Overcoming Internal Resistance

Tug of war 2 peace 1

The last couple of mornings I have woken up feeling like my life’s equilibrium is off. It’s a very strange and uncomfortable space in which to reside. It feels like I am having a tug-of-war with myself and no matter how hard I try to find peace, I sense parts of me resisting and surrendering simultaneously. This is causing an inner friction that manifests in frustration, confusion, and exasperation.

I am taking some quiet time for myself right now to figure out what is going on. As I breathe, I listen to my inner whisperings. I am struggling with beginnings and endings. And, within this struggle, I am also challenged by old energies onto which I am fiercely holding. I am stubbornly holding on to that which I know is not serving me and I am trying to figure out why.

I think part of the answer is the tension I feel trying to be true to my heart while listening to my head.

See, there is the me who has a very expansive vision of what I want my life to look like. This vision, created in my heart, requires many resources and several synchronistic events to align. This vision makes me feel lighter and happier. When I think about my life through this vision I see myself committing energies to people, activities, and locations that enlighten rather than dampen my spirit. This is one aspect of my vision: I am running a center for families in a beautiful, picaresque location in which educational and wholistic healing modalities are integrated naturally. Families, children, and communities come together to co-create educational, learning spaces that build on their assets and expertise. The Center’s resources are accessible and free. There are opportunities for everyone and the Community insulates and supports families, particularly families whose needs are varied and great. Though I am “running” the Center all this means is that I am ensuring the facilitation of resources and continued communication among those involved. Leadership is organic, grows naturally over time, and is in concert with the dynamics emerging from mutually respectful and compassionate interactions.

When I write what I feel in my heart, my spirit ignites in heat and energy. I believe I am seeing a potential timeline in the future when this vision of a family-centered Community with multiple opportunities for healing, learning, and growth can manifest. I feel no resistance when I envision this space.

The resistance begins when my mind questions the details and logistics:

  • How am I going to get the resources to make this vision happen?
  • Where is this Center located? Where can this space realistically exist?
  • When can such a place exist? Is there sufficient funding and resources that would allow this vision to become concrete?
  • What will it take? And, who will be involved to bring together all the elements needed to manifest this vision?

There are so many other questions that fill my mind, too. These questions have to do with my family’s needs, our current location, my desire to be reunited with other family members, my short-term career goals, and personal finances.

I find that each time I begin to question my vision I feel an emotion akin to defeat. My mind takes over and tells me all the ways that I will not be able to manifest what I want. I hear messages such as:

  • “You don’t have the money to do what you really want to do.”
  • “Time is running out.”
  • “You’re getting older.”
  • “You have unrealistic, unattainable goals.”

And so on and so on…

Listening to my mind question my heart’s passion only brings me unease. I am learning this about myself. But this lesson is confusing because I have been told by others, many of whom have my best interests at heart, that I need to “be realistic” and “practical.” And, yes! They are correct. In many ways, being realistic and practical have gotten me to where I am now. I have had incredible educational experiences that have led me to my current faculty position. I have followed all the steps and most of the advice I have been given. I have worked hard. I am extremely grateful for the work I do and the career I have.

Yet, there is a deep longing for more. This more is hard to define. But it has something to do with what I have written before about the difference in being and doing. As I reflect, I believe that my heart is about being and my mind is about doing. Both are important. I recognize this. The mind, however, can be so judgmental. It can sabotage an idea (or a vision) even before that idea is given wings to fly. All the questions I share above are ways I clip my vision’s “wings.” It’s like overprotective parents who limit their child’s experiences to “protect” that child from getting hurt – even if, deep down, they understand the value of the experience.

The more that I long for is about being in my heart and experiencing my heart’s desires. This is challenging, however, while living in a world where one’s worth is assessed by what a person does. Personally, I completed my checklist of BIG “to dos” years ago.  As a teenager and young adult my list included:

  • Live in Spain
  • Live in Mexico
  • Learn Spanish (literacy)
  • Get Doctoral Degree
  • Get Married
  • Have Children

By age 38, I had accomplished all my “life goals.” The “checklist” was complete and I really didn’t know what else to strive for and accomplish.

