Reflections From My True Self

Remembering Who I Really Am


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My Inner Saboteur

This is what I do when the saboteur grabs hold of me and I lose myself in self-doubt: I wrap myself in a thick quilt of silence and walk backward as far as I can until I find a big, dark shadow to stand in, a large, tall tree to hide behind, and I sit there, far from anyone, and listen to the volume rising on the voice within me telling me I am not enough.

It would take so little to keep me from going there, so little to mute the voice of my saboteur. All I need is the proof that I have done something meaningful, or have someone look me in the eye and tell me, with clear conviction, that there is no means to measure the enormity of my worth.

But by the time I need it, I don’t allow myself to seek this proof, I am too far gone to look anyone in the eye. Shame keeps my sight locked on the ground.

And then I inhabit the shadow, and waste away my gifts, until a miracle, a sliver of sunlight, hits me and gives me just enough strength to remember I have a tool box. And I reach in with my last ounce of strength and have to pull myself along, out of the darkness, inch by inch, using every last resource, every last tool to save myself from my own self-doubts.

And I know this is exactly what happens for my clients, although they may visualize the process differently: they retreat into themselves, where the voice of self-judgment is loudest, and spiral into depression and paralysis.

But we don’t have to do that! And, just because I have the tools doesn’t mean I should create the conditions in which I need them. I can choose another way. I can recognize the voice of my saboteur, and lower the volume on it immediately! I can take the wisdom from its message, without having to accept the self-hatred and vitriol as well. And I also teach my clients how to do that, because none of us has to live in the shadow.

A thick tree trunk creates a shadow to hide behind

We take to the shadows, with the saboteur at full volume, until sunlight hits.
Photo Credit: Andreas Krappweis

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Hiking, Then and Now

When I was growing up, my father often took my sister and me, and sometimes friends — of his, or ours— on beautiful hikes of varying length, through the green patchwork of the Colombian mountainside and its cloud forest.  Occasionally, there was a defined path to follow. Most often, there was a starting point and a destination (a lake, a mountaintop, or a town), and, if we were lucky, the remnants of the ancient native paths or a few scattered cobblestones and the sporadic boundary stone remaining from the colonial caminos de herradura, built for pack mules.

We would be up with the sun and drive to our starting point, carrying some water and a picnic lunch, and we’d set off in the general direction of our destination. We never knew how long it would take to arrive, or where we could end up if we strayed from our course. I remember many times when asked for directions from a campesino tending his fields or feeding her hens. More often than not, especially if we were heading in the direction of a town, they would point us towards the highway, where we could catch an inter-municipal bus that could take us quickly. More often than not, they would chuckle at our foolish obstinacy for wanting to go the long, “old way,” through the fields and forests.

We had no cell phones in those distant days of last century. No way of letting anyone know where we were, or, more importantly, no way to contact anyone if we needed help. We didn’t know CPR or wilderness first aid, and I am pretty sure our first aid kit consisted of my dad’s Swiss Army Knife. There was little certainty regarding our hikes, other than that we would eventually arrive, somewhere, and that the journey would be beautiful.

The potential dangers we could encounter never stopped us —not even when we had to slither, single-file, along a fallen tree trunk to cross from one bank of a river to the other (with a couple of babies in tow, that time).  The uncertainties were simply part of the experience. We hiked in rain, through mud, and under sweltering heat. And, surprisingly, we never did have a situation where we needed help we couldn’t get!

Today, when I think back —especially since I have had kids of my own— I think of all the things that could have happened, all the dangers we could have encountered and lost to. Nowadays, I take gentle walks along wide gravel paths with a wide shoulder of mowed grass on either side, keeping the wilderness out of arm’s reach.  I travel with my cell phone and follow carefully placed, colored trail markers at each junction. Today, I check the weather before I set out.

