Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Calm After the Storm

Spring has finally given the stage to summer, and with it I turned 33. Not a momentous age to become, but a significant one for me. It marked the beginning of my next 9 year cycle, in numerology's terms. I've felt it coming, like a distant thunder storm, for a few months now. And I must say, I'm quite happy to see the last 9 year cycle finally head for the exit door. It was certainly wrought with many things I'm ready to toss off the back of the truck; depression, Luke's death, alcoholism, dental surgeries, emergency appendectomy, almost a year of ill health and complete identification with being an athlete.

I had a month of tears that came from clear blue skies like torrential sheets of rain. There was nothing my brain could find as their source. Instead of running away with umbrella in hand, I laid down in the grass and let them cleanse me. Maybe they were old tears I'd been running from and when I finally stopped and allowed them time, they rose to the surface.

The month of May was my time of rage. If you've ever been outside in nature during a tornado storm, surrounded by lightening, thunder, pounding rain and wind that could almost pick you up, that's what my insides felt like. Out of nowhere, I would want to destroy everything in my path. I spent a couple afternoons running to the back yard so I didn't break everything in the house. After throwing huge rocks at the brick garage, pounding blocks of wood with metal and hucking all the lawn furniture around, I still managed to have some rage left over and broke my i-phone on the floor. Certainly not my proudest moment, but I'm certain I would have spontaneously combusted and burned down the whole neighborhood otherwise. I went to see one of my health practitioners who does qigong and she said I had aggressive foreign energy in my Liver meridian causing all the rage. I'm sure that sounds pretty woo-woo to most people, but since she removed it, I haven't felt one shred of anger or rage.

So far June has been smooth sailing. I've never been so calm and peaceful. In fact, I'm so content I haven't left Boulder in 6 weeks, and it's not because I lack the energy. I'd just rather stay here and write, meditate, practice qigong, read, do yoga, walk, paint, play guitar and ride my bike. At least I'm not a complete lump on the couch anymore. With only one crash in 26 days, I've definitely turned the corner.

So the big mystery…what will this next 9 year cycle bring? I certainly have a few ideas, but nothing has become clear yet. I know I've changed too much to slip back to being the old me. You won't find me working 50 hours a week in a florescent light filled office, climbing obsessively and drinking out on the town every night. Boulder now feels too busy, loud and crowded. So where will I go? What will I do for work? How will I stay centered when the pace of life picks up again? I'm just waiting for a clear answer, listening like one listens to a gentle breeze, watching for the empty canvas to manifest a beautiful scene, noticing the details in each moment as they arise.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


A lot happens in 2 months. Most of March my baseline energy level was much higher and I somehow thought I was crawling out of my cocoon. WIth my increased energy came residual anger, frustration, impatience…all the familiar friends I thought were left behind in my life as a caterpillar. Then April came.

A friend explained that a caterpillar eats voraciously before cocooning itself to prepare for transformation. I've been averaging 6 meals a day for most of the last 9 months. Then she explained that the transformation doesn't happen in 2 steps: caterpillar becomes butterfly. The caterpillar softens so much it liquifies. Then out of the mush comes an entirely new creature, with wings! As I found myself carrying my angry shield once again, she asked, "can you soften enough to liquify?" If it means I get wings, I sure hope so.

Being soft has never been my strong suit. Ask me to be tough and strong and powerful and I'm totally comfortable. But soft? The whole idea has traditionally made me nauseous. Why is that? I had such a negative view of Yin, soft, feminine, dark, that I've carried with me for thousands of years. I'm ready to put it down and experience the true reality.

April has been my month of softening. When I feel angry, can I accept it and look beneath it? What I usually find is fear, anxiety, insecurity and other uncomfortable feelings that are more terrifying than any climb, or rapid, or steep snowy slope. As my heart opens I've had moments of what Adya calls "the great heartbreak". This is where I'm not closing and protecting my heart, so I allow every emotion to wash through me instead of resisting them. Just yesterday I was reading the paper, and an article written by a transgendered teenager describing his/her endured abuse at school brought me to complete tears. In fact I spent all morning crying, partly with a source, and partly an inexplainable floodgate that opened somewhere inside me. The inner war resumed. There was the me that was crying and letting the flash flood of emotions wash me clean. Then the old me was judging: "stop being so fucking weak and pathetic…you're such an irrational, emotional woman!". Then the new me, "it's ok to feel everything, just let it rise unblocked and it will fall away unobstructed. These emotions are not who you are". I felt like I'd finally arrived…my own goddamn Mad Hatter tea party.

