The day before the launch of She Lives Here, I took a writing class entitled “Write Yourself True.” When I enrolled, I knew I wanted to focus and write about something other than my book and matters related to the impending launch.
By the time we got to the third prompt, I felt like I was in a place to write without judging myself. Perhaps it was the meditation leading up to the prompt that silenced the noise. During the meditation, we were asked to close our eyes, picture ourselves on a path, encountering someone walking towards us—an older version of ourselves. Here is what came from it (unedited):
Maybe I should have known the person, the presence walking towards me would have been me. I could feel myself smile when I heard it. I immediately wanted this older, wiser version of myself to hug me. Her hair was gray, curly and cropped close. She was wearing all white as if a future me would be this celestial figure floating down from heaven to meet me on this path (which was on a beach by the way).
She is taller than me and when she enfolds me in her arms, I am home. She kisses me like my mother does. Her skin is clear, smile bright and wide.
As we are hugging, she whispers to me “You’re going to be OK. You will be happy.”
I ask her, face still buried in her neck “Did it have to be so hard?”
She doesn’t answer. Maybe it’s something I have to answer for myself. Is it all in the way I look at it? The infertility struggle, the painful psoriasis struggle, the anxiety struggle, the fibroids, the PCOS…
I felt like she was gifting me with peace.
If I had the opportunity to find my 20-year old self on this path, I would hug her too. Let her know it can be survived, questions will be answered, honest love will be found.
I just thought:
I wish the three of us could speak to each other all at once.
I was outside on a walk today. Since the start of the pandemic, the frequency of these walks have decreased. All those walks I took last year while participating in the 75 hard challenge seem like they happened at the turn of the century. Back then, I used walking as a form of exercise and meditation. I used it as my time away from the hectic schedule of work, gym, writing, get togethers, church and endless errands.
I don’t need the time in the same way anymore. I find myself getting too comfortable sitting inside, weighed down by blankets, napping, thinking, daydreaming about the ocean or deep tubs to soak in, reading, scrolling or watching TV.
I mistook all this newfound down time to provide the same thing. But it isn’t. I forgot the power of forward motion in sunlight can change perspective, take away some of the blues and the tendency to self-sabotage.
I can’t sabotage or hide. Movement awakens energy, gives the static a place to go. I become electric in the forward movement. Pounding pavement and weaving through children playing in the streets today reminded me where I am supposed to devote more time.
That is all it took. Throwing on sneakers, a jacket and stepping outside by myself to drown a little of me out and let the quiet in.
I am not going to pretend I feel normal. Tuesday has been going on for a few days. I purposely stayed away from current television and scrolling through social media to avoid hearing any election news. I watched Half and Half and Sex and the City so I could fool myself into believing it was 2004. Not that anything was perfect then but the country’s allegiance to the notion of white supremacy wasn’t so boldly proclaimed, at least not from the White House. I also didn’t have to wonder if I had a sticker supporting my candidate of choice on my bumper that there was a chance I could be boxed in by maniacs and screamed at by people claiming to be “Christians.”
Maybe there wore more people willing to wear the mask back then. Maybe I prefer the mask.
After avoiding incoming results, I went to bed but was only able to sleep for an hour. My restlessness continued until my wake up call for 5:00am Miracle Morning. I considered skipping but I am glad I didn’t.
We ended up listening to Amanda Maynard speak about mental wellness. She guided us through a powerful meditation but what really resonated with me was the group exercise. We were broken out randomly into groups. Each of us was tasked with stating our fear and then the rest of us were to suggest a solution to combat the fear.
One of the other women struggles with the same fear as I do: The fear of being seen. This may come as a surprise because I don’t have a problem with my work being seen. I separate Kristina from Kristina’s writing. I can press “Publish”, post a blog on a social media site or share my latest work or soon class with the people in my life. But constant networking? Going live? Though it’s not true, it feels inauthentic to me, as if I am pretending to be an outgoing bubbly person for the world.
As if I really believe all the world’s a stage. Since I truly want to be more engaged and have work coming I will be proud to share with the world, I need to be comfortable with being seen.
That whole breakout group revelation was before 6:00am. I logged out carrying hope with me and was finally able to sleep before starting work a couple hours later.
I am glad I got the little rest I did because it empowered me to be present for virtual self-care activities. My friend guided us through yoga class which eased the tension snaking up my back to my shoulders. I also facilitated a writing session with my co-workers I soon hope to repeat. We all showed up with our vulnerability and willingness to share of ourselves. I was honored and humbled to lead in this way.
I know “Tuesday” is far from over but I am leaning towards hope and acceptance. I am inspired to be ready to do my part, no matter the outcome, to be more of an empathetic leader and an agent for change in the world around me.
