waiting on the front porch

she just stood there on the front porch waiting for her will to come and get her she was packed she had a suitcase full of noble intentions she had a map and a straight face hell bent on reinvention she was learning about please and huge humilities then one day she looked around her and everything up til then was showing and she wondered how did i get here without even knowing where i was going? ~ani difranco

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Location: montreal, quebec, Canada


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

i'm selfish

"we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience." ~teilhard de chardin, french geologist and mystic

all the rain and cold weather that montreal's been experiencing lately has meant that my c.p's been acting up a little, for the first time in a few months. it's been nothing serious - but i've definitely noticed my muscles becoming more stiff and knotted. i've been working on it, though, by adding even more protein to my diet; taking longer, hotter showers; drinking more water; and getting myself to a yoga class last night.

being in the studio after a month of being too busy to go felt amazing. it was a nice, slow class, with lots of deep stretches involving the hips and abdominals. my body started speaking to me right after the first seated meditation: see? this is what i needed: to be re-aligned, and paid attention to. savasana was heaven. it was right after the class ended when the first spasm happened.

my left hand sometimes...jumps. it's very rare, and i think it has something to do with stress being released, but it feels like these helpless, little pops. i can't control them. it's happened maybe 5 times since last night, so not a lot, either, but it started me thinking.

i truly believe that each of us on this earth are given specific lessons that our souls are supposed to learn in our lifetime. if we don't learn them right away, these lessons are recycled, until we "get the point", understand the universal teaching, and move on.

"the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ~anais nin

i have spoken MANY times about how hard it is for me to let go. this means let go in almost every sense: when met says "i'll call you tomorrow", there's a part of me that thinks he will change his mind, fall out of love, and cut all contact before then; i worry constantly about unforeseeable accidents that will separate me from my loved ones; i get writer's block constantly because of my internal editor who won't release me into the creative stream - these are just some of the 'issues' i have, where i find a part of me clenching tight, not wanting to trust, to open fully.

around the middle of june, i literally woke up one morning with stress hives absolutely COVERING both of my shoulders - i lost count at 50 on one side. for a good week or so, i remained absolutely disgusted and horrified - until i realized that my body was sending a rather strong message. i promptly went to my book shelf to find this amazing manual about chakras. (i 'bought' it from the library years ago because i just couldn't part with it.)

right after i became initiated as a reiki healer, i knew how to incorporate my love of crystals, and my interest in the chakras, and i began teaching myself about them, and trying to interweave the three.

in western medicine, the chakras are known as the endocrine glands; it seems that every culture has for centuries had an instinctive knowledge of these loci on the body, and had some understanding of their significance to the health of the body, if only in a physical sense.

what recurred throughout my research was the root chakra - the first chakra, the one that grounds everyone to the earth. 'damage' to this chakra can manifest in all the symptoms i had: insecurity, bouts with depression, not trusting the universal order, panic, the hole. (of course, there are many others.)

much more important, though, was that i resonated with what was listed as the spiritual causes for the imbalance - and could see how i had constantly run away from this lesson time and time again throughout my life.

i thought that by closing my fist tightly around something, it would keep it safe and close to me. i didn't realize i was crushing it to death.

"And remember, no matter where you go, there you are." ~Confucius

a few years ago, i wrote a 'zine, SEL*fish. i remember showing the hardcopy to people, with its big, sassy title front-and-centre, and hearing gasps of disapproval.

"but why, WHY would you call your 'zine that?" was something that often accompanied the gasps. it was funny, in a way, exactly how polarizing that word was.

my idea for the title came from my perception that being concerned with one's self was not necessarily a bad thing. i think that in today's day and age, we are all, to a certain extent, encouraged and rewarded for putting ourselves last - so a lot of us do. we juggle so many roles simultaneously: parent, spouse, career-person, student - and this might fulfill us, or it might leave us longing for that little bit of me-time - where we can just be ourselves, with ourselves.

the title can also mean self-ish, or self-like: in the sense of examining oneself, to gain understanding. i believe that through understanding ourselves, no matter how painful and unflattering the process, we can better understand and help the world.

i know one of the lessons that having c.p. has taught me. i was teased a lot, growing up, for being the shy girl with the gimp side who wore coke-bottle glasses and preferred reading over playing dodge ball.
my parents told me, over and over, that if someone commented on my limp and me feel too uncomfortable, that i could lie to them and just say i had sprained my ankle.
i remember how hurt, confused, and depressed i was just 5 years ago - how much i wanted, simply, to shed my own skin and disappear.

these experiences have taught me to look beyond first impressions, to extend the benefit of the doubt to people whom others have written off, to smile at strangers.

