As with every Yoga Challenge, this has been a time for me to reflect on who I am and what I want in this amazing journey called life.
I’m not going to lie. The last year has been, for lack of a better word, incredibly challenging. I went through a divorce, which was fairly amicable as divorces go, but it was still difficult. I completed the last two semesters of an accelerated master’s program and passed my board exams to become an RN. I got a major teaching hospital to fund my MSN/CNL project, only to be thwarted at the last minute by an egomaniac surgeon who convinced everyone that one IRB approval wasn’t enough and I needed a second, which was impossible in the timeframe I had to complete the project. I have spent the last six months searching for work as an RN. At the time of this writing, I have applied for 50 positions and have been officially rejected for about 30; the 17 others didn’t even bother to send out rejections. (There are still 3 for which I still hold out hope.)
And I have had my heart broken. More than once.
Through it all, I have been determined to stay strong. Tough it out. Find the blessing in each and every challenge. Don’t let anyone see me cry, especially my kids or the men who have broken my heart.
For the most part, I’ve been fairly successful. My best girlfriend, who has watched and been there for me, jokes that I have enough strength to hold up the Empire State Building. I realized this week, though, as I was smoking my way through Warrior II, that my quest for “strength” comes at a cost.
I sacrifice my softness and my gentleness. I sacrifice my femininity and my nurturing, two qualities which make me a really good mom and a caring nurse. I lose some of my warmth and affection.
What I also realized this week was that my yoga practice often centers around strengthening poses. I will often skip savasana, or make it a quickie. I think that’s why last week’s breathing poses were such a nice surprise.
This week brought more rejections and challenges on both the professional and personal front, so on Thursday I decided to head to the coast to do a little work on my laptop as well as some manifesting.
When I got to the beach, there were just a few people there. I got my chair and my backpack, sat down and ate my lunch. It was so beautiful outside.
As you can see, the beach was practically deserted. Walking along the shore, there was a man who kept looking at me, sheepishly, gently, almost to see if I was real. I kept wondering if he, too, had been there to manifest, and if I was a sign of some sort that he had requested. (Note to the dear stranger: thank you for looking at me like that.) Then he got into his car and left.
As I sat and watched and listened to the ocean, I knew there was no way I was going to get any “work” — as in job applications — done. So I got up, put my shoes, my phone, and all my stuff back into the car, and went back down to the ocean. It was low tide — my favorite way to walk on the shore — and the paper-thin ripples of water were warm under my feet in the sunshine.
I walked, totally alone on the beach. I searched for sand dollars for Luke (and found two without cracks or holes). I wrote myself a love note in the sand, just close enough to the water to be washed away with the high tide, because everyone needs to hear those words every once in a while. And I listened.
I don’t know what you hear, but the message for me was that it is ok to soften. It’s ok to be sad when I’m disappointed and afraid when I’m vulnerable. More importantly, I heard that softening would not make me lose my strength. On the contrary, it would give me room to breathe and grow in ways I’m not able to when I’m stuck in my Strong box. Softening will not stifle my joy, no, it will bring it out because I am able to look behind me at the darkness through which I have just emerged and understand how much light is in front of me — really, how much light I bring to myself in the here and now.
As with everything in life, it’s really about the balance, the Yin and the Yang supporting each other. For the last year, my fiery, determined Yang has shown me how strong I am. Now I can fully appreciate the perceived fragility of my Yin and the beautiful dance she does with Yang, making me who I am – the whole me… strong, soft, fiery, feminine, vulnerable, and joyful.