living your truth

Choosing to be Courageous by Pixie Hamilton

Courage is a mysterious thing. What I know to be true about courage is that it is deep within. It is always available. A pulse or an urging from my soul to make a change never happens without an unlimited reservoir of courage.

Yet, sometimes I listen to my soulful urgings. Sometimes I resist.

What courage I displayed at 17! I remember listening to my inner impulse when I was 17 years old. My gym teacher (wow, that term sounds so old) drove me 4 hours to Penn State University to meet the field hockey and lacrosse coach. They “wined and dined” me (whatever that really means for a 17-year old). We ate in a special campus dining room with white table cloths. They showed me the special athlete dorm and workout room to which I would have access. I was offered a full 4-year athletic scholarship.

Unknowingly courageous, I followed my “truth”; I knew I was going to turn it down.

    

 

 

I didn’t know why, but my feelings were strong. Perhaps I didn’t want to be viewed solely as a jock. Perhaps I didn’t want to be treated differently from other coeds. I still don’t know to this day.


On the ride home I told my teacher I wasn’t going.

She told me I was ridiculous and how stupid and inconsiderate of me not to seize the opportunity.

“My family had no money. My mother was single, supporting four kids on a minimum salary. I was lucky,” she said.

I had no response. She didn’t speak to me the rest of the trip.

I postponed college for a year, spending it in Sweden as an exchange student. The same gym teacher told me that I would never play field hockey or lacrosse again at the Division 1 level because my skills would wane. People would forget about me. New players would appear the next year.

In Sweden I received a letter from William and Mary with a really great offer. I played Division 1 field hockey and lacrosse for the next four years (which were, by the way, some of the best four years of my life).

The really “fun” part of this story is that we beat the number one rated Penn State and went to Nationals multiple times.

The “courageous” part of this story is that I listened and somehow followed a deep “knowing” without resistance. I was courageous without effort. Unknowingly, I had faith in “me” and my Source, even though I didn’t have a clue about how it would turn out. I couldn’t have scripted a more perfect outcome.

Fast forward 30 years. I was literally suffocating in my marriage and tolerating behavior that was against everything I stood for. Even though I felt the same deep “knowing” that I experienced at the age of 17, I didn’t listen. I was too scared. I was uncertain of the future for my kids and being alone. I convincingly and masterfully accumulated reason after reason and excuse after excuse not to leave.

Finally, after 8 years of resisting and living an inauthentic life, the largest branch of my soul went from bending to broken. I left my marriage.

My reservoir of inner courage finally won over my fears. Courage was always there for me to forgive and walk away from an unworkable relationship. Courage was fighting for me to be myself.

I didn’t consciously choose it, but courage ended up saving my soul.

I realize now that accessing this deep reservoir of courage can be a conscious choice. So now I choose to listen to soulful urgings and choose courage. It doesn’t mean that the choice is easy or made in the absence of fear. Fear is ALWAYS there. However, I choose to move forward in spite of fear; in spite of the unknown; in spite of going against conventional wisdom; and in spite of maybe walking the path alone.

When the fear comes (and it always does), I acknowledge it. I fully feel it. I experience it. I even give it a name.

And then, with enough time, I allow my deeper “knowing” to help me pull up my “faith and heart” bootstraps and move ahead in spite of the fear.

I watch my stage fright fade away as I actively play in my next role, embracing the next step of my unique destiny, albeit unknown, with a lighter step.


“Come to the edge,“ he said.
“We can't. We're afraid.”
“Come to the edge.”
“We can't. We will fall!”
“Come to the edge.”
And they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.
Guillaume Apollinaire, 1880-1918, French Poet, Philosopher

Vulnerability as a Path to Power

When you are unable to withstand feeling vulnerable you lose your inner power. When you suddenly feel vulnerable, this is great opportunity to grow into your most powerful and compassionate self. It's so difficult to remain steady in the face of feeling vulnerable, so this is not necessarily an easy path to tread. Here are effective steps to take to turn your vulnerability into one of your most powerful assets. Step 1. First become proficient at knowing and owning when you feel vulnerable. This might seem basic but it's an integral and empowering first step. When you feel vulnerable the instinct to protect takes over. This might arise as a withdrawal, an automatic move into a place/space that feels less weak (like getting angry), or shutting down energetically and emotionally. Notice what your automatic habits are and then learn to stop the habitual response. Instead still yourself inwardly and outwardly. Be still, be present and inwardly confirm - I feel vulnerable right now. This is an enormous first step.  Not having to move away from the feeling of vulnerability is the brave path.

