Saturday, July 19, 2014

Down the rabbit hole

          This morning I was teaching an advanced yoga class with some pretty amazing ladies.  We're working with the heart chakra this year, and I relayed the fact that our actual heart is always doing that which is was made to do.  From the time we were in utero, the pulsing of the chambers have repeated the same rhythm over and over again.  The same is true with the breath.  From the moment of our birth, the pattern is the same -- breathe in...breath out.  
          Breathe in....
          Breath out.
          In yoga speak, the breath represents the present moment as the element of the heart chakra is air -- the connection to our spirit.  I've been researching mythology for the novel I'm currently writing and recently found a DVD about Greek gods and goddesses.  Psyche is the word ancient Greeks used to describe the soul -- a very different interpretation than psychologists of modern day, who define it as "the totality of the human mind, conscious and unconscious."  But as my ever-evolving life reminds me, the way to the Divine cannot be truly found through the mind...but through the heart.  Our thoughts may play tricks on us.  Our memory may fail.  We may change our opinions or learn new things that bring greater awareness.
          Through it all, the breath and the heartbeat are two constants that never change until the moment we leave the earth.  I imagine this is why the Judeo-Christian God is called the "Great I Am," not the "Great I Was," or the "Great I Will Be."  
         
          To the Greeks, the psyche is also linked to the word "breath," so it follows that our respiration is intimately connected to our spirits.  Our respiratory system has the root word "re-spirit," so every time we fill our lungs, we are literally breathing in new life and then letting it go.
          This is one of the hallmark lessons of the heart chakra:  to learn how to receive the present moment and then let it go.  Receive and release.  Receive and release.  The more we release, the more room we have to receive and on and on and on. 
          For many of us, it's our nature to hold on to tangible things.  To thought patterns.  To beliefs.  To old patterns of behavior.  To the past.  To let go is scary and unsettling.  But I imagine many of you know the release and relief of clearing out a closet or getting rid of things you no longer need on the road to simplifying your life.  Clearing the psyche can be just as freeing...if not more so.
          I've been peeling of the layers of my past for decades and am finally ready to embody a conversation I had with a therapist more than ten years ago.  At the time, the idea resonated with me.  Now I'm more than willing to step into the reality of what might be created if I actually live it.
          During a particularly frustrating session, I told my therapist that I was tired of talking about my childhood.  Tired of rehashing old junk about relationships and my off-and-on depression.  I wanted to get a grip with my present life and take steps to move forward.
          "I'm sick and tired of coming in here and telling the same old story," I told Barry.  "Can't we just move on?"
          Barry looked at me broodingly, then reminded me of a very traumatic event from my past.  "You can't ever say that didn't happen."
          I looked him in the eye and pointedly replied, "It's not happening NOW."
          Barry startled for a moment, then brought up a traumatic event from his life and said, "I can never say my grandfather never beat me senseless."
          "He's not beating you now...," I said, finally realizing why I was feeling stagnant in therapy.  "Unless you want him to be."
          I left Barry's office recognizing the simple truth that therapists, teachers, or anyone I went to for guidance can only take me as far as they've ventured into their own healing journey.
          It was time to move on.

