Getting Clear – Honoring Yourself

I wrote this almost two years ago, and I’m finding it is time to revisit it.

I do have to add that I no longer agree with my words regarding the man in question; I’m not going to change the words of this post, however, because regardless of what someone else chose to do with their time here in this life, my own learning turns out to be what is important.

Getting Clear

I just finished a coaching assignment, writing about “my ideal partner.” it was surprisingly difficult.
How often do we actually think specifically about what it is we want?

I have been allowing what comes into my life…not asking for what I want and need.

He was persistent and determined, I loved him- he is a truly wonderful person- I was flattered and thought it must be right. It got to the point where I needed him to persist. I needed to “test” him, pick arguments or push him away a little, in order to know that he was loyal, that I could be safe. Because I wasn’t safe…he had been dishonest, out of his own fear. I could not handle dishonesty, but I pretended to myself that it didn’t matter. He left too many times, in pain and confusion of his own. I dealt with the shattering of abandonment again and again, accepted, understood, and forgave, and endured, and didn’t notice that I was betraying myself.

Here’s the thing I have learned, that is easier for me to put into words than into action: unconditional love does NOT mean that you ignore your own needs.

If you accept things that go against your own core values, you will not be able to act from your highest self. You will fall into reactionary behavior, you will get sucked right into your own conditioned responses…in short, for both people, no matter how much in love you are, the relationship will not be bringing out the best YOU you can be.

This was the truest love I have ever known, but harmed by a toxic cycle of fear and reaction.
I am learning so much from this, and I am finding I want to teach others, and help them with what I have learned. Then, this deep love will still have a purpose. It will be putting some good into the world. It won’t have been for nothing.

I only saw the good things, of which there were many. This is not about him being bad in any way. He’s one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Because of that, I put blinders on myself and ignored warning signs, because I wanted to believe in a beautiful fantasy.
I accepted his choices that went against my deepest values, because I convinced myself that loyalty to the one I loved was more important than anything else. I’ve been reacting my life.

I am taking responsibility now–and grateful for this lesson. I made the choice to ignore my own values. I am not regretful of this- I learned a lot from it. Nor do I regret loving so deeply, because I found out how magnificently loyal my heart is. I am proud of that.

Examine what you are at the core without judgment, accept it. Then, it’s time to start working with it. Whatever you are, don’t hide it!

I know I am deeply loyal, and could no more betray someone, abandon someone or shirk responsibility than I could cut off my own arm…this is a truth that’s in my bones, it is who I am. The important thing is to love that, not pretend it doesn’t exist, if someone comes along who has different values. It doesn’t make them less, or you less. The key is to be so clear in who you are, that you remove the emotion from your decisions. If you’ve already mapped out what is truly vital to you, you will no longer be in a reactive state when other people come into your life. You will be acting from your truest self.

We are all so different. If we learn to love who we are, and stand up and BE who we are without hiding, if we let the people go who do not mesh with our own core values — without rancor or judgment of them or ourselves, just let them go, as they need their own kind of people, you see — then , we can begin to have clear lives free of toxicity.

Sit down and articulate your core values. What makes you who you are? What makes you happy? Then go one step further, and define what you want. Get specific. It’s surprisingly difficult to actually write it out. We might think about it vaguely, but rarely do people actually spell out their visions, dreams, intentions, desires on paper.

Creating my life is fun- it feels like I’m a kid again, where the daydream is nearly as pleasurable as the reality would be. When we actually get specific, not just about what we want but about how that would feel, we call things into our lives. Creating your life with intention, honoring who you are, knowing that it’s possible and that it’s not “selfish” is a very empowering thing! I highly recommend it. take a moment to really think about what it is you want in your life, or to create in the world with your time here. Happiness is a choice, it is accessible to everyone regardless of external circumstances. To want to be happy is not selfish- it actually leads to greater compassion for others, and more ability to put healing in the world.  

