Keeping an open heart

I experience this thing I call the Jukebox in my head. Every so often I wake up with a song in my head, or I might be driving along and hear a song, no radio on. I always pay attention when this happens. I believe I’m receiving hints, or being guided in a small way.

The other morning I woke up to the song “Killing me Softly With His Song” playing in my head. (As sung by Roberta Flack.) I made my morning tea and Googled the song on my phone. As I listened I also remembered Roberta’s gorgeous voice singing another song, “The first time every I saw your face”. I listened to that next. The three verses are succinct and poignant. It’s all there is to say about love. I doubt anyone could listen to that song and not be moved.

As I listened to this beautiful expression of love, I sang along with it even though I’m a terrible singer with a scratchy alto voice. I could barely do the song justice. However something unexpected happened as I sang along. Voicing this love letter opened me in ways I had not foreseen. I experienced a bitter sweet feeling. The ache of an open heart. The feeling reminded me much of the day I decided to leave a long-term relationship. My heart cracked wide open, because I knew I would break my partner’s heart, even though it was clear our time together was at an end.

To have an open heart—born out of compassion—opens you to feel the entire All That Is. You can feel other people’s pain. You understand where they are coming from. But you do it from a place of relative safety and deep knowing. You have a new understanding that goes beyond the self. In experiencing a shattering so absolute, it feels like you will never have a whole heart again. I have discovered through my own experience that this is actually a preferred way to live.

Today I have a much repaired and different heart from the one I started out with. A heart that shows my battle scars but in a gentle, understanding, and loving way. I am now open to understand, to grok, what it is like to feel pain, and still be alive and vibrant. This is not being a martyr. That’s a totally different energy pattern. I’m talking about knowing what it is like to feel energy/vibrations/emotions coming through your heart that move you. You begin to organically understand what others have been through in a totally non-verbal way. This is where compassion is forged, right there in your open heart. Once experienced, there is no going back.

As I felt my heart staying open, but with the sting of passion, I thought to myself, who is it I have these remembered feelings for? I could not name one person, nor could I remember a specific situation I had felt this way. Yet I knew without a doubt I had felt this way many times in my life. So where was this feeling coming from and who was it associated with? The feeling persisted. Somewhere there is a kernel of truth in this, and it is an opportunity for growth. An opportunity I wouldn’t miss for the world.

After some reflection, I came to the realization that love resides in the self, not in the other. I had these feelings of love for every person I had ever been close to. Every pet, every friend, every emotional situation be it joy or sorrow. I stayed open to these feelings all day. It’s a feeling of total vulnerability. This is something most of us hide from. When I am feeling vulnerable and open, I like to take the advice of my favorite Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön. It’s the running away from emotions that makes us feel so uncomfortable. Staying with a feeling without taking action is a great gift to give yourself. I wanted to be fully present for this so I allowed myself the experience instead of shutting down or running away.

When your heart opens you allow yourself to fully feel, to fully live, to fully be. Don’t close down when this happens, let it all flow through you. Now you are a warrior of the heart. This makes you stronger than any force on earth (because it is from Spirit). The wounded warrior is a natural healer born of uncomfortable experiences and heartache. So do you see that even painful experiences are beneficial. They have their purpose.

I hope my open heart never closes, never fully heals. I do not want a perfect, whole heart. I want my experiences to live within me, in a positive way. In an organic way. Let your heart be touched. In this way you will be able to comfort, assist, or simply understand a fellow human being. Or you may simply understand them at a soul level. Keep looking through your heart’s sensitive energy, not just your eyes. You will see and feel much that would otherwise be closed to you. I wouldn’t trade my life’s journey—all the ups and downs—for anything. I love having an open heart. I believe it serves me well.

A huge revelation about self-doubt

While chatting with an old friend, I stumbled onto one of the biggest insights of my life. Something that seems so obvious to me now. Had I not had this conversation, this insight may not have been realized or verbalized. The idea would never have formed into words. Sometimes buried wisdom from years of experience and hindsight comes out in a flash while talking.

When I tell stories of my marriage—an abusive and dysfunctional relationship—it is from a distant vantage point. I find hindsight can be a wonderful gift showing me how far I’ve come, and how much I’ve learned. From this distance it’s like looking at someone else’s life. There is no pain, no regret, no negative feelings at all. Just observation. A place of deeper calm, clarity and maturity.

I always tell people, as difficult as that relationship was, it was necessary for my growth. If Dorothy had discovered her ruby slippers at the beginning of The Wizard of Oz story, she would never have gone on such a wild adventure. She would never have known her strengths, her fears. She never would have had to reach down into that deep well of inner personal strength and pull herself out to safety. She would have never truly known herself. And she would have never met all those wonderful friends along the way! I embraced that difficult time in my life as the same sort of adventure.