          One thing has been a constant these past sixteen years.  Every summer I visit my friend, Tony, for an advanced series of Rolfing.  (For more information about Rolfing, see the link below.)  Every year I get back on the table, unsure of what will happen, but willing to once again go down the rabbit hole of an experience that's designed to integrate the whole of my being. 
          On a physical sense, Rolfing creates more room for the breath.  "We free up your body so your soul can boogie," Tony said once years ago.  As he moves my fascia around, creating length and liberation, I can literally feel myself unwinding.  Sinking into the moment more fully.  Standing with awareness.  With peace and support and integrity.
          On a metaphysical level, Rolfing creates space in my life for more than just my muscles and skeletal system.  It allows me to more fully let go of the energy of the past.  This year I'm tied up in my pelvis and jaw...both ends of the spinal spectrum which are revealing to me thought patterns and behaviors that no longer suit who I'm becoming now.
          I've been getting ready for this three series ever since I scheduled it last April.  Think of it as a three-and-a-half month preparation for a yard sale.  I've sifted and sorted.  Sweat and cursed and cried.  Taken many trips down memory lane and kicked to the curb the crap I know no one would ever want to buy. 
          It's been a tedious and often frustrating process.  If you've been following my blog, you've seen some of the highlights.  But it's the deeper stuff I'm getting into this weekend and in the weeks to come as I begin my annual trek into the rabbit hole of mysteries...a sacred place that's not unlike a cocoon, a cave, a tomb into which I cloister myself to do the inner work necessary to allow myself to become something new.
          So this will be my last blog for a month or so.  I'm letting go of the outer world as much as I can while I do the inner work my spirit is calling me to enter. I'll return at the end of August with new stories to share with you.  Until then I'll keep breathing, continue to watch my heartbeat, and remain watchful for that which is gently being created in the present moment.  
         For now, I'll be traveling to the dark side of the moon once again in silence... and look forward to seeing you on the other side.
         







Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Green-eyed girl

          A long time ago I was in a weird "When Harry Met Sally" relationship with a musician.  (Really...is there any other kind?)  Anyway, I would often go to hear "Oliver" play and often he'd sing "Brown-Eyed Girl," winking at me knowingly.  Of course it was a dangling carrot that kept me interested longer than I should have been.  But I was young and naive.  And I had a lot to learn.
          Women surrounded him constantly.  (Really...don't most musicians often find themselves in this predicament?)  There was one in particular who seemed to haunt every venue I happened to visit.  Once Rosie caught wind that I was cycling in Oliver's radar, she made sure to weasel her way into any of our conversations.  She sat closer to the stage or made sure she was in his eye-line if she happened to be working the room.
          And on more than one occasion, when Oliver played the introduction to one of Van Morrison's best, Rosie would bat her eyelashes and coo, "Why don't you sing it 'Green-eyed Girl?'"  I doubt she caught the double entendre, but no matter.  I knew from then on that dagger eyes would be heading my way if I ever got in her way on the road to their imminent relationship. 
         One night in the parking lot, Oliver walked me to my car and was soon joined by Rosie who sneered at my malachite green Honda.
          "I would never buy a foreign car," she scoffed. 
          Instead of informing her that it had been built by Americans in Marysville, Ohio, I simply shrugged and said, "Oh, I only bought it because I like the color."
          Oliver laughed out loud and Rosie scowled, angry that I had taken the high road and thrown her disdain back in her face so effortlessly. 
         But of course, a few years later they got married.  Had a kid.  Bought the obligatory quarter-of-a-million dollar home that housed Rosie in the ways to which had she had become accustomed.  
          Eventually I was able to move on, but the cycle would repeat itself several more times before I finally made the decision to do my own healing work so I wouldn't attract any more triangulated relationships in which someone else got the man and treated me like crap because she was jealous of my presence in her husband's life.  It was a strange conundrum to experience because at the time I wasn't sure if I was jealous of the other woman...or if I was more hurt by the fact that I hadn't been the one chosen. 
          Again.
          And again.
          And again.
          Still, hindsight is 20/20 and I'm now overjoyed to be free of the entanglements of the past.  That none of the men who I had wanted wanted me.  In some strange, unconscious way, they gave me a great gift -- the time and space to really figure out who I am and what I want.
          None of them were ever meant to be -- and thankfully so.

          Still, here I am in my mid-to-late forties and find myself occasionally struggling with the green-eyed monster.  I'm no longer jealous of my friends' marriages or their children.  I'm more than satisfied with the life I'm living.  However, I often wish that the writers of the Declaration of Independence had not penned that our unalienable rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  I'd rather they had written "life, liberty and the pursuit of contentment."
          It would save a lot of us a lot of money...and perhaps our sanity as well.
          I've driven myself nuts the past few months by looking outside of myself and watching time and again people being financially rewarded for half-assed work.  I've watched mediocre books that were written off the cuff (and barely edited) rise on the best-seller list while I still struggle with promoting work I've been polishing for years.  I've witnessed people get promoted, buy new homes, take luxurious vacations, and purchase expensive items as if they were nothing while I find myself incredibly thankful for steady yoga students over the summer so I don't have to dip too deeply into my savings to cover my bills.
          Yes...there's a part of me that is jealous.  And I don't much like it. 
         
