Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Alas, Life is NOT a Star Trek Episode ((sigh))

Begonias, always in memory of my Great Aunt Ardelle

If you know me at all, you have noticed that I kinda ((cough)) like Star Trek.

ALL the Star Trek, ALL the time.

When I am stressed, all I have to do is stream an episode and the sounds alone actually soothe my beast-y  brain.

I am like Pavlov's dog but for the transporter sound and even that muffled sound of ship life and the way the doors slowly suction seal and... ((Here))

But it's not just this Pavlov response thing that has me visiting my friends the characters almost every day for at least a few minutes or how long it takes me to eat some lunch.

It's the whole idea(l) of it.

Here is this human made construct -- the Federation -- and it has attained, within the context of a technologically and scientifically driven culture, a religious life sort of perfection. Like what St. Benedict could only hope for when he wrote the Rule to guide people's interactions with the larger community.

My Aspie brain experiences a sort of nirvana hopefulness when it engages with the world of Star Trek.

Look at all the people following the rules and therefore experiencing a deep happiness while also staying completely focused on each of their own special interests!

The Federation's rules are grounded, of course, within a Gandhi like morality, so that speaks to my Jesus loving, feed ALL the people, don't hurt anyone heart.

Even as I write this I am sighing from the thought of this kind of peace and structure.

But here I am, living not on a Starfleet ship or space station ((another sigh)).

I live in the "real" world of messy humanity.

((Wide eyed and confused Aspie face inserted here))

Daily I try to negotiate the world around me by constructing rules based on people's behaviors so that I can figure out what is the "right way."

Here's the catch (which if you are not an Aspie, you know what's coming): people's behaviors CHANGE from one minute to the next!!

And this rule that I made up for this scenario? Well, if the next scenario is even a mirco-whatever different, I will not make the necessary association with the previous scenario; I will not extrapolate. Rather, I will have to learn all over again.

Every time.

((Runs back to watch some more Star Trek where everyone is always the same))

I make fun of myself here, but I am headed to an important point that I do not think is just about my Aspie nature.

As things are changing in my life and we are making new arrangements and negotiating new ways, it would be easy for me to kinda...collapse in the grey of it all.

But I have not.

I AM learning.

I am learning that the main way real life is not like Star Trek is that things are not so easy to categorize as "right" and "wrong" and "good" and "bad" or whatever set of words you want to insert here.

We are all so very different.

We all have such very different needs.

Freedom and love and happiness and health are different from each person to the next.

But all the main social constructs -- like family, relationship, community, work -- they are all built from about one or two blueprints.

This is not good enough as evidenced by the rates of divorce and depression and overall unhappiness in this world right now.

We need more blueprints.

Meaning, we each need to make our own damn blueprints and we need to revisit the blueprint constantly.

Priest and nuns say that their reasons for joining this or that order are always different from their reason for staying and that you have to decide every day to commit, to be devoted, that it's not this one time decision.

Yes.

We could learn a lot from that act of daily discernment.

This doesn't mean we have to daily overhaul our lives; it just means that daily we recommit and dive back in -- consciously.

You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

No Squishing Allowed

(Feel free to share!)

You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Is Your Meaning System Working for You? And What the Heck Am I Talking About!?


Every time I go away to Chautauqua to do a silent writing retreat week, I find my brain again, and then when I come back to this life, I lose it again and find myself frustrated that I can't live in "retreat mode" all the freaking time.

But here's the thing: I could and I can but it's (as always) about choices.

On so many levels -- I am learning as I go through so many changes in my personal and work life -- I have bought into paradigms that were set for me rather than by me.

And this is rather disappointing. I think of myself as an excellent critical thinker. And I am, but I, like so many humans, have not (regularly enough) taken that skill directly into action on my own life. Not so much.

One of the paradigms I have purchased without really noticing is the Busy Paradigm.

I do work that I love so I am lucky in that regard. Or not so much lucky because I (and we) have made a lot of conscious choices in this life so that it is possible, and I've worked hard, too, to find and claim the work I love.

Regardless of how I got here, even in the context of doing work I love, I run from one thing to the next, all day long, and lament at the end of each day that I didn't really do the things that I prize most highly.

Bullshit.

If I prize them above all else, then I choose them, and if I am not getting to them, it's because I did not choose well or consciously that day (or that week...or that month).

Personal responsibility. Take a big dose and call me in the morning.

But things are changing, as I keep saying, and just last evening, I found myself in the above photo. I found myself making time for some deep reading. Something I claim to prize above all else ever since I could read.

Reading...learning new things...it saved my life when I was young and it keeps me grounded in my most essential joy.

It also helps me to find my brain, as I said in that first sentence. It helps me to be able to hear myself above all the chatter of the outside world because it creates internal conversations of importance and worth and that leads to action of importance and worth.

