So much has been weighing on my heart and mind lately. With the turmoil in the world, but also in my personal life uprooting and moving far from home. Per usual, I turned to what was familiar, my mat.Here I sit approximately 1,000 miiles from Chicago, my forever hometown and up until last week the place I spent the vast majority of my life, confused by a profound shift.
I am now attracted to yoga classes that are … sweet.
Don’t get me wrong, the sweaty, fast-paced power yoga gal still resides in me. But, I’m taking a necessary detour into the sultry land of sweet and slow. Ironically, I am doing this in a town known for its active lifestyles and in a place where the classes I’ve attended thus far are impressive in athleticism, strength, and energy! Alas, I find myself in the middle of familiar territory, classes that my typical self would adore, even though I’m craving this shift into practice intensity that comes from digging in for a sweet, slow ride. Like any good yogi, I tap into personal exploration to understand at a deeper why I’m drawn to these new qualities of practice.
Sweet. The word sweetness has come up in my poetry (that I share with exactly zero people. So, your chances of reading it are nil and the likelihood I’ll ever read it to you it is dependent on how likely it is that you will become a four-legged furry friend). Sweetness has come up as a theme in a standout class that resonated deep within me in my yoga tour of my new town. Sweetness is also associated with the sacral chakra in Eastern traditions (and a topic I claim only working knowledge and no expertise in).
“Make me sweet again, fragrant and fresh and wild, and thankful for any small gesture.” — Rumi
This (re)discovery of sweetness triggered a memory of the only time I’ve been noted as a ‘sweet’ person, and not surprisingly it happened precisely during the time that chakra theory says Svadithana chakra develops – before the age of 2. For those that are new to Chakras or prefer to consider through a lens that is more familiar, Chakra theory in terms of developmental stages closely mirrors Western psychological philosophy of cognitive development.
I never had too much to say (or think about) when it came to being sweet, other than one story my mom tells me often about how I was when I was very little and just learning to talk. I am more regularly known for being stubborn, introverted and challenging, my mom is the one person that constantly reminds me of when I was sweet (a time I only remember as a dream pieced together by the details in her story). As it goes my mom would say to my toddler self, “You’re Sweet Little Julie.”
And I would agree, “I’m sweet little Dudy! ” (I couldn’t pronounce my nickname Julie, so Dudy would have to do)
Then she would say, “You’re an Irish Julie.” (We’re typical American of Irish heritage. The kind that eat potatoes and cabbage only on St. Patrick’s Day.)
I would protest, “No, I’m a Sweet Little Irish.” (No yet grasping that I could be two things at once… a concept I’m still learning to accept.)
Yet as I grew up I chose to cling to the other labels I was given: smart, strong-willed, loner. I wore some like a badge of honor. I used others like a heavy coat to hide under. Shedding those layers is daily work. I’m still fleshing out a lesson for myself and what I’ve come to so far is this: I should only accept the labels that expand life – things that aren’t limiting.
But, smart! ‘Smart’ has to be good right? It is until I’m in a situation when I’m not feeling particularly smart, or I am facing a prolonged period of confusion. And then, what? I have then just abandoned all that I know to be true about myself. Similarly, well-meaning labels often don’t hold up to this type of scrutiny. Which brings me to my next realization.
I also must be ready to drop a label, with little protest, when it no longer fits, and pronto! Things I used to be. I used to be in marketing. I used to speak conversational French. My last name used to be of Welsh-Irish decent (ok, you caught me. Legally it still is), but now I go by a new last name which is Puerto Rican. I used to be the youngest child in my family until my brother was born. Then a new label was immediately added, older sister. All of these things changed, and I learned to be ok with new identities. I don’t cling to things like past careers, lapsed skills, previous titles. Yet, I put such a high value on adjectives on describing and defining myself: strong, opinionated, go-getter.
How are my labels boxing me out from new possibilities? Am I ignoring better words, sweeter words?
So what holds true? Can I be constant? Probably not. Everything changes. However, something new has moved in, and it seems, that for the time being, it is here to stay. Sweet and all that can be found with it. Sweetness, to me, is so closely related to kindness. It’s a powerful word that brings intimacy to otherwise sterile situations. Sweetness breaks down barriers not by sledgehammer-force or domination, but by inviting the person on the other side to open the gate and waiting patiently for the key to turn. I don’t know for certain, but I’m willing to find out if I ever tire of Sweetness being a true state of being for me.
As I continue through this time of change, I’ll share my thoughts on two other ultra-scary words: slow and vulnerable. Stay tuned. Stay sweet.