Following (Counter) Intuition

(Song Dedication: That’s Life made popular by Frank Sinatra but covered by Shawn James…because…ha…that’s life.)

Inspiration for today’s write brought to you by my lack of inspiration this past week.

Not that inspiration didn’t exist, but it was on a pretty low frequency; inaudible to my human senses…drowned out by the busy distraction of anxiety, projection, and malcontent.

For a while on my wellness journey I was pretty committed to eradicating counterproductive feelings like worry and resentment, but as all things seem to do in what might be some cosmic joke about the structure of an atom in relation to planet Earth or how our solar system operates or even the existence of us within this vast universe, this realization is now coming full circle.

Let me go way back to this morning.  I was slated for my usual morning yoga practice, but even as premature as last night, I was feeling a hesitation to practice today.  Needless to say, when I awoke I still felt something within me roll over sluggishly and mumble, we should just stay home this morning instead of doing all that restorative breath and movement crap.  I was slightly offended by this obviously shitty attitude and gave myself a good talking to.  The only time we miss yoga is if we have another health appointment, which we do not today, so WE are going whether you like it or not.  End stop. (Because you know what? I am the boss of me!)

We did make a small concession and decided to walk after yoga class, skipping the morning fog and frost. (I am gonna stop referring to myself as “we” now, because frankly, I am getting weirded out by it.) As per usual, yoga was exactly what I (and shitty-attitude-sarah) needed to get moving out of that funk.  The class was different than usual; a little more gentle than some days when we do a lot of strength based work.  I felt pleased to have been in attendance and momentarily struck at one point by the earlier echoes of initial resistance as I bowed in a variation of humble warrior mixed with low lunge.

Oh that pose…it does something to my heart when I hold it and breath it in.

Like this, but with forearms to the mat in a humble bow.

It is a difficult pose for me to make contact with all four of my limbs to the mat and it feels like a counterpose to my life, going in at least 3 different compass points with my body in space but feeling completely grounded and present as my chin drops toward my heart.  Powerful peace as I picture the rest of the bodies participating in the same space.

Taking that reinstated presence into my day as a gift.  The fog had dissipated, leaving the sun to warm my face unencumbered; a welcome sensation I know is dwindling as fall quickly comes to a close in this part of the world.  I put on a podcast I had been saving for the right moment to indulge in and knew my timing was perfect.  I was open and ready to receive!

When the Ted Interview began, Elizabeth Gilbert’s familiar warm tone (I had listened to her Big Magic audiobook, read by none other than herself in the Spring) filled my earbuds as she discussed her new works and creative endeavours and her vulnerability was palpable answering each question with complete presence and compassion.  I found solace in her struggles and connection in her passion for the process, not the outcome.  She really was practicing what she was preaching.  We are better for our experiences of doing and committing, not for the purpose of how the story may turn out in the end…because really, there is no end.

This helped me realize a fear I had been carrying with me for a while now, possibly as far back as when He first left us.

You see (which is something he use to say a lot), We (as in my family now) had a big magic moment that I had been holding onto, waiting for the right moment to articulate it and honour it in the permanence of my writing…and this feels right even with some of the counterintuitivness swimming around “it.” (Sorry for my elusiveness but do promise this is all going somewhere! And if you’re not satisfied you have my full money back guarantee.)

My husband and I had been discussing what to do with Spring Break 2019.  Our district has finally adopted a 2 week spring break like most of the province of B.C. and so we were discussing a warm place to go and relax and get away from our painstakingly long winter.  Our son was part of the conversation as well and is pretty much happy to go where ever we go…he likes our family, so yay for us!

After a few weeks of mulling things over, the planning fell by the wayside with busyness and day to day distraction and we never got around to committing to booking anything.  Then one day in the shower, I decided to ponder more deeply why my husband and I hadn’t prompted each other to get back onto the holiday planning…noting that normally (based on our communication history) it would have turned into an argument where I would have accused him of avoidance and he would be mentally sucker-punched like “Whaaa?! How is this about me??”

I considered all the factors and feelings at play and realized there was a deeper reason for not committing, we had our sights set on the wrong destination. Commence counter intuition.

