Embodied Heart

When the Best Option Isn’t Good Enough

I’ve spent a good bit of time the last few months waging the battle we each face between seeking to change things in our lives that we don’t like or deciding to accept them for what they are, which I’ll be unpacking in today’s #EmbodiedHeart post. A flash of insight recently occurred that showed me some of the areas in my life that feel the most frustrating to me exist because there is a wide gap between what would be “good enough” for me as a person in terms of meeting my needs, and what the best option out of the choices I could make right now appears to be. In other words, the choice that outweighs the others is still below the threshold that would satisfy me. It may be possible that my personal growth as an individual can slightly alter what feels “good enough,” creating flexibility to allow a range of solutions to meet my needs instead of one or two outcomes. At the same time, I believe that a circumstance such as my housing that feels quite far away from good enough is not going to allow me to grow as quickly or effectively as I could in a place that more fully meets my needs and may actually add to my burden in life because of the triggers it contains.

A major hurdle that can trip people up prior to my current dilemma is feeling helpless, stuck, or trapped in unpleasant situations. By and large, once we are adults, we are very rarely genuinely trapped or helpless. To believe we are can flow naturally from an experience of childhood trauma in which we were stuck and unable to improve our lot in life. Once we’ve grown up, though, we almost always have other options to consider. The choices or changes we might acknowledge are there for us can be daunting in terms of the sacrifice and time required to realize them, and they may provoke quite a bit of anxiety because they require us to take risks. By and large, things we dislike do not need to stay the way they are. As someone with a rock-solid internal locus of control, I am challenged by my difficulty empathizing with people who readily share a litany of excuses as to why life sucks but can’t be made better. I embrace change as a necessary part of seeking satisfaction in life.

Despite my ability to see that change is possible and that I do not have to keep at things I dislike, I have been hitting against limits in certain areas of my life, mostly my living situation. In regards to my housing, the most reasonable and realistic decision is to “stay put” for a few years, even though I am on the verge of hating where I live. Guilt bubbles up as soon as I acknowledge how unhappy I am, because a good portion of people would find my situation more than satisfactory, and because there are plenty of things about my house that are perfectly fine. That’s the thing about “good enough” though—I perceive it as a right-brained, gut-level knowing deep within me that, although perhaps being slightly malleable, is relatively fixed once enough data have been collected to provide an assessment. Some part of me discerned very soon after moving into my house that it wasn’t going to be my “forever home,” but it took the rest of me quite a while to fully acknowledge this reality.

My primary solution to knowing that what I’m choosing to do (to stay put for a few years) is the best but also an unsatisfactory decision, is to accept my circumstances for what they are and to make effective use of my time. I want to become significantly more self-sufficient and to reduce my impact on the environment. There are so many tools I need to acquire and skills I need to learn. In that context, there is a tiny sparkle of gratitude in me that my goals of moving to a location that more fully meets my needs cannot yet be accomplished, because I have to prepare myself for the life I envision. I’m good at learning on the spot, but something tells me actions such as raising chickens or transforming an entire lawn into permaculture are probably much less overwhelming and susceptible to failure if a person has taken some time to become informed and to practice skills ahead of time. Maybe we can only see why our needs felt thwarted and our progress slowed once we have arrived at the milestones ahead. Maybe the path I’m on will head off in directions I cannot yet conceive. It could be that it’s only in a backwards glance that I will able to rejoice in by the drudgery of my present place.

How do you reconcile situations when all of the choices you can see are less than what you know you require to meet your needs? When life limits you, what do you do with the time before you can take the next step you are craving? How do you come to know what “good enough” means for you? Is your concept of “good enough” amenable to change, and, if so, how do you alter it?

Embodied Heart

Liebster Award 2018!

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Goddessing From the Heart has been nominated for the Liebster Award. Thanks to Josephine from Above the Storm for her nomination! She has an informative and innovative blog about mental health including topics related to anxiety and depression.

 

Nominee rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, and provide a link to their blog in your post.
  2. Answer the questions provided for you, and come up with 5-10 more questions for your nominations.
  3. Give the award to 5-10 other bloggers who you appreciate.
  4. Leave a comment on their blog to let them know you nominated them for the award.
  5. Link to this blog post https://theglobalaussie.com/liebster-award-2018/ by the Global Aussie in your Liebster Award blog post.
  6. Head back to https://theglobalaussie.com/liebster-award-2018/ and leave a comment with your Liebster Award blog post link.

