Integration

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As filled with chaos as my life has been this year…the sorrow, grief, loss, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and frustration…the one thing I always knew for certain was that something wonderful was taking place. I had no idea what the outcome would be…I still can’t say with certainty what the outcome will be. But, I’ve always known that life as I’ve previously known it was saying good-bye.

One amazing side effect of all of these shifts and changes in my life is that of integration. All of the pieces of myself that I’ve left in various places, with different people, kept hidden from certain groups of people…all of those pieces no longer wish to be separated or differentiated. It is time for all of them to come together in a unified human. Not in the old ways as the pieces once fit together, but rather, in a new unknown configuration. As each little piece falls into its perfect place, I watch in awe and amazement…acutely aware that some greater force is undoubtedly orchestrating this entire metamorphosistic process.

Last night, I realized that this blog is also asking for integration. I spent many hours trying to figure out how to keep this blog as it is…I like the safety…the anonymity…the premise…the wee collection of posts. Was I really ready to reveal myself to the world and let the world fully embrace all that I have to say and share with the world? The more I contemplated this, the more it became quite clear that despite the twinge of sadness, the answer was yes.

So, this will be my last post on this particular blog…to be continued in a new one that integrates all the different pieces of me in one place. Eventually, I hope to pull all of these posts over to the new blog so that there really is a continuity of experience for those who will need it in the future.

For you who have shared the journey of finding my voice and traversing the cocoon, thank you for your support and  companionship. I hope that, should you feel called to continue with me in this next phase of my life, you will join me at http://gyselagervais.wordpress.com.

With gratitude,
~Gysela

 

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Gratitude Journal Entry #24

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Tonight, I’m grateful for a lovely walk around town as I ran errands this morning. I’m grateful for sipping fresh, organic juices from my local health food store as I ran my errands. I’m grateful for finding some waterless shampoo so that I can clean a 4′ teddy bear to give to my favorite library patron for Christmas 🙂 I’m grateful that I found/accomplished all that I needed on my errand run and was home by lunch.

I’m grateful for a delicious lunch, followed by going through more stuff from the garage. I’m deeply grateful that my emotional attachment to things from my past is waning significantly so that it’s easy to let it go. I’m grateful that a family who has no money for Christmas this year asked for craft stuff for their little girl. I’m so grateful that I have so much of it to share with her. I’m grateful that while sorting through my abundant craft supplies, I was able to remember with so much happiness all the things I created with all of these things, and all the friendships and memories shared with people I love so much. I’m grateful that this inspired Mom to start going through her supplies as well, and that it feels so good to let go of things I no longer need.

I’m grateful for my piano students who always have so much to teach me.

I’m grateful for abundance.

I’m grateful for sharing.

I’m grateful for hugs.

I’m grateful for flow.

I’m grateful for tenderness.

I’m grateful for love.

 

Gratitude Journal Entry #22

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Tonight, I’m grateful that kitty finally stopped yeowling around the house this morning after I threatened to put him on the rainy balcony.

I’m grateful for a lovely walk in the rain as I purchased food items for lunch. I’m grateful for the inspiration to cook my favorite comfort food: lentil soup, tabbouleh, hummus, GF crustinos, and garlic sauce. I’m grateful Mom came home while I was making it so she could help me. I’m grateful that even though the texture wasn’t quite right, the flavor was spot on.

I’m grateful for time to read and research. I’m grateful that I can file for unemployment online…and did.

I’m grateful for the food that we did purchase at the farmer’s market. I’m grateful that there’s another one nearby on Saturday at which I can purchase more because my main farmer didn’t come today. I’m grateful that I had an abundance of soup to share with one of my favorite farmers.

I’m grateful for all the beautiful mint sprouts on my mint plant. I’m grateful that the rose plant is really starting to thrive and bloom. I’m grateful for all the time spent with flowers…tending and arranging them around the house.

I’m grateful for all the different colors that I can see. I’m grateful for crayons, and pencils, and paint so that I can color m world. I’m grateful for the peace that always settles deep within whenever I color a mandala.

I’m grateful for a lovely yoga class this evening. I’m grateful for the relaxing shower afterwards. I’m grateful for the blend of incense, steam, fog, and wood smoke. I’m grateful for my body blend of rose, sandalwood, frankincense, and geranium oils. I’m grateful that my pillow smells of these as well.

I’m grateful for integration.

I’m grateful for soothing.

I’m grateful for inner support.

I’m grateful for inner loyalty.

I’m grateful for tenderness.

I’m grateful for gentleness.

I’m grateful for love.

Gratitude Journal Entry #21

Tonight, I’m grateful for honoring my body and soul’s need to be completely off-line due to higher dimensional work this morning. I’m grateful for easing into the day with a massive cup of ginger/pau d’arco tea.

