The rhythm of the moon cycle reminds us that all things come in due course – there’s a time to rest, reflect, listen, respond, be still, take action, a time to enjoy the fullness of our lives and see the consequences of our choices.
2016 started for me with the first New Moon of the year – and end and a beginning. I spent the weekend making art and journaling as vehicles to review the year just ending, become clear about where I am now, face my fear, and set flexible intentions for the year as well as for the time until the next New Moon comes around.
The new moon rests inside the glare of the sun – a reminder for us to slow down, take refuge and create space to sink deeply into our minds, hearts and bodies to reflect on how our choices and circumstances have affected our lives. We’ll find what we need to release, what we need to keep and what we need to gather and then, just as the moon reveals herself again one sliver at a time, we go into our next phase of living one moment at a time.
In the past year I’ve started my business, made plans to enter Coaching Training with Kate Courageous and her crew and got through a health scare that had the potential to turn it all on its head, but didn’t. Whew! New medication helped me regain some of my energy and vitality – which also made me hyper-aware of my sensitivities as a HSP. I’ve also entered a deeper and more loving relationship with my body and, to my surprise, began to not only accept my aging, but also to embrace the joys and perks of approaching 60.
Like all of our lives, there’s been loss & gain, and an emotional continuum between the poles of dark and light.
Now I find myself in a time of transition, of shedding more of the layers that sometimes obscure my connection with my Feral Nature – with the truest, freest, wildest, goodest (yep, I think I made that word up!), most grounded part of myself. The way I express myself in the world has been slowly changing and now feels like it’s on the verge of busting open. It’s time to gather handy tools, resources and ideas for the time ahead. It’s also time to review and reinforce the hard-earned wisdom I’ve gathered, especially what I’ve learned about fear through stumbling around, falling hard, through listening to the wisdom of others so I could find my own, and standing back up to honor my truth.
Fear is not a liar. It doesn’t try to trick us, manipulate us or lead us down questionable paths. It’s not something we need to get rid of, ignore or do battle with. Fear is one of our basic instincts, and intrinsic part of ourselves..
It’s a tool that provides information, alerts and sometimes saves our ass. Although fear isn’t a liar, it can be misinformed. Not because it’s broken, but because the information it receives from the outside culture is often toxic and skewed. It’s not fear’s job to try to sort it all out, decide what’s true or healthy, and hand us a pre-packaged choice. Fear has fast knee-jerk reactions, it’s the way it’s built to keep us from falling in holes or accidentally walking into bonfires.
Fear doesn’t have the powers of critical thinking or a sharp intuition (I see intuition and instinct as separate things, but that’s a whole other blog post.) Those jobs fall to other parts of our minds and bodies, parts that we have to make a conscious decision to use.
Even though I love swimming, I spent years of my adult life avoiding it because I felt so ashamed of my body I wouldn’t wear a bathing suit publicly. Fear alerted me to the information it had available: my body was not an acceptable size to wear anything as skimpy as a bathing suit, I was unworthy for having such a body, the risk was high that others would judge my appearance, and that I should punish my body with unrealistic plans to “get in shape.” I took all that information in without processing it, without testing the truth of it. I came to the conclusion that I needed to deny myself the pleasure of swimming until I proved my worthiness by losing weight and molding my body into an acceptable form – which, of course, never happened.
I pushed down my body’s craving to move and slide through water and I ignored the part of my mind that kept popping up to say there was something wrong with the scenario I kept living out. I didn’t understand yet that those were the wisest parts of me trying to get my attention.
Swimming in a pool right smack in the middle of our condo complex, with all the balconies and windows facing the pool!
I swim regularly now and I’ve probably gained a few pounds since those days of deprivation! I didn’t annihilate my fear or trick myself into ignoring it. I did it by taking a look at the information fear had, where it got it from, testing it out and making decisions based on what I found. I gave my fear a different story over and over again until, more often than not, it defaults to the truth. I learned to listen to my body, sometimes before beginning the work of critical thinking, because it so often points at the truth and gives me a starting place. Brene Brown’s book, I Thought it Was Just Me, provides an excellent framework for unraveling the toxic cultural stories that have embedded themselves in our psychological make-up.
In the process, I also began to notice the bits of truth even in fear’s most misguided narratives.
Fear told me others might silently, or perhaps not so silently, judge me for my appearance. Given the culture around women and body image, that probably would happen in some form or the other. Instead of interpreting it as a signal to stay out of bathing suits, I saw it as a signal to shore up my self-care, to understand that we are all worthy of pleasure and certainly entitled to take up space, however small or large. That’s how I weathered the storms that, as fear predicted, did come.
In his book What to Do When It’s Your Turn, Seth Godin advises us to acknowledge the fear that tells us that something we’ve planned and worked hard on might not work. He says this because that is the truth behind so many of the actions we want to take in the world. Swimming would work because I know how, but it might not have worked because of the chronic health issues I have to manage. My venture into Life Coaching might not work out, or may take another form I don’t know about yet. The point is to acknowledge the truth, prepare emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually for the possibility that we might not get what we want or be able to do what we want. While we’re at it, we can also prepare for the possibility that it will work and for how that might change our lives. And then go ahead and do it.
I believe it’s dangerous to turn our fear into an enemy to defeat or to disparage it with names like liar and coward, or to believe that fear is a broken part of us. No matter how we try to make it easier on ourselves by externalizing our fear as something separate from us, our bodies and our psyche know better. So each time we fall into that trap we reinforce our feelings of unworthiness and self-doubt because it’s a part of ourselves we demonize.
I’m excited about the transition I’m experiencing, and I also know that changes will trigger fear. I’ll remind myself to listen carefully to my fear, to treat it with respect and appreciation for the ways it has protected me, to re-educate it when it needs it and to acknowledge the valid information that offers me an opportunity to check in with myself about what I might need to do to get through the whirlwinds of success or failure. If things get tough I’ll reach out to those I trust for help. When the Full Moon comes around I’ll take the time to notice what’s come into reality for me through the combination of choice and circumstance.
What’s the New Moon revealed for you? I hope what I’ve learned can benefit you as you undergo your own challenges, transitions, successes, and failures. I welcome your stories, experiences and questions. You can leave a comment or send me a message here.