Going Home to Arrive at Peace

Some look at the odyssey of my life, 6 major moves in my adult life alone, and think, “courage”.  Others think, “unstable”.  It has taken me until the 42nd year of my life to really understand that my journey has not been one of running away — as I had self-judged — but one of running towards things.

Why so long to figure it out?  I guess in part because I arrived in this life feeling unsettled, and moreover, unsure of who I am.  I was more anxious to “belong” than I was to embrace my authenticity, and so I allowed myself to run towards new experiences hoping that each would be the one that felt like home, like me, like belonging.  When the initial shock of change wore off I would find myself frequently struggling to belong, and when that feeling never came I would run quickly and frequently without a visible net toward an inner longing.

Those journeys took me to wonderful places and introduced me to so many amazing individuals.  What was always a bit unsettling, however, is that no matter how hard I tried, no matter how immersed in my community I got or how much I longed for stability I always had a feeling that I was not where I belonged.  After each house we purchased I could feel that it wasn’t the home so many of my peers had where their kids would come home with their kids and reminisce about childhood and memories.  I wanted that in my last house, and dug my feet in so hard to make it so that the uprooting was much more tumultuous than it should have been.

Three years ago now I brought my kids east from California to see where I grew up and to come back to a city I love, Washington, DC.  As we were flying into BWI and buildings were coming in to focus, my son asked me to point out the Capitol Building and I burst into tears.  When my feet hit the ground I was overwhelmed and taken aback by the feeling that had eluded me for almost 40 years — the feeling of home.

Less than one year later I was driving across country with my husband, kids and dogs returning to a place that I had mentally released and to which I had sworn never to return.  We landed.  In truth, the arrival has not been as smooth as one might think when something feels so right.  In fact, many times I have wondered, “what on earth  was I thinking?”  This bumpy ride left me wondering if once again I somehow missed, if somehow I raced too quickly toward something empty. Recently I have come to realize that the re-immersion has been one of healing.  I had to come home in order to sort through all of the experiences I’ve gathered.  I had to come home as who I’ve become to realize who I’ve been.  I do believe that only in one’s home can we claim our space.

There has been a shedding of sorts as I suss through my life choices.  I am letting go of things that needed to happen but which no longer make me happy.  I’m owning those parts of me that were hidden when I was young and only emerged as I allowed myself to explore new places and situations.  Sometimes, in the midst of those eras of my life I couldn’t recognize myself because I was “knee deep in it.”  I was emerging, oftentimes to quash it for fear that it would make me stand out instead of fit in.  But from home, from this place of safety, I can lay it all out and assess and choose and see myself accurately for the first time in my life.  It’s as if I’ve been traveling around gathering all of the lumber and doors and windows for my dream home, but I’ve been doing it for so long and have been so many places I forgot what I accumulated and the plans for the house felt distant in spite of the tools I had gathered.  Now, in this place I can unpack those crates, lay it all out and build the home / life that is a true reflection of me.

I share this as I know so many people are currently wandering and gathering their own materials, preparing to settle comfortably into their own “house”.  So many times clients ask me, how will I know, and will I be happy there?  The answer, your heart will tell you — in some unmistakable way.  Happiness is based on your willingness to let the process unfold, to embrace the life you’ve created and to realize that for some, home is just a stopping place to take stock; a place where one comes and goes whenever they need to recalibrate.  for some this is literally going home to a parent’s house, for others it’s a retreat where the world is silenced and for others it’s a move to a geographical region that fills their heart.

Wherever your home is, may you find it, embrace it and feel complete while you are there.

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The Evolution of Your Authentic Self

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Our first MS team and walk, Thousand Oaks, CA

What challenges you to stay true to your authentic self?  If you’re like me, it could be a friend whose way of life you admire, a parent you’re trying to please or a boss you want to impress.  All have created situations in my life where I had to look at how I was showing up in relationship to these elements and decide if I was being authentic or  being who I thought I needed to be to create the outcome I thought I wanted.  Though all were growth opportunities, the biggest challenge to my authentic self, a challenge to the beliefs that make me who I am, was my husband’s diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.  It was December 2009 that the diagnosis was received, and as we face the changing of seasons in Northern Virginia 2012, we are finally beginning to accept it.