          I realize it's none of my business how other people spend their money.  How they make it.  What they do to spread it around.  Just like it's no one else's business how I manage my own.  Still, after fifteen years of hard work, of paying my bills on time, of never going into debt, of persevering in the publishing world, of getting up after every rejection and striving to hone my writing skills so that I keep getting better, I'd like to see some financial floodgate open so that I, too, can have a little more stability. 
          And the ability to plan beyond the next eight weeks.
          I was talking to my neighbor last night about the idea of financial karma and I asked him, "Do you think we're destined to have a lot of money or not?"
          Tyler and I chatted a while about our motivations for wanting it.  The great gifts of abundance that have nothing to do with the numbers in our bankbook.  We shared stories about the lives of wealthy people we know who are utterly dysfunctional; the ones who have money and are wholly generous. 
          I said something to the effect of being ready to welcome wealth into my life and Tyler smiled, "You already have an abundantly beautiful garden."
          I nodded, but thought, I can't pay my gas bill in lavender buds.
          And then Tyler said something that has resonated with me ever since:  "I think that our wealth is determined by our self worth."

          There are layers to people's lives that I can never know.  Karma that has to be worked out in time frames completely different than my own.  I've lived all of my adult life as a teacher of some kind and we all know that educators are often on the bottom rung of the financial ladder.  Still, it's been my karma to teach.  To create a life that has given me a wealth of experience and a host of wonderful people in my life...if not a bunch of zeros behind a big, fat number in my savings account. 
          And yet, I'm starting to understand that I can have both...the life I want to create and the financial wealth and stability that goes with it.  After all, I never quite felt comfortable wearing the "Starving Artist" cloak, the idea that a writer has to suffer to bring forth their best work.  Believe me, I know plenty of folks with money to burn who suffer plenty.
          For me the key is to let go of what others have.  To let them have it without my judgment or belief that they didn't earn it.  That they don't deserve it.  We're all writing the story of our own reality, and it's time I dismiss my Green-Eyed Monster whose metaphor Shakespeare created in "Othello" and describes as "mocking the meat it feeds on." 
          She's only interested in what others have...and I'm more interested in investing my time and energy in what I want to create.         


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Moon dance

          Early this morning I was awakened by the glow of the super full moon shining through my window.  Well, at least Aditi was stirred from her sleep and she woke me up at three AM to take notice.  And to feed her breakfast.  For an hour and a half I tossed and turned until, finally at four-thirty, I got out of bed and walked to the window to gaze at the luminescence that bathed my back yard in a pearly white.  It was truly a wonder to behold and reminded me of a magical night nearly fifteen years ago.  
          But I'll get to that in a moment.
         
          Earlier this week, I watched "Apollo 13" again...for the ninth or tenth time.  It's one of my favorite movies, bar none, as it's a true story with a very clear mythological theme.  A trio of astronauts enter space with the goal of walking on the moon.  Two days later, before they ever reached the lunar orbit, an unexpected event shattered their hopes of achieving it and threatened their imminent survival -- and it was uncertain that they'd even be able to return home to Earth. 
          Of course, we all know what happened.  Thousands of people worked around the clock to not only sustain the astronaut's lives in space, but also create innovative ways to generate enough power to bring them home again.  And on April 17, 1970, the world breathed a sigh of relief as the Aquarius splashed down in the South Pacific.
          What struck me most in watching the film this time around was the journey around the dark side of the moon.  The fact that all radio communication was impeded.  That complete and utter darkness engulfed the spacecraft.  Time seemed to stand still while Mission Control waited for a sign that Aquarius was on its way back to earth via a free-return trajectory.  And as the brilliance of the sun rose over the horizon of the lunar periphery, I began to understand why that moment held so much power for me.
         
