Confronting Unresolved Fears: Taking an Honest Look at What Scares the Shit Out of Me

ImageIt has been a while since I’ve written with the intention of it being read publicly. I’m not even sure of what my intentions are at this point. To be honest, my heart is pounding as I sit here attempting to hash out my thoughts. My hands are shaking slightly, as they always do now. I feel very alive in what is coming up.

It has been a very long time since I’ve allowed myself to be alone. Alone in the sense of being on that journey through self discovery- shaking hands with your inner demons, laughing at your flaws, exploring the essence of who you really are… Being in a relationship for four years served as a buffer, in a way, between me consciously tackling these underlying and necessary experiences. I’ve always been overly aggressive with the way that I have chosen to battle uncomfortable situations within myself. I think it’s one of my greatest strengths, but it has also gotten me into a lot of trouble.

Living with Hereditary Angioedema has become so normal to me at this point. The UPS man just walked in with a months supply of my plasma treatments, and I don’t think twice about it. I don’t fear death like I used to. In a way, I am completely comforted by the fact that I could go at any time- it has taken me a very long time to get to this point. I feel amazing in my physical yoga practice right now; something has recently clicked in me where I have the ability to genuinely surrender to what my body is capable of doing. Fears of airway obstruction don’t come up like they used to while I’m practicing. In terms of me I feel great.

What I am not okay with, is the fact that there is a 50/50 chance of passing my disease on if I choose to reproduce. I have always known this and I thought there was a time when I was actually content with that… I’m seeing now that I am not. Every part of my being has always wanted kids. Not now, of course, but I’ve always known I would eventually. Insecurities, fears, and an immense amount of sadness are smacking me in the face right now. I don’t feel alright about being responsible for another being having to live with an incurable disease. And the thought of not having my own biological kids is very painful, even if it is selfish. What if someone wont want to have kids with me because of this? What if I never have kids? What if I fail at the most basic human goal in life? These are the fears floating around in my mind. It almost makes me laugh seeing them typed out. Right now I don’t have the security of someone reassuring me that it is okay, acceptable, and perfectly fine to have kids or even just feel this way. I am alone in the way I feel. In a strange sense, these fears feel fluid. They don’t feel like something I need to fight against, just something I need to process.

My happiness right now comes from my actions in the world. I am truly happy because I am surrounded by realities that I have created. I live for stoking people out and the thought of one more person being happy, successful, or having a better day because of something that I am able to do, truly makes my heart sing. So it’s interesting for me to be straddling this duality of emotions. I believe that if you don’t have intense waves of fear than you aren’t really living. And right now I feel very alive. Over and out.

You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.

-Jim Morrison

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I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag

When I hear the word “family” I experience a flash of warm feelings. Gratitude, acceptance, love, and open-mindedness are all qualities that my biological and extended family possess. Considering that the majority of my family resides in North Carolina where the words republican, homophobia, and religious are thrown around with pride, I’d say that I’m pretty darn lucky. Unfortunately this is not the case for many homosexual (we all have to label things nowadays, don’t we?) people living in conservative places throughout our country and all over the world.

I got a phone call from my father who lives in a small town mountain city in Arkansas yesterday evening while I was driving. “Do you have a second to talk?” my dad asked. He seemed emotional. I immediately was overcome with worry. It sounded serious. Someone died, I thought. “Of course dad, what’s up?” I asked. “When I was in my senior year of high school, living in Seoul, South Korea on the American military base…” I already knew where this was going. I had heard this story countless times before. You see, my dad is someone who will enthusiastically tell the same story over and over. I never stop him because no matter how many times I have heard them, they never fail to captivate me. “…we used to have to have to recite the pledge of allegiance every morning. My two friends and I did not stand up. They called all of our parents. No one could understand why we didn’t stand up! And when we explained that it was because of the last line of the Pledge Allegiance ‘freedom and justice for all’, they still didn’t get it. ‘Our best friend is black, and we wouldn’t stand up because he doesn’t have the same rights as us’ they didn’t know what to do.”

The whole time that I am hearing him express this story with as much earnestness as if it happened yesterday, I have a smile on my face. These defiant, humanitarian, activist qualities were all traits that passed on to me. It has gotten me in a lot of trouble, especially in school, but it is something that I am most proud of.

“I want you to know that if I had to rise and say the Pledge of Allegiance today, I wouldn’t stand because of you.” My eyes got watery. I know that my dad is accepting of my “homosexual” relationship. I quote homosexual because even though I am in a relationship with a woman (a very amazing one at that!) I don’t like using labels. I like to say that I am just attracted to awesomeness is people 😉 . It makes me emotional not only to hear once again that I am supported for just being me, but also for all of those that aren’t as fortunate as I am.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Studies show that LGBT youth who are rejected by their families are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide; however, all it takes is one ally to dissuade high-risk youth from attempting such a horrendous act.

