Standing Water

I’ve been sick for a while.

And I finally know why.

After weeks of coughing, losing my voice, having both a bacterial and viral infection, and experiencing fatigue and earaches, I have the answer.

And the crazy part is, I knew it all along.

So, why did it take me over a month to finally heal?

I can chalk it up to one thing,
Self Trust.

 

Have you ever had a nagging voice bringing up the same thing over and over again?
Have you found yourself in a repeating pattern and wanting to know why you can’t seem to break free?
Do you feel like a broken record, and yet are not seeing the results you want in your Art?

Turns out the answer may be something so simple, and right in front of you.

Want to know what it is?

It’s your Air Conditioner.

 

All of my problems began six weeks ago when I started running my air conditioner at night.  I’ve lived in this apt for four years and never had issues before, but started to have low energy, sore throat and earaches when I turned it on this season.

There was a lot going on in my life at the time, and when I lost my voice, I factored in the AC unit, but went into strategies and treating the symptoms.

I rested
I contacted my doctor
I drank tea
I steamed
I got acupuncture
I took antivirals

The list goes on and on, and while I would start to get better, the symptoms would return.

I went through every emotion in the book, frustrated, and practicing some serious self empathy.

How could I be doing SO much and STILL be dealing with the issue?

What was the DEAL??

But all along was this nagging voice….the one pointing towards my AC unit, humming along in my window.  I cleaned the filter, I cleaned the outside and wiped it fully down.

And then the AC unit started to make a weird noise….
CHUGACHUGACHUGACHUGGGAA

What the heck??

And as the weeks went on, and I was trying so many other things, I realized I wasn’t addressing the real issue.

Where the SOURCE of the problem was.

Until I looked inside…..

And I mean literally, inside the AC Unit.  And that’s when I saw it.

Standing water.

Who knows how long it had been there, but the answer was right there.  That feeling that had been in my gut for weeks was now confirmed.  The voice that had been nagging me about the unit was loud and clear.  It didn’t matter how much I cleaned the filter, because the issue was in the unit itself….and it was blowing whatever was growing in the water straight into my apt.

Straight into my lungs.

I called my landlord, and he bought a new AC Unit, and within 24 hours, my energy returned and my sore throat and earaches were gone.

It was that simple……and I knew it all along.  My BODY knew it all along.

The question was,
Was I willing to listen?
Was I willing to trust myself?

 

Take a moment, and check in.

What have you been saying to yourself time and time again?
When you look at where you are and where you want to be…what is in that gap?
What has been the piece you have been saying needs to change?

Where is your standing water?

Maybe it’s been:
I need to learn a new skill
I need a way to quiet my mind
I need to organize my studio
I need to focus on one thing at a time

Or maybe, there is something TOXIC that is growing in the standing water and a part of your environment, and has been calling out to you that it’s harming you.

Perhaps,
A partner who brings you down
Friends who shame you
A working environment that is literally unhealthy
Collaborators who don’t share your vision and cause you to compromise your Art again and again

When we take the moment to self connect, and stop judging the voices that are arising, we may find there is actual wisdom within.

We may find that the AC Unit is clearly saying,
LOOK INSIDE!

Because, we can’t change what we can’t see.

There has to be an awareness first, and then we can take action.

And in this case, the action is to begin true self trust so that you can create a life and work that nourishes you.

The answers truly lie within, and somewhere deep inside is that voice that has been crying out for you.

The voice that has been crying out for your brilliance, and all you have to share with your Talents and Gifts.

The voice that knows what you are capable of.
My journey went through infections, coughs, and fatigue to lead me back to the first instinct that arose six weeks ago. The instinct that was my truth and what would actually make a difference.
So, what is your truth?
This isn’t the time to judge and beat yourself up.

Sometimes we need to hit the wall again and again to finally trust ourselves.

When we can trust and tap into our inner wisdom, we can then become truly Unstoppable.

So, tune in, and listen.

What do you hear?

 

 

Image: Caitlin Cannon Photography

The Dance

Photo Rache Bennett

I am beyond honored this week to have the beautiful and glorious Rachel Bennett of Rachel Bennett Yoga as the Guest Writer.  Rachel is a dancer who teaches private yoga and meditation in NYC and is a very talented writer.  She speaks to connecting movement with breath and finding the silence within.  Namaste, and enjoy.

 

In the winter of 99’ I moved to New York to become a professional dancer and actress. I arrived with what the Buddhists call “Beginner’s Mind.” I knew nothing and in that nothing state, everything was possible. My mind was like an empty rice bowl.

But, then my life changed. Six months later, my father lost his job and without health insurance was diagnosed with cancer. My parents lost their house and all their savings. They had no choice but to move down to DC to live with my Dad’s brother and his wife. My father received chemo treatment at John’s Hopkins while my mother worked Full Time and took care of him in the evenings. But my Dad’s cancer didn’t respond to the treatment and on October 21st, 2000, he passed away.

I was a senior at Hunter College.

Loss and suffering are odd. They work on us in ways we don’t always understand until later, marinating inside us, changing us into deeper vessels. The price we must pay is pain. But, the psyche finds ways to numb and cope, so as not to be obliterated by sorrow. We find ways to keep going and mine was movement.