          It's a wonder to realize that since the creation of our Universe, all of mankind has only been able to see one side of the moon.  The dark side is always facing out into the vastness of space, and only a handful of people have ever witnessed it with their own eyes.  I've found that it is the rare person who's willing to truly embrace their dark side...or the shadows that lie beneath the surface of their consciousness.  Twenty years ago, I, too, spent over a year in therapy denying the truth in what was rising up in my awareness.  I subjugated my emotions, terrified of what else I might discover. 
          But in the end I accepted that the life I thought I had (or was supposed to have) was really an illusion and surrendered to what was happening in moment.   Again and again, I traveled to the dark side of my inner moon without knowing what would happen next.  Without trusting that I would have my own free-return trajectory.  Without a plan for how I would have enough strength and power to come back home to myself.  Without even knowing if "home" was an option.
          I imagine that the astronauts from Apollo 13 came back to Earth completely changed by their encounter.  Even though they were thoroughly debriefed, there would be parts of the experience that they could never quite articulate.  I know how that feels, for no one can truly understand the inner workings of a person's spirit...to really know what it means to live through the lessons and evolution of the individual soul.
         
         But I'm heartened to see the full moon this week...even more inspired by the fact that we'll see another one in August...and the final super full moon of the season will occur on my birthday in September.  Isn't it a joy and a wonder to know that every single person on this planet can see the very same phenomena  if the skies are clear where they live? 
         If you've read "Swing music", then you know I've been truly enjoying twilight in my backyard this year.  My life has come full circle from 1999 when I left the known entity of teaching with a regular paycheck and health insurance and tenure to venture into the world of the unknown.  At the time I didn't know that I would slowly build a yoga business.  That I would move to California and back.  That upon my return, I'd have to deal with the most difficult experiences of my life.  But I imagine had I known what would happen, I never would have put myself on the launch pad of life and said to the Universe, "Okay...let's liftoff!"
          So here's a story lifted from the last section of my memoir that I'll be remembering this evening as I walk barefoot through my garden after sunset.  And if you listen closely, you might hear me humming a little tune by Van Morrison...and doing a little Moon Dance to celebrate the quiet, yet abundant happiness I've found since discovering the incredible sunrise that occurs when coming around the dark side of the moon. 
          Enjoy!


From the final chapter "Open Road," from

It’s a rainy afternoon in the summer of 1999.  I’m having tea with a good friend and we’re discussing the ups and downs of major life choices.  I recently left teaching and still don’t know what's on the horizon.  What seemed like a great leap of faith a few months ago has turned into a free fall into panic.  It's as if my life is stuck in a nonstop squeaky hamster wheel, going around and around and around with no end in sight.
I tell Olivia, “I really need to do something tangible to help me move past this fear of what’s coming next.  It’s going to kill me if I don’t let it go.”
My friend looks at me and grins.  “I was leaving the house today and three times I had the intuition to go back inside and get something for you.” 
I anxiously wait on pins and needles while she goes to her car to get whatever this “thing” is.  Will it be the golden ticket to calm my fears?  Right now, I’m willing to try anything.
When Olivia returns, she hands me a tiny, white vial saying, “Put that in your purse and take it outside tonight when the moon is full.  Don’t open it until you’re outside.”
“What’s it for?” I ask, turning it over in my hand, desperate to have all my questions answered instantly.
“You’ll know when you open it, Katie,” Olivia says. “Trust me.  Don’t think about it too much.”
“What is it?  Something I’m supposed to drink or what?”  
She smiles knowingly.  “I’m not telling you.  You’ll know exactly what to do.  And don’t come back inside until that bottle is empty.”
In the past, I’ve always despised mysteries, but in that moment I start to believe in magic potions…or at least in the potential for one to magically appear in my life. 
I trust Olivia. 
I trust the moment.