I’m grateful for the time spent nurturing myself today…a walk in the rain, a trip to the doctor’s office, a visit with my spiritual teacher, a chat with a girlfriend, watching Friends with Mom, snuggles with kitty, connecting with former students.

I’m grateful for time to blend essential oils just for me, and the delicious feeling of receiving when slathering the product all over. I’m grateful for a new book on the energy healing components of flowers.

I’m grateful for the rain and the soothing dripping sound from the palm trees. I’m grateful that my garden can benefit too.

I’m grateful for a clean kitchen and the number for a carpet cleaner.

I’m grateful for time.

I’m grateful for awareness.

I’m grateful for remembering.

I’m grateful for peace.

I’m grateful for the absence of fear.

I’m grateful for giggles.

I’m grateful for caresses.

I’m grateful for love.

 

Gratitude Journal Entry #20

Tonight, I’m grateful for waking up easily without an alarm clock. I’m grateful for waking up with hot ginger tea and yoga. I’m grateful for the beautiful walk on the beach, and that no one was there with me.

I’m grateful for the ability to walk on my own and to take myself places I want to go. I’m grateful for my eyes so that I can see the gorgeous colors of the ocean. I’m grateful for my nose so that I can appreciate the smell of eucalyptus, wood smoke, salt air, and tea. I’m grateful for the sensual sensitivity of my skin so that I can appreciate the mist of the fog as it rolls in, the shivery warmth of a fire in the fireplace, the coziness of fleece, and the caress of the breeze. I’m grateful for fingers that allow me to play music. I’m grateful for a lap so that kitty can sit in it while I play the piano.

I’m grateful for the generosity of others giving out of their abundance to me.

I’m grateful for letting more and more stuff go, and the internal freedom that results. I’m grateful that internal freedom is mirrored in my body relaxing. I’m grateful that for the first time in my life, this letting go in my body is allowing me to almost touch my toes.

I’m grateful for a day of nurturing myself, and exploring my natural rhythms. I’m grateful for using Google Calendar to create a schedule that honors those rhythms.

I’m grateful for optimism.

I’m grateful for trust.

I’m grateful for partnership.

I’m grateful for my beloved.

I’m grateful for adventure.

I’m grateful for exploration without fear.

I’m grateful for abundance.

I’m grateful for hope.

I’m grateful for love. 

 

Discomfort

 

Sometimes I forget, in the intensity of my journey, how my changes affect those around me.

As I have grown, shed, evolved, shed again, and continued to come back into alignment with myself the internal process has been all-consuming. Sometimes, the changes and shifts happen so fast that I don’t understand what has happened…sometimes it takes several months to really comprehend the edges of such things, much less the core. For most of this year, there has been so much inner flux that my concentration has primarily been on breathing from one moment to the next.

So, I suppose it’s understandable that I completely lost track of how my changes were affecting my outer world…and my perceptions of it. And it has…changed.

Through this process, I’ve become more and more aware of an inner restlessness and a pulling toward something, but I have had no idea what that something actually is. I would search for it in meditation, but it was too nebulous…like a bat in the night…fleeting and never quite identifiable. To be honest, I’m not sure if the fleetingness was due to the actual issue or my fear…for there was a great amount of fear. How could I step into that pulling when I didn’t even know what it was? I had a great job…I lived in a great town…I had a great life. I’d be a fool to throw that all away just because something was flitting about “out there” calling me. The whole thing seemed ludicrous to me, so I just shoved the impulse of my heart down and away and continued on.

But a funny thing happened…work began to lose its appeal. My co-workers were no longer so congenial. My boss became less competent and much more out of integrity. I kept bumping up against the walls of my home, where formerly I had felt a lot of room. Gradually, I became aware of all the cracks in my life…all the places that really weren’t so fabulous…all the things I had chosen to ignore for one reason or another.

I told myself I was just ungrateful…that I wanted too much…that I thought too much of myself. I tried to change my thinking by expressing gratitude for all the marvelous things in my life…of which there were many. And then another funny thing happened…the gratitude grew! I had lots and lots more to be grateful for, and so I expressed even more gratitude. But there was a side-effect…the discomfort with my life didn’t ease. Not even a little bit. Instead, it grew! 

How is that even possible?! I’m expressing gratitude for my amazing life…and believe me, it really is amazing…and my discomfort is not abating at all? Rather, my soul’s calling toward something bigger and greater, with more responsibility, more passion, more integrity, more consciousness grew with such intensity that there were times I just couldn’t sit still in my chair at work. 

But, I just couldn’t face this calling. It was too big…what if I couldn’t handle it? It was too much responsibility…what if I failed? It required too much of me…what if I couldn’t live up to my own expectations? What if I risked everything and was left holding nothing? I have responsibilities now…responsibilities I can’t just walk away from simply because my heart is calling me to some unknown, nebulous idea. That is just foolishness. So, down it went again. Yet, I continued to express daily gratitude.

