Legend of Korra

Zen & Self Acceptance

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Tenzin: I must stay focused. Remember who you are, Tenzin. You are the son of Avatar Aang. You are the hope for future generations of airbenders. The fate of the world rests on your shoulders. But what if I fail? Then your father’s hope for the future dies with you. I can’t fail!
Aang: Hello, my son.
Tenzin: Dad, I’ve failed you. I am no spiritual leader, and I’ve let the world down. I’ll never be the man you were.
Aang: You are right. You are trying to hold on to a false perception of yourself. You are not me, and you should not be me. You are Tenzin.
Tenzin: I am not a reflection of my father. I am Tenzin. I am Tenzin.

~*~

I’ve been stalling in writing the final post of the A to Z Challenge which was due on the 30th April. I put so much pressure on myself to write a brilliantly kick-ass wrap-up post that I just as brilliantly convinced myself that everything I composed was just plain ass. Of course, finding a title beginning with Z which was stimulating enough to inspire a post only served to exacerbate the issue. “Zis iz impozzible” crossed my mind many times. But here I am, more than two weeks late and determined to post tonight.

Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by our own thoughts. It is about acceptance of self rather than perception of self. Heavy topic. But let’s see if I can explain where I am at. I am struggling and have been for a while. Quitting drinking and smoking a year ago changed the way I viewed many aspects of my life: my health, my social activities, my emotional, mental and spiritual habits, even the way I handled my finances. The aspects of my personality and character that are at the forefront of who I am now are different from those that were dominant a year ago.

While I am proud of what I’ve accomplished and pleased with the direction certain parts of my life are heading, I am wrestling with who I am. I am caught between who I expect I should be and who I think I am. I know much of it has to do with self criticism and judgment and I really am trying. I want to be more accepting of myself. I want to be comfortable with improving little by little or even just staying in one place for a little while. But I’m not. I know it is important to be patient and to understand that progress is a process, but honestly, sometimes I’m so tired of it all. I’m tired of thinking that I should be more.

In the scene quoted above, Tenzin’s realization that he had put tremendous pressure on himself by defining who he was as only one thing, Avatar Aang’s son, resonates with me. As I interpreted it, this scene was about self acceptance. Tenzin found clarity when he realized that he should not try to be anyone but himself. He accepted all of who he was, even the parts that he deemed “less” than worthy of the son of Avatar Aang. He was, in the end, more compassionate with himself.  This is how I endeavour to be: more compassionate and more accepting of myself.  I want to accept myself as I am. All of it. But even wanting to be more accepting of myself is thinking that “I should be more”. It’s a fine line to walk, I think.

While I have accepted the mistakes I made in the past, some time in the last year, I made it okay to hold my present self up to a very high standard. I give myself very little leeway for mistakes now, which, I think is wrong. I judge myself harshly for being “too sensitive” even when I know that my reactivity is not rooted in the present. I excuse unfair treatment by others because I tell myself to “rise above it.” I criticize myself for getting angry or shutting down when I need to set boundaries or retreat to a safe space, because I’m “supposed to be able to handle it.” I’ve been essentially setting myself up for failure and only hurting one person in the process: Me. Inadvertantly I’ve been eroding my self esteem by pushing too hard to be someone I think I should be.

From my research I’ve come to understand that although related, self acceptance is not the same as self esteem. Self esteem specifically refers to how valuable, or worthwhile  we see ourselves, and self acceptance alludes to a far more gobal affirmation of self. “When we’re self-accepting, we’re able to embrace all facets of ourselves — not just the positive, more ‘esteem-able’ parts. As such, self-acceptance is unconditional, free of any qualification. We can recognize our weaknesses, limitations, and foibles, but this awareness in no way interferes with our ability to fully accept ourselves.” ~ Dr. Leon F. Seltzer

“Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by our own thoughts. It is about acceptance of self rather than perception of self.” Okay. So here goes:

I accept that I am torn between dedicating hours doing purposeful work I enjoy and work I don’t. I accept that it might be some time before I figure out how to balance it all and I accept that this does not mean that I don’t really have super-powers. (smile)

I accept that I am at a particularly difficult crossroads, spiritually, emotionally and mentally which is manifesting itself physically, with headaches, tension, weight gain, backaches and shoulder pain. I accept that in an effort to feel more in control in this area, I have a tendency to project that loss of control onto other areas in my life. Unfairly so at times.