Please support your local gay-straight alliance and the young members that are struggling in your community. Visit the GSA Network website to discover how you can get involved. You never know whose life you could be saving.

Writing about LGBT activism is something that always comes easily for me, but never without intense emotions. I am so incredibly thankful to have such a loving, accepting, and inspirational family. I recognize that sometimes I can take it for granted, nonetheless, I am forever grateful.

Happy coming together 😉

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Yoga Through The Teenage Years

 Oh the teenage years. It’s a time for fun, learning, and getting to know yourself… and perhaps a little awkwardness. Just writing that puts a smile on my face. For most people, thinking of being sixteen sends us to a lovely and nostalgic place; first loves, first screw-ups, first road-trips… a lot of firsts. It can also be a time of immense difficulty. Anyone who says it wasn’t hard being a teenager, surely had it easy. Your hormones are raging, there’s never enough sleep, and school sucks (but hey, don’t you miss it now 😉 ?).

I guess you can say that I didn’t have a very normal teenage life. When I was fourteen, I left school because of increasing anxiety; I just couldn’t handle it anymore. No one was themselves, I had no idea who was and it was driving me mad. Every morning before class would start, I literally had the sensation that I was suffocating. Being raised by a hippie, yoga teaching, buddhist-ish mother, who was already pretty against the public education system, getting out of school was not an issue.

Within two months of a lot of rest and a lot of learning, I enrolled in my very first yoga teacher training course. This was definitely the most significant experience of my life up to that point. Everyone was older than me by at least a decade but I still managed to develop strong bonds with almost all of them. They became a part my family, something that was so valuable for me at that time. My body went though crazy changes. I began to build strength and flexibility that I never imagined was possible. I also had a new sense of self-esteem and awareness. However, the challenges of being a teenager didn’t just disappear. I still struggled with school-work, getting enough sleep, and being organized but since I did have a positive self image, the challenges became less of a big deal and more of a lesson.

By the time I was fifteen, I was teaching four classes a week, and had traveled Europe with money I had saved from teaching and baby sitting. I went to high school only for my junior year. Through out this entire time of many life challenges and experiences, I always had my mat to run to. Like I wrote in my previous post, your mat becomes a haven. A place that you can turn to no matter what the outward circumstances are. In Ashtanga yoga, it is said that one of the reasons why we do the same poses everyday is to see the ways in which we are different. This is something that is extremely valuable in our ever-changing, random teenage years.

Since yoga is now a fad, you don’t need to worry about being made fun of for doing it! Many public schools and local gyms now offer yoga and usually offer  discounts to teenagers or students. So if you want a better life, more strength and flexibility, and an overall smoother high school experience, get on the mat now!

Happy growing 😉

Check out my very first Ashtanga teacher that I practiced with when I was fifteen!

Getting On The Mat

What makes up who we are? Is it learned qualities that stick with us after a period of time? Or is it predestined traits that have stuck with us through lifetimes? I was sitting in my therapists office on Lincoln Road. After expressing to her that I was having ongoing issues with commitment to my yoga practice, she asked me “Where do you feel this ‘issue’ with your practice stems from?” Without hesitation, I began to go in to my “story”. You know, the one we’ve all invented for ourselves to justify our actions or make us feel safe? “Well, I’m a very lazy person and,” “Who?” I didn’t expect to be cut off…”Who what?” I asked. “Who says that you’re a very lazy person?”

That simple question really struck a chord with me. It’s a very realistic question- Who says I am a very lazy person? do. It hit me like a smack in the face. I mean, I’m all about self examination, constantly questioning things, always staying challenged. But somehow such a simple phrase “I’m lazy” became wired into my programming over my life’s journey without me realizing it.

It is so easy to find an excuse to keep you from doing your practice, whatever your practice may be. I choose to make my practice yoga; which is why the statement “getting on the mat” works for me. When I hear the mental chatter come up about all the reasons why I don’t want to practice, I choose to just “get on the mat”. Learning this dedication begins to make your yoga practice a sacred journey. Your yoga mat, that little, rubber, rectangular, space becomes a haven that you can come to at any time. It’s a place to feel safe, a place to feel challenged, and a place to grow.

Part of realizing the way this works is falling off the path. Forgetting your practice, avoiding it, finding things that are “more important” and then realizing once again that answers come when you just get on the mat. You just choose to go there anyway.

I want to inspire anyone who reads this to create a practice for themselves. Whether it be yoga, walking, dancing, or swimming, just do it. 

From the video Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen: “Do one thing everyday that scares you”… happy adventuring 😉