And then work became unbearable. Co-workers’ practices became so distasteful to me that all trust eroded away. I suddenly saw them and their practices because I saw their true motivations, and I was appalled. I realized that my perfect life that I had so carefully guarded, defended, and had given my loyalty wasn’t at all what I thought it to be. But, maybe I could change it. Maybe, if I pointed out the areas that lacked integrity, these things could be fixed and I wouldn’t have to walk away. Maybe that’s why I was still in my job…to teach and to fix. So I opened my mouth.

Alas. My words resulted in me being labelled a troublemaker. My attitude was labelled contentious. My quality of work was called into question…even though the quality of my work was higher than ever before. My honor and my character were questioned and I was accused of things that would be impossible for my character to allow. My protests and scads of documentation fell on deaf ears. I stared in amazement as my life started to crumble. 

In a last-ditch effort, I asked for support from Human Resources and we began mediated conversations to try to reconcile the situation. Each week, as I entered the meetings, my internal discomfort increased. I sat in increased amazement as week after week I presented the documentation, studies, professional guidelines, and accepted practices against the reality of my job only to see blank faces staring back at me like I was a crazy person spewing an incomprehensible language.

Six weeks into the process I broke. I went home completely devastated. I asked my mother that night if I was insane. She said no. I called another friend…and another…and another…all asking the same question. They all replied with the same answer. I called other professionals in my same line of work. Same response.

I felt stuck.

Confused. 

I could see the problem…and the answer. Why wouldn’t anyone listen to me?

Then my heart called again. 

Wearily, I glanced in its direction. 

It invited me to imagine…to take a journey with my mind and heart aligned…to really examine my dreams, my hopes, my wishes, my needs, my wants…to see them fully and completely…free of fear. So, I did. The discomfort, however, didn’t go away…it only increased, because I finally could see. I could see that my present life is no longer in integrity with the internal changes I have made…and those internal changes are calling me to something else. Without the fear, I could see that while painful, my co-workers were honoring my heart more than I had. They were not letting me stay in my comfortable place when I really desired, and was ready for, something more. 

When Monday morning came, I walked into the Human Resources department and stated that it was time for me to leave my job. The response shocked me…they were shocked…the entire school, my boss, my co-workers…everyone. I was incredulous! How could they be shocked? Wasn’t this what they wanted? 

Wasn’t this also what you wanted?

As I walked back to my office, I heard a meeting adjourn in the higher realms. Chairs pushing back, sighs of relief as though breaths had been held, cheers, hands shaking, back clapping, and all kinds of murmuring. What came through most strongly to me was: She finally did it! She finally made a decision. Now we can get to work!

In that moment, I felt like a shell fell off my back.

I broke through.

I broke free.

I expanded into my full self.

The relief flooded in. 

I chose me. 

I chose my heart.

I choose the unknown.

I choose the void.

Let the miracles continue.

 

Assurance

Yesterday, I saw two of these within five minutes of each other. And while there wasn’t a third one, I was surprised to discover that I was expressing gratitude at my inner reaction…or rather, the lack of the usual reaction, and the new one that is taking its place.

When beginning the process of dreaming a bigger dream, I had many many doubts as to the reality of it ever coming true. My dreams seemed so big and so out of reach and so impossible…the idea that they could happen to me was ludicrous. While a part of me did believe that anything is possible…and I still do…I just couldn’t reconcile the gap of reality between where I was and where my dreams were. Whenever I saw my threes, I felt my insecurities…my unworthiness…and the vast divide separating me from my dreams seemed too big for any bridge to span in this lifetime.

The threes became slivers of hope after a while…hope that even though I couldn’t quite believe in my dreams, I knew that someone did, and I held on to that other’s hope in me…hoping that one day I’d be able to carry that hope and certainty for myself.

Today, as I only saw two, I realized that the insecurities are almost gone…definitely, the unworthiness is gone. There was a calm sense of certainty…of knowing…of assurance…that not only were my dreams possible, but that they actually were going to come true. 

I smiled.

My soul danced.

Gratitude Journal Entry #18

Today, several worlds collided: libraries, cemeteries and San Francisco…all because of Harvey Milk.

I finally watched the film “Milk” today.

It’s been on my list of films to watch since it was released, but like other films, such as “Marie Antoinette,” anything on JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., “The Winds of War,” “The Last King of Scotland,” “Hotel Rwanda,” etc., it’s really hard to be motivated to watch them…because I know how they end…violently. And, when so much of my life has been about surviving violence in some form or another, watching it in another’s life is often more than I can bear. But, when I do finally watch, I always learn something new…about my world…about my perceptions…about myself.