There is much to be said about the journey of living a life with someone who has a serious illness, and that will take up space in another blog.  But the journey into acceptance, for me, came in realizing that embracing this diagnosis, and all that has come with it, challenged who I am at my core.  You see, in my core I truly believe that all illness is a messaging system from our soul letting us know that something is out of balance.  When I worked as a medical intuitive I could connect sore throats, pink eye, colds, sore backs, trick knees and even cancer to an emotional unhinging.  I even know people who have healed from major illnesses like cancer, juvenile arthritis, stroke by addressing the emotions that caused their imbalance.  For me, accepting that my husband has MS conflicted with a core value that defines who I am and what I believe in.

So it was much easier to be angry about the disease, and angry with him for not seeking more help and more answers outside of western medicine.  This was compounded by all of my intuitive friends who, in the beginning, said, “I feel like this diagnosis is just a warning and he can change it.”  Ugh…”Not Matt” was all I could think.  From day one he jumped with both feet into the medical arena to be taken care of, and I really wanted to honor that journey.  But the cost, in my mind, of that support was having to give up a piece of my identity.

The disease has been affecting Matt for almost 10 years, we’ve only known what to call it for two and a half.  During those 2.5 years I have been resisting acceptance because that level of allowing felt like giving up on who I am and what has defined me.  After all, I had used alternative medicine to cure fibromyalgia, chronic bronchitis and my infant son’s chronic birth condition.  Consequently, I’ve been mad as hell at Matt.

Recently, after finally gaining employment (after years of law school and  unemployment), Matt lost his job.  In a phone call with one of my sisters things began to snap into place.  My sisters and I don’t mince words – there’s been enough trauma in our lives that we cannot afford to dance around one another’s feelings or sugar coat life, so I can trust them to tell me when I’m being absurd or misinterpreting something.  My sister said, “Teri, I think he lost his job in large part, due to the MS.”  I was blown away.  I expected her to tell me he was a dumb ass or a slacker or incompetent — I’m not proud to say these are the labels I’ve used for years to cope with the challenge to my authentic self.

I felt sick inside as I realized that all this time I have been resisting the MS diagnosis because there wasn’t a place for that inside my definition of self.  In that place that says “Everything is healable with a healing of the emotional level”–incurable disease had no place.  (I rationalized other people’s long term illnesses as simply being unhealed emotional trauma . . .  I know). 

Funny, what upsets our individual apple carts.  I had to find a way to incorporate my current life circumstances with who I know myself to be and how I want to live my life with the reality of living with a chronic and debilitating illness.  I got a little help from Louise Hay who reminds us that the very thing we are resisting is most likely the very thing we need to heal within our selves.  I was really resisting the idea that sometimes we choose an illness in order to help us learn, move forward and grow.  

I still believe that it’s possible to cure physical symptoms by healing our emotional layer, but I also know that everyone needs different support to do that healing.  Maybe, in my husband’s case, this disease will teach him that he is not alone, that he needs the support of groups and people, that sometimes there just isn’t a logical answer to the Universe.  In truth, I don’t know what exactly he needs, but I definitely needed to be reminded that it’s his journey and mine is to walk near him, not drag him along.  His inability to hold the kind of job we both imagined he would has inspired me to step more fully into my power –for years I’ve been trying to hand the reins to him, and that is simply not a part of my authentic self.  Sometimes, we choose to be in relationships with people who have illness because as they cope and heal we also learn, move forward and grow.

The authentic self is an evolution.  As we heal, release and embrace, we get a deeper and richer knowing of who we really are.  It’s all the same– at the core.  Authentically we are all light, we are all positive energy, we are all love.  So, until I rest in that place more times than not, I am open to the evolution of my own authentic self.

