By the way, the Engineer is so much more ruthless and so much better at standing this whining. But I’m doing my empath homework and getting better at it. Because, fast-forward about forty-five minutes and the living room is filled with laughter, instructions, crashing, running feet.
The sweetest music in the world. Born from the fertile soil of technology deprivation, boredom and the choice to create something new.
June was chock-full of client work with interesting, dedicated people who threw themselves into making art and learning about their creativity. Now I’ve been winding down to holiday mode, spending time in summerland with my children. Time is starting to loose its meaning and I have difficulty remembering what day it is. Lovely!
On a more personal note, I have been exploring what it means to be an empath. This year, I’ve been working with Molly Gordon and Caroline van Kimmenade, both of whom I can heartily recommend. It all started out with the intention of checking out what is going on with the profitability in my company, my sense of having one foot on the break and the other on the gas and the recurring phenomenon of ending up either broke or exhausted.
With Molly, I have learned to instantly access my core, my deep trust in the goodness of life. I am now able to look out into the world and feel supported. No matter what is going on, I KNOW it is all alright. Nothing has gone wrong, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
The program “From Suffering Sponge to Sensitive Savant”, that I’m enrolled in with Caroline is a bit different than traditional coaching. This is pure training for an empath. I’ve learned to understand my ability of being able to viscerally feel what others are feeling, discern what is mine and what isn’t and what to do with inner phenomena that originate from someone else.
So far, I feel like someone has given me an encryption key to my life experience. Everything makes so much sense now. So, I’m vacillating between accepting where I am and making small changes in my everyday life.
The changes I’m noticing this far are:
– It’s easier for me to make art, take&make time for making art and hear what I need [as opposed to taking care of everyone else and ending up resentful and exhausted.]
– Although I am still super-sensitive and aware of emotional fluctuations, I am able to discern what is mine, what isn’t and I know what to do in both cases.
– I now KNOW, beyond all doubt that I was never broken.
– The exuberance, joy and lightness that I remember from my childhood grows stronger every day.
– Being with my own intense kids is so much easier, because my inner clarity is now a stable flow. I can maintain the loving kindness that they thrive in.
The challenges I’m aware of are:
– It’s a LOT of work. I get immobilized with an influx of emotional static and it takes a whole lot of sifting, sorting through, writing, jogging and breathing to organize all the sense-material coming in [but it is infinitely better than it used to be].
– It’s lonely. I used to morph out to meet people, like an emotional Barbapapa, always finding the facet of my own experience that fit what my empath senses were telling me was appropriate. Now, I’m getting used to a whole new way of communicating and just being me. Scary!
– I’m way off my comfort zone, practising something completely new and not doing it particularly well.
But you know what? It’s so worth it. Because for the first time in my life, I can genuinely say that I am starting to feel this affectionate regard for myself. Not awash with the feelings of others anymore, I can differentiate who I am and I like what I see. There is a sense of inner logic to my past, I can see how things have led up to this point.
I’mwishing you a sunkissed summertime, with lots of goodness and gentleness.
I came home from taking my son to school today and almost yelped with joy. Once in a blue moon, this wall turns all blue. I took this snapshot with my phone, because I wanted to show you. The little things, these details of beauty, are what make every day life so precious and alive.
Yesterday I wrote about saying no. I think it’s hard, partly because it requires that we say “What I think of me, is more important than what you think of me.” For me, this was an insight that changed everything, because it carves out a personal space where it is possible to be, to breathe and to be truly compassionate.
Yesterday I had the most extraordinary experience. It was time for my final presentation at the Business School for Creatives. Very exciting! I had prepared a speech, with Powerpoints and all, polished up my business plan and made a fine looking portfolio to present. Everything was done in my very own style, as you can see below. Rational, thought out, standing firmly on the ground with my head just as firmly in the clouds, putting all cards on the authentic vision.
Present in the meeting were two evaluators that I had picked from my own business circles and one from the school. The school evaluator was a gray haired, very official looking gentleman, who looked somber and efficient.
So we started out with scrapping my power points, because the memory stick had a different sort of file system than the school system. Wonderful! Then I started out with my presentation, only to be firmly put in my place by the official, who took charge of the situation. Oh well. But when he asked me if I would mind him interrupting me (which makes me slightly crazy), I was already full of bubbles.
There’s this rule I have – the more that goes wrong in the beginning of a presentation or workshop, the better it is going to go. I have had zippers on dresses open in the middle of a presentation, huge tables bolted to the floor in a dance workshop, keys lost, alarms on.
So when I was allowed to start talking, I did. I knew my material and answering the tricky questions was pretty easy. And then we got to talking about the art, the growing one fourth of my company. I felt my passion ignite, I felt the mood in the room change and the gray official numbers man burst into a huge smile that shone up the room as he burst out: “What a magnificent vision you have!”
After that, the tricky questions, stern demands and other rhino kinda stuff didn’t stand a chance to the air of magic that was swirling around the room. I passed with flying colors, pats on the back, and an even more powerful conviction in the power of the open heart.
How are your dreams doing today?
P.S. It wasn’t until today that I heard what kind of experiences the other people in my class of 2013 had in their presentations. Let’s just say that “magic” is the right word to describe what happened with my business plan and how it was received.
