Releasing and integrating

On New Year’s Day this past week I attended a 2-hour yoga workshop in which I had the opportunity to reflect a bit on the past year. After some journal writing and reflection, we did a yoga practice and then finished with a meditation practice.

I enjoyed the opportunity to “digest” a bit of the past year, to celebrate it and to consider my strengths, or any limiting beliefs. In the final meditation the word/concept “integrate/integration” kept emerging for me, and variations on that word: integrity, integral, etc. I started thinking about the root of that word (think of integer) which is to make whole.

what do you need to release

That seems appropriate, since this past year felt in many ways like a dismantling and releasing of what was no longer serving me. Then on Sunday I had another impulse to de-clutter, and to organize in my office (not something that comes naturally to me) so I followed it.

I allowed myself some time and space to consider the objects and books I have collected. What is that path of curiosity telling me? Which things can I can release? I have tried following the Kon Mari approach to do this all in one big project (which can take up to 6 months, she writes). But I have found I follow more of a spiral or cyclical path when it comes to releasing things. And that is just fine.

Releasing is necessary because we hold onto so much that we no longer need. This can be physical stuff, but more often it is out-dated stories we tell ourselves. I find that is the more “sticky” of our stuff. It is easy to give bags of unused and unneeded things to Goodwill. But how often do we enter into our deep consciousness to see what is floating around in there, and question if we want to keep it there? 

When I did a coaching series with Elizabeth Dickinson this past fall, she was able to identify a few of the beliefs (or stories) I had carried about money that did not match my current reality. What an amazing gift, to release an old story that was holding me back. At one point, that story may have had a purpose. But it was at least a decade out-of-date. So I started trying on a different story, reinforcing a new belief that serves me better.

What is it you may need to release in order to thrive in your life? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

TBT: Feliz cumpleaños, Papa

mexico flag country
Photo credit link

It is my Dad’s birthday today and so in his honor, I am posting an edited version of last year’s tribute to him.

My Dad’s choice of vocation as a bilingual teacher fundamentally shaped the way I look at the world. His countless presentations to school boards on language learning and the value of bilingual versus ESL-type programs shaped my thinking about social justice and education. He and Mom did highly influential work together to defend and protect educational opportunities for children of (originally) migrant workers in our small town.

Dad was called to serve these children and their parents, who needed a strong advocate for their education. He worked with them to help ensure they could get the best education possible. He believed in their potential and was ready to nurture it every step of the way, building a strong base of skills and also self-confidence. His work as an elementary level teacher touched so many young children’s lives in a powerful and profound way.

We used to go to the classroom late at night, my Mom and Dad and my sister, to put up bulletin boards at the beginning of each new month. My sister also remembers how “cool” it was for Dad to have a key to the school, and he and Mom could work there after hours, when it was easier to get work done uninterrupted. Having special access to the school meant that we could run down the hallways while nobody was there! So much fun. We could never get away with that during a school day.

father daughter reading
Photo credit link

I remember Dad teaching me to read by the time I was 4 years old. That made my kindergarten experience boring, since I was amazed we had to go back through all the letter books. Really?!? Can nobody else read yet? I got to skip my  reading classes in favor of going to the bilingual classroom several hours a day. This saved me from the torture of repeating what I had already mastered.

Dad nurtured that spark of learning within me, and that has been a constant throughout my life. I learn quickly, and greedily, reading books as fast as I can. Of course, having a bit of challenge with attention, I sometimes read a book twice in order to fully absorb it.

Both Mom and Dad believed in reading to us when we were young, and this may be one reason I still love to read. I also enjoy audio books because it is a sweet memory to have someone read to me. For sure, my Grandmother had great influence as well. She was an avid reader and consummate learner.

Dad was amazingly patient with classrooms full of children. They behaved well for him. He almost never sick days but when he did, the substitutes were always amazed by his class. He created partnerships with parents and got to know them well throughout the year.

Hispanic parents typically do not tolerate misbehavior by their children in school. One call from “el Maestro” was enough to get a student to realize they could not misbehave in his classroom without having consequences happen at home. Their culture still has high respect for teachers. Sometimes Dad brought in psychologists as guest speakers to talk with the parents about how to help their kids at home, and was devoted to helping those young minds open and bloom.

Dad faced racism in his experience as an educated Mexican living in a small town, a very “white” town. The parents of his students respected him a great deal, but some of the teachers he worked with did not. Indeed some of the administrators did not, but he did have good principals. One particular school superintendent took special interest in his classes. This leader, noticing how respectful and well-behaved my Dad’s classes were, made sure that the direction from the top was to expand the bilingual program, not to cut back, as some school boards had tried to do.

respect

One of the greatest lessons I learned from my Dad (and Mom taught me this as well) was that you should treat everyone with respect. A person’s “station” in life does not matter. Whether they are a teacher, a principal, a janitor or a cook, you must treat each person with dignity and respect. This is fundamental to the way I interact with the world, and is something I strive to emulate as well.

