Wednesday, June 28, 2017


We live in a society that promotes meddling.  Through media and social convention, we are encouraged to not only take an interest in each other's lives and offer our thoughts and opinions, but in many cases to actively pronounce judgement and take action to support what we feel the 'right course of action' is.

If you think about the shows you watch on tv, it is very common for characters in just about every show, to do things that interfere with another characters life or choices because it is what they feel is best for the other person.  Meddling in another person's life is often not seen as being intrusive, but rather as being a way to show you care about someone.

Of course there is some basis for this kind of involvement in another person's life.  When we are children, our parents often made choices for us (frequently choices we would never have made for ourselves), because it was their job to make sure we were healthy and happy.  We weren't mentally or emotionally capable of making proper choices ourselves.  Ideally, as we grew up and developed, we would be allowed to make more and more choices on our own (including ones that perhaps were mistakes), until we moved out and became independent people who lived by our own actions.

But there is a growing trend for parents to keep making choices for their children, long beyond what might be considered reasonable.  And this trend is spreading out to other areas of life as well.  Some people think it is okay for you to make choices regarding your partner, lover or even friends. 

It can be really hard to watch the people we care about make choices that we feel are wrong for them, especially if we truly believe that those choices will lead to them getting hurt and we feel like we can see a better choice.  But I think it is really tricky ground when we start pushing our opinions and choices on each other.

In the first place, my path and perspective might not be the same as yours, no matter how close you feel we are or how well you think you know me.  I don't always tell the people around me why I do the things I do, and sometimes I have very deeply personal reasons for doing things that don't seem to make a whole lot of sense (or flat out seem to be bad choices).  Other people have no way of knowing what my reasons are, and as a fully functioning adult, I shouldn't have to justify my own personal choices to other people.

Even if this means that I make mistakes.  I don't think our role in other people's lives is to protect them by choosing for them, but rather to offer our perspective and insight when asked, and to be there to support them if they are going through a rough patch or dealing with a bad choice they made.

I think it is almost vital in life to make bad choices.  I think this is especially true for children.  Bad choices are one of the ways in which we learn how to make good choices.  If we are never allowed to make mistakes, we may never truly understand why some actions are bad, especially if we are shielded from the fallout of any bad choices we actually manage to make.

Of course, parent's should do their very best to keep their children from true harm, but I think there is a big difference between keeping them safe and swaddling them in cotton.  Skinned knees hurt, but they aren't ultimately harmful.  And you have to balance the odds of getting hurt with the joys of actually living.  Learning to ride a bike may lead to skinned knees, but it is also great fun and most people would agree that it is silly to forbid children from riding bikes just because they might (or will) fall while learning to ride them.

It becomes even harder when you know someone who habitually makes the same mistakes, no matter how many times they have been cautioned.  But I think that it is healthy, not only for ourselves, but for other people as well, for us to take a step back sometimes.  This may even mean that you have to stop yourself from rushing in to pick up the pieces when things go badly.  It can be hard, and it can lead to bruised feelings.  People expect to be helped in times of trouble, and if they couldn't see how their bad choices were repeating, they may not be able to recognize that it was their own choices that led them to the misfortune they are experiencing now.  When you fail to help them out of the hole they dug and jumped into, they may feel betrayed, and that can be hard on you.

This also applies to magical workings.  People always caution about not doing spells that effect other people, because taking away someones choices is a form of harm.  And I do think that can often be the case.  We may have great intentions, but the moment we start casting (without permission), we are essentially deciding that we know better than the other person about what is best for them.

There is a definite line between not using magic to 'help' people we care about and not using magic to protect ourselves.  I am absolutely okay with people using magic to prevent other people from abusing them, even if this limits another person's behavior.  Just like I would be okay with using physical means to do the same.  If you are trying to cause me harm (intentionally or unintentionally), I have every right to defend myself.

And again, there is a tricky line here, between defending yourself and thinking that you should 'teach them a lesson'.  For me, it all comes back to where my mind is at.  If my focus is on getting someone to leave me alone, I don't feel I am out of line.  But though others may learn through me, I don't think it is my place to pass judgement on others.

Sometimes I wonder if divinity looks down on us and thinks "I wish I could just make them see!"  Especially when I notice that I am making the same errors, over and over, and part of me wishes that I could just stop.  I want some greater power to do something magical so that I don't have to struggle with the issues that I am struggling with.  But then I realize that is exactly what I try to avoid doing for other people.

