Driven to Silence

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Photo by Anna Shvets on

Today is the day, the start of a 5-day adventure into silence. What am I doing?!?!

This crazy idea started back in May when talking to my therapist who shared with me that he had recently come back from a 7-day silent retreat out in Big Sur. He was sharing his retreat with me after I told him that there is simply too much noise in my life and it was making it hard for me to figure out what comes next. I was on the cusp of my 50th birthday and he told me to try it. What ultimately sold me was his confidence that if I removed all of the noise the answers I was looking for would appear.

I immediately BOOKED IT! I found a retreat center that was a little less “extreme” than the one my doctor had attended, one that was more approachable for someone that is just starting to explore this world. The first session they were offering was in October and I booked it before my mind had time to contemplate it.

The five months that stood between me and silence went on as “normal”. Ironically enough that normal was the build-up to a much needed break but as the months went on I barely thought about the impending retreat. As September came and went I realized that I was two weeks out from my retreat and travel plans needed to be secured. I booked a flight, then canceled, then booked another flight and then canceled. Wavering on commitments to myself is my “MO” and this retreat was proving no different. My life is full of escape hatches and as the days loomed closer I was coming up with them; work is too busy, my family needs me here, my son is coming to town that weekend, you name it, I have an escape hatch. Not this time, there would be no escape hatch because deep inside I knew I needed the retreat more than all of those reasons combined. I decided I would take the 9+ hour drive to North Carolina from Florida.

On the morning the retreat was due to start I woke at 4:00am and set out on my day long journey driving to the retreat center, driving myself to silence. My sweet, and totally opposite-of-me husband, woke early with me to help with my luggage and offer his final words of advice, “don’t join a cult”…and that my friends is what we call moral support!

The drive as it would turn out would be a journey unto itself. As I was driving from Florida to Savannah, my audiobook was playing, traffic was as expected and anticipation was mounting. At the point that I crossed the state line from Georgia into South Carolina things started to feel a bit different. I could feel a melancholy come over me and then I realized, the last time I had driven this trek was to go to my mother’s funeral in Virginia three years ago, only preceded by the many trips to Virginia during her final year. This trek had always been driven with dread, subconscious as it may have been I always knew that this drive up would always deliver heartache and the drive back was wrought in despair. As thoughts of her came flooding in, I found myself reaching for the songs that bonded she in life and now in death. I Put on one of her favorites and a car concert was in full-session, that has only been better performed when she was in the passengers seat. I was strong but lamenting singing my heart out and then searching for the next song and the next like a fiend. As the drive continued into North Carolina and up into the mountains the view became eerily familiar. Again these mountains, these homes, these roads; they are what I remember of my many trips to Virginia, only this time my arrival would not be met with her coming out on the porch to welcome me.

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View from my porch. My Mom is surely with me…breathtaking in more ways that one.

As I reached the retreat center I was in awe of the beauty. I could feel peace wash over me and immediately knew that I was where I was meant to be…today. In the present moment and ready and willing to take silence on, all-in.

The drive into silence had been a journey unto itself. It was not planned and once I was in it there was no escape hatch. As happens with feelings, when they come to the surface, shoving them back in is nearly impossible. As I park my car I feel like a champion. I have conquered half of my greatest fear; going back to her home. I did not make it up her mountain but I faced the music, literally and figuratively.

She is always “with me”, of course, and this certainly makes other people feel better to say to someone who has lost someone when they have nothing else to say…however today I am one-step closer to the place we last held hands.

As for my heart, she has always had it and still does.

Silence…so far…is not so bad.

13 hours in – 🙂

Life as I Live it – L.

Self-Love…leave the fear and loathing in Vegas

Self-love is a practice, it is a mantra, it is what we say to ourselves about our selves. Brene Brown says, “Practicing self-love means learning how to trust ourselves, treat ourselves with respect and to be kind and affectionate toward ourselves.” Whether you have self-love down to a science or just learning to love yourself, this is a tall order. Let’s explore it.

I have always believed intrinsically that I love myself however for years my actions would say different. As an overweight woman I would often make jokes about myself. I believed it was just my sense of humor however it would frequently make the recipient uncomfortable. I legitimately did not think anything of the “jokes” and truly did not believe I was being disparaging to myself. I learned that when we feel inadequate we will frequently say something, put it out there, before others can think it. I called it humor but it was a form of self-defense regardless of the lack of fight to defend. I only realize now, that I am no longer overweight, that I was not being humorous as I would NEVER say those things about myself now looking back on those years. I would consider it cruel or mean and hence the “test” for humor fails.

Our words have power. I know this as I am outspoken, loud and most of the time proud. However when those words are used on ourselves the damage can be deep. What we say about ourselves will come to define us eventually; this is the power of a mantra. The more I would make fun of myself, putting myself down, making fun of my weight the worse I would feel about myself; whether I was conscious of it or not is irrelevant the damage is relevant. The opposite is the power of the mantra…

Mantras are repetitive sounds used to penetrate the depths of the unconscious mind and adjust the vibration of all aspects of your being.