At 40, I was diagnosed with cancer. Life, it seemed, had other things in store for me. As I have written before, I came to the realization that there was more than just doing. Life had to be about being who I wanted to be and feeling fulfilled with the choices I made.

Fast-forward to the here and now…

What is this longing for more I am feeling? What is this tension between resistance and surrender? Why am I still grappling with being and doing? What needs to end? What is beginning?

These questions are interconnected. The more for which I am longing is to live from my heart deeply and intensely. I desire being who I am authentically without fear of judgment from myself or others. I long to surrender all my cares and worries of what others will say of my choices. I am tired of resisting what I really want in order fulfill others’ ideas of who I should be within the context of my profession, my familial roles, my gender, my race/ethnicity, and my language. I am exasperated that I continue to allow myself to NOT LIVE FULLY out of fear!

Goodness!!! Cancer, one of my greatest teachers, taught me to not fear FEAR itself. And yet, here I am not living fully because I am afraid. I am afraid that the path I am on will not lead me to my vision. I am afraid that I will let people who love me down. I am afraid that I won’t live up to others’ expectations. I am afraid that I will live a life where I am doing, doing, doing and not being.

So, what are the next steps?

I feel that it’s time to take action and be courageous. Since moving to Indianapolis, I’ve had one foot tentatively planted here and the other feeling it’s way around other places. I have been consciously NOT LIVING FULLY because I have been waiting to see where I should root myself. This transitory existence has been purposeful, but now it’s time to make firm decisions. I need to ask myself what is beginning and what is ending? Can there be multiple beginnings in the spaces I hope to create or will there only be room for one beginning at a time?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but it’s time to LIVE FULLY from the heart and be who I am without fear.

The exercise of writing down questions and trying to answer them honestly provides clarity for better understanding these internal tensions of surrender and resistance. Questions such as: What can I surrender right now without compromising my authentic self? and What am I still resisting and why? provide direction on a path that has been muddied by confusion and uncertainty.

Though I cannot say I am completely clear about what my next steps are I do feel that, by taking this time, I have overcome some of the resistance and frustration I have been experiencing. The root of some of my inner agitation stems from knowing what my heart wants but questioning the path about how I am getting there. I have been questioning the circuitous nature of my path and wondering why it’s not clear, straight, and to the point. I have a sense now, through this reflection, that I must heed the lessons on the journey rather than putting so much stock in the outcomes. I have a feeling that if I can trust my own decisions along the path that what I truly want will unfold before me. I have resisted this. I have wanted to control this more. I have wanted a clearer path full of bright lights and directional signs. Instead, I am being given subtle, quiet nudges that remind me to trust myself and surrender to the current that will take me toward my vision smoothly, more quickly.

I share this long reflection with you so you will not feel so alone, the way I sometimes do on this journey. We are all here together trying to find the way toward our true Selves – the brightest path we can take. I thank you for taking the time to read what I am trying to articulate. Please know that however we all seem on the outside is only one part of the story. We are all complex spiritual beings in human form who are attempting to figure this life out.

We are all trying to find the least resistant current and, in doing so, discovering a space where we can lie down peacefully and surrender all of our concerns.

Much love to you on your individual journeys,


Reflections on Manchester

Today I find myself decentered and deeply shaken by the wanton violence that ripped through the Ariana Grande concert venue in Manchester, England. I am overcome by a sickening rawness in my gut when I consider each beautiful life that was taken and each living soul that will bear the burden of this destructive moment for years to come.

Flashbacks of the Orlando nightclub massacre and other senseless, brutal shootings zoom into mind like a swarm of wasps, each memory a penetrating sting. They cannot be shooed away. Running faster to escape won’t make the pain stop. As a mother, I am hurting for all the families whose babies will no longer come home, crawl into bed, and snuggle into their blankets. I want to go back in time and place an impenetrable golden bubble of protection around everyone who was there last night. I want to convert bullets to flower petals, bombs to fireworks. I want to shake the young man out of his blind hatred and remind him that our God, by whatever name we choose to call Her/Him/Them, makes us all in Her image. By killing another we are actually killing ourselves.