I accept that I have a fiery temper fueled by my insecurities and that I get jealous easily and feel abandoned easily. I accept that I inevitably try to determine the root cause of those inseurities and how they play out in my life.

I accept that I will always want to learn more and better understand this world and my place in it, I accept that I will always be curious about why I want to learn and understand in the first place.

I accept that I have both light and dark in me and that at the same time I need and don’t need balance.

I accept.

~*~

This is Post X, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

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Victims ‘r’ us

Dark Korra

Iroh: If you look for the light, you can often find it. But if you look for the dark, that is all you’ll ever see.

Disclaimer: This post is not for the victims of traumatic events. This is for the doomsday folks, you know,
the ones who only see the dark stormclouds hung before them, and refuse to cast their eyes upward to see the sun.

Don’t you just love encountering people who only talk about their woes and how much they hate life? They assemble in groups, usually after work at their favourite watering holes or coffeeshops, trying to one up each other with their sob stories. It’s like a pissing contest to see whose day was worse or who has the roughest life. Oh boo hoo! We ALL deal with stuff. Strife, drama, and hardship are all relative and affect each person. How you deal with them is up to you. Don’t get me wrong, we all need to vent sometimes and that’s what friends (and the internet) are for but seriously, something bad happens to you EVERY day of your life? Nothing brings you happiness? You can’t find something to make you smile anywhere? There is nothing you can do to improve your life? I seriously doubt that. Hi, I’m Phoenix. I battle my demons every day. Some days I win and some days I don’t. I get that sometimes life gives us a raw deal, but I refuse to have a defeatist attitude about my life.

I understand “misery loves company” and the need to share sorrows and hardships with your peers – that’s what we do here on the Sober Blogging Network, but we also share our hopes, dreams and positive things about life too. Holding on to drama and grudges and swimming in a big vat of  “Everyone, and the world, is out to get me!” proclamations will never get you anywhere. At some point you have to take charge of your own life.

Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.”  — Chinese proverb

You have to make the decision to change what you don’t like and then follow up with practical choices. This means not only being open to new ideas, approaches and practices, being willing to explore them and try them out, but also figuring out if you would benefit from surrounding yourself with those who look for and talk about the positives in life despite their difficulties. Words are very powerful.  What you say and what you listen to affect your beliefs about the world. Finding others who believe in the possibilities rather than the impossibilities will help you to believe that you too can do anything. I know that no one has it all figured out but I’ve found that sometimes a good shake up, dust off, and re-organizing of the group of people you spend most of your time with is always good. Figure out who inspires and motivates you, and says “I can” more than they say “I can’t.” The ones who care about you, will listen when you need them to and appreciate the time, care and consideration you offer when they are in need too.

Life is too short to spend so much time complaining and bogged down with only negative and pessimistic attitudes. Life is too short to miss the brightside.

Love and light,
Phoenix

~*~

This is Post V, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Trauma

Korra Katara Healing 2

Katara: I can help guide your healing process, but whether you get better or not is up to you. I know what it’s like to go through a traumatic experience. And I promise you, if you dedicate yourself to getting better, you’ll recover, stronger than ever. The mind can be a powerful ally, or your greatest enemy.

Korra: I am trying to understand why this happened to me, but nothing makes any sense! I’m tired, Katara. I’m so tired.

Katara: Korra, I know you feel alone right now. But you’re not the first Avatar who’s had to overcome great suffering. Can you imagine how much pain Aang felt when he learned that his entire culture was taken from him? But he never let it destroy his spirit. He chose to find meaning in his suffering and eventually … found peace.

Korra: And … what am I going to find if I get through this?

Katara: I don’t know. But won’t it be interesting to find out?

