• Mysticism

    Realigning with My True Self – An Oracle Card Reading

    September has been emotionally difficult because every day feels like a futile fight to stay positive and to cultivate a future. It seems like a futile fight because most days I wake up already in a bad mood, and on the few days when I actually wake up excited and I work toward my goals, I end up feeling defeated and depressed by the end of the night.

    I try not to casually throw around the word, “depressed,” because I don’t want to misuse it…but I feel like after weeks of crying daily, instigating tons unnecessary fights with my mom and with my girlfriend, emotionally beating myself up, reducing myself to nothing, and wishing I could escape from reality warrants the use of the term, “depressed.”

    I have only wished I could disappear when I am struggling to cope with change, struggling to stay afloat, and struggling to thrive. Right now I’m struggling with all three, so it’s overwhelming.

    I’m not sharing this to worry anyone…I don’t want to hurt myself, I just don’t always want to deal with my life. Not because my life is bad or anything, because my life isn’t bad at all. I have food, a home, a caring family, health insurance, and I’m finally working part-time. My life is good and comfortable, which I’m grateful for and I try to remind myself of this all of the time.

    Despite acknowledging my blessings, I get caught up in my stagnancy. When I focus my energy on taking steps toward my goals so I can move forward, I doubt myself and I doubt my ability to move forward at all. It’s a toxic cycle that unfortunately has poisoned my emotional well-being as well as my relationships. I don’t want to be around anyone because I feel like poison. Isolation exacerbates my depression too.

    So…I pulled my Ganesha cards on Monday to get some insight and guidance that I can reflect upon. I’m not going to share a picture of my cards this time because most of them I have already shared on my blog.

    My Reading

    1. The first card, which represents where I am now, I pulled Positive Outlook. I was bewildered when I saw this card because as noted previously, I wouldn’t consider myself having a positive outlook at the moment. Well, the card is about how all circumstances are neutral, and it is one’s mental attitude that influences how it is perceived. It reminds me of what I have read in The Untethered Soul as well as something I had painted on a flowerpot after my grief group concluded two years ago: Your perception is your reality. I suppose I need to take a step back from judging my experiences as negative and to at least view things as neutral.
    2. Sustenance is the card that represents my next steps. The painting on the card is of Ganesha enjoying a buffet, but the card isn’t about food. It’s about how I need to acknowledge my blessings as well as acknowledge the abundance of ways to support my desires. I need to understand my needs and satiate them, even if it’s scary or unconventional.
    3. My obstacle is Cultivation, which is strongly linked to music. Music creates communities and it soothes the soul, causing music to be a method for connecting to spirits. I haven’t been listening to music too much…I either listen to podcasts or watch something on Netflix. When I’m not listening to these things, I spend my time in silence…but I suppose it’s a little too isolating right now. Perhaps replacing the silence with my yoga playlists would facilitate some more positive thinking, creativity, and a sense of belonging.
    4. My resource for overcoming my inability to cultivate is Reflection. When I saw this card, I was like “duh, I’m great at reflecting! I reflect and write weekly!” When I read the description of this card though, I was speechless. I’ll just share what it all says.

    “You have reached the point in your life’s journey where self-judgment and criticism no longer serve you. It is imperative that you understand and appreciate the distinctive persona that you bring into all situations. Each of us has our own unique path….Through reflection and visualization, get in touch with the wise person within you.” – Whispers of Lord Ganesha Oracle Cards by Angela Hartfield

    While this card is titled “Reflection,” I feel like it is about more than that…and it really resonated with me.

    5. My new outcome is “Acceptance,” which I’ve pulled multiple times because I’m always fighting with my true self. This relates back to alignment as well. Life will become easier when I accept my true self and when I accept that I don’t have to know everything. The reality that I don’t know anything about my future has been weighing on me because it’s an uncomfortable feeling. I haven’t been enjoying living in the unknown and not having all of the answers right now. My life will improve though when I look at my experiences and the world from a more spiritual perspective as well as by not placing so much value on my thoughts.