We all have our own stuff, our own trials and our own dark nights.  We can't fix things for other people, because no matter how many times you pull someone out of a thing, until they can start seeing how the choices they make are dragging them right back down, they won't be able to stay out of it.  And all you will do is wear yourself out trying to pull them away from the thing they are running towards.

Ultimately, all we can do is focus on our own path, our own lives and our own choices.  We can love the people in our lives, give them honest advice and insight when they ask for it, and be there for them when they need us, but we can't choose for them.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

I am a big fan of adaptation.  I have always felt that if something didn't work for you, then you just had to adjust it until you found a way that did work.  Or if you didn't have the exact supplies listed, then you found substitutes.  I definitely felt this way about timing, I almost never did rituals on the exact date, moon phase, planetary hour or any of the other specific times that were suggested for different rituals.

I feel that the essence of a practice, the heart of it if you will, is more important than the details.  I would rather do something, and perhaps it isn't just right, than try to wait for everything to be perfect and not ever actually get it done.

I sometimes wonder if we don't adapt our spiritual practice more because we don't feel that deep drive, that NEED to do the things we do.  We want to do them, we may feel a deep peace and a great sense of connection when we do, and in part of our brain we know that these things are necessary to our whole Self, but it's not the same level of need that we feel in other areas of our lives, or that perhaps our ancestors felt.

I think that many of us view our spiritual life from a symbolic standpoint instead of a literal one.  We don't approach our rituals as if they were vital to life continuing on.  We don't feel that missing an observance will stop the sun from rising in the morning, or prevent rains from watering our crops (and therefor leaving us with not enough food to get through the winter).  We may work towards abundance or joy or to increase the blessings in our lives, but we don't feel that if we don't then we will not have our basic needs met.

Interestingly enough, I think that people are more likely to use adaptation in things that feed those kinds of basic needs.  If you have an emergency and you think you won't be able to make rent this month, or you get sick and aren't sure how you will make it to work, then you will do anything in your power to try to make it right, including using whatever tools and supplies you have on hand and making something up if necessary.

Some people think of it in terms of low and high magic:  with low being practical every day applications and high magic being more spiritual and highly ritualized actions.  The more ritualized something is, the less people seem to think they can adapt it.  If you are doing a simple charm to find a parking spot, it is like it is easier to make changes than an elaborate ritual to honor the turning of the seasons that has every step laid out in detail.

I have seen and heard of some amazing adaptations.  Many of which are the children of necessity.  If you are in a dorm room and are not allowed to have lit flames, how do you honor fire?  What do you do instead of burning that piece of paper that you were supposed to burn?  If you live in the city, what do you do for rituals that suggest walking out into the woods and sitting with a tree?  How do you adjust if you don't have access to a natural stream when you are supposed to release something into running water?

I think these types of adaptations are what helps our practice grown and thrive and evolve with our modern lives.  When we start thinking of our spiritual practice as absolutely necessary, as something that we would literally wither away and die without, then we start looking for ways to figure out how to do things instead of feeling like we can't do something if we don't meet all the requirements.

I recently hurt my hand.  I did something to my thumb (sprained or strained or otherwise angered), and it's been a month now and it's not doing much better.  It's on the same arm that I have nerve issues.  I just got a brace for it, so that hopefully it will get the rest it needs and start to mend.  I definitely find that if I'm not forced to change my ways, I will forget and keep doing things the way I always have.  But the brace makes it to where I can't do some things the same way (not only does it hold my thumb rigid, it also restricts movement on my wrist, so bending that hand isn't happening much).

And while wearing the brace, I physically can't do things that I used to do.  It's not easy to wash, so I am figuring out ways to do things like wash the coffee pot in the morning using only one hand.  I've had to adjust how I type to accommodate it (which is actually not as bad as some of the other adjustments I've had to make).  Getting dressed is still extremely hard (really, you don't realize exactly how vital your thumbs are until you can't use's my left thumb and I'm right handed which you would think would make it easier, but I tend to prefer to do a lot of my heavy lifting with my left hand so my right hand can stay free for other things).

But what I appreciate is not only does it force me to remember that my hand is hurt and needs to be allowed to heal, it also definitely forces me to start learning how to do the things I always do in a new way.  This is something I've sort of done all my life.  I was fascinated with survival stories when I was young, and someone is always injured in those, so when I was learning how to swim, I practiced swimming and treading water in all kinds of crazy ways:  with only my arms, with only my legs, with only one side of my body.

