Monday, July 22, 2013

You're sensitive? Me too. I've learned to embrace sensitivity as a gift

Interesting the interaction I just had with a lady at Starbucks. This lady was one person in line ahead of me. The lady directly in front of me turned to me and asked me if I had the time. I said I didn't know without rummaging for my phone to check. She told me that's okay. The lady in front of her turned and "randomly" said to her,  "I think it's about 12:45." The lady who 1st asked for the time took off right then. Curious, I reached for my phone and saw that it was exactly 12:45. I spoke out to the woman and said, "you're right, it is 12:45". "That's weird," she said. "Not to me," I said. "I'm empathic so I often get those kinds of feelings." "What's empathic?" inquired this lady. Then it dawned on my the purpose of my conversation.

I've been coming across A LOT of empathic people lately. I feel this is a combination that I've become more open then I've ever been about my abilities along with my heartfelt desire to connect more with others like me. In the past, I wouldn't have mentioned this ability for fear of being seen like a nut job to this person. She may have thought that I was but I pursued the conversation regardless. I explained to her that empaths have heightened sensitivity to feelings. I asked if she felt this was true of her. She replied, "Well, I'm sensitive but I always thought that was because I'm a mommy." I didn't respond directly to her supposition that what makes her more sensitive is being a mom. Having had both an insensitive mother and grandmother, that's not my own personal experience that motherhood heightens your sensitivities. (Though I have witnessed women I felt who have had an overly hard exterior soften after becoming moms). Motherhood doesn't mean you can pick up on information like knowing the time. That's someone in my opinion that has heightened sensitivity (or highly sensitive).

When I say "heightened sensitivities" I mean being open to information in the "ether". And what I mean by "information in the ether" is that there's universal communication always going on around us. The universe is always speaking and if you have your radar on, you can pick things up. This is what sensitives know. Ask one, if you're not one, and they will tell you. :) Some of us are more tuned into it than others.

When I have this kinds of conversation, or what I like to think as an "universal encounter" I shift up my energy level so that I'm in the universal space of consciousness. It's from this place where I can to tune into someone's energy. In this case, I was determining this woman's empathic ability. I felt she had this ability so I asked her what she did for a living. She said she worked with special needs kids, some of whom were autistic. I asked if she could feel what their needs were even with the kids who weren't able to speak. She replied she had "non verbal kids" and she felt she could sense their needs. I shared my feeling that she was uniquely gifted to work in this capacity because she could communicate her students' feelings if they couldn't verbally express themselves. I'm tearing up just thinking about this & how wonderful she could use her empath skills in this way!

The flip side of being an empath is that we can pick up so much of someone else's energy, it can fatigue us. This lady told me she's an insomniac and gets about 4 hours of sleep. I felt myself "full of advice" to share about how she could protect her energy but I also could feel the wall, the wall the woman began to put up between us. When I feel a wall I know that I've reached my limit with a person. I pulled myself away & went on with my business. I don't know what she'll take from this conversation. She may just forget all about it -and if what I shared doesn't work for her, I feel she should drop what I said. I felt the purpose of the conversation was to validate that her sensitivities & that her abilities serve a purpose which she's uses to "great effect".

Being sensitive I'm sensitive to other sensitives who may have gotten a bad rap from others about being "too sensitive".  I've had a fair share of complaints from family and "friends" that I'm too sensitive. They threw this at me when I reacted to a comment I felt was piercingly unkind. But rather than take responsibility for what was said by the person who said it, they laid it on me that my hurt feelings were my fault. And with negative piled on negative I hated my sensitivity until I had the realization that being sensitive is actually a beautiful trait. And not only was it beautiful that I can connect with more emotional depth than most people, these same people who shamed me for my sensitivities also benefited from my abilities. I could tune into their feelings and feel their feelings and know where they came from. I got angry after that realization because I realized that I didn't honor or respect my abilities, and that being sensitive served a purpose. It wasn't something to be embarrassed about or hide. And when I finally accepted myself and my abilities I began to explore what I could using my own gifts.

I have to give credit my one of my Twitter friends, Helen E. for helping me cope with my sensitivities. She inspired me because she didn't hide that she's highly sensitive. She embraced it. She even puts out a Twitter journal called "I'm a little sensitive." I admit I was concerned about following another highly sensitive person on Twitter because I didn't want to risk offending her. One of the downsides of my sensitivity is that I can feel the hurt of others so if someone is highly sensitive, a red flag goes up. Of all the time I've followed Helen, I've NEVER had any difficulty. Unlike others where I've felt a burst of emotional flame, we've always had good communication. And what I took from that is this: in her act of embracing herself, she doesn't hide who she is, or makes excuses like I had been doing. I admired and felt inspired by this self-acceptance.

I admit there was a part of me that wanted to pass on the feel good energy of "feel good about being an empath" to this lady today. Maybe she needed it. Maybe it was projection. But I felt something. And I know my abilities. If there's a feeling, I trust it now. And rather than "tough it out" meaning smash down my feelings like others do, I embrace them and go with the emotional flow.

