Better Than My Solitude

This quotation jumped out at me when I saw it posted in the ether some time ago… It rings so very true for me.  I couldn’t say whether it is a result of an empathic heart, INFJ tendencies, or the heavily-leaning introverted side of a potentially ambiverted personality. . .

My solitude is my sanity, and there are times when I must shut out all but what my body does involuntarily – my beating heart, and a chest which rises and falls like the tides, my sole companions.

For a long, long time, the thought of anyone in my space bordered on “terrifying.”  It was not specifically a fear of loss, whether to freedom, or privacy, or presence…but more that my soul needed the expanse in which to re-calibrate and recharge.  It felt almost like an affront to my very essence to have someone impede spatially in my life – as if I had no sanctuary my own.

I’m still a lot like a lone wolf, but there is one person with whom I am blessed beyond rhyme and reason to have in my life.  And he…he won me over so much so that his presence challenged my comfort zone…and single-handedly defeated it.

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Taking a Moment With Mindfulness

Many years – moons ago, it seems –  I was introduced to the concept of “mindfulness.”  I’d been practicing mindfulness most of my life without realizing it…and I hadn’t realized, because I’d not always *quite* had the hang of it. Still, I was vastly more spiritual than I had words to explain, and my ever-wandering mind, and proclivity for all thing magical, led me – both knowingly and not – down the path.

After at least a decade and a half of Alexander Technique, Craniosacral and Somatic work, EMDR, Brainspotting, Martial Arts, and countless spiritual endeavors, I fumble a little bit less. . .  But I’m still learning, and have leagues yet to go – lifetime pursuit, as so many things are.

But it isn’t required that we are necessarily graceful with it.  Fluidity comes with consistency, and mindfulness is very much a way of life.  It is therefore a quotidian ritual of sorts that we evolve with, and as a result of –  to expect mastery instantly is almost an injustice, as the (sometimes clumsy!) journey is what facilitates learning at the deepest levels.  It’s not unlike meditation – widely known to be a challenge at first – as it becomes smoother with time.

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Life these days feels intensely hectic – I want to say more so than ever but I’ve only know this Earth, and time, for 38 years!  The influx (and imposition – *cough* *cough* social media!) of technology has created a reality in which “connectivity” is at the ultimate high. 24/7, to be exact.  There are many blessings born of such advances, but there are also massive changes afoot – ones which I daresay are reprogramming human beings at the most fundamental level.

We are all born with a magical capacityALL of us.  We all have the ability to tap into the same natural resources that have allowed us to survive as a species from the beginning of time.  But it feels frighteningly apparent that even children – generally more adept at awareness than overly-conditioned adults – are also losing the ability.  

It isn’t just about looking down at a phone while crossing the street – awareness out the window and then some!  It’s also in losing the ability to “read” others – the read the non-verbal cues, to FEEL, to SENSE… Children drown nearly as much in the virtual world these days, to the degree that even THEY don’t see the full picture anymore… 

Scary thought…

The good news?  That extra-sensory ability never truly goes away.  What’s happening is more that we are – byproduct of a civilized, modern society – conditioned OUT of our natural abilities.  Our senses become duller because who needs to be aware of danger when getting dinner involves takeout, or benign shopping aisles?!  

Oh, and that “6th” one?  It gets completely shrouded by all the noise.  Sadly, modern man somehow thinks a 6th sense is actually supernatural.  Ever notice that animals have it?  Right…well. . . *reminder* : we ARE animals.  We have it too.  Just —> noise, noise, noise! 

Enter mindfulness.  

The practice of mindfulness brings back the precise moment in time in which we find ourselves.  For me, it is seeing each letter as I type my words, hearing myself speak them as they form, seeing the pause of my fingertips, hearing the  music that is playing in the background…

Human beings have always projected ahead, and reflected on the past – for instance, planning a hunt to gather food, and drawing the hunt on the walls of a cave after the fact.  But nowadays, that practice is so multi-fold that stress tends to weasel its way in to the process, leaving us frazzled and forgetful of the moment we are actually IN.

When we DO take a deep breath…and take the moment in…our heart rate actually slows down with us.  Our very life force, how about that?

