January 2011. What ?

January 26, 2011

So I guess I need to acknowledge the passage of time: it’s a new year. Weird. Somehow, I’m still stuck back in a never-ending 2010. Yet this first month of this new decade has flown. Literally. I can’t believe it’s nearly over.

How has your new year been going so far?

I’ve been torn between taking stock on my 2010 (How did I fare? Did I accomplish what I wanted to accomplish?) and wanting to sprint forward in leaps and bounds into the new year. I’ve been super hard on myself these days, feeling like I didn’t reach my goals for 2010 and am disappointed with myself*. It seems like over New Years there’s so much cultural and global brouhaha about making this year the best year ever in existence, and starting fresh, and hitting up the to-do list and life-goal list. In short, a lot of EXTROVERTED energy is required, when in fact, this is a very introverted, and self-reflective time of the year. It is winter after-all and most of us in the northern hemisphere are acclimated towards hibernation.

No matter.  I felt a tremendous amount of pressure, responsibility, and sense of failure* in coming up short in 2010.In order to compensate for this feeling of inadequacy, I have been working my butt off, to the point of exhaustion, like a hamster on a treadmill, to achieve last years goals. Sigh. This has not been working well for me, as I feel stretched thin, dried out, and exhausted. I’ve been trying to keep up with extroverted expectations required of me at work, with clients, co-workers, people out and about, when mostly, I have felt pretty introverted and am focused on the introverted, inner-worldly process of writing (trying to complete my manuscript Love You Like the Sky). Do you ever feel that introversion vs. extraversion tension?

So that’s kind of where I’ve been this past month. I apologize for not writing more. I wish I had words of support or encouragement to offer right now to all of you healing broken hearts. I’m so scraped thin, I’m not sure what to say other than my thoughts are with you. I am working on creating more balance and presence in my life. Working on patience (what is that again?) and deepening my faith that everything is unfolding in its own perfect timing; me pushing and pushing is not going to necessarily make a significant change. Everything is as it is, and blooming according to a higher, divine plan.

I wish you all much patience, healing, inspiration, and trust in this new year full of infinite possibilities.

* Incidentally, in my research on suicide over the years, I’ve found studies that report that people who have high expectations for themselves and have a low threshold for failure are more likely to be suicidal then others. The study cited examples of students who were high achievers, typically getting A grades, who when received an A- or B grade felt an extreme sense of disappointment and failure which motivated them to take their lives. High achievers + high expectations + “relatively” small failures = bad, oftentimes fatal combination (for some people). This is something I am aware of in myself. {However, I must state that I am not suicidal}. I hope you will become aware of this tendency in yourself and how it plays out in your own life…. Let’s work on self-compassion and giving ourselves a break, shall we?


10 Responses to “January 2011. What ?”

  1. John said

    I can completely relate to having expectations for my self and the judgment that can go along with that. Judgments for having the expectations and judgments for not meeting them.

    I have a friend (who indecently lives in Santa Monica) who was a serious drug addict some years back. When I met him, he had been clean for several years and was on a path filled with love, acceptance and surrender.

    However, healing is a process and he still had some very serious guilt and shame surrounding his time as a drug-addict. He was still working through it, but I was amazed at how far he had come after hearing the depths of his addiction and the depth of darkness he had been in just a few years ago.

    One day I was trying to help him find a way through some of this deep pain. I was encouraging him to step outside his judgments and see the beauty and light that so many people are able to see and feel from him. He suddenly pulled out a picture of this sweet looking little boy around the age of 5 or so. When I asked who it was, he said “me”. He said “Whenever I am really stuck in a harsh, critical or judgmental thoughts about myself, I look at the little boy I once was. It reminds me of the delicate and vulnerable boy that is still within me – often masked by fear and anger. It reminds me that with each negative thought and judgment toward myself, I am in fact hurting this sweet, innocent, little child. I would never do that to another child, so how can I justify doing this to myself?”

    This idea always stuck with me. I think this can be applied to the ideas and expectations we can have for ourselves. I would never expect a child to be perfect. I would expect them to make mistakes and when they do, I would encourage them, not put them down and insult or judge. I would have compassion and I would recognize the wonderful and beautiful spirit they already are… today. I would let them know that nothing more needs to be done in order for them to deserve my love and acceptance. It doesn’t matter how old we are… whether we are 5 or 45, we are still students to this thing called “life”. Most, if not all, of us are looking to be accepted and loved and it all starts within our our minds and hearts.