I told the lady it was really nice meeting her and it was. If anything else, I had a connection and in that is a good experience on any given day.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Game Play: My new winning strategy

I’ve asked myself what is my "DEAL", as if the cards I’m “handed” in life aren’t the cards of my choosing. What I mean by that is, I know I designed my life before I entered into my earth body, even if my “score” isn’t always in my memory.  I’ve walked sidewalks spotting playing cards lying in the street.  And I’ve wondered if that’s a “chance” card or a card I’ve asked to receive. I’ve also found dice & wondered if I’m on a roll or again if this is just chance.  

In reality, I’m not much of a game player, in particular if the games are mostly made of odds; I like to win. So, the games I most like to play are ones of strategy where I can plan my move & be in the spot that’s most advantageous. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t; but the more I play the more I can predict that outcome. This is my view of intelligent design: to know the position that’s most advantageous to get a winning score.  

I've surprised myself by writing this above paragraph. I'm not always in touch my competitive spirit but it's there. On one hand I want to admonish myself for such thoughts as seeing life as "winning" or "losing". But life is "rewarding". We have these phrases and we use them often: "the game of life", "winning hand", etc., etc. If I took life as play, could I take it less seriously? Can I just see some situation as just a bad hand & a hand I can walk away from?

I said I don't like to play the odds but I have gambled at a few things in life & there hasn't always been a good pay off. So in my life now, as I move forward, I'm playing a game of strategy - one that when I see a turn at the road ahead, I won't be so freaked out because I've either planned for that outcome or know enough to know how to "DEAL" with it.

So maybe that's my true DEAL - to forgive the losses & forge ahead with a renewed spirit that life is continuing on a roll in a new direction. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Keep on moving on: what I learned from my horse ride

(I revamped a piece I wrote a few years ago about my horseback riding lessons. I needed to remind myself of this lesson & interestingly enough, it perfectly fits the themes of this July 4th Independence Day!)

Don’t fall off -that's the sage advice I learned when riding a horse.  I had signed up for horseback riding lessons a few years back to get over a childhood fear of  riding horses.  As a kid, I didn't glow in confidence. I felt run down quite often and getting on top of an animal so strong and seemingly uncontrollable scared me. 
As an adult, I wanted to correct  my insecurities but I had to deal with my doubts that I lacked the will or commanding presence to ride the horse and get it to “listen” to me.  But I wanted to learn if I could, or at least what it took.  

On my first lesson, we didn't get on the horse.  Instead, we learned about them, how they responded to us, where their blind spots were.  Once we learned what their needs were, and how to control them, then we got to go for a ride.  Oh, and also, the teacher stressed we really needed to pay attention and be present.

Being present hasn't been easy for me. I've often escaped into being "elsewhere", not always interested and comfortable where I was. If I wanted to get on a horse, I didn't have that luxury of escapism. I had to pay attention or else I might find a tree branch in my face at best or being kicked onto my behind at worst. So I paid attention to what the teacher said as best as I could trying to hold back my anxieties.

I took a brief hiatus after my first lesson. (I got offered a contract job I felt I couldn't refuse). When I returned to the lessons, I got put into a class full of advanced students. This both intimidated me & inspired me. I knew I wasn't going to be as good as the other riders but I felt comfort that they knew what they were doing & they could help me. And they did. 

One of the woman I bonded with talked about riding as being her one Zen day amidst her hectic schedule.  Riding to her was meditation. This Zen feeling took awhile for me to figure out;  I was too busy hanging onto the horse, my back in knots.  However,  I did manage to figure out that staying in the saddle was not just a matter of thighs clenching the saddle but also the balance of the hips swaying back and forth.  It was a start from getting my thinking out of my head and into my body. 

Once I figured out that I had to both relax but also grip the saddle, I let go in my next horse ride. My teacher instructed that as the horse runs, its back flexes up and down so we had to follow that movement. (If we didn't go with the flow, then we would make the ride bumpy & uncomfortable). When it was my turn, I shut my mind off, responded to the horse’s movement, feeling a oneness with him.  My grip lessened on the reigns, holding just enough to guide my horse. Because I let go enough, the horse could feel free to run. I didn't fear falling off; I put trust in myself that I wouldn't. I remained present &  I could feel the true power & strength of the animal beneath me. Running this free was one of the most exhilarating feelings I’ve ever had.

As the lessons continued I learned this: At all times, I needed to keep my focus ahead of me.  I had to navigate the reigns and lead the horse or the horse would lead me -but not to tightly - if the reigns were held too tightly, the horse would try to break free. I could understand how the horse felt. Isn't that how humans react too? As a person, I like to feel free, and give others free reign. But in not wanting to be a person who seemed "bossy" I also didn't state what my needs were. Could there be a possible balance in life where you could state what you want, give direction to others but also help maintain freedom for myself and for them? I was learning I could.

Riding a horse is a balance act, like life is. And having a relationship with a horse is similar to any type of relationship. I had to learn what the horse responded to so I could get what I wanted - a fun ride. I'm still learning how to navigate life - where I need to give direction &; where I need to learn to let go. It's a work in progress; but what I got from my lesson is this: once I learned how to really ride, the ride took me places I've often wanted to go. This is the lesson I need to remember so I can keep on moving on!