No wonder, then, that I feel a captive of caution. No wonder that I seek certainties in all that I do, on the trails and in the quiet of my sacred space. It is time to reclaim the sense of adventure of my childhood hikes. More importantly, it is time to exercise the unseen powers of orientation and intuition.  It’s time to see past what danger could appear, set aside fear —or invite it along, as a passenger, not as a leader.  It is time to remember why it is we took those back roads, instead of the convenience of the highway: for the gifts unfolding out of that unique experience, for the excitement of the unknown and the beauty in the landscape, for the company and the satisfaction of testing ourselves, and for the stories we could tell once we arrived, before we slept the deep, untroubled sleep that renewed our sweetly tired bodies. For those same reasons, and in order to reclaim my Self, I must stand at this starting point and set my direction for a destination I may reach, eventually, sometime.

Typical Colombian landscape on a rainy day. Photo by Pedro Szekely on Flickr.com

Colombian landscape on a rainy day. Photo by Pedro Szekely on Flickr.com


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Clear Space

Even before I am fully awake, today I am tempted to feel blue. I want to look at the landscape of my life colored with fear and doubt, and I want to cast around for some unease to hold onto, something that will save me any efforts to pay attention, to sit with discomfort, to entertain confusion.  Today I want the easy way, just to mire.

But I have a session in a short time and I have to prepare for it. So I do, I prepare the space the way a dancer warms up for her performance, with familiar movements, stretching gently, without analysis or deep thought, just doing what I always do.

And as I do this, I find that there is no room in my energy field for all that heaviness which I was holding so dearly, as if my life depended on it anchoring me. That routine for warm-up, that careful and meticulous process of clearing the space in the room and in my energy field sweeps out everything that does not belong there, including my limiting thoughts, my straitjacket perspective, my self-involved emotions.  After clearing, I can not invoke them, even if I try.

I am so grateful that, in creating the clear and sacred space for my client, in offering her this first gift of my heart, I wind up, also, gifting my Self.

I am reminded, this is how it always is: when I gift another, I gift myself; when I bless you, I am blessed, too.

Photo by Gabriella Fabbri on RGBstock.com

Photo by Gabriella Fabbri on RGBstock.com


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To Stop Putting It Off

Once, in another time, I was working in an internship that was very important to me. I was living what felt like a desolate life, and trying to recognize what choices had gotten me there and what changes I could make. The internship was one of the places where I could get perspective, it was like a tree that gave me shade as I explored a sun-bleached landscape.

 

I am remembering that internship because one of the things I had to do was go through a long list of contacts and make cold calls to them, to tell them about our program and see if they would work with us.  Picking up the phone felt utterly terrifying.  I found all kinds of urgent things to do for a few days, before I could simply no longer put that task off.

 

I am intending, now, to recall what I did, what I thought, when the day came that I finally had to make those calls.

 

I know that, once I started, it got easier and easier. To the degree that making cold calls, even today, is something I can do effortlessly, without any moment of pause. There’s nothing to it. I don’t think about it, I simply pick up the phone and dial.

 

Sometimes, when there’s something I just have to do, that feels paralyzing, but that I have been shown in so many ways, ever more urgently and forcefully by my Soul that it must be done…well, I simply have to stop thinking about it, breathe deep and just take the plunge!

 

Photo Credit: ©Tnimalan at RGBStock.com

Photo Credit: ©Tnimalan at RGBStock.com

 

And if I allow myself to recall that internship, and so many other times after it, I can remember, too, that once I do that terrifying thing, it is not half as scary as it was when I was contemplating doing it.


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Holding Space

Holding space means clearing the energy of the physical place we are in, but also creating energetic boundaries around us that do away with distractions, often including the ones we bring along ourselves, so that it is easier to feel alignment with our Self and, therefore, our interactions are more authentic and reflect our truths more fully.

Holding space means our thoughts, our feelings, and whatever we choose to share,  are safely contained, without spilling out into the rest of the world, the rest of our lives, if we do not choose to take them there. It means that the energies that are constantly trying to encroach on us are kept at bay.

And it  means, too, that we are safe from judgments,  those coming from others, and also from ourselves. If we are not safe, then we are not free to explore, to allow curiosity to pull us in unexpected directions and insights to arise in our awareness.

Holding space means we can do the soul work we are called to do.