I am truly grateful to my Dad, and for all the lessons I learned through the way he and my mother live their lives. Teaching is a vocation, not just a job. I like to say I come from a family of teachers, and it is true, multiple generations. I am immensely proud of that.

Happy birthday, Dad!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday – Integration

This week’s Throwback Thursday is an edited piece from November 2017. It sent a chill down my spine thinking about how far I have come in that time, in writing through these changes in my life. So grateful that this blog has allowed an exploration toward the next part of my path.

***

As I was sitting in savasana today at my morning yoga class, a concept kept arising into consciousness. It was Integration.

I wonder if my search for balance and equilibrium is actually a search for integration. Bringing together my personal and professional lives, uniting my body, mind and spirit, accepting the positives and the negatives. It is all part of one rich and fulfilling life, after all.

Why do I find it challenging? Perhaps my scientific training works against me here. I strive to isolate variables, to design proper controls, to decrease “confounding factors.” It is a noble pursuit, when we want to understand a mechanism for a system.

I then consider another concept from a similar root: Integrity. These concepts both relate to a state of being whole. Stemming from a similar Latin root, these words express what I seek.

Yin Yang Wikipedia image

It is not so much about work/life balance, which always reminds me of a seesaw. It is more about bringing it all together, not having to isolate parts of myself in certain  contexts, but rather bringing my whole self to every situation. I like the yin/yang concept, and the idea that we have complementary parts within us. I have written about this before.  Perhaps that is what this blog is about, to integrate the “mexi” and the “minnesotana” parts more meaningfully, in every part of my life.

What if we viewed the entire natural sphere as an integrated whole, all part of some vast and intricate web? Everything, everyone and all of the in between is connected. We are not binary – one against another, us against them. We are all part of this vast universal story, ever changing, ever growing, ever recycling the parts that need to evolve to something new.

This brings so much peace to me, embracing both my darkness and my light. It means acceptance of what I am, where I am today in my journey, not chiding myself that I am not further along. Change unfolds gradually and when I “push” instead of allowing, it often sets me back. I am eager to know what is next, to see around the next corner. But I need not worry.

My soul works and plays at integrating. It seems to do this better without the fretting of my ego or mind. When I pay attention to the ease and the grace that comes from sitting still or small movements, I can feel integration physically. At the same time, I notice myself acting with greater integrity in the world. This feels like a true definition of success for me.

***

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Awe and beauty

Hello Friends,

This morning I had another intense moment of joy and awe while looking out my front window at the gorgeous sunrise. The photo does not do justice to the reality, but I will share it anyway.

Willy at sunrise
My cat Willy enjoys our morning sunrise contemplation as well.

Yesterday marked my first year of meditating consecutively every day, sometimes as little as 5 minutes, sometimes in silence, sometimes with guided meditation. My Insight Timer app showed 365 days in a row, with 440 days recorded since June of 2016.

I wrote in my personal journal yesterday about some of the shifts that have happened in my life since beginning this commitment. I wanted to add to what I wrote in my blog before, because now that I understand how profound this habit has been for me, I cannot help but want to share the joy of discovery.

The first big shift comes in my ability to recognize my thoughts as thoughts, and not as objective reality. There is something so profound in accessing this “watcher” self that can compassionately witness our inner turmoil. It is that quieter place within us that can tap into wisdom and truth despite the noisy world outside (and sometimes inside) that clamors for attention.

The second big shift has been in my relationships. I am not perfect, of course, but I  practice being mindful and conscious of the other person, versus my thoughts about the person. I believe it has helped me to listen more closely, to pay attention and to notice what the other person is saying, and the emotions behind their words. I am still practicing this, and do not always do it well – my husband can attest to this.

But I feel a tangible change in my “defense system” that is lowered and sometimes dropped. I can more fully BE with another person and empathize with them. I have compassion for myself if my mind wanders, and I have more curiosity about what they are saying rather than considering how I will respond. This process of noticing rather than reacting seems to transform the way I relate to people.

The third shift has been in my body. I consider yoga to be a part of my overall meditation practice and my spirituality. I pay attention to my breath during my yoga practice, and to feelings in my body. By tuning in, rather than tuning out, as I sometimes did when I used to run excessive miles, I access my body’s wisdom.

