Yesterday, I showed up.
I had entered the dragon's lair and I thought I was going to die - right then, right there.
It started innocently enough. After a several years of dealing with hyperparathyroidism, I was telling a friend about my concerns around how much strength and bone mass I had lost. He's a fitness buff and a kind soul, so he suggested that I join him at his gym as his guest.
I was little leery due to past experiences at gyms, but didn't think I had much to lose. I was wrong.
As the day came closer, I became more anxious. I had visions of a warehouse-style gym filled with big iron bars and huge weights, and where extremely fit people were running around, jumping up and down, lifting massive weights and swinging on the bars.
I thought about canceling. I thought about coming down with a sudden case of the flu. I thought about asking God to call in a flood, a small tornado or some minor pestilence. (Yes, I was desperate.)
Unfortunately, I had this little problem with integrity. Recently, I made a commitment to myself to show up fully in all areas of my life. For me that means being present and conscious in all aspects of my life and with my commitments, spoken and a unspoken, to self, others, and Spirit. So asking God for a minor disaster in order to get out of a commitment, well, let's just say it wasn't in alignment with the way I want to walk through life.
So back to the flu, flood, tornado and pestilence. Since they didn't show up, I asked a key question that helps keep me on track when I get a little sideways with my desires,
"How am I showing up?"
Life had offered me an opportunity (through my friend's offer) to deal with a concern (my strength and bones). Was I going to show up? I made the decision to go.
At 7 am I left our house, and by 8 am I found the gym - in a warehouse, and it was everything I feared.
There were huge weights and bars and big a metal contraption with people swinging from bars. People were jumping up on high boxes from a stand still, lifting huge dead weights, working with kettle balls and doing a thousand pull ups (slight exaggeration). The energy was primal and no doubt about it, these people were fit like nobody's business.
Intimidated, I stood to one side in my black yoga pants, purple tennis shoes and lavender fleece jacket. For the first time in my life, I felt like a "prissy" girl, and I am NOT a prissy girl. I was a tom-boy, for God's sake! Growing up, I rode horses like a bat-out-of-hell, got thrown over fences into the pig pen (that might explain a lot), climbed trees, swung on vines and rafted the river - well, okay, so the raft sank - you get the picture.
Still, this was out of my comfort zone. My friend was nowhere in sight, he hadn't shown up, so I pulled out my iPhone and engrossed myself in reading emails - hoping no one would notice me standing on the sidelines. (Note to self, purple does not blend in with warehouse gray.) Maybe I could just sneak out...?
No such luck. The 7 am class ended and Mike, the leader, came over and asked if he could help me. I said I was waiting for a friend, but he was late. Mike, kind as ever, said, "why don't you go ahead an join us while you wait?"
Gulp. "How am I showing up?" I signed the waiver and the adventure began.
It started gently enough - rolling a small, tennis sized ball under my feet to stretch and loosen the muscles. Then came combinations of exercises. Mike was very helpful and scaled the exercises to my fitness level. He made sure I had the correct posture and understood what I was doing. Even at this minimalist level, after a one-hour class, I discovered a lot about my body.
The combination of exercises let me feel my body in new ways. Every aching imbalance showed show itself. I found muscles I didn't know existed, and I found out that I don't have muscles where they probably should exist...and, I survived.
I discovered I could last an hour in a primal, foreign environment and not die. In fact, I was able to walk out of the gym under my own power. (Something that has not always been the case in the past.)
So, today, I'm listening to my body speak as I sit on the couch, and asking myself if I'll go back. The couch is pretty comfortable, but maybe that's the problem - it's comfortable. From the couch, my view on life is limited. It offers only one perspective. If I leave the couch, things might get uncomfortable.
If I'm to fully show up in life, I'll have to leave my comfort zone. I might feel uncomfortable. I might not survive. Trouble is, there's only one way to know and that way is to show up.
So, on that note, I gotta go - life is calling and I've promised to show up. There is a peril to showing up fully. You'll have to face your shadow dragons - those things that cause fear (Fear = false evidence appearing real). By showing up fully, your life will change. You'll gain some things and you'll lose some things.
Oh, and by the way, remember when I said, "What did I have to lose by going to a one-hour class?" Turns out I had a lot to lose - I lost fear.
How cool is that?!!
P.S. Below are four steps you can use to help you Show Up! more fully in any area of your life.
1. Ask yourself, "Where in my life do I truly want to show up more fully?" Examples might be, health, wealth, family, work, spirituality, creative expression, etc.
When I started to feel the aches and pains of lost muscle and bone, I asked myself how much to I really want to improve my health? How much do I want better health? Do I want it more than that extra hour of sleep in the morning? Do I want it more than another hour on Netflix? Do I want this more than my comfort zone? Am I really willing to show up for this?
2. Recognize that showing up or not showing up is your choice (responsibility), and commit to showing up fully in this area of your life.
Responsibility has a bad rap. When you break down the word, it actually means "response ability." Who wouldn't want the ability to respond to their own life?
Don't take out a contract on yourself, instead, use commitment. A commitment is a form of intention without the promise and fear of "punishment" inherent in a "contract."
Exercise your choice to fully show up, in a moment-by-moment manner. You may not have kept your commitment in a previous moment, but this is a new moment. A commitment is an ongoing process, not a one-time deal.
3. Exercise a Higher Resonance: How you show up is also a choice. I use a daily dose of "Vitamin C," composed of courage, curiosity, and compassion, to increase my resonance.
It takes courage (heart) to go after what you truly want in a way that does not use the whip of fear. It also takes high does of "Vitamin C." Without courage, curiosity and compassion, I never would have stepped foot into that gym or found out that I have what it takes to pursue my desires.
Fear is a short-term, low resonance motivator. We use it to control and manipulate behavior. As such it can never create lasting change from a place of high resonance. Examples of different kinds of thinking behind low and high resonance are:
Low Resonance: I should go the gym because if I don't build muscle and bone strength I might fall and break a bone.
High Resonance: I want to fully show up for my health because going to the gym gives me the opportunity to improve muscle and bone strength so that I have the strength to live my dreams.
4. When feeling challenged, face your shadow dragons by repeating steps one through three and you'll find yourself showing up fully, giving yourself the gift of living life - no matter what.