Mindfulness is the place in which perspective is purest, in which our emotions no longer control us (this is a wonderful practice for anger and the anxiety-prone), in which our innate magical abilities awaken.

It can have other great effects too – we might actually enjoy our food, eat less instead of devouring (I’m guilty of that!) It gives stress a swift kick for a time too (something we all need!) Mindfulness can catch us in the act of judging, or just before an argument that we needn’t have… It helps us to become better all around.

Mindfulness is like the free gift of wizardry!  We have the power to create, to subdue, to awaken, to affect, to manifest, and to see.  Our feelings are deeper, our heart unfolds, and suddenly. . ?  It’s like we are truly alive.

At a time of the year when life is particularly stressful – and focused on the superficial in many ways – take a moment (or, better…SEVERAL) and relax into your breath. 

Feel.  

Sense.  

BE.

The magic will do the rest.

Blessed be,

❤ 

7 Lessons to Remember When Life Seems to Suck, By Benson Wong

I really appreciated this article by Benson Wong – it just came through to my inbox today via Tiny Buddha, a site I adore.  I get their e-mails regularly, and generally find myself nodding along in agreement – or simply in shared experience – as I read the various stories and entries presented.  What I like is that the authors are real people, from all over the globe, sharing honest experiences…many of which you may find you can relate to.  

I enjoyed Benson Wong’s post because I’m the kind of person who tries to air on the side of the positive.  ALL the time. I can be a real pain in the ass, I have as many flaws as the next human being (if not more!) and I most DEFINITELY have bad days…

BUT. . .

The thing is, as an Empath, I don’t HAVE the luxury of dwelling on the bad – a perpetual focus on the negative (or – FAR worse – adding to it) is a quick trip into depression for me.  I’m okay to admit that – my sensitivity is absolutely a gift, but it’s something I must always remain mindful of, lest my overactive mind, and ultra compassionate heart pull me into some quicktar.  Yes, you read that right (and I made it up!)  It wouldn’t be sand for me.  It would be flat-out TAR.  

This would be me - trying to see the positive, but sinking into a black abyss! http://nachoabyss.com/page/6

This would be me – trying to see the positive, but sinking into a black abyss! http://nachoabyss.com/page/6

But life is stressful some…er…MOST of the time.  There’s a lot going on, ALL the time, and there always will be.  There’s always going to be SOMEthing to feel anxious about, frustrated over, or peeved by.  So having the reminder – or several – in your arsenal is incredibly valuable.

We ALL need to step back, breathe, and remember…especially during those down-in-the-doldrums moments…that things aren’t as bad as they seem, and that we DO have a choice about how to move forward.  

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Changing our focus to the positive can move mountains.  Okay…maybe not literally, that would be a hefty challenge (and frankly highly impressive on a superhuman scale), but you know what I mean.  A positive mindset can shift the energies in your life rather dramatically, and settle your nervous system down enough to realize that villainous “mountain” is not only scalable, but possibly a lot less threatening than you thought.

(C) Jantoo

(C) Jantoo

Intuition

Trust it.

Without hesitation.

Don’t make excuses.  Don’t justify, internalize, or minimize. That “feeling” you have – great, bad, or otherwise?  It’s dead on.  

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That elusive, evolutionary mechanism residing within your center – brimming over with feeling, and yet altogether “emotionless”. . . That space JUST KNOWS. Humans may indeed be flawed and fragile, but we have been designed – by whomsoever you chose – to survive against the odds.  Our “gut” tells us when things may be tipping in our favor, and when they might go awry (there actually IS a sabretooth hovering in that bush behind you.  RUN.)

Modern life has someone drowned to reflex, but it hasn’t gone anywhere.  No, it’s still there, jumping up and down with red flags a-flying trying to tell you that guy isn’t good for you on any level…that the job relocation actually IS what you need…or that maybe you need to rest today instead of pushing yourself to the point of immune shutdown.

These days life is fast-paced and all-consuming – here I am typing these words, with a cell phone plugged in next to me, texts coming through…and three other windows open, one of which is e-mail.  What happened to the “down time” of old?  What happened to actually FEELING and be aware of our own physiologic sensations?  Technology?  Maybe… It’s certainly sped up the planet to a spin that’s hard to keep up with – forget about time for a coffee, let alone having a moment to catch your breath and re-calibrate with your gut. Meditation?  What’s that?

