Archive for regret

Risk. Regret. Realism.

By Guest Blogger, Andrea Lea-Kraus.

risk

1: Possibility of loss or injury : peril
2: The chance that an investment (as a stock or commodity) will lose value

regret:
1 a : To mourn the loss or death of
1 b : To miss very much
2 : To be very sorry for

realism:
1 : Concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary

Sometimes… when the concept-mosquitoes are swarming around the muggy, boggy swamp of my mind… 

I have to dip into the clear, cool, as-yet-untainted (by that sticky, humid, south Georgia-in-July, bulldog-with-a-bone mind), Merriam-Webster-well take on what words mean. Take it back to the basics. Detach a little. Relax the jaw.

Somehow, grabbing onto a definition helps things feel less personal when every thought in the swarm seems to itch for days, sometimes at an intensity level that sends me clawing awkwardly for that unreachable spot one inch to the right of the angel-bone – you know, the one on the tight-shoulder-side of life.

Words like shame, regret, disappointment, regret, never, too late, settle, dissatisfaction, regret, are fast-breeding parasites in the muddled mind; squatters in the high-rent district whose rights are illogically and ironically protected by universal law, who have only to show up to get a free meal and a place to stay.

How unfortunate and unfair that words like forgiveness, self-love, beauty, perfection, joy, good, have to be lassoed into one’s consciousness over and over, with never-ending dedication and a fool’s faith – like doing crunches every day to keep in touch with those abs we’ve heard are underneath – just to make a blip on one’s screen of awareness (I mean, how many crunches have you done without seeing any result? What does it take???).

So, several parasitic concepts are giving me the itch right now.

The double-edged blade of “risk” is neither friend nor foe, though we tend to sing the praises of the shiny side of the sword here (and rightly so – enough of that toothy, serrated side being worshipped out there), but I cannot help but see how the risks I have taken in my life have mostly led me down the painful path to regret. My mind is pretty clever sometimes, in the Cheshire Cat way that minds can be clever enough to lead one just out of earshot of one’s higher voice – one’s True Voice? – so intellectually I know that I can take this idea and spin it into a positive… but where does the spin begin and where does it end?

Once I start the new-age “think positive” spin, how do I decide what was first spun and what is just REAL?

I can say that all my risks worked out because we all got out alive and it could always be worse, but that’s not real – that’s not what I really feel. That’s a manufactured thought, designed by the Cheshire cat mind and the new wave of feel-good thinking which, by the way, I buy into 99%.

I keep being drawn back to the scene in Adam Sandler’s Spanglish where Tia Leone’s character is having a nervous breakdown in her big, black SUV with her mother standing by the window saying, “lately your low self-esteem is just good common sense.”

I usually only write or appear in any way when I have something figured out; when I have trekked past the mirage’s promise of quenching my thirst on the surface, and burrowed deeply enough into the earth’s bosom to slurp one sip of crystal clear truth, swirling it around on my parched palate, grateful and cleansed…

But that is not where they send my mail. I am thrilled to have a glimpse now and then and bring home my big fish tales to anyone who’ll listen, but I dwell too in this buggy swamp with the squatters and skeeters.

I am not sure what I am risking today. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually known what was at risk in the moment that I “took” it. There has always been an unfolding of joys or consequences I could not have seen around those corners. I’m not sure if it is “good” to share the negative feelings while they still feel negative. I’ve always gone with the if-you-don’t-have-something-nice-to-say dogmatic principle, so this is a new approach for me.

I’m going to say that I’m risking looking at my shit realistically and owning the fact that I feel, at times, like I could drown in a sea of regret. Like I am on damage control. Like I’ll do the best with where I got myself but I followed that damn disappearing, hallucinated Cheshire cat so far off course that I have given up on finding my way back… like I can never risk again because I am frozen by the cold reality of how long and empty the hall of life can feel and how far an echo can travel. Like I need to mourn some losses (is mourning a task one can ever complete?).

Maybe I’m risking a different kind of honesty.

My life is so good and I have so much to be joyful about in the NOW – but I am apparently never quite finished punishing myself for my past mistakes, so I have to rip myself out of the moment (don’t worry, I know it’s wrong and I am already punishing myself for this, too). That’s not the sort of thing you admit on a blog! This is a place for higher thinking and self-development, answers and solutions, steps forward and progress!

The best I can say is that Mercury is retrograde and I am, too.

This post originally appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay Blog Project which has now concluded.

 Andi Lea-Kraus is a yoga teacher, personal trainer, writer , and all-around artist who is cracking the code of the symbolic and recording the spiritually hilarious. Her adventures so far have included several years and a cooking show in post-Apartheid South Africa, a stint in rural south Georgia, a brief but sparkling singing career which she intends to revive, and a glorious indigo daughter named Dom. When she’s not teaching, training, writing, painting, taking photos, singing, or doing laundry, Andrea can be found in her kitchen, channeling her grandmother through new recipes, and feeding folks. Andi’s plans for the future include finding her way to the musical theatre stage. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website here.