    This blog is truly helping me to remember my own divinity and to embrace and open to all my feelings. I have such a negative idea of myself for feeling the pain that I do. I have been on a spiritual path for almost twenty years and when I found myself succumbing to the abyss of my pain, it felt like I had failed. I can’t honestly say I have abandoned those feelings or ideas, but something is beginning to soften.

    I felt like a failure. I had failed myself and most importantly – all those around me. I thought I had worked through the most difficult feelings, limiting ideas and instituted a path of light which would always shine, even in the darkest of times. I was wrong and when the people I knew who had looked for inspiration and love from me in the past could not find it in me due to my grief – I felt I had disappointed them, which in turn created more judgement about myself, which in turn dimmed my light…etc…

    Anyways, some time ago, I began to truly accept the idea that I couldn’t “spiritualize” it as you say (OMG… love that!). Spiritualizing my pain away is exactly what I was attempting to do.. I have come to accept that like a broken bone, a broken spirit needs time to heal. I can nurture it in various ways, but I can’t trick myself into avoiding the grief and loss which has been so deep.

    I am getting off track.. sorry… What I really would like to say is that if you ever are in doubt as to what you have accomplished and the gifts you have already given to this world, look no further than this blog.

    Much love and gratitude,


    • John, your tremendous outpouring of comments and insights, experiences, and reflections to these blog posts thus far- has been very moving. Thank your for your confidence and trust in my words and for assuaging my own doubts about myself and the worthiness of my life and the work I do. You last few lines above moved me to tears. So thank you. I’m so happy you find value and medicine in this site. It really means a lot and its great to get feedback and hear how these posts are received. I’m really glad that reading this site has helped you remember your own divinity and at the same time your humanity, the beauty and power in your anger, your despair, and even your pain. That’s the beauty of being human- all our pain has the power and potential to be a huge gift of transformation for us. It seems like its been in you so close to the surface- all it took was a quick reminder/mirror to strip away what was blocking it. Everything you have gained from reading these entries comes from you. It’s all in you. AND, it’s nice to connect with other people who see and experience the world in similar ways and have experienced similar kinds of losses. It’s always healing to be seen, heard, and understood. Grateful that you provide that for me as well as this site providing that for you and other readers.

      Thanks for sharing your story about your friend who carries a picture of himself as a little boy. What a great way to feel compassion for ourselves and externalize our “inner child”. When I see it like that, it makes so much sense: of course I would never intentionally or knowingly criticize the cute little bendy girl doing headstands all the time! I will remember that often and practice more self-acceptance. I hope you are doing the same. I hope we all get to a place of equanimity and solid knowing of ourselves that we no longer experiences failures or major lows- that it’s like the things that happen around us or to us are simply like shifting scenery. I like to think of it as a Tao of the roller coaster. And as will be until the day we pass on- it’s all a work in progress. Two steps forward one step back.

  2. John said


    • John- this link didn’t work….was it a photo of yours?

      • John said

        Yes. For the last couple years I worked a series of double exposure photographs. Mostly dealing with faith, love, loss, grief and disconnection. It was a great outlet for me to express what was happening inside of me. This image in-particular was meant to express how alone we can feel at times even though there is a part of us that is always listening, loving and supporting us. It could be our higher self, compassionate self, our guardian angel, etc..
        Let’s see if it works this time.

      • This is beautiful, ancient, and haunting. i can feel the vacancy of loneliness. thank you for sharing!

  3. Iva said

    Since we are talking about seeing ourselves as little children, I would like to share something with you guys.

    I love children and have a very special and particular gift in interacting with them. I’ve had it my entire life and flirted with the idea of having my life calling be teaching preschool or being a full time nanny. However I abandoned it for several reasons;I really wanted to explore literature and educate myself futher etc. My side-jobs were often to do with children, but not my career. Anyway, that’s enough background.

    So in spite of all this diversion, I still continued to adore children and everywhere I went in life, they were my lifeline. There is an energy I see in a three year old that you simply cannot find in a thirteen year old anymore. It gets lost, tamed, buried or forgotten… that deep affection and knowledge of some divine secrets which they bring with them when joining this world. They are pure potential. So in 2009, which was emotionally one of the hardest years for me due to losing the (thus far)Great love of my life, I decided to go back and rekindle that passion for children.

