For Christmas I gave myself adrenal fatigue. This feeling of minimal activity and maximum fatigue is not a new thing for me. I am well versed in how this goes. I am also well attuned to deep rest, hydration and good food to begin with, from a well oiled radar to the early signs. The “Holiday” in deep winter has me thinking that I am not as attuned to the seasons as I thought. My preparation for Christmas was not at all prepped appropriately. My inner vision was covered. I did not see the wood, literally, for the trees and here is why.
I got swept into the tangibility of it all. The Matrix was there with its all seeing eyes and I was lost to it. I got moved along with the to-do-lists, helped my elders with their food preparation, the lights and the tinsel. I colluded to buy and messy wrap the presents and all the time my energy levels waned and I knew it. I felt it, I recognised my bodily signs saying, slow down. I went out again and again when the fire side was calling with its soft golden glow and its warming invites. I left for one last trip with the Christmas cards.
All this was done out of love, but was it love for myself! And where do you draw the line with your loved ones at Christmas to say, I am done! I am menopausal, my instincts are saying I need to go inside and withdraw not do more. I am listening to my body and my answer is just one more thing! But the body knows the limits and has no cajoling from the mind, the body doesn’t say ok, let’s finish all this and high five. No, the body has a limit and when the limit is overstepped it shouts now, now is the time for rest and no more.
All this came home to me yesterday as we sorted, cut and piled the wood from the pruned trees in our garden. Here I was again, but this time the realisation was of my sacred rhythms with the trees and the land. As I over stretched once again I had this vision that my ancestors worked with the rhythms of the seasons. I thought I was doing so well with my menstrual practice cycling like the earth with my inner landscape then it occurred to me, what do we do when the cyclicity is gone.
Here I was without the clock, without the dial, the rhythms all gone. I was chopping wood in winter when this could have been done in preparation. My ancestors would have prepared for winter, just as I had prepared in the autumn of my cycle, my premenstrual phases, listing and smoothing things over so I rested in winter. My inner cyclicity had been musical even, never mind rhythmical…..and now as I arrive in this space of no cyclicity it began to look more like no-womans-land.
My world was not prepared for the winter. If I had looked, really looked at myself and my nature this would have been all in good timing. The cutting, pruning and gardening would have been put to bed weeks ago. If my body had been in a menstrual cycle I would have been prepared for this! But is it just me, or is the outer world out of sync? As I sit here typing, the window is open the hedges are green and it seems the earth herself is in a great flux of menopausal seasonal crisis of no-womans-land too!
When I close my eyes and think of my ancestry I see the high stocked wood stores, the jars of pickled fruits and veg, the importance of the harvest festival and the fire flickering and tended to day and night. Frosty mornings and sleet showers with streets of leaves piling up the brick walls. Houses with the lights on early and no more to do about the gardens but witness and welcome the returning of the light in weeks to come. Nothing kept for keeping sake and nothing needed but stillness and the flame.
My awareness is bringing up that familiar nervousness that all is not right with the world. I am aware of what has occurred on the inner landscape and I can accept that and find my path again. But what can be done about the outer landscapes, how do we assist the cycles of the season of this planet? Is this a greater task that we have as a collective? Is this a task for all women at menopause, as we sit in nature to nurture ourselves can we be in reciprocity at this time? Is it time to nourish both? If the earth is also out of cyclicity do we now look to the moon for our rhythms and reflect deep into our old ways, the wise and the well, the ancient and ancestral knowing once more?
Anxiety has lived with me for many years. I have read a mountain of books on the subject from psychology, self help to spirituality and akashic records. As well as a Master’s degree in CBT I started but didn’t finish.
The emotions of anxiety include emotional pain. The pain of being stuck in a holding of “I can’t”. ” I can’t tell them how I feel, I can’t express myself enough, I can’t put myself up for that speech and so I can’t do that job”. These were not feelings brought about by others they were limitations of myself. I felt held and stuck and in pain. The moment I felt a change was when I took a small step. “I can’t do the speech in front of so many people, but what if I took one small step towards speaking up. I can’t be heard in the team but what can I do to establish my boundaries”. Small steps to the land of becoming created a small success in belonging. In my own way I experimented with challenge (with some anxiety) and saw success of achieving movement out from within the pain.
The phrase you can’t eat an elephant in one go was my mantra. What smaller steps can I make? In the words of Sandra Ingerman, “taking small steps to climb a mountain will get you there just as surely as taking giant leaps. And the steps will also allow you to climb the mountain consciously as well as in your comfort range, keeping you in a state of balance and harmony” (Soul Retrieval 2011).
For me, the smaller steps were still challenging but manageable, they also required marking, like a reward to celebrate a new threshold reached. Celebrating myself for making the steps, however small where all part of the bigger journey. Marking these achievements was key as well as repetition. The advantage I see is that repeating the small steps creates a new perspective, a new development, a new wider comfort zone. And so the repetition becomes a habit and a routine from a new challenging moment some time ago. It gives me time to focus, refocus and repeat and do-over and so the competency develops into a competent confident skill. Small steps can be seen as wise steps where a repeating pattern creates comfort as well as individuality in the endeavour just like water wearing its way over rock to carve isn’t own way forwards. It may be a slow process but it becomes a less messy one. Nature shows us over and over that repetition creates growth. Think of that old oak tree every year discarding its leaves and reaching higher with new branches.
Rushing towards goals still has me sliding into the pain of anxiety. Knowing myself, within a relationship to myself, is also about knowing how I relate to my natural way of being in this life. It has also cultivated a compassionate approach to others and how anxiety feels when it is outside in the cold causing stagnancy and misunderstandings in all areas of life and relationships. Bringing anxiety into the inner circle of a compassionate relationship has become a way of reconnecting and understanding pain. Pain is not just a physical symptom, it is also emotional.
This morning I heard voices. I clung to the table in front of the window and eyed out into the daylight as I saw two people walking briskly by, I remember that, they walked side by side. I froze, they laughed, as they snaked the path into the greenness and were gone. It seems so long since I fixed my sights on other people. They were dressed for hiking with sturdy foot wear, like mine, I remember them stuck in the mud.
You know I wasn’t even sure at this moment that my voice actually still worked, I hadn’t spoke for so long. I hadn’t even talked out loud to myself, not a word, not a hum, a song, a phrase, nothing. I’m now aware that I need to be ready, I need to rehearse my vocal cords.
I have been following a set routine to last the day, finding comfort in the conformity. The cabin now seems familiar and I feel I have come to know every floor board, the ones that creak, where the drafts come in, where the sun rises, the sound of the birds, the stream running at the back of the cabin and the wind and the sound it makes brushing the leaves.
Something is not right within me. I see the world outside, people walking, talking and laughing, I stay quiet within, I hold my breath within, I keep myself within. There is fear within these walls and fear outside of these walls. I no longer have the presence of comfort. I feel I can not rest. So why do I stay hidden when I want so much to be found, to be rescued?
This week WordPress weekly photo challenge asked for us to look at things a bit differently. Whether it’s through an actual picture frame, a few stalks of grass, or even the spokes of a bicycle tire, find an alternative frame to the world around you and share what you see!
We frame what we see through our lens. And it tends to be a process, whether you use the golden ratio, the rule of thirds, or just aim for the right balance (WPC: Frame).