5 of a 7 part series on self-care.

Day 4: The Yoga of Self-Care

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Day 4: The Yoga of Self-Care

1. Always begin with the breath – take it   d e e p   and   s l o w. Your body dances when you breath mindfully.

2. Post your intentions. Sing them, chant them, have FUN with them, do art with them!

3. Make the ACTION LIST. Do the EASY items first.

4. Work through the IMPOSSIBLE.

The items left seem IMPOSSIBLE or they wouldn’t still be waiting for attention. Getting to the root of IMPOSSIBLE will take time, effort, and, emotional attention. Healing these roots will make all the difference in the current situation and create different outcomes in the future. The same old shit won’t trigger you into fear-based thinking. I am cheering you through this shift – it is such a worthwhile journey.

Fear is an awesome manufacturer of procrastination. Likewise, anger can be an awesome springboard for action.

I give you permission to be pissed at the situation or circumstances. Allow the emotions to flow. Just take the piss (and the victim) out of your voice once you are enlisting the help of others. The goal is to navigate this with as much grace and healing as possible, which means how to treat others through this process is important. Keep your civility and integrity intact.

When facing the IMPOSSIBLE, it is time to remember you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, learning how to ask and receive help might be an important lesson for you. It certainly was for me. Now is the time to reach into your toolbox or see a practitioner that can help you find the source of pain, hurt or trauma that is probably at the root of IMPOSSIBLE. For me, Emotional Freedom Technique (aka EFT or Tapping) is a wonderful self-help tool that will take me to the root of my blockage. Use what works for you. I also highly recommend therapy and counseling professionals that can help you navigate shitty times especially if you have PTSD, complex trauma, anxiety disorder, or severe depression. I have a history of all of these and the professionals in my life always helped me pull through. Remember, it is Your Turn to give yourself the experience of courage and freedom using whatever tools make you feel safe and comfortable.

Simple solutions that have used: I made an appointment with a close friend and ask them to be with me during the hard part, whether it was a phone call or appointment. Sometimes all I need is an accountability friend. I ask them to poke me to make sure it got done when I promised it would be done. I have friends that would just let me talk about the possibilities out loud, sometimes giving helpful suggestions, but mostly listening. Talking it through (out loud to yourself even!) can be an important shift. Make a list of trusted professionals, friends, and family members that you can call upon as you navigate this shit storm.

As you read through the IMPOSSIBLE ACTION ITEMS, I have some self-help tools to share:

Where do you feel the tension in your body? What happens if you breath into this space? Use the   d e e p   and   s l o w   breath to open up space in your body and mind to navigate this differently than you have before.

Notice your self-talk during this process. Can it be addressed by one of the new intentions you created?

What personality of fear is showing up right now? Panic, fear, anxiety, overwhelm, frustration, anger, shame, guilt, intimidation? Stretch your body – do any movement that will help your body let go of the physical tension that has been launched. Dance, shake, laugh, walk, run, stretch and be vocal during this process.

If you feel comfortable doing this alone, ask yourself what is the earliest memory you have of feeling just like this. This might be the root of this trigger. Once you have identified a situation (typically from childhood or young adulthood) then start using the tools you know to begin to work through this old hurt. Again, totally cool to work through this with a pro if that feels best.

Journaling is a great tool right now. It can be as simple as a list of how you are feeling. You can send an email to your self or use pen and paper. I believe your body needs for you to acknowledge these feelings and emotions to begin the healing process. Here are some prompts:

This makes me feel ____ or feel like ______ or remember ______
I don’t know why but this word/action/emotion makes me ________
When I think of ______ I hear/smell/taste/feel/see _______
My <body part> hurts and has a message for me ___________

Honor yourself with some yoga. Find a community that takes care of themselves and you will find a community that cares about you.

This is part 4 of a 7 part series on self-care.

Rocket Fuel

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Rocket Fuel

Rocket Fuel

My friend

Is very quiet

As a child he talked

A lot

Car trip to grandma’s

His 5 year old mind liked to think

Out loud

Mama said, “Be quiet!”

Words = energy

Mama said, “Be quiet or I will put you out of the car!”

Contained thoughts burned his insides

Like fuel

There was no countdown

The rocket fuel was just too strong he reckons

Car stops

Mama takes him out

Dust settles

No traffic

Alone

Roadside bushes befriend him

My friend took apart his rocket

Buried the pieces

Swallowed the fuel

After forever, Mama returned

Grandma visited

Let the fuel flow

I will listen

Valuable words

One of a kind thoughts

Beautiful feelings

Let that old fuel out

Re-fuel regularly

Leaving the Known and Finding a Silo

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Leaving the Known and Finding a Silo

In the last year, I have had several friends tell me that I inspired them to make changes in their lives. They left jobs, sold homes, moved, left unhealthy relationships, took chances on new relationships and more. It is not easy to leave our known places that are comfortable. I am humbled, and inspired, by these stories.

I did leave a great home of 25 years called Des Moines, IA. I loved my friends, the local scene, the work that I did over the years, but I felt stuck in roles that I had created but could no longer support. I moved to save my Self. To find which pieces of me were worth keeping and to let go of other pieces. For some people, I jumped off a cliff into the unknown. It is true that I did not know a whole lot about my future. I had a temporary place to live, a few family members living near-by, a little bit of money, and no job.