i still have a lot to learn. the other day, i wanted to change my profile picture, so i asked met to send me a digital photo of myself that i knew he had on file. it was a full-length picture, and i cringed the moment i opened it.

when i look at myself in photos, all i see are the crooked parts. in the one he sent, i am standing, looking at the camera, my left arm tucked behind my back, my left leg slightly behind my right. i can immediately see how much thinner my left leg is than my right, how my hand clenches involuntarily, how even my smile is lopsided. it is hard for me to look at, it is hard for me to think: is this how other people see me? because i don't see myself that way.

so, for my birthday, i am giving myself the beginnings of a gift. i am buying a full-length mirror (mirrors are scarce in my apartment to begin with) and i am embarking on a variation of the mirror meditation that liz thought up, all those months ago.

i want to love the crooked parts, because they are a part of me, and without them, i wouldn't be the woman i am. i want to hear the lessons and wisdom that they have to impart.

i want to embrace them for what they have to give, and finally let the shame go.

"we but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents.” ~ralph waldo emerson


Blogger Jamila-Khanom said...

awesome! yes! for crying out loud... take care of your good self!
I've always kind of thought of it this way: if I don't put myself first occasionally, how am I ever to be useful to anyone else?
See that little trick I pulled there? :)

7:29 p.m.  
Blogger Cheshire Cat said...

I've wanted to buy a full length mirror for a long time, but i haven't. I have lots of small mirrors, which are good at focusing in on my flaws, but not good at seeing the whole picture. I need to see all of me, and not just what i think is wrong with me. I think getting a full length mirror is an excellent idea. You should stand in front of it at least once a day and force yourself to look at you and to acknowledge all the beauty that is in you.

9:58 p.m.  
Blogger Deb R said...

I think a lot of people confuse self-love with harmful selfishness - not caring about others. We can care deeply about others and still care deeply about ourselves too, yes? If we don't like ourselves, why should anyone else like us? So YAY you for embracing all of yourself!

10:18 p.m.  
Blogger Claire said...

A beautiful post. As always. I thik being selfish can be and is a positive thing...it just seems to be one of those things that modern society has marginalised and made all about the negative.

Be selfish, hon. You're fab.


3:37 a.m.  
Blogger Superhero Activist said...

I see your crooked parts and their beauty breaks my heart with affection. You are such a kindred soul to me, dear heart; please take me with you when you gaze into that full-length mirror, I want to be there when you see the brilliance that I see in you each and every day.

3:44 a.m.  
Blogger Meg said...

This is beautiful...

"these experiences have taught me to look beyond first impressions, to extend the benefit of the doubt to people whom others have written off, to smile at strangers."

Something I truly needed to hear, but which I am not sure I can do, myself.

You seem to have so much energy, bee! GOOD energy!


5:32 a.m.  
Blogger b/sistersshoes said...

"I want to love the crooked parts"

I remember having a conversation with an elderly woman and I was complaining about "sick me" I wanted 'healthy me' back and I actually hated sick me. She said in her gruff loud voice, "Have you ever thought that 'healthy me' was maybe not very usefull?" My mouth dropped open and I walked away from her feeling like I had been just given a huge steak to chew on and my teeth were bruised. She was 87 and didn't have time for fluff talk, she said.

I'm still chewing on that steak, but I think it resonates with what you're saying today.

So bee pee, I'm officially cutting off a piece of steak for you.

And it doesn't matter if we are vegetarians :)

love you sweetie,
XO Darlene

12:47 p.m.  
Anonymous ceanandjen said...

Bee, oh my goodness, what a powerful and beautiful post. I have had the anxiety and stress inside manifest itself in my own little illness many many times, and I try hard to control this, because I know...I know. If we can not be good to ourselves, ultimately, we can not be good to those we love around us. It is so true, yet so hard to accept, as we are always striving to make others happy, while somehow loose sight of our own well being along the way. We learn this behavior at such an early age, and spend a life time trying to convince ourselves that it is okay to take care of ourselves...our soul, our body.

I ramble, but thank you for such a moving piece.....as always....

4:03 p.m.  
Blogger rubyslippers said...

this is beautiful...i agree, to love the imperfections and embrace the what lurks in the shadows, this is what it really means to become whole

7:41 p.m.  
Blogger Jessie said...

i haven't even met you in person (yet!) and i already know that i love the crooked parts. ;) bee, you are beautiful through and through.

9:32 p.m.  
Blogger Jessie said...

i love the title of your post. it made me giggle...yes, giggle. :)-

9:40 p.m.  
Blogger bee said...

that post came out so much longer and confused than i wanted it to :) thanks, you guys, for sticking with it. :)

4:49 a.m.  

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