Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Snow paws

Photo:  www.wix.com
Change.  New experiences.  New people coming into our lives that perforce cause changes.  Many people love change!  I am not one of them, although it is an experience that I weather with much more Grace these days than I used to.  I'm good with it in my work environment and with my career; in fact, I actively pursue growth and change at that level.  I call it my Low Boredom Threshold and it keeps me pretty driven in that part of my life.

When it comes to personal areas, home life, relationships, heck no!  I tend to want to immediately dig my heels in.  Or, for those of you who grew up on Saturday morning cartoons, picture Bugs Bunny when someone is trying to force him through a door and all four paws cling tenaciously to the doorway.  Yep, that's me.  Wanting to hold on to the familiar with a vengeance.  I've gotten better with this as I've grown older, and I tend to joke about the degree of it I embrace these days.  Time has a way of whittling those rough edges away, after all.  But I admit I do still want to cling to the doorway at times.

I was talking with one of my dear sister-friends recently about this very thing and how I tend to react emotionally regarding very personal interaction.  This was what I shared:

You know what mental image I keep getting of myself?  I had this sweet Australian Shepherd dog named Kobay.  The first snow we had the first year I had her, she hid in her house.  I had to coax her out.  Sloooowly, she came out, but with each step, she lifted her paw, looked at it, shook it a bit to get rid of that foreign snow stuff, then looked at me, as though to say, "Eeeuuww. MOM!  That's new stuff. I don't LIKE it.  Make it go away!"
I.e.,  New.  Different.  Scary. Uncomfortable.  So, I'm doing the "get the snow off my paws" dance.
Does this sound familiar to any of you?   I actually find it rather humorous, the mental image, because it's an apt analogy for what I sometimes do.  Not always, and less and less as I grow into myself in an authentic manner, but it does happen, that old knee jerk reaction.  And yes, I admit I really do start to react that way at times when someone gets very close to me on an intimate emotional level.  That's scary stuff, after all!  It means that awful word, "vulnerability", is in the mix.  Well, quelle horror, shock and shudders!  WHO in their right mind enjoys being vulnerable?!  Certainly not I.  Mind you, I stop the behavior in its tracks when I recognize it starting to slip in, and that's what we're talking about here today.

The prequel post to this one would be "What do you do when" 5/22/2012, Healing Morning.  I recently experienced that moment of breath suspended and I let myself feel the feelings.  That took a while, took some pondering, took some allowing, took some releasing, took some growing and most assuredly, took some shifting and changing of Self.

Was it easy?  In some ways, yes.  We each have the option of making life experiences easy or difficult. Sometimes the emotions churn so hot and bright that we get distracted into thinking it has to be difficult and painful.  That's fear talking, of course.  It doesn't have to be anything, really.  Which is where that "just feel" part comes in.  When we do that, when we just feel, no turmoil need be experienced.  No fighting or grappling need be necessary.  They're feelings and they're meant to be felt!  What a concept, hmm??  Yet we spend a LOT of time, we humans, doing what another friend called "the high stepping freaky dance" when it comes to emotional stuff.  I call it the Snow Paw Dance, but it's basically the same thing.

My paws felt all weird and strange with that new stuff clinging to them and I wanted it to STOP RIGHT NOW.  I spent some time lifting each paw and attempting to shake that new stuff off, but it didn't work.  That new stuff is meant to cling to our paws and make an impression.  It forces us to feel the feelings, which is what is supposed to happen.  *sigh*  I know....if you're like me, you're thinking, "Really??  Are you SURE it's supposed to happen?  It feels strange.  I could be just as happy avoiding it."  That's my inner 5 year old speaking, or my inner puppy with snow paws, perhaps, and I don't indulge that knee jerk fear reaction for long.  I take a moment to recognize it and acknowledge the very human and understandable fear reaction, then I get down to the business of growth, learning and stretching my horizons.

