Carrying It All (Today’s Daily Presence)

For today’s Daily Presence, I selected a card that focuses on meditation and relaxation for my feet. When I spent a few minutes thinking about this area of my body, the first word that came to mind was “work.” My feet are responsible for bearing much of the weight of my entire body as I walk. Their burden is heavy and I pay them far too little attention as a reward.

I’ve never tried a self-massage for my feet, so I found a massage resource and engaged in the techniques listed. I found the “sole rub” and “thumb circles” to be the ones that woke up my feet the most and made me feel as though they had been stretched and soothed. I was surprised to find that my ankles seemed to be carrying more tension than my feet.

I’ve sustained ankle and foot injuries over the years, and sometimes have aching in them, especially if they are in an awkward position when I sleep. I’m too quick at times to take an anti-inflammatory medication, rather than to slow down and check in with them with touch. I am grateful that I’ve been able to afford sturdy and high-quality footwear as I think that, as someone who is on my feet for my job, it makes a huge difference. What is your relationship like with your feet? What is your favorite way to pamper them?

A Still Trust (In the Cards)

I selected the Ground card from my In an Open Hand deck. This card invites one into a sitting meditation, focused on noticing one’s experience during stillness. A settled presence is, for me, an invitation to trust and connect.

My childhood relationships with key figures involved a complete lack of stillness. There was either distance or an unpredictable swinging between being overrun and being abandoned or shut out. There was no stable, kind, present adult.

I hold as an image of Divinity an image of a huge figure resting in meditation. Seated in gentle, loving presence, unhurried and unbothered by the wildness of my heart. Able to withstand my inability to connect and to love. I can come and go and still he,she,they remains, willing to simply be with me as I need them to be.

I believe each of us is able to offer this presence to ourselves and to others, if we make regular our engagement in meditation and in simply being rather than doing. One question my card asks is what stands up when I sit, and I would say what rises up in that moment of sacred presence is connection. How much I long for real experiences that mirror this inner world! Perhaps that is what “church” would look like for me, simply being with others in the flow of Divine Presence. How do you feel in the presence of stillness (your own or others)? What comes up for you when you spend time in silent meditation?

A Little Song and Dance (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

I’m not feeling well today (again!), so I decided to play soft music and move my body gently to the rhythm. I’ve found a lot of comfort in recent months with having meditation music playing in the background, especially when I am engaged in creative activity. My dog instantly settles himself as well!

I incorporated physical movement into my relaxation today and found that my physical pain diminished as a result. Simply focusing on my body itself instead of getting lost in the stressors in my mind has a healing effect. I notice my muscle tension often lessens as well. How have you connected with your body today? Which music, if any, appeals to you when you are stressed or feeling ill?

Emotional Self-Acceptance (Today’s Daily Remembrance)

For as much of my life as I can remember, I’ve existed in states of flight, fight and freeze. I feel anger and anxiety more often than not. At times, I become so overwhelmed I go numb, losing my connection to my body and to the present. I crash from these fragile states into deep ponds of depression. Coming to terms with who I am emotionally, then, has not been easy.

One of the ways in which I’ve grown more comfortable with myself emotionally is that I’ve learned it is possible to have positive emotional experiences alongside the negative. Happy and sad emotions are processed, to an extent, in different places in the brain, so the experience of one doesn’t necessarily cancel the other out. Activities such as my Daily Writing have helped me to bring a little joy into my life amidst the sea of negativity in which I find myself floating.

In addition to having moments of feeling upbeat, I have also benefited from a fuller capacity (after much therapy) to give voice to not only the situations that cause me distress, but also to what I feel moment-by-moment when I am upset. Being with my body, even when it doesn’t feel good, has lessened my dissociation and helped me to feel slightly more confident in approaching stressors. There is a sense of “this will be over soon” that comes to me at times, rather than the timeless horror my trauma-brain foresees.

Finally, I think aging itself has enabled me to see my track record more clearly. No matter how impossible, how helpless and hopeless I feel, I muddle my way through things. I do not give up immediately when difficulties arise and I also recognize when something is intolerable and must be resisted or released. I do not trust life to be kind or easy, but I do trust myself to find a way to respond to it. What is the nature of your emotional life? What have you learned about yourself and how have you grown emotionally?

