29 May 2012

Rekindling Yin

Roses on a garden fence, Magdalena, NM, May 2012
A client was speaking a few weeks ago about shifting her energy from survival mode to growth mode after a time of serious disruption and reconsideration of every aspect of her life. I would liken this process to a severe pruning, perhaps by a natural disaster such as an epic hard freeze or shredding cyclonic winds, that reduces years' worth of growth to deadwood down to the ground. Devastating, yes, but also an opportunity to reshape, even recreate a whole new life. After more than four years of struggle I've emerged from a leveling hurricane of a divorce into a far better new life as a single mother, graduate student, and, in just a few more weeks, newly minted professional family therapist.

Larkspur (opalotype filter w/vignette), Magdalena, NM, May 2012
My client gave me a huge gift that day: the insight that during the hardest part of her "winter of the soul" she neglected and suppressed her feminine energy. She said she recently realized that surviving and rebuilding seem to require a toughness and assertiveness that aren't part of the repertoire of "being a girl" behaviors most of us grow up learning. So now, having survived and wanting more -- namely, to thrive -- she feels it's time to change course a bit, not to give up her toughness but to soften and in fact strengthen it with more "feminine" flexibility, intuitiveness, and heartfelt emotion. Her insight helped me realize I'd done much the same thing these past few years: getting tough to survive, pulling out of and away from unhealthy dependencies (which, a few years ago, described just about all of my relationships), and pushing myself through graduate school and internship into a whole new career.

Bee at work (opalotype filter w/vignette), Magdalena, NM, May 2012
God, what a process, and I did have to let go of and prune away lots of old stuff to do it right, and I don't regret that. What I feel now, though, is that in some ways I've perhaps become... not necessarily "too masculine" in any absolute sense, because we all fall in different places along that spectrum, but certainly more masculine than my core "self" might be. So as part of reshaping my life I will spend some time uncovering and nurturing my "feminine" side, my yin, whatever you want to call it, not to uproot but to strengthen what has emerged these past few years. At first this will need to be conscious; for example, shifting my body language from forward and aggressive to more reclined, relaxed, receptive... in emotionally safe situations, anyway. And playing more, whether in the garden or with my camera, and doing what feels right, like planting and photographing flowers and other pretty things. Listening, something I used to be really good at but feel I've pushed aside to "get my point across" and be taken more "seriously" (and we all know how well that works... )

My apple tree is bearing fruit this year; a good sign, perhaps? 
What I want to nurture and what I want to replace aren't in themselves good or bad; I'm really seeking to rediscover my essential, joyful self and allow it to fully emerge, finally. Allow, not push... support, not construct... Trust and accept, not direct....

Maybe I'll call this my Summer of Yin...

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