Still…despite the onslaught of time-robbing “stuff,” the intuition is ever at the ready to guide you.  That split second flutter you feel is trying to tell you something.  So even if life has gone on warp speed…take a moment to LISTEN.  As best you can.  You don’t have to take a five-minute time out…just take a breath and listen to what your body, gut, and intuition is saying.  It’s got your back 1,000% – think of it as your personal, built-in radar, programmed to keep you alive and well.

And if you are one of those people who ARE aware but choose to ignore it?  Do a little test and listen next time… Making excuses or turning our cheek the other way?  It only hurts us in the end.

I do believe that things happen for reasons – many of the lessons I had to learn stemmed from deliberately overriding my gut (consciously and unconsciously.)  Neither, I suppose, is the better teacher – one just happens to be a lot less painful.  Especially after the fact when that flutter says – in the deep recesses of silence at night – “I told you so.”

Yeah…  You did.

 

Him

One year ago a man walked through the door of a coffee shop, brushing the unremitting, though gentle Spring snow from his head – I knew then that something was different, how fitting Mother Nature made a point that the day stand out. 

We had agreed to meet at the long-time urging of a friend (how blessed I am for the persistence!) – she unknowing altered my Life, acquainting me with what (who) would be the most precious gift of all my years.  Just days earlier he accepted a job in another state and would be moving only two weeks later – we’d apparently grown up in the same, relatively small town – how terribly ill-timed it seemed, at yet how fortuitous…

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Six months prior, I’d ended a third abusive relationship with a very ill human being – Narcissistic Personality Disorder and alcoholism at the core of the troubles, though scarcely the whole of them.  I had suffered trauma before, not recognizing my propensity towards codependency, but this was the most severe, triggering layers upon layers of anguish…and adding several more.  I wasn’t launched into a nightmare of eating disorders, as I was ten years prior from the abuse of a then, also alcoholic, boyfriend…but the PTSD came raging back (with a capital C before it, sadly.)

I was rendered nonfunctional, incapable of leaving my apartment, save to go to my (outrageously supportive!) parents’ house to weep, seemingly ad infinitum.  I slept on their living room couch for weeks, afraid and unable to be alone. Trauma therapy (EMDR), talk therapy, medication, podcasts, hypnosis, meditation, chakra balancing, Cranial Sacral work, Brainspotting, somatic release, blog scouring….I did ALL of it.  I did everything I possibly could to regain some vestige of strength and stability, but there was one bit of edification the EMDR would provide that would change everything…  

As I worked through painful, teary sessions, the fog began to lift from my eyes.  Though my loved ones insisted this wasn’t a pattern, I knew I had some part to play, and was desperate to discover the nature of it, no matter what the mirror reflected back.  Over time I began to see a woman with a devoted heart, a boundless spirit, an interminable will, who painted herself with appalling falsities and misplaced intolerance.  I realized that not only had I woven…and believed!…countless lies about myself…but I had actually never thought I deserved better.  The moment I accepted that I DID, my World was turned upside-down (for, rest assured, the better.)

I made a point to make a vision board – one into which I poured countless hours, both physically and emotionally.  Had I not infused each part with my spirit, I am not certain I would have come out to this path – the explicit nature of my intentions, and the reality which I breathed into each one, made (I believe) all the difference – it is in this way we practice “Magic.”  I read all the written words aloud as 2014 melted away, with a voice as strong as I could muster.  At 12:01, my heart beat more clearly and resolutely than it had in a long time –  whatever the shift that occurred was one I felt within, and without.

The next two months had their share of distress and lachryma…points at which I needed to work within moments (a day at a time, hour to hour, still feeling insurmountable.)  But on the 1st of March, the Stars connivance collided in a rush of Springtime snow, and a smile I was certain I’d known before…  Yes, and coffee too!

What they say about true love...about immediate knowing…it IS true.  It was as if a prior Life rekindled and flashed a thousand embraces in my mind.