Very upsetting, frightening, or traumatic events that happen to us, or that threatened or hurt someone we love are very powerful incidents that affect daily life. They are usually defined as experiences which are life threatening, or where there is a significant threat to one’s physical or psychological wellbeing. For example: physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; neglect; war experiences; outbursts of temper and rage; alcoholism (your own or in your family); physical illnesses, surgeries, and disabilities in your family; loss of close family members and friends; natural disasters; accidents.

When these kinds of things happen, we may not “get over” them quickly. In fact, we may feel the effects of these traumas for many years, even for the rest of our lives. Traumatic events result in frightening, distressing, and sometimes disabling emotional symptoms such as phobias, anxiety, depression, delusions, flashbacks, and dis-associative behaviour. Sometimes we don’t even notice effects right after the trauma happens. Years later we may begin having bothersome thoughts, nightmares, and other disturbing symptoms. We may develop these symptoms and not even remember the traumatic thing or things that once happened to us.

Some things that may be very distressing to one person hardly seem to bother another person. If something bothers you a lot and it doesn’t bother someone else, it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. People respond to trauma differently. The impact of an event may be related to the person’s mental and physical health, level of available support at the time of the event, and past experience and coping skills. As much as possible try not to trivialize your feelings about what happened to you, because you think others have or had it worse than you. Every experience you have is personal to you and how you feel about it matters.

As likely as it is that traumatic events can have debilitating repercussions, it is also as likely, that we make a conscious choice to ignore what happened. I know for me, I told myself that it did not happen. Just matter of factly, and very firmly, told myself that it did not happen. Unfortunately, in denying myself the opportunity to deal with the event, my emotions sought an outlet. And in the end it was not a healthy one. I turned all the anger, pain and confusion over what happened me, inward. Because I was ashamed and told myself that I was to blame, I was not very kind to my self, my mind or my body in a myriad of ways: binge drinking, obsessive compulsive behaviour, smoking, disrespecting my body, having unhealthy relationships, etc. The list is long. I’m sure you can imagine.

The year before I quit drinking, I started thinking and talking about what happened, but only when I was pretty intoxicated. Seemed like the story was trying to get out and be dealt with. Perhaps my authentic self had had enough. For whatever reason, when I finally quit drinking and started actively dealing with all the things I believed were at the root of the reason for my addictive personality, I had to come to terms with what happened. I did. I still am. It was a big step learning to accept what happened. The second step: not thinking that it was my fault was a lot harder, but the more love and understanding I showed myself, the easier it was to let go of self-blame. The third step: Learning and growing from the entire experience, is a work in progress. It will take some time but I know I will get there.

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” C.S. Lewis

Love and light,
Phoenix

~*~

In coming terms with a traumatic event, Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D recommends that we begin with the following:

  1. When you are traumatized, you lose control of your life. You may feel like you still don’t have any control over your life. You have to take back that control by being in charge of every aspect of your life. Others, including your spouse, family members, friends and health care professionals will try to tell you what to do. Before you do it, think about it carefully. Do you feel that it is the best thing for you to do right now? If not, you should not do it. It is important that you make decisions about your own life.
  2. Talk to one or more people about what happened to you. Make sure it is a person or people who understand that what happened to you is serious and that describing it over and over again to another person is part of the healing process. It should not be a person who says something like: “That wasn’t so bad;” “You should just forget about it;” “Forgive and forget;” or “You think that’s bad, let me tell you what happened to me.” You will know when you have described it enough, because you won’t feel like doing it anymore. Writing about it in your journal also helps a lot.
  3. You may not feel close to anyone. You may feel like there is no one you can trust. Begin now to develop close relationships with another person. Think about the person in your life that you like best. Invite them to do something fun with you. If that feels good, make a plan to do something else together at another time, maybe the following week. Keep doing this until you feel close to this person. Then, without giving up on that person, start developing a closer relationship with another person. Keep doing this until you have close relationships with at least five people. Support groups and peer support centers are good places to meet people.
  4. If you possibly can, work with a counselor or join a group for people who have been traumatized.

