Archive | Open-hearted

With each footfall…awaken

Yesterday’s post about sweat (and exercise) reminded me of this poem I wrote a few years ago about running. One of the most sensual experiences I have ever had was running in a warm, soft rain. I can still recall the exact feeling of the rain on my skin and the way my body moved through it. I felt like sex itself, honestly. What a gift and a pleasure it is to move the body.

::: ::: ::: :::

Ode to an Autumnal Morning Run

I am not fleet of foot,
Like Artemis or Athena.

I run like a beast;
My compact body hits hard.
I am Atalanta’s adept;
Solid and capable
Learning to fight my own battles.

I used to run in quarters,
Afraid of what I could not do.
Quarter minutes.
Quarter miles.
Quarter runs.

But my goddess body knew better.
Now I run in thirds.
In halves.

On my path, the bittersweet covers the trees
As fear used to cover me.
Pulling at my life, and letting me hide.

Like Persephone I rise from my grave of fear
Wipe the dirt from my eyes
Spit it from my mouth.
I learned in the dark-
I learned of my dark.

I am no longer scared-
The dark is sacred, too.

I see my serpentine self everywhere as I run
the sinuous vines and branches.
I feel her, too
Sensually winding
Undulating
As feet, ankles, knees, and hips roll forward
Aware of the shift of each movement
Both ecstasy and pain

My heart throws itself against my rib cage
Not just from the work of running
But also for the aspen leaves
So dense with yellow
I want to eat them
So rich red and fiery orange
I would paste them to my skin
And make more beauty of my sweating messiness.

I breathe
I breathe
I breathe
This I was also afraid of

I have breathed so many of the wrong things
Into myself

But running has made me strong.
Strong enough to breathe without fear.
Strong enough to endure.
Strong enough to finish.

And to start again
With each footfall
Awaken
Awaken
Awaken

::: ::: ::: :::

I still run, but only in the Summer and early Fall on our local bike path. In the winter I’m a cyclist, which isn’t quite the same, sensually. Either way, I’m glad to be living in a body that loves to move and can do so with ease.

 

 

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Sweat.

It’s been cold and snowy for the past couple of days here in Southern New England and I can’t help but to think about warm things. I don’t usually like to do that- it makes the cold that much worse by comparison- but even thinking about a nice, warm 40 degree day sounds awesome.

Thinking about proper warm, sunny days, like we get in the Summer, made me start thinking about sweating. I have, for a couple of years now, been fascinated by my own sweaty body. I like sweaty bodies in general- it means effort, exertion, making attempts at goals, heat, maybe sex, and some bodies smell fantastic when sweaty (I’m not one of them). Sweat also means warmth and movement and flexibility- equally sexy and fantastic as the other things.

So, I remain fascinated with sweat in general, and my sweat in particular. How it feels to have a workout where I am dripping with it (it feels rather badass- pushing my limits). How it feels to have the sweat cool on my skin. How it looks and feels sitting atop my skin- sometimes I notice every little bit, sometimes I am oblivious. The gorgeous feeling of being so entranced in my workout, or so dedicated to finishing what I’m doing, and the drops of sweat fall from my chin, nose, and and chest. Those drops are hard-earned and they feel like gold when I am warm and working my ass off.

I offer you a study in sweat.

::: ::: ::: :::

 

| The cure for anything is salt water: tears, sweat, or the sea. |

 

| Luck is the dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get. |

 

| There’s nothing better than working up a good sweat. |

 

| There’s something incredibly sexy about sand and sweat and dunes
photographed like women’s backs.  – Kristin Scott Thomas |

 

| Sweat! Sweat! Sweat! Work and sweat, cry and sweat, pray and sweat!  – Zora Neale Hurston|

 

|By being an athlete, I have discovered so many other ways to express my beauty. Being a strong, fearless woman makes me feel beautiful. I love the way I look and feel when I am two hours into my training and my skin is glistening with sweat and my clothes are drenched because
I have given it all I’ve got.  – Laila Ali|

 

| the best sweat is a from a hot bath, though. |

 

G’night fellow travelers. May your sweat bring you joy.
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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2018 :: insights. integrations. experiments.

