There is a pose in yoga simply called “Tree Pose.” The beauty of this balance pose is that it is never the same from one day to the next. Some days it feels easy,natural and strong. The outcome resembles those girls in Yoplait commercials on a beach: one soul of their foot resting effortlessly on the inner thigh of the opposite, standing leg. Arms outreached like two unwavering branches with palms open accepting the gifts from the sun. The tree is strong in the core – like a mighty oak. When you achieve this pose effortlessly, you are proud of your tree and feel independent, yet wonderfully woven and connected into a loving community of the forest. You aren’t jealous of other trees. You’ve got it going on.
Other days, you visit the pose to find you are a fragile and tender sapling. The core is shaky, giving in to every element of the earth. The branches, your arms, flail desperately to center you. The tree is weak and exposed, like a naked tree after an ice storm. The grounding foot is disconnected from the earth and is doing you no good. You are ashamed of this tree. You are all alone and you have come to believe no on is coming to water you. You pray for rain.
Years ago when being led into Tree Pose by an instructor, she said, “You can be any tree you want to be.” Every, every time I do Tree Pose, I revisit this proposal. Wow. How powerful. How beautiful. How true.
Any. Tree. You. Want. To. Be.
Metaphors are God’s way of helping us to see past blind spots. I think of what kind of tree I want to be in terms of being a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a stranger. Myself when no one is looking. We all get the chance to wake up and be any tree we want to be. Even better, we get the chance to accept, embrace, water and nourish the living green tree in our heart.
I am one little tree. I don’t want to be alone in the landscape. So other trees are welcome here, in fact, mandatory. Once a month, I will have a featured “tree.” One of God’s own creations and greatest mysteries – a mama, the mama tree. Showing up and giving you a slice of vulnerability pie. Isn’t that the best way to connect? Bring the coffee, we’ll bring the pie.
Meet our first tree: A dear and kindred spirit to my soul. We had our first babies 8 days apart and fought a tandem 2 year battle of just trying to get knocked up. She is a spark plug in a crowd, a truth telling soul sister and always good for a laugh. A lover of nature and all things that are real.
Meet Laura Weaver:
Let me preface this post by saying I have been inspired to write after following Kristin’s blog for the past few years! Reading her words (and fun analogies) always soothes my worries and leaves me feeling more at peace with myself (and all of the thoughts that flow in and out of my mind). I feel connected, reassured and full. Yes, my mind feels full…full of purpose, full of meaning, and full of love. I enjoy it so very much. Thankfully, she has encouraged me to start writing again. So, here goes nothing. The words I am sharing started pouring out when I sat down to write with no particular purpose other than to let my mind empty some of the thoughts inside.
Worrying? At 31 weeks pregnant and the mother of a 16-month old daughter, I often wonder if the worry I feel is related to the hormones and stress of motherhood, or if it’s the same ole worry I have had my entire life. In my counseling program, my professor (a Psychologist) labeled me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. He did not share this with me in a private one-on-one counseling session, but instead, he did this in front of our small class. Hello, probably not a good idea to do to someone with anxiety, but somehow I welcomed his words (at the time). Later, I obsessed over the reactions others might have of a student (me) in the counseling program with GAD. He went on to tell me I have what they call, “obsessive thinking.” He said its pretty much genetic and there are some good drugs out there to help manage it (sign me up for those drugs). I wasn’t shocked at this diagnosis because it sounded just like me: racing thoughts, repeated words in my head where I obsess over minor details, conversations or anything I can wrap my mind around, and a few panic attacks. I was a bit stunned that more people didn’t speak up. I was thinking, “Come on, surely everyone feels this way. Am I the only one saying how I really feel and what goes on my head?” Well, maybe out of this small group I was the only one, but if they have created a “diagnosis” for this style of thinking, then there are quite a few people out there like me.
I have always felt a little supercharged, overly analytical, and able to achieve any insane/ridiculous idea that crosses my mind, while always keeping in mind the judgment and/or criticisms of others, but I have always assumed everyone felt this way at some point or another. Well, not all people. Others probably get some other fun diagnosis. Don’t we all have something? Personally, I wonder if it’s just our character/personality/quirkiness and it just sounds better when we know someone else could share some of our traits. The other day my husband asked me to describe my obsessive thinking/anxiety/worrying (whatever you want to call it), so he could better understand. I was in the middle of a quiver-lipping episode where I couldn’t describe why every fear known to man had just entered my mind.
Before I continue, I do spend the better part of my days with good, thought provoking anxiety that I tend to believe makes me a better wife, mother, sister, daughter, and counselor. It’s energizing and invigorating (at least this is what people tell me and I choose to believe them). Unfortunately, I do have bad anxiety days where the thoughts that stimulate good ideas and creative energy can turn on me and produce fear, dread, worry, concern and a downward spiral of emotions that cycles over and over. This was one of those moments. It could have been from anything (exhaustion, hunger, a need to exercise, or just being me). Needless to say, I had reached this point and couldn’t stop the tears.
My husband and I have been together over 10 years and married 5 this summer. He can recognize the physical side of my anxiety (tears or verbal threats associated with the fear of future events not going as planned), but this time he was asking for the detailed side of how my mind works. Holy hell, how do you describe a mind like mine to someone who has never worried. Let me rephrase, how do I describe my mind to someone who has never worried for absolutely no reason at all. He is 100% logic and reasoning in his mind; the complete opposite of anxiety. I try to use logic and reasoning during these episodes, but most of the time I like to throw those thoughts right out the window! I know the logical side of my thought process will help. Unfortunately, I do not know how and when my mind turned to the state of emotion and confusion that hates thoughts of logic and reasoning. I am usually too deep in the zone of emotion to climb out using these methods.
Thankfully, this question posed by my husband led me to search for answers about my thought process. Surprisingly, I have found that there is some good that comes during these bad anxiety episodes. I always learn something. If you tell me this during that state, I would say a few cuss words and tell you how crazy you are and that you don’t know the first thing about anxiety (sorry to my husband). I do truly believe I need these moments of feeling sorry for myself and worrying about everything around me in order to find me. I don’t necessarily enjoy it. Nor, do I enjoy being on the brink of tears, but it makes me feel more human. In these moments, I pause and reflect on my life. These moments help slow me down and force me to focus inward. The good anxiety inspires me. It pushes me forward into the future where I am going to conquer all of my hopes, dreams, and wishes (and yours too if you ask me). I love the good anxiety because I live in this future world where anything is possible. I can run a marathons, start my own business, have 2 more children, hike, and move to the mountains all in the future world. Then, just when it gets good, fear of all this future and untapped potential from within is met with the bad anxiety. This bad anxiety keeps me in the present, but fearful of the future and events that may not happen (or events that might, but not the way I envision). Strangely though, it centers me, so I have to focus on healing all of the abuse my mind delivers to my soul. I face my fears, worries, and reality in this state of anxiety. It’s also a test to tell myself to keep climbing and living even though I don’t know what lies ahead.
The future is unpredictable. It’s not worth all of the worry I give it in my mind. I have lived in way too many hypothetical future scenarios to even count. It’s time for me to find a balance between living in the present while planning (just a little) for the future. So, here is to embracing anxiety, worry and fears of the unknown. So far, all of the things in life I have been unable to control have delivered the best outcomes (ie. my husband, my daughter, and my baby boy in utero). For now, I will just have to enjoy the roller coaster ride of anxiety living in my head!
Wow…if you made it to the end of this post, you will see why we all need to breathe in and breathe out! Thank you Kristin!