I have heard over and over how courageous I am and I want to argue that many days, in fact, I feel terrified. Most of my fear comes from thinking I don’t have any choices.

In the end, I am reminded that more choices are out there than I can imagine. Most recently, I listened to a voice that said “Put it out there – your desire to live rent free and closer to work for the winter” and just a couple of weeks later, I found myself living in a silo 6 miles from work. I love this silo. It has shown me that I love a small, round living space, and that my needs are quite simple. However, as I packed up my things I wondered why I was leaving such a beautiful and comfortable home that I shared with a very kind and like-minded woman. Is moving somewhere for 2 months crazy? What happens in 2 months? I created a choice and in that choice there is discomfort of the unknown.

How do I discover my choices? I pray. A lot. The prayers have covered lots of territory in the last year: “What is next? Where is my next job, home, meal, tank of gas? What is the next strategy for healing this wound? And God? I am so relieved that it isn’t all up to me.” Then I listen and take the appropriate steps to find the next right thing.

I just want to point out that to live courageously often invites a relationship with fear. To step out into the unknown tells fear that I am accepting the lessons that fear has for me. This does not mean that I am not afraid, it means that I am signing up to practice being familiar with the unknown, uncomfortable, and the awkward. I honor the presence that fear has in my life and give myself permission to move ahead anyway.

It is in these places that I find some things resembling courage, resilience, healing, joy, and freedom.

Healing Intentions

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Healing Intentions

I believe setting up intentions early in my experience has helped me to trust that the journey is unfolding in the way that is most beneficial for me. If you think intentions are helpful, feel free to use these as a guide and make them your own. I have modified them a few times, so visit them regularly.

I intend that I honor truth and awareness as a first step to healing. And engage my Divine wisdom and discernment in the process. Healing from suppressed memories is more common that you might imagine. It is a normal reaction of our brain to hold back pain and events that we are not yet capable of working through. Many of us have hurts and wounds that come up to the surface when we are ready to move through those old experiences to heal. I believe we cannot heal from that which we are not consciously aware of, however some details are not required to heal. I intend:

  • That I remember only that which is necessary to heal on all levels: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and sexually.
  • That I visit each memory only as long as is necessary to heal on all levels.
  • That if any part of my healing can directly impact others in a healing way, bring us together.
  • That my healing serves the collective in an amplified way that serves the highest good of all, especially in regard to the sexual imbalances in our world. The Ripple Effect with direct, expanded intention.
  • That I begin living life from the healed part of my heart, mind, body, and soul.
  • That I find complete and total forgiveness.
  • That radical and complete healing is my experience.
  • That I always remember Love.

 

Angela’s Voice / January 28, 2011 / Journal Entry

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Angela’s Voice / January 28, 2011 / Journal Entry

I vomited up disappointment tonight.

I realized my HUGE fear of disappointing people.
This fear has driven me to overcommit, over-deliver, and please, please, please at the expense of my health, my self-care, my well-being.
It was an energetic vomiting of being told not to be a disappointment by my grandpa. The mental tape, literally in his voice, was “Don’t disappoint me Angie.”

I remembered all the ways I feel disappointed by others and all the ways I feel I disappoint others. And I saw all the situations I put myself into that are impossible for me to come out on top, so I disappoint everyone involved.

God it hurt. I cried out. I sobbed. I yelled. I rocked back and forth holding my gut – the home of this fear for so many years.

During this experience, I had the thought that I should reach out to a friend because it was one of those dark moments that good friends want to help you through. One of those moments that a friend wishes she would have been called on when she hears about it later. As I started scrolling through my telephone contacts, I asked myself, “What do I want from someone right now?” The answer was to be held and rocked; to be assured that I will get better. I wanted my mom. Since calling my mom was not an option, I kept scrolling – looking for the friend that would support me best in this moment.

I didn’t get very far before I realized that the no one could be my mom in that moment more than my mom. Asking someone to try to fill her shoes would be unfair. And, I knew, with Divine clarity, that my perfect mom friend resided within me. I didn’t need my mother; I could reach out and hold and rock that child within that needed loved and reassured better than anyone else. I literally held and rocked myself, whispering the nurturing, loving words that I longed to hear in that moment. I invited God to also wrap arms of love and protection around me. I cried and keened with that hurting child as a mother and as a friend. And it was perfect. There was no disappointment, just love and comfort.

In the end, the message was (and is) “Angie, you are enough. In every moment, you are enough.” There is not much room for disappointment when we are enough.

This is an invitation to search for all that you are looking for within yourself, be your own witness. Invite God into the experience and know that you hold all the keys to your own healing. Love yourself the way that no one else can love you – deeply and profoundly – this is where you find God and where you find yourself.

-Angela Rae Clark, 2006 TYIG Seedling still finding her way in the Inner Garden world. Angela is sharing part of her 2011 experience of healing from emerging memories of rape, torture and trauma involving the grandfather that is mentioned in this article. She is immensely grateful for the TYIG tools and experiences to draw upon. Deb, Diane and the TYIG friends are a constant inspiration and source of love and support. Angela offers others support and healing through her healing arts practice, The Ki Inside. http://www.TheKiInside.com