 

Josephine’s questions for me:

  • Why did you create your blog?
    I wanted to be able to inspire and support trauma survivors. As a practitioner of Earth-based Goddess spirituality, I wanted to incorporate spirituality and healthy living practices into my reflections on trauma and mental health.
  • What other talents or hobbies do you have? I enjoy photography and nature observation. I love to cook. I’ve attempted ceramics and cake decorating classes as well.
  • What are your 3 favourite movies? I love anything by Wes Anderson. I am also a fan of the LOTR series.
  • What is the best thing about being you? I’m always exploring new ideas and growing as a person.
  • If you could do anything with your life, regardless of money or life circumstance, it would be… I’ve just started to dig into the concept of permaculture and homesteading. So, I’ve been spending far too much time on Zillow looking at 100 acre plots of land in the country to which I wish I could move. Ultimately, I would love to be able to live a self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyle while hosting retreats for women that incorporate spirituality and healing and writing non-fiction books.

I nominate:

Spiritsong Dreamweaver

The EcoFeminist

A happy organic vegetarian journey

The Life of a Raven

High Noon Journal

Questions for nominated bloggers to answer:

  • What has been the most surprising aspect of blogging for you?
  • How do you find inspiration for your blog?
  • What is something new you are learning about or interested in lately?
  • How central is being a blogger to who you are as a person? Is it a hobby, a lifestyle, or a career for you?
  • What is a goal that you have for yourself in 2018, either as a blogger or personally?
Embodied Heart

Blogger Recognition Award

Thanks to Riya at High Noon Journal for nominating me for my first blogging award! I love the energy of her blog and the honesty she brings to her life experiences. Her writings include reflections on being in her 20’s, spirituality, travel, personal growth and lots more! She’s also quite active as a blogger which inspires me to write more often.

award

This award is the most widely used and very popular among bloggers, both new and old. This award is all about fostering growth and recognition, community feeling and prosperity. It encourages new bloggers to showcase their blogs and to support and share fellow bloggers’ creations as well, to get valuable advice from experienced bloggers and share their own experiences. Thus everyone nominated are encouraged to participate in it, though the choice to participate or not lies solely with individuals. This is a lovely initiative to foster community feeling among fellow bloggers.

The Purpose of My Blog

I’ve shared my blog’s purpose previously. I haven’t shared as much about why I chose to start it when I did. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I’ve spent a lot of my life staying quiet about what happened to me. In the last few years, I’ve grown in my spiritual practice and found my home within Goddess Spirituality. This development created a desire within me to connect with others who have had traumatic experiences and who are interested in spirituality, psychology, personal growth, creativity and nature. I’ve been blogging for about 5 months and have found it to be a rich and rewarding experience.

Reflections on Blogging and Blogging Advice

My Goddessing from the Heart and my Sagewoman blogs are the first blogs I’ve ever written. I never anticipated the positive, encouraging community that I would find on WordPress. It has definitely motivated me to continue to write. Contributing to my blog here has motivated me to make personal changes in other areas of my life; I’ve laid plans to decrease how much overtime I am working in order to achieve a healthier balance.

In terms of advice to bloggers who are starting out, I would definitely recommend pacing yourself. I had a stretch where I was writing each day and I knew I couldn’t produce quality work if I kept up at that intensity. I also think that taking time to read other blogs and write feedback to fellow writers is key; the more my work on my blog feels like a conversation, the more motivated I become. Lastly, something you may relate to if you’ve been blogging for a while is that I’ve found blogging to be a therapeutic experience when negative events happen to me. I think I’ve had some personal growth because the nature of my blog is personal but not particularly specific; I don’t share where I went today or the specific people with whom I interacted. When I have a stressor and blog about it, it pushes me to move beyond complaining about what happened to get to the root of what is driving my thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Real life holds a lot of inspiration!

My Award Nominees

1. Bird Flight: I’ve enjoyed reading about updownflight’s mental health recovery and viewing her nature photography.

2. Toni-Ann La-Crette: I’ve learned a lot from Toni-Ann; she’s an intuitive Tarot reader with a great sense of humor.

3. Inner Journey Events Blog: Della has been an inspirational source of witchy wisdom for me.

4. My Pretty Sydney: Maadz has an awesome lifestyle blog with beautiful nature photography.

5. Amanda’s Diary Pages: I take virtual tours of Northern England with Amanda’s travel writing.

6. Penny Heiple, Transformational Healing Facilitator: Penny does a fabulous job integrating science and bodywork.

7. Priestess Spiritsong Dreamweaver: She has become one of my go-to sources of guidance on pagan practices.

8. Surviving Childhood Trauma: I’ve been inspired as I read Shanon’s work journaling her recovery from CSA.

9. Where Spirit Stops: She writes about trauma recovery, pagan practice and has lots of cute Esty shop creations.

10. The Purple Hermit: Nikita shares great poetry and personal reflections on solitude.

To all who have been nominated, you may accept the award and write a post about it if you wish to do so. To all my readers, thanks for your readership and I hope you’ll take a moment to check out these blogs!

