Soul Care

I’m not sure it’s a good sign when my first blog post of the year is late, but I think it’s probably an honest representation of my life. And let’s be fair, it’s only late by a few hours.

I had a busy year in 2022, and some of the seeds I planted are now bearing a shit-ton of fruit (mostly in the form of edits, publishing, book panels, and conferences) so I’m finding I rarely have time to brush my teeth, let alone keep up on my extraneous writing, teach my classes, love on my kids while I still have them around, and walk my dog. (sorry River, you great house hippo) but I’m not complaining.

Because in times of less time, I’ve discovered that I’m forced to let go of something. Sometimes it’s something I really wanted to do, or have, or pursue…but sometimes we have a brilliant opportunity to let go of something we’ve been holding on to for far too long that has been wasting our precious time and effort. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I will say it is worth it.


Think of this as your beginning of the year pep talk, not just for writing but for living.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Arrive gently into this year, or arrive like a fucking lion, all I ask is that you arrive. Be your own biggest advocate. If something has been weighing you down, impeding your growth, causing you to lose sleep or pick up the bottle a little too frequently, that thing does not deserve a place in your one precious life.

Take a deep breath, and take stock of the things in your life worth holding on to. You only get so many trips around the sun so travel light.

Are there relationships or situations that poison you? Where is the toxic pull coming from that robs you of your sleep, of your ability to regulate your emotions without coping mechanisms? What is the root of your distress and unease? Who or what is draining your energy?

Because the truth remains that whether you are seeking peace or a revolution you will not find either if you’re expending your energy in undeserving places.

Self-care is important but even more so is soul care (I’m not talking taking yourself to church and repenting—you sassy heathen *kiss*). Soul care means that you don’t accept things, people, situations, or habits that destroy, harm, or otherwise dull the luster of your soul. We all were born within the brilliant light of opalescent divinity, and darlin’, you were meant shine.

So when you drive to work and feel your stomach tie itself into knots. Or go out to meet that friend and feel your teeth clenching. Or look at all the diet books on bookstore shelves and feel the heaviness of trying to make yourself small. Or when you sit down with that one family member, or across the table from your partner and you feel anything but calm, loved, inspired and supported then it’s time to let go.

This requires trust. Trust that the universe has a BBP (bigger, better plan) for you, and it’s your job to start taking steps towards it. Towards what makes you happy. Away from that job, that friend, impossible and disgusting expectations and judgements, relationships, projects, whatever. Whatever the weight. It’s not meant to be carried anymore.

You’ve been around long enough to know that you ARE enough and you deserve love and respect.

You do not need approval. From. Anyone.

Your purpose does not require permission.

You are steeped in the sensual glaze of wisdom and confidence.

You do not have to continue on any path that doesn’t serve your happiness.

There is no requirement to stay somewhere or with someone who does not help your divinity flourish and grow.

So this year I urge you…rather than starting off the year with outrageous and unrealistic expectations on yourself (that have probably been placed on you by a society of consumerism and vapid body shaming) to take stock first. If you are nervous in the gut, triggered by people and situations, lying awake at night or drinking too much just to numb all of the other feelings that jostle around in your brain…find the root of this dis-ease.

And find a way (therapy, journaling, communication with friends, your faith, saying ‘fuck it’ and moving to Cabo, whatever your go-to catharsis) to dig it out and plant something better.

Because time is non-refundable, and your life is not replicable or renewable. This is it. The one we get. I beg of you, do not spend it somewhere that doesn’t deserve your brilliant, opalescent divinity. Shine. As you are meant to.

On Being Alone

I’m an introvert.

 

Okay…that’s not entirely true. Those of you who know me outside of the blogosphere know that I can be extroverted in some situations. On the floor of the dojo, I have to be loud and energetic under the necessity of keeping a five-year-old karate kid engaged and focused. I must be direct and clear spoken towards older students to convey the intricacies of technique and motion. Amongst friends at book club or UFC fight night I can be lively and even, occasionally, funny. But I have a very finite well for social interaction.

A friend once told me she could pinpoint the exact moment when I become introverted. She said,

“Your expression all the sudden fades from open and smiling to gray and downcast and you just sort of sink back into the furniture, and I think well, she’s done.”

I couldn’t have described it better myself. That’s exactly how it feels inside too. Like someone turns a light off inside of me and I’m no longer open for business. It isn’t that I stop caring, I just run out of the ability to express concern. I am overwhelmed with the individual energies surrounding me. I absorb too much.