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Mirror, Mirror. . .

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Almost every client I worked with had a core issue that revolved around not feeling ‘good enough’.   How that belief manifests is frequently different, but the end game is similar in any case.  For me, inadequacy is rooted in rejection.  This is the issue that most frequently gets in the way of expressing my authentic self.  In fact, sub-consciously, I have a tendency to create situations where I reject myself before anyone else has the opportunity.

When I was a teenager and first having a sense of wanting to belong, I could not get it right.  The groups I wanted to be a part of saw me as a parasite.  Because I was already in a pattern of believing I would be rejected, I couldn’t even see those peers who were willing to accept me for who I was and suffered a great deal because of this.  This is where I learned the practice of self-rejection.  Back then, this looked like having an attitude and saying whatever came to mind with careless disregard for how it impacted anyone else –I made it very hard for anyone to get to know me, much less like me.  I knew on some level that this behavior was hurtful, but I was so convinced that none of my peers wanted anything to do with me, that I gave them good reason to take a few steps backwards.  Blessedly, the teen years are relatively short.

By my junior year of high school I had an opportunity to reset when my family moved to a new state.  But I was not emotionally mature enough to know that I was afraid of rejection.  I just knew my attitude had to change.  I really tried to be “likeable.”  I tried to role with it when I was being teased, I opened up to new groups of kids — ones who were really wonderful human beings.  But deep down I just knew that any friendships were short-lived because someone would discover that I wasn’t good enough.  So, I would frequently find myself in situations where I was not included or I was teased.  In my dating life, I was often the one being dumped.  Whenever someone came along who could truly be kind, considerate and accepting of who I was, I rejected them so that I wouldn’t have to feel the sting of being dumped when they found out who I really was.

As I got older, my way of dealing with this rejection issue was to become somewhat of a chameleon.  When I foundd someone whom I loved and admired or a situation I wanted to hold on to (like a job), I didn’t do anything to upset the apple cart.  Instead, I became whoever the other person needed me to be in order for there to be no conflict.  That often meant compromising my own beliefs, stuffing my comments, being ridiculed or taken advantage of, having my feelings stepped on, and sometimes, facing out right abuse.  I chuckle as I look back on recent years and the multitude of health issues that have come up.  Each having an emotional component — almost all being traceable to these kinds of relationships.  Relationships where I was too afraid to be myself for fear that I would be dumped.

In all honesty, it wasn’t until about a month ago that I could actually pin point the root of my own, “I’m not good enough” feelings — the feelings of rejection.  Through the healing process I have been forced to face relationships where I have not been authentic for fear of being rejected.  Let’s take a humorous look at the equation I set up:

In order for me to be liked/keep a situation thriving, I had to become someone I didn’t like, someone who is inauthentic.  I reject myself so that I won’t be rejected by someone else.  It’s funny when I say it out loud.

Why was I doing this?  I was subconsciously trying to break the cycle of rejection.  I was trying to set up my life so that the belief I have could be proven inaccurate. In other words, I was ensuring acceptance the only ways I knew how.  Beliefs, however, must be healed the other way around. First, heal the belief and then all relationships will reflect my authentic being.  Realizing what I was doing is step one.  

Your current life circumstances are reflecting back to you how you feel about yourself.  

My awareness came down to me acknowledging that I’m not showing up as someone I like very much. It was within days of that admittance that a fabulous friend and coach helped me get to the root of my unhappiness.  Now I reset.  Now I align with who I know myself to be and I say goodbye to the chameleon I have been.  Funny enough, as I’ve started to stand in my own light, some people are not liking it very much.  I know that some of these relationships will not survive, as they were built on me being someone I’m not. However, some will deepen and mature and newer ones still will fill in as I allow them to do so.  Conscious living is a beautiful thing.

