Letting go of control and being present in my physical body does not come easily to me. So it was a surprise when I got completely, totally addicted to salsa dancing during law school. A dozen years ago, I was with friends at a restaurant in Iowa City on a Saturday night. The small dance floor at the opposite end of the room started to fill up with people as the Latin music cast a spell.
One morning Grandmother Eagle woke Young Eagle and bade him follow her to the mountain. It was early. Sun was just beginning to envelop all the world in his warm embrace.
Young Eagle loved his Grandmother very much. Of course he would go wherever she asked.
I’ve been thinking about the intersection of responsibility and following your heart—trusting yourself and the Universe. During the last while, I’ve been finding myself in situations that feel nearly impossible. Not only work projects and stress, but also adulting and parenting generally.
A few days ago, I was feeling frustrated with my husband—angry, too.
(Don’t worry, I cleared this disclosure with him. Also? The challenging nature of romantic relationships is hardly a secret.)
Last week it struck me that a mid-metamorphosis caterpillar would not recognize itself in the mirror. More likely, its reflection would produce confusion, maybe even horror!
(I know I’m anthropomorphizing to your detriment, Caterpillar, and I truly mean no offense. In actuality, I doubt you have have our human hang-ups about allowing change gracefully. Thank you for serving as the object lesson anyway.)
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in serious transition now for years, and it’s not always pretty.
Despite everything I’m about to say, I had to override my inner critic to write the title. Ridiculous, right? I hope saying it and sharing it will deepen the imprint. Maybe it will help you find your groove, too.
Growing up, I internalized a warped idea that self-esteem is crap because of course we all love ourselves and that actually we need to focus on loving other people. I can see now a tug-of-war spanning my lifetime: my deep yearning for praise and external validation battling with the guilt—embarrassment, even—for wanting it in the first place. Why? Because on some deep level, I equated unconditional self-love with narcissism.
This week, two different strangers wanted to know if I was expecting another baby.
(Sidenote: Never ask a woman this question, please. If you don’t know her, it’s not your business. If you do, she’ll share on her terms. And when the answer is no—like for me—the exchange is awkward and abrasive, regardless of the intent.)
Loving my body through the changes of motherhood has been challenging. Those comments smarted despite the buffer of all the layers I’ve already healed around this issue. But then I remembered a different question I’d received only the day before.
Keep going. Don’t give up when something feels hard or you don’t feel worthy or you don’t know more than just the next step. Keep walking the path you know is yours. It’s a timeless theme, as countless movies, blogs, stories and memes attest.
Lately Grandmother Salmon has been the one reminding me to be intentional about charting my course and consciously navigating it.