Bowing Out

My brain had a talk with my soul last night.

I’ve been trying to make a play-date for them for over a week. Long walks in the sun, check. Sitting in silence, check. Writing in my journal, check. A drive into the Kansas prairie, check.

Nothing seemed to be working and I wasn’t at peace. My spirit was restless. I knew what was going on. My brain knew something that my heart didn’t want to know. Or perhaps it was the other way around.

My heart was heavy with holding on to the anchor it knew was sinking it. Last night I came home, feeling too drained to move. Hitting the Y is so often the answer to whatever is plaguing me. My reserves were empty, my resilience low, so the Y was out. I sat quietly in my apartment, random noises of lives being lived nearby interrupting the quietude. A half an hour passed. It was nearly six. My stomach gurgled and I knew that I needed food. Now I had a plan. I went into the kitchen for some Netflix and food the hour that followed was more bearable than the previous one. I felt calmed and relaxed once I ate enough food to stabilize my blood sugar and sate my belly. The next round of self-care was to take an Epsom salt bath. This is akin to meditation. It’s quieting, except for the thin stream of steaming hot water I leave running once the bath is full to keep the bath hot and its splash is like a white noise, calming me.

Clean, relaxed, and my movie watched, I called my mom. She heard my voice and flat out stated “I do not like the sound of your voice.” She knew something was up. In some ways, I am lucky that my mom is a therapist – I can go to her with my problems and she listens to me like a friend and gives advice like a professional. After uncorking me with her observation, I spilled. For an hour. As I worked things out in my own voice, she echoed my sentiments, filling in the gaps with stealthy observations. She amazes me with her intuition about things and her ability to share them without attempts to control or judge.

Paulo Coelho states that intuition is “…a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life.” It’s when our soul talks to our brain that we become ready to act on our gut from a place of wholeness and decisiveness. Second guessing is over, mental flow charts have been reviewed, and we’re ready to face the consequences of our choice and be at peace with the pieces falling where they may.

I fell asleep after talking to my mother to the droning of a podcast that lulls me to sleep ASMR-style. Josh and Chuck, they relax me. With my mind focused on what they’re saying, I slow down my own thoughts enough to shut down. I awake, several hours later to dreams, two of them. They have spoken to me literally and symbolically. I don’t have to search for clues, they are in plain sight of my mind’s eye. I know what they are telling me. I am ready to act. I write them down to commit them to memory. I call my mother in late morning to verbalize them.

Part of me worries that I am making the ‘safe’ decision. I want to be sure that I’m not having a knee-jerk reaction to the vulnerability I’ve been placing myself in the way of for months. Making ‘safe’ decisions is not what I’m guilty of. Your being knows what it wants; it knows its path even if you don’t. The bravest thing you can do is follow it.


Dare to Connect

Last night I said ‘fare thee well’ to a friend.

No, our friendship isn’t over, but it’s moving into a different phase.

My friend is moving out-of-state after having lived in our fair city for just a year and a half. I had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with her on the eve of her departure. My friend is from France; a place where outward over-sentimentality can be frowned upon – though she would never do as such. In our goodbyes I wanted to be respectful of her culture so I did my best to keep it together as we chatted about her time here in the Middle of America over a glass of wine.

I failed.

During a lighthearted story about spending a few weeks with the circus, the tears began to flow.

“I can see that you are sad! Why are you sad? This is a happy story!” My friend exclaimed in her disarming upspeak as she rushed to comfort me.

I was moved by the moment that has capped off our main experiences together in Wichita. As I sat down on the couch and got comfortable; my friend did something so touching, without touching me at all. She positioned herself on the ottoman directly across from me, took her drink in her hand, looked me in the eye, leaned forward with her elbows on her knees and she gazed at me. She made eye contact. She acknowledged me. Everything about her countenance said, “I accept you.” This is one of the most powerful messages we can ever send another human being.

I praised her for her bravery and blooming in this new country and she told me that we had both grown so much during the time she’s been here. Vulnerability is something I’ve been working towards at the urging of Brené Brown, and my friend knows this – she has given me the gift of allowing me to be vulnerable in her presence. As I was leaving she said to me: “We are both brave, because we dared to connect.”

Connectivity is so important and can be lacking in our lives. As my friend pointed out, it takes courage to connect. As I left her last night I was reminded of the powerful emotions that washed through me when I first saw a video of Marina Abramovic’s “The Artist Is Present“. I encourage you to be present with your friends and those you love. Look them in the eye. If you are alone, be present with yourself – gaze into your own eyes in the bathroom mirror, you might be surprised by what you see.