I like people, in small amounts. I like to hear their stories and their laughter. I like when they feel they can open up to me even about the hardest subjects… but it takes a lot of energy to be honestly and truly engaged in other people’s lives.

And it should.

Some people have an endless well for this kind of interaction. Unfortunately I am not one of those people, not for lack of trying. Sometimes I wonder if I engage too well and end up caring a little too much and the energy that takes sucks my well dry faster than if I remained more aloof.

Some people are no good at alone. From a woman I know who can’t stand not to be married, and going on her sixth husband. To the friend constantly texting all the contacts in her list looking for conversation or justification, or just someone to escape normal life with…to the guy who’s always got a better-than-yours story and has a pathological need to share…constantly. The world needs all types and, to be clear, they aren’t bad people, they just need connection in a different way.

Sometimes I think they fear being alone. And I’m not sure why but it may have to do with how scary introspection can be. How scary the thoughts are that come up from the dark recesses when called out by the lack of outside stimulation.

Such things are easy to cover up with noise, and new love, and impressive stories.

If you’re uncomfortable in your own company, that’s something you should really take a look at. You should ask yourself why. Chances are, it’s because you’re afraid of what you might find.

We are scary, us humans. We have scary, weird thoughts, irrational, sometimes haunting. There’s a reason horror movies exist and why Steven King has sold millions.

Don’t forgo the experience and the knowledge it brings just because you’re afraid of what you might find on the inside, of what you’ve ignored. Facing it will help to make it real, and we can only deal with/solve/accept what we know to be real.

Most introverts know how to be alone. We don’t just know it; it’s our homeostasis. The safe place we return to at the end of the day to recoup and refill the well. We thrive in the quiet, where our brains and hearts can focus on one thing, usually of our own, that doesn’t involve the constant dance of keeping another person’s feelings and thoughts in our mind, ahead of and instead of our own.

That’s not to say that all introverts are good at self-reflection, but I think it happens more often for us, in part because of the quiet we seek out. Quiet fosters uninterrupted thought. I, like most introverts, am a person who needs to shut down everything else in order to check in with what’s happening in my own head.

Sometimes, without the quiet, and only the loud and obligatory, chocked-full days, emotional backlash catches me. I will spend time with friends, co-workers, students, etc and wonder why I feel so frustrated or angry, or sad, or antsy when I return home. But with all the obligations at home and work, I often don’t have time to understand that they aren’t my feelings, but ones that I have absorbed. So I am angry, frustrated…sad. It’s only when I can spare a moment to look at the interactions from a place outside of them that I begin to understand their effects.

From the quiet I can understand that one friend is an attention seeker, outwardly sweet, but always demanding of justification and the need to be right. So I walk away feeling drained and always wrong. From a distance, I see how I am often captivated by an individual and every tiny crumb of attention they drop, because they give them so sparingly. So that when they give I feel like I could fly from the elation in my heart, and when they hold back, I am cast into a hopeless darkness.

The friend who swears she is here to listen to me but every time I begin to talk, barges over my words with stories of her own so I can be assured that she understands my exact feelings. To the person who shrugs off my insecurities, because how can my life be as hard as their own…and proceeds to tell me why. To the parent who makes up their own side of a conversation when what comes out of my mouth is too hard to face.

It’s often difficult to convince myself, at the end of the day, that I’m ok. Just me. Outside of the worldly distractions, outside of the demands of family and friends, and coworkers and students.

I don’t know if I’m okay.

How can a sponge that absorbs so much of the dirt, and grime, and ugly underbelly of the world be okay? How can I be fine when my whole being takes in the emotions and worries of those around me? I can’t be.

Which is why being alone is so necessary to repair my damaged calm.

jane
Raise your hand if you miss this guy.

With only my own company to keep, I feel weight lifted off of my heart. I find I’m quite a pleasant person to keep the company of. I’m quiet. I’m funny. I’m hard working and driven. I don’t make a big mess and am an excellent stretcher. I’ve been known to cave into a nap when left alone, and always, always leave space for thought and breath.

I like who I am without people.

But I have to carve out this time and space for myself. I have to make my health as important as I’ve made their company, even though it’s not an easy task for someone who wants to help others, to be sympathetic and supportive. As much as I enjoy being alone, I will always gravitate towards helping others lighten their load.

It’s in being conscientious enough of my own health to let it go of that burden at the end of the day that’s my challenge going into the new year.