Monday, February 1, 2010

Give Brooks a chance.

This is a personal post.

I am giving Brooks a chance. What does this mean? Well, when I graduated from the School of the Art institute of Chicago in 1994 I remember responding to the 'are you going to grad school' question by saying that I wanted some experience in the world before making that decision. I said something like I was going to let the world tell me what I should do because I didn't know. And I have listened.

I tried listening to the different employers I've had along the way. I've tried listening to friends and teachers about what to do. I've tried listening to family... And I've just realized that it's time to give myself a chance.

I think I've avoided that route in the past because it just seemed too scary. When I started to listen to myself a good distraction came along or a compelling friend told me what they thought, and I always seemed to respond by giving myself away as if I believed that 'others know better'. Or I asked for help and was ignored, and I asked myself if I had spoken clearly. I tended to speak clearly, but sometimes quietly and I didn't demand anything. But some things were (and are) important.

And there are some things that I can't and shouldn't depend on others for, even though I have, and it has led me astray. This is why my age turns to 39 tomorrow, and I'm alone except for two sweet bunnies. Okay so I am feeling sorry for myself and I've done all the usual sins like not trusting myself. I think my biggest misstep has been my lack of self esteem. It makes a person do the stupidest things, like trusting the wrong people. Or maybe looking for things from others that they can't give, and lying to myself. I recognize that I have engineered this life I have through my habits and choices even though much of it was done without consciously understanding Anything. So my situation is nobodies fault, not even the fault of my naive past self. I did the best I could with my understanding of life at the time I did all the things that led me to learning about life as I have.

And so many things are good. I love teaching yoga. That is a blessing that goes beyond any childhood dream I might have had for myself. As a child I wouldn't have been able to understand what I do now. I was incredibly reactive and afraid. I cried a lot. However I was developing my listening ear even then, the ear that is available to hear the truth of others without judgement. (I LOVE that about me!)

As I go forward I promise to not accept stories I tell myself about others without confirmation from the flesh-and-blood individuals, especially when it comes to major life-path changes. Like the guy who put his hand on my thigh at that party many years ago, and I accepted that as evidence that he was interested in me. I guess the truth was that I thought I liked him--A LOT. But I guess I didn't really know him even though I saw him regularly and trusted that I knew enough. I didn't.

A well-intentioned family member recently advised that I 'give youth a chance' when I told them about some seemingly romantic interest I had recently been receiving from much younger men. I woke up with another idea this morning: Give Brooks a chance. And if any young super-cutie happens to be reading this, just know that you are perfect and adorable to me. Even though I look younger than I am, I am really turning 39 tomorrow, okay? (And I guess I don't know what that means except that it is New Territory. Never been here before...)

And I seem to simultaneously resent and enjoy being alone. Which is it? Can I choose? Do I have to? I enjoy my life, and sometimes catch myself dreaming old dreams and walking old paths. Those mindscapes are comfortable, and they trap me in sorrow when I see myself there.

Can I live life in a relationship again? Is this possible? I suppose it must be... I just can't see it, because I'm not there NOW. All I see is what I see and what I see is good. Except...not. It seems so cheesy to say 'something is missing'. And I guess it's just the human condition. The fact that people are hungry for experience keeps things moving. So I'm going to breathe to calm myself and to embrace myself in this moment, and turn my frustration into useful energy, a turbine of force that I can apply to managing my resources, abilities and gifts so that my fortieth trip around the sun will be a good one. Perhaps I will get a chance to open my heart to someone wonderful. Hopefully, I will have opportunities to expand my career. It would be nice to explore financial freedom... And to find LOVE!

Whatever changes my fortieth year may bring, I pray that I can meet this experience with cheerful and unrelenting enthusiasm. I just don't want to let old expectations get me down. It's time for a new ruler in the house of Brooks, and so I crown me to guide myself through all of the yet-to-be-explored possibilities that this year, and more coming years, will bring. I look forward to deepening relationships with others where I maintain power of myself instead of giving that away. I'm looking forward to these next years of my life as myself. I will no longer be the empty house that desperately looked for others to bring wellbeing in. I can live in a hospitable house, whether I am alone or with others. Come over some time, will ya?

Anyway, Happy Birthday to Me!


Kay Burnett said...

Happy Birthday, Dear Brooks!
...and I will see you today at yoga. I love this post! It is so full of positive energy and optimism. When you say that you do not always FEEL the positivism in yourself, I am surprised because I see it always. Please know that you are very loved, on your birthday and always.

YogaforCynics said...

A very happy birthday to you, Brooks.

There's so much in this post I can relate to, particularly here not far from my own 44th birthday...particularly the simultaneously resenting and enjoying being alone...hmmm...but if I go into that, I'll end up rambling on for an hour, most likely in a self-pitying kinda way...clearly, I need to give Jay a chance, but, for right now, am just gonna drink up my coffee and try to fit in both meditation and some work this morning...

Hope your day goes well (both today and tomorrow...not to mention the next day)...

Rhiannon said...

Happy Birthday ,Brooks,I have found that after 40 in some ways I have been more open and flexible to love,granted they have not lasted and they did not turn out to be what I really wanted and needed. It is challenging to let another close to your heart,but perhaps yoga and the process of getting older is teaching me,we are here on earth,but for a brief time-thay I have no choice,but to have each breath, each action,each encounter add meaning to my life. We learn more about who we are when we are involved meaningfully with others,it is often a more honest reflection than our own private ones.I jad such an experience this past spring,which did not last really in real time as I have no real overlap with this person in my life.The experience,though of letting someone in to my private chambers so to speak and I hope I to his, has really opened my eyes,my heart,my creative process to new possibilities. I am grateful that this person entered my life,albeit briefly and I hope it will happen again in some way for me, for you and for all of us .Happy Birthday Brooks, Wishing you love lightness and joy on your 40th birthday.

