A new take on ribbon dancing.

I woke up this morning with an old blog post on my mind…a draft from a few years ago about ribbon dancing in the chaos of life that never got published.

February always feels like kind of a funky month. It has always felt like a strange limbo land to me…not quite spring, and often times, there seem to be new gusts of unexpected winter.

So I thought it would be a fitting time to share this with you…

May we dance in the ribbons, the chaos of life and find new strength and joy peeking through!

a new take on ribbon dancing.png

In a conversation a few months ago, I was describing how I felt when an image popped up in my mind, a perfect picture of how I felt. There were shoe boxes with the lids off and ribbons overflowing out of each one.

Each shoe box represented the upheaval in a different area of my life. And since that’s what’s happening in pretty much every area of my life, you can imagine the number of boxes!

Even with the lids put on them, the anxiety remained, knowing what a mess all the ribbons were inside.

If you’re an organized person, like me, you’ll understand what a disturbing image this is (probably even more so for me right now with my physical symptoms and the way my brain is processing information) and why it matched how I was feeling inside.

Complete overwhelm and overstimulation. Frazzled to the max and completely out of sorts.

But somehow just having this image, this metaphor for how I felt seemed to have a soothing effect. I gave myself permission to dislike them.

Then one morning, in my mind’s eye, I saw those same boxes of ribbons but this time, instead of feeling the need to figure out how to get them cleaned up and back in order, I started picking the ribbons up by the handful, throwing them into the air with joy, and dancing around in the mess.

I’ve always been someone who likes things to be clean and organized; and still do. But if you haven’t noticed, life doesn’t often work that way. Life often feels like more of a mess, agonizing over unknowns and getting blindsided by the unexpected. Life has bigger plans for us. Life knows that there’s an order to the mess. And maybe this, this learning to dance in the mess, is the highest order there is.

If I hadn’t known the mess of ribbons, I wouldn’t have learned to dance in them–to dance with them. Same goes for life. It is in knowing all of the messy things that we don’t like, that we come to surrender our wishes for what we think life should be, so we can dance in harmony with the order that was there the whole time.

But it often doesn’t feel as easy or blissful as it sounds.

Even though I’ve made peace with some of these other boxes, right now I’ve got one in particular that’s overflowing and driving me crazy. And I really hate it. And that’s okay.

In the same moment that I allow myself to hate this stupid box and all of its maddening ribbons, I dare to trust in the order that is the mess. And maybe, one morning, (hopefully someday soon) I’ll wake up and be ready to dance with those ribbons, too.

But until then, there’s nothing to do but take a few deep breaths and allow our frustration with the mess to have its turn, until we’re ready to dance.

And I promise, your turn to dance will come.

Sending grace for your days with the icky feelings and blessings for the ribbon dancing that awaits you, just around the corner.

Or if you like Pocahontas…just around the river bend. 🙂

 

I’d love to hear from you!

How are you dancing with the ribbons of your life today?

Let me know in the comments below…

 

I’m sending so many blessings and so much joy your way, always.

Much love,

Caitlin

When you just need a little extra space.

As I stood in the yard with my sweet little Dino dog this morning, we wandered over to a different part of the yard–a spot we haven’t spent time in for awhile.

And I got a new perspective.

As I looked up at a most magnificent tree in the far corner, by the fence…

I noticed it leaning at the top, starting about halfway up its trunk.

Hmm, I wondered, concerned something might be wrong.

Especially, noticing that the lean somewhat went in the direction of my bedroom.

(I’ve always had a little bit of a fear of a tree falling in on me during some of those super windy nights…they are big trees, and it can be scary when the winds are moving fast enough to whip the branches around a bit.)

Anyway, after my brief moment of wondering if I should let my mom know, if it should be looked at by an arborist to make sure everything is okay, I realized…

The bend was distinctly located in a section where the tree and the tree next to it came together a little bit.

It just needed a little extra space.

