Cool Down Contemplations

We all know that the current state of our Alberta Economy is bleak, and dire, and really freaking scary.  The Economic downturn has affected us, our friends and families in very big ways.  Every day we hear of another person who lost their job, and another who, after several months of trying is still unable to find work.  Our job markets are saturated with unemployed oilfield workers who just really need to find SOMETHING.  I feel this.  We lived this. I absolutely know the lasting effects of the deep hole that comes with being many months at a near net zero family income.  I have had to face the fear and explore the hard question "If I didn't have all this (material possessions), what am I?  Do I like that person, could I live with that person?  How then do I fit into this world?"  It was dark times.

My words today are not meant to be disrespectful, or insensitive to any who happen to be struggling with this right now.  But today, after an extremely heart touching and tearful meditation, I feel so compelled to speak MY truth.


I attend a Hot Flow Yoga class every day (well I TRY to go every day).  For those that don't know what that is, it is an hour long Flow Yoga class that takes place in a 104 degree (40 Celsius) studio.  

I typically shy away from all forms of exercise...  And I DO NOT like to sweat, so my love for Hot Flow is quite mysterious.  

There are many strategies one has to invoke in order to have a successful Hot Flow practice.  Nose breathing only, or you panic when it feels like you can't breathe - even when you are trying to catch your breath, nose.breathing.only!  It is fast moving, so you have to be mindfully present to listen to the instructor - everything else has to fall away, or you not keep up, and you might as well just go home.  You have to know your 'lefts' and 'rights' instinctively or you end up a wee bit closer to your neighbor than you anticipated and are comfortable with (remember there is lots of sweating).  There is the, always welcome,  "child's pose", your goto when you feel overwhelmed and just need a minute to catch your breath and not panic...   And the oh, so important, 'before hand hydration'.  

While I sweat more than I have ever sweat in my life while I am in that class, and I get sore muscles every time I attend, yoga is as much of an exercise for me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as it is physically.  I know that I have that one hour - every day - where I am absolutely able to be mindfully present in the NOW.  It is the one hour every day where I can live the benefits of getting my body, my mind, my spirit and my breathing all working together to achieve something quite miraculous.  So many times I think to myself, "Wow, I didn't know I could bend like that".

At the end of your hour of stretching, bending and twisting, you enter into a final relaxation pose - savasana.  This pose encourages you find stillness as you relax every muscle that just worked so hard for you over the previous hour.  You honour your body for its hard work, and you honor your mind and your spirit by letting yourself be free of any thoughts (this is actually the HARDEST part of yoga for me.)

Today, during final savasana, the instructor guided us through mediation, and when we are at our most vulnerable and attentive state, she ended with 'food for thought' advice that left me in tears.  (Tears during savasana is pretty common, as during class, we often release the emotions we carry around in our muscles and joints.  Tears are our way of releasing those emotions.  But today, I wept)

Today's 'food for thought' advice was all about how hard we try to live up to societal norms and expectations. How we strive for acceptance and work so hard to appear a certain way, but in doing so, we forget OUR OWN truth.  How sometimes we make others opinions about how we should live our lives most important, we let that drive our bus, and over power OUR truth that lies within our own hearts.  This all hit home for me.

Jeremy and I are at a time in our lives where we are trying SO hard to financially catch up on some things, and to not get further behind on others.  Every day calls and emails come in...  We need money for this, and we have to pay that. School trips, dance school, music lessons, gas, bills, bills bills...  

The list is long, so long, and sometimes we have to deal with really cranky people whose job it is to convince you how much of a failure you are because you hit a bit of a rough patch.  They try to shame you into handing over some cash.  For me, the shaming part ALWAYS sticks, whether I can pay what they are asking, or not. Quite often I sit here with my arms open and my shoulders shrugged tearfully saying "How.the.fuck. am I going to cover it all.  There is just nothing left."  So there it is.  Our reality.

I carry that every where I go.  I hide the shame and I smile.  If I can't hide it, I don't go out.  It's that simple.  But the shame is always there.  the fear, the stress, the anxiety... it is always there.

Jeremy remains positive the majority of the time.  He wakes up early for work, brings me coffee and leaves promising me "Today IS going to be a GOOD day.  I feel it."  and quite often, it is so.

I retired from my career as a Structural Designer nearly two years ago to make my art business my full time job.  At the time we were able to live without my Engineering income, but then things changed.  So during this current time of struggle, I often think, "I need to get a job, I can help".  Ironically my specialization for pretty much my whole career was structural design in pipelines facilities, stations, and terminals.  ....ANNND there are just NO such jobs currently available in our province, nor will there be in the foreseeable future.

After today's savasana...  I sat in the change room cooling down before changing, answering a few clients emails and Facebook messages, and I was struck with a thought.  If they were still building and upgrading pipelines in our province, and if there were jobs available in my field, chances are, I would not be attending this yoga class.  I would not be answering emails and Facebook messages from my customers in a dressing room while cooling down, or planning how I would be spending my day, and figuring out what I could do TODAY to move my business forward.  I would be sitting in an office staring at a computer and a stack of drawings, or in a boardroom talking about schedules and deliverables...  

I would not have flexibility in my schedule.  I would not be driving my kids to school every morning shouting made up adjectives at them as I send them off for the day "Have a (groove-a-li-tious , fan-funk-ta-cular, rock-tastic to name a few) great day!"  I would not be in my house when my daughter comes home from school shout singing the lyrics to Adele's hit song when she enters.  I would not hear the excitement and endless chatter of their days events while they were still fresh.  I would not witness the subtle everyday ways in which they look after each other - that makes my heart burst.  I worked out of the home for most of their lives, and when I 'retired', it was with the intention that now I GET to be home with my kids.

If I did not have my home as my workplace, I would have missed so much.  Perhaps getting a job in my field would have been the easy way out of our situation.  But now that is not to be.  The Universe has spoken, it has forced my hand, as often it does when we get a little stuck behind our fear.  Sometimes things gotta get a little uncomfortable before we are inclined to make the changes we need to make.  

It's time to take things into my own hands and to move forward on my terms, in my 'called to' career, with me in the driver seat, knowing full well that I have everything in me, or the means to get it, to succeed...  That is my truth.

I don't know how all this stuff will shake out for our family, only time will tell... I do know, however, that it will be a while before we have many additional funds for life's extras.  That what used to be 'fun funds', now goes to pay the power bill, or to the grocery store for this weeks sustenance, because that's just HOW it has to be.  I know that no matter what, it will work out, and we will figure it out.

Today I am shining light on the shame, and saying "Figuring all this out really fucking sucks and I am done with caring more about what other people think, than what is in my heart.  I am getting crushed by the shame, and it need to STOP."

Because regardless of what happens, I have learned that it isn't money, or beach vacations, or houses, or cars that makes us rich.  THAT is my truth. RICH is SO much more than that.

I am squaring my shoulders, and standing tall in my glorious truth, and letting go of my debilitating fear of being judged...  And I know THAT is what will push me forward.


cool down contemplations

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