Blog written by Ania Grimone
Who Am I?
It is at the same time the most profound and the most banal question that we can ask of ourselves and that we get asked by others. It can be asked from the most superficial level of “who the hell are you?” when you accidentally crash a wrong party at a hotel venue to the deepest spiritual inquiry between you and God or your conscience of whoever you talk to when you are alone. The most confusing part of this line of questions is that the answer changes from day to day, from circumstance to circumstance and we often get more and more confused the more we dare to inquire. So hats off to all of you who keep asking anyway. The paradox here is that who we are is simultaneously constant and ever-changing, allowing us to get temporarily satisfied with whatever answer we come up with in the moment and at the same time know better than to settle that this is The Answer. I am a woman, a mother, a healer, a coach, a cyclist, a kayaker, a wife, a soon to be ex-wife, a confident person, an insecure person, beautiful person, ugly person, compassionate person, an asshole, a jerk, a generous person, a selfish person, a funny person, an uptight person, a smart and a stupid person, an intelligent person and a moron, a thoughtful person and an oblivious one. I am an immortal soul and a Divine being. I am mortal. I am all of that. There are also things I am no longer. I am not a toddler, a grad student, a resident of communist country or a bigot. I think the key to finding the answer is to not get attached to any of them. We change, we evolve, our lives move forward and if we try to adapt to the new circumstances, while keeping our identity hostage, we suffer. So as you face the change in your life, as you look into the unknown, unleash the freedom of becoming whoever you need to be to face the future. Ask the question again: “Who am I”? and decide. Yes, it is up to you. And the more you connect to your truth and the more courage you have to follow it and step into that identity, the closer you come to finding out who you really are and what is your true power.
Blog written by Ania Grimone
It has been 28 years since I left my country and embarked on adult life adventures. I thought I was leaving for 2 months and I have never gone back. Not permanently that is. But even though I visited at times, I have not had an opportunity to spend any length of time with my mom without other people around budding in on conversations and sharing our experiences. This year we decided to spend 2 weeks together in a beautiful region of Kaszuby in Northern Poland at a health retreat ( AKA eat vegetables for 2 weeks, exercise all day and listen to the evils of western diet).
As a side note, it was interesting to notice that even though their philosophy and nutritional guidelines are something I subscribe to, the mode of presentation suggesting that I must live according to those rules or else, elicited in me a fierce resistance. I suppose it is not unique in any way as nobody likes being told what to do. We all want to feel that we have a choice and an option to exercise it or not.
It was even more apparent as I spent time with my mom and realized that even though I am almost 50 years old, in her eyes I am still a child, who needs to be directed, protected, warned, questioned and instructed. It was as if my mom froze in time and refused to acknowledge the passage of time despite the obvious proof to the contrary. I wondered; was it because she could not see me any other way, or because if was important for her to feel as only moms off youngsters can feel – indispensable. Or was it even more broad than that? Could it be a simple resistance to change?
Day to day we acquire different experiences, perspectives, we accumulate information and as a result of it we change. I am a different person today than I was yesterday, a year ago or 10 years ago and yet, people around me insist on holding me to who I was when they took a mental snapshot and formed an opinion of me. Hell, I do it myself. My son constantly reminds me: “Mom, stop treating me like a child, I’ve got this!” Ugh! Can I trust it?
It is such a paradox that the only thing that is truly constant in our lives is change and yet we resist it tooth and nail. We cling to our habits, routines, opinions, relationships, positions, places of residence or beliefs, even when it is obvious that we have outgrown their usefulness and would be better off figuring out what IS useful for us now and going for it.
Why do we do that? Well, part of it is hard wired in our brains. It is what psychologists identified as familiarity heuristic, the subconscious preference for familiar, which we associate with safety and well-being. Things that are unfamiliar or foreign – people, places, ideas may carry unknown risks, so we reject them on the “gut level” as unsafe. We can carry this bias even when it can lead us into self – defeating choices and we tend to do it more when we are under pressure than when we are relaxed and can actually evaluate what’s happening.
So what am I saying? That you should not trust your gut? Well, it appears that what you consider a gut feeling while under pressure, may actually be a stress response strongly favoring the familiar, regardless if it is actually in your benefit or benefit of those around you. I noticed that when we were traveling, which is very stressful for my mom, she would be more likely to order, direct and correct, which would create conflict and push back on my part. When we had time to breathe, she would be more open to consider me in a different light and adjust her behavior, leading to more open communication and growth in our relationship.
