Thursday, July 14, 2011

Freedom Means... Consciously Nurturing Me

“Let go of the way you thought life would unfold; the holding of plans or dreams or expectations—let it all go. Save the strength to swim with the tide. The choice to fight what is here before you now will only result in struggle, fear, and a desperate attempt to flee from the energy you long for. Let go, and the waves and crests will carry you to unknown shores, beyond your wildest dream or destinations.”  – Danna Faulds

Lately, I’ve been exploring the idea of what makes me feel free. I’ve been making more and more choices that help me feel free, and I am learning what it actually feels like.

Initially, I thought this was the first time in my life that I have actually been free.

That’s not true, of course. I’ve been free many times… and I’ve felt freedom a few times, but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to feel it as freedom. I kept looking to others to fill the void inside of me, so it didn’t matter how free I actually was… I continued wrapping myself in chains—tying myself to others in unhealthy ways to feel accepted, validated, and important.

But this is the first time in my life that I have not only had freedom, but that I have felt freedom, and acted accordingly.

At first, I was afraid. I was petrified (ok, stopping the random song lyric now).

(I know. That was bad.)

I wasn’t sure how to make choices that fed my basic need of feeling free. I wasn’t even sure what being free actually meant to me, either.

Freedom can look like lots of things. This being July, and with the recent celebration of Independence Day on the 4th, it’s easy to think about our troops, our country, and what we stand for as a nation.

If I were a minority, it would be easy to define what freedom means in modern society.

If I were in a country where women are enslaved, and I were suddenly brought to America to start over—well, that sort of freedom is obvious, as well.

But what is personal freedom? Does it mean I’m not tied to anyone?

I would say that depends on my attitude. I am bound to my family by blood. I am bound to my friends by chosen bonds forged over time and with deep investments in emotional, intimate, and honest connection.

I am bound to my two kitties, to care for them and love them.

I am bound to other things and people as well, for different reasons. You get the point.

But, can one not also be free while being connected?

This is a hard question. The obvious answer is yes, but defining that quickly gets vague, nebulous, blurry.

In the absence of a clear definition of personal freedom, I realized that I’ve been sabotaging myself when everything seems to be going well.

I mentioned in a previous post that anytime things are going well, I am really waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’ve moved to the next level now… I am consciously choosing to be in the moment more (and more, and more!) and it’s paying off in spades. I find that I don’t worry nearly as often as I used to, about anything… and that is certainly freeing.

But I got to that next level of awareness and realized that when things are going well, I am actually the one causing things to go awry, with those thoughts of wondering when the next bad thing is going to happen.

It’s the law of attraction, plain and simple.

Now that I have that awareness, of course it’s time to stop sabotaging myself when I’m doing well and reset my attitude by doing good things for myself. I love myself. So, why would I go to so much trouble to mess things up when things are going well?

What I’ve come to realize is that spending time engaging in my latest distraction (at the moment, online dating—in the past it’s been too much TV, too much drinking, too much eating, etc.) is really just what I do to “check out” from reality… from my life. It prevents me from spending time on stuff that really matters to me. It precludes me from deepening my connections—to others as well as to myself and of course, to God. It prohibits me from continuing to grow and evolve.

Whatever my latest check-out mechanism of choice is, it prevents me from creating the life I want, and even worse—it stops me dead in my tracks from meeting my own needs.

As is usually the case, when I stumble on something over and over again, the root cause is usually a tape.

I only recently figured out what tape that comes from: I’m stupid (so I’m going to fuck it up, anyway).

(This tape is the hardest of all to admit. To myself, yes, but to admit it in public is a really big deal.)

I think what it really boils down to is that for me, my tape of I’m stupid really means that I don’t matter. That I’m not good enough.

My greatest fear rears its ugly head, yet again. But this is just another manifestation of it—a new head on the ever-present monster within. I’m stupid is a different version of my greatest fear that doesn’t feel quite as severe, yet it is still causing me problems, causing me to behave in ways that I don’t want to behave and make choices that I intrinsically don’t want to make.

Why on earth do I do this? I have an amazing life, filled with more blessings than I ever dreamed possible. I have no reason to check out from my life… but what I’ve come to realize is, this is a very long-standing habit. A lifelong habit, if you will… and it’s my next big pattern to break.

All these thoughts were spurred on by a simple homework assignment made by a good friend of mine. He asked all of us in a group to list 5 things that we do to nurture ourselves… and if we didn’t have 5… to come up with 5 things that would be nurturing.

I easily came up with four.

  1. Yoga and dancing
  2. Connecting with friends and family in meaningful ways
  3. Writing
  4. Eating well

But I was stumped on the fifth.

And it led me to realize that I’ve been spending entirely too much time doing things that just don’t matter to me.

And, I’ve made a decision about getting to five. I think the fifth thing comes from separating yoga and dance into two. In the beginning of my exercise journey, I exclusively did yoga and dance, one right after the other.

They were once one, because I needed that. Somehow, one made the other seem less intimidating.

I’ve grown since then, so now I’m ready to take it to the next level.

I made the choice to deepen my yoga practice by getting an unlimited class pass at one of the studios where I’ve taken a few classes. And, I have two Groupons to use up for two other yoga studios.

So… yoga… here I come!

And that same studio where I bought the class pass also offers hip-hop classes. Oh yes. I’m definitely checking that out, too!

What occurred to me this past week is that I am consciously making choices that are helping me feel more free, even within the confines of who and what I am currently bound to… even within the confines of society, and paying rent, and obeying laws, and all the other rules and restrictions placed upon humans.

Basically, freedom means I need to just be myself. No matter who I am around, no matter what I am doing. I need the freedom to do whatever it is, in my very own way.

I need the freedom to fall down, so that I gain the experience of standing up and carrying on. I need the freedom to stretch and let go, so that I can know what it feels like to fly.

And doing five things consistently to nurture myself is a pretty damn skippy way to walk the walk of living the life that I am meant to live, being the woman I am meant to be, and of course—paving my path of freedom.

So, I ask you…
  • What do you need?
  • What are 5 things you do (or can do) to nurture yourself so you can meet your needs?

1 comment:

  1. You do matter. You aren't stupid. You're a rare sort of person, LindaLee, in a very, very wonderful way. Just had to say so.

    This is a great post, too. It speaks so strongly to what I have been going through lately, trying to rid myself of negative behaviors and compulsions and figure out how to spend my time. Figure out what will make me feel fulfilled. Aside from cooking, I am not sure what that is any more, but I trust I will figure it out in due time. :)

    Best to you and your lovely dancing, yoga-practicing self.