Autumn Endings (Daily Works of Art)

Autumn is a season of contraction in my mind; a pulling inward of impulse and energy in order to prepare for the bitterness of winter. I tend to find my emotions trending more negatively and my outlook on life a bit dimmer as the sunlight arrives earlier every evening. Autumn is casting off, letting go and a hiding of secret treasures.

I released my given name a few months ago, replacing it with a chosen name of my own. Many days since have involved calling and emailing and mailing all manner of companies, telling them who I am now. I’m excited for the eventual newness, but am more in a place of reminding and replacing each piece of my life right now.

For my daily work of art, I collected a leaf that had been dropped by a tree. It was a strange find in that it was still green and soft, whereas most leaves at this point in the season are brittle, brown and fading. It felt like my previous name in a way, not retired because I died, but ensconced into my history as a memento to who I was while some of the life was still in it.

I am still who I was, but there will likely be a richness and fullness of presence I’ve only been able to achieve by transitioning to a new name that represents myself past, present and future more robustly. It’s bittersweet, in the way I’m sad to see the trees become barren, but yet I hold a tiny flame burning in anticipation of the explosion of green the spring will bring. What is autumn to you? What are you letting go of or secreting away, knowing it is necessary for growth?

After the Fire (In the Cards)

Today’s In an Open Hand card draw was the Dampen card. This card centers on releasing anger and noticing where it might be transforming into grief. Specifically, the card invites a consideration of accepting disappointments.

My experience of anger in relation to issues that affect people other than solely myself tends to be in reaction to injustice, for example, in considering issues that relate to a societal level of unfairness and inequality. I often cycle in and out of rage, uncertain as to whether my energy is best spent fighting to right a wrong or in uplifting those who are working to create equity. There is likely a place for both experiences that I hope to reach.

My personal rage is of the same thread, but is harder for me to channel into a productive series of actions. When someone harms or disappoints me, I notice my contribution to the issue and then feel stuck as to whether or not it is fair to blame the other person for their role in the situation. I tend to withdraw from the person who let me down as a way to manage my emotions, because my experiences of directly confronting those who have hurt me very rarely leads to genuine contrition and a sense of my needs being cared about. There is no forgiveness possible when the other person refuses to own their actions. My anger, then, seems futile, and my disappointment invalid.

One query the Dampen card poses is about what needs to burn out on its own. This is the only path through my personal anger that I’ve found–to simply allow time to pass and my attention to drift so that, eventually, the slights I’ve endured feel less intense. New growth will replace the old, charred heartwood of connection that was destroyed through hurtful actions. The ashes, though, feel like they accumulate in the low-lying areas, creating a landscape with divots of barren in my heart. Each flame-up of anger takes more than it leaves and each re-growth is more sparse than the one that preceded it. It is the area in which I feel most helpless and hopeless as a trauma survivor. “Try again!” is weak courage when I know how high the risk of conflagration runs. How do you handle your anger and disappointment? What keeps you seeking connection even after the failure and ruin of a close relationship?

More than Giving Voice (Today’s Daily Presence)

The area of the body on which my Daily Presence card focused today was my throat. I associate this area with my voice, but, as I spent time in mindful meditation with my throat, I realized that this body part serves multiple functions. It is also a pathway in receiving nutrition and air and in expelling waste products such as carbon dioxide. As such, it is a place of both power and vulnerability.

Given that our throat has both receptive and expressive capacities, I wondered what balance I have been achieving. My employment involves a lot of talking, which often leaves my voicebox strained. In addition, I have GERD which can cause acid to erode the lining of my throat. Because of these factors, I think my throat is in need of receiving soothing care more than it is in need to being used more forcefully to assert my strength as a person. I decided a way to honor this area of my body would be to make a cup of calming tea, so I settled on chamomile.