So it seems that in order to navigate change better, we need to take a breath. Resist reacting from automatic pilot, look at what is happening, what needs to happen, what you want and what would help you get there instead. When faced with new situation, don’t reject it on principle. Stop. Wait a bit. Give yourself time to know what is it that you are actually deciding against, what are it’s true merits and faults and only then make a decision. Who is this person in front of you NOW? Look at it consciously, intentionally, mindfully.
For my mom and me it translated into advancing our relationship beyond the mindless repetition of the old dynamic, we got to know and appreciate each other a little more as who we are today, which deepened our trust and willingness to connect.
So remember, when life throws you a curveball, stop and breathe…
Blog written by Ania Grimone
Where do I begin. Today I met a man I used to love. 27 years ago he asked me to marry him and I said yes. I remember a sense of doom as I said it, rather than the elation and excitement which would normally accompany such request. I loved him. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.
Little did I know it was almost the last time we spoke. What followed was a series of circumstances, some of which involved a crime committed against me, my cowardice in admitting to it, a betrayal by people I loved , who were meant to protect me but did not, lack of communication, and our utter inability to handle something that was so beyond a scope of an ordinary 20 some year old man and a woman. Neither of us really could comprehend what was happening. We were brutally separated by circumstances left to imagine the part the other played, feeling abandoned, unworthy, betrayed and with a sense of deep longing.
But life goes on. I managed to pick myself up and continue. Create life which was at times more or less satisfying, forging relationships, sometimes more or less intimate, I became a mom, which saved my soul. But there remained a part of my heart untouched by others. Reserved for a man I loved and lost without understanding why it had to be this way. There were years I didn’t think of him. I moved to US, I got married, had a son and a career. There were moments when I heard a name, played tennis or saw someone’s smile when my heart would twitch, but I would stuff it behind the wall and move on.
That is, until I received an email 3 or 4 years ago with a simple name of a train route we used to take from Paris to Fontainebleau. My heart stopped. The intensity of all that I felt took my breath away. Do I dare respond? It was less about me and more about what that meant for the life I had. Would resurrecting the feeling take away from people I had in my life? Would it be a betrayal? Could I risk it?
And yet, I had to. The pain I carried with me for so long didn’t just have to do with life I didn’t get to have, it had to do with the need to know, with a need to say “ I am sorry “ and with a need to be heard, to bring closure.
We did that. We spoke and filled the gaps in understanding and it helped. It set me on the path of healing. We spoke sometimes, joked around, gingerly shared the details of our lives and created a semblance of a friendship. Then two years ago I went back home and we decided to meet. I was a no show. I ran. Again. I could not bear meeting with the past. He was hurt, but shortly we settled into the rhythm of short check ins, texts and assurances that we still occupied each other thoughts.
Fast forward two years and we finally met. I had no expectations and yet I hoped that we would spend an afternoon laughing, reminiscing the good times, walking on the beach and… not sure what else.
What I did not expect was an avalanche of feelings. I felt shy of the initial scrutiny. I know he felt the same. The hesitant, awkward moments when we compare the image we carry in our hearts to this person standing in front of us, ravaged by time and life, triumphs and sorrows. The unexpected surge of tenderness. The moment when you see the stranger in front of you, but you are able to look beyond the changed body and hints of cynicism and see the person that you once knew. The same man I loved, at the same time altered beyond recognition. The paroxysm of feelings competed for a place up front and center in my heart. Feelings which I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, but promptly hid behind a polite smile.
The meeting was at once satisfying and deeply disappointing. It felt like a funeral of sorts. A true end of an era. And I realized again that this was grief. When you must let go of that which you cherish, because there is no other way. When the truth and the finality has finally hit you and you feel the gut wrenching sadness, the loss, the injustice, the helplessness, and the choking red white rage.
And your heart breaks and the wall you constructed falls with it. And you realize that there is nothing left that needs protection and safe keeping. I feel so utterly vulnerable and exposed. I feel like I am walking through a rubble, looking for keepsakes, but those too are buried.
So what now? Grief takes time, but in the midst of it, I know I have a choice. I can chose what I will cherish and bring with me as I move forward with my reconstructed heart. What will I use to strengthen me, to inform me, to empower me, to enlighten me and to weave into my life from this point on?
I must also chose what I will leave behind. Willingly, courageously, intentionally, so it will no longer hinder me and make me give only part of myself to the ones willing to love me now.
I feel that as I burry the past, I myself am rising from the dead. And with every wave or pain and regret I get to strengthen my resolve to not let the past rob me of what is yet to come.