BBA 2.0, Let's Get Woo, takes the last 18 months of life changes/new experiences/self-care and adds a layer of, well, WOO.
If you’ve been following along for the last several weeks, you know how diligently Joni has been working on incorporating Ayurvedic principles into her daily routine. You also know that things have become harder as time progressed. The further down the rabbit hole we travel, the more we uncover.
This is 100% normal.
Changing lifelong behaviors (and your inner voice that makes most of your decisions) is damn near impossible. How to do you rewire your brain? How do you clap back your internal smack-talking, alter-ego bitch who believes that you are actually the worst person ever and incapable of change?
You change the (internal) conversation.
Joni asked me what her assignment this week was. I knew she felt discouraged. I knew she was running up against that wall that we all have that prevents us from living life the way we want. I knew that in spite of reframing her assignments as experiments, the feelings of failure were doing a slow, steady creep and her inner voice was only reaffirming how much of a failure she truly is. (Spoiler Alert: JONI IS NOT A FAILURE AND NEITHER ARE YOU.)
So, we took a pause last week. We both needed to take a breath and recalibrate. So, when we jumped back on the Ayurvedic train this week, my only assignment was this: Talk to yourself like you would talk to my tiny three-month-old baby.
I know Joni. She would never berate my sweet girl. She would never tell her that she is a failure. She would never ever utter even a whisper of negativity. She only has loving, kind, compassionate, enlightened responses for my babe. (And hand-knitted sweaters, but that’s another post.)
This is hard.
Making changes to my life.
Taking time to think about those changes and the impact they have on me.
Giving myself space to acknowledge my shortcomings with grace.
Life is hard. Even if all you’re doing is breathing and keeping yourself alive, it is still hard.
I think we make life harder by expecting it to be easy and then feeling like we are failing when it’s not.
Does that make sense?
We’re so enamored, so obsessed with the idea of being a success, that our failures feel fatal.
Why do we have such a difficult time showing ourselves the compassion we so readily offer others?
Therapists tell you to speak to yourself like you would have been spoken to as a child (were your parents not abusive pricks.) And yet, we don’t. We think we don’t deserve the latitude to be imperfect? To struggle? To fall flat? To fail miserably and not get back up?
Maybe this isn’t true for everyone? Maybe I’m alone in feeling like my failures are woven into my worth?
I doubt it.
Last weekend I went to Santa Cruz. On my husband’s urging, I went alone. We have a house in the redwoods that provides the exact variety of solitude a woman often needs but rarely achieves.
I decided to get the tattoo of a wave I’ve imagined for the last few months. I got a massage. I laid in bed and read. I laid on the sofa and watched TV. I ate what I wanted. I took a nap. I sat on a cliff above the ocean.
I’ve always been envious of people who talk about having an “awakening,” or another pivotal life moment. Those moments always sound like the kind that will throw your life upside down in the best way — create clarity in chaos.
My brain is too loud for those moments.
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There is no space between my neurons for awakening — spiritual, emotional, or otherwise. I have tried to shove something meaningful into those tiny crevices, self-awareness, acceptance, love. I just can’t make it work. I want so desperately to be poetic that I can’t be poetic.
I guess the point of an awakening is just that; if you were already awake, you wouldn’t need a moment that was self-defining. You’d already be defined.
This weekend my moment made its way into the synapses on its own.
The sun was setting, and I was sitting alone on a cliff looking into the vast expanse of the ocean. There were two sea lions not far from shore — popping up and down out of the water, staying submerged longer than I could even imagine holding my breath. I wondered if sea lions mate for life. I decided to believe they do. I like the idea of two beings woven together in the waves until they die.
There were two people on surfboards waiting for the right wave. I watched them paddle out into the water, further each time, trying to get behind the next big one. Each time being drawn back to shore. Every ten attempts, one or the other would be successful and ride the wave in. They’d pick up their board and paddle back out.
Sometimes they’d be on top of the wave. Sometimes the wave would be on top of them — crashing down, shoving them to the bottom, where I imagine there must be some feeling of urgency to return to the surface. Even for the seasoned surfer, the biological drive behind lack of oxygen is panic-inducing.
You can fight them, but the waves will always return you to shore.
I’ve been fighting the waves my entire life. Not in the “try, try again” way that you’d read in a self-help book, more in the “you need to come up for air” way, the way that strangles you, leaving you breathless and defeated.
My awakening found its way.
Through a cliff over the ocean at sunset, watching two people repeatedly fail at surfing, my moment landed on me — the way only the ocean can suffocate me with its strength.
Fighting the wave, only to be pounded by it, might be making life more difficult than it needs to be — especially if you can’t surf. There is a lot to be said for paddling out and over every swell until you catch the perfect wave. There is also a lot to be said for recognizing that sometimes you don’t have to catch the wave to be a success.
There is an old saying that goes something like “to discover other oceans you first have to lose sight of the shore.” As it turns out, to discover myself, I needed to sit still.