One of my most beloved authors, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes (Women Who Run With the Wolves among others) has a Facebook page, and I love the way she uses it.  At first she seems like any other person I’m friends with, but because of who she is her posts go deep, running like aquaducts far below the surface and each post is like a little scuba diving excursion into the Soul.  Some days I am better equipped than others: some days I have full tanks and can reach great depths, even stay a while and do some extra exploring.  Other days I do not have enough oxygen to go down as far as I’d like, and I move in a panic toward the surface – which is too bad, because down in the depths is where (I’m convinced) I’ll find the extra oxygen tanks I myself stashed there several millennia ago.

Lately, my tanks have been running low and I’ve been surface-bound.  This isn’t a pity party, and please don’t anyone think that I am in a sad or bad place.  But if I’m going to write about traveling and living in a foreign country, I’m going to talk about all of it, not just the “nice”, “pretty” parts.

Traveling alone is a great chance to get to know myself better and more deeply, and I am so grateful that over the last year I have become much more comfortable being alone with myself without being lonely.  This is a big distinction, and many of you will instinctively know what I mean by it.  It’s a big deal to know how to be with myself.  To be with myself.  Not by myself.  Get the difference?

Time alone requires acquaintance and, hopefully, companionship with one’s Center.  And that companionship is something that needs regular tending and fertilizing: maybe meditation, maybe journaling or prayer, or long walks.  Also healthy food, enough sleep, positive self-talk, and not letting the Voices of the Inner Tornado get too loud.

My first week overseas was an exercise in how to get my footing in a world turned literally upside-down.  I didn’t get enough sleep, and because the supermarkets were such a mystery, didn’t know how to get good healthy food into my body.  Because I didn’t get enough sleep, I didn’t wake up early enough to write my morning pages.  Poor eating habits meant I didn’t have the energy to go for long walks.  Being out of routine meant I forgot to pray.  Creativity started running dry.  And then came the internal criticism and meticulous, brutal self-observation and assessment.  Uh oh.  Does anyone smell a Tornado approaching?

Whew!  Thank God I figured it out in time, before the Voices were all I could hear!  Been there, done that, don’t need it.  Dancing with myself means making sure I’m in shape – or else, no lifts.  No pirouettes.  Not yet.  Back to basics.  After a successful trip to the grocery store, last night I ate a really good home-cooked meal and slept nine hours.  I woke up this morning in time to journal, and prayed a bit during my walk to work.  Amazing what these things can do for the Soul!  And then today I read Dr. Estes’ post:

Dear Brave Souls: Grandiosity is the great destroyer. If one over-awful-izes everything, or under-reports all one’s strengths and weaknesses, of which we likely have about equal share of each category, then one will never be in the calm center, but always swilled and swaled and flung around the perimeter where reality is moving in one direction and mis-reporting is moving in the other.

This, incidentally, the swirling of the outer in one circular direction and a counter-opposing swirling of in the opposite direction is what makes a tornado.

We have to decide, even in the midst of tempests, where we are going to stand. In the maelstrom and be thrown about over most everything. Or in the calm center, planning strategy from there.

with love,

Mmmmm, yes!  Signing off from the calm center.

P.S.  My other appearance template was starting to look too cluttered to me, so I’m trying out this one.  Hm.  What do you think?