    All of these cards address connecting with who I really am…thus, that may be the key to transforming my perspective and my life. It will take some time and patience to realign with my true self via these suggestions from my Ganesha cards. My meditation practice, although not daily (yet), will help me get there too.

    Also…while I feel like I have been stagnant, that isn’t necessarily true. As I’ve mentioned previously, I am now working a part-time job. I am also almost done with the hiring process to teach a regular yoga class in my town. I doubted I was going to be able to teach yoga this year and if I hadn’t nailed the audition, I was going to postpone my teaching dreams…but the universe surprised me. Lastly, after avoiding and debating with myself for several months, I finally booked a GRE test date!

    So…things are moving. I’m progressing, contrary to what I believe.

    If you would like an oracle card reading, please comment below or email me at hello@unziptheselips.com.

    xx Vic

  • Woman kissing the cheek of another woman with trees and grass in the background.
    Yoga

    Yogi-In-Training: Trust

    My second week of yoga has come and gone, and now I only have three weeks left! The fourth week consists of only two days of training and the final week is testing. So technically, tomorrow begins the last full week of training!

    I’ve made improvements in my confidence since last week! For example, I haven’t cried this past week and I have changed my perspective in my class by honoring where my body is at rather than criticizing myself. I have also come out of my comfort zone a bit by talking more with my peers and now I eat lunch and talk with some of them.

    Last Wednesday we went into the city and we did acro-yoga which is acrobatics combined with yoga. It requires serious trust in your partners in order to execute the poses safely. I challenged myself by trying things I otherwise would have never done, but I like that about this experience because I’ve been challenging myself constantly. By doing so, I surprise myself with what I am capable of. It’s quite satisfying.

    My latest surprise was when I did a forearm stand. So far, I’ve only been able to do it with an assist and I haven’t been able to hold it, but I hope to be able to improve next week. I’ve realized that not only do these challenging poses require confidence, but they also require trust, whether that be in yourself or whoever/whatever is supporting you.

    Evidently, this training has allowed me to learn more than just yoga, and it’s fantastic. I’m excited to graduate and to see where my new certificate will take me. Where will I teach what I’ve learned? What will I do to continue to learn?

    If I could do anything with my life…I would want to teach and write, whether that be for my own business, for research, or for a book. I would like to travel internationally and domestically to teach and to learn from other people and cultures too.

    I can do anything with my life though so it’s just a matter of how I want to make this happen and what opportunities will arise that will shape my life. I often feel a little skeptical of how the universe unfolds but I know I have to trust that I will be where I need to be.

    How was this past week for you? What are you looking forward to this week? What are your intentions for this week?

    xx Vic

  • Yoga

    Living with Uncertainty

    Despite how heavy my foot was on the gas, it felt like we were driving in slow-motion. I was weaving around the cars in my way and tailgating them as my dad clutched his side and dry heaved into a plastic bag. I had never driven so recklessly and aggressively.

    I pulled to the front of the emergency room and he pulled himself out, hobbling toward the door. I quickly parked in the deck and with shaky hands, I put on my sweatshirt and sprinted to the ER after him. He was already inside, sitting in a wheelchair and checking himself in when I arrived. He had stopped shouting in pain and was relatively calm as he sat there.

    They told him a room would be available in a few minutes as they wheeled him to the side to wait. Suddenly, his calm expression broke into one of agony and his mouth opened wide to verbally release the torture his body was causing him. I rubbed his back and reminded him to breathe deeply, hoping it would pacify him. It did not. He continued to cry and shout in the waiting room while people checked in. Then he started vomiting into a plastic bag. I got him tissues to wipe his face and I asked the administrator when the room would be ready. I was impatient at this point.

    Fifteen minutes later, a nurse slowly meandered over and wheeled him to the room he would spend the next six hours in. Ironically, it was the same room he had spent nine hours in, the same time last year. That time was for a different emergency though.

    After several hours, multiple doses of pain medication, and many tests, the doctor diagnosed him with kidney stones. He was able to pass it in the hospital and be released the same day.