If you are having difficulty dealing with a traumatic experience this website offers tips on managing psychological trauma and can point you in the right direction: https://www.psychology.org.au/publications/tip_sheets/trauma/

~*~

This is Post T, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Someone Worthy?

Bolin and Korra laughBolin: Korra and I are perfect for each other: she’s strong, I’m strong; she’s fun, I’m fun; she’s beautiful, I’m gorgeous!

Last night I had a dream. Minutes before my wedding was supposed to start I had my maid of honour fetch my groom. I was freaking out and insisted I talk to him. I was flooded with doubts about getting married. I sat nervously at the corner of the bar, (don’t ask me why I was at a bar in my wedding dress). I nervously fiddled with the square placemat on the counter in front of me, lining up its edged with the edge of the countertop as I waited for him.

He walked up with his eyebrows raised, “What’s up babe?”

Words tumbled out of me as he sat down at the corner next to me. “I don’t know what I’m doing? Why do you want to marry me? Why did you choose me?”

My groom was not as eloquent as Bolin, in fact he cracked jokes to make me laugh, whispering that he was marrying me for my bum, my funny face, my cute troublesome ways and because he loved me.

~*~

I woke up in a cold sweat. For one, the groom was someone I’d had a terrible break up with years ago. But the real reason for the panic was the residual feeling from the dream. I could feel the sinking, desperate feeling that comes with insecurity and doubt. I didn’t think I was worth getting married to.

In most of my love relationships I question if I’m worthy. I fear that I am damaged and beyond repair and too needy of reassurances. Of course I try very hard to hide that side of myself and deign to speak of it out loud. But I know it is something I have been trying to address: Where does this sense of unworthiness come from? I understand that the feelings are partly rooted in childhood, but at some point don’t we have to be responsible for our thoughts and actions as adults?

I know I am smart, funny, loving, considerate, creative, pretty (except with bed-hair), and I try. I am working hard to be a better person. I know how much I have grown and I am proud of what I have accomplished. Yet, most of the time I, that feeling is always there, lodged in the pit of my stomach. Deep down, I fear that I am not someone who is worthy of love.

Love and light,
Phoenix

~*~

This is Post S, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Reconnect with Loved Ones

Toph and Korra

Toph: Your problem is, you’ve been disconnected for too long. Disconnected from the people who love you and disconnected from yourself.

Whenever I’m going through something difficult I have a tendency to pull away from loved ones. Especially in the past when I was still drinking. Sometimes it was because I felt ashamed or guilty for how I behaved and apologizing was too uncomfortable to deal with. Other times it was because I wanted to punish myself further and reinforce feeling alone. In other words I wanted to keep feeling sorry for myself. Sometimes I simply wanted space to figure things out, which is fair. But staying away for too long never did me any good.

I used to think that pulling away from loved ones would allow me to ignore my issues, but it didn’t. Over time and through much heartache, I learned that I can’t run away from the people who love me because in the end I need them as much as they need me. We are connected and share a bond because we were meant to be there for one another. Some journeys we cannot undertake alone and we should not put pressure on ourselves to do so.

I’ve learned that it is important to find a group of people (family members, friends, blogging community) who are willing to share your journey, cheering you on, caring for you, learning with you and helping you to heal. It is as important to also allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to ask for help. I did not do that in the past. I was ashamed and did not reach out when I really needed to. I equated vulnerability with weakness when it is actually the opposite. It takes strength to reach out and admit that we need help.

On that note, I am listening.
Love and light,
Phoenix

~*~

This is Post R, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Patience

Tenzin_and_a_frustrated_Korra (1)

Tenzin: There is no shame in taking the time you need to make a full recovery. I know you want to help. But trust me, everyone has this under control. I just think you need to …
Korra: [Angry.] If you say, “be patient”, I swear I’m gonna water-smack you in the mouth!
Tenzin: Nooo … I was going to say, you need to … [Searching for replacement advice] not worry about the future. Be grateful for where you are now and the progress you’ve made.