I returned to live in the United States at the age of 18…after living 12 years in  foreign countries…the last of which was ravaged by war. My family eventually settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, which I grew to love as my home in the United States. I loved The City. I loved the diversity. I loved the tolerance. I loved that no matter how odd or geeky I felt or looked, there was always someone nearby who was even more so than I…and I especially loved that no one cared. This is where I learned to drive. I figured that if I could survive a foray into The City with a Honda Civic hatchback stick shift…navigating Market Street and stop signs that required the use of the hand-brake, I could do anything. San Francisco showed me that there was a place for me…that I was powerful…that I was unique…that I was valuable. Apparently, I’m not the only one who experienced the magic of that city. And now, I understand why I love Yerba Buena Gardens and Moscone Center…the War Memorial Opera house, where I heard my first opera…city hall…and The Castro. These places have always been beautiful to me…now they are even more so…because someone who lived there before me made a choice to make a difference.

In pondering the film as the credits rolled, I thought of all the books that are passing through my hands at work…a project that involves all the biographies in the library. Each time I work with a book, I learn something new about a time period, a person, event, a place. And, each time, I marvel. I marvel at the ordinariness of these people’s lives…and the magnificence that mingles with the mundane. Most of the biographies I see are about people history will never teach. And yet, these people did significant things in the eyes of those around them. They made a difference. It may not have been on the scale of averting a world war…but…perhaps it was. And, while Newton’s Third Law may have application in the physical world, not all actions have equal and opposite reactions. Sometimes, human actions have exponentially more powerful reactions that propel something further, or in a new direction,than the original action…and all it took to start the cascade was one tiny word or smile or vote. And then I think, I’m the fortunate one…to be able to learn about all of these people, who, by their seemingly small and unknown lives, have contributed to my life…simply by living…and being…and participating in life.

Then I realize this is why I love going to cemeteries. It’s not because I’m a zombie fan…I’m not. It’s not because I have a love of the macabre…I don’t. It’s not because I have a fascination with death and the dead…I don’t. I’ve seen death…in others, and in my face as I looked down the barrel of an automatic weapon…several times. I’m not afraid of death, but neither do I celebrate it. What I celebrate are the lives of those who have lived before me. When I’m in a cemetery, it’s as though the collective wisdom and experience and knowledge of all those people buried there teach me. It might be something as simple as sitting still, watching the grass grow. It might be the awareness that life is short and that I have the opportunity to live without fear. It might be that I’m inspired to be open to the passionate devotion of a lover and spouse. It might be to strengthen the bonds of friendship with someone who has melted into the background of my life. I never leave unchanged…I never leave without being just a bit wiser…because of someone else’s life.

So, tonight, I’m once again in deep awe and gratitude for all the people who have lived before me…documented either in films, books, or on tombstones…whose lives created tiny changes, that after many years, added up to massive changes for a better existence for humanity. I’m especially grateful for the ordinary, unknown people who often did more significant things…they just didn’t realize it at the time. They just lived their lives…some of them more gracefully than others, but all of them worthwhile and courageous. Tonight, I’m grateful for all of these people…for all the things they did that we might never know…for all the small choices they made that made the world tilt slightly…so that my life could be what it is.

Thank you.

Gratitude Journal Entry #16

 

Tonight, I’m grateful for the life of my Aunt Betty. I’m grateful for her strength as a woman in a family of overbearing men. I’m grateful for her presence in my life as a child, modeling that strength, and understanding and supporting me in ways no one else could.

I’m grateful for her never-ending support of me through my parent’s divorce and my father’s illness. I’m grateful that she understood what my true responsibilities were even when I didn’t…and that she encouraged me to go live my life without guilt or responsibility for them or their actions.

I’m grateful for her honesty and wisdom.

I’m grateful for her earthy sense of humor and common sense.

I’m grateful for her consistency and her devotion to those she loves…even when it was painful.

I will greatly miss not having her as a resource and guide in human form, and I’m grateful that I’m developing the ability to hear her soul even if it no longer resides in a human body.

Thank you Aunt Betty for your life…I’m grateful to have been a small part of it.

Gratitude Journal Entry #15

To the most amazing senior class I’ve ever had the pleasure to know: Thank you.

Thank you for your unwavering dedication and commitment to excellence every single day of your high school career.

Thank you for your default setting of kindness, thoughtful communication, and humble leadership.

Thank you for setting examples…not in never making mistakes, but in how you handled the consequences.

Thank you for your hearts…for sharing your genuine spirits that resulted in others following your example.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives for four years and for exploding my heart into a million pieces in order to feel all the emotions I felt today.

Thank you for the tear-producing laughter, the thought-provoking conversations, the exquisite writing and life-changing research.

Thank you for being the kind of people who, simply by being who you are, will change the world.

Congratulations Class of 2012…I’m grateful for you.

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