I was raised with a religious tradition that treats the body as “base” and “less than” our minds. And of course, our culture shames women’s bodies mercilessly, so I now understand how I came to be so disconnected from it. But when I honor my body, have compassion for her, and accept her just as she is, she can relax. I consider how much we attack our “divine feminine” and realize that she will always be with us, but she serves us better when we befriend her.

Mindfulness practice, whether meditation, or just noticing more deliberately the world around us, including the people we love, and maybe people we do NOT love, has the power to change us. Much more often I feel a sense of great awe and reverence for the beauty and blessings around me. Wow! I get to live this amazing life. What a gift.

Have a wonderful week, All.

Feliz cumpleaños, Papa

mexico flag country
Photo credit link

Today’s post will be in English but I wish I had the confidence to write it in Spanish. I  think I will take up a more serious study of Spanish again. I want to master it so I could be considered fluent, not just at a “business functional” level. I wrote this piece on the plane on Monday on my trip to Mexico in my hand-written journal. I was able to edit the piece down to less than a thousand words, but if I ever write a book someday, my parents will each have their own chapters.

My Dad’s choice of vocation as a bilingual teacher fundamentally “colors” the way I look at the world. His studies of language learning and his countless presentations to school boards on the value of bilingual versus ESL-type programs have shaped my thinking. And the work he and Mom did together to defend and protect educational opportunities for children of (originally) migrant workers in our small town was highly influential.

Dad was called to serve these children and their parents, who needed a strong advocate for their education. He worked with them to help ensure they could get the best education possible. He believed in their potential and was ready to nurture it every step of the way, building a strong base of skills and also self-confidence. His work as an elementary level teacher touched so many young children’s lives in a powerful and profound way.

I think back to my early memories of the schools where he taught, of being in the classroom late at night with Mom and Dad and my sister to put up bulletin boards at the beginning of each new month. My sister also remembers how “cool” it was for Dad to have a key to the school, and he and Mom could work there after hours, when it was easier to get work done uninterrupted.

bulletin board
Photo credit link 

Having special access to the school meant that we could run down the hallways while nobody was there! Awesome, until Dad accidentally knocked my sister over in the hallway while he was carrying a large stack of boxes and did not see her. But all was well, she was fine, just a toddler so the fall was not so far from the ground.

father daughter reading
Photo credit link

I remember Dad teaching me to read by the time I was 4 years old. That made my kindergarten experience a little boring, since I was amazed we had to go back through all the letter books. Really?!? Can nobody else read yet? School was a bit frustrating in my early elementary years. I got to skip some boring reading classes in favor of going to the bilingual classroom several hours a day. This saved me from the torture of repeating what I had already mastered.

Dad nurtured that spark of learning within me, and that has been a constant throughout my life. I learn quickly, and greedily, absorbing books. I typically read 3 to 4 times what was considered “A” level by middle school, when we had to keep reading logs of the books we read. Of course, having a bit of challenge with attention, I sometimes read a book twice in order to fully absorb it.

Both Mom and Dad believed in reading to us when we were young, and I think this is why I still love to read. I also audio books because it is a sweet memory to have someone read to me. For sure, my Grandmother had great influence as well. She was an avid reader and consummate learner. I previously told the story of her going back to college in her 50’s and earning her bachelor’s degree alongside my Mom.

Dad was amazingly patient with classrooms full of children. They behaved very well for him. He did not often take sick days but when he did, the substitutes were always amazed his class. He created partnerships with parents and got to know them well throughout the year. Hispanic parents typically do not tolerate misbehavior in school very well. One call from “el Maestro” was enough to get a student to realize they could not misbehave in his classroom without having consequences happen at home. Sometimes Dad brought in psychologists as guest speakers to talk with the parents about how to help their kids at home, and was devoted to helping those young minds open and bloom.

I know Dad faced racism in his experience as an educated Mexican living in a small town, a very “white” town. The parents of his students respected him a great deal, but some of the teachers he worked with did not. Indeed some of the administrators did not, but he did have good principals and one particular school superintendent took special interest in his classes. This particular leader, noticing how respectful and well-behaved my Dad’s classes were, made sure that the direction from the top was to expand the bilingual program, not cut back, as some school boards had tried to do.

respect

One of the greatest lessons I learned from my Dad (and Mom taught me this as well) was that you should treat everyone with respect. A person’s “station” in life does not matter. Whether they are a teacher, a janitor or a cook, you must treat each person with dignity and respect. This is fundamental to the way I interact with the world, and is something I strive to emulate as well.

I am truly grateful to my Dad, and for all the lessons I learned by the way he lived his life, and his partnership with my Mom as we grew up. Teaching is a vocation, not just a job. I like to say I come from a family of teachers, and it is true, multiple generations. I am immensely proud of that. Even though I do not have children myself, I know that I am responsible for passing these lessons onto others, in service to all.