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And I Will Give You Ireland

Long ago, I wrote a song called “I Will Give You Ireland.” It was an impossible fairy tale, a Maxfield Parrish painting of luminous idealistic nonsense. Image
I still love Ireland in that way: with blinders on; with an infatuation that puts Her on a pedestal and doesn’t let Her breathe. My memories are those of a kid- of golden light on grey stones and an impossible green that brought tears to my eyes… of friendly, warm people everywhere we went, who offered us hospitality…of music, and of magic. That was my Ireland. She is magnificent…but I know it’s not a whole picture.
So in antidote, here is Seamus Heaney – often too gritty for my taste, I have still always been drawn to his work.
The big lesson that came to me today is about loving a whole human being, with his flaws. About trusting him, and remembering to see the good also, even in the midst of darker places. It is about loving myself, too, shadow and all. What a gift. 
I hope one day to see the places of my childhood as a whole and love them even more deeply with the flaws – even the flaws that crack my heart open. 
 
Beannacht Lá Fhéile Padraig!
 
From Lightenings by Seamus Heaney
 
 
Shifting brilliancies. Then winter light 
In a doorway, and on the stone doorstep 
A beggar shivering in silhouette. 
 
So the particular judgement might be set: 
Bare wallstead and a cold hearth rained into- 
Bright puddle where the soul-free cloud-life roams. 
 
And after the commanded journey, what? 
Nothing magnificent, nothing unknown. 
A gazing out from far away, alone. 
 
And it is not particular at all, 
Just old truth dawning: there is no next-time-round. 
Unroofed scope. Knowledge-freshening wind. 
 
VI 
 
Once, as a child, out in a field of sheep, 
Thomas Hardy pretended to be dead 
And lay down flat among their dainty shins. 
 
In that sniffed-at, bleated-into, grassy space 
He experimented with infinity. 
His small cool brow was like an anvil waiting 
 
For sky to make it sing the prefect pitch 
Of his dumb being, and that stir he caused 
In the fleece-hustle was the original 
 
Of a ripple that would travel eighty years 
Outward from there, to be the same ripple 
Inside him at its last circumference. 
 
VII 
 
(I misremembered. He went down on all fours, 
Florence Emily says, crossing a ewe-leaze. 
Hardy sought the creatures face to face, 
 
Their witless eyes and liability 
To panic made him feel less alone, 
Made proleptic sorrow stand a moment 
 
Over him, perfectly known and sure. 
And then the flock’s dismay went swimming on 
Into the blinks and murmurs and deflections 
 
He’d know at parties in renowned old age 
When sometimes he imagined himself a ghost 
And circulated with that new perspective.) 
 
VIII 
 
The annals say: when the monks of Clonmacnoise 
Were all at prayers inside the oratory 
A ship appeared above them in the air. 
 
The anchor dragged along behind so deep 
It hooked itself into the altar rails 
And then, as the big hull rocked to a standstill, 
 
A crewman shinned and grappled down the rope 
And struggled to release it. But in vain. 
‘This man can’t bear our life here and will drown, ‘ 
 
The abbot said, ‘unless we help him.’ So 
They did, the freed ship sailed, and the man climbed back 
Out of the marvellous as he had known it. 

The Distance

The Distance

My ancestor was named “Gentleman Jim” because not only was he one of the first to wear gloves, he was one of the first to box in a new form that had something called “the distance.”

The distance: a specified number of rounds. A stopping point, even if no one had fallen. To “go the distance” meant you had boxed all the rounds and you were still standing.

It’s my hardest lesson right now. When to stop boxing. I’ve hammered it into my very bones – my guard is up, that glove next to my cheekbone so familiar I don’t think about it now – my body knows what to do – and I love it. My gloves are a part of me. They feel like home. I feel strong; I feel ready.

But the distance is a new, scary, unfamiliar lesson… and it’s a hard one. I was not prepared for my next challenge to be… stopping.

To take the gloves off and leave the fight… go the distance, and then stop – that’s going to be the toughest fight yet.

Put down the gloves. Let down my guard. I’ve forged a soul of steel and now
softness is the scariest thing imaginable.

love – it is the only match I fear – he will still come in past my guard patiently, though my glove has stung him a few times. I don’t know how to do this anymore; I was never going to allow this again- So I slip. Feint. Even pull out the “Ali Shuffle,” then jab with a slip so I can load my uppercut, just outside his view …

but this is not how to win this kind of match.