It rains most of that evening, so the night air is moist and fluid.   As I step outside my back door, a full moon shines over the south side of my garden.  Walking barefoot through the dewy grass, I drag one of the lawn chairs into the middle of the yard so that I can open the vial under the radiant glow.
When I twist off the cap, I realize the bottle is filled with bubbles.  In the lid is a wand to dip into the soapy solution.  I laugh, realizing what my friend had meant for me to do.  I’m supposed to name my fears, one by one, then gently send them away as I blow the bubbles into the humid night air.
I take a deep breath and began. 
"I’m afraid I’ll never find a job," I whisper.  I blow dozens of tiny bubbles into the air.
"I’m afraid of falling in love with someone new because I’ll lose my identity again."  More bubbles fly over my head.  
"I’m afraid of making the wrong choices with my life." 
As I watch the luminescent spheres of light float through the moist nighttime air, I find the courage to name all the fears that come to mind.  The simple ones.  The complex ones.  The ones that have haunted me since childhood.  The ones that have just emerged in that moment.  My heart becomes lighter and lighter as I release them all with childlike abandon.
And then…one more surfaces. 
Tears come to my eyes as I say aloud, “I’m afraid to be happy because then all the bubbles will burst.”
As I blow a multitude of orbs into the air, I close my eyes and allow silent tears to fall down my cheeks.  A moment later I take a deep breath, open my eyes, then look around the yard.  Surrounding me like a carpet of shining crystal balls, all of the bubbles are lovingly cradled in the dewy grass. 
Every one reflects the light of the full moon, whole and unbroken.
I begin to blow more bubbles just for the sheer joy of it.  They float up into the air, descend to the ground, and land on the grass…the chair…my skin.  I realize that my fear of happiness, of change, the fear of bubbles bursting is just an illusion I had created to keep me safe inside myself. 
When the bottle is nearly empty, I dip the wand inside it one last time and wonder, “How much happiness can I hold now?”




Thursday, July 10, 2014

Swing music

          When I was a first grade teacher, my students always started their day in a room filled with some type of music.  Some days I played Bach.  Other days it was a soundtrack from a Disney movie.  Some of the kids brought in their favorite CD's and I happily played them as they settled into their day or worked on projects in the afternoon.  We all loved the background music as a way to tune into the moment and tune out the world beyond our classroom.
          One morning my principal happened to walk by and popped his head through the door.  "Is that Glenn Miller?" Mr. Baker asked.
          I nodded.  "Yep.  Swing music is my favorite."
          "And Big Band?"
          "You bet."
          "In the Mood" serenaded us as my first graders bee bopped their way through a phonics worksheet, many of them bobbling their heads to the upbeat rhythm.
          "They seem to like it, too," Mr. Baker noticed.
          "We like all kinds," one of the kids replied.  "Miss Ingersoll plays stuff I've never heard before."
          It's true.  I had a wide collection of music that I shared with the kids.  From Bluegrass to Beethoven, from Blues to Bobby McFerrin, they were exposed to as many genres as I could muster (save twangy country and heavy metal).   Around Earth Day, I taught them a Kenny Loggins tune and they sang "Conviction of the Heart" better than any children's choir around. 
         
          When I started teaching children's yoga, I added as much music as I was able to weave into the poses and movements.  We sang "The Little Frog Song," "Namaste," and "I'm a Little Teapot" as we made our way from deep squats to forward bends to triangles. 
          Even now I love to choose just the right music to set the tone for an adult class or an afternoon spent writing in my office.  As a matter of fact, right now I pulled out an oldie but goodie (to me at least) and am playing a Pure Moods MP3.  And just yesterday I rode my bike to the park where I met a woman and her two grandsons who stopped by to chat while I took a break.  The boys were fascinated by my headset, so I handed one to each of them, then turned on the MP3 player.  Their eyes widened and they smiled while listening to some great Latin guitar.
          "Why do you have this to ride a bike?" one of them asked.
          "It helps me stay focused when I'm tired," I replied.  "Sometimes it's a long ride home and the music keeps me going."
          "Play me another one," he giggled. 
          I pressed a button and out came an upbeat chant by Krishna Das. 
          The little boy's eyes brightened.  "That's fun!  I can hear the drums!"
          All too soon, it was time for them to go home and as I hopped on my bike and headed west, I found a bouncy tune by Phil Collins and hit the trail.
          Yep...I like my music as eclectic as the books on my shelves.