    Life is obviously uncertain, but it didn’t use to scare me as much as it does now. My cousin’s death has completely transformed the way I perceive the world and it has caused me to raise questions that I otherwise wouldn’t have asked or even considered. While I feel like I have more compassion and gratitude for life, I have also come to recognize as life as being very fragile. This has caused me to develop fears that I did not use to have. Some of the fears are silly while others make more sense but… I haven’t seemed to overcome them all yet.

    The terrifying experience I had with my dad on Monday as well as the volcanic tragedy in Guatemala, among many other tragedies that people experience, has caused me to reexamine the reality that life is fragile.

    I had shared this realization with the grief group I used to attend about two years ago now. Many of my peers had solemnly nodded their heads in agreement as I shared my concerns and worries about this fact. The therapist, however, raised the question: how do you deal with uncertainty?

    One method for coping that my peers came up with included acknowledging the challenges we had faced previously and that anything that comes next can be overcome too. Another idea was to focus on the present rather than worrying about what might never occur.

    Since I’ve been learning more about yoga philosophy for my yoga training, I’ve learned another effective method for challenging my fears is to be in a state of mind that is described in the Yoga Sutras, which is upeksha, or “indifference.” I learned about this idea in an article from The Yoga Journal written by Frank Jude Boccio titled, “Calm within.”

    Boccio deems it is more apt to regard upeksha as “equanimity” rather than “indifference.” He defines equanimity as “a state of even-minded openness that allows for a balanced, clear response to all situations, rather than a response born of reactivity or emotion.” He adds that it is a balanced state of mind and heart. It allows one to experience pleasure and pain without clinging to it or condemning it. In other words, equanimity is about experiencing life and different situations without judging it as good or bad and therefore, maintaining an emotional detachment from it.

    For example, my dad had kidney stones and needed to be hospitalized. It’s not good or bad, it just happened. He was able to get the care he needed to alleviate his pain through hospitalization, and he was working from home that day which enabled me to drive him there. So..while it may seem unfortunate that he had to be hospitalized for this condition, it was actually perfect timing and everything panned out well. In the moment, however, it was scary and awful but it needed to happen this way. If he was at work, he would’ve been taken to a hospital that was further away and it would, therefore, take the rest of my family longer to get to him.

    Equanimity is also about realizing that while you can’t be responsible for nor can you control what happens in life, you can control your reactions. I controlled my reaction by driving him to the hospital, and I let the doctors take control of the situation.

    The last aspect of equanimity as Boccio describes it is that you have to open your heart while simultaneously letting go of expectations and attachment to results. This aligns with what I’ve been reading in the Bhagavad Gita, which is Hindu scripture traditionally written in Sanskrit. It is part of several books of epic poetry.

    The god, Krishna, tells a warrior, Arjuna, that it is important to act for the action’s sake, and not for the results, whether that be success or failure. This equanimity is yoga. (The physical aspect of yoga that is the most popularized is only one limb of yoga philosophy. Yoga is actually a more comprehensive philosophy with eight limbs).

    I believe this type of mindset and state of being would be beneficial to me and it is something that I would like to practice in both my asana practice as well as in meditation. This way I can keep a level head when difficult situations emerge and I can also live with less fear than what I live with now.

    How do y’all feel about equanimity? How do you live with uncertainty?

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Post-Graduation Blues (Fake Happy)

    It’s ironic how happy I look in this photo considering that graduation has not been an entirely happy time. Granted, I took this photo a day or two before the graduation ceremonies and the drama occurred.

    During the first of the three commencements I attended, I was just trying not to cry the entire time. The second two ceremonies were less emotionally intense, despite the pouring rain, but afterward, my sister went to the ER during dinner due to a potential concussion (which thankfully, she didn’t have). This caused my mom to stress out excessively. Then I moved home, which was exhausting although my grandparents helped out tremendously. The next day, I went to a family dinner with my parents and my sister, which ended in tears on my part and my mom stormed out of the restaurant. She ignored me and my sister until the following evening. Lastly, my girlfriend got an internship, which is incredibly exciting but I’ve cried a ton because of it. The last part of these dramatic days is what I really want to talk about now because the other stuff has been resolved.

