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Maginfying Glass by athena1970 on flickr

“I discovered that for many of us, the developmental tasks of the second half of life are primarily spiritual.”

Stephen Cope

 

According to author, yogi, and psychotherapist Stephen Cope midlife is a time to find our truer selves, the ones we are shrouding with perceived rich lives that when rattled, crack and required a rebuilding on a more solid internal foundation. 

 

According to Carl Jung (whom I have quoted before and Cope references in his book Yoga and The Quest for the True Self) I am now, as I have officially headed into my 30’s, considered to be in midlife.  Now some of that ideaology of midlife can be attributed to the era of Jung and less lengthy lives, but in point of fact I think it rings pretty true–at least relative to myself.

 

I have discussed on this blog some of the moves of my life–uprooting for the wrong and then the right reasons.  I have talked about my history of trauma, told my own story, and talked about the painful journey to get past that and start a life that was whole and real for myself.  I have talked some about the journey that brought me to a trauma therapist from the plight as a survivor and about how I feel professionally and personally imbued with a passion for trauma healing and the avenues of complementary therapies.  I have talked about what got me here, but where is here?

 

It seems to me that Jung and Cope have it right. 

 

I feel like my current path is a very deep and winding ravine.  One that I could not have traversed had I not gone through and overcome many of the obstacles that got me to this point.  I feel at a place professionally where I am established enough to vocalize myself with a dollop passion matched with a dab of authority on what I speak.  I feel like the storms of my life have quieted enough to allow me to take a deeper journey inward and find a depth of self and of life that I did not have the luxury to do before. 

 

I think wherever people are or whatever their life circumstances, the reason Cope and Jung talk about the 30s and 40s as that place of searching for a new meaning is due to those quelled oceans and those calming of life circumstances–perhaps as a result of facing the very worst demons in our lives or in our minds that we could imagine to get to a place where something deeper and more internal has some value. 

 

Lately I find myself pondering more than ever the inner workings of myself.  I said to my husband the other day (on his visit this past weekend for my birthday) how something feels like it aligned for me in this move.  It was not intentional and it did not result from trying to flee something, but it happened spontaneously and with unexpected mysteriousness. 

 

I felt freed from something invisible that I had not known was constraining me–whether it was just the simple stagnation that comes with familiarity of place, state, and life or it was something  bigger than that I cannot be sure. 

 

All I know is that something shifted in my move and for the better. 

 

And maybe it was also a confluence of circumstances leaving me with an abnormal amount of free time to ponder–with only the clicking of doggie toe nails on wood floors to distract me from my thoughts as I sit day after day in a new house, new town, and new life in a solitary kind of routine. 

 

I feel exploratory of my inner self in a playful and simultaneously intense way that leads me to want to explore further. 

 

All of this also leads excellently into beginning a yoga teacher training program.  Initially, I was pretty melancholy over the idea of having to wait two months to really get into the meat of this meatless excursion into self but as I have had time to digest (am I hungry?) the idea I realize that, that too has been a sort of blessing in disguise. 

 

i could be there when you land by harold lloyd on flickr 

 

I am a person with a huge inability to enjoy delayed gratification or wait for anything–I am a “Do it now!” kind of personality, for better or worse.  But in this forced state of expectation I have been able to pause, breathe, and even prepare for this next huge step of full immersion into a monastic training of ancient proportions. 

 

And in truth I think it is an undertaking that deserves this certain pause for a bit of reverence and a lot more preparation than I have been able to give it so far.  Not to mention a lot more required reading that I have been able to muster up to completing thus far.

 

I am doing fairly well on my plan to remove television or distraction (visual or auditory) from my sleep regimen, as well as being able to ease out of meaty delights (really I use meat, mostly, as a mandatory additive to a sandwich, more perfunctory than satiating so I hope this will go smoothly).  But fish and eggs might be harder as I am going to have to learn to live without so many of the staple additives to a meal that just come easily. 

 

The  next is overall distraction and noise.  I need to get out of the habit, that so many of us have, of coming home and switching on the television and just plopping.  I am, as my husband says (usually in reference to mail and clothes) “a plopper”.   I just come home and plop things, including my own body, down wherever they fall and then find it hard to recoup and reorganize, let alone motivate, once I have gone into full plop mode. 

 

I need to work on more intentional living as that seems a core root of a more spiritual and deeper existence.  Putting on a television is usually just a way to distract ourselves from inner self and thoughts and it is an easy solution to a few hours after work and before bed–but essentially unfulfilling.  So I am going to try to, gulp, spend less time plopping and more time focusing on something, anything.  Reading more and playing with my puppies and writing, writing, writing. 

