Welcome to Reflections of a Buddhist Pole Dancer!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Erasable Me

This low was low. Lower than many of its predecessors, yet not low enough to have its own DSM IV classification. To mark its sucker-punch I performed three unrelated, yet equally informative actions. First I stopped running (okay, only for three days, but c'mon-- I am in training. That was a strategic sabotage). Next I detached from all social media. I felt the bee-sting of ignored posts, unanswered texts and, of course, the unread blog. Finally I took my pole down, but only after kicking and swearing at it (ouch!). By this point, if you hadn't noticed, the  Buddhist part of the Buddhist Pole Dancer had long since left the building.

I told my sister what I was feeling and how I was handling it. She plainly said I was trying to erase myself. She said she does it all the time when feeling blue. She gets rid of the indicators of joy and balance, anything that reminds her of her truth.

She erases herself.

Absolutely brilliant.

Erasable me.

Seductive isn't it? The intrique of hide-under- a-rock invisibility? To choose to be ignored because you've felt that way all along? To decide to be less than because your mood dictates that truth? To feed the low instead of finding a way out? To believe that your true self is this-- erasable, not some spirit-bunny who runs, plays and spins around a pole?

(Right now) there's enough of me left on the canvas to know I don't want to stay low or-- please no-- dip lower, so I begrudgingly started drawing myself back into my life. Today I forced my feet to run five miles (okay, my nagging, but oh-so-loving husband forced me to run). I didn't take the easy path, but instead ran hills and fartleks (It's Swedish--look it up.)

To further bring myself into view, even if only painting by proverbial numbers, I showed up to write a post that I know no one will read-- but I plod none the less.

And I put up my pole. Not just for posterity: I went through the motions of a happier self and practiced inverts and climbs. I even "got" the thigh invert I've been trying for quite a while. No happy dance followed, but I notice I am pleased by the progress because I keep thinking of trying it again and again and again.

While Merriam-Webster boasts 20 synonyms for erase, the word doesn't have an exact antonym. "Near antonyms" include protect, preserve, mend, restore and renew. None is a fit for my current state of wellness, not yet, but knowing I wasn't lured into erasing even more of myself must count for something.

Image Credit: Erase Me by MUHIRE Joseph

Sunday, July 29, 2012


"Life's most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?" Martin Luther King, Jr.

When ever I find myself obsessing over the shiny things that steal my ego's attention like the 3 Ws: Worth (Am I worthy?), Wisdom (Am I smart enough?) and Weight (Do I weigh too much?), I know that I am in desperate need of some fresh air. Essentially I need to get outside-- of myself, that is. 

Lately I've been stressing over my Team in Training fundraiser. I committed to raise a minimum of $1500 for blood-cancer cures while training to run a half-marathon. Initially I got on board to give back. As a leukemia survivor I thought I had a story that might inspire. As a person who had recently gone through some tough emotional times, I wanted to get outside of myself and put my energies to a good cause. What a great plan! Unfortunately I forgot to exclude my ego from this event and it barged it's way up to the driver's seat. Quite quickly I took my eye off the target of helping others and put it back on myself. (My ego is a master strategist!). I worried if I would raise the funds (maybe people don't like me enough to donate?). I scorned myself for choosing this cause (why aren't I raising money for diabetes cures?). I almost convinced myself to quit. *Sigh* No longer was it about helping others. If getting outside of myself was my original intention, it was Opposite Day in my world: I jumped inside myself, fed my fears and made it all about me, me, ME!

Today I got outside of myself and breathed the fresh air of serenity. I participated in a fitness fundraiser for a friend's husband who is struggling with a rare, quite serious type of lymphoma. Oh sure, my ego came along and cursed me for "not being fit enough" (SHUT UP, EGO!), but as the gush of giving permeated my being, clarity came aboard and pushed that voice aside. I witnessed the love and the support gleefully given to a person in need. I put a face with the reason I am running for TNT-- I am running for Alfred (my friend's husband)! I will be shameless in my appeals for donations, and be the cheerleader to my training team that I initially signed up to be. Together we will make a difference!!! And while I know it's not supposed to be about me, doing something for someone else-- getting outside of myself--  just feels so dang good!

“Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.” Buddha

Friday, June 22, 2012

Monkeys and Over-spending

When I was dancing with cancer in 1997, the book title, You Can't afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought, rang particularly true for me. (I never owned the book, but still the title proved invaluable.) For years prior I had berated my body with the actions of bulimia, coupled with unkind words like fat, ugly, unworthy and unlovable. Fighting leukemia, I desperately needed the body I betrayed to work with me. I couldn't afford the luxury of a negative thought. Instead I fed my body a steady diet of positive affirmations, happy music and words of wisdom. The weird thing was that I actually believed it all. Funny how a life-threatening illness has the power to kick stupidity in the butt.