One of the most liberating insights of my life came at a point in my life when I had studied therapy, coaching and been through various self-developmental processes. I was confused, because there were still times of absolute darkness and inner pain. Although they were shorter, they were no less intense. They were also less easy to pinpoint, didn’t seem to have any substance at all, except the emotional pain they contained and gave rise to.
At that point I started finding literature about empaths, about being so sensitive to other people’s feelings and emotions that you start trying to process them in yourself. I started asking myself: “Is this mine?”
If I had that rootless feeling of not being able to feel the feelings in my body, I started to just let them go. I told myself: “Not mine, not mine, not mine.” Doing something physical helped, running or vacuuming the apartment.
One day, while walking around the small lake near us, I felt awash with joy, this simple exuberance of being alive. Memories of childhood and feeling this same feeling started to jump up like happy puppies and I was filled with the certainty that this joy was mine, had always been mine and would never leave.
So still, at times, when my boundaries start leaking, the human sponge effect starts. With good self-care, equilibrium returns, step by step.
How about you, are you carrying stuff that isn’t yours in the first place?
I watched the last episodes of Flashpoint, season 5 yesterday, while I was filling in this drawing. The name of it came to me while I was in my Sunday morning writing & heavy metal mini-retreat. I had drawn this a year ago, while leading a creativity liberation workshop. Now I realized what it was that I had drawn.
A while ago, I attended a workshop where we talked about self-love. At the beginning, the leaders discussed appropriate ways to share painful emotions and how to stay in our own center. They said that we can all choose to be in a safe space, simply by choosing to be there. Although I felt doubt, I chose to be in my safe space. And I was.
After the workshop, this has been one of my favorite things to keep aware of. To choose to be in my safe space and cultivate the safety inside.
When you choose your safe space, what kind of colors, sounds and feelings [or something completely different] does it contain?
I’ve been living with this mongrel feeling of living a life that is something between directing a symphony orchestra and walking a tight rope. Living a whole life, where there is no distinction between work and life has its own challenges. It requires being very aware and present. Oh, and yes, having good boundaries. Here are some of the questions I ask myself during the day:
– How many meetings can I afford this week, so I still have enough creative bandwidth for both making art, being in love with my husband and being a present, loving parent?
– What is most important today; cooking a nutrient-filled dinner and sitting down for an hour with no phones, internet or other outside influences with my kids and their important matters or doing laundry, vacuuming, organizing our home?
– Do I take a fifteen minute date with my husband today and set aside all thoughts of work, my to do list and all the organizing details that concern our children’s lives and risk forgetting something or leaving something undone?
Each of these questions represents a dipping into my core and the essence of what I am doing here on this planet. It is so easy to get caught up in the domore-domore-domore-domore-rhythm of our society, instead of remembering that it is who we are and the level of our presence that decides how happy and content we feel.
How about you? What are your essential questions today?
The one thing that has kept me from loving myself, creating what I dream of and being the person I want to be, more than anything else, is self-pity. Breaking up with drama was almost impossible while I was holding on to the pacifier of self-pity. I’m that good at pitying myself. The way this has worked for has been something like this: Because I’ve been so brave and _________________ (fill in the blank), now I can _________________________ (over eat, shop like crazy, be curt to my husband, yell at my kids or alternatively not go out for a run, ignore my budget, not take care of myself, not go writing). Self-pity always led me to the worst decisions, short term relief and long term grief.
The tricky thing is, self-pity is a [dysfunctional] self-soothing mechanism, which is why I and we all fight so hard to keep it, when someone tries to get us to quit. These days, I always know I’ve had a relapse, when my husband asks me: “What do you need now?” and instead of feeling an answer arise, I feel the impulse to snap at him like a huge crocodile. I’m still not an evolved enough person to behave graciously in that situation. But I do know that self-pity arrives when I start compromising my boundaries.
It is easier to give in to self-pity than it is to ask: “What do I need now?” and be compassionately present with the answers. It is easier to act on self-pity than to do some real self-care and go for a run, or take a nap, or listen to a mindfulness recording, or pay all the bills we can and ask for more time on those we can’t.
Letting self-pity go requires that we take responsibility of our power to create and how we can learn to use it with more awareness, in our inner world and our outer world.
So, of course, most of my life I’ve taken EVERYTHING personally, quite up to the point that it was painful to walk on the street, because people’s looks [that I interpreted as dismissive or disapproving] would turn up the voice of my inner critic. The end to that came with this summer’s bootcamp of boundaries. Suddenly I get what it means to take nothing personally.
Most of the time people outside of us think only of themselves. The actions, thoughts and energy that they focus on have nothing to do with us, not even the ones that are potentially hurtful. We are all the center of our own universe.
When we take nothing personally, but stay in our own core, we free up our energy, focus and time to do things that are both important and beneficial to us (this often includes helping others, too). There is a clarity that comes with it. We are free to connect to other people, without static, projections or worry.
You may notice that the ‘nothing’ part is wobbly. That’s because it isn’t easy. If I’m to take nothing personally, I need lots of time to reload my energy, which I do best alone, enveloped in a world of music and art.
How do you need to recharge in order to take nothing personally?