 

I know we all do this.  We live easily more than we do intentionally.  We perceive ourselves superficially rather than below a surface level.  And often it takes a catalyst of some kind to shake us out of our daze and into something much more profound.  A move down some 1200 miles and a home echoing with silence (or NCIS–I know bad habits with the TV!) for me was a great catalyst to an internal state of wonder and self exploration that led to, among so many other adventures of self, writing this blog. 

 

I am excited to see what the next few months will bring and honored to be able to share that journey as it unfolds with whoever ever is willing to log on, click in, and listen. 

 

And, by the way, I find it to be no small coincidence that the man who wrote the quote below was also the same man who explored yoga and psychology and the potential healing effects of this particular moving art. 

 

“Among my patients in the second half of life–that is to say, over thirty-five–there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a spiritual outlook on life…and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his spiritual outlook.”

Carl Jung in Stephen Cope’s Yoga and the Quest for the True Self

 

 the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being by harold lloyd on flickr

new puppy and pool 034New Puppy Sunday

 

Ok. So technically my birthday is not for another week and 3 days—yes, I am counting down with precision. And I am conflicted about how to feel about this particular milestone of a birthday. I am, now, going to unabashedly do what women everywhere (according to who?) are never mean to do—talk about my actual age.

 

Not my “health age” like they estimate in one of those quizzes you can take where, invariably, I end up being something like 102 years old with my chronic conditions, asthmatic tendencies, cholesterol issues since 7, sprain-able ankles, and so on. No, I would like to talk for a moment about my real, numbers on a page, rings on a tree, years on this earth, age. In ten days I will be thirty years old.

 

It is one of those random milestones that sort of sits in between childhood and midlife. I am not supposed to have a “Where did my life go?” crisis. I am not supposed to be curious about what I am going to be when I grow up. I am in some sort of age limbo, but at a number that is supposed to have some significance to it, some meat on its bones: a sense of purpose and simultaneous self-reflection.

 

Although some (again who are these people?!) would say I should be thinking about having children with earnestness and eagerness and hopes it’s not too late, I am perfectly content, for the moment, with my semi-defunct womb with tubal scar tissue. I mean I would prefer it didn’t cause me so much daily pain but I am not feeling a need to fill it with baby bits just yet. I think I have to get out of the stage, first, of calling newborns “it” instead of the appropriate he/she identifier. Even in babies I am in a bit of a limbo—which I guess, in some ways, suits this thirty year in-between birthday.

 

I am not, for perhaps the first time in my life, feeling an identity crisis or vacancy in my heart in that way that I would when birthdays came around. Thinking of a faceless birthmother, an anonymous birthfather, and wondering about (in a very weighty existential kind of way) how I got where I got in life—feeling a sense of duty to earn the life I had while also feeling a sense of bitterness from not knowing from whence I came. I am not certain what to attribute this shackle-free birthday sensation as it is entirely new to me. Maybe it has to do with starting my own family with my husband. Maybe it has to do with feeling chock full of identity and purpose these days. Maybe it is just the completely exhausting chaos and mayhem that has been life lately: full of moves, dogs, living alone in a new house with a new job. It is probably all of these things and maybe sprinkles of other stuff I have yet to explore. Maybe it is even pervasive, unending, medicating sunshine therapy.

 

TGIF=Thank god it’s Florida.

 

So amid the crisis of a birthday that is sort of crisis-less (besides the ominous certitude of being in a new decade of ages) I decided I needed to give myself a sort of corvette-of-the-thirties kind of gift. Apparently, for me, the equivalent birthday present to a sports car for the thirties is …a baby Jack Russell Terrier. My husband has officially dubbed me “The Crazy Dog Lady.” And maybe I am, but I’m an adult and I will own that title and wear that puppy biscuit ringed crown with pride. So here I am, perhaps insane, definitely deluded, 10 days from thirty and far from serenity with a three dog household and my version of a baby on board.

 

Her name is Grace which was not meant to be ironic but it is rapidly proving to be just that since we brought her home yesterday afternoon.

 

Dropping my husband off at the airport at 5:30am this morning and returning home to try to get a quick moment of rest (as it was a bumpy, three-dog- in-a-king-sized-bed, kind of night) and laying in bed with a baby Jack Russell on my chest, a Beagle/Pug on my abdomen, and a Pitbull/Lab over my shins I realized, a little bit, just how insane I might be—if not clinically then definitely in the area of canines.

 

Crazy dog lady—that’s me. Nearly thirty and dogful and proud of it. It feels pretty good. Let’s see what I say by next Thursday especially if I am still abundantly dog-full and husband-less. But I can say that thus far thirty is going to definitely be “The year of the dog” in my life if not technically so on the Chinese calendar.

 

new puppy and pool 013

 

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.

Ben Williams 

June 2020
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