I'm reading The Untethered Soul and every time I pick it up his words meet me exactly where I'm at. (Funny how the universe does that). Yesterday's chapters were about our tendency to close, which creates emotional blockages in our energy bodies. When we get stuck on an event or emotion, our minds ruminate because we're trying to process it and let it pass through our system. This spinning in circles takes us out of the present moment.  He says, "it's your resistance to experience these patterns that causes the energy to keep cycling around itself". He even mentioned having so many blockages that we become sick and immobilized by the lack of energy (hmmm, sounds familiar). When we are ready to process these old blockages, they will rise to the surface so we can let them go. I believe this is what's happening to me now. The more I can soften into acceptance of all my past pain, the more open my heart will become.

We are taught by society that certain emotions are good, which we try to hold onto, and other ones are bad, which we resist. Both create road blocks in our hearts. If you watch a baby, everything rises and washes away. They can be joyously playing one minute and then get hungry and start crying. Or the kid that falls and hits his head. He cries until the pain is processed and then he's running around with a smile again. As adults, we aren't allowed to cry because it makes everyone uncomfortable, including ourselves. We are constantly judging our actions, emotions and ideas instead of acting like a baby and allowing them to come and go naturally.

Yesterday I told a friend that I was completely exhausted and unmotivated. I've never felt such a sense of nothingness. I don't want to do anything. I didn't even have the energy to judge myself or get depressed. What a bizarre and unknown land. He replied, "Welcome to the desert…whatever direction you head off into is just as scary and exciting and unknown as any other". I think I'll just sit still for once and see what arrives next.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


After 6 full days with no crashes, despite a dinner party, 2 out of town guests, catching a cold and starting my monthly cycle, I found myself cocooned again. After a large and fat filled dinner, I collapsed on the couch and settled into my state of paralysis. I couldn't really open my eyes or move and was responding to questions with grunts, in which I communicated with my parents to keep their dinner plans and turn off the light. 

It feels a bit like being buried in heavy marshmallows with an air hole to breath through. Tonight was so peaceful and it reminded me of how far I've come since the first time this happened, sometime in September or October. Initially, I was completely panic stricken. My worst nightmare come true…immobilized in my body with no distractions. Trapped with myself! I felt the terror of facing death like I'd never known existed. 

In hindsight, I realize it was only my egoic self that feared annihilation. The problem was that I was identified with my body in this specific time and place. The 32 year old woman who was used to being constantly active, boisterously social, and independent to a fault. Here I was, in the prime of my life, unable to move my small muscular body. How dreadful!

Over time the fearful panic turned to anger and frustration, then sadness and grief, and finally acceptance and humor. Tonight it took on a new flavor, that of peace. I wasn't afraid to be left alone, in my dark marshmallow prison, because I know that I am not my body. How freeing! I have a body, which goes through all manner of interesting situations, but it isn't who I am. My true essence is spiritual. I've known this intellectually since I was a small child, but now I feel it in my heart. I am part of the infinite, connected, energetic universe. 

This body called KiraZoe is just a "human suit" as a close friend recently said. It's like a Halloween costume that I get to wear for awhile. I didn't think I was Wonder Woman when I had that costume, although that would've been fun too!
So, tonight I laid peacefully, letting my body do what it was doing (or not doing) and I traveled to my internal desert landscape. Everything I need is inside me, is me. This is another concept I've known intellectually but not felt. I get moments of clarity now and then, realizing I don't need anything outside myself for contentment to flower. When I just accept what IS, each moment, life is so simple. I only suffer when the current moment is in opposition to what my ego wants. Like I have control! Ha! No wonder I spent years in suicidal depression, thinking I was in control. Constantly trying to force myself and my life to be a certain way.