          But in the evening it's a different story. 
          This summer has been absolutely beautiful.  This week in particular has been a string of cool, sunny days followed by even cooler and comfortable nights.  I've slept better than I have in months now that we're past the summer solstice and the Fourth of July fireworks, awakening refreshed and energized to meet the new day.
          To add to the glory of this wonderful season of longer days, I recently built a swing in my backyard.  Not a glider mind you, but a canopied creation that feels like a hammock when you sit down.  As a child I always raced to the swings during recess, eager to glide back and forth, tipping my head back and letting my hair dust the earth.  Even as an adult if I'm at the park with my little friends, we'll take the time to jump on a swing and see if we can sway high enough so it looks like our feet are touching the sky.
          These days my swing time is mostly in the evenings at twilight...always my favorite time of day.  And this is my favorite time of summer -- when the slow decay of the perennials gives a hint of autumn to come, but there's still over two months of summertime left to enjoy.   So as the sun sets, I take a cool shower, washing off the yoga classes already taught, the dirt and sweat from working in the garden or riding my bike, put on a pair of soft cotton pajamas and head outside with a glass of something sweet.   I slip off my sandals and ease back into the swing, effortlessly letting go of the day behind me.
          A couple of nights ago I burned a whole stack of paper (see blog "Pyromaniac"), then sat in the swing for nearly an hour.  I watched the sky turn an inky blue as the birds stopped twittering and returned to their nests for the night.  I listened to the neighborhood kids wind down from a day filled with frolic and fun.  Observed the changing shadows as my garden was transformed from light into darkness.  Was soothed by the sound of humming cicadas and listened intently for the soft chirping of crickets. 
          And as always when calmed by a gentle motion that reminds me of floating on the surface of the sea, I started humming.  My pal, Satish, says I hum when I'm knitting, too, but I don't notice it then...not unless I'm sitting on the front porch swing or in the glider in my living room.  It's a nonsensical tune...one that meanders its way around a host of patterns, an unraveling chain of notes that doesn't really have a beginning or an end.  Sometimes it repeats itself.  Sometimes not. 
          Always it's a pathway to peace.
          So these days, if you come over and don't find me out on the porch, don't worry.  I'm enjoying a little swing music in the quiet paradise of my backyard.
          

         


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Trigger point

          At the end of the month I'll be getting back on the Rolfing table for another three series of advanced work.  Every summer I return to walk through whatever experience is waiting for me...to journey into the unknown as my Rolfer, Tony, and I endeavor to allow my body to integrate the past year and take it to the next level.   When I had my initial ten-series in 1998, I was so anxious about what might happen physically or emotionally, I threw up before nearly every session.  Fifteen years and countless sessions later, I've learned to just go with it. 
          The work might hit a trigger point -- and it usually always does -- but I've lived through enough of the benefits to just keep going.  Keep breathing.  Keep striving to move through whatever pain might be in the moment on my way to letting go of compression or tightness that no longer serves me.
          We all have trigger points.  Some people keep them hidden, some wear them on their sleeves.  Some cover them up with work or cyclic relationships.  Others choose to numb out and walk away.  I've embodied every single one of these choices, and while most of my behavior in my teens and twenties was unconscious, since I started practicing yoga shortly after my thirtieth birthday, what was once in shadow has now come to light.

