Tag: self care (Page 2 of 2)

Who am I?

Earlier this year, I went on a vacation that was designed to push me beyond my known boundaries of my self concept. I have envisioned myself as a strong independent woman. I identify as a self sufficient person. But I am not sure if I am strong enough in other ways. So I went because I wanted to know: Who am I other than a strong, independent woman? 

The vacation was a retreat called Dance Beyond, held at the Eagle’s Nest, a retreat center near San Marcos La Laguna in Guatemala. People from all over the world converged for a week of ecstatic dance, yoga, and self exploration. I arrived there, wondering if I would fit in. I knew a few faces from New York City—where I go regularly to do ecstatic dance—but I didn’t “know” know anyone who was in Guatemala.

The structure of the retreat helped guide us in our self exploration. We were asked: Who am I? Who am I in relation to others? Who am I in relation to community? I instantly hit some shit: I was uncomfortable. I felt out of place. I was surprised that I felt out of place in a community that encouraged acceptance. I showed up at a place where no one knew me well and I was afraid of not being accepted. This is not the way a strong, independent woman would think. Who was I, then?

The week progressed. I was taken aback by the realization that we all had arrived with such high levels of personal risk: we all risked venturing farther away from our known and comfortable concepts of self. I realized how special the community was.

The retreat facilitators encouraged us to move in rhythm on and off the dance floor. Respond to each other as if in a dance. Respect each others’ journey of self exploration that was happening. Could I dance beyond the strong, independent woman self concept? Could I dance with anyone at all? That is, if I wasn’t feeling strong and independent, who am I? I felt frozen with the questions in my mind. I felt stiff in my body. I felt cut off from others by being cut off from different selves in me. So I resolved to just continue to show up mentally and ground any physical sensations by sending them out through my feet back to the earth.

When I had danced at events before the retreat, I usually danced alone. It’s how I was used to dancing.

But–

as I moved and grooved to the smoove beats by the banging DJs spinning global bass and dreamy electronica on the stage overlooking Lake Atitlan, I started to feel soft in my body. I learned that I liked learning to dance with others.

I embodied those feelings into words, finding language to say that I am strong enough to survive as an independent woman in the world, but what I need is the ability to be soft as an independent woman in the world. I realized that having a need for emotional self sufficiency was in direct conflict with my need to take social risks.

I realized the challenge I had to dance out was this: let myself be something I don’t feel like I am. Allow the conversation to happen. Be comfortable when I am not comfortable. Let that conversation happen in movementThe dancing at the retreat became my space to explore where I open up, and become soft, and where I keep the boundaries, and stay a little hard, so I didn’t lose myself. This movement conversation was so revealing to me: I listened to my body. I learned that when I move to respond, to meet someone else, I make graceful movements. I feel soft. And no one knew the difference (or judged me) like I do–when I wasn’t graceful. Or “right.” Or comfortable. And none of that was “wrong.” It’s like in a performance, when you make a mistake and you realize it but no one in the audience knows.  So I started to let the judgment go.

And when I danced there in Guatemala, sometimes by myself, sometimes engaging others, I was able to stay out of my mind (which would start to think Am I doing this right? Should I be dancing like this? Are they going to accept me?). As the week went on, I couldn’t stop dancing. The group couldn’t stop dancing. Whether it was at a restaurant in town, or doing dishes, or at the airport at the very end: We couldn’t stop dancing with each other. We moved as individuals and as a community that had, over the course of a week, was instant and eternal. We all took the personal risk to dance beyond.

Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? It’s one question, but I have three answers: I am an independent woman who is softly strong and brutally soft at the same time. I am truly myself when I show up for myself. I am a person who can chose who I want to be and dance through the world the way I want to dance.

There’s more to love

It happens every year: February rolls around, and Valentine’s Day looms and all things love and red and visual overstimulation any time I walk into a store, and I get sappy and grossed out by the exaggerated commercialism and misguided mis-connection to the big L word.

Don’t get me wrong–I love LOVE. But there are so many more members of the family. So this month, I’m putting some awareness on the siblings that are related to the love vibe: money and beauty. Instead of red, let’s talk green! As in, dollar dollar bills and compassion, y’all.

Here’s what I added to my self-care practice for February: vision boards on my relationship to money and beauty. I made them through old school cutting and pasting so I can actually touch them. I widened the scope of vision, too: these boards help me see what I want to manifest in the future and what I am manifesting in the NOW.

jobby-job vision board. I’m a solopreneur. When I started on this jobby-job path fifteen years ago, I used a vision board to assemble images of people who were successful and passionate about what they do. I wanted to be like them! But I didn’t classify them as to whether they were solopreneurs. I didn’t factor in the amount of work that goes into being self employed. I kept thinking about when I get to that point, as in, when I make a certain amount of money, then I’ll be like them: successful and passionate about what I do. I didn’t think about what I was doing in the now. I didn’t put due value on the resource that I was spending the most: time. And I spent way too much time on things that didn’t get me a return. So this month, when I decided to assemble a jobby-job board, I was mindful about putting images that represent what and whom I’m working with now as well as what and whom I’d like to be working with in the future with the notion that these are all investments in my microbusiness. I wrote labels like “6 months” and “2 years” and “today” to remind myself that these things take time. I’ve been spending a few minutes each day with the board and journaling what comes up. I’ve been reflecting a bunch on my colleagues and folks who are in my business network. The time I spend to work with them makes me feel rich because we reciprocate each others’ unique measure of success. So I am manifesting a LOT of presence, and presence is the best thingermahgawd ever to counter the anxiety of financial lack. The energetic roots of my relationship to money must be sound for me. That’s why this exercise has been helpful.

beauty vision board. I came across a post on the Numinous about manifesting a beauty vision board. The jist is to assemble images that make you feel beautiful in your skin. When you look at the collage, imagine the images as part of you. Feel the characteristics that inspire you as part of you. Again, like my jobby-job vision board, I’m taking the NOW route.  Here’s what I’m working with NOW: women athletes, physical strength, curves and muscles, beautiful. I’m surrounded by some badass bishes! But I’m not as strong physically as they are, maybe a little too curvy right now, maybe not able to move and flow in my body the way that I would like, despite my regular yoga and dance practice. That’s what I see in the NOW. It’s really hard to envision myself as beautiful aka svelte and smoove when it feels like I’ve been working forever to get there. And I’m not there. I should be there now, amirite? At least, that’s what I think. So by sitting with the vision I have of my beautiful physical self, I’m discovering places  inside where I can be more compassionate toward myself when I don’t meet my own beauty ideals. This exercise has reinforced the notion that where I am physically is enough. It is an act of compassion to accept me here and now. I’m remembering that beauty is as beauty does, for realz.

I hope you’ve found some ideas here that serve your exploration of the things related to love. Tending to other members of the family (beauty and money) can help make your relationship overall stronger. I know this process of vision boarding has been working some bow-chicka-wow-wow on my love vibe.

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