Writers are always talking about waiting for the Muse. Well, today my muse came in the form of a strange dream about an old job and an ex-boyfriend (...I don't know if you could even call him that.)
But before the dream became a muse, it first catalyzed a really uncomfortable morning. Or, maybe what it actually did was wake me up and make me pay attention. Maybe the dream made me pause and reflect. It definitely made me feel some emotions that were in the shadows, dark and stormy and old and confusing....but also full of caring and love. I suppose you could say it woke me up.
I liked that guy. He was a manager at a restaurant I worked at in college. He was older than me. He clearly liked me a lot. He was a good manager, and took good care of people. He was a good guy. But I also felt--and still feel--that he was a little lost.
I think I liked him mostly because he liked me. He asked me questions and paid attention to me in really sweet ways. I liked the way he watched me, noticed me, looked out for me. He made me feel special.
I haven’t thought about him in literally years. He wasn’t someone who significantly impacted my life; he wasn’t someone I had strong feelings for. But he showed up in my dream last night, and I woke up feeling really, really impacted by it. I woke up full of feeling.
Then, right away, I got these two different phone messages that PISSED. ME. OFF.
Maybe it was unfair to let them bother me so much, or to assume the intention with which they were sent. (Mercury is in retrograde right now, after all.) It also begs me to question the impact that another’s words can have on me. What I am most acutely aware of, however, is how dramatically I am thrown off balance when I feel misjudged, under-appreciated, belittled, unloved, or used.
Now, anyone who is familiar with Non-Violent Communication will know that these adjectives I’ve just used, do not actually speak to my own feelings; they speak to the supposed action taken towards me, and they are full of assumptions: that someone misjudged, under-appreciated, belittled, didn’t love, and used me. Now, maybe this is the case...but also maybe not. What’s actually true is that I felt angry, sad, hurt, frustrated, lost, and full of self-doubt. That is what I felt. It sucked.
So what did I do? I made coffee. I brushed my teeth and washed my face (7 splashes with cold water) because that is one ritual I literally NEVER skip. Even if I’m in the wilderness. Sometimes routine and the little things can be game-changers. Seven splashes of cold water can change everything, try it. So can a good cup of coffee. ;)
Then I rolled out the yoga mat. I was already feeling like I was running late and like I should be doing something else, especially because the messages I had received made me feel scared that I wasn’t doing enough. But I needed to be in my body. I needed to feel, to open, breathe. I’ll admit: The first five minutes on my mat were spent emailing a good friend and venting about my frustration....but this was also a game-changer. I am the first person to advocate for device-free mornings, for technology-free spaces and definitely for phone-free yoga mats. But this morning, I needed a friend.
What happened when I wrote to her was that I felt like I could say whatever I wanted. I knew I could just blegheoiahfjdslfkashd my words to her and she would understand...and even if she didn’t understand, she definitely wouldn’t judge me. And what happened, through all of that, was that I felt the pain of the world.
As I wrote to her, unleashing my frustration and despair without holding back, I cracked open; and I felt something really big. it wasn't just me, or mine. I felt and heard the cries of living beings suffering all over the planet. When I wished for people to be more conscious, to be more interested, to be more caring….I felt the pain of the Earth as though it were my own. When I wrote about feeling lost and confused and useless, I felt the pain of so many people. When I wrote about missing and loving the land in California that is burning in relentless wildfire, I suddenly felt more connected, and my pain felt real and legitimate, and shared. When I wrote about my anger, my sadness, my feelings of isolation...I suddenly felt less alone. I can't help but notice how the adjectives I used earlier (under-appreciated, belittled, unloved, used,) remind me of the way the land is so often mistreated. Somehow, I feel relieved that it's not just me feeling this. Maybe I'm actually a sane human who has a lot of legitimate reasons to be upset on behalf of the world.
And then I went outside. I went to walk up the mountain and find the horses. (Luckily this is part of my job right now…#iceland.) But I was walking with a burden, with a deep unsettledness, and with a lot of questions. And so, as I paused to go through the gate, I took a moment to “cross the threshold” with intention.
This is one of my most sacred and beloved practices: Crossing the Threshold. Pausing to honor the step into something different and wild, something unknown, something that might change you...and asking for guidance or simiply offering a prayer or intention. I learned it in the context of nature-based work, and the indigenous mind, that acknowledges Nature as inherently magical and healing, and not separate from the life of the human. And so we take a moment to pause, to acknowledge that we are here to remember that, and to open to that wisdom, whatever form it may take. It is a moment when I get to surrender the idea that I am supposed to know. To simply close my eyes, feel my feet on the ground and raise my heart to the sky, and ask for what I need. Without knowing how I will get it, but knowing that my prayer is heard.
I don’t need to tell you about my journey there, on the mountain. That’s not the point. The point is that it DID change me. Even just that moment, pausing to cross the threshold, changed me. Because when I ask for what I really need, when I acknowledge what I’m really struggling with, and when I state with clarity and humility the way I wish to walk on the land...I come home to myself. I trust myself. I remember what’s important. I have nothing to prove. Only a life to embrace, opportunities to grow, things to fight for, and reasons to celebrate.
I’m still susceptible to annoying morning texts. I’m still working on using my voice when I feel uncomfortable. I’m still learning to feel what’s really happening in my emotional body, and to let that be okay. I’m still learning to notice how my judgments of others affect the way I feel. I’m still learning how to feel the pain of the world, and not collapse in frustration, self-doubt, fear, anger, and sadness. But what I learned today was about using my resources. It was about trusting the process. It was about the power of dreams to start something. It was about how much I need my friends. It was about how feeling pain, anger, doubt, frustration, and isolation can actually bring me out of isolation, into contact with something real and important, and deeper towards my own truth.
And my truth is that I am a dancer. I am a woman who walks the land. And I am scared. But I am not alone.
Thank you to all the people and animals who have touched my life, shaped my path, and held me when I’m lost. And to the man in my dream...may you be happy, wherever you are. It seems you have somehow touched me deeply.
And to the land burning in California...I miss you. I love you.