Step 2. Notice your vulnerability story. What's your history that caused this kind of "thing" to bring up vulnerability for you? Let me give an example. When I am in any situation in which it can seem as if someone is rejecting me, I feel vulnerable. This will show up as me moving away from the situation as quickly as possible - to withdraw, to disappear. I've had to learn to stay still, to feel the feeling of "inner shrinking" and to just let it be, without it necessarily being about "rejection". Instead I make efforts to be aware that it is just as much about whatever is happening with the other person or the general situation.  I've learned to remind myself this is not about me, but simply about whether I really want my voice to be heard. I've had to learn to assert myself well when it doesn't come naturally to me. Sometimes I do speak up, and sometimes I don't care all that much. I've grown support circles in which I am heard regularly and valued. I don't feel rejected by those I love and who love me well. It's just not about that anymore - that's my new story. And that's the story I now hear, instead of the old rejection story that had to do with other's not caring about or wanting me.

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Step 3. Let your vulnerability remind you of everyone's vulnerability, growing your compassion for the human race. As humans, each one of us is vulnerable and experiences weakening feelings. Observing your vulnerability and seeing your automatic protection methods gives you a chance to hold the truth that everyone has these feelings and can be in automatic protection mode. How sad that we adopt these patterns and habits in which we can't simply be our true selves naturally and comfortably! Let your vulnerability allow  you to grow your compassion for others who unconsciously mask themselves, turn on the offense or shut down in the many ways we do, to attempt to feel safe. Let your compassion be the ruling force inwardly.

Step 4. Learn how to create safety from within so that the outer environment is less important. When you know how to care for yourself and allow your vulnerability compassionately, non-judgmentally and lovingly, the outer environment is less important. You can become the guide to help others learn how to treat you well. When you no longer judge yourself, you will not want others judging you, in fact you will not want it in your life at all. When you treat yourself lovingly, you will want more loving and kind interactions with others as you become proficient at offering and accepting love.

Step 5. Embrace your vulnerability. When we forget that we are all vulnerable, we can develop unpleasant habits to be around. These can show up as behaviors and attitudes that state - I am stronger, greater, infallible and untouchable. Without knowing it, we often send signals that others are repelled by when we think we are making ourselves more attractive. Inauthentic behaviors and attitudes are acknowledged energetically by others even if they aren't acknowledged openly and consciously. These dynamics set us up to enter into conflicted relationships and experiences right from the beginning.

Embracing your vulnerability is authentically empowering and gracious, the most loving and kind expression of acceptance you can offer yourself. For those wanting a life of fulfillment and authenticity, it's a path with immense potential!

Saying Good Byes Consciously by Dawn Holland

It is a time of saying goodbye in my life. Good bye to the man I have spent 20 years with and still love dearly even though we have divorced, to family members - my daughter and mother, two of my best friends, to a business I love and built with great joy, to a home I cherish and have cared for 10 years and to many dear friends and clients I have come to care for and love over the years I have lived here in Maine. My heart aches and I shed tears regularly. No matter how ready and excited I am to move to a new state and create a new home and business, make new friends, be near family I love and have missed dearly, this time of ending, saying goodbye and leaving, is probably one of the more painful experiences in my life. The decision to end my life here and move has been a long process that was not experienced lightly. This is a grieving process that I am moving through gently and carefully, as I make decisions about how to move onward. During this period I have experienced a reoccurrence of the anxiety that had calmed. This is because the major life changes I am experiencing means facing fears that I have avoided in the safe world in which I had been living. Part of me wants to remain "safe", go back to what I know. But that means settling for a life that is not true to my heart and soul. I choose to head forward.

The return of anxiety has felt so frustrating and aggravating at times. I have wanted to say, “Never mind, this is too hard.” Thank goodness for all my past hard work and I am able to recognize fear for what it is. An emotion to be allowed, considered and moved through and beyond, to a place of calm again. That is what I am doing while using my breathing, my times of quiet, prayer and supportive conversations with trusted others.

There are occasions when it is easier to connect with the visualizations I am creating about my future. Other days are filled with the practical tasks of closing out the old life and there is little mind energy for anything other than a good cry. And that’s okay as I do the best I can in this brand new situation.

These conscious good byes are not easy or smooth by any means. I continue because I feel guided by something greater than me. I am able to connect with that certain “knowing within” because I have spent time with the truth and myself and have learned how to listen to wisdom when it comes. As I now move forward, connecting to knowing what is right for me, the ability to follow my chosen Path, comes more easily. This is a huge leap of trust and faith I am taking … that’s what it is all about right now!

I will continue with my good byes until the moving truck rolls down the road. I will continue to let my tears come and cleanse my aching heart. And little by little - or in leaps and bounds - I will welcome the excitement and joy that is easing it’s way into my being. There is a new normal, a different balance to be found in the way I am living. For anyone making a major life change, as I am, I hope you are being kind and loving towards yourself. Both the mind and body deserve to be honored as they are progressing towards a new beginning while letting go of the past.