Namaste,

Teri

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Letting Go Takes an Act of Faith

I’m a clencher.  I don’t hold on to everything, in fact a friend once joked upon seeing yet another porch full of items out for donation that she was sure she would come over one day to find nothing on the walls.  I don’t collect “stuff.”  I also easily cast off bad wine, ill-fitting shoes and half-empty notebooks.  

What I hold on to is the emotional stuff that I can only release with a little faith.  I have been known to hold on to hurt feelings because I believe they will protect me from ever being hurt the same way or by the same person again.  Once I had faith that I didn’t need to be protected, and that holding on wouldn’t actually keep more hurt from coming in, I began to let go.  I used to hold on to people I loved….so tightly it smothered them and made me crazy trying to manage their lives (and I’m still prone to this sometimes where my kids are concerned).  I still hold on to jobs — even when a million signs point to how dysfunctional those jobs are in my life.

My clenching is not only emotional, but physical.  As my grandfather used to say, “I’m wound as tight as a $2 watch.” The phrase predates me, but it never sounded like something good.  The truth is, I resist letting go for the same reason most people do.  Whatever discomfort I’m experiencing is less scary than the discomfort I think might come from letting go.  It used to be that the pain had to become so intolerable that I had no choice but to shift before I would make a change.  Now, once I realize I’m holding on I lean into my faith.

Not faith that someone will magically make it all ok or that letting go won’t be painful, but a faith that when I let go of something that is no longer working, I create the space for something beautiful to take place.  Indeed!  When I do this I feel my entire body relax.  I breathe more fully, I am more relaxed, my body doesn’t ache….I am free.  Oh, letting go is still hard, and sometimes I have to let go many times before I stop grabbing the discomfortback, but that feeling of freedom and the wonderful opportunities that come from letting go — that’s the magic.

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Authentically Me

It’s taken me weeks to launch this site– something that is very personal for me, something that’s a part of the very essence of who I am.  Why then the struggle to come up with the first post and get this off the ground?  Because I have had a guru, a few actually, and for the first time I’m pushing myself to put into words not only the experience of saying goodbye to those gurus, but the journey toward my authentic self. 

In our culture gurus tend to be teachers, books, friends…anything /anyone, really to which we depend on for answers.  The key words are “depend on.”  We don’t generally mean to do it–take on a guru that is–we just want peace, joy, happiness, health, abundance….whatever life nuance is escaping us.  So we find the book, dvd or teacher who seems to have achieved what we want and we adopt their methods of healing, creative thought, release or energy work to try and get “it” too.

Lots of quotation marks this morning, I know…it’s because those words represent key illusions on our journey.  What we are really doing when we depend on our guru (consciously or not), is hide from ourselves.  Almost six years ago, after many successful years as a Spiritual Life Coach, meditation teacher and seeker, I realized that I was at a cross-roads.  My journey was feeling hard, cumbersome and un-fun.  I realized there were a few gurus in my life whom I was trying to emulate in order to deepen the emotions I most wanted to experience– I had become dependent on my tools.  Some of these gurus were easier to cast away than others, but I’ll save that for another post. 

The really hard work came after the goodbyes (which at the time I thought were the hardest thing I had ever done).  What came next was having to say, “Hello” to who I really am, to my authentic self.  Easy right?  I like a good challenge, so of course not!  In truth, having a guru or gurus meant I had been trying on the clothing of others and wearing it around as if it were mine.  When it came time to choose what my own wardrobe looked like I was almost overwhelmed by the choices because I wasn’t really sure what my “style” was.  So overwhelmed that I just wanted to hide — forget about clothing altogether but only if no one could see me.  I’m of course not talking about clothing at all but about my spiritual journey.

To know one’s authentic self we must be willing to look past the hurt, suffering, self-perceptions, collective consciousness and surface emotions that we have let define us.  We must stand in the mirror emotionally naked and pay attention to who is staring back.  What are the values of that person, the likes, dislikes etc.  What makes you tick?

So this is my journey…of finding myself.  I share it with you in hopes that you will also find the courage and strength to Say Goodbye to Your Guru and Hello to Your Authentic Self.

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