“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs
I was listening to that Steve Jobs Stanford commencement speech recently and I heard him say that. It’s so true.
Its been raw here in New Cal. The dots are connecting in strange and powerful ways. I’ve been busy living 2 full-on lives since the last blog post. The external functional one that involves being a mother, wife, business owner and foreigner and the internal one of observing, listening and healing.
I can report that all things on the outside are good. Kids are adjusted, learning French and being normal in all ways that kids are normal. A is content and happily planning Dorcstock for our return home visit coming up. During Paloma’s naps, I’ve been super focused on recruiting and hiring a General Manager for Sol Yoga, which after 3 months has finally come to a close.
People come and go here. The neighbors moved to a nicer house a few streets away and the other neighbors are calling it quits and heading off to Switzerland. Jonah’s best friend at school (Vasillina) never came back from her ‘trip’ home but we’ve got a new family of six to hang out with and make us feel like five is no big deal. I walk to school twice a day with my big sunglasses on so I can be introverted and lost inside my own thoughts while managing the functional requirements of life.
But beyond the glamorous view, there is something to this place. Like no other place I’ve been or time in life, there is a powerful undercurrent that begs me to be raw and GET REAL. I’m isolated on an island in the middle of nowhere. My shoes are always off. My shoulders are mostly bare, the sky is crystal blue and the waters are translucent. It is about being exposed. And vulnerable. As cliché as it sounds, it’s happening. In fact, a friend told me ..”they say, when you come to New Caledonia it’s to work on your roots.”
I left off with a revelation of epic proportions that I have been carrying around anger for 15 years that has wreaked havoc on my relationship and my physical body. Not long after I wrote that, my decade old shoulder pain started to unravel. And now, a few months later, with the support of few skilled healers and encouragement to let go, it has largely evaporated. Poof. Pain be gone. Its true it seems that the mind and body are indeed connected. With these powerful results, I have been tempted to go deeper. What about the other aches and pains? What emotions are connected to those? What can I let go of and walk lighter and freer?
But life calls sometimes. It makes decisions for you. And you can only have faith that the understanding will come with time.
And now I see. I came here to become whole again. To shake me out of my ‘normal’ and acceptable and put me at the feet of unknown, a foreign land and in the hands of new humans.
I came across this article one rainy night and it struck a chord. Three steps to healing anything –
1. take responsibility for it.
2. find the cause.
3. heal the cause.
I’m not a therapist. And I don’t have a therapist. (talking freaks me out a bit) . But I do like this concept of peeling back the layers to reveal the root of things. Just keep asking why. Just like my 4 year old Ivy – “but why Mom?” Keep looking deeper. Past the blame and shame, past the fear, right to the heart. I love this popular TED talk by Brene Brown on Vulnerability. She reports on the characteristics of ‘whole-hearted’ people. They live with a deep courage to be imperfect, a compassion to be kind to themselves first, then others and connection as a result of authenticity. The ‘whole hearted’ fully embrace vulnerability. They believe what makes them vulnerable makes them beautiful.
In theory I am totally into this. I fully embrace vulnerability. I’m authentic. I’m okay with being imperfect. Check, check, check. Uh. nice try Dorcas. You must not be if you even having this dialogue in the first place.
I re-read the article. Take responsibility. Find cause. I pondered for weeks and weeks, peppered the inquiry with effective bodywork, writing, acupuncture, yoga, daily meditation, discussion with interested friends and of course many walks to school in my big sunglasses. I thought about a lot of things like my pesky ankle, childhood events, the pain in my hip, the friends I keep, etc.
And sometimes I even felt indulgent wallowing in my own inquiry when there is an Ebola outbreak in Africa and people in the world that don’ t have healthy children and a great life. And then I’m reminded by my studies and practice and yes, TED talks, if we don’t kindly take care of ourselves first, we’ve got nothing to offer anyone. And so I don’t have Ebola, but a difficult inquiry continues. It is not comfortable to look at yourself in the mirror. Or easy. Or really fun. I am driven by results. Driven by the end goal of feeling liberated and whole and free of self-doubt, judgement, physical pain and guilt. Driven by the desire to live as fully as possible and have the most awesome relationships I can with the people I love the most. And in doing so, give back 100 fold.