Dance.

After my Dad’s funeral, I returned to New York, but felt numb. I was exhausted from watching my father turn into a skeleton. Grief makes us tired. There are some things we can’t be prepared for, only lived through. I remember the Spring following his death, walking to class, when I noticed flowers coming out of the ground. I was infuriated. I had the visceral desire to crush them under my feet.

I said silently to the colorful buds, “How dare you bloom with such life when my father is dead?”

But, I continued to dance. I landed a gig in Japan and some summer stock musicals, pushing through my grief. On visits home to my mother, I embarked on another loss: Her mind. She acted strangely. Dropped things, kept tripping, couldn’t remember where she’d put something. Eventually, she was fired from her job. Her boss told her, “I’m sorry, Shaunna, but you don’t make your deadlines and you can’t stop crying at work.”

My mother – the one who’d published a newspaper, championed women’s rights, taught Chaucer and Shakespeare and fought for equality of all kinds – I now found sleeping in the middle of the day covered in candy wrappers.

Our dialogue went from talks of art and my life in New York, to something like this:

“Rachel, have you seen my purse?”
“No, Mom. I haven’t. Where did you last have it?”
“I don’t know.”

Her psychiatrist told me her behavior was just grief from losing my Dad, but my gut told me there was more. I left the city to care for her. I thought I could save her, but the more I tried, the more I got pulled down under. She was an endless pit of tears, sorrow and questions and I found myself drowning under her weight.

Sometimes we must leave to survive.

So I returned to NYC, got a job waiting tables and entered what would become a decade of surviving and care-taking. I moved twelve times and secured five different homes from my mother from 2002 until 2008.

Then the phone calls from her room mates:

“Rachel, I’m sorry but your mother doesn’t flush the toilet and leaves milk out on the counter all night. I keep reminding her, but –I think it’s time you find another place for your mom to live.”

“Your mother parks the car half in the driveway, half in the road. I’ve reminded her several times, but – “

So I’d start looking for another home for her.

I kept the acting/dance game going best I could. I earned my SAG and Equity Cards, auditioned for managers and agents, but my mother was sobbing in dark rooms, her hair uncombed. I made an appointment to speak to her psychiatrist, seething.

“She can’t put a key in lock. She can’t find her purse or her lipstick or her notebook. She forgets things I tell her.” I tell him, venom in my voice.

“What is going on? Do you have her on too many drugs? Is her anti-psychotic mixing badly with her rheumatoid arthritis medicine?”

One night, my mother turned the water on in the kitchen sink and then went into the living room to watch TV.
“Mother, you left the water running. You need to turn the facet off.” I said impatiently.
“I don’t remember how.” She said.

I made an appointment with the head of the neurology department at Albany Medical Center the next day. After many written and verbal tests, an MRI and CAT scan, Dr. Zimmerman and I walked down the hall together and he said to me, with a clipboard under his right arm, “I’m sorry Rachel, but from the tests it’s very clear that your mother has early onset Alzheimer’s. It’s primarily in her parietal lobe, which monitors spatial relations, but will soon encompass the frontal lobe as well.”

She was 55.

By this time I’d stopped the dream of performing. Or perhaps the dream stopped me. I’m not sure which.

Pre-Alzheimer’s, my mother was vibrant. When she laughed, mountains shook. When she was mad, sparks seemed to fly from her green eyes. But, when she was happy, the world seemed to glow.  At different times throughout my mother would tell me,

“Rachel, there will be pain in life. And deep sorrow. But, there will also be joy. Remember that when you have the chance to dance, Rachel – DANCE. Always. Whenever the opportunity arises.”

And we did. Over the years we danced in the kitchen to Rod Stewart, at picnics and weddings. When my dad fished in the river, my mother and I danced on the bank.

My mother doesn’t dance anymore. She lives in a nursing home in the Bronx where she sits in a wheelchair, waiting for meals. Waiting for someone to wheel her to an activity. I visit on Sundays and when I do, I put music on, and swirl her in her wheelchair. It’s our new way of dancing. Last week we danced to “Moon River.”

“Rachel, wait!” my mother screamed at me.
“What mama? What’s the matter?” I asked.
“Do you see it? Over there!”
“What mama? I don’t see anything.”
“There! See, there!”
She now points to things that I can never see. “Delusions” the staff psychiatrist tells me.

I wonder if she sees my father’s ghost. Or perhaps she sees us dancing together when I was five years old, heart ribbons in my hair, in Barnstead New Hampshire. She’s in a realm now that is not held by time or space.

Then she proclaims loudly, “Rachel, I’m here! I’m here!”

“Yes, mama you are! And so am I.” I tell her.

Mama Rachel photo Bergen Reginonal Medical Center June 2014

Her words are a declaration, a prayer, an offering, and the highest expression of gratitude I’ve ever heard.

We are here. Now. Each word, plié, brush stroke, or kiss is our way to say, I am here.

If you listen in silence, with all the desire in your heart to hear, you will hear that proclamation spoken by anyone who ever lived, swirling in the cosmos. I am here. I am here. I am here.

What will your offering be?

Rachel Bennett NYCB 2