By Scott Kalechstein 

My Belly Buttonís Smile  


Another big change is happening in my life, and, as customary, that was my first reaction. 

The transitions that my family and I experienced in my childhood always seemed to be filled with gut- wrenching pain. I learned how to survive hard times, but I was never shown how to mine them, how to dig below the surface of appearances and extract the gold. I accepted the belief that where there is pain, there must be fault. My mind would race to identify the villains and the victims, who was right and who was wrong. After all, this couldnít be happening to bless and empower all those involved, could it? 

My girlfriend and I are in transition. She is moving to Houston and I am staying here in Encinitas. We are, to use a cultural phrase, breaking up. As I write this, sweet currents of love are circulating in the airwaves between us. There is a mutual understanding, a gentle acceptance of each other and a compassionate embrace of the divergent place we have come to on our pathways.

Lisa and I are parting with awareness of the soul work that is before each of us. Someone once said that all relationship struggles are tied to one central core issue: self abandonment. Both of us have steps to take towards developing a stronger love for self, and then hold onto that bond in the dance of relationship. There is no shame, no blame, and no guilt being thrown around about this; we are two souls who have deeply blessed each other, and we are choosing to embrace this ending of a cycle with trust, celebration, and grief. 

We are taking moments to share disappointments and regrets, apologizing and asking for forgiveness about various things. Sometimes we cry together and other times we take turns. Both of us are well experienced in trusting tears to shed their healing magic. Time is also being spent speaking our gratitude for the gifts we have showered on each other. Insights are surfacing during solitude and then are being shared. Itís quite a rich time. 

Everything in this life has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Even lifelong relationship partners must face a time when one leaves the earth and the other remains. When someone leaves my life, they leave me with myself. That can either be experienced as a blessing or a curse, depending on how I feel about being with me. Have I learned to nurture myself with warm, consciously chosen thoughts of self-acceptance and self-celebration? Do I have a voice within me other than my inner critic to keep me company on cold, winter nights? Is loneliness a fire breathing dragon to avoid at all costs, or a sweet friend I can put my arms around and hug? 

Lisa and I both had dreams of being together for a long time, much longer than the two years we had. Perhaps one day in the future we will be guided to come together again. For now, it is time to focus on consciously moving through this change of form with as much compassion and tenderness as possible. And that means leaving behind all ideas of right and wrong, victims and villains. I am quite proud of both of us. We are suspending judgment in the midst of pain, where it is usually the most tempting to take up a sword and try to hack oneís way to safety. 

This past Thanksgiving, my father was asked by family members (including me!) to lay down his sword about something he was convinced he had the sharpest point about. His reaction was to defend his right to judge, going as far to proclaim that judgment was healthy. I could sense a lack of safety lying beneath his need to be right. 

While Iím parading my own righteousness around, of course, itís much harder to see my own fearful shadow. When I donít feel safe, it seems that there are two paths before me. One is the protection plan of ego, and the other is the journey of the heart. One path is to go to my mind and tell a story, be righteous about my interpretations, and disassociate from my fear. The other involves the choice to stay in my body, feel my fear, tell the truth about it and move through it to the other side. These two choices represent the difference in how the heart processes fear out of the body versus how the thinking mind submerges fear, thereby getting to live with it. 

Iíd like to say that I consistently choose the journey of the heart, but more often than I would like to report my method of travel is the head-trip. It is so vital to forgive myself for my less-than-ideal choices. Old survival strategies die hard. Lately I celebrate when I come to realize that I am in my head telling a story and avoiding being present and vulnerable. That awareness is a triumph, for it moves me out of my interpretations and back to my body where the truth can be experienced without filters. 

It is very common for human beings in this kind of transition to use the situation as proof that we are, indeed, abandoned, unlovable, damaged goods, commitment phobic, etc. We tend to use disappointments as evidence to reinforce our victim stories. Lisa and I are both being very brave to stay out of story-telling. We are plunging naked into a very healing river, honoring and expressing multitudes of mixed feelings, embracing paradox, and welcoming the soul gifts that come with every transition. 

While personalities might need to grieve, and maybe even kick and scream a bit when change comes around the bend, our souls know that transitions always come to move us forward. The universe never withholds our good from us, although it can seem that way when we have been taught to withhold love from ourselves. Breakups are really breakthroughs in disguise. 

Lisa has been fond of pointing out that my belly button always smiles, that no matter what is going on, like the Buddha, it has a consistency to its smile. I believe that every transition I go through helps me to identify more and more with my navelís point of view. The voice that says, ďOh no, not again!Ē is gradually discovering an internal safety that needs no external security. And thatís what makes my belly button smile. 

Scott Kalechstein wears many hats. He is a counselor, coach, minister, inspirational speaker, recording artist and modern day troubadour. He travels through the United States, Canada and Europe giving concerts, talks and workshops, as well as presenting at conferences. Scott can be reached at (760) 753-2359, or you may e-mail him at   His website is an inspiring and playful place to visit.

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