Last night a business associate took me out for dinner in the city’s art district. The restaurant was a cross between an art gallery, a bar and a restaurant. I loved the decor which set my mind’s cogs turning as I was finally feeling inspired enough to resume planning my pieces for an upcoming exhibition. The exhibition dates have been set for over a year and as usual, mired by doubt, I was procrastinating. Then of course, frustrated with my lack of progress, I’d berate myself for my creative block. I understand that the block is caused by a fear of failure. I want my pieces to be perfect and if I fall short, I’ll feel like a failure.

I do this to myself in other ways too. Like frowning at myself for being ashamed that I could not tell my business associate that I don’t drink at all. I shrugged off my decision to order a club soda and lemon, with an “Oh, I just don’t feel like drinking today.” Yet I gave myself a stern talking to before bed: “You have to get over this. You’ve been sober for over a year. Own your sobriety. Be proud of it and stop thinking that something is wrong with you. You should be further along in your acceptance of yourself.”

I might be right, but I can’t help feeling jealous when I read about others who totally own their sobriety, are open about it and never feel ashamed that they had to stop drinking. Me? I still worry that others will think less of me. Yes, I know I shouldn’t put so much stock in what others think and I am working on it. Times like this I have to be patient with myself and focus on how far I’ve come, instead of how far I have left to go.  I can notice and acknowledge the inner growth that is happening. I am a work in progress after all and I know I am in a better place than I was. I’m grateful for that.

Back to my upcoming exhibition. I know the best thing to do is to just focus on the work and enjoy the process. I have to trust that once I am true to myself, happy with what I create, and brave enough to put myself out there, that’s an accomplishment in itself. In the end that’s all that really matters. 

Tunnel Better Place Aang Iroh

Uncle Iroh: Sometimes life is like this dark tunnel. You can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving… You will come to a better place.

~*~

This is Post P, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Negotiating

Sokka meat and sarcasm guy

Sokka: Okay Karma person or thing – whoever’s in charge of this stuff, if I can just get out of this situation alive, I will give up meat and sarcasm. Okay? That’s all I got. It’s pretty much my whole identity, Sokka the meat and sarcasm guy, but I’m willing to be Sokka the veggies and straight talk fellow. Deal?

How many times, in the grip of a terrible hangover, have you declared, “God, if you can just get me through this day, I’ll never drink again!” Or while driving home inebriated said, “If I can just make it home safely, I’ll never get drunk again.” Negotiating and bargaining are familiar tools I remember wielding, with no effective use really other than attempting to convince myself that I was in control of the situation.

Around 1am one morning three years ago I was sobbing to a man in a white coat in a hospital ER. He left to attend to my best friend in the cubicle next to me. The curtains were drawn and she was crying out in pain as I prayed to God, making all sorts of deals with him if he’d just make sure that my best friend was okay. We should not have been out so late. We had promised each other that we’d be safe at home by 11:30pm. But 11:30 came and went with “one more round for the road” as is a common saying in my country. I was “sober enough to drive” and the accident was deemed not my fault as the driver of the other car had also been drinking and was drunk enough to break his red light, slam into my car and send it into a tailspin. He was not wearing his seatbelt and had bodyslammed his dashboard and windscreen. Two ambulances and one firetruck later we were in that ER calling out to each other through a flimsy blue curtain.

At 4am, after we were released from the hospital, I made all sorts of deals with God, The Universe, Queen Karma and anyone else I thought might be in charge as my best friend’s boyfriend drove us home, and cried for an hour sitting on the shower floor when I got home. I went to bed at dawn a very penitent girl with prayers and promises on my lips as I fell asleep.

But, of course, six weeks later my injuries had healed and I’d forgotten all about those promises. It would take another two years and two near misses for me to honour the deals I negotiated in that cold hospital emergency room.

~*~

This is Post N, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

The Lowest Point

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Aang: When we hit our lowest point we are open to the greatest change. 

