Fear or Love? Which will it be? (pt. 2)

This post is a continuation of yesterday’s post. If you missed it, check here to catch up.

As my freezing thawed out, I began to choose love and I began to choose myself. bell hooks states it well: “The choice to love is a choice to connect—to find ourselves in the other.”

I found myself in several others, who were crucial to this thawing.

1. My Boresha family, who saw my light when I was in the depth of disaster and still walked with me. During my time with them in Orlando in March, they called me out on some of my more interesting poor choices; with their honesty and support I was able to break out of an abusive, red-flag littered relationship (a relationship, I should mention, which was a secret from most people in my life). Or in Dallas, in April, where another friend from Boresha said to me, “Monica, even though you don’t believe in yourself, I believe in you.” Funny story—I hadn’t ever stated that I didn’t believe in myself. When I saw that same friend in July and shared, “I don’t need you to believe in me anymore! I believe in me,” he replied, “I know! I can see it.”

2. My brother, Jonathan. Growing up, Jonathan and I were close: I sang him to sleep, I taught him to tie his shoes, I walked him up to preschool at the local highschool, I taught him our family song about our phone number and address. When I went away to college, he was only 7; as my family left, he turned to my mom and asked her when he would be an uncle. When my grandfather died in 2009, I chose to stay in the area so that I could be close to Jonathan. All of my other siblings had left the area, or were in college, and I didn’t want him to only have my parents nearby. He and I spent lots of time together especially from the spring of 2011 on. During my most frozen period, in the fall of 2011, Jonathan and I would watch tv shows together: True Blood, Once Upon a Time, Glee, and many others. It was a ritual. Sometimes we’d chat, but mostly, we just sat together. Spring 2012, Jonathan was busy with senior activities, but we still found time for each other. We’d talk about life, relationships, family. Jonathan just let me be who I was, with no expectations or demands. That was a gift.

3. My acupuncturist, Mary. Mary has a knack for holding that same space which my brother holds so well—a space of love and acceptance. She would challenge me to action and said once, “Well, either do something about it or stop bitching.” That precision and clarity and love helped heal me. Action was such an important step in transforming from a life motivated by fear to a life motivated by love.

4. Debbie. Yet again, I return to that space-holding. Debbie held a space for me that nobody else does—and man, did we fight to earn that space. (Read here for more from her perspective on that story or here for some of mine). Debbie listened and loved and challenged and always always always allowed me to express and be wherever I was at with zero judgment. She continues to hold this space for me and I am so grateful for this gift.

There are several other people who or situations that helped me transform my motivation from one of love to fear, but I’ll save them for other entries.

bell hooks, in her book All About Love, writes, “a soul connection is… between people who respond to the essential beauty of each other’s individual natures, behind their facades, and who connect on a deeper level. This kind of mutual recognition provides the catalyst for a potent alchemy. It is a sacred alliance whose purpose is to help both parties discover and realize their deepest potentials.”

Mutual recognition, essential beauty of the other, connection, alchemy.  What powerful words.

Now that I’m not driven and consumed by fear (although it still sneaks in sometimes), I am able to hold that same space which Mary, Debbie, Jonathan, and several others have held for me. The space is a posture of love and welcome, a space that allows the other to be other, for I am no longer threatened by that-which-is-not-me. I know that all love, lose, triumph, fail. In this recognition, I can connect with other, I can hold that space and I can act, not from fear, but from love—and with that love, I can transform my world and the world of those I encounter.

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Sometimes, it takes a volcano

“The choice to love is a choice to connect, to find ourselves in the other.”
bell hooks

Three months ago, I was beginning to think about my trip to Guatemala and how to prepare for it. Two months ago I had just returned from Guatemala and knew that my life was uniquely transformed. One month ago I fumbled about in the ramp up of clients that accompanies the beginning of the school year.  Today, I return to writing here, certain that my responsibility is to share the voices of those I meet.

A month ago, a volcano erupted in Guatemala: Volcan de Fuego.  During my trip, I had seen and taken pictures of many volcanos (from afar); Juan Carlos and Andres had assured us that most of them were dormant or inactive.  I felt safe–the volcanos were like the marketplaces: different than what I’d see at home, but common landscape in Guatemala.

I stopped posting here for many reasons, but one of them was I got stuck navigating my schedule change.  Schedule transitions are always rough for me in the beginning before I hit a new stride and this one was taking longer than they usually do.  My days were filled with clients, traffic, appointments, cleaning, rock climbing, not to mention the basics like sleeping and eating.  No time to write. No time to ground in Guatemala. No time to breathe. Continue reading