The soul knows before the rest of us, often…  It knows despite the urging of the mind, or heart.  I’d learned over time to over-justify, to make excuses for others, to drown out my “gut feeling” in effort to make another person happy, or to keep the peace…but it always knew rightly.  Upon reflection I could enumerate at length how infinitely more acute my gut actually is than any fiction my brain could devise, or reason my heart urge I pursue.

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Every so often, all this time later, I feel as if I need to blink my eyes open…pinch myself…in effort to affirm I am indeed in conscious waking. His companionship is so much a gift that I’d not change a moment of my past – no matter which part – as I believe it gave me what I needed not only to find him, but to appreciate all that he is, as well as to appreciate myself.

I always believed that there is a reason in everything – for me personally, the notion has proved a beacon in the Night when the World seemed unusually cruel.  I believed that I could learn, and gain something positive, from my suffering…not least of which was some illumination, or enlightenment.  I do not believe we must suffer needlessly, only that whatever I have known within my own Life has given me strength and clearer vision.  So too have I recognized that my heart is capable of loving to oblivion, not only others, but for once in my Life, also myself.

I am blessed to have a companion who not only cherishes and respects me, but one who sincerely values who I am, and all I have known.  One of my greatest fears was that I would, yet again, be abandoned, threatened, cast aside as a stranger by the person I poured my soul into…  But when I met the Love of my Life, the fear began to subside…  

Not only do I feel loved, I know I am loved… He makes the effort always to let me know that I am neither alone, nor that I ever need be. He communicates with me honestly, and tells me with the utmost sincerity that “everything will be okay” when the pain creeps back in.  When you are in abusive relationships, you spend more time in “flight or fright” mode to the point you begin to think it is “normal.”  The desperate need for some reassurance, constancy or support is never fulfilled but somehow we push on…   

There are so many people who suffer at the hands of those incapable of loving us in return, but we needn’t remain there.  We do have a choice, and it is okay to reach out for the help we need to regain our strength and self-confidence.  

Codependency is common to Empaths, but we do not HAVE to be bound to the fate of fixing, helping, and losing ourselves…and our Lives.  It is possible to break the cycle, to learn to love ourselves, to learn to set boundaries…

True love exists, make no mistake.  It can paint the World with vibrancy you’d never believe existed, and extinguish all the shadows of your past.  The first step is loving yourself, above all, and believing that you deserve the best.  Once you believe it utterly, your World will change, blooming like am infinite blossom in the morning sun.

Visiting Avalo

I recently took a much-needed trip to my best friend’s farm – what a departure from the nuttiness around here! Avalo Cat Sanctuary is an official non-Profit (501c3) created to “make the world a better place for Cats through Care , Compassion and Companionship.” Animal lovers of any ilk will appreciate that foundation. ❤

Avalo’s goal is simple:

To be the best guardians possible for domesticated hybrids and small
exotic felines that have particular needs, require medical attention or
can not stay with their human guardian for whatever reason.

I’ve mentioned Avalo before...a few times…and I no doubt will again – it is, always has been, and always will be my second home.  The one place I can actually sleep better than when I AM home (which, for me, is incredibly noteworthy!)  

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Kemisi’s enclosure (outdoor portion)

My friend Michelle is hands down one of the most amazing people I have ever met – she would feed any of her 114 cats, or 13 horses, before feeding herself…and, minus her husband a student or two, she does this by herself!  (She also teaches Parelli Natural Horsemanship, at which she naturally excels, hence the horses!)  

While I have no knowledge of the goings on (regarding horsemanship) myself, I am a former competitive figure skater, a competitive ballroom dancer, classically trained / performing ballerina, and a current martial artist and lifter – so I can see the difference(s) a mile away.  I see her with her students, and I see her with her horses – it is like watching a dance. 

She has no idea that I’m writing about her, by the way…she would never ask.  Michelle and I are the kind of people who don’t like pushy individuals – neither of us can stand proselytizing, imposition, or sycophants.  But I like to share what she is doing because it is truly, sincerely, AMAZING.  And I just had the fortune to be there – at a time when I REALLY needed a break.  

