One of the most useful things I ever learned from one of my yoga teachers is this: emotions are like the weather; they come and they go, often with no apparent explanation. Another teacher said "emotions are simply energy that has been given a name."
All too often I am aware of a cloudy front moving into my emotional topography. There are days when I know all I can do is just live through the storm as I trust this one certain truth: all things change. Somehow just acknowledging the rut I am in is enough to allow some space around it so I can breath and begin to see how I might climb out. Other days, I know I can climb out, but I choose to wallow where I am, for no rational reason other than it is energy that needs to be expressed. And hopefully, transformed.
I've learned a bit about this process by watching Cowgirl cycle through some of her storms. (Please tell me there is a major brain re-wiring process that takes place between the ages of 5 and 6 as this is the only explanation for some of the recent, ahem, outbursts of late.) We have had events that felt like reenactments of Mount Vesuvius erupting and after a few futile attempts to redirect the lava flow, I've learned it just has to flow. I am always surprised by how cleansed and calm Cowgirl can seem after venting her emotional energy. One minute, she is hurling the most painful words she can find: "You are a terrible mother!" (My deficiency as a mother is usually a result of my saying "no" to something Cowgirl wanted to do; children - like cats - find the word "No" to be the egregious offense possible) and the next moment finds her cuddling on my lap, cooing and giggling in a "life is all butterflies and rainbows" kind of manner.
So if emotions are just energy, sometimes that energy just needs to move and be released. But there are times when I feel stuck and it has been helpful for me to have at my disposal a list or toolbox of things that can help me transform dark energy into something positive. Yesterday was a day where I felt stuck physically (my neck is stiff from being wrenched when Moose lunged after a rabbit while on his leash), was tired (thunderstorms woke me at 2 am) and drained. I knew I had to do something to keep me from descending deeper and I found myself snapping at the husband " I am NOT okay today ... I am floundering here ... I need some space and time to RESET myself!" Which got me thinking ...
Rest and retreat. Sometimes I need to curl up with a good book (preferably fiction; losing myself in another world) or better yet - a good book in a bubble bath! Even as a child, I understood how soothing and calming water could be for my fiery disposition. As I relax in the water, I envision it cleansing the heavy energies that my body is releasing. (When Cowgirl was very little, I used to run her hands under the faucet and the cool water always relaxed and settled her.)
Hugs and cuddles. True bliss for me is slipping into Cowgirl's room before she wakes, sliding myself down upon her bed and framing my body around her warm puppy self. As she is rarely still when awake, it is pure heaven to place my hand on her belly, feeling her silky head under my chin and breathe in her unique bouquet of soap, warm sheets and the top note of lingering strawberries.
My art journal. No matter what is going on, I can loose myself in materials as I direct my mind away from what ails me and focus instead upon the juicy flow of a caran d'ache watercolor crayon, dipped in water and squished upon the page. Seriously, next to the word Juicy in the dictionary is a picture of these babies.
A walk outside. The blessing and curse of a dog is they thrive on being walked. Even when it feels like I am moving concrete, the mere act of getting myself up and out of the house and moving can shift my energy. Moose, in general, is definitely a key tool in my centering toolbox. (see above journal inspiration for proof!)
Time in my yoga room. Sometimes movement is what is needed, but usually I just need to sit or lie down. When I am particularly scattered, a guided meditation is the best things for helping me center myself. If I am being really good to myself, I will pop on my ipod and listening to goddess Leonie Allan's Divine Dreaming Meditation before going to sleep. Yummy as ice cream but without the calories!
Leonie Allan's Divine Dreaming Kit is one of several beautiful meditations she offers on her website
Speaking of ice cream ... since I join so many art challenges I was thinking to myself I needed a change of pace. I think I am ready for the Ben & Jerry's Eat Every Flavor Before the End of Summer ice cream extravaganza. Sometimes I need to invite a little sweetness into my life.
Seek out inspiration. I can get overwhelmed by all that is available at my fingertips, so when I am in an emotional storm, I try to limit my online time to only those places and people I know will nurture, soothe and inspire me. This week, beautiful Connie (one of the midwives to my creativity) shared this awesome video from Jen Lemen. Not only has she given me chills, but the seed of an idea has been planted and with that act, my mood has lifted.
These are just a few things I grabbed this week to help me reset and find my center. I am constantly restocking my toolbox, so I would love to know your tips for transforming clouds into sunshine, rain into laughter. Or perhaps more accurately, how do you incorporate all types of weather into your life?
Painting with a Purpose Update: The winner of Joyful Giraffe is Jeannie! Thanks everyone for supporting us with your words and your dollars. Our fourth painting will be posted this Friday and we've extended the campaign to five paintings, so there is still time to join in and win! For more details, click here.