I’ve found that on our soberversaries it’s customary for us to talk about “The night that changed it all”. My first soberversary was on February 3rd of this year but I wasn’t ready to talk about the night that was a turning point for me. I’m still not but I can talk about what was my lowest point. I was a binge drinker. Which means that I didn’t drink every day, or got drunk every time I drank, but I had problems with limits. Oh and most importantly, I used alcohol as a means of escape instead of dealing with life. Long story short, all binge drinkers can and will become alcoholics at some point. By the time I reached my low point I was drinking at least three times for the week and getting drunk about four times for the month. Once or twice a year I’d get drunk enough to have to rely on loved ones to drive me home. The last night was one of those nights. I’m not ready to talk about the details but I will say that my sister was there that night.

The next day when I called her to “find out what happened” the night before, she was calm, collected, and did not mince words. She is a highly practical and straightforward person and there was no emotion expressed as she narrated the events of the night before. Her tone of voice was one of resignation and acceptance. She said that she was not angry with me, but had decided that she would be better off if she removed herself from my life. THAT hit me very hard.

I know I did not quit drinking for my sister but her actions that day forced me to look at the kind of person I was. Who I knew myself to be deep down inside was not the person on the outside. The Me on the outside was drowning in alcohol related side effects and becoming someone who had no understanding of herself and honestly did not like herself very much. I ran from my issues, numbed them with alcohol, squashed any chance of healing or growing, and lashed out at loved ones, especially those closest to me. Like my sister. The fact that I could hurt her so much that she would consider removing herself from my life shook me to my core. It was my worst day.

And, in the end, it was also my best day. It was the day I changed my life.

Love and light, Phoenix.

~*~

This is Post L, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Judgment

the-legend-of-korra-season-4-episode-2-korra-alone

Writing or talking about judgment still bothers me. I feel my body reacting: mild tummy ache, tingles at the back of my neck, goose bumps, cold sweat, difficulty swallowing. I even have a name for that overly critical part of me: The Judge. A few years ago I saw a psychotherapist for about a year and she introduced me to The Empty Chair method in an attempt to help me figure out the source of my distorted self image and negative self worth. We had tried creative methods before (visualization and painting) but chose this particular method because of my reaction and resistance to connecting with that part of myself. From our visualization session before, I realized that although my anxiety about criticism and judgment was rooted in my early relationships with adults, over the years I developed a powerful and relentlessly judgmental side of myself. The Judge. She was the one who I now I had a problem with and wanted to reach. After all, “many things that seem threatening in the dark become welcoming when we shine light on them.”  The Empty Chair method, we hoped, would allow me to converse with that side of myself and work through the discomfort to accept and embrace her.

I sat on a chair facing an empty one. Switching back and forth between them I was going to take turns speaking for myself and for the Judge. We were going to have a conversation out loud. I imagined The Judge sitting across from me and was immediately uncomfortable. It was a bit embarrassing to see how my body responded to an imaginary version of me, pretty much the way I described above. It made me self-conscious and silly and I laughed but I knew I was going through with it. I was going to talk to The Judge and she was going to talk back to me.

Me: Um, well Hello. (I was actually sheepish and shy if you can believe it!)
The Judge: (In a tone of voice dripping with disdain!) Okay, hello. We’re here, now what? What do you want to say?
Me: Well, I’m not sure.
The Judge: As usual. You never know what you want. You’re always second guessing yourself.
Me: Ok fine! I want to know why you are so hard on me?
The Judge: You know why. (smugly)
(I have to say it was so weird being me and then being The Judge. My body language and tone of voice even changed from chair to chair!)
Me: No I don’t. (defensively). Well not really. Maybe. But even if I do, everyone makes mistakes.
The Judge: You are not everyone. You are supposed to be better than this.
Me: I can only be who I am.
The Judge: You should be more.
(I started to cold sweat and my breathing became shallow)
The Judge: You are supposed to be more. Not the mess that you are in now, sitting in this room talking to an empty chair. And crying about it! Smarter, wiser, more capable. No mistakes! You know better!
Me: At least I’m trying! Everyone makes mistakes. And I am not a mistake! (I was shouting back)
The Judge: Aren’t you?
Me: No! And I can be better. I am already better. And you have no right to talk to me this way!
The Judge: Why?
Me: (I was quiet) Because we are the same.
The Judge: Ah. (she smiled!) Why would you say that?
Me: Because I judged  you for judging me. I called you mean, cruel, out of place, stupid.
The Judge: Well I suppose I am all of those things. Sometimes. But I am more than that too.
Me: As am I.