Pause…and learn something new: perhaps this man is different. There is a good man out there, who doesn’t deserve to stand in the ring, to fight a battle and take the blows meant for a far lesser man. It’s time to stop that fight – that creep is long gone, banished with a hundred thousand hits over the course of a year, when I watched my sweat form pools drop by drop on the floor and knew it was my body’s way of weeping – knew I was washing him away in a tide of salt- I could see his weakness, his lies, his toxicity leaving me with every drop. I forgave myself for allowing him into my life- I learned to trust myself again, to trust that I would never again allow someone to treat me badly.

It’s exciting, really – it’s the one thing we can say “never” about; I will never allow someone else to treat me badly. I will never again experience that particular kind of life-wrecking pain.

As I became stronger, he became…utterly ridiculous.

Eventually, after 20lbs had been sweated away and my boxing gloves had faded, were worn and cracked with use, his face no longer swam in front of my glove as a target on the heavy bag. If he came into my mind at all, it was with surprise, and “what on earth was I thinking?”

Every time I wrapped my hands in preparation for another bout, binding my hands and arms like tefillin, I told myself I was binding my heart to my own power and locking that loser OUT. Then twenty pounds shed turned into thirty pounds; I dropped the weight of him I was carrying like a rancid crucifix across my back – left it behind in drops of sweat on the floor measured over the course of a year. Shed the way he had aged me, found joy again and youth again in new companions and new life — I stopped being a victim.

Every painful fight was a triumphant step forward.

Waiting for a good man to walk into my life, I met a few who made me realize that I had forgotten how to put down the gloves and open my arms. That I can fight may still be a good thing, however – there IS a time to fight – to ensure I will never be treated badly again…

But even so, I believe that not all men are untrustworthy. That not all men seek to control; that not all men will try to chip away at me until I am small enough for them to feel bigger – I still believe there are men out there who deserve all the love a woman can give, though I have yet to meet him, and though it’s scary, so scary, to open this heart -

I’d best accept it. Go the distance. Leave the ring. Learn what true courage is and be vulnerable sometimes, be open again; only this time, with a power that nothing can shake. This time, there is a difference. I bring more of myself when I love that self for the first time in my life – and no one can take that from me.
What I have to give I can give freely now, knowing that there is a solid core of strength in me that no one can diminish.

I don’t need to fight because I am now a warrior. It’s a paradox that comes when you’ve fought your way out the other side – the deepest strength is required for not fighting. The biggest fight any of us will ever face is : no fight at all.

My ancestor did it. He wore gloves in a world of bare-knuckle boxers; he went the distance in a world of “fight until someone is down,” though it was a new thing and I bet he came under much criticism. Perhaps his nickname “Gentleman” began as a mockery, schoolyard bullies giving him a title to wear through the ages – he turned it into fame. His courageous blood lives in my veins. I can do this.

Boxing Fueled by Veggies Experiment day 10

it’s only day 10 of following a vegetable-based diet.
No meat, no dairy, extremely minimal processed foods– a diet consisting mainly of home-juiced green veggie juices (with a limit of one fruit), power foods smoothies (chia seeds,maca,cacao,berries,wheatgrass, chlorella…)
vegetable stir fries, miso soup, nuts & fruit as snacks, and some tofu, some rice & some oatmeal…
having a history of anemia, thinking I *needed* animal protein, I was scared to do this…I thought I would feel weak and tired – especially when boxing. I had tried to follow a vegan diet before, but had become so exhausted & ill, I was reluctant to do this again – until I listened to some IIN lectures and realized that I’d been working for a lawyer at the time and I’d been so rushed, I had relied mainly on processed foods. Not Good.
Could my exhaustion have been from processed foods & not enough leafy green vegetables? I decided to find out.

Day 10: after an hour of impact (including focus mitts), drenched with sweat, I felt like I had just had the warmup. I needed another hour of class. I jumped rope after class & still felt like…when’s class going to start?
I’m going to continue this experiment with my eyes open for changes, but I’m thinking that there is plenty of protein to be found in vegetables, especially kale & broccoli…mushrooms are a powerhouse…”protein complimenting” is not necessary (ie. eating beans w/rice to make a “complete protein”–I have not been eating beans.) it’s just important to stay away from processed foods and eat lots of greens, and actually pay attention to chewing your food well–during the chewing a lot of important sh*t happens, yo!

veggie-fueled boxing!  I’m excited.