Why have we not learned this yet?

Why do we continue to NOT see the interconnectedness of our souls? Why do we not awaken to the God-created reality that we are not separate? Why do we remain so stubbornly set in our own constructed reality of separateness? Why do we continue believing that “different” appearance, language, religion, beliefs, traditions, values, and cultures are divisions? When will we wake up to the truth and realize we live in an illusion where people are not equal and where God is many paths all competing for power and sovereignty?

The Manchester bombing, an event that will undoubtedly be considered one of the worst acts of terrorism on British soil, is a reminder of our responsibility as human beings to resist existing systems and “leaders” who perpetuate any legislation or policy that creates division, inequality, and inequity among us. We are surrounded and inundated by polarizing agendas that aim to categorize us – all of us – through binaries: good/bad, rich/poor, educated/ignorant, progressive/backward, competent/incompetent, and an infinite number more. We are constantly judged by socially-constructed (not God-constructed) standards by which we are expected to live. When we don’t “live up” to these, we are “failures” not “successes.” Over time, these perceptions of “failure,” based in falsehoods of what has been deemed “normal,” “just,” or “right,”  eat away at our psyches. We lose our sense of Self (our God-Self) and give into the illusion that we are separate from others.

It is ironic that the young man who killed in the name of his God most likely was thinking he was closest to God in that fateful moment. But, consciously choosing to kill is the furthest expression from love. It’s the ultimate act of separating self (ego, human self) from God.

I cannot help to wonder if this young man felt like an outsider – within his country, city, school, neighborhood, community, and even family. I do not know his backstory, nor can I assume any of his motivations – other than the religious ones that have been presented. Even these, however, I must question, for how a person’s intentions and lived experiences are portrayed in the media are, many times, highly suspect. In these “wonderings,” I contemplate whether a single act of kindness or acceptance may have changed the trajectory of this young man’s life. I wonder if, as human beings, we are kind, loving, compassionate, understanding, and gentle enough to reach out to others, especially others we have deemed “different.” I wonder, as a collective, if we can demonstrate genuine care and action even if it means stepping out of our own knowings to understand another’s. I wonder if this young man’s anger and hatred could have been redirected in healthier ways if we, as human beings, had taken better stock of his pain.

As an educator, I am reflecting on this young man and about the ways in which we, as human beings, create – by our actions and inactions – situations in which people are made to feel “less than,” voiceless, and marginalized. In schools we focus our school day on meeting standards and achieving measurable outcomes. We concentrate much less time orienting our students’ minds and hearts toward loving compassion, honoring of one another’s knowings, active listening, mindful respect and interaction, and appreciating the unique qualities inherent in every person. We do not teach our students to resist systems and practices that view difference as deficit. We rarely ask students to critically examine the schools in which they spend the majority of their day. And we seldom consider how we, as educators, can become active changemakers committed to social justice and equitable practices to transform systems.

There are no answers or narratives that exist that can lessen the pain caused by the bombing. For me, this is a wake-up call to be better and resist more. To “be better” is to act in accordance with my heart, to show greater love and compassion to others, and to actively create spaces where people can recognize and honor each other. To “resist more” is to sharpen my awareness and become more critically conscious of the societal inequities that exist around me. Resistance is also action. Therefore, resisting more also means to speak up and take action when injustice is present.

But right now as I think of Saffie Rose Roussos, the eight-year-old girl who died last night and who is the same age as my daughter, Goya, I wonder if being better and resisting more is enough. I think these are only first steps on a very long path. But maybe as more of us step onto this path we will slowly realize the illusion of separation dissolving. And perhaps, one day, we can honor our differences while simultaneously recognize our interconnections.

With much love and heartache,