This weekend, Hubby and I attended the Heart Festival at a local meditation center. Earlier that week, I saw two lectures that seemed interesting: The Science of Meditation and Meditation as Medication.
Due to driving and walking a bit further than anticipated, we were a little late but came in on the tail end of the first portion before the introduction of the meditation. I wished I could have heard what she had to say. However, we did get a chance to participate in the meditation which lasted much longer than I expected–at least a half hour.
The chairs were comfy, the room darkened and my feet were bare– a seemingly perfect recipe for a successful meditation. However, my mind and heart raced. I wondered why I didn’t hear more about the science, how long would it actually last and then hoped I would eventually drift off to sleep to tame the pace of my thoughts.
I never did but it got me thinking about being in the moment. During the second presentation, Dr. Dilip Sarkar addressed our short attention spans, the benefits of yoga therapy and shared concrete evidence of improved health of his students and patients. I could have stayed another hour. One thing that stuck with me is his emphasis on achieving a meditative state all of the time. It reminded me of 1 Thessalonians 5:17: Pray without ceasing.
I understand the spirit of the verse and Dr. Sarkar were asking for the same thing: peace and contentment without the oppression of anxiety and the illusion of control.
After the Heart Festival, we went to a local bookstore for a poetry reading to support my friend Hope’s book “Traveling the River.” It was followed by an open mic where I was encouraged to read a couple of pieces. Normally, if I were to read I would have chosen to wear something different, pieces would have been printed out and read aloud to myself a couple of times.
Earlier this week, I started researching float therapy. I heard about it earlier this year and a woman in one of my writing classes recommended it. Since hubby has been experiencing some nerve pain recently, we decided to try it together. I read about many benefits including stress and chronic pain relief, relaxation and even bursts of creativity!
The ambiance in The Float Zone was spa-like. Comfortable chairs, soothing music and a basket was provided immediately for our shoes. There was also an Ipad and headphones provided to view a video for first-time floaters. After the viewing and signing a waiver, we went on a tour of the center. The tour completely calmed me down. I am not claustrophobic however, if you agree to climb into a pod I believe that is something you should examine. Because you have your own float room that locks and you can keep the door to your pod as open as you’d like, I don’t think it is a big concern.
Every time you float, you must shower and shampoo before and after and they had everything ready in the room beforehand. You must wear earplugs, too. They also provided a neck pillow for comfort while in the pod. I noticed the pod seemed massive compared to what I saw online. I think it was just seeing it in person for the first time. I also love they had Vaseline with the toiletries provided to protect your self from the Epsom salts if you had cuts and bruises. Because of my psoriasis, it was immensely helpful.
As I stepped into a pod, I couldn’t help but feel like I was some kind of alien. Climbing into a pod and shutting it over yourself is definitely a singular sensation. I tried not to have any expectations except to float. I heard a range of testimonials from deep relaxation to nausea to psychedelic visions.
I decided to forgo the light and let their meditation music play in the background at first. The music wasn’t distracting but it added to the chatter going on in my mind. Once I found the button to shut it off, my relaxation went to a deeper level. For some reason, I focused a lot on my maternal grandmother, Yvelle. We called her Veve. She passed away in 2003. She was beautiful with an appetite for life. I saw her face and couldn’t stop picturing the couches and curtains in her house on 109th in Queens. I even saw myself as a little girl sitting in a backseat of a car in New York, driving to or talking about going to a McDonald’s.
At one point, my body felt baked into the salt solution. My body was there but I was very aware that my brain was someplace else. I might have been dreaming. Even when I wasn’t sleeping or drifting off, I could clearly hear my breathing and heartbeat. I knew this could happen after watching part of the “Float Nation” documentary on YouTube.
Before I knew it, I simultaneously heard a soft, female voice telling me it was time to exit the pod and sensed the light come on in the pod. I came out of sleep (or whatever state I was in) and found I couldn’t just stand up or find the bottom which was crazy because I was only in 12 inches of water. I had to roll over to my side and grab the short bar to get my bearings and in a matter of seconds, I was able to stand up and lift the top of the pod.
When I walked out, I felt some cool air but it did not disturb me. I showered and left the float room and settled into the post-float room. It was complete with water, herbal teas, magazines, books, adult coloring books, a fireplace and more comfy seating. Hubby liked floating but kept the light on and told me he started exercising in the pod. The darkness freaked him out but it was one of the things that I liked best about it.
The fireplace in the post-float space. It was beautiful!
Hubby and I smiling from ear to ear after our floats!
The question is: Would I do it again?
Yes, because now that I know what to expect I think I will have a real idea if incorporating into my life will have real benefits on my journey of healing.
Your turn: Would you try floating? And if you have, what was your experience like?