[I started this post at 10 am on 01-01-18. It’s taken me all day to finish. Which says something about how the day has gone. Thanks for being patient with a very late post.]

Hello, fellow travelers. How are you on this first day of 2018? Is it a big celebration day for you? Or is it just another day, except now you have to write 2-0-1-8 instead of 2-0-1-7?

The first day of the year is kind of big deal for me. I was talking with my husband about it- he wondered why January 1st was more interesting to me than December 22nd – the day after Solstice and the beginning of the awakening of the season of light. I had to think about my answer.

Numbers are a beautiful language to me and so the change from 2017 to 2018 is significant in a way I feel inside myself- just a little shift in energy, a shift in the language, that makes me feel a tiny bit different. Some people don’t register this at all- but it shifts something inside me.

Truth be told, the point in the ‘new year’ where I feel alive and dedicated to something actually starts on the Spring Equinox- that’s when Life is starting to push its way up into visibility. So, what I’m doing now, in the dark of Winter, is more like planting seeds, knowing they will come up at some point. Even though the days are getting lighter by degrees, it’s still dark, still winter, and I think it’s good to stay low, quiet, and comfy. There will be time for rising and working and shining soon enough. But, yes, the change of the calendar does put me in a mood to take the small actions that will bear fruit later on.

 

 

Which is to say, I do set intentions for the new year. But I also know that changing my life requires actual fucking work and action, so I better be prepared to put my time, effort, and attitude behind what I want to accomplish.

Before we head into what I’m hoping to accomplish this year, I want to talk about some things I’ve learned about myself this year.

:: insights ::

In 2016 I learned that sometimes I have to let go of people because caring for them is hurting me. I have a huge heart, I love to love people- to let them know they are special, loved, and important to this world; I love to help people heal and feel strong and sure again. But there have been a few times when I’ve let that go too far and ended up hurting myself instead- giving too much. In 2016, I learned to let go of things and people and experiences that hurt that way.

In 2017, I learned that letting go is sometimes more complicated than that. Sometimes letting go means I am keeping someone else from hurting- that my attention and care might actually hurt another person. It’s weird to say such a thing, I know, but that makes it no less true. I learned to get better at cutting off one-sided relationships (but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt any less) and also to keep people safe from me by burning bridges or pushing them away. And that letting go is a multi-faceted decision sometimes.

[And also- I just suck at letting people go. I want to love people, so much. And if I can’t, letting them go is like the worst roller coaster ride ever. It takes time and it’s up and down and I just suck at it. I don’t know that I want to get better at it- I don’t want my heart to harden. But also…gah…it hurts to fight yourself for what you want but know you can’t have.]

This year I learned how and when to take risks. I don’t like taking risks, they scare me to death, but I will do it if there is some assurance of a good outcome. But this Fall I learned to risk even if I have no idea of the outcome. I learned to risk just because I desired something. And it’s thrilling, but it also pushed huge amounts of cortisol into my system and wrecked my adrenals. Still, it was worth it for what I learned and what I got out of it.

I learned that I can speak to a group of 200 people if I feel comfortable with the topic and have a decent outline for the content, but that if you get me into a 1:1 conversation that I care about a lot, I turn into a spaghetti ball of anxiety. And not a nice one that sits on a plate and just spreads, but rather a spaghetti ball that is dropping through air and quickly falling apart – at least that’s what it felt like on the inside. I’ve never experienced that before. But then, I’ve never taken that high of a risk before. Scary as fuck. Did it anyway. Learned a lot.

I was reminded, once again, that the heart is a house with many rooms. And you never know who or what will take up residence within our heart, or exactly how they will occupy the space. I also learned that I can lie to myself about what I feel for or want from people. And this is something I have to be very careful of from now on. Desire is sometimes full of surprises.