Rather than blindsiding my husband, I went to work on a tidy spreadsheet, outlining comparables for travel and accommodation, so we could really see what I had a vision for (and I really dislike hypothetical conversations). My heart had told me we needed to take the travel budget and invest it in a trip to the UK.  (And not because I have an affinity for english accents.)  My bio-Dad lives in Wales and our son has been asking a lot of questions about him and has clearly expressed a need to connect with him.  I haven’t seen him in a very, very long time (since the last time I travelled there on my right of passage European fresh-art-school-graduate-degree back packing trip.)

I was still a child then in many ways and although it was a trip of a lifetime to see art I had been studying and admiring since I was a little girl in France, Italy and England; I didn’t have the where with all to really engage in meaningful connection with that side of my family.  I was there, but I wasn’t…still mentally protecting myself from years of childhood trauma that I hadn’t even begun to address in my early 20’s.  I wasn’t present to that experience at all because I didn’t have the tools to do so.  And this is why we fell out of touch again, weeks turning to months and then the months adding up to years.  Years rolling into a decade and well…next thing I knew the time had accumulated in a large snow drift of 17 years total.

So back to my official spreadsheet…I worked on it and discovered the UK trip was like comparing apples to apples as far as finances go, I love it when things take care of themselves.  I planned to wait to present my travel proposal to my husband over the weekend, mindful of all the extras going on in his work life. But the universe had another plan, and by that, I mean the 6 year old boy who lives with us.

That night, I believe it was a Wednesday, I had the intention of the trip in my being but hadn’t uttered a word to a soul (except my own).  Over dinner our son asked, “So where are we at in our Spring Break trip?” (And yes, he does talk like that.) I looked at him a bit sutartled and his Dad explained we hadn’t booked anything yet but were still considering Maui (where we went for our honeymoon 12 years before).  At which point our son asked if he could make a suggestion.  We both said sure (waiting for what most circa-7-year-olds ask for…Disneyland.)

And this is what was totally spooky.  He said “I want to go to London.”

I raised my eyebrows to a height my hairline had never seen and made eye-contact with my husband, who seemed pretty calm.  I asked our son why he wanted to go there out of all the places in the world?

He proceeded to give us a list (of almost-7-year-old proportions); number one being “I want to ride a double decker bus” which his Dad responded quickly with “You can do that in Victoria for a lot cheaper!”.  He continued with reasons like hearing their accents, seeing their city and buildings, going to Liverpool to see Titanic things and finally, to see John. His Grandpa he has never met.

We let him know we heard him and smiled in admiration for his thought process.  I told him we would “Take it into consideration and get back to him.” (In case you were wondering where he gets his officialness from.)

After bedtime, my husband joined me on the couch to discuss the earlier conversation, initiating it on his own rather than a round of the usual Netflix.  To my surprise it was his presence that caught me most off-guard; usually running on fumes by that point of the day.  I started with, “So you aren’t going to believe this but…”

As I recounted my grapple with intuition, the spreadsheet (that I never did have to present him), the timely proposal of our son, he listened and responded with, “Let’s do it.” (Sealed with a fist-bump)

I was awestruck, the projection of a difficult series of conversations to arrive at the “right” decision evaporating into the air.  I was filled with gratitude and the sense of alignment of all the planets to easily come to a shared conclusion vision, not a conclusion because this is only the beginning of this story.

Sometimes I notice how my intuition is incredibly helpful in guiding me on my path, but other times its the old counter intuition that shows up instead; so rather than ignoring it until it goes away, I understand that I can also work with it to rudder my wayward tendencies.  I just have to pay attention because sometimes the universe doesn’t speak in affirmations, it can send a rejection and if I can decipher the two, it can guide me just the same.

Oh, and the fear I referenced earlier…you may have already inferred it because where there is vulnerability there lies fear in the shadows.  I have been scared to allow my heart to go there with him; with my biological Father, but also my son.  It’s not the fear of rejection, I have been there many times and know how to navigate this.  It’s the fear of connection.  The What if?  What if a bond is made at this stage in our lives, now with my openness to accept and surrender?

That is where Elizabeth Gilbert’s experience dove-tails to my own.  She was given only 18 months with the love of her life before she saw her taken by the ravages of cancer earlier this year (coincidentally when I was listening to her audiobook and walking along a beach in Mexico), but with all certainty claims she wouldn’t have given that time up for anything in the world.  The time they did have together was about the process and beingness, not about the outcome which she already knew was the inevitability of death.  Without fear there is no courage.

Full circle yo!  Gawd…I love it when that happens!!







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