    I went to volunteer at the local orphanage.

    The way this works here in Croatia is that they give you a child. One child, which you visit as much as you can and give love to. I was sat down and told I will be given a particularly difficult “case”, a little 5 year old who had just arrived with 3 of her younger sisters. As they told me, she was badly physically abused, neglected and could hardly speak. I was scared by this description; I didn’t know if I had it in me to offer anything to such a child, never before did I deal with a little one so severely troubled and in need of help. But I wanted to try. I cannot describe to you how difficult it was at first. She was essentially a bewildered little savage girl, with bruises on her body that healed in a few weeks but bruises on her soul that I feared would never heal. She ran away from me and would ask me “Why did you come?” and when I told her that it’s to be with her, she’d mouth off “I never called you!”. But also, she was terrified. I’d hug her and she’d stiffed. She had a severe attachment disorder and wouldn’t look me in the eye. She was deeply frightened of all men because her father was a drunk who did horrible things to her and her sisters. But slowly and over time, things began to change for her. I was there, twice a week without exception, reading her stories, bringing fruit and chocolate, taking her for walks, celebrating Birthdays and Christmas. The funny thing was that the more time we spent together, the more we began to resemble one another. She came very plain looking, her hair was cut really short because of the lice they found in it so she looked like a boy and she was TINY, so malnourished. But with time and proper care, her beauty began to shine through. Her dark blond hair was the exact same color as mine and her blue eyes the same. I’d walk with her hand in hand and get asked how old my daughter was.

    Now to put in another detail into this story, I have had some rough experiences in my childhood too. I grew up in a loving family but I also had someone close to me betray my trust as a child and I have gotten a lot of therapy for it, but I could never quite let go of the fear, it even affected my relationships with men. But this little girl I volunteered with, she was my heart. Through helping her heal and get better, I truly helped and healed myself. I was also looking at that photograph John speaks of, but it was a photograph of me as a young girl that I could kiss, hug and tickle. She was the best thing that happened to me all year.

    Finally, last year, after 10 months of working with her, she and her sisters were adopted. I was blessed enough to get to know her adoptive parents and I felt good about where she was going. Also, they were so grateful to me and generous in that they allowed me to keep in contact and visit her from time to time at their home. I’ve known their daughter longer than they do. I am their connection to this turbulent part of her life that is now thankfully in her past.

    So, the point of this story is to say : I am grateful. And truly, there is that child in all of us. The experience I’ve had has made it so clear to me how vulnerable and gentle we all are. We are all like those children in orphanages, abandoned, betrayed and abused at some point in our lives by those we trust the most. It is a matter of courage to step up and allow ourselves to love and live fully again. I wish that for myself and for you Sarah, and you John, and anyone else who might be reading. I wish you the best. xxx

    • Iva- So great you are able to recognize this remarkable gift you have. You must have tremendous patience! I hope you are able to give this patience to yourself in your own heart-mending and self-discovery process. Maybe inner child work is a calling….. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing such a beautiful experience from your life and for your heartfelt wishes for all of us to treat ourselves the way you have unconditionally treated your dear friend. You no doubt have changed her life and what you did will stay with her for the rest of her life; she will be able to reference that as a time where she was loved. I am sorry to hear about your own early betrayal and it sounds like she was able to mirror and heal you just as much as you to her.
      I’m struck by how fragile we all are as humans and how strong our spirits are. yes, it takes courage to love without fear and to live fully. And when all is said and done, what else is there left to do?

      Thanks for sharing your sweet story sweetheart!! Keep doing that sweet thing you do! Hugs,

  4. John Carnessali said

    Thank you for sharing Iva and thank you for the help you have provided at the orphanage. I am sure those children will always remember the beautiful spirit that helped them during a very difficult time. Sometimes we have no idea how just how powerful our actions can affect a person(it could be as simple as a genuine smile towards someone who is having a bad day).

    Many blessings to you Iva!


  5. John said

    Sarah, it really warmed my heart to know that you are receiving the admiration and gratitude I have for your insights and your courage to share them with the world.

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