2017 also taught me that I can be tough as nails when needed, and also so overwhelmed that I fall apart. I’m not good at falling apart- I’m the strong one- but it happened this summer and I learned a lot from the experience. I know that I would like to prevent falling apart in the future, but even if I can’t, I can do it with a tiny bit more grace in the future. I hope.

I learned a really unexpected thing about myself in the last two months- that I don’t mind being sexually objectified as long as I’m sexually objectifying the other person, too. If someone is creepy, projecting their shit on me, or I don’t find them attractive, then I will create a boundary with the quickness. And- I would much rather be found sexually attractive and be interesting as a whole person (waaaaay preferable), but…I’m okay with mutual sexual objectification. I thought I was better than that, but I’m not.

I think it’s important to point out that I am a BIG believer in the idea that we never really ‘lose’ in Life. We either win or we learn. Yes, several times this year I wanted something big and didn’t get it. But what I do get is the opportunity to learn from my intentions and mistakes and try to get better (for if there is a next time) or be better then it’s still a ‘win’ to me. Which brings me to the next section: intentions.

 

i did some kitchen magic, too.

 

:: intentions and integrations ::

Based somewhat on the previous insights, but also on what I’ve learned from just watching my actions this year, I have intentions and things I want to grow and integrate into my life.

My intentions this year are thus:

consistent meditation and spiritual nourishment practice.

Spiritual nourishment is different for everyone. For me it means meditating for 15 minutes 5 days a week (no less than 4, for sure). Meditation keeps my head right, gives me stress resiliency, and makes me less of a bitch. I lost the habit over the summer and it’s really obvious that it’s time for me to get back to it. I have a longer spiritual nourishment practice that involves dancing + music + intuition + prayer and I also need to get back to that. Music really is my soul and my direction and without it I am not as whole as I could be.

 

less social media; more reading.

I barely read any books last year and that’s a damn shame. Granted, it was a kind of difficult and crappy year in many respects, but I don’t have that excuse any longer. Time to get my brain into a healthier place.

 

get to bed on time. 

I’m doing this one not only because I know it will calm down my cortisol, but also because there are a lot of guilt-inducing voices in my head that complain – at several levels – when I don’t get to bed on time. I can avoid the shitty voices if I just get to sleep. Also: fucking sleep! It’s a gift! I need it.

 

do more of the work I’m good at. 

I am really good at helping people, healing broken things and people, finding lost things and souls- I simply need to do more of it. Not sure what this will look like, but I’m ready to grow into it.

 

:: experiments ::

Intentions and resolutions aren’t for everyone, so I really like the idea from Amy McCracken on Facebook about experiments.

“What if instead of giant resolutions you conducted 12 mini experiments to find out if what you tell yourself is true when you think *if I just _______, my life would be different.

I asked a question on Facebook a couple of weeks ago because I wanted to know if I was the only person in the world who did this.

‘Legit question. I want to know if you do this to yourself. It’s for an experiment. Trust me. Do you have a list of things (or one thing) you tell yourself if you did that thing your life would be different? For instance, ‘If I did yoga every day, I swear my life would be different.’ If I ate fruits and vegetables, I am convinced my life would be different… Anything at all. What is it you tell yourself when you fill in these blanks: If I _____ every day, I think my life would be different.”

If I…
meditated
journaled
exercised
flossed
did yoga
studied
cleaned
played
got more sleep
practiced gratitude
made art
…I think my life would be different/better.

LET’S CALL OUR BLUFF. Let’s make our list of things we think will change our lives. And let’s put them to the test in month-long experiments. do one thing for a month. Everyday.

If it changes your life, holy shit, you’ve changed your life.

If it doesn’t, let that shit go. Once and for all. Never tell yourself that THAT one thing you are NOT doing would make you better. Done. Cross it off the list.

You don’t have to do an experiment every month. I actually hope that there are not 12 things on your list (there are on mine). You don’t have to do anything at all, ever, especially not because I’m proposing it. And you certainly don’t have to spill the beans about what you are committing to for 30 days.”