…the power of our words whether positive or negative will and can “penetrate the depths of the unconscious mind.” I now remind myself of the power of my words often by internally checking myself and reminding myself to “not put that out there”. Don’t say the words that you would otherwise not say to anyone else, about yourself.

It is often said that you cannot love someone else if you do not love yourself first. I challenge this thought as I love those around me intensely and it is through their eyes that I find my self-love. I have learned to appreciate myself more through those that love me. This may be the very thing that I am now working through as again it leads me back to the reality that I find my value or self-worth through others evaluation of me. No bueno for sure as I continue to search for value through others which leaves me exhausted and questioning why I am doing the things I do.

Psychology Today offers a “Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love” that I share with you: ( )

  • Become mindful. People who have more self-love tend to know what they think, feel, and want. They are mindful of who they are and act on this knowledge, rather than on what others want for them.
  • Act on what you need rather than what you want. You love yourself when you can turn away from something that feels good and exciting to what you need to stay strong, centered, and moving forward in your life, instead. By staying focused on what you need, you turn away from automatic behavior patterns that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past, and lessen self-love.
  • Practice good self-care. You will love yourself more, when you take better care of your basic needs. People high in self-love nourish themselves daily through healthy activities, like sound nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, intimacy and healthy social interactions.
  • Set boundaries. You’ll love yourself more when you set limits or say no to work, love, or activities that deplete or harm you physically, emotionally and spiritually, or express poorly who you are.
  • Protect yourself. Bring the right people into your life. I love the term frenemies that I learned from my younger clients. It describes so well the type of “friends” who take pleasure in your pain and loss rather than in your happiness and success. My suggestion to you here: Get rid of them! There isn’t enough time in your life to waste on people who want to take away the shine on your face that says, “I genuinely love myself and life.” You will love and respect yourself more.
  • Forgive yourself. We humans can be so hard on ourselves. The downside of taking responsibility for our actions is punishing ourselves too much for mistakes in learning and growing. You have to accept your humanness (the fact that you are not perfect), before you can truly love yourself. Practice being less hard on yourself when you make a mistake. Remember, there are no failures, if you have learned and grown from your mistakes; there are only lessons learned.
  • Live intentionally. You will accept and love yourself more, whatever is happening in your life, when you live with purpose and design. Your purpose doesn’t have to be crystal clear to you. If your intention is to live a meaningful and healthy life, you will make decisions that support this intention, and feel good about yourself when you succeed in this purpose. You will love yourself more if you see yourself accomplishing what you set out to do. You need to establish your living intentions, to do this.

I am going to make these Seven-steps my mantra for the next week repeating them every morning as a reminder. It will remind me not only how I want to treat myself but will also lay the foundation for how I will treat others. I tend to show those around me the love through my support, my time and my resources leaving myself depleted. By following my new RX above I will offer that support, time and resources to myself FIRST which is the greatest form of self-love I can imagine.

Loving thyself – L.

Self-Care…much ado about EVERYthing

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Let’s talk self-care, the very thing I know the most about and yet have to remind myself to re-balance frequently. Self-care is not selfish. Self-care belongs at the very top of your list because if you are not caring for your SELF then you cannot care for anything or anyone else.

My self-care is reading, writing and running (3 R’s) . These are the things that clear my mind, calm me down and allow me to be my best SELF. When I start to see things in my life go topsy-turvy it is typically when I don’t have time for the 3-R’s aka self-care. Missing these then causes stress in itself because I am wrapped in guilt about my inability to commit. The spiral begins down into the darkness where I am now not only tired and burnt out from whatever is taking/getting my time but now I feel guilt. Oh the webs we weave!

I was talking to a friend yesterday and she was telling me that she has been suffering from some ailments that are a result of the stress she has been under. I reminded her that while she is solving for the side effects of her stress she needs to solve for the CAUSE of the stress as ultimately that is the needed remedy. By resolving the stress or handling it better, the side effects of the stress will resolve.

This is the true definition of “balance”. It is not about dividing work and personal; it’s about a balanced approach to allow for a place for everything and then everything will fall in its place. Balance also means you check in with yourself to figure out where the weight is so you can balance the load. In the last few weeks I have had to put a lot more hours in at work than “normal” which means to balance, other things have to give way. In this case it was my 3 R’s. While I found myself feeling guilty the reality is that by giving up some of those I was able to make room for the tasks at hand. This works as a temporary strategy however where you finding the room, you are likely sacrificing those things you consider as self-care (3 R’s). When this temporary imbalance becomes permanent we start to see the effects. This is when changes must be made.

Today I am writing again, I will start a book this weekend and will get a run in come rain or shine as work cannot be the “reason” to not take care. Balance it out, find your center and live the life you are meant to live not because it is derived from the “have to’s” but from the “want to’s”. Put you first which will allow everything else to find its place.

Living through the balancing-act as I navigate it – L.