How often does this happen to us as humans, forcing ourselves to stay upright and rigid instead of following the flow of where our bodies want to go?

What if we just need a little extra space sometimes, and granting that to ourselves is one of the greatest acts of compassion, not only for ourselves, but for the world?

If there’s something you feel like you want to pull away from, something that doesn’t feel quite right–somewhere you feel you need a little more space, I invite you to give that to yourself today.

Where in your life do you feel like you need a little more space?

And how can you give yourself that gift today?

I know that the thought of this tree will help me remember that it’s okay to step back once in a while. It’s okay to recharge. It’s okay to move over a little bit and declare a space of your own.

Boundaries are necessary. And boundaries help keep us safe.

The more we come to know ourselves worthy of the space, the freedom, the love and the peace we desire, the happier — and better off — this world will be.

How can you start today?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Let me know where you’re feeling in need of some space and how you can create that for yourself today.

Maybe it’s as simple as few minutes of meditation, cancelling a phone call…

Or maybe you feel too far away, lost and distant on your own, and you need that phone call, that connection point, to gather near to someone you love.

Whether for a hug, a kind word, or a simple heartfelt blessing.

Whatever it is, may you know how much you’re loved.

And how worthy you are of all the love that surrounds you in every moment.

Will you let a little bit of that light in today?

I’m hoping so, because your light is such a gift to this world, and it is my honor to get to watch you shine!

Much love,

Caitlin

 

The determined little bee.

Much to Dino’s dismay, a bee flew into the living room today.

I pulled the nearby door wide open, all but putting up flares for guidance, but it could not find its way out.  It was fixated on getting through the window with a tree just on the other side.

It slammed its tough little self into the glass repeatedly, taking breaks in between to rest and rub its back legs together before launching itself towards the window again at top speed.

As I sit here writing, it continues to do so again and again as if eventually, given enough attempts and enough force, it will break its way through the glass barrier.

How often do we do this as humans, pushing again and again with determination to go one way, when what we really need to do is broaden our view a bit and change direction in order to reach our desired destination?

The fact is, there is no amount of time, dedication, or hard work that will get you where you want to go if you’re going in the wrong direction.  And sometimes it’s necessary to back up in order to expand your perception or ask for help to be able to sense the next step and know the best path to take.

For now, the determined little bee still has not found its way to freedom (hopefully it will before bedtime) but perhaps you can use the wisdom of its example of what NOT to do in order to find a little taste of freedom in your own life today.

With wishes for a beautiful weekend,

Caitlin

{May 15, 2015}

Breathe. Relax. Allow.

This made me smile as I discovered it in my old writing folder…

I hope you enjoy:

Sitting on the exam table, I listened carefully as the physical therapist gave me instructions for the next exercise.   This one, a stretch.  I was to let my head to fall forward as far as it would go, take a deep breath in, and on the exhale allow the weight of my head to give a gentle pull, letting in hang there for a moment before lifting it back up to neutral.

By about the third time, I started to notice that my neck was allowing my chin to go further and further with each exhale.  Breathing into it, relaxing deeper, and allowing my neck to let go so gravity could help out.

I marveled at the power of the breath, of relaxing, of allowing whatever wanted to happen.

 

Not pushing.

Not forcing.

Not trying to MAKE it happen.

 

Breathing.

Relaxing.

Allowing.

 

Wow.

 

Pretty profound for physical therapy, huh?

I’m now doing my best to apply this in all aspects of my healing journey.  And here’s the mantra.

Breathe.  Relax.  Allow.

Namaste.

 

{November 13, 2014}

Gentle afternoon rain.

Last week I attended a performance: gentle afternoon rain.

It was warm enough outside that my bedroom window was open. As I finished cooking some veggies in the kitchen, I thought I heard a slight mist. It seemed so out of place with how bright the sun had been shining most of the afternoon. “Is it raining, Dino?” I asked aloud, as if my dog could confirm my suspicions. I walked into the bedroom to see, and there it was–rain falling softly, drawing me in closer for the show.