This time when I got Snow Paw reaction, I was smart enough to chat with a friend and process the whole thing.  Luckily, I chose someone who doesn't cut me any slack and who kicks my booty (with love) when necessary.  Actually, she calls it yanking my tail to pull me down out of the tree I climbed up.  You know how kittens will do that, climb waaaay up high in a tree, realize just how high up they are, then start crying because they can't figure out how to get themselves down?  That's another analogy for what I was doing.  I got snow on my paws and I shot right up a tree to get away from it!  Then I needed a bit of an assist to get back down the tree, hence my sister-friend yanking my tail.

So, here I am, back on the ground.  As I look around me, the snow has melted and I think it's not so overwhelming to be here as was initially felt.  My paws might still be a wee wet and uncomfortable, but I'm back on the ground and I'm walking around in those feelings, getting used to the fit of them.  How do they feel?  New.  Different.  Scary.  Uncomfortable.  But there's also potential for them to become beyond comfortable and lovely.  If I let them, they can become one of the most beautiful things I've ever experienced.

I'm going to stay here a while, I think.  Wet snow paws require some extra attention and personal grooming, after all.  In the process, I'm going to grow.  I can already see and feel that occurring.  Those who know me well are aware that I normally adore winter weather and snow.  It's when it hits out of season that it can throw a person off kilter a bit, but that's okay, because....

Snow out of season is one of the most spectacular experiences we can have.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What do you do when....

Photo:  http://www.siaphoto.com/
What do you do when you can't breathe?  When something occurs that literally strips the breath from your body and you're suspended in that polarizing moment, gasping.  This can take many forms.  Some beautiful, some incredibly raw and angry, some reaching a level of sublime happiness, and others so steeped in sadness that  it is beyond words to express.

That moment, when the air is taken from us seems to last an endless forever.  Our minds and emotions seize up in a sort of shock as we grapple to understand the enormity of the moment.  A whole slew of physiological effects set in...pupils dilating, heart rate increasing, fingertips and lips going slightly numb, slightly tingling, goosebumps hitting at times, sweating occurring at others, stomach twisting and pitching, laughter bursting from us in a glorious ripple of smiling notes, or gut wrenching sobs the next sound we're capable of making. 

Most of the time when this happens, we are forever changed.  Uplifted at times, devastated at others.  It's one of those very pure moments when everything narrows down to a literal pinpoint of focus.  From that one breath suspended, to that next moment when we finally inhale again, the world changes.  We change.  A remarkable shift occurs.

It's a curious thing, how all that we are, who we are, can change in such a blinding, rapid manner.  It can happen in a fleeting rush, barreling upon us in a wild, dramatic swirl.  Or it can slip through and brush softly as a whisper.  Regardless of the delivery, it is profound and dramatic.

We experience it from the hands of another....from the words of another.  Or from our own initiative.  Sometimes it is a moment in Nature.  Or a song lyric.  A fragrance that teases the heart and the memory.  A touch so sincere that we cannot resist it.  And we are undone.  Unraveled, or conversely, wound so tightly, so quickly, that we must shatter into a million pieces of delight or maddened grief.

Peace walks these same halls.  As does love.  They both grab the breath from us, lifting up and embracing us in an inestimable manner. 

What do you do when you can't breathe?  You endure it.  Or you celebrate it.  You continue to live, accepting that infinitesimal moment that has shifted everything that you are into a new person.  And you are born anew, taking fumbling steps, uncertain on wobbly knees and feet.  Pared down to your elemental self, vulnerable, naked and alone, and seeing the world through brand new eyes.

What do you do when you can't breathe and the cold vapor of that crashing experience stuns you?  You momentarily become a creature of ice, shards of silvered frost entwining throughout your very cells, turning you crystalline.  Waiting for a touch to warm and melt you back to humanity.

Waiting for a touch to enfold.  To stutter-start your breath again.

There in an indefinable space that simultaneously lasts both a nanosecond and a limitless, echoing eternity...what do you do?  You feel.  Simply that. 

You feel.