Fast forward 15 years: I find it quite challenging to maintain all the lessons I learned while facing disease-- without the disease. Ironic, but true. Very true.

I recently signed up with Team in Training so I could stay present with the cause and give back. So the other evening I went for a training run. Running frees me. It's like meditation. Unfortunately, for this run, my Monkey Mind was with me. I ran (jogged) up to the UCSC track-- the gradual inclination challenged my lungs and tested my hamstrings. My intention was to run (jog) the prescribed five miles. After one mile of the incline I chose (had) to stop and walk.

Monkey Mind: Yeah, Michelle, like you'll ever be able to complete a half marathon. You're such an imposter. Bow out of Team in Training now. Spare yourself the embarrassment. Who's an honoree? You must be joking!

Shut up, Monkey.

After a short (long) recovery I was off again, determined to make it to the track.
Well, maybe I'd make it to the bus stop.
No-- just to that tree.
I chose (had) to walk again.

Monkey Mind: Seriously? You can't even make it to the track? C'mon, Loser Girl! Get out while you still can! Hahahaha!

Still, I plodded forward. One. foot. in. front. of. the. other.
Let's break down the obvious: Who is my worst enemy? I am. Who holds me back? I do. Who is sick of singing this overplayed, unoriginal song? I AM! 

In spite of my monkey mind, I finally made it to the track and was welcomed by four deer feeding on the grass. Their serenity rushed through me and I remembered the title of the book from fifteen years ago that I'd forgotten...

You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought.

MICHELLE: You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought!

Truly, I don't make enough money. I can't invest in this destruction and I can't charge on a promise of unattainable perfection. Not then, not now, not ever. Uh-uh. 

And so I ran. And I ran. And I ran a little more. And for the rest of my run I was disease-free,  monkey- free, and debt-free.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Department Debacle

Did anyone else from my generation go through that awkward phase where you were too old to shop in the junior's department but too young to peruse the women's departments that featured brands like Liz Claiborne? I hated that phase! Back then, The Limited was featuring career wear and stores like Express or departments like Nordie's T.B.D. didn't exist. Awkward! Yes, I was growing up, but didn't know where to shop.

Today I found myself between departments, so to speak, when I attended our kids' former baby-sitter's bridal shower. At 44 I certainly wasn't a natural fit with the twenty-somethings who dominated the party with their lovely, long, straightened hair and on-trend dresses. Yet I wasn't an exact match for the late 50+ crowd of relatives-to-be, either. When the soiree gathered to eat at tables in the back yard I wondered where to go. It was the department store debacle all over, only this time with people. Smartly, I pushed vanity aside (oh, to be young again!) and set my cork-wedges in the direction of the older table.

Let's not make this bigger than it was: either grouping would have been fine. Earlier, while mingling with the younger crew, I adopted the role of inquisitive newbie, asking all the right (light) questions about careers, friendships and even fashion. The young women were full of energy and they were an absolute delight to engage. The older women were, too, though I found myself in a more balanced exchange of communication. The younger gals freshly talked about new career paths and strong ideals; the mature group shared intriguing stories about their accomplishments and their wisdom. The older set had a secret ingredient that the younger set hadn't quite honed: gentle cynicism. (And for me, the girl who notoriously does not like showers of any kind-- that made my choice of table groups much more fun!)

I didn't win the clothes-pin game, nor the guess-how-many-corks game, but because of subtle cheating (!) my table won the how-much-do-you-know-about-the couple contest and I was awarded a mini-bottle of Kettle 1 Vodka (which happens to be Brian's favorite).

Truly, today wasn't about me. I was secure in that from the get-go. More importantly than fitting in or winning silly games, I was there to witness the happiness of a truly special young woman as she prepares to wed a wonderful man. But a bonus of the event was that when faced with another age reality check, I knew which way to go, and actually found something in both "departments" that fit after all. :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Long time, No blog

Seriously... long time-- no blog!!! What gives? Life, marriage, separation, remarriage (same guy!), kids, work, depression, elation, etc...etc....

So I though the best way to return would be to re-do my version of the Proust Survey. No over-thinking it... here goes:

1. I am one happy girl because I am loved and I love.

2. I am courageous when I resurface and try again.

3. I am most compassionate toward animals. (So sorry, Black Pearl.)

4. When I see myself as complete I am balancing exercise, good reads and good food. Also, when I am giving, giving, giving instead of wanting.

5. I am working on acceptance and compassion. Self love is harder than it sounds.

6. Every woman needs to know she is complete, as is.

7. If I had a magic wand I'd cure diabetes, erase vanity and arrogance and give all dogs a home.

8. I’ll be best remembered for my passion in the classroom.



:) mw