Om-azing Grace

By guest blogger, Andrea Lea

I have been practicing yoga off and on for fourteen years now. More off than on, quite frankly. I cannot explain why there has been more off time, considering how much I love yoga and how yoga has always been there for me (when I showed up), but it is the reality. Because of the emotional turmoil of my teen years I developed an odd resistance to things which were good for me. I gave many of those “off” years to cigarettes and depression, I suppose, and let me tell you, you cannot have a consistent yoga practice and be a depressed smoker at the same time (make no mistake: this depressed smoker was disguised as someone having a lot of fun). In fact, I’m pretty sure that smoking cigarettes is the exact polarity of a pranayama practice!

We all make these trade-offs along the way, and usually we know when we are giving ourselves the short end of the stick. I knew ten years ago that I had a special relationship with yoga – that I could bring yoga to people, or translate, if you will – but I was so unwilling to part with my last little bit of teen angst and petulance that it didn’t seem worth it at the time. It felt like sacrifice. It felt like giving up something I loved. It did not feel like freeing myself from the enslavement of addiction and rewarding myself with something that brought me true joy and calm. So I lit another menthol and decided to think about it a little longer…

In early 2009 (no longer smoking or depressed) it occurred to me that I wanted to teach yoga to teenagers. Those are the years during which so much of our programming gets locked in, and many adults never seem to transcend it. I want to help kids find the strength and balance – in body, mind, and spirit – to navigate the white squalls of high school life with their dignity and identity intact. In August I got my first yoga teacher certification, and today – November 2nd – I taught my first kids’ and teens’ yoga class!

Here’s what I learned (which I believe applies to all risk):

1 – Leap!
2 – Have a detailed plan – be very prepared.
3 – Forget your plan. Go with energy flow in the room.
4 – Laugh.
5 – Note the net that appeared when you weren’t looking. (Moment of gratitude for net)
6 – NEVER convince yourself that ANY group is a “tough audience” – only outpicture the best possibilities
7 – ALWAYS remember, in every situation, that people are people. If you look them in the eyes, smile, and be authentic, you will experience the best of everyone you meet.
8 – Stop punishing self for “wasted time” or anything else that rings of mistake- or regret-like energy. Those lessons will become tools if we let them.
9 – Ten minutes of meditation (or quiet centering) can open ten doors in your heart, your mind, and on your path. Never once have I wished I hadn’t taken the time to meditate!
10 – Loosen your white-knuckled clinging attachment to a particular outcome. Indulge in the satisfaction of a risk well-taken and start planning your next one…

…which is, for me, to escape to a north Georgia cabin alone to complete my first book.

Namaste!

Andrea Lea is a writer who is cracking the code of the symbolic and recording the spiritually hilarious. Her adventures so far have included several years and a cooking show in post-Apartheid South Africa, a stint in rural south Georgia, a brief but sparkling singing career which she intends to revive, and a glorious indigo daughter named Dom. When she’s not painting, taking photos, writing, singing, or doing laundry, Andrea can be found in her kitchen, channeling her grandmother through new recipes, and feeding folks.

This post originally appeared on RiskADay.com.

Be Afraid

 

Really – it’s ok. We’re built for it. Facing up to fear takes courage, and most of us probably have more than we think.  The word courage comes from the French “coeur” or the Latin “cor,” meaning heart.  So there it is – our heart is our “courage muscle.”  We all have it and to make it stronger, we need to exercise it.

Just like putting in regular time at the gym keeps many of our other muscles strong, we can build our courage muscle too – by taking risks.  This doesn’t mean you have to climb a mountain or jump from an airplane (but if you’re moved to do so, by all means, do).  Risks can be large or small, and what might be a risk for me isn’t necessarily one for you.  But deciding and planning to take “risks of the heart” and then taking note of the outcome can help you to Learn about yourself, Love who and what you find in the learning, Live the life that only you can live, and then Lead the world, by joyful example, to do the same. Read more about how others are doing this at my RiskADay blog.

Notice that I didn’t say that you have to be “successful.”  In taking risks, we don’t always get the result that we want.  But trust me, rewards do come regardless of the outcome of taking the risk.  If we truly follow our hearts, there’s value simply in that.  “Cor” is also the root of the English word core.  Isn’t that fitting?  The desires of our heart are truly at the core of who we are.  Perhaps that’s why this can be difficult.

We live in an extremely risk-averse society, and we don’t like disappointment.  Making the conscious decision to take a risk isn’t easy.  We worry:  What if I fail?  What if I look foolish? What if I do get the result I want, and then find I don’t really want it?  This is where a strong courage muscle makes the difference.  The practice of risk-taking helps us to recognize that there will always be reward, rather than allowing ourselves to be stalled in worry and regret.  If we are open to the lesson to be learned simply from taking the risk, we learn more about ourselves, our desires, our limits, our dreams.  We exercise our courage muscle and it grows stronger.  We grow stronger.  The world grows stronger.  But that’s for another post, so stay tuned!

Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway. – Robert Anthony