I related to my friend I never understood why I was so foolishly loyal in my marriage. Why did I stay well past the time I should have left? Then I realized what kept me hanging on. It was my own niggling self-doubt. Those thoughts of, “Maybe it is me at fault? Maybe I need to change? Maybe I can do something to salvage this mess? What can I do better?” Endlessly trying to make the relationship work, and endlessly filling myself with self-doubt. That kept me in a bad situation way past the time I should have left. While telling all this to my friend, the magical words came so easily…

“All my self doubts were what kept me in that relationship too long. Self-doubt is the opposite of intuition.”

Self doubt kills intuition. It does you no favors. It’s fear based and you don’t need it. Once you realize and internalize that, you have the key to unlock every door.

These days I follow my gut instinct as a way of life. I have tons of naturally occurring intuition that is like water flowing through my daily life. I have learned to recognize and use my intuitive nudges. Intuition is not only used for the big stuff, it’s for everyday use. This was the biggest positive thing that came out of a bad situation. Realizing intuition is a better, more organic way to live. And realizing self-doubt has no room in my life. I will never go there again.

Don’t let self doubt sabotage any part of your life, no matter how small. Not even when practicing self-improvement. Use your intuition instead and you will always come up with the right answer for any situation.

Healing: Acceptance, slowing down, deep diving, and finding ways to thrive

In my last post I thought I had solved a long-standing physical issue just as I felt I was on the cusp of moving forward. The Universe had other plans for me. There was much from my past still stuck in my body (aka PTSD) that needed processing and ousting. I believe the body holds onto trauma long after you have processed it emotionally and mentally. You feel fine, like you are over it. But then comes a trigger and your body is instantly in panic mode. Then you realize you have more to process and let go of.

Forgiveness

It has not been a easy road. In fact it’s been very bumpy, drawn out, and terribly inconvenient. But clearing the decks and letting go of the past comes before you can move on. I had forgotten this in my excitement at the idea of achieving a new level. I cut cords to those from my past one more time and added a good dose of forgiveness for all parties involved, including myself. The road to healing is more than about the body. You must heal at every level.

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Problems solving themselves: moving to the next level

All this year I have felt there has been a doorway to my energy, constantly opening and shutting. One day fully open, tons of energy, drive and good feelings abound. The next day it’s closed, no energy, no focus, no drive, nada. Like going through a revolving door and not getting anywhere but experiencing the frenetic thwump-thwuming of the door going round and round. Happy for the good days. Dismayed and frustrated at the bad.

Recently everything changed. I don’t know any other way to put it, but it seems many long-standing problems I’ve been dealing with are solving themselves.

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Don’t tough it out!

As I sat having difficult surgery on my mouth, teeth and gums to remove a cyst and receive a bone graft, I am pretty sure my blood pressure was sky high. I was determined to go into this emergency surgery with some guts and a ton of patience. Not wanting to hear the words ‘bone graft’ or ‘biopsy’ in the same conversation with my endodontist made this exceptionally hard to swallow.

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When does caring turn to interfering?

I have a deeply ingrained urge to help others, to be of assistance when I can. It’s part of being an empath. I feel strongly for others. I have a tendency to take someone under my wing and advise them if they seem needy. There are many people I listen to and never give advice to as they seem wiser than yours truly. But for those who seem like they could use a hand, I advise. I suggest. I hope. I inform. I try and give the information—the benefit of my own experience—to save them trouble. But where is that middle ground between helping and interfering? Between caring and expecting too much? Today I question my own motives in getting involved with others. People have their own path to walk, their own lessons to learn. I want to be able to let people have their own experiences. Will I be able to do this?

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Where the rubber meets the road

I am the kind of person who loves every blade of grass. My home and yard are neat, not out of control, and the wildflowers in summer are riotous! Birds come from all over to eat at the buffet I offer them. I’m tickled they visit. Lizards, centipedes and even snakes are welcome (Snakes usually pass through quickly and should be respected). Spiders are welcome in the house, as long as they are not big enough to pay rent. If they are large, then they either have to pony up the rent, or move out! I keep my place as natural as I can. Nature is critically important to my life.

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The Hook of Anger, and Some Solutions

As hard as it is to admit I’m one of the worst for having an adult temper tantrum. It happens rarely, but when it does I wonder why I can let someone rattle my cage. I’m a devotee of the gentle and understated guru, Eckhart Tolle. I am also a disciple of all things Pema Chödrön. Pema is a lovely western Buddhist nun with a lot of solid, no-nonsense advice about how to not let yourself get hooked.

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‘Tis the season for self care!

A blogger I admire recently spoke about self care. I’d like to add my encouragement for you to practice self care, especially now, as the hectic season of holidays approach.

Start making your personal care come first. Practice early and often. Even a few errands may feel like a mountain of things to accomplish. Don’t beat yourself up when it comes to what you did not accomplish today or this week. Easy does it.

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Being flexible during painful experiences, and the gift of clear seeing.

The other day I was on the phone with a professional from a trusted company. On the call we were dealing with a problem. These things happen. However, I felt like a steam roller went over me. I was not being listened to…at all. I could not get a syllable in edgewise. Someone at his end screwed up. Each time I tried to speak, he interrupted again with his line of thinking, and…he was scolding me! At this point I felt totally humiliated, shamed and small, with a feeling of not knowing what just happened.

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