Award Rules

  1. Write a thank you section for the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Write briefly on what this award is all about.
  3. Give a brief description and your thoughts on how you started your blog and what’s it all about.
  4. Share your experiences in your blogging journey for fellow bloggers both new and experienced, to give valuable insights about your blogging efforts.
  5. And finally, nominate 10 of your favorite bloggers for the same and let them know by commenting in each of their blogs about their getting nominated by you.

 

 

 

Embodied Heart

To Name the Loneliness

I wrote the reflection below during a time of feeling particularly in touch with aspects of isolation. I do not always experience myself in this way, which complicates the presentation. At the same time, I think giving voice to this side of who I am is valuable during times when the themes of family and celebration are ever-present, and so I decided to share it as an #EmbodiedHeart post today.

There’s an ache in my bones when I’m lonely. The fibers of my being seem to be stretched thin and taunt, pulling me along without offering full support to my frame. It’s physically painful, mirroring the emotional pain I feel inside. And, always, the snide little voice in my head reminding me that I “chose” this path by separating myself from my abusive family of origin.

Chronic loneliness and social isolation affect many trauma survivors. For those of us who have experienced incest, feelings of isolation can come in waves. The estrangement from family members who refuse to acknowledge the truth. The holidays endured, rather than celebrated, without a place to truly call home. The pervasive sense of being “different.” The awkward social interactions, stumbling to learn the rules of human communication without a guide-map from childhood. Romantic relationships which crash and burn the moment any semblance of betrayal surfaces.

I marvel that those who are able to wade through the deep waters of dark family secrets and make it to shelter and communion. Their hearts and hands seem mended. Tender moments and genuine healing seem to be the foundation on which they rebuild their lives.

I have brief instances where I surface and see the shoreline, but each mad dash towards it only seems to pull me further from land; more isolated, more guarded, more convinced I’m incapable of loving others. I tug myself onto a patch of sand, surrounded by water, and build castles of schemes and projects. I’ve retreated from seeking sails of potential connection on the horizon.

It is not without irony that I consider my greatest fear for my future. It is not dying alone, that I think I can brave as I’ve braved birthdays and graduations and other major life events bereft of acknowledgement and company. Instead, it is losing my independence. I envision myself one of those crotchety old-timers beating off the nursing home attendants with a cane. As much as my isolation can harm and does harm me, I wouldn’t trade it for subservience, compliance or enmeshment for a moment. Some things taste bitterer than the salty tears I shed on the seashores of my isolation.

Sacred Spiritual Growth

What’s the Lesson In This For Me?

Throughout human history, many people have tried to make sense of why negative events occur in our lives. One idea that is sometimes proffered and with which I take issue is that we should “learn a lesson” from these kind of experiences and that they will invariably serve as a source of strength for us. On this #SacredSpiritualGrowth Saturday, I’ll elaborate on our ability and cause to seek insight through difficult trials. I do think there is some truth to the concept that we can learn and growth through, rather than despite, minor unpleasant life events.

To me, experiences that rise to the level of trauma are not necessarily or inherently good for us nor do they always make us stronger. I would give back much of what happened to me in my childhood in a heartbeat; I don’t think I’m a better person because of it. If you’d made sense of your own trauma in a different way, I completely support you in this as I think there are multiple valid perspectives we can hold towards suffering.

Traumatic Experiences

Traumatic experiences are those events that threaten our life or our sense of safety in a major way. They may leave us feeling betrayed, broken, lost and without hope. They shake the core of how we see the world and our sense of right and wrong. Life may seem unfair and unjust as a result, and we may feel alienated from “other people” who we perceive to wear rose-colored glasses in their assessment of how life tends to go.