Photo Credit: ©Andrea Friedmann

Photo Credit: ©Andrea Friedmann


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The Soul Calling

As we go about our lives fulfilling the roles that we have chosen to take on, that we may have inherited from the people around us, we are sometime interrupted.  Sometimes the interruption comes through something big, often painful or frightening, something that shakes up our life. And sometimes, the interruption is only a niggling sense, a feeling, an unfathomable itch that gives us no peace.

It is our Soul, calling us back to our essence. It calls us to recognize that which would emerge into the world through us. It calls us to own the fullness of who we are in spite of the apparent contradictions found in that very fullness. It calls us to remember we are more than we seem, more than our bodies and our minds.

Sometimes that calling is present to us for a long time, we keep going as if we didn’t know it is there. But we intuit the potency of it, we are aware that it will not abate, will not release us to continue as we were. Yet, the force of  habit, the familiarity of living and doing as we always have, the approval of our family and peers for continuing as we were, and, especially, the overwhelming power that the fear of change grips us with, all conspire to keep us from heeding that call.

We have not been taught to honor our Soul, not been taught to listen for it. Our world is not built to support this kind of growth, this kind of stretching that feels like taking so great a risk.  Our lives are built around keeping on keeping on.

We all need to be reminded of the great Wisdom of Life, which we are part of, and, more so, of the Wisdom we already hold. We all need a mirror that catches our Light and reflects it back to us, so that our physical eyes can behold it.  We all need someone who has faith in us when we doubt ourselves; who asks what we would gain, when we ask what we would lose; who recognizes our fortitude when we feel weakness; who speaks back to us our own words of Knowing, which we have already forgotten.

We all need support and companionship on our journey to respond to our Soul.

I am that, I am a spiritual companion. I hold up the mirror for you to see yourself in your power and your potential, walking your own path, guided by your Soul’s compass, through the spaciousness of your own making. This is what my Soul calls me to.

A mirror that reflects our Light Photo Credit: Andrea Friedmann©

A mirror that reflects our Light
Photo Credit: Andrea Friedmann©


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Dignity

I recently heard a fascinating podcast interview of John Lewis by Krista Tippett, where he mentions how showing feelings and true emotions can be perceived as weakness in this culture, and how saying “I love you” can sometimes feel so difficult. As a fan of  Bené Brown and her work on shame, I would say that touching into true emotions makes us feel vulnerable.

In the dunes by Lake Michigan, two children, young, unguarded, allow themselves unmeasured pleasure, dragging their feet in the sand and crowing at the trail they make. Now they thread, at top speed, through the still-bare shrubs at the edge of the sand hills, whipping branches behind them. I catch myself thinking I want to play that way, too, but such full-hearted enjoyment would be unseemly in an adult, if anyone were watching.

A person I care deeply for shared a confidence with me, because she felt safe doing so. She is smart, educated, worldly, and her dignity in the eyes of her peers is a matter of great importance to her. She confided that she trusted the wrong people and wound up losing considerable sums of money. The weight of this loss, for her, is doubled by the fear she carries of anyone knowing, of being judged foolish, unworthy of respect.

When I think of her, even in spite of what occurred, I do not find her unworthy. Dignity is not about appropriate behavior, about not taking risks or making mistakes. Right now, I feel it is about soul, about recognizing humanity (my own, as well as hers). I think of dignity as the ability to look up, around, even when fear would hide my eyes. It is standing with clarity and courage, after tripping along the path, or watching another falter alongside me.

There is a photograph my talented great-aunt, Hermi Friedmann, took some 60 or so years ago, of a Colombian peasant woman, perhaps of African ancestry, sitting in front of a large pile of pineapples. Her head  is wrapped in a scarf, her fingers work-worn, holding a cigarette to her aged face. She looks weary, and strong. She is the picture of dignity and beauty. (A copy of this photograph can be found here.)

It is in the recognition of our humanity, our timeless strengths as well as our wrenching weaknesses, in allowing ourselves vulnerability and self-acceptance, that old, wounding patterns can come loose and be released, and new, heartening opportunities opened.

Today, I will run in the sand.

I don’t have a copy of the photograph she took, so here is picture of Hermi Friedmann, in her own, full dignity.

I don’t have a copy of the photograph she took, to share with you, so here is a picture of Hermi Friedmann, in her own, full dignity.