Rather than scattered and random thought that leads to scattered and random action. Which is pretty much where I have been living for a few years now.

I have just been letting things happen (and mistaking that for some sort of spiritual woo fate crap) rather than taking the helm and guiding myself into my own chosen destiny.

So I had a taste last night of things to come as my life evolves toward what I really want it to be versus what it just happens to be.

This quote struck me as I listened to this On Being podcast during one of my walks, and I think it says many things about what I am going through and I am hoping it speaks to you too:

"Evolution only sees action. Whatever goes on in the head is unusable to evolution unless it is manifested in terms of what people do. So if what's inside your head, if your meaning system does not cause you to act in the right way then it's not very good as a meaning system. We want a meaning system that causes us to be highly motivated to act." Andrew Revkin

It becomes clearer and clearer to me that the larger stories we tell ourselves about our lives -- the meaning systems that we construct out of our lives -- actually then create our lives. The stories we tell ourselves act upon us as we act from them and in alignment with them.

As that becomes clearer, it becomes even more abundantly clear that we must consciously choose the stories from which we can evolve our lives the most.

This is a supremely human act -- to decide on our own narrative arc and to be the protagonist in that narrative.

From here, we can decide that nothing destroys us, that everything leads to growth, and that all is always and forever well, to paraphrase Julian of Norwich.

From here, we can decide to to live in retreat mode if that's what our brains need and want.

You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Resistance Really IS Futile


Though there are some Big Changes going on around here, I am finding that I spend a lot of my time feeling rather excited (and a lot of time in Deep Learning About Myself mode and actually liking what I am finding but that's another post).

Even just six months ago (and more so a year or two ago), I would have seen this personal life change as devastating. It would have sent me into a tailspin, crashing into the land of deep depression and self hatred.

I would have quit everything and curled up in bed.

But I haven't even come close to that kind of response.

It has been amazing to see that all the work I've put into overcoming my depression and anxiety and all the effort and devotion I've put toward all my spiritual practices...well, they've freaking, um, paid off. (That seems rather uncool to say.)

Seriously. This is a time when I get to see what comes of the planting I have done.

And it turns out that I didn't grow a thicket of thorns but rather a beautiful big tree. (Tree comes to mind instead of flower. Who knows why...though a tree is rooted and touching the sky, so that makes sense when I think it through.)

I keep wanting to say that things are actually not bad, that there is an ease in this life, that there is still so much love.

And that's true, but it's true because of this other stuff -- it's true because of my reaction to what has happened.

Curling up in bed and quitting -- that is Resisting What Is.

Resistance causes tension and pushes away the possibility of ease. Without ease, we cannot make good decisions. We cannot act from a place of love and joy and openness.

When we embrace WHATEVER is happening, it ALLOWS.

Allowing makes ease and ease makes for good choices and good choices make for positive change.

Allowing eventually leads to joy, regardless of the starting point.

Resistance causes pain. This is true on the physical, spiritual, and emotional level. (Because they're all the same.)

Embracing turns life into an adventure.

So things are good because I now expect good and I don't expect things to be other than they are.

You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Walk walk walk walk walk walk walk walk...

Erie City Cemetery

...walk walk walk walk walk walk walk...

Yes. I've been walking. A lot. More than ever in my life, thanks to my trusty FitBit.

Marcy would try to get me to walk and I would whine that it was boring and that I would rather dance.

Of course, walking does different things for the body than dance, but that was still not enough to propel me from in front of my computer, which is where you would usually find me when I wasn't dancing.

The FitBit though! (This is not in any way an ad.) It uploads to a dashboard and tracks your steps and gives me just enough of a reward to act as the carrot at the end of the stick. "Reward" being that I meet my set goals and then those goals turn into smiley faces and tell me I am a champ. (I am also...apparently...easy.)

Suddenly I am a Walker, making sure to get in my 10,000 steps (approximately 5 miles) a day. I schedule my walking now just as seriously as I do my dance time. I usually get to about 12,000 steps and I want 15,000 to my daily allotment but I fear...obsession. (HA)

I have a bigger point here. Really, I do.

And that bigger point is that something about walking has truly surprised me.

Beyond the physiological benefits (and I have seen plenty of those even in just the first two weeks), there has been something happening with my brain that I was NOT expecting.

And it's taken me some time to figure out the difference between walking and dance when it comes to said brain.

Dancing makes me feel huge, connected, powerful, tapped in, aware on a divine level. It's hard to explain (though I do an okay job in this interview).

Powerful, though, is one of the biggest feelings it gives me. When I am dancing, I KNOW that I can do anything. It's not ego; it's just this deep knowing that I am ultimately CAPABLE. As we all are.