To Kill the Angel in the House

Some of us still struggle against her.  Yes, even in “this Day and Age,” no longer Victorian times,

there is still a feminine ideal — she is giving. She is caring, she is understanding.  She doesn’t take up too much space; she is small, thin, dainty, always feminine.  She smells lovely. She is soft in voice and in body – she never loses her temper or raises her voice; she hardly speaks at all, really, unless it is in a charming and enchanting way.  She is The Angel in the House.

I’d like to kill her; I’d like to finally be rid of her.  She hangs weights on my tongue and silences my voice.  She makes me wish I were a size 0, yes, that’s Zero, the perfect size – ZERO! Take up absolutely NO room in the world, ladies, you will offend no one! Zero! the perfect size to curve enchantingly around your man, to drape winsomely in the spaces that he doesn’t need to fill!

women_3_victorian_reading_by_ocean_lake

On paper, it’s ludicrous. We shake our heads: No, impossible. Women are not like this today – they are empowered, they are strong, they are unapologetic…

it’s more subtle, perhaps, than a corset, but trust me, the Angel in the House is still present among us.

Inspired by a walk with a friend today, and coming home to see a drag queen performance by another friend- I am musing about The Angel in the House;
I should like to throttle her completely. One day, I will.  She is why I box – when I am boxing, she leaves the room in despair, no doubt to sink frailly onto a couch in a near-faint, fanning herself and calling weakly for water…

This is a passage on the Angel in the House in an article called “Professions for Women” by Virginia Woolf.  It is a bit long by modern Internet Attention Span standards, but it really is worth the read:

“What could be easier than to write articles and to buy Persian cats with the profits? But wait a moment. Articles have to be about something. Mine, I seem to remember, was about a novel by a famous man. And while I was writing this review, I discovered that if I were going to review books I should need to do battle with a certain phantom. And the phantom was a woman, and when I came to know her better I called her after the heroine of a famous poem, The Angel in the House.

It was she who used to angelinthehousecome between me and my paper when I was writing reviews. It was she who bothered me and wasted my time and so tormented me that at last I killed her. You who come of a younger and happier generation may not have heard of her–you may not know what I mean by the Angel in the House.

I will describe her as shortly as I can. She was intensely sympathetic. She was immensely charming. She was utterly unselfish. She excelled in the difficult arts of family life. She sacrificed herself daily. If there was chicken, she took the leg; if there was a draught she sat in it–in short she was so constituted that she never had a mind or a wish of her own, but preferred to sympathize always with the minds and wishes of others. Above all–I need not say it—she was pure. Her purity was supposed to be her chief beauty–her blushes, her great grace. In those days–the last of Queen Victoria–every house had its Angel.

And when I came to write I encountered her with the very first words. The shadow of her wings fell on my page; I heard the rustling of her skirts in the room. Directly, that is to say, I took my pen in my hand to review that novel by a famous man, she slipped behind me and whispered:

“My dear, you are a young woman. You are writing about a book that has been written by a man. Be sympathetic; be tender; flatter; deceive; use all the arts and wiles of our sex. Never let anybody guess that you have a mind of your own. Above all, be pure.”

And she made as if to guide my pen. I now record the one act for which I take some credit to myself, though the credit rightly belongs to some excellent ancestors of mine who left me a certain sum of money–shall we say five hundred pounds a year?–so that it was not necessary for me to depend solely on charm for my living.

I turned upon her and caught her by the throat. I did my best to kill her. My excuse, if I were to be had up in a court of law, would be that I acted in self-defence. Had I not killed her she would have killed me. She would have plucked the heart out of my writing. For, as I found, directly I put pen to paper, you cannot review even a novel without having a mind of your own, without expressing what you think to be the truth about human relations, morality, sex. And all these questions, according to the Angel of the House, cannot be dealt with freely and openly by women; they must charm, they must conciliate, they must–to put it bluntly–tell lies if they are to succeed.