I love this. A way to let ourself off the hook from grand gestures and really find out what our life is about. What will really change us? What are we really committed to? Growth-junkie me digs this.

In many ways my intentions are these kinds of experiments. But I know I also want to try some new things in 2018. I want to:

  • take a boxing class. mostly I want to wrap my hands with that cool tape and hit things.
  • take a dancing class. burlesque. belly dancing. some kind of modern exercise dance thing. i don’t care, I just wanna move my body in new ways.
  • try rowing. this past summer I stayed in a house where rowers came by in the morning and evening and it looked both exciting and peaceful. i wanna find out for myself.

::: ::: ::: :::

One of the things I know about Life now is that we can make intentions and resolutions and goals- and even reach them- but Life always also has its own agenda for us. We will have lessons thrown at us that we didn’t expect in any given year- and how we deal with them can teach us a lot. I hope that your 2018 is filled with all the good things you hope for. And when it also hands you the difficult tasks, I hope you find courage and patience and self-forgiveness to deal with them.

All my love, fellow travelers,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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knowing me.

I’ve been thinking some about how we get to know people. How do we pick people we want to be our friends, lovers, companions, teachers, mentors, counselors? Do we even know we’re picking them? And about 1,000 other similar questions.

As an INFJ I’m an introvert, so it’s hard to reach out to people and even try to make connections. I do try when I think it will be worth the effort, i.e. someone matches my super high standards. But my standards are high because I’ve been disappointed so often. And as an introvert, I get tired of trying.

I’m also pretty intense. My nickname at home is ‘small but powerful’ and it’s because I’m intense both in mind and body. Some people dig that, some people can handle that. And some people can’t. Weirdly, the people who cannot handle my intensity still seem to stick around and watch me. (There’s a dude who has been near me for five years who still cannot decide whether to leave me alone or connect in some way. I call him ‘WatchGuy’ as he likes expensive fake watches (‘replicas’). He sneaks around my social media, he sits on some posts so long I get ‘replica’ spam comments. And even though he knows I don’t deal in fakery at all, he still hangs around. I can only assume because he finds me fascinating. But he doesn’t have the guts to reach out. I’ve gotten over finding it annoying, now I just find it weird. Like, make a fucking decision, you know? Get on with your life.)

In the end, though, I’m one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Because I care. Often, too much. I have a big heart and it forgives a lot of things (I’m not sure it forgets, but it forgives far longer than it should). I want people to feel loved. I want them to be happy and healthy. I want there to always be a safe place for them to tell the truth and live their truth. I want to see people so they feel good- because we all deserve to be seen, to be loved, to feel good. I know these things, and try to provide them, because I feel the same, I want the same.

Encouragement, support, and love are the things I give most easily- my heart is just built that way. And I will love and encourage you in whatever you dream of being, whoever you truly are, for as long as I can. I see the truth of people and I will always show that to you until you see it for yourself.

I belong to a group called “INFJ Refuge” on Facebook and I they always have the best pictures and explanations of what INFJs really are. Here’s what you need to know about me.

 


This is seriously what it’s like in my head all day. INFJs are more strategic and functional in our heads than in real life. And it makes life interesting to say the least.

 


I wish there were 15 more words for ‘love’ than there are in the English language. ‘Love’ often simply refers to romantic of familial love- and that just isn’t enough breadth and depth for me. I love a lot of things and I love in many ways.

 


This is where INFJs can be cruel- basically, evolve or die. I can care for people and support and love them for a very long time, but if they don’t change, I will eventually leave. I did this recently and hurt someone I care about a lot (we’re working on it, though). Change doesn’t have to be big- simply show me you’ve learned something or seen something in a different way. But if you don’t grow, I’m not sticking around in the mud with you.