This feeling...I don't really get it anywhere else besides dance and it's strongest, of course, WHILE I dance. It can last but it fades rather quickly.

Now walking...walking does not make me feel this way.

Walking...((drumroll))...makes me feel calm and at peace.

Those are things I so rarely feel that I just decided that they were not for me. That I am tightly wound and that is that.

Alas...that is, in and of itself, a story.

I CAN feel calm and peaceful.

Walking washes away the anxiety and the fear and the nervous and the hyper.  And like the powerful feelings of dance, it doesn't last terribly long. It starts to fade pretty quickly.

Luckily, my FitBit reminds me that I still have more walking to do for the day...

You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Aspies in Relationship



When I was about 8 (2nd grade), I remember sitting on a back porch that hovered in the air, as the back of the row house was on a steep hill. I could see far. Things were not good in the house behind me and I was already feeling overwhelmed and sad.

Then I looked off in the distance, and there was my best friend, Karen, which made my heart feel a ping of happy, but she was...playing with someone else, which made my heart sink.

This hurt me deeply and baffled me because we were best friends, which meant that we only played with each other.

You are perhaps giggling but I was quite serious.

And I still am.

Now looking back, I know this was the brain of a young Aspie at work, and it's classic Aspie. One friend. One best friend and no other.

We don't get the friend thing that easily and more than one...overkill.

The other part of this is our brain's love of special interests. We find something we're interested in and we LASER FOCUS.

The stereotype of this is the little boy who loves bugs.

But it can be anything AND it can be anyONE.

So now at 45, I find myself finally learning some things that most humans just kinda naturally get at the age of 8 (or close to that).

Marcy (poor thing) has been my main Special Interest for many years. I wouldn't say for our whole 20 years together because for much of that my own depression and healing from it was my Special Interest.

Yet for those 20 years, we've been functioning in a way that appeases my "rules" about relationship. 

Including insulating ourselves to an unhealthy degree from other relationships because that made me so very uncomfortable.

For the past few years, I've been learning (and wow! this has been uber painful for this aspie) that Marcy can have other...friends.

Over the last year or so, I've even been trying (a little) to cultivate my own friendships. Though it's hard because I get super confused about my role as teacher and who is a student and when does that become friendships. (See? Aspies...we don't intuit this stuff; we have to THINK it. Very tiring.)

And in the last year or two, Marcy has helped me to see how much I RELISH my time alone, sending me on retreats all by myself.

I had no idea how much I love not having to talk to another human and not having to think about what they might want to eat or just any of the day to day interaction stuff.

As we've been uncovering my own Aspie-ness and its needs, Marcy has finally been able to identify her own needs, too.

Twenty years in...

So we're making some really big giant changes around here. And that Aspie part of me that was so sad about Karen? She still feels sad about the changes; she has a tendency to see rejection everywhere.

But the real Aspie me? The one who finally knows herself? The one who loves retreats and wants more time for spiritual practices? The one who needs to make HERSELF her own special interest for once (in healthy ways)? The one who needs to refocus on dance and poetry?

She is super excited about this Big Adventure we're about to embark upon and I think it will be rather inspiring to others...

You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Dancing with Change


"Things change, Kundun," and then he snaps his fingers at the little boy who would become the Dalai Lama.*

(*From the gorgeous film about the Dalai Lama's early life, Kundun)

Good lesson for someone about to have his country taken from him and be forced into exile.

A lesson that always made me feel a little nervous every time Marcy and I would rewatch the film.

Change is not easy for anyone but add an Aspie brain into the mix, and it becomes exponentially more difficult as we cling to routines and things as they are and what we know.

Add in not knowing where the change is actually headed and you have an Aspie whose head just popped off.

But surprisingly? Mine has not.

Instead I feel a bit more like that echinacea at the top just about to totally unfurl. You don't know exactly what it will look like, but you know it will be an echinacea.

Things are different here, for sure, as we discover a need for each of us to have more space (spiritual, emotional, and literal) and as we take steps to allow for that.

But there is still love. There is still laughter. There is still all the shared space between us.

Things are different, and there were these moments when I thought that might just do me in. There were those moments of deep drama where I thought this was the end of my life as I know it.

But those moments passed. Rather quickly.

I have found a sense of freedom in myself that I didn't know I had.

I feel an internal openness that I can't really explain.

And not surprisingly, I have found that deep down...no matter what...I am dancer and dancing always saves me, gives me strength, puts me back into myself.

I didn't think, at first, that I could dance...much less want to...but then I did and I could and I wanted more.

I taught last night and my dance feels stronger again (this happens every few months).

At one point I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I thought, "Oh...there's something new and interesting..." and in that flash, I saw that this is it. Me and the dance. And this is good and it's enough.

More than enough.

You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.