Thus, whenever I felt the shadow of her wing or the radiance of her halo upon my page, I took up the inkpot and flung it at her. She died hard. Her fictitious nature was of great assistance to her. It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality. She was always creeping back when I thought I had despatched her. Though I flatter myself that I killed her in the end, the struggle was severe; it took much time that had better have been spent upon learning Greek grammar; or in roaming the world in search of adventures. But it was a real experience; it was an experience that was bound to befall all women writers at that time. Killing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer.”

- Virginia Woolf

Mrs Edwards and Fraulein Kussin met in the boxing ring on 7 March 1912 (1)

Maggid process- Finding a Story–Letting Go

Maggid process- Finding a Story--Letting Go

With such a magnificent blaze the trees let go – I wish to burn as brightly.
Sometimes when I’m supposed to find a Maggidic story, the story finds me.
Often, it’s something I don’t really want to examine all that closely- so I might push it away for a time, but always it comes back, standing outside my door, wagging its tail,
and I have to say…all right. Come in. I’ll learn you, story, and I’ll tell you to others.
The pain that comes with the kind of clarity this requires is not small…
sometimes it involves facing things I’d rather not face, letting go of things in my life that I’d rather were “Forever,”
but when I finally sit down, let the story come fully, crack my heart open and let it really feel, there’s a cleansing that happens with the burn of loss. There’s the feeling that I am open, clear, and living absolutely fully again without blockages of things that aren’t really in alignment with my chosen expression in this life. There’s an immense feeling of power, as though my life force is no longer diluted…

but it’s hard to remember that, and hard to let go when the heart is aching with loss.

That’s when I look to the trees in the fall and winter as guides. How they celebrate the letting go–and how dignified they are when they are bare; what courage it takes to sit with emptiness for a time, to allow the barren branches to be, rather than trying to cling to the old simply so we won’t have to experience the pain of loss…
when we truly let go, and stand with open heart and bare branches, that’s when there is room for the new, beautiful, pure life to grow.

Let go…let go…let go, and feel with what radiant light you burn – glow, like the trees, with magnificent fire, and trust that something new that is good for your heart will grow where there are now empty branches.

Overcoming Post-Thanksgiving Slump!

I had someone ask some advice about post-Thanksgiving slump, and I feel like addressing this here.
“How do I get going [on my diet program] again? Thanksgiving really set me back! I feel defeated.”

This morning, not gonna lie: it was difficult to pry my eyes open at 4:45 a.m to get ready for boxing. Breaks are GOOD for us- giving the body a rest is actually essential to progress- but once we’ve lost the momentum, it takes an extra push to get going again–laws of physics, yo!

So: remember that. Give an extra push.

Once you begin it, it will be easier.
Once you get started again on whatever it is you’re trying to get back into (whether it be diet or fitness or work or all of the above,) you are sending yourself the message that you can trust yourself.
You’ll feel that sense of completion, which is really important for us to experience every day.
You’ll have kept your word to yourself, which is of the utmost importance to building momentum and success–once you trust yourself that you’ll do what you say you’re going to do/ want to do, there will be no stopping you :) It’s important in relationships, yeah? it’s also important in the relationship you have with yourself.

Some concrete steps:

Image-stay away from regret or self-recrimination. those things will keep you bogged & toxic.
- drink water, say “let the healing begin,” and let the holiday excess go.

- create a few affirmations for yourself. keep them short & sweet. Mine today was simply a bit of gratitude to keep me going while that jump rope was killing me : “thank you, body, for being so strong.”

- If you’re REALLY having trouble getting going, if your brain is coming up with all kinds of arguments that you should stay in bed or should eat those leftovers…visualize how you’ll feel once you have completed your workout or gone back to healthy eating. Really feel that in your body. That’s how I get to boxing just about every day- that flood of good feeling, of power & accomplishment, is something I want more of- so I crawl out of bed in the dark, and I get myself to the gym.

