In the moments when I felt myself sliding downward this summer, I continuously asked myself over and over again: What do you need?
What do you need to get out of bed?
What do you need to engage with your family?
What do YOU need?
Some days the answer was simple. I needed to live my layers. I needed to run. I needed the gym. I needed to move or make a healthy dinner.
Other days the simple answer was complicated. I need to feel alive.
In my downward spiral of hot, heavy and stuck, I felt every ounce of the self imposed armor I have built around my self. I was trapped within myself.
When do you feel free?
One moment always comes rushing back. It’s not my wedding day or the day I gave birth to my children. It isn’t traveling through the Sacred Valley in Peru or floating down the river in Thailand. It is one very small moment. The moment that always floods my memory is more a feeling than a memory.
In the middle of the night in the middle of the streets of Austin, Texas in the middle of a music festival surrounded by my Nashville family, I ran. For whatever reason, we all collectively decided to race to the stop sign. It was a full out sprint to see who would win. When we had all completely the task at hand, I remember laughter filling my body. I felt free.
There are very few moments in my life when I haven’t been aware of myself. There are very few moments where I’ve trusted, where I’ve let go, where I released my control and my fears. I’ve been collecting these moments my whole life: the trail run with the gentle breeze when I opened my arms up to connect with the trees, submerging my body in the cold waters of a waterfall in Utah after fear kept me paralyzed on the side of the cliff, swing competitions with Cole in the neighborhood park. I remember every single one of the moments, but I remember the feeling the most.
I share so much of myself freely with those around me and yet I guard myself from myself. I hold myself back. Within me is a hand that is always resisting.
This summer I gave in.
“But the soul wants you to go beneath. It leads downward. It says, ‘Don’t ignore the signs. Follow your longing down. Go beneath the surface of your troubled mind, your bad moods, your repetitive mistakes. Go beneath the surface questions to even deeper questions.’ The soul asks questions like these: ‘What is that weight that holds you back? What inside of you is saying no! Are you willing to look at yourself? To take responsibility for your own life? Are you willing to let something die, in order for something new to arise? What must die! What wants to live?’ The soul tells you to root around in the dark stuff for the deeper questions, and to let those questions lead you from darkness to the light.” ~ Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open
This morning I woke up to grey skies, the promise of a restorative run on Saturday through tropical storm rain and winds, and one lingering question.
Why don’t I allow myself to be enough?
I know the answer is deeply rooted in my past, in my personality, and in fear I carry with me. I know why. This summer I allowed myself to stay in that space to feel all that I had been avoiding.
“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” ~Rumi
Perhaps for the very first time I am not trying to fill the void left behind by the absence of the hot, heavy and stuck summer. I’m leaving myself open. As a breath I’ve been holding on to for my entire life takes form and gains strength within my own body, I’m consciously avoiding old habits and behaviors. This time I don’t want to hold myself back. I want to stand in my own skin and know that today I am enough. I’m done collecting moments of being alive. I am ready to live alive.
Those moments of feeling alive, they all have something in common. Movement and Nature. They are my secret ingredients for living my life.
I’m figuring this out the only way I know how – by racing to the stop sign.