Living Authentically, Living Your Life’s Purpose

Standard

photo (4)

There has been so much going on that I don’t even know where to begin  But I can happily say that in the seven months since I moved to Atlanta I have either accomplished or planted a seed for everything I set out to do here. I’m teaching yoga, launched my holistic company, traveling, building my healing arts and communal living community, figure modeling, sharing poetry, and getting into my healing studies. I’ve advanced my own spiritual practice and have started my shamanic training as well as learning pranic and tantric healing arts. Personally I have deepened my connections with others by living in my truth and maintaining an open relationship with my Beloved. However each consort I engage has been a beautiful mirror and teacher. Each one has given me the space to expand my heart-letting go of past hurts and unhealthy ways of moving through the world.

Lately my feelings have been full of wonderment and gratitude. Every time I’m on the train passing the beautiful Atlanta skyline I marvel at the fact that I’m living in the city I’ve always wanted to live in. Every time I connect with a member of my community I feel welcome, humbled, and supported. Every time I teach a yoga class, step on the podium to art model,  grab the mic to share poetry, or complete a healing session with a client I feel joy that I’m doing exactly what I have been called to this earth to do. I am living my life’s purpose.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on what exactly it means to live your life’s purpose. In my experience it means being present to your inner voice and humble enough to seek guidance from those that are sent to be teachers. It means being one hundred percent authentic, open, and receptive because sometimes our purpose means we have to detach from the things we think we want that directly interfere with what we are meant to do. And sometimes we have to change patterns of behavior that hinder us and that also requires complete authenticity. You have to be fearless, vulnerable, and very self-aware. You have to pull yourself out of the matrix of modern society and let go of the need to be validated by others. You have to cultivate patience, faith, and a lot of acceptance. And, most importantly, you have to grow the fuck up. Owning your life’s purpose also means owning all the responsibility that come with it.

When I take a step back and look at the bigger picture I realize that so many things truly don’t/didn’t matter in the grander scheme of things. Every situation, every connection is a lesson meant to push you towards your purpose. Every thing I’ve experienced over the past four years is an example of that. When I was so busy being caught up in the drama of what the Universe was trying to show me I lost the lesson. I was knocked off my path. And I suffered. But now I am grateful for the insight-for the people and situations that did what they were supposed to do to put me exactly where I am in this moment.

“With great respect and love, I honor my heart, my inner teacher.” ~Tantric Yoga Prayer

Advertisements

Culture of Shame

Standard

I want to speak on a conversation I had with my mother recently.

Last week I took a much-needed trip to California to visit family. It had been a few months since I had been out there so I was excited to see them. As always I brought my partner with me on the trip. We’ve been involved with each other for over a year now and have been seriously dating for a few months. We go everywhere together so it’s nothing new to bring her along with me on my road trips.

As I was saying my goodbyes and getting ready to leave my mother decides to initiate a conversation with me where she basically expresses to me that she doesn’t approve of my lifestyle choices and the fact that I’m dating a woman. She gave a host of reasons why, mainly religious. Her approach was completely judgmental,  intended to induce guilt, and subtly manipulative. I only allowed the conversation out of fairness–as a means to provide my mother with the space to express her feelings. Though I made it clear that her words were not going to change or affect my choices. Once it got to a point where I felt she was trying coax me into doing what she wanted me to do I ended the conversation. I made it clear that I did not need her to accept my lifestyle choices, so long as she supported me as her daughter and did not mistreat my partner. I could tell my mother wasn’t too happy with my response and the conversation was kinda left hanging but I knew that such a topic was something that would never reach a resolution. My mother would have to agree to disagree on this matter.

What stood out to me was two things. First my mother made a comment, something to the effect that I was being selfish. When I asked her to elaborate on what exactly I was being selfish about she couldn’t articulate it. Another thing that struck me was the guilt trip she attempted to lay on me. I’ll admit, she managed to get under my skin a little bit which shed some light on the nature of our relationship. I see that there’s still a small part of me that would like her approval.

It caused me to reflect on the culture of shame our society lives in. How our communities tend to take the  choices of its individual members so personally–to the point where we  often collectively shame a person into following society’s standards.  My mother cannot separate herself from me and tends to see my actions as a direct reflection of her. We went through much of the same thing when I started practicing Buddhism. She internalized my change in religion as a rejection of her, rather than seeing it as me growing spiritually. It’s the same in this case, though I can’t for the life of me understand why she would think that what I do in the bedroom has anything at all to do with her. However understanding that my mother is projecting her own fears and insecurities makes me patient and compassionate. I know that the heart of her concerns is not the salvation of my soul but a more earthly reason, worry about what other’s think about her daughter dating a woman.