At first, the examination was widespread and random. Every time the same thing would come up, I’d try to take it one layer deeper. “But why Mom,” echoed in my head.
When I was a toddler, my mom was concerned I might be deaf and mute. I’ve always been afraid to talk to people. I like to listen. to gather information. We joke about it now as I speak publicly and teach large groups of people. But why? What am I afraid of? I’ve always been good with the conclusion that my truth lies within and I don’t need to share it to feel complete. But maybe I do. Connection as a result of authenticity doesn’t come from holding things inside.
I fractured my wrist in karate when I was a kid. It was really painful, but I pretended it was fine for days. Until my dad got a hold of me and made me confess that I couldn’t move my arm. It was the middle of the summer and I wore long sleeve sweatshirts to cover up my cast. I didn’t want anyone to know. I didn’t want any attention. And I certainly didn’t want any attention for being broken. Hmm… where’s my deep courage to be imperfect?
And what about embracing vulnerability? That was squashed early on. As a teenager, I wrote goal sheet and affirmations in accordance with some home-school-self-help-study-book choice of my parents – one of my affirmations was, “I can control my emotions.” I must have said and written it thousands of times in my youth. And for my dad, this has (seemingly) helped him thru life. He suffered loss and grief early in life and perhaps this has been how he coped. And now, as a parent, I understand. He wanted to teach me what would work. What would help make me a successful human being. And feelings don’t really have a place when you are trying to be successful, forward moving, goal oriented and productive. And perhaps he could sense in me the very same deep well of empathy he has. The deep well that drops you to your knees when you feel someone else’s pain. Perhaps he knew I would need tools for remaining steadfast. And most certainly those tools have taught me to be calm, non-reactive, nonchalant and extremely unaffected by surprises. And, I might add, wildly successful in life by all external standards.
Random things ruminated for weeks. Until one night after a self shirodhara. As I lay my oily head on the pillow, things came together.
After a good 18 years of conditioning to mask or ignore my own pain and control my emotions, I’ve spent another 10 feigning indifference and appearing unaffected because my hips and psoas are my self storage unit and my thyroid is a great damn. And then god gifted me yoga. The grey to the black and white of my life so far, the receptivity to the protection of martial arts, the healing and soothing to the hurting I’d been doing and the people who would help me connect to the truest version of myself I’ve every known. And so the past 7 years have broken me down and cracked me open. Exploring yoga and Ayurveda, having babies, all while experiencing chronic physical pain and attempting to figure it all out.
And then there is the New Caledonia chapter, the crescendo perhaps, or maybe just where I begin to connect the dots. I’ve had to risk losing everything I value to learn to trust in who I love. I’ve had to be anonymous to find my voice again. I’ve had to be uncomfortable to get exposed.
I do have faith. That trust that Steve Jobs talks about. I almost always feel certain that the truth will rise to the top and I am in the right place at the right time. That the next step, especially when unknown, will appear right before I take it. That the right people will show up when I need them.
Within two days of arriving here, I had a new support system. She walked up to me and introduced herself like she had been sent on a mission. We talk or walk almost everyday.
And when friends from home stopped calling, two more perfect matches dropped out of the sky to put me at ease and make me feel normal here. I didn’t realize how uncomfortable I was until I wasn’t. Friends I can geek out with and talk about all things yoga, Ayurveda and the mind-body connection. We indulge in endless conversation about vata/pitta/kapha, the connection of the emotional body to the physical body, the anatomical development of the psoas, the effect of too much yeast in the body and how to make yummy nutritious food. They listen to my deep personal physical and emotional epiphanies and act completely interested and un-phased by it. We have engaged in some of the most valuable conversations of my life and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to feel seen. And just as they came, and my story of healing comes to a close, they will be airlifted out. Thanks God. Mission accomplished. Now onto the next lesson of ‘letting go!”
It is my urge to re-read my words, to doubt clicking ‘post’ but the greater lesson to me is that it okay to open up. And if my doubt gets the best of me, I can lean on articles like this confirming the proven health benefits to writing. I write to process but also because I can allow myself to be fully seen. And Brene Brown’s research doesn’t lie. Vulnerability is beautiful.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Steve Jobs.