These kinds of experiences can lead to a sense of spiritual growth; in fact, there is an entire body of research on “post-traumatic growth.” One moderating factor in enhancing development after trauma is social support. In other words, my take is that people are most able to grow after a tragedy when they feel supported by others during and after the trauma. For example, if a natural disaster strikes and causes issues with housing and employment, people may gain strength in their faith if lots of people are there to assist them and to lend aid during recovery.

Where trauma is especially likely to cut a ragged wound is when we go through it alone, and when we experience others as turning against, not towards us, as we try to recover from it. The individual who is rejected from every possible place of refuge, and whose life begins a downward spiral after a natural disaster is less likely to emerge from it, at least for a long time, with a sense of a deeper spiritual connection. On some level, I think the Divine becomes conflated with other people for most of us, so that to the extent that we feel distant from people, we are likely to experience a breach between ourselves and the Divine.

Everyday Obstacles

I think there are minor inconveniences and everyday types of problems that come our way through fate that we can use as a catalyst for spiritual growth. There is no clear dividing line between traumatic experiences and everyday obstacles. What one person finds minor may be a major trigger for another individual. I am not concerned with deciding for others the types of life experiences that fall into this category of “growth fodder.”  Discern for yourself the bumps along the way that you can use to make meaning and to draw out the character traits you seek to display.

I believe life unfolding in a way that runs counter to our plans invites us to contemplate certain questions. These include:

  • What do I really need in my life, and what just takes up space? What builds me spiritually?
  • What are my priorities for finding meaning in my life when my goals are thwarted? Do they align with my actions?
  • To what extent do I turn to Divinity and/or to my spiritual home when I am overwhelmed?
  • To what extent do I allow others to connect with me and offer spiritual balm to the raw and vulnerable places in me which negative situations provoke?
  • What are the spiritual rituals and practices that are particularly nourishing to me during difficult moments? To what extent do I follow through on them when they are really needed?

Signs of Spiritual Growth

How do we know if the lessons we are learning from everyday obstacles are spurring spiritual growth? I’ve listed a few signs below. They are not prescriptive or definitive! I found myself feeling like I was coming up short on every single one of them. I urge you to give yourself permission to view even a very small step in the direction they suggest as a sign you are reaching another layer of the spiritual dimension.

  • The first reaction to a negative minor setback is less and less to simply react. We are able to more fully engage the “deep thinking” part of our brain and/or to respond with a wider range of emotions than we used to be able to access. This emotional maturity is intertwined with spiritual growth in my view as it is a necessary first step before we evolve to a place of having our natural response be spiritually-centered.
  • We can more fully stay on track with our spiritual focus even when things aren’t going our way. We continue our daily rituals and meditation. We engage in deep conversations with others.
  • We are more able to own our own role in situations that occur to us. For example, if I act in a hostile, abrupt manner towards others, and then do not get the help I need from them, they are not simply incompetent. I’ve increased their inability to help me by treating them rudely. This place of personal responsibility can then empower us to make more viable choices as to how we handle moments of challenge.
  • We increase our ability to display the values and beliefs to which we ascribe in terms of how we face obstacles. For instance, if we believe being in nature provides an opportunity to connect with the Divine, we seek outdoor spaces as a respite during difficult situations.
  • We expand our focus to include giving attention to the things for which we are grateful and to the hopes to which we hold fast, even when other areas of our life are experiences in suffering.

In examining these concepts, I’ve written only in reference to the impact of external events on us. We are also buffeted by the winds of our internal thoughts and feelings. I suspect there may be a similar division in regards to inner experiences. As someone who struggles with the symptoms of multiple mental disorders, I find these akin to traumatic experiences in that the best I can currently do with them spiritually is to accept them. Some individuals encapsulate their mental health conditions as a part of their identity and see themselves as incomplete without them. As for me, I do not think they have improved who I am and I’m not pleased to have them in my life.

At the same time, the inner shifts in mood and thought that we all experience, such as a fleeting bad mood or a temporary anxious thought, can perhaps lead us to deepen our spiritual walk as we dig in to what it means to be human. We can sit with the negative moment and examine what it has to offer us. I would not want to be perfectly happy and stress-free all the time, because I think life would lose nuance and color in a mono-state.

As I mentioned several times, I have but one perspective on the idea of life teaching us lessons, and I hope to start a conversation about what your view on this is. I am very interested in seeing how the division I’ve made squares with your experience of your spiritual journey, and the extent to which the signs of spiritual growth I’ve shared fit how things have gone for you. Perhaps together we can hone in on some tried-and-true ideas for those moments when things don’t go our way.