Another interesting point was her statement about me being selfish. That comment was more disappointing than any of the others. I sincerely told my mother that I’m the happiest and most content than I’ve ever been in any stage of my life and she still tried to make me feel guilty for it.  It saddens me when a person is labeled as selfish simply by being who they are. It takes a lot of confidence and courage to do what truly makes you happy, at the risk of disapproval from those close to you. The real selfishness is the expectation that a person mold their actions to accommodate your comfort level. The real selfishness is expecting a person to be something they aren’t in order to make you happy.

So while I was bothered by the conversation I had with my mother I appreciate it because it allowed me to see that we have a long way to go in our relationship as mother and daughter. It also helped me to see that there’s more work needed in developing emotional independence from her. In the bigger picture the talk confirmed that I’m exactly where I need to be in my life. Authenticity is the strongest form of liberation, especially from our culture of shame. When you aren’t afraid to be who you are and do the things that make you happy it gives others the courage to do the same. So rather than plant seeds of doubt our talk confirmed that I’m on the right path. Ironic that our conversation had the exact opposite effect of what my mother intended.

Some Reflections On Identity

Standard

They say that when you speak your desires into the world the Universe hears you and will grant you what you wish, placing it into your life.

Ever since I got it in my head that I wanted to start dating again I’ve seen this theory come into fruition. I’ve had a lot more than a few men show interest in me–some new and, to my surprise, some from my past. I’ve even been approached by a couple of long time friends about the prospect of us dating.

For someone who has never quite gotten the true hang of dating its pretty overwhelming. Case in point, over the weekend I was at a club celebrating a friend’s birthday party. From the moment I walked in to the time I got in my car I was getting hit on left and right. I lost count of the number of times someone sparked a conversation, requested my number, or asked me to dance. The initial flattery of it quickly lost its appeal as I am not a big fan of meeting my future significant other at a club, especially when the club scene isn’t even me to begin with.

Second case in point, I guess I’m “talking” to about three guys right now. Nothing serious by any means, we’re in that getting to know you phase. They’ve been on me to hang out but I’ve sat on the opportunity for one reason or the other. If I were to be honest with myself I would admit that I’m not motivated at all to really date these men. Nothing against them. They are great guys, handsome, successful, very nice with a lot going for themselves. But if I were to keep with this theme of honesty I will also admit that I find myself wanting men less and less these days. What I am saying is that I currently have very little to no desire for men.

Here’s the truth of the matter; I am also attracted to women. Yes, that is correct. I identify as bisexual.

This is, by no means, anything new. When people ask me at what point I knew this about myself I can honestly say that by the time I was in junior high I had realized that I liked girls. I was developing crushes on girls long before boys started catching my attention. However, as anyone with an alternative sexual orientation knows, it’s always easier to flow with the social norms. So I did, for a while at least. But nature is as nature does and it would only be so long before my nature started to peak through. And now here we are.

What’s funny is that those who truly know me aren’t at all surprised by my duality. I am a self-professed somewhat mannish free spirit and my views on sex and relationships are by no mean conventional. So when my identity started to slowly reveal itself it was business as usual for all concerned.

But bisexuality is one thing, not desiring men at all is a whole different matter. Yet I can’t really say that I’m starting to identify as a lesbian. The attraction to men is ever-present even if the desire for them is not. I understand better than most that sexuality is fluid. It is constantly changing as a person evolves. My own transition went something like having crushes on girls–>liking boys–>losing my virginity and sleeping, exclusively, with guys–> experimenting with both men and women–>getting married–>getting divorced–>sleeping with both men and women–>dating, and ultimately falling in love, with a woman–>sleeping, almost exclusively, with women while “talking to” a couple of men–>this ambiguous stage where my interest in men in waning while nothing has changed as far as women are concerned. It’s kind of like “Now what?” and I’m currently trying to find the answer.

I’ve never been ashamed of my identity. While I don’t broadcast my orientation neither do I lie when asked about it. A need for some level of privacy has kept me from openly writing about it on this blog, though I have freely outed myself through my poetry. I guess the difference is that when I perform spoken word I can control my audience as opposed to this blog where I, truly, have no idea whose reading. I went back and forth for a while on whether I even wanted to post this but I realize that there is no reason for me to hide who I am or my struggles. I also realize that it’s not just about me, identity (and not just sexual)  is something we all  grapple with and for that reason it should be openly discussed. More than anything Lifesaltar is a chronicle of my journey. This, like everything else I’ve shared,  is a part of that journey.