We can change our beliefs and responses, but I don't think we have control over the universe. It's hysterical that our tiny minds think we do. It's a bit of a game to try catching myself at it now, swimming frantically upstream and still going where the current wants me to go. And then I realize and relax again, loosening my grip, lightening my spirits, and I always seem to be in the perfect place.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Turning the Corner

So much has happened the last month, I hardly know where to start. I've had some very interesting energy work done, including shamanic work, qigong and empathic resonance healing. (For full details on any of these, check my November post with a similar title). What I discovered was that my lower 3 chakras were mostly closed, creating a blocked flow of energy from my diaphragm to my root chakra. This helps explain the tight constriction in my breathing and my digestive issues. I also had pinched off my energy flow through my neck while attempting to ignore my feelings. I would experience them in my body and not allow them to rise into my consciousness. My whole life has been about deciding how I "should" feel and convincing myself that anything outside that ideal didn't really exist.

This phenomena was most apparent when I had an intense constriction in my throat one night. I felt like I was being strangled. I started to cry and allowed myself to actually acknowledge what I felt, even though it wasn't how I wanted to feel. Immediately my throat opened up. A new discovery! Not only was my throat constriction and loss of voice due to not speaking from a place of authenticity, but it was from the denial of my true emotions. I had chopped myself in half in more than one way. Like a pumpkin pie cut into 4 pieces, I had the female and male (Yin and Yang) and my emotions and mind. I had somehow thrown out half the pie in an attempt to make myself more perfect! What a waste my emotions and womanhood are when they rot in the trash.

On January 28th, I was having a qigong session and Claudia found that my Earth Soul had fractured off about a year after Luke's death (which was when I tried to start dating again). The Earth Soul rules the Spleen and Stomach, which means digestion, as well as the ability to nurture and connect with nature. No wonder I had no desire for children or animals and had quit working outdoor education at that exact time. Since then, my digestion has improved, all I want to do is wander around the wilderness and have been drawn to animals and small children. Coincidence?

Immediately after this healing session, I put myself on a 3 day silent retreat. My parents were in Florida (I bailed at the last second due to poorer than usual health) and I had 14 friends on emergency stand-by in case I "crashed". I felt better every day during the week and decided to end with silence, no computer and no cell phone activity. During this time I read every journal I've written since 1996 and looked at corresponding photos. My idea was that emotions I hadn't allowed myself to feel during those time periods would resurface so I could let them go for good.

Prepared for an emotional roller-coaster, I parked my ass on the well worn corduroy couch. My first journal was mostly poetry from my freshman year at Principia College and it was wild! Despite being totally sober, my poetry was alive and psychedelic, jumping off the pages in delight. I was so free and creative, vibrant and unique. Then I had my first real heart break…a little wall was built…like the ones we'd construct to have snowball fights. I laughed out loud more than once at my ex-boyfriend bashing poems.

As I waded through my past, I saw the same patterns wearing creek beds over the desert of my interior. I was so passionate, always seeking pleasure, intimacy, and union with others. Always running away from myself. With each break up, the wall got higher until I couldn't see over it, or even escape my fortress. I became jaded, bitter, angry and emotionally distant until I was unable to open up and truly love. After Luke died, I wanted to get married, but couldn't open myself to a partnership despite my attempts.

At the end of my retreat, I had accepted myself more and felt better than ever. I had energy, enthusiasm and creativity at my fingertips. The universe had gifted me 3 days of warm sunshine and long hikes. I was excited to see my parents and share my discoveries. 10 minutes after they got home, my energy drained like I was a sieve. What the fuck? Am I supposed to be a hermit in the woods for the rest of this life? Apparently I was unable to digest human energy as well as food. This was going to take some work. Good thing I have all the time in the world...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Highly Sensitive AND Sensation Seeking: Finally an Explanation

After decades of watching others find a semblance of balance in their lives and wondering why I couldn't, there is an answer. My life has always felt like I cling desperately to the bottom of a clock's pendulum arm, endlessly swinging past the equilibrium. I thought I was alone down here, imagining the rest of the world close to the clock's face… experiencing a much less turbulent ride.

I finished reading The Highly Sensitive Person and had many great realizations. Even reading it, there was still a feeling that I was an outsider within that group. It explained my sensitivity, but not my roller-coaster ride. If I'm all the way on the far end of the sensitive spectrum (meaning my nervous system picks up more than most people), why wasn't I very cautious?