Avalo is home to my beautiful F1 Chausie, Kemisi – as mentioned in other posts, I had to rehome her (to my great devastation) along with my male, Khonsu, some years ago.  My career in Fashion was soaring…but the more-and-more frequent trips to China were frankly painful for my felines – they wouldn’t eat, they’d get depressed and lethargic…it was awful.

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The process of finding the RIGHT guardian(s) was arduous, felt nigh impossible, and is far too complicated to get into here… But let’s just say, Michelle was the light at the end of my tunnel!  

Khonsu and Kemisi have an indoor and outdoor enclosure that Michelle and her wonderful husband, Steve, put together.  We worked on the outside, which was emotional and fulfilling at the same time – it is a perfect space for them and, minus a few large Southern spiders, I LOVE hanging out in there! 😀

My little man would have been ten and a half – he passed in September last year.  Kemisi is also ten and a half, and I was overjoyed to see her – she looks as beautiful as ever.  The wonderful thing about the outdoor portion – at Avalo – is that there aren’t just snazzy little bugs flying about, or varying weather to sniff at… There are tons of cats running about!  While she is never particularly thrilled – Kemisi always was a bit territorial! – she loves to see who’s running by, and what antics are taking place in neighboring enclosures (with other Chausies and Jungle Cats), or with the outdoor “kids” as they fly by.  

I managed to hose down my iPhone while filling Kemisi’s fish pond (fear not, she never troubles the fish, but rather prefers to drink from a pond than a bowl! 😉 ) But in a way, having less connection and down time was a GREAT thing! I have always been a believer that time in Nature is one of the most rejuvenating things a person can do for him or herself – no devices, no social media…just good friends, quiet time, animals…and the natural world around us.  It isn’t only for us Empaths and energy people either – I sincerely believe ALL human beings need that “down time.”

I scheduled a bunch a posts prior to leaving…enough to carry me a day or two after I got back.  Technology allows us to stay on top of the more hectic Life of 2015, if absolutely necessary…but we can do that without taking away from our recharge time.

Owning and maintaining a farm is HARD work, but for Michelle, taking care of all those animals is her “peaceful time.”  Cats are sent to her because they have behavioral issues, injuries that others would euthanize over (I’m sorry, but the handful of three-legged cats around?  They are having a BALL – loving Life, enjoying their surroundings, and managing just as well as the others!!)  

She also has more hybrids, like my babies, some of whom are larger and unhandleable (There are Asian Leopard Cats, a Serval, a Caraval, Bengals, and other Chausies, as well as a feral cat or two.) But for her, it is a joy – to know she has touched the lives of those animals, and been a guardian to them for whatever time they have, is the biggest gift in the world.  

Avalo is a Sanctuary not only for the animals there…but for her…for me…for anyone blessed to spend time there.  

And blessed is exactly how I feel when I am there.  ❤

 

 

Finding Peace in the Chaos

Yes…it’s “one of those weeks.”  Lots of stress, not enough sleep, feeling overwhelmed…  I’ve had a few “venting” moments, but…at least for me…I REALLY need some time where I can just breathe, focus, and relax.  We all need to have down time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean spending it inactive.

I’m thankful to have a key to the Dojang because getting there early is effectively my sanity insurance!  I not only take time for extra stretching (given my injuries, the portion dedicated in class isn’t enough)…but I also take time to practice.

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Practice makes perfect, so it goes…but as any martial artist would say, there is a spiritual, intellectual, and emotional component to going through forms – and I mean properly, without stopping.  

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I try to practice as if I am promoting, because when I do, I want them as clean as possible.  Perfection isn’t necessarily the goal – that in an of itself is rather lofty given the accomplishments of my Grandmaster.  BUT, to do them WELL is achievable, which helps to solidify the movements therein (essentially, all those vital “basics.”)   

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Doing forms in a group is incredibly valuable – it helps us learn our timing and placement in an unpredictable space.  But…having some time alone is truly restorative, and not so unlike an active meditation.

Today…I needed restorative.

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Everyone is different – we each have activities that calm our system and help us to soothe the frays.  Whatever that is, make sure to take time for yourself to do just that – you deserve it.  AND, it will prevent getting completely out of hand when chaos seems to be the trend!