I think that when we only know how to do things one way, any setback completely throws us off.  We find ourselves floundering and then we have a choice:  sink or swim.  We either give up because our normal way of doing things won't work, or we adapt and come up with some new way to do things.

One thing I think helps develop this ability to adapt is to keep challenging yourself.  Think of situations where you might not be able to do things the way you normally do.  How would you practice if you couldn't use any fire?  What would your rituals look like if you had to avoid anything with a strong scent?  If there is a tool you always use, what could use use instead? 

An exercise I find fun is to pick a grouping of random things, and a situation and figure out how you would use those things to get yourself out of the situation.  Picking 'whatever is in my pockets' or 'the things that are in my car' are great starts.  The situation might be that you need to be protected or perhaps you need to get a message to someone.  Start with simple situations and common items...but as you become more familiar with the exercise, start having fun with it...get crazy!  What would you do if you wanted to get in contact with the kid who used to sit behind you in 4th grade English class if all you have is a piece of beef jerky, a broken shoe lace, the receipt from your morning cup of coffee and plastic grocery bag with a hole in it?

Another thing I think is important is to recognize that even though our spiritual life may seem like an 'extra' that it is very vital to our being.  It is one of those things that feel subtle, and sometimes feels like it can be set aside or put on hold, but it spreads out and touches all aspects of our lives.  When we are spiritually unfulfilled, it effects everything else, it makes us cranky, makes us restless, effects our health and changes how we deal with other people.  We need to really look for these invisible threads, and seek out all the ways in which our spiritual life touches everything else we do.

And once we notice it, start finding ways to adapt!  If you don't have time for big rituals....what can you do?  Are there ways to use the time you already have, time when you are doing other things, and turn those things into observations that serve as rituals?  Washing is one thing I do double duty on all the time.  Of course we wash things throughout our day, from hands to dishes to our bodies.  But we can take that time, do the physical actions and shift our focus and turn it into a moment of releasing, of cleansing or of tending our personal body-temple.

If you don't have money for supplies, look at what you have around you and what you can reuse or what you can make for yourself.  When I started, my ritual knife was a pocket knife my dad had given me.  Later I used a kitchen knife for a while.  I have used kitchen herbs for ages, working with a very limited cupboard of choices.  I use stones I find outside all the time.

If you don't have people to work with, start thinking outside the box.  I know many of us would love to find that group of people who share our exact beliefs, who walk the same path that we do.  But sometimes, when looking for that particular match, we overlook many other options that would be very rewarding!  I don't practice with people who share my path.  I share rituals with friends who are Pagan but with very different spiritual practices.  I also share spiritual time with people who aren't Pagan at all, but are woman or Goddess oriented.  I am in several intentional creativity groups, which work through art to find a spiritual connection...and many of those people have very different spiritual beliefs from me!  But I find so much from each of them, that I wouldn't have if I had been trying to hold out for a Norse aligned group that matched my own tendencies.

I don't think we need to wait for life to force us to find a new way.  I think we can light the fire inside ourselves and highlight the need that dwells within.  We can practice putting ourselves in situations where we are forced to do things differently.  And by creating new ways of doing things, we bring more spirituality into our lives!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Pop Culture Paganism

Pop Culture Paganism is something that has a strange reputation in the Pagan world.  As a community, we are still struggling for acceptance, and so many people try to distance themselves from anything that makes what we do seem silly or pushes the boundaries of make believe.

Pop Culture Paganism does exactly what many Pagan's are trying to convince people that we don't do:  treat fantasy elements as reality.  At it's base, Pop Culture Paganism takes things that exist in our modern popular culture and uses them as part of a religious or spiritual practice.  Pop Culture Paganism draws influence from tv shows, movies, cartoons, books and even real life people.  This may mean using energies that are from an Anime in a ritual, calling upon a character from a book as part of a spell, working with deities from a movie or using pictures of people on your altar.

While of course there are always people who make light of such practices, more interested in being a fan of a show than actually making a serious practice of it, there are others who really identify with and find a deep connection to the images and worlds that they have grown up with.

What I think is sort of fascinating is that if you think about it, the myths and legends that we associate with ancient cultures are in some ways the equivalent of their TV shows.  When children were growing up and hearing tales of the adventures of Hercules or Beowolf, then it only makes sense that when they need guidance or spiritual comfort those would be the figures to whom they would turn.  The stories they heard all their lives would be the ones they shaped their personal practices around.