-If it’s gym we’re talking about, it’s harder to go in the dark and cold winter mornings. Get a routine ready ahead of time so it’s less effort to be ready. lay out your favorite clothes, set up your tea, organize what you’re going to eat to fuel your workout. The comfort of a routine feels like great self-care – while getting ready, you’re also sending yourself the message that you are worth care, consideration and effort. :)

- If it’s healthy eating we’re talking about, consider adding good things IN to your diet, rather than going cold turkey (wokka wokka) on the leftovers. Drink water, make something like one of my favorite snacks – kale & portabello mushroom stir fry, very simple– and eat that. The vegetables will “reset” your taste buds back to green & savory, so you won’t be craving that pumpkin pie so much.
Also, it helps to really imagine how you feel AFTER you eat sugary stuff…visualize it..feel it… and ask yourself if you want to feel exhausted & bloated!
Then, keep the portions small. A bite of pumpkin pie or stuffing or whatever tastes just as good as a whole serving. Fill up with the good stuff & remember you are doing this as an act of love & nurturing to your body and yourself.

- remember: a little bit at a time. don’t compare yourself to others- just do a little & keep going. If you go to an exercise class, stretch & breathe when you need to, but stay the whole time. You’ll have that sense of completion, you’ll know you didn’t give up, and each time you go, you’ll be able to do more!

bottom line is, if you feed your body with loving thoughts, it will surprise you. If you are patient with your body as though it is your child–patient and loving– it will respond. If you are compassionate with yourself and just keep going, you WILL see massive change-  give it time.  Thoughts are as important as good nutrition, because our body responds to negative thoughts by kicking out hormones, trying to “fix” stress and stay in homeostasis.

You are beautiful just as you are. A break is good for us — it will kick us out of any plateaus or stuck places. now let’s get moving again!

feel free to message me with any questions — I’m a rookie holistic health coach, gaining experience :) 

poetry in torah…study
talking etymology
1/3 of my brain is busy
boxing.
cutting up some vegetables -
boxing.
listening to nutrition lectures -
I can even take notes
boxing.
I’m deep in the left jab/right jab/right slip/uppercut that sweet exhaustion
and the sweeter – radical amazement-
unexpected energy – yes, I can go another round
yes I can go another five
when did I get stronger?
you see my body sitting in a chair
I’m only 2/3 there
I’ll never stop

boxing.

Jacob’s Ladder – God Was In This Place (yes, even this)

“Good. Strong back,” he says, and traces two fingers down my spine from neck to tailbone. (There is only one man in the world at present who can get away with this without risking injury.)

חלם –  chalam – to dream. What does it mean? Dream.  There  is immense power in a waking dream, or disparate pieces of a dream in the process of coming together. The blacksmith holds the steel in the fire, not until it is red hot, but beyond that- until it is a really terrifying thing he’s holding, capable of harm, at the white-hot edge of creation. What courage it takes to hammer it then; what strength and care, and trust in himself. Image

It is the “The Shabbat of Jacob’s ladder. Of dreams that move toward reconciliation,” Rabbi Wolpe says.

I feel like I’ve been been in the fire a long time, not truly trusting myself. It’s been a long quest, this “Tigger Leaves the Theater World” adventure.

Now, today, with the feeling of two fingers tracing down my back which used to be broken, which used to radiate pain and be my reason for shutting myself away from the world and losing hope- two fingers tracing down my strong back, straight and enduring as steel, I have a new feeling: I can hold these weights in this pose indefinitely. I have truly healed. I am stronger than I ever knew… and right in that moment, I know why I have been doing this crazy thing…I know why I’ve been doing all the separate, seemingly incompatible things I’ve been doing and learning.

Every blow, each terrible, hard lesson, everything I tried, every failure or loss tempered me. Made me strong. Showed me the depth, breadth and resilience of my own heart.
Because of it, I know now what I have to give the world. I know what stories I can tell, I know what I can teach, what healing I can bring to others.

חלם –  chalam – to dream, also means to be healthy , strong, to restore to health.

I can look back to many moments over the years and say truly, “God was in this place, and I – I did not know it.” There was a reason for everything- even the car accident.

Trust yourself. Keep going. Whatever you burn to do, whatever gives your soul joy- there will come a time when each separate piece begins to come together and make sense. Don’t listen to doubting voices; listen to the wild beat of your own heart. Keep going! It is the Shabbat of dreams… What is your dream?