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Old Habits Are Hard To Break

She had purple hair and a twinkle in her blue eyes

Colorful radiant granddaughter

She said she was bored and I said come here a minute

And then described what I was feeling

When I breathe in the ocean air, the smell

Is tickling the hairs in my nostrils.

Nostrils? She asks not hearing that word much.

I touched my fingers to my nose holes.

She laughed. I went on.

When I breathe in, my lungs are

Dancing back and forth so happy

To be out here with you.

I got up off the sand and we moved

To the sand pile she was creating

And we both went to work.


The world around me disappeared and

It was perfection to spend time in an environment

Surrounded by people I love

backdropped by rhythmic sounds of the ocean.

I let myself go. Worries flitted away on the wind

Aches and pains in my body disappeared

As my toes were tickled by the grains of sand

And my mind let go of time.

Over the last few weeks

I denied the desire and call of the beach

Because my mind kept constructing obstructions

Of my wanting pleasure.

First, it’s the sun will hurt me

So recent my fascial scar still hurts

Then it’s the drive is too long

And the world is not safe.

And no one wants to go with me

And I won’t have the time

And the traffic will be too bad

Excuses dismantling desire after desire.

My mind doesn’t want me to relax.

My mind doesn’t want me to let go.

My mind doesn’t want me to smile

If I stay still, I’ll be safe.

My heart wants me to find ease.

My heart wants me to loosen up.

My heart wants me to remember

The incredible joy.

And my mind is on guard watching

For the enemy of hurt

A hardened habit guarding me

As a sentinel standing at attention

Donna Gates, a radio host and author of the Body Ecology Diet, wrote:

“This is because the area of the brain where many habits are formed, called the basal ganglia, remembers pathways that nerves fire on. This region of the brain is responsible for things like habit formation, addiction and step-by-step learning.”
“…If there has been trauma early in life, we are hardwired to constantly relive the trauma. Unless, of course, we decide to generate change.”

My protecting and guarding behaviors were created

by my mind to keep me safe and became automatic habits.

I’m an adult now and deserve to be happy

I choose not to be stifled by my old habits

I create new habits that support me as an adult

The day cost me time, trust and five dollars.

The effort pushed through an old habit

To pave a new pathway to remind me

To have spontaneity and fun and be better for it.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • I had joy of being with and watching the kids out in public at the beach. With the fear of being in contact with anyone, it’s scary out there, but we need these times of relaxing and getting away.

  • I am gaining insights from slowing down. Yesterday, at my work, I made an assumption that a young woman from Africa couldn't get a store credit card. But she already had one. I realized something about assumptions. We can’t survive without them with because they give us a frame of reference. But we have to temper them with what is happening in the moment. We have to challenge assumptions.

  • It’s like a bifocal view of the world. I was trained in psychosynthesis which uses a trifocal view, honoring the mind, body, and spirit.

  • This slower pace does bring realizations. I had one about privilege. I grew up with an outhouse. When we ran out of toilet paper, there was a technique we learned for using newspaper. If one always has had it, you don’t think of it as a privilege. I am grateful for what I have.

  • There is a blessing to having clean, fresh water. Every morning, as I give water to my cat, I tell her, “We are so lucky to have fresh water.”

  • I listened to NPR talking about African-Americans’ connection to hundreds of years of trauma. As a white woman, I began thinking about how this must play into all their actions and reactions. We have traumas in our lives, but not such ancestral trauma. My own personal trauma in my life makes me fearful and I don’t feel safe. I can now understand why African-Americans don’t feel safe.

  • I loved the reading. That was great, to draw a bored young person into the body, and then for you to abandon adult thinking. Reminds me of the statement, “show up, be present, let go of results and be in the now.” Fear came up when I was acknowledged. I practiced noticing it and not reacting to the emotion.

  • Sometimes self-awareness highlights a trait we don’t like and it all comes down to fear.

  • Meditation has helped me to be more comfortable with me. This is the importance of silence.

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