    I am afraid of being alone this summer, which seems like it’s going to happen anyway. This has caused me to spiral into sadness when the people around me are successful. Pretty much all my friends have jobs and/or are moving out of state/out of the country. No one is going to be local to me except for my sister, but even she has a job. I mean, yeah, I have a part-time job until mid-August that allows me to work remotely, which would allow me the time and flexibility to

    1. Research PhD programs
    2. Apply for jobs
    3. Study for the GREs
    4. Organize my life both physically (my room is a mess) and mentally (I’m a mess)
    5. Do my month-long, intensive yoga teacher training

    So yeah…I need to be alone to do most of these, if not all, of these activities. Therefore, I will have plenty of time to accomplish these goals because I have a part-time job during these critical summer months. On the other hand, though, I wanted to do fun activities and trips and because not even my girlfriend will be local to me now…I feel like I can’t do them unless I want to go on my own.

    My girlfriend said she is going to see me weekly, and I believe her but when she’s not seeing me, she’s going to be working and having fun where she’s at. Everyone is going to be having fun where they’re at. Meanwhile, I feel worried that I’m just going to be at my parents’ home, alone studying or something…which isn’t bad…I have different goals than her and everyone else for this summer but…I don’t know what my problem is. I’m jealous of everyone else, I’m comparing everyone else to myself, and so I feel bad about myself for no reason.

    She said I need to change my perspective, which I agree. I definitely need to do that.

    Maybe the interests and goals I have for my life will cause me to feel a little isolated from everyone, even if my friends and girlfriend were around. If I am going to be doing a PhD program, these feelings will probably continue because I’ll be spending a lot of time studying and working on the weekends, whereas my friends who get jobs with their Bachelor’s may be able to go to brunch on Sundays and mingle more.

    Regardless, this gap year or two or three that I am taking sucks. I feel stagnant and alone in that. I want to find a job but I haven’t been looking even though my girlfriend and mom send me job listings once in a while…I want to figure out a PhD program I’m interested in but I haven’t been looking at that either, although I’ve talked to my thesis advisors about it. My girlfriend said I’m avoiding things and so…yeah, I am. I’m unsure why though.

    I know in the past, avoidance is a method I practice when I’m either depressed or anxious. Perhaps I’m feeling a little bit of both right now. Possibly due to my graduation blues.

    Do people talk about how awful graduation is? Aside from the overwhelming emotions that arise during the ceremonies, afterward is so much worse. Suddenly, you go from having tons of friends within walking-distance to having no friends nearby. All your friends become busy with their adult lives and you’re stuck living at home with your parents, who ask you daily about getting a job (if you don’t already have one, like me). The possibility of getting a job, being able to move out, and make friends/have friends feels impossible. Not only does that feel impossible, but so does working toward a doctorate because there are 100,000 steps I have to take before even applying for a program.

    Maybe I’m a little depressed and anxious and I didn’t realize the depth of it until now. Regardless, it’s manageable and I’ll overcome it. Right now, I’m unsure how and I’m unsure when this will happen. I may end up having to take two years off, which is okay although undesirable. But worrying about how long things will take is not what I need to be doing right now. So first thing’s first…

    1. Focus on myself!!! I have a part time job for a couple of more months and I’ll be busy doing the YTT. In the evenings, I’ll need to study for it in addition to doing the work required for the other goals I have listed below.
    2. My path is not anyone’s path. I will find a job if I actually look for one and apply. I will figure out what doctorate program to do if I actually look at them. I will be prepared for the GREs if I actually open the book and study for them.
    3. I will do fun things this summer with my girlfriend and my sister. Maybe I can challenge myself a bit too by doing fun things by myself. I can’t rely on anyone but myself. I must be there for myself and not allow people’s inability to hang out with me deter me from having a good time.
    4. Be at peace with myself.

