I wrote my first book when I was 10, a fact I had forgotten until recently. Something in my current life, I’m not sure what, triggered a memory of a favorite childhood book, Mr. Mysterious and Company by Sid Fleischman. The memory then took me down the path to the “knock-off” story I wrote, illustrated and bound in a little handmade cover as a project for one of my teachers. Fleischman’s original story is one of a traveling family of magicians and their adventures. My story was about me joining that happy band of nomadic performers and leaving my current life behind. In my story, I was free and happy and no longer bound by the life I was really leading. It was a fantasy I translated to paper.
It’s a good memory, and one that always reminds me of my earliest passions for writing. But the memory is also laced with terror, and the minute I go deeper, troubling, fearful emotions of my early childhood begin to arise. That crude little book was my first attempt to deal with those stories, real and imagined, that pop up when we least expect them.
Memory and the stories we tell ourselves about them are like that. They are not just snapshots in time of what really happened to us, but a complex patchwork of multiple, sometimes unrelated experiences that can shape what we remember, and more importantly, change our present reality. Sometimes the stories are buried, unreachable, running in the background of our lives without our conscious awareness, but affecting us immensely anyway. The can keep us mired in fear, anxiety and unable to move forward.
The good news is that scientists and healers know a lot more about memory and the impact of the stories we unconsciously tell ourselves. We can change how memory and fearful stories about what might happen rule our lives. It’s a process of excavation and revision, but with care and awareness we can rewrite the stories that keep us tethered to fear. And that’s real magic.
How do you own your fearful memories?
“The Body is the inescapable factor…you can keep in good shape for what you are…but radical change is impossible. Health isn’t making everybody into a Greek ideal; it’s living out the destiny of the body…You have to know yourself physiologically and people don’t want to believe the truth about themselves. They get some mental picture of themselves and then they devil the poor body, trying to make it like the picture. When it won’t obey – can’t obey, of course – they are mad at it, and live in it as if it were an unsatisfactory house they were hoping to move out of. A lot of illness comes from this.” Robertson Davies –Rebel Angels
What do you think is this true for you? Do you have an embodiment issue?
I can see how it was true for me. I existed in my body as if it was some flawed cloak I could throw off at any time for a better more perfect one. My preferred body was a celestial one. Happily flying to the stars, giving readings as an astrologer, or hanging out with non-corporeal friends were the best of times. Demanding my body obey me – I envisioned a thinner body, straighter hair, and an ability to float from one experience to the next. Instead of receiving obeisance I was stuck in a peasant body. Curly hair, stocky frame, primitive dancer, and a big mouth. Continue reading
Posted in excerpt from Awakening the Hero Within, Mari blog post, Uncategorized
Tagged Astrology, Awakening, Body, Cancer, challenges, Consultants and Counselors, Divination, Health, Religion and Spirituality
Dr. Brene Brown “The vulnerability paradox: It’s the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I want you to see in me. Trying to remember to show up and be seen today!”
Being vulnerable as an adult is about feeling safe in the world. A friend shared this wonderful affirmation – In my world of loving, generous, joyful stable souls I am safe moving forward with my gifts and dreams. When I say the word “safe” my heart takes a giant leap. I have to breathe in I am safe, I am safe, I am safe. Now if only I could wave a magic wand and convince all of myself this is true life would be so different. Because those moments when I know that the world is safe life is wonderful.
By now I have learned that feeling vulnerable doesn’t have to hurt. Growing up with my father’s bullying behavior shaped my life and instilled a form of PTSD in me. I was not safe being myself and definitely felt alone. As an adult memories of abuse get triggered when I feel scared and alone. Then I feel powerless just like I did when I was a child. When I am caught by these anxieties I forget that I am no longer a child. Feeling vulnerable can send me into a panic and the anxiety builds. That’s when anxiety girl takes over to find a solution to whatever problem is causing me discomfort.
Most of my life anxiety girl was the mask I wore. When I was caught being her I was careful where I would be seen and often stopped myself from attending parties or other social events because of how vulnerable I felt. I would do anything rather than feel the anxiety. Besides hiding there were other remedies that I sought to soothe that anxiety. Anxiety girl was always hungry. Or if she wasn’t hungry she was thirsty. Anxiety girl always needed more escape routes whether it was FB games or reading science fiction. Soothing the anxiety was a full time job.
The good news is that the mask of anxiety is changing. Anxiety girl does not have such a strangle hold on me or my emotions. Instead of soothing her with substances, or escape I am writing more. Daily I am walking more out into the world with my heart open as I am safer being me. I can breathe when I take risks. Instead of fighting the powerless feeling I am accepting that there is a solution to feeling powerless. Instead of feeling alone, I am reaching for a power greater than me and feeling comforted by that power.
Today how I react to being vulnerable can change from day to day. Some days I still feel so vulnerable I can’t bear to be seen. Other days vulnerability is a powerful place that exists in me, a place that exists totally without fear. It’s just me being human walking out into the world heart open.
What do you think? What does vulnerability mean to you? How do you react to being vulnerable?