Judgment is a funny thing. I’ve realized that in as much as it can feel intimidating and crushing, it can also help me to improve, if given and received with kindness. I am still working on forgiving myself and I try to understand my motivations (without criticism) and acknowledge my good intentions instead of berating myself for my past mistakes.

We can’t concern ourselves with what was. We must act on what is.” Gyatso 

Judging closes a door. The opposite of judging is compassion. When I am compassionate, I am open, connected, and more available to communicating respectfully with myself.

I saw this Dove ad the other day. It demonstrates really well how easy it is to judge ourselves unfairly and how harsh we really can be sometimes.

“We can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love.” ~Lori Deschene

Take care and be gentle with yourself. Hugs, Phoenix

~*~

This is Post J, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Emotions Don’t Have to Overwhelm Us

Iroh_and_Korra

Uncle Iroh: Korra, what’s wrong?
Young Korra: (eyes welling up with tears) I came here with my friend, but I lost her, and now I’m all alone.
Uncle Iroh: You’re not alone, Korra. It’s okay.
Young Korra: (frowns, then shakes her head and raises her fists in anger) No, it’s not okay! Jinora’s gone, and I need to find her! She’s lost, and we need to go home! (the flower bulb spirit wilts off to the side as a result of Korra’s shouting) I don’t like the Spirit World! I don’t want to be here anymore!

A dark storm cloud with a circling eye forms over the mountain in the distance and then blackens the sky. The fox spirits at the tea party growl viciously and howl, the plant spirits wilt, and May and Jim turn on each other.

Uncle Iroh: Korra, please, stop. (he touches her shoulder) Look at what you’re doing to everyone.
Young Korra: (looks around at all the suddenly angry or frightened spirits) I did that?
Uncle Iroh: In the Spirit World, your emotions become your reality. You must try to stay positive.

There is a dark pall over all the spirits as Korra sits back down. Iroh reaches toward her and dabs her tears away with a handkerchief. She sniffles, then turns to the spirits. Very calmly, she places her hands together and bows her head to them.

Young Korra: I’m sorry.

The spirits’ colors return to brightness and they stop growling or being sad. The dark cloud rapidly retreats back to its place over the mountain. Korra smiles in wonder as the sun shines down on her and Iroh beside her.

Uncle Iroh: (smiling) There, you see?
Young Korra: I can make the Sun shine?
Uncle Iroh: Even in the Material World, you will find that if you look for the light, you can often find it. But if you look for the dark, that is all you will ever see. 

~*~

This is one of my all time favourite scenes in the Legend of Korra as it illustrates three things I believe in:

We don’t have to let our difficult emotions, (fear, sadness, hurt, anger, despair) get the better of us. While we cannot change or control our emotions, we can acknowledge and release them.

We have the power to change how we see the world. When we succumb to our difficult emotions our perception of the world shifts. Everything can seem out to get us, or as if Murphy’s Law is the new world order. But, a shift in perspective is possible and is up to us.

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them.”  — Oscar Wilde

Emotions like anger, depression and anxiety can destabilize and imobilize us, but the answer is not in repressing them. I’ve found that it helps me to allow myself to experience the emotions instead of stifling them. I usually find that by allowing and accepting them, I can come to an understanding about what caused their intensity in the first place and eventually I can learn to trust what I feel.

“Nothing is more intimate to us than our emotions. The current of feelings that underlie all of our thoughts and physical sensations has a major influence on every choice we make. Even after a careful, rational analysis, we tend to make our final decisions based on what feels right to us. For that reason, it is vital that we heal and train our emotions to be reliable and trusted allies.” ~ Deepak Chopra

We all have light inside of us. It is a part of our creative core from which we draw positivity, courage and hope. We can make the sun shine, for ourselves and for those around us.

“You have light and peace inside of you. If you let it out you can change the world around you.”

Love, Phoenix

~*~

This is Post E, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.