Why then is it so strange that modern Pagans may do the same thing?  If you grew up watching Charmed, that world and it's magical rules and traditions would be not only familiar but comforting to you.  If you needed protection, you might call upon things from that world that make you feel safe.

In many ways, these Pop Culture universes are closer to us than the legends of ancient cultures.  Not only have times changed, and so the challenges and issues we face today are not the same ones faced by our ancestors, but we didn't grow up hearing those stories, so those worlds aren't as familiar to us.  If I am having trouble with bullies at school, finding advice and guidance in old myths will be much harder than thinking of episodes in a show I watched all the time growing up.  On the other side, reading a myth about the horror of a bad harvest doesn't instill the same level of dread as it did in days past, so many of the old stories are hard for modern practitioners to identify with.

I definitely understand how Pop Culture Paganism may be hard to explain to non-Pagans in a way that doesn't make us all seem like we are just caught up in a fantasy world, but there are many things we do that are hard to explain.  If we pushed away everyone who did something that wasn't easily explained, there would be no Paganism left.  I don't think the answer should be to turn on people who's practice is different from our own, but to try to understand it better, so that when we are faced with questions we can explain things more accurately in order to bring greater understanding to the world.

Personally, I have no problem with working with ideas, people or energies as they are explained in works of fiction.  I feel that the ideas are where the power is.  We empower things by focusing on them with the right intent. 

I know this gets tricking for a lot of people when it comes to deities.  I think that divinity is one of those things that we can't accurately comprehend or explain.  When it comes to the idea of worshiping or calling upon deities that originate from fictional sources, I take a bit of a multi-verse perspective.  There is a theory about reality that postulates that for every idea someone has ever had, there is a universe out there somewhere where that idea is a reality.  By this train of thought, there is a Buffy universe, where all the things we have watched on the show actually happened.  In that universe, it is all very real, and perhaps our universe is someone's creative writing project for a college English paper (how is that for something to wrap your head around!)

I also think that sometimes the beings we work with fall into the category of 'other':  they may not be deities in some definitions of the word, but they are capable of more than we are.  In this way, I take a very practical approach.  If I do a spell or ritual and call upon a character from my favorite book, perhaps wanting to draw upon some of their qualities in my own life, and it works, then I am not overly fussed about the categorization of the being I called upon. 

One theory I have heard to explain this also speaks to why older deities are seen by many as being less powerful now than they are in the stories.  This goes back to attention and energy.  During the height of their respective cultures, individual deities might have been worshiped and fed energy by so many people that they grew in power.  They were able to create more because more people believed in their power.  As the culture faded or was conquered by another, those same deities lost power because they were no longer the focus of the worship of the masses. 

By this train of thought, fictional beings could be drawn into power an existence as masses of fans obsess over them.  As more people start working with them, these beings become able to give more in return.

I think the ideas proposed by Pop Culture Paganism are much deeper than they appear on the surface.  When you start to think about how and why things work (and how and why they used to work), there is a lot to be pondered on and figured out.  Just because someone works with My Little Ponies, doesn't mean they don't have a full and viable practice. 

So the next time you hear about Pop Culture Paganism, consider listening to what the people who are doing it are saying.  Think about the implications of their practice, and make your own observations about how series they are about what they do.  There are as many ways to be a Pagan as there are Pagans, so embrace your fellows and learn about what other people are doing.  You may find yourself pleasantly surprised!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Testing your Boundaries

I think that growth and pushing our boundaries is important.  I've always been one to sort of poke the things I'm afraid of, because I don't want to be trapped by fear.  But I also know that there is a fine line between healthy growth and being shoved so far out of your comfort zone that it actually becomes problematic.

Fear exists to  keep us safe.  Fear is what prevents us from touching fire or from wandering around in the dark where we can't see danger.  But in many ways our fear responses have not caught up with modern life.  So we develop fears for things that aren't dangerous in the same way:  fear of being rejected, fear of loss, fear of failure.  Even though these things aren't deadly in the traditional sense, our fear response doesn't know this, and so we react as if it were a serious threat.

Sometimes, we can face our fears and by doing things we are uncomfortable with we stretch our boundaries and grow and our fears become diminished.  This is a very healthy thing to do.  It pushes us out past where we feel safe and we have to learn how to navigate in this new space.  We build new boundaries, but they now include areas that were once 'unsafe' to us.