In her second book, The Highly Sensitive Person In Love, I found an answer. She introduces another important inherited trait, High Sensation Seeking. These folks need more stimulation to reach the optimal amount of arousal. The two traits seem like opposites on first glance, but she makes it quite clear that one can be both an HSP and an HSS, which explains my lifelong tightrope walk to maintain balance. I answered true to all but one of the questions on both tests. This means my range of comfortable arousal (not in a sexual sense) is extremely small. As one HSP/HSS person put it, we feel like we have one foot on the break and one foot on the gas… all the time. We have a built-in, hard-wired internal struggle!

HSPs make up 15-20% of the population and within them 30% are extroverts, so about 6% of the human population. Within that group, an even smaller proportion is also HSS. No wonder I felt like an alien most of my life! Having both traits means I get overwhelmed and bored very easily. Since I developed the HSS aspect more, the HSP part of me got massive adrenal exhaustion, depression, anxiety, digestive issues and chronic fatigue from all my frenetic activity. I have to balance it with time for reflection, meditation, yoga, etc.

The HSS part of me manifests like this:
  • Desiring to experience new things
  • Wanting to travel to exotic places
  • Never wanting to backtrack if possible, so I see something new always
  • Being an adrenaline junkie from birth
  • Experimenting with drugs
  • Becoming easily bored
  • Thoroughly enjoying extreme sports
  • Being so restless that I move and change jobs frequently
  • Wanting to meet new people often
  • Have difficulty being in long term relationships
  • Being unpredictable or flaky
  • Avoid routines of any sort
My first memory is of launching myself off our garage roof towards a branch that was parallel to the ground, like a flying trapeze artist. I missed many, many times before finally sticking this bold move. One of those times I was in my pink bikini, pre-kindergarden, and grazed a pile of concrete blocks, ripping the ass cheek off my suit. But I knew it was possible, and I finally prevailed.

Looking back, I remember being in first grade and noticing that the men had the power. Since I had both the high sensitivity (seen as more feminine) and sensation seeking (seen as more masculine), I developed the latter and tried to hide the former. My entire life has been about trying to develop the daring, masculine side of myself. Luckily, my parents supported me and never pigeonholed me because of my gender.

In my house, there was a wonderful amount of equality (coming from a long line of feisty German feminist bitches), and I never heard the words "you can't do that because you're a girl"….until I was 9. I was playing with my cousins, who were all boys, and it was 100 degrees and 100% humidity on our farm in Indiana. Naturally we all had our shirts off. My parents pulled me aside and informed me that I needed to wear a shirt because I was a girl. I was outraged! I had already hit puberty, so it was probably a good idea, but I was pissed nonetheless.

It wasn't until my brother died 5 years ago that I saw the value and power of the feminine. I could no longer pretend to be a man with breasts that happened to be attracted to other men. Somehow, losing Luke cracked me wide open. I felt my suppressed emotions of 27 years breaking through the dam, like Lake Powell tumbling through the Grand Canyon. I gradually softened, embracing my true nature. I even made girlfriends! Lo and behold, there were other women similar to me… strong AND sensitive, bold AND feminine. Why didn't I see this before?

It's not surprising that I've been drawn to Chinese medicine, which has it's foundation in the Yin-Yang theory. Everything material has an opposite.  There is Yin within Yang, and Yang within Yin (shown as the dots, or fish eyes in the symbol). It's about finding that balance where the two are in harmony and one isn't dominating the other. They are both changing constantly, like everything in life, so it becomes a dance.

I was so Yang for most of my life, being active, aggressive, masculine, talkative, etc. But Yang cannot exist without the support of Yin, the dark, introspective, feminine, and calm. That's why my Yang collapsed and for 6 months my whole life has been Yin. My pendulum is swinging back towards the center, the equilibrium, because we cannot stop time. The clock will continue ticking away. I just need to climb higher instead of trying to hold the swing on one end. There is always an equal and opposite reaction. It is ridiculous to pretend to be something I'm not. The universe didn't make an infinite number of unique manifestations so we could try to all be the same.