Next thing I knew, I found myself sitting at the foot of the bed, directly facing the window, staring out and eating my lunch by the sound of the falling rain.

I watched and listened with reverence, delighted by the feelings of eagerness and satisfaction that began to build inside of me as if I were attending a most magnificent performance live at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

My windowsill set the frame like a stage, and the stillness outside was the backdrop that featured the raindrops doing their thing.

I listened as the drops all evenly fell. And as I finished eating my food, the rain started to slow. A brief intermission to put down my bowl and let Dino hop up to snuggle in my lap. And there we sat, watching the stillness out the window and listening to the rain.

I breathed in deeply and remembered the time I watched my dad open the side door of our house, to stand there, looking out through the screen at the rain, breathing in the refreshing scent of invisible swirls of goodness. Fresh air meandering in, there in abundance for the receiving. I don’t know if he knew I was watching but the way he savored those moments with such purpose and wonder changed something in me forever.

Still on my bed, I listened as the rain accumulated. Larger drops began to fall on new things, creating fancy rhythms and delicate sounds. And then came the gentle rushing sound of tiny streams, flowing through the gutter or following the bend of the downstairs curb. Until the showers began to taper once more and finally slowed to a stop. And with that, the show was over and the sun came out again.

Now as I relive the story to share it with you, I find it curious that the experience doesn’t feel small, nor especially large. It feels softly satisfying. And perhaps this quiet intensity is the mightiest power there is. From stillness and softness comes the strength.

It seems life is just waiting for us to offer it the reverence it deserves. Not out of a desire for selfish recognition but because it knows the nourishment that will be brought to our souls and the contentment that will fill our hearts. It knows that it will stir things within us and unlock new secrets of who we are. And what pure and generous love this is, to want us to see its beauty, only so that we may feel and know our own.

Ah, may we all make a little space to savor this today–whatever beauty we can sense, wherever we are. Because the performance is always happening. It’s just a matter of hearing the whispers that call us to its display.

Sending much love & joy to you this week,

Caitlin

{March 3, 2016}

A new kind of joy.

I don’t remember exactly what the instructor said on the phone.  I believe it was something related to teaching because I found myself filled with such resentment for the way teaching, as a profession, is viewed that I hung up the phone and began to cry.  I’m too young to be this cynical, I thought.  I deeply missed the person I used to be, the one with the sparkle in her eye, who believed anything was possible.

I would imagine that for all of us there comes a day when the rose colored glasses of innocence through which we look at the world–the ones that gradually get scratched and chipped–are ultimately shattered.  For me, it happened in a few fell swoops over the course of the last ten years.

Disappointment, heartbreak, and devastating loss in more forms than I would have thought possible in such a short amount of time.

There have been a series of moments over the years, maybe you’ve had some too–the ones where it becomes painfully clear that you’ve grown up to find that the world is not at all as you thought it would be.

Acknowledging this is how I first began to bridge the gap between what I thought life should be and life as it is.  But ultimately it takes being willing to let go of what we thought life would or should be in order to claim the one genuine life we each have right in front of us.

I’ve come to believe once again in the possibilities for my future, but in a new way.  I can’t simply hit the rewind button and get that little girl back.  I’m not that little girl anymore and never again can I have the joy she experienced in her innocence.

But perhaps my change in experience and perception unlocks a new kind of joy.  A truer joy.  Not the joy of innocence, but a joy that comes from knowing suffering and having the courage to somehow find peace and beauty within it.  A joy that comes, not from believing nothing bad will ever happen but from knowing that tough stuff does happen, and trusting that you will be okay anyway.

Now THAT is the kind of joy I choose to claim every single day.  And each day, it feels better and brighter.

What about you?  What kind of joy feels most true to you right now?  Scroll down and leave a comment to let me know. 😉

{August 14, 2015}

Much love and infinite joy to you today!

Love, Caitlin

My place of peace.

Soft pink with delicate purple, and layers of periwinkle fill the sky.