But sometimes we get forced outside our boundaries and it breaks something inside us because we weren't ready.  I don't think that people can be permanently broken, but I do think that sometimes fixing the broken parts of our Self requires a ton of work...way  more than it would have taken to safely expand our boundaries and work through the initial fears that were holding us back.  I also think there is a very real danger that if we are too broken, we can't see that light at the end of the tunnel, all we can see is the broken pieces and this becomes a new cage that keeps us bound up tighter than we were before.  We might also find that we can't bear the thought of living in this new place, and this leads to a risk of doing serious harm to ourselves before we can work our way out of the dark place we are in.

I have seen a lot of cute analogies about breaking through boundaries.  One I particularly like is how a seed must break through it's shell in order to grow.  And this is definitely a good analogy for healthy growth.  Inside the shell, the little seedling is safe.  It starts to grow and soon is pressed up against the inside of the shell.  And still it grows, making the shell no longer a nice safe place, but instead a stifling restriction.  So the seedling pushes even harder, cracking open the shell and opening itself to the dangers of the greater world.

The seed will never become a plant, it will never realize it's potential, if it stays safe within it's shell.  It has to crack and break free and expand in order to become a plant.  The same way we must sometimes push through our own boundaries in order to grow into our own potential.  If we stay bound up in the safe places, we never allow ourselves to bloom.

But another analogy comes to mind that demonstrates the flip side of breaking out of boundaries.  A caterpillar enters into a cocoon as part of it's transition to becoming a butterfly.  Much like the seed, it will eventually need to break free from it's safe cocoon in order to fly.   But the struggle of cracking the cocoon and forcing it's way out is part of what makes it ready for flight.  If an outside source sees the struggle and decides to 'help' cutting away the cocoon to make the process easier, the butterfly won't be able to fly.

I think this beautifully illustrates part of why struggle is healthy for us.  Sometimes, we want to fly to new heights, but if someone lifts us up, we haven't worked our way up, and the new heights can be terrifying.  We can find ourselves where we thought we wanted to be, but because we didn't make our way there ourselves, we may not have the tools to be able to survive.  We may cower in fear, afraid of falling, because we didn't experience the climb up to where we were.

And worse, while in the cocoon, the caterpillar isn't even a caterpillar, but it dissolves into a sort of caterpillar soup:  a goo that contains all the memories of the caterpillar but can't exist on it's own.  If the cocoon is opened too soon, there isn't anything inside that can come butterfly, no caterpillar...just goo.

Sometimes it feels like this when we are pushed to do things we just aren't ready for.  When someone else is trying to shove you outside your boundaries, you may not be able to cope.  The difference between being released from your cocoon as a flightless butterfly and coming out as goo is a matter of scope.  If we are close to being ready to push through, we may be crippled when we come out, but if we are no where near ready then we can be completely incapacitated.

As I said earlier, I am a big believer in the resilience of people.  I think that we can recover from pretty much anything.  But just because we 'can', just because it is within the realm of possibility, doesn't mean that we will.  Some things scar us and we bear those scars for the rest of our life.  They may be superficial scars, things that are seen but don't hold us back in any serious way.  For example, if you had a bad experience after being pushed to speak in front of a group when you weren't ready, you may always remember that moment when you go to speak in front of a group in the future, but it may stay just a memory.  You remember it and you move on.

On the other hand, scars can limit us as well.  That same type of experience could have caused you to have a nervous reaction in the future.  You may feel faint and even pass out at just the thought of getting up in front of a group of people to talk.  It may take you a lifetime to work through this.

What we don't know, and I am not sure we can ever know, is what would have happened if we were allowed to grow on our own terms.  The butterfly knows when it is ready to break free from it's cocoon, just as the seed knows when it's time to crack it's shell.  Perhaps you would always have a fear of speaking in public.  Perhaps you would never feel comfortable in front of a group.  But if we are pushed before we are ready, we never have the opportunity to see what we might have accomplished.

Some amount of encouragement is a good thing.  I personally know that there are many things I am uncomfortable doing, and some of them I would never attempt if someone else wasn't cheering (or pushing) me into them.  But ultimately the decision to do a thing should be mine.  It is one thing to encourage someone to jump into the water and learn to swim...and another thing entirely to shove them into the water when they are begging you not to.