As I’ve been trying out my Daily Presence cards, focusing on one area of my body at a time, I am continually surprised at how much I’ve been overlooking in terms of what my body needs. I think my go-to is to realize I don’t feel great and to conclude that I need to rest or exert myself less, but when I spend time centered on my breathing, simple being in my body, I find a lot of nuance and complexity is going on if I only listen. What is your throat needing from you today? What messages is it communicating to you?

Just Out of Reach (In the Cards)

I drew the Shimmer card from my In an Open Hand deck today. The focus of this card is on creating internal safety and a welcoming environment for parts of self that might feel abandoned or lost. In order to achieve this, I’ll be spending some time in this post considering adjustments that might be needed in my inner world.

What springs to mind immediately is the amount of time I allot to various aspects of my identity and sense of self. I think that I dwell in my thoughts, trying to anticipate, reason and respond in a mature way to what life gives me, but I do not dedicate as much energy to processing my emotions. My connection to my body is much stronger than it used to be in that I can actually feel my heart beating faster when I am scared or angry and notice the tension in my muscles after a stressor, but I’m not certain that I always take the next step of labeling my emotions after I feel them. Doing so might help me to interact more directly with the parts of self that carry the weight of certain emotional states.

In addition to how I spend my “inner world” time, I also believe that there is room for growth in my level of self-acceptance. I often become angry or upset with myself if I’ve failed to act in a way that aligns perfectly with my values, rather than viewing it from a developmental framework in which I track my progress over time. I know I’ve changed but I don’t necessarily feel better because of it. I want all the parts of who I am to feel loved and embraced, so I hope I can respond more gently and with greater encouragement to myself with time. What is the state of your inner world? How can you create an increased sense of safety there?

A Middle-Age Mindset (Today’s Daily Remembrance)

Today’s Daily Remembrance card inquired as to a positive effect growing older has had on me. I find it difficult to accept the challenges with which my life has presented me, but I hold the process of aging itself as an opportunity alongside its inherent stressors. What I enjoy most about it is the expansion of my perspective that it offers.

I find the shift in my viewpoint as I’ve entered middle-age to be akin to watching an animated film as an adult and realizing how much sarcasm and debauchery went over my head when I was younger. Certain topics recycle themselves through my timeline, and I come to them anew as a different version of myself each time. In particular, I think I get better at empathy, holding multiple perspectives and the societal contextualization of experience when I’m allowed another encounter.

What I would like to be able to offer to myself as I continue to age is a freedom from the mentality that I can somehow transcend my flaws and mistakes. I get stuck in a cycle of believing that, if I could only control my inner experience fully, I would never feel any negative emotions and would therefore always act from a place of inner wisdom. I want to move from “I am an unkind person” to “I did something unkind,” replacing my desire to categorize myself with a more hopeful belief that, with careful attention and a slowing of action, I can make choices that are reflective of the core of who I am. What nuances has aging brought to your perspective on life? What positive influences has it had on you thus far?

All My Own (In the Cards)

Today I drew the Own card from my In an Open Hand deck. This card references an in-gathering of all parts of self and allowing other people’s castoffs to remain their’s. In other words, it’s about boundaries that encircle as well as protect.

In a certain realm of existence, there is no true distinction between self and other. We are all particles interacting in the same space-time as other particles. However, on a psychological level, I do think a coherent sense of self, one which can partner with others as well as choose times of solidarity, is a valuable metaphor even if it is ultimately an illusion. I’ve known in the pit of my being what it is to have someone perceive me as an indispensable yet subordinate part of who they were, and I do not wish to repeat that experience.

Which parts of self do I struggle to acknowledge as my own? Which might I be tempted to have others care-take for me in unconscious ways? I think my arms reject more than embrace the small, terrorized parts of myself as well as the loving, warm aspects of who I am. I do not see myself as kind or vulnerable, yet I contain those capacities. There is a wistful, longing part of myself that draws the most shame; I don’t want others to know when I want to fit in or be welcomed.

I can sometimes verbalize these lose selves, but I rarely embody them. I would much rather someone see me as cold and calculating than weak, needy and ingratiating. Yet, I am all of this. I have more work to do to sit with myself and love all of who I am. Where do you struggle with internal connection? What love might you show others that you hold back from showing yourself?