    I may need to repeat these things like a mantra until I relax. I was able to do this two summers ago. During that summer, I was lonesome but at peace with it. I didn’t write much during that time so I don’t remember what I was doing exactly…I was taking a summer class and working part-time but that was it. I probably read a lot and watched TV. I don’t know how I achieved that state of mind but I will figure out how to get back there.

    Anyway, tomorrow I’m leaving for Disney so I’ll try my best to enjoy myself and maybe I’ll plan a little bit about how I’m going to manage my days when I return so that I am busy daily. I’ll let y’all know how that goes.

    xx Vic

  • Poetry

    The Dangers of Looking Backward While Walking Forward

    It’s easy to miss what lies ahead

    If you’re always looking behind you instead

    Yeah, you may be walking forward but by looking backward you’ll never know

    All of the potential you have and how you can grow

    It’s important to take risks once in a while

    Even if you fail miserably, taking those risks are still worthwhile

    Because you’re getting closer to your destination

    And by standing back up, you’re building a strong reputation

    Besides, not looking where you’re going is unsafe

    You may trip and fall into your own grave

    © 2014, 2018 Vic Romero

    All Rights Reserved.

    Happy graduation day! 

  • Speaking My Mind

    Dear Me,

    Please be kind to yourself.

    You are thriving and you are right where you belong at this moment. You did not make any poor decisions. Your path is winding and while it may seem you take five steps back for every step forward, that is not necessarily a bad thing. You were able to reflect, learn, and address issues that you otherwise would’ve overlooked or never experienced if you did not take those steps backward. You wouldn’t be as well-rounded as you are now.

    Please honor where you are at right now.

    There is no need to criticize and to “other” yourself. You are who you are, and you should honor that. You have amazing qualities and you should not look at your qualities solely as weaknesses, because they are not. There are surprising strengths in what you regard as your weaknesses.

    Please trust yourself.

    You’ve overcome adversity and excelled in many areas of your life. You are constantly surprised by the success you earn, but you shouldn’t be because you work hard. You’re capable of greatness and you are working toward that daily. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished, because you’ve earned it.

    Please listen to your heart.

    People will say and think what they want of you, but only your opinions matter. Allow their negativity to fall away and listen to what your heart says. Regard yourself highly because you’ve earned it and you deserve it. You are worthy.

    Lastly, please love yourself.

    Yours truly,

    Victoria

     

  • Speaking My Mind

    Moments of Self-Doubt

    I got into a horrible fight with my mom on the last day of spring break. She had gotten back from a difficult medical seminar and she was trying to relax at home when I came downstairs from my bedroom to sit with her and my sister. It was late, around 10:30pm, and they were planning the family trip to Disney to celebrate my graduation.

    I was joking with my sister and mentioned how I was turning twenty-three this year, which prompted my mom to ask me what I am doing with my life. Assuming she was joking too, I responded that I don’t know (which is pretty true though). For some reason, this response instigated the fight, which was essentially about how I need to get a job and how I’m not doing enough and how what I’ve been doing my entire college career has been a waste of time.

  • Speaking My Mind

    Virgo Full Moon Ritual – March 2018

    I tried my adaptation of the Virgo Full Moon Ritual in the morning after I did my daily yoga session. I decided to do a Full Moon Yoga flow, followed by stretching because last time I did it, my hamstrings were killing me for several days afterward. Then I did the ritual.

    Part of the ritual was to feel and think about what makes you feel like you are on task. I interpreted that as…what makes you feel fulfilled? What goals do you want to achieve, and what can you do more of to help you get there?

    The three things that came to my mind were my girlfriend, my blog, and school.

  • Poetry

    Self-Portrait at Twenty-two

    I.

    A reflection

    Of a forlorn face

    In the grimy window

    Of the bus as it creaks along.

    I try my hardest to look beyond it

    To look at the landscape as we drive along

    But the grimy windows don’t seem to permit it.