I watch as the sun rises, my body steady–sitting on a step at the center of the hostel grounds.

I can feel the cool concrete underneath my legs. The sunlight warming my face.

I spread manjar (also known as dulce de leche) on the pita bread my friend and I had brought with us for breakfast. I smile to myself, and think, “this is the life,” wishing this moment could last forever.

As a college student studying abroad in Chile I loved the way this caramel spread on bread was considered a respectable breakfast. It was so delicious! But more than that, I loved the way it was giving me an opportunity to make a dream come true.

Sitting on Easter Island…my place of peace.

Fast forward ten and a half years and I’m lying awake in bed with a clench in my stomach and chemical sensitivity stinging my nose.

This morning.

I ask for help. Ask to let the anger go, to be reunited with the peace that I know is me.

And I feel myself begin to soften. And I return to this place on Easter Island. Feeling it’s peace, it’s warmth…the belief that anything is possible.

I recognize, lying there, the ways visualization has been part of my life–the way it has helped me over the years.

I remember my dad talking about the way he’d visualize how he’d like things to go before a big meeting or presentation. And I remember listening to Olympian Amy Purdy share her story about visualizing herself so vividly out snowboarding that even while in the comfort of her own bed she could FEEL the stinging cold of the snow touching her feet.

We have the ability to create within us the lives we desire.

And there is nothing more powerful than circumstances we can’t change, to call you inward to a deeper knowing within yourself.

A knowing that you are free.

The ability to create something new, yes, but perhaps the more powerful place to start is to step into and re inhabit the moments of the past.

Memories of the past can haunt us, but they can also be medicine used for good.

To step into the memories, the moments that brought you peace…that feeling state is real. And the effect that it has on the body is too.

The moments we’ve lived, live within us.

And they’re ours to return to whenever we like.

So do you have a memory, a moment in time that you know brought you a feeling of peace, contentment, a warm satisfaction?

What if you remember that today…

What does it feel like to step into that moment and feel it once again…

Where are you? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel?

Recreating this in your mind can bring innumerable health benefits…

But I believe in doing it for the love.

I’d love to hear about yours in the comments below, and…

May you feel yourself connected to this loving goodness today, this center of sacred peace that lives and dwells within you always.

Much love, and peace always,

Caitlin

Life lessons are like Tootsie Roll Pops.

Hello,

I’m so glad to have you as part of this circle where I share a little something each week or so!  If you’re new here, welcome!

How treating life lessons like Tootsie Roll Pops can help make your life a little sweeter:

Life lessons are not items to be completed or crossed off a list.  This is decidedly fortunate or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it.

Life lessons are like Tootsie Roll Pops.

Or should I say, learning a life lesson is like trying to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop without using your teeth.  It can be painful.  It can be frustrating.  And you can just so badly want to get to the middle and be done with it already.

But at the same time, the closer you get to the center the more delicious and exciting it gets.

This is quite the combination and more than once, I’ve caught myself marveling at how profoundly annoying yet uniquely beautiful this is.  In respect to the life lessons themselves, not Tootsie Roll Pops.  Although…those DO certainly sound delicious.

Anyway, this happened to me just a few weeks ago.  With the lessons, not real Tootsie Roll Pops.  *Ugh, now I really want a Tootsie Roll Pop!*

I had the opportunity to learn something again for what felt like the billionth time.  In the beginning it felt miserable and I wished I could just skip ahead and mark it off the list.  

But once I made it to the other side, do you know what I realized?  If I had stopped when I first thought I’d learned the lesson and mastered it well enough, I never would have made it to the place where I am now.  I wouldn’t have been able to move past the surface level understanding and I wouldn’t feel it deep in my bones in the same way.

I’ve now been relishing the level of peace I know because of the way I was challenged to press forward, moving deeper and deeper into a beautiful loving center filled with peace.

Try looking back to wherever you were when you started your own journey and celebrate how far you’ve come.  May you savor that sweetness today.