We have to learn to gauge our own fears, to open our eyes and examine each fear.  Listen to what the fear is telling us.  Let yourself sit with your fear for a little while, and see how uncomfortable it makes you.  Sometimes, if we let ourselves experience our fear instead of immediately running the other direction, we find that after those first few moments, things start to settle down.  We start to wrap our head around the idea and no longer feel paralyzed by it.

This is how I feel when I think about teaching.  A big part of me really wants to teach.  I love sharing knowledge (which is one reason why I love blogging!), and I enjoy talking to people, so teaching should be something I enjoy doing.  But I definitely have issues about any kind of formal teaching situation.  If it is just a casual conversation and someone asks me a question, I can answer no problem.  If there is a set time and an official 'I am teaching this subject in a class' situation, then I start to freeze up.

I have to really practice, go over what I may say, remind myself constantly that I will be fine, reassure myself that I have valid information to share.  I will be nervous right up to the moment I start talking, and then most of my anxiety goes away.  I've always been this way with any kind of performance, speech, demonstration or other situation where it's me presenting to a group.

But, sometimes, when we sit with a fear, it starts to grow.  It begins to overshadow everything else, and all we can do is fall prey to the fear.  These are things that we may not be ready to face right now.  We may have to work long and hard to start to approach these fears.  They may be things we have to break into smaller chunks in order to work with, or we may need to call upon friends and allies to face them.

For a long time I have had a pretty irrational fear of falling.  Not of heights, I'm actually pretty good about heights.  But the actual falling, the sensation of falling, triggers me.  It doesn't matter how far the fall is, it's the feeling you get while falling that I can't handle.

Many years ago, while I was in a JROTC spring camp, we had different exercises and challenges to do.  One of them was an obstacle course, and one of the obstacles was a rope that was hanging over a shallow pit, and there was a log across the path on the other side of the pit.  You had to grab the rope, swing over the little pit and then get yourself over the log.  The log wasn't even that tall, perhaps chest height.

But I was having trouble with it, and when I couldn't get over the log, I would swing backwards on the rope, and get the sensation of falling.  It was only a couple of failed attempts before I was starting to have a serious panic attack.  I was shaking and just the idea of trying again made me feel light headed.

At the time, I wasn't ready to face that particular fear.  I now feel that my issues with falling stem from a greater fear about being out of control.  When I am helpless, when there is nothing I can do to make a situation better, that is terrifying to me.  Things that manifest this fear for me include falling, people being sick or injured, flying in a plane...pretty much any situation that I can't do anything to effect the outcome of. 

It is something I have worked with quite a bit, and continue to work with.  There are some facets of it I can now handle.  I went to a ropes course a couple of years ago, and every time I had to walk to the edge of the platform and jump off (while fully in a harness and strapped in), I had to face that fear.  There was that moment of falling each time before the harness caught and you slid along the rope.  That I could manage.  I did not choose to go on the 'jump off the platform and experience freefall for 20 feet' however.

The things we fear are very personal.  Our fears may not even register to someone else, and yet they are very real to us.  Never let someone else belittle you for the things you fear.  Trust your instincts and trust how you feel.  Honor your fears and work with them to understand why you feel the way you do and what you might need to do to start working through them.

We may never fully overcome our fears, but we can learn to manage them.  We can learn to push through them when we need to.  And I think one of the best ways to do this is to keep poking at them.  Find where your line is, where your boundaries are.  See where you feel safe and where you don't.  And start to approach that line.

You may not be able to cross it at first.  It may take everything in you to just get close to it and stand there.  But, over time, you may find that you can stand there for longer and longer.  Then you may take a tiny step forward.  You may be able to take a little step forward every time you try, or you may not.  Do what you can do!  Eventually, you may find that you can cross a toe over that line.  You may need to retreat from time to time, and that is okay too!  Just because one day you could stand right at the line and the next day you can't even get within arm's reach doesn't mean you are failing.  Sometimes we have to push ourselves harder and then take a bit of a rest and let ourselves acclimatize.

Let yourself remember the seedling, and how it grew and grew inside it's shell until it was pressed in so tight that it had to crack the shell.  Grow yourself until you must push on your boundaries, because then you will be ready to be bigger than you were.  Remember the caterpillar goo, and let yourself stay safe in your cocoon until you are ready to become the butterfly.  Remember the butterfly who has to push and strive and force their way out of the cocoon in order to be strong enough to fly and know that all the struggles you have along the way, every time that boundary pushes back or pinches in on you, it is only preparing you for what waits on the other side.  Poke your boundaries, and keep poking them until you have pushed them back to where you want to be.