“Memories are constructed like a patchwork from multiple sources, and while in spite of its complexity memory is usually very reliable, it can sometimes deceive us badly…even though memory can be elusive at times and dead wrong at others, it still forms the most strongly held beliefs about ourselves. Our fallible memories shape our reality. (Schacter pg. 206)”
Excerpt, What My Heart Saw: Untangling Memory & How the Brain Heals”
“The anguish at my mother still having pictures of a man that hurt us so profoundly dissolves as quickly as it welled up, the bitter bile of wishing my life had gone differently ebbing out on each breath. I now know the suffering we endure and inflict on others, the precious resources we strip away as we claw and scratch through life, aren’t meant to be held tightly or remembered accurately. Everything changes, and to believe we can know the beginning or the end of the story is the only true madness.”
Excerpt, What My Heart Saw: Untangling Memory and How the Brain Heals
Available on amazon.com
I have a chihuahua who simply doesn’t hold back, especially when she’s scared. She’s not a biter or an aggressive dog, but no matter what kind of big mean-looking dog or person comes her way, she lets them know exactly what she thinks. I dare say her in-your-face approach to facing down the stuff that scares her most could teach all of us a big lesson.
A recent blog post from Think Traffic is right on for any creative type struggling to write, paint or compose that defining piece of work that they know is in there but they just can’t seem to get out. It talks about externalizing fear.
Corbett Barr calls the stuff we’re all scared of, the stuff we struggle to keep at bay for one reason or another “Epic Shit” and says the way to get to it is simple:
“Whatever you’re afraid to write right now, whatever you think you need to say but haven’t for fear of being judged, go write that scary thing right now.”
Doesn’t mean what you create from that starting point is the end product. But it’s real and honest and might set YOU free to write or paint or compose that piece you’ve been trying to get out.
Little dogs have got the right idea. Let it rip. The results could be epic.
Cancer Tribe 101: Awakening the Hero Within is the new title for the anthology I am compiling. The change is based on feedback from colleagues I respect in the publishing world. Their thought is that a title must state what the book is about. Readers have to know what they are picking up based on what they see on the cover. The title must be visual as well as thought provoking. What do you think of the new title?
Too many books treat cancer as a subject of either pity, or seek to glorify the survivors, or adulate those that have passed on. Cancer Tribe 101 signifies that we are learning from our experience. Fighting or surrender are two options when faced with a life altering situation like a cancer diagnosis. There is however another option and that is to look at everything that comes through this experience as a spiritual lesson.
Spiritual progress for me came through working with the medical system and doing everything I could to add to their care. I did acupuncture, massage, emotional clearing, visualization work, asked for help whenever I could, meditated, prayed and received the gift of a hoard of wonderful prayers. This path I call the middle way. I had to find the courage to walk this path, and when I did I found my warrior self. There were daily lessons in digging deep to find the courage to deal with that medical procedure or that emotional pain. I know that I am awakening the hero within as I walk this path and claim my warrior self. My hope is that by sharing this path it will help others find their way.
Are you a member of the cancer tribe? I meet more and more of us daily. I am still accepting stories. What is your story?
This Independence day I am determined to change the stories about my health. I have had cancer twice and chronic illness for more years than I can count. One old story is a fear that I would never experience freedom from being in chronic pain. What an independence day it will be when I am done with that fear.
Today I am changing the story that I have to fight my body, fight my emotions, fight my reality. To me that fight is another word for feeling like a victim. The fight seems to have been knocked out of me. I feel relief to recognize that I am not a victim of my body. Instead I can say that I am awakening to more peace in my daily life. And that peace feels like freedom. Happy Independence Day!
Recently I found Ayurveda again. For a great definition go here http://www.banyanbotanicals.com/ayurveda.html . Many years ago I studied with Dr. Vasant Lad. Obviously I wasn’t ready for the healing offered. I thought I knew better than the health practitioners with whom I sought help. Thinking I have to have the answers is definitely an old story that has to go.
After a week of working the new Ayurvedic program I am feeling better than I have been in a long time. The pain in my joints has diminished and I am sleeping better. My routine is practicing joint freeing yoga every morning, followed by an oil self-massage. During the day I take a break to meditate, and eat more cooked veggies. I think the key is my willingness to try new things, closely followed by the discipline to keep doing those new things. I pray that the willingness and the discipline will stay with me and therefore I will continue to see positive results.
Do you have a story to share? We are still accepting submissions. Awakening the Hero Within: Stories from the Cancer Tribe. I have faced and survived cancer twice. Whether we have had cancer ourselves or are the loving caregivers, we are members of the Cancer Tribe. When diagnosed I did not choose the path of victimhood. I dealt with my fears that I would be fighting the battle of my life. Instead I chose to learn from this life-altering event. I believe when I face my fears and keep moving forward learning the lessons offered, I experience profound spiritual growth. When I focus on my spiritual growth as I face great challenge I become a hero to myself and maybe for those whose lives I touch. The stories I have included in this anthology illustrate how each author learned from the experience of cancer in themselves or in their loved ones. For guidelines and more information, contact me here in the comments section, on Facebook, or @selbyink on Twitter.