          An article in a June issue of The New Yorker discusses the reality that books are now being labeled with "trigger warnings" to alert readers to scenes of violence, racism, abuse, and the like.  The idea is to prepare a person who might be struggling with PTSD or other psychological challenges to not get triggered into memories of their own experiences.  As someone who was triggered plenty during the early stages of my own recovery, I poured a lot of my own process into the characters I wrote about in my novels.  So while they are not autobiographical in the literal sense, they are infused with the feelings I had to endure while walking through a life that often seemed like an emotional minefield.  There were no warnings in my life...nor in yours I might imagine.  But can there always be?  I had to tiptoe around a lot of stuff, but often found myself blown apart by things I could not control. 
          Even now it's still an ongoing challenge.
          On a mundane level, there are some things that come through my Facebook news feed that I'd like to erase from my memory.  I wish I could "unsee" what was posted...but of course, I can't.  So I take care of the issue myself and "unfollow" anyone who's posted something that I'd never want a child to see if I happen to be using a public computer at the library.  But that involves someone else's choices...someone else's idea of what's funny or informative or just plain entertaining.
          But what if I clearly make the choice to push on a bruise to see if it still hurts? 

          During the last edit of COMMON THREADS, I was working my way through a very difficult scene in which the main character has to confront many issues from her past that were intersecting in an intense moment in time.  Wanting to make sure I had written her emotional response in a way that felt real, I thought about an issue from my past that once had the power to cut me off at the knees.
          Why don't you hit that trigger point again, Katie? I thought.  
          Now...there's a fine line between self-flagellation and self-awareness and I've meandered back and forth across it many times in the healing of this particular old wound.  But this time, however, I felt grounded enough to look under the bed and see if any more monsters were lurking there.
          A few taps on the keyboard and up popped images I'd seen before.  Images I wrote about in the blog, "I did a bad, bad thing."  Images that surprisingly made me smile with delight this time around.         
          Of course, in that exact instant, the phone rang.
          "What are you doing?" my friend, Lisa, asked.
          I told her about the photos, then laughed, "I thought I was going to burst into tears, but all I can do is appreciate how very far I've come this year.  How much I've let go of and how thankful I am that this doesn't hurt me now."
         
          I'm not one to dwell in the past...not anymore.  And while I do know that any pain I'm encountering may be linked to events long over, I'm not afraid to push on those triggers.  How many of us have had a massage and said something to the effect of, "Oh...that hurts...but it's a good hurt."
          In sitting with my pain, in accepting it for what it is, in not allowing it to overwhelm me, I can learn from it.  I can practice patience and tolerance.  I can find ways that allow the pain to speak through my experience and not get lodged somewhere in my body where I feel I have to protect it as part of "my story."  I've figured out that to heal means I let go of the old narratives that keep me tied to my pain and tethered to an existence that no longer jives with who I am today.
         
          Last Friday was a banner day for my trigger points...although I didn't know it at the time.  "Only in Katie's world," Lisa said afterward.  And I had to agree...but had the warning signs been there, I'm not sure I would have responded in the same way.  But in the end, I'm thankful for it all.
          Early in the morning, while I was waiting to be interviewed at a local news station, someone walked by that reminded me of a several people from my past -- people who unconsciously and completely squashed my sense of self.  Later that day I walked right into a situation that reminded me of the sketchy boundaries I sometimes experienced at Esalen and the uneasiness that I was left to deal with in the aftermath.  And then in the evening, I got wind of news about a man from the distant past (someone I had ironically been thinking about last week) that turned my head around.  He had pushed on some serious bruises when we met, but allowed me to look at an issue that has since turned itself inside out. 
          In feeling triggered and not allowing myself to recoil from events that I had not anticipated, I'm grateful to keep going into those places that may look like shadow, but often are simply hidden from my awareness.  In walking hand in hand with my friends, with my yoga students, and with myself, I can continue walking forward into light.  
           Perhaps the words I wrote at the end of my memoir say it best...

(Now) I celebrate the open road before me...
the beginning of a new life that I trust will be filled with peace and love and joy.
This is a life worth working for.
A life worth healing for.
A life worth waiting for.