Palms Up, Palms Down

Each yoga class I attend, regardless of style, begins in Shavasana – laying flat on your back with your legs and arms relaxed ‘taking up space’ on your yoga mat. The instructors always say the same thing “Palms up to receive the energy from the room, palms down to preserve your energy”.

Want to see someone flip their hands over quicker than a blackjack player? Watch me in Shavasana. I’m keeping these mother effin’ hands flat. Keep your own energy. Logical me understands this is all just to receive the positivity you can feel by letting people in, it’s used to accept this positive energy especially when you’re not bringing it yourself.

I’m an empath. I used to feel everyone’s feelings, took their moods on and accepted that if the people around me were sad? Well DUH, of course I’m sad too. I could physically feel the sadness they were feeling. Then a couple years ago I heard someone say, “observe, not absorb”. That’s 3 little life changing words for a girl like me. I heard that, I felt that, I took that in, and then I used it.

I have slowly learned, struggled, and failed at over and over, how to empathize with someone, understand someone’s struggles, story, joy, and not let it become my own. I can be excited for someone, I can feel sad for them, but the key is for them. I don’t need to lose sleep over someone else’s life.

When you’re a highly empathetic person it’s a struggle to go from a feel all the feels to observe, not absorb. I felt selfish. I felt insincere. I felt like a bad person. And then one day, I just didn’t.

And I became a person people flock to. It’s a weird thing to say about oneself. To acknowledge people like being around you, sharing things with you or asking for your advice. That doesn’t mean they want to be my friend, or even particularly like me, but I’ve learned that my ability to observe, understand and empathize while also removing myself from the situation has given me such a unique perspective and it’s a quality other people like.

I had a conversation today with someone around experiences we have, and how they leave us feeling. Empathy is a very strange, very grey area feeling. Empathy allows us to feel how we imagine someone else is feeling. Empathy allows us to feel how we would feel in any given situation presented to us. But empathy doesn’t actually give us a replica of how the person(s) we are empathizing with is feeling, so we don’t actually know. Two people can have the exact same experience, with completely different feelings about it. And two people can have the exact same feelings because of completely different experiences.

I haven’t always embraced this trait of mine, my empathetic, intuitive side. As I’ve gotten older I realize it’s because we associate feelings in general with being vulnerable, with being feminine, with females, with being a weakness. It’s really hard to embrace something that is such a huge part of your being that is also seen as a huge flaw. It’s not easy to accept what would be a perceived as a flaw in yourself. And then, one day I just did.

By fully accepting this so-called flaw, I was really able to just own it. Yes, I cry. Yes, I’m empathetic. Yes, I run on intuition and gut reactions. And yes, it does in fact make me a better human. It also had a weird side effect. It made me so much more accepting of other people. Less likely to point a finger or criticize someone else without immediately counter-balancing that with something positive, and being able to look at the situation from a different angle.

Accepting my empathy as a positive, it really let me use it for good. It let me look at situations critically, to flip the coin to see both sides and still be able to make a logical and sound decision or opinion. It also means that I have been able to make a really logical and sound decision or form a strong opinion, and still be open to changing it. By not taking in all the projected energy, problems, sorrows, and even happiness around me, I have been able to truly appreciate the shared experiences of the people I am fortunate enough to know, observe it, learn from it, gain inspiration from it… and not own it. I preserve my own energy by not absorbing everything around me.

So if you see me out and about, be mindful of the palms down.

Standing Still While Moving

As I sit here on the first day of 2020, scrolling through the random search option on instagram, a post immediately stood out.

What a Fucking YEAR!

You got that right.

The years always end with exhaustion. It starts in September after the way too short summers. Summer days blend into each other. Time goes too fast, we try to pack so much in to such little time. Summer is the time of carefree living. Then September. Ohhh September. Summertime restoration brings people into September like a recharged toy. Go-go-go. Before we know it, the holiday season is here. What a fucking exhausting time. Speaking for myself, by the time actual Christmas rolls around I’m already over it all.

As Decembers come to an end, the collective universe of people who apparently know best encourage us to reflect on our year. This is all fine and dandy, except we rarely look back far enough to appreciate everything. The snapshot we have of the year is the last quarter. The things we didn’t do, all the failed goals. We want tangible, concrete proof our existence was all about kicking ass, and want a laundry list of accomplishments.

But January. Oh man, I love the beginning of the new year. People set goals. They get their mojo back. Everyone is excited for a brand new version of themselves, like somehow their previous self is not worthy of bringing forward into this brand new year. The concept of an ever evolving human who is growing and changing every day is so foreign. Goals are set and started in January and completed in December. That’s easy to track. Getting all willy-nilly and deciding to start something in November is messy.

But life is messy. Growth is messy. Sometimes growth means standing still so you can take a minute to get your shit together. Or to fall apart. Rip things apart. You can’t evolve without letting go of things, or people, and that sometimes just needs stillness. Patience. Tolerance and acceptance of your needs.

2019 somehow became a year of both standing still and growth for me. I set a lot of intentional goals for myself, but also understand that life isn’t meant to be a well defined plan and by nature I tend to roll with things and wing it. In many areas of my life the goals I had set for myself, by all measurable accounts, I failed. Did not achieve. Big X beside that box. But I gained so much more in unexpected areas while trying to accomplish those goals. Which is a big huge check mark beside things I didn’t even know I needed or wanted to do.

As I sit and think about 2019, I realize 2019 was a year of the people for me. I built some completely incredible relationships in 2019 with people I didn’t even know I needed until they were there in my bubble, reminding me of what I was missing. I also rebuilt relationships with people who were already there. And, I let go of people. Ew. That one’s hard.

So many people I encountered for either a brief moment, or built a strong relationship with, have brought such an energy and fire into my soul and my existence. It created a chain effect that completely altered any plan I had for the year, made me stop and reflect, sometimes repeatedly over the same thing, and decide 2019 was just a fucking year. A year of mess. A year of picking up the pieces, a year of deciding what pieces I even wanted to pick up and then trying to make them all into a pretty picture. It’s been like trying to do a puzzle with missing pieces. A little hard. A lot hard. Holes all over the place. But refusing to just fill in the void with the same old pieces. So as I roll myself into this next year, I’ll still be my same 2019 self, because I have no other choice and quite frankly, I kinda like me, but with more intention of filling in the missing gaps with people and goals and a very loosey-goosey plan.

This year’s reflection was a huge reminder of something I have always felt so strongly about. That my younger self owned the fuck out of and embraced: it’s a reminder that goals can be set on a random Tuesday in April, plans can be altered last minute, even as you’re driving to your destination. There is no rule that says who you are in January is who you have to be in February. The January goals can be ruled irrelevant by May and completely discarded by June. And this isn’t failure. It’s a reminder to give myself the full acceptance and forgiveness of the mess I’m creating that I extend so easily to other people. And knowing I can take this, need to take this. Growth doesn’t always translate well in to accomplishments, but often matter more.

And that, is my first new blog post.