 


A. Rehman wrote this to go along with this picture/poem: “Today, from the time I woke up, I had her on my mind. She seeped into all the corners of my mind, unlike all the other days. I wanted her back, so bad, I felt like dying. After a hectic day…I came home and woke up my phone to see the date. It was her birthday. I sat still on the sofa for fifteen minutes and ran through all the memories we had made- they hit me like a cyclone. I thought to myself, ‘the reason she was in my mind the whole day was because it was her birthday. The third one after our breakup.’ They say when you are thinking about someone, chances are, they are thinking about you. I believe she was.” <– This is what it’s like inside the head of an INFJ. We care. We feel you. Even from a distance.

 


Just, yeah. I need someone to care for me. Partner or friend, please just be kind and support me.

 


“My daily consciousness is fenced in by reality, logic, perseverance, truth, and optimism. It’s all in how you see it. I don’t just wish for the best outcome and let the cards fall. I believe that if I hope for the best and make choices that align with the optimal end goal, then something good will come of that. Truth be told, it may not be what you were expecting, but no effort goes wasted.” Exactly. I believe there is potential for good in almost every situation.

 

 


This is why I take 20 minute showers. The first 10 minutes are therapy. Also, no one hears you crying when you’re in the shower.

 


“Our hearts are too soft, and our brain overthinks. And this is why we must listen to our gut ’cause that biyatch don’t lie.” I’ve had to learn to trust my intuition over everything else.

 


I don’t do it to be creepy, I do it because I’ve learned to (INFJs often come from tough/dysfunctional households- we’ve had to learn to please others so we’d be left alone to be safe). I do my best to use this tool to make others feel accepted, happy, and loved so that I know I’m not turning into the asshole who taught me how to be this way.

 

 

 

If I write to you it means I care. The more I write, the more I care. The more I write, the more I hope you will understand me and listen to what I say- because listening to me is the greatest gift you can give me.

 


Overthinking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But I do think a lot, and I do practice what I’m going to say – because I want to be understood. I desperately want to be understood.

Lastly, INFJs have the best worst sense of humor. Dark. Twisted. Nerdy. Dirty. Bring me your best awful and inappropriate jokes; I’ll laugh my loudest.

::: ::: ::: :::

Okay, wow. That was a lot to say. But it’s pieces of who I am and how I see the world and how I interact with it. If it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. Please leave and be on your way and love other people who suit you better. But if you like being cared for, seen and understood, and you can give a little of that back- stick around. I’m worth it.

 

 

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if you’re sad, reach out

Happy Friday, fellow travelers! I hope your week is going well.

Mine has been so/so. I had a lovely evening tea with a beloved girlfriend last night and I have another girlfriend trip and tea planned for next week. But I also lost out on my last chance for something (which I may write about later) and that has left me sad.

And this morning I am also feeling someone else’s sad. Sounds weird, I know. But as an empath, I often sense the emotions of others, sometimes actually feeling them in my body. This has also been true with people I have connected with (at various levels) who are far away- even when they’re gone, I can sometimes feel them. (It’s like those stories where a mother knows her child got hurt, even though they’re 2000 miles apart. Pretty much exactly like that.)

 

Photo by Jonathan Crews on Unsplash

 

I have learned, over time and with practice, where the feelings of others live inside my body and where my own emotions find their way through my body. Other people’s sadness tends to settle in my face and make me feel like crying. Sometimes it goes down to the outer edges of my heart, but no further. My own sadness resides in my chest and I tend to feel it like a black hole in space- intense, compact, but deep.

And today I feel someone else’s sad. And it is a particular kind of sad- the sad that they miss me, or that they missed out on hanging with me, or that they wish to be near me again. I have my suspicions about who it is, but it brings me back to this eternal truth: you can always reach out again to me, no matter what. My heart is big, it forgives much. If you’re missing me or wanting to connect, there are myriad ways. And this isn’t just true for me, it’s true for anyone you’re thinking of as I write this. If you miss them, let them know. Most people want to be connected to people who want to connect with them. <– and that’s true for me, too.

Whoever you are, I hope you’re well. And I probably miss you, too. Reach out. I promise a great cup of coffee, fantastic conversation, and a truly supportive connection (which is all I ever wanted anyway).

 

 

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