Eco Yogini said...

Happy Birthday!!
And you were born on Imbolc- a beautiful and wonderful time for new beginnings and celebrationg YOU.

I give Brooks a chance, because from the bloggy-perspective, I see her as a wonderful, kind and open person- really the other day I was just thinking about how you always comment kind, positive things, and never seem to get caught up in the silly drama of the blog-world.

I could never *See* myself in any of the longterm relationship-y stuff that has happened to me... until it happened. At times I wonder what it would be like to be single again... fleeting thoughts (that I would never tell Andrew!) but they exist. And you're right, the human condition for movement etc...

But I have always been a firm believer that just when you are happy with *you* sans "other", that's when life pops someone your way.

Happy Birthday and Happy Imbolc!

Bob Weisenberg said...

Happy Birthday, Brooks, and thanks for trusting us with your innermost thoughts. We are all the better for it.

Bob Weisenberg

Lara said...

Happy, happy birthday! Learning to trust yourself is indeed a great gift. Enjoy your day - all of your days in fact!

babs said...

Happy birthday and beautiful post. Sometimes the more personal posts have a bigger impact. Here's to a superfantastic year!

Yaara said...

Dearest Brooks,
May you have a joyous and peaceful birthday. It is so inspiring to hear that you will trust in yourself--that is such a difficult thing to do. I also recently just had a B-day--last week I turned 28, and it was not what I hoped--I too wish that I had greater confidence and trust in myself. But, it takes courage to recognize your strengths and just accept yourself as you are.
I hope this year is one filled with love and acceptance and that I see you soon around the Yoga world--and again have a wonderful Birthday.

Anonymous said...

Happy, happy, happy birthday, Brooks.

39 was hard for me, but since I turned 40 (and now 41), my life has NEVER been better. I have found so much peace and happiness in finally, finally just being ME!

For people like you and I, who lived through a LOT of sadness during our earlier years, I think THESE ARE THE DAYS, ya know?

We are able to really come into our own.

So YES YES YES to this post.

Elize said...

You Are Amazing.
I wish you the happiest of birthdays, and may you continue with the strength & courage & infinite trust that you just wrote about so eloquently here.

RB said...

Brooks--this was so beautiful and inspirational. I am going to send this post to so many women I know who are of all ages, but it was exactly what I needed to read today. I have been trying to articulate these thoughts and couldn' thanks! Happy Happy.

Brooks Hall said...

Thanks everybody! Your comments help me to feel fortified and ready for this seemingly substantial birthday. Whether it’s a big deal or not its just great to have friends along the way!

Kay: Thanks for seeing my positivity!

YogaforCynics: Thanks for relating! I’d love to hear your ramblings on simultaneously resenting and enjoying being alone. I’d probably learn something.

Rhiannon: Thanks for sharing your thoughts about love, openness and flexibility! I wish you great love! I won’t have my 40th birthday until next year so I’ll accept your early well-wish!

Eco Yogini: Thank you for the birthday blessing! I appreciate your bloggy presence, too. And I think the words you said about me, could just as easily be said about you!

Bob: Thanks for the well-wish, and for recognizing my thoughts and trust!

Lara: Thank you! I wish the same for you: trust and enjoyment!

Babs: Thanks! Yes, the personal aspect of blogging is a compelling part of it.

Yaara: Thank you! And may you be courageous!

Christine: Yes, things are better in so many ways. Thanks!

Elize: Thank you! I am blessed with your words!

RB: Thanks, I am so glad that you found this post inspiring. I feel that way about words I see or hear, too: like the thought lived in me and was said by you.

Svasti said...

Hey Brooks, you know I never would've guessed you were around my age from your photos. You definitely have the glow of youth with you. Happy birthday!

I understand very much where you're coming from re: loneliness and not wanting to be alone. And how it is that we find ourselves alone at this age, wishing things were different.

I know too, of the influence of others. Of feeling like others will naturally know more/better than I do. And of not knowing what I wanted to do/be in this life. Finding yoga changed a lot of that for me too.

Perhaps you should apply that lesson you described about your young self to other situations? That she never would have understood what it is to be a yoga teacher. What I'm saying is - we never do know or understand from where we are, what could be.

My life (and I'm sure your's too) has had so many flips and turns and about-faces. I could never have imagined most of them happening. And yet they did.

By that same logic, there's no point saying you can't imagine how you could ever be in a relationship again. Of course you couldn't, you're not there yet! And the not being able to imagine it is in no way 'evidence' of its possibility or impossibility.

That's a big one I've been working on for a while within my own self-detrimental lines of thought.

Wishing you a marvelous new year ahead. And I hope your heart's desires are answered perfectly in 2010. xo

P.S. Nothing wrong with a younger man - try it on and see! ;P

Brooks Hall said...

Thanks, Svasti! And of course you are totally right about my being unable to imagine the future is irrelevant to something happening. So me being unable to imagine myself in relationship now doesn't really have actual bearing on my future... I guess I just wanted to express that I feel so distant from that potential experience. And of course my mind does also like to think that it knows my potential, but it doesn't so it's a very good point that you made. Indeed I'd like to not limit myself with my patterns of thinking... My mind wants to CONTROL even when it holds me back. Back off, MIND, you don't know everything--especially about me.

Thanks again, Svasti! You make me think.

roseanne said...

happy belated b-day, brooks! (i'm a little behind on my blog reading)

this was a wonderful and inspiring birthday reflection. thanks so much for sharing with us!

Brooks Hall said...

Thanks, Roseanne!