Thursday, September 4, 2008

A little Self Reflection

Hello, hello. So much has happened, I have so very very much to share with you and have LOTS of pictures to share, thoughts on everything from flexion and extension and its relationship to balancing and pressuring movements, to why sometimes Sponge Bob is okay.

So much has happened this week: Ethan and Bodhi BOTH started school, which was incredible and joyous, I have been spending some much needed grown up time with my mom, hiking and talking and getting to know each other in a deeper way. I've started tackling some stuff that I've been procrastinating on, (gulp, taxes), and have been making diligent headway on writing the HardHead manual and materials.

I start school next Friday for my national certification in Massage Therapy with a Sports Injury and Rehabilitation focus, and am trying to find the time to get back to Aspen to ride from Aspen to Crested Butte with Jill and Kurt.

Meanwhile, I had to write an essay for my entry to school, and as I was reading it back, I thought I might share part of it with you.

I miss posting, and promise to get back just as soon as I get my article from Race Camp finished!!

Thanks for your patience, gentle reader!

Describe one of your life experiences & explain how it has affected who you are & how you live your life.

I have been fortunate to have several experiences in my life that have materially affected who I am and how I live my life. Some have been exceptional turning points, abrupt fissures in my understanding of myself; some have been a slow warming to a deeper sense of self.

The most recent turning point was one of these slow warmings, and while it wasn’t an earth shattering moment of truth, as many moments in my life so far have been, it is one that I feel is the most significant to my journey. This is the moment at which I realized I was on my path.

I spend a lot of time wandering around in the woods, I am fond of climbing mountains and skiing or climbing down them, and over the last three years, as I have been recovering from several very difficult experiences in my life, any of which I feel would make an excellent answer to this question, I have learned to hike alone.

This was, for me, the beginning of a slow and complicated internal journey, as I traveled through the questions of why it was so difficult for me to spend time on my own, why it was hard to be motivated to succeed, let alone to excel at something if there was no one there to cheer me on, to tell me I was doing well, to applaud my success, to challenge me to beat them.

It was just me, plodding along, footfall after footfall, and often times wondering why in the world I was doing it. I went through several motivations; I started with “I am hiking because I want to loose weight.” This did not sustain me through the most difficult times, wanting to look like I did before I had kids, when I felt more like a woman and less like a mom, was not a deep enough motivation.

I abandoned that motivation, and still went out, searching for significance, but also searching for the willingness to keep walking until I found out. I struggled with the need to turn around. I struggled with living with myself. I struggled with feeling okay in my skin, by myself. I often had the urge to get away. This was difficult to see in myself, as the self that I present to the world is strong, confident, and competent. I was concerned that that was not a constant truth, but a fa├žade.

I have been studying Buddhist philosophy for many years, and one of the most difficult and painful aspects of it, the thing I have the hardest time asking myself to do, is the vapassana meditation – the act of sitting and observing my breath – without any further action or thought. Sitting alone by myself, just observing my breath, was harder than climbing any mountain alone ever had been.

Over the last year, I have asked myself to be open to facing whoever might be truly inside, to showing my true self, warts and all, as it were, to the world. On one of my many long hikes into the Montana wilderness, I asked myself if I could live in a totally open, honest, and communicative way from that day on. The decision was frightening, but I realized as the thought came to my mind that I had no choice but to follow it. I was not truly asking myself, more realizing that something had materially changed for me, that I had made a choice to live my life differently.

As I walked down, I realized that the things I ask of my clients; for patience, kindness, compassion, as they are working towards a goal and often failing, are not qualities that I have ever allowed myself. Since that day, I have gratefully been able to ask myself to view thoughts, feelings, and emotions that I am having, especially judgmental ones, with an air of curiosity. To examine those things with just a moment of distance, and in this way make a little space for change without criticism or judgment. This little bit of space allowed me to be willing to see the real me, and to show the real me. This seeing and showing was quiet, and felt true, rather than a trumpeting need for affirmation or attention, just a little space to look with curiosity at my motivations, thoughts and feelings.

I now find myself hiking about fifty miles a week, most of them by myself. I have noticed now that while I love sharing a hike with a friend or with my children, I cherish my time with myself, I have learned to love myself, to allow that I am human, to bring my thoughts back to my breath with a loving hand rather than with harsh judgment. Because of this slow and gradual change, I have found some patience. Patience for my children, for my skills and abilities to develop, patience to allow my true path to unfold before me. I am by nature a bit of a bulldozer, patience does not come easily for me. Having found a small amount, I realize that it is an essential ingredient to me in finding, and then staying on, my path.


Liat said...

Wow, I can't believe it! You found patience! What incredible work you have done to find yourself practicing patience. I think patience can only happen in the moment, so it's hard - you have to keep doing it over and over again, as each opportunity to practice it arises. It's not just something you have or don't have. It's something you do or don't do. I feel so proud for you that you have made this quiet, huge step.

Lisamarie said...

Inspiring blog! I've linked your blog to my page on!

a said...

Hi, Lisamarie! Thank you so much for linking to me! I'll post you guys up as well.

a said...

Wow, Liat! Thank you so much! I think you are absolutely right about why it is so hard to practice patience. And thanks for thinking so much about it!