     

    II.

    The white smoke escapes my lips

    While black tar enters my lungs

    I sigh, in bliss

    My head buzzing and ears ringing

    Enjoying the silence from the cold evening

    The stillness

     

    Later, I reenter the party

    Mingle and mix with everybody

    And smile because for this one night,

    I’m not lonely

     

    Even later, there are

    Dark bedrooms and

    Faceless bodies with

    Forgettable names but

    Regrettable moments

     

    III.

    An accident.

    Blood…

    Broken bones…

    Barely breathing…

    The absence of a heartbeat.

     

    IV.

    Relief.

    In the form of a woman

    Caramel skin and dark,

    Almond-shaped eyes

    A soft smile when her lips say my name

     

    V.

    The golden sunlight-

    An unwelcome guest

    Shines through the cracks

    Of the closed blinds

    Seeping through the thin skin

    Of my eyelids

    Making itself known

     

    The sunlight illuminates the caramel skin

    Of the woman wrapped in the sheets

    Entangled in my limbs

    Breathing soundly

     

    Eventually, I succumb to its insistence

    That I arise

    I disentangle my limbs and

    I welcome the sun

    To this new day

    Stretching my arms over my body

    In salutation

    Then folding over my feet

    Bowing in respect

    And appreciation

    To be alive

     

    © 2018 Vic Romero

    All rights reserved.

  • Speaking My Mind

    What is Success?

    How do you define success? I’m currently unsure how I define it. What I do know, though, is that the past couple of days I’ve been a little envious of people who I feel are more successful than I am. Granted, they are older than I am, but only by a year. That means I only have a year to achieve what they have achieved, and at the rate I am going, I doubt I will be able to compare to them.

    One of my friends is finishing up her Master’s now and she’s hoping to get into a Ph.D. program. She’s also living with her boyfriend.

    My other friend is working and recently moved a second time, to a different state. She lives on her own and she just bought a new car.

    Right now, I feel skeptical about my ability to experience either of these desirable things: I want to continue my education and I also want to work, live with my girlfriend, and be independent. I’m not really pursuing these desires though. I didn’t take the GRE (I may not need to take it for some programs though), I’ve stopped applying for jobs, and I haven’t done any research (yet) on Ph.D. programs that I may be interested in.

    I was telling these two friends that I feel like whatever I will do next will be based on something I have yet to learn about but…after the fourth time I said it, I thought that perhaps it’s a lame excuse to just sit around and wait for a sign.

    I mean– I don’t feel like I’m waiting for a sign but maybe I’m not taking enough action. I feel like the main reason I’ve been resisting action though is because I don’t know what action to do.

    Although I’ve been relatively more peaceful this semester, I started worrying, after talking to my successful friends, that I’m going to end up being sad and bored come May. Once I graduate, it seems like I’m going to have a bit of a gap year where I enjoy my random hobbies and apply for jobs. In fact, one of my friends that graduated a semester early is currently in that position, and she affirms that it is super difficult.

    You know…it seems that I’m defining success as people that are pursuing cool goals. So what cool goals will I be pursuing after I graduate?

    Well, I do have some answers for that: I am interested in a research-based job. I would like to become a certified yoga teacher and I would also like to research PhD programs that would either allow me to research yoga and/or gender-related topics. Honestly, I would love to do a PhD in a gender studies department somewhere, but I’d have to research the benefits of that more as well as what the programs require. I would like to do a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis so perhaps sociology would be better, but I could ensure that I have a gender focus? Oh, I’d also like to get published! I’d like to get published for either something creative I do or for academic work…or both! But I’d like to get published at some point, for something.

    My first year after college may be difficult but these are some goals that I need to invest time into, so it will be a productive year for sure.

    In the meantime, I will do some basic research and definitely apply for some jobs. My thesis is due at the end of March though so it’s hard to want to spend time on anything other than that right now. But it’ll probably make me feel better if I take some action to reach some of these goals I have.

    So, I want to know what you think! How do you define success?

    xx Vic

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