And my hope is that the next time you reach one of those moments with the desperate desire to cross a lesson off the list as “learned for good,” the memory of that sweetness, how great it feels on the other side, will help carry you through.  And just know that each time around the outside gets you that much closer to all of the chocolaty goodness that’s waiting for you at the core.

With love, laughter, and Tootsie Roll Pops!

Caitlin

{August 22, 2015}

Photo via: nuts.com

 

I hope you dance.

I love to dance.

And for a year and a half now, I have not been able to.

So Lee Ann Womack’s song that goes, “And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance,” even as just a metaphor for life, somewhat breaks my heart.  That’s because physically, I’ve been doing a lot more sitting than I’ve ever done before or ever thought I would do–especially at 28 years old.

Literally sitting, not dancing.

But by sitting, I’m playing my part right now; stepping up to do what my body and soul have asked.  Which means that what I’ve been doing IS dancing.  That’s right, I am dancing even though I physically can’t dance.  How cool is that!?

Dancing is living with courage. 

Life is calling us to take a leap in every moment; each one unique in its shape, size, manner, and purpose.  But having the courage to show up, THAT’S dancing.

Sometimes that might be going for a run along the river, when at other times it means staying still and curling up in your favorite chair.

Sometimes it might mean opening up a flower shop because it’s always been your dream or it might be appreciating the beauty of a single flower sitting on your coffee table.

Sometimes it might be speaking up and sharing your message with a group of people, and sometimes it might mean quietly acknowledging and accepting your own truth.

Each of us has the power to recognize which kind of leap we’re being called to next.  And when we feel that pull, we have a decision to make.

Did you notice that in the song she doesn’t say IF you get the choice, but WHEN you get the choice?

That’s because we always have a choice.

We choose.  We decide whether to walk toward life or turn away from it.

I choose courage.  And I choose stepping out onto the dance floor of life, whatever form it takes.

So let’s dance.

May you dance in exactly the way life is calling to you right this very minute.

And if you’d like to share what that means for you, I’m all ears.  Just comment below or join the discussion over on Facebook.
Love,
Caitlin

{March 9, 2015}

What is the kindest thing?

Reflections on the practice of self-compassion.

I start to feel the pressure in my forehead mount, as the pain in my neck expands, and the surge of dizziness becomes stronger.  I’ve been on a roll washing some dishes in the kitchen sink but now my body calls out to me with a quiet intensity, asking me to allow it some rest.

Slowly but surely I’m learning how to listen to my body and respect what it needs, which can be quite frustrating when your mind wants it to do something else.

In a recent phone conversation with a life coach instructor, I explained how I quite literally take everything one bit at a time each day, focusing on how I can best take care of myself in everything I do.  She suggested that I ask myself a specific question periodically to help frame this focus.

So for the last few weeks, I’ve used the following question to guide my actions each day.

“What is the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?”

For me, it is often as simple as taking care of myself by drinking a class of water, eating a healthy snack, or taking a nap.  When I’m feeling up to it, it means taking time to do something I enjoy, like sitting down to do a little writing that could turn into a blog post.  And sometimes it requires taking actions that are in my best interest, like making a phone call I’ve been dreading because I care about the results I know it will bring.  But no matter what the specifics, the act of consciously considering and kindly responding to whatever my body, mind, or soul needs in any given moment makes everything I do feel more joyful.

The act of asking and answering this question with a genuine desire to know and a willingness to respond with love turns the idea of self-compassion into a practice.  It takes us from the space of thinking to a place of action, where we can welcome this kindness and care to become a part of our daily lives.

At some point during the day today, try asking yourself, “What is the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?”  Maybe it will help you decide what to eat for dinner, allow you to realize what evening activity will be most fulfilling for your soul, or provide the space to uncover some painful thoughts you want to talk through with a friend.  Whatever it is, may asking with an open heart and responding with kindness help you treat yourself with the loving compassion that you deserve.

{July 11, 2014}