Category: Enlightenment

All Grown Up I Can Now Be Myself

A long time ago my mother told me that no matter how old we are, we still feel the same on the inside – we feel like ourselves. That makes sense, at the core we are who we are.

Not sure we always notice the “Myself” in ourselves because we are busy navigating our day-to-day, immersed in whatever we are doing, who we are with, what’s happening on our own particular path and that’s our focus. For years and years.

But what if we change? I mean really change. Like “Myself” is not who you think I am, or even who I think I am.

I was sitting in church the other day – something I don’t usually do. I was forced to go every Sunday growing up, and it didn’t feel right to “Myself.” But since Sir Husband does multimedia communications for the Harvard Memorial Church now, I go when he’s covering a special event. It’s kind of like going to the theater. This church is the pulse-center of Harvard U, where big things take place – from Commencement or famous speakers or concerts to High Church holidays during the academic year. Neither of us are religioulsy-affiliated but subscribe to spiritual wisdom.

I sat there for the event and thought about when I was sitting in church as a little girl. I hated it and hated my parents for demanding I participate. I didn’t “feel” it, it didn’t seem right to me and I didn’t appreciate their disregard of “Myself.”

But this particular day, my past tapped me on the shoulder differently, like it does when we least expect it. I felt like a grown up. I had decided to go to church that day for my own reasons – to see the special event, to sit in what the Memorial Church calls Harvard’s “Space of Grace,” a safe place with an astounding history and a magnitude that spans brilliance and imagination, beauty, hope and possibility. Wisdom defines Harvard. And although I was never a student there, when I go, I feel like Myself. Not the struggling little girl who flailed through a lifetime of hard knocks, chaos, roadblocks and dysfunction.

Our experiences leave deep imprints, some good, some not so good. I spent the last decade trying to not be Myself. To unlearn what I learned growing up and reintroduce myself to Myself. And in pivotal moments, there she is. The birth of my children…unconditional love with Sir Husband after our childhood close friendship…finally moving home after a whirlwind eight moves. And sometimes it’s simply an everyday moment that seems pivotal.

That place inside my mother was talking about – the ‘feeling like myself’ place? Sure. No matter how old we are we feel like ourselves. But things change – circumstances, hopes, dreams – and it doesn’t require being in church to notice who we are. We just have to pay attention.

It may have taken me a few decades to learn all I really ever have to do is be Myself. But it’s definitely worth the effort.

 

 

Fairy Wisdom

It’s amazing when we step away from our daily routine into a new space, how our perspectives can change.
We see things and people and ourselves differently. And sometimes it isn’t pretty. But it also provides an opportunity to learn and grow. Removing ourselves from complacency is not only refreshing, it’s enlightening.
We are different. The world is different. Life is different.

Bad News Does People No Good

The news makes me so sad. The state of the world, the way people see it and think about it and react to it – it’s hard. Perhaps it’s no different than any other time in history, we have learned about the chaos humans create…and endure. Chaotic times go back as far back as history remembers.

But it’s hard to fight for the calmness we humans so desperately seek when we’re surrounded by a deep unhappiness that spreads like a contagious virus.

I woke up to the news of United Airlines hurting a Chinese doctor because he would not give up his seat due to airline overbooking. He is an old man who just wanted to go home, but instead was sorely mistreated by airline employees. Ugh, horrible.

Or the story about children in several states being publicly shamed in school because they could not afford to buy lunch. Worse – denied lunch when the visible stamps on their hands say “I need lunch money.” And these children walk not just through a lunch line, but throughout their day in school, every day, stigmatized, humiliated and hungry.

So incredibly sad. And as we know, that’s not the half of it nor the worst stories “out there.” Some are too terrible to even absorb.

These are humans. People. Living, breathing, loving, and losing – people. The human race is losing. But haven’t we always? History seems to think so.

It’s easy to blame. We have a crippled democracy now, governed by a few who think it’s ok to hurt people and seemingly by no accident instill that mindset to ignite their cause. But it’s more than that. It’s the whole planet, all the way down to my street.

We live in an urban setting but ironically surrounded by nature that we see every day. Not just the usual squirrels or birds, but deer, coyote and wild turkeys. Recently traffic was stopped on my street because a large flock of turkeys was crossing the road – big, beautiful, slow turkeys.

One man continued to try to swerve his car around the long line of stopped traffic, honking, yelling out his window, flailing his arms and cursing at those of us who tried to point out that we were stopped for what looked and seemed so beautiful, so peaceful – creatures simply living their lives without concern about the turbulent world around them – but with great concern for each other.

You could see the bigger ones rallying the smaller ones, helping them cross the street. It was a Make Way for Ducklings moment right before our eyes. But the enraged man certainly couldn’t appreciate it. I think he would have run them over if he could. Sad.

I’m not sure what causes people to be so hateful. Whether we are optimistic or pessimistic, kind or cruel, observation over time shows we are who we are and that’s who we put out into the world.

There is beauty out there, sometimes it’s just really hard to see.

 

 

Locking Down Our Destiny Is Pretty Hard To Do

Do you ever wonder what on earth you are doing here at this particular point in time? Are we here to evolve our souls or make an impact, or do we just live for a while then turn to dust? Because however you look at it, we are here now, making and breaking history.

The movie Slum Dog Millionaire (love it) tries answer that with a multiple choice question ~ “Jamal Malik is one question away from winning 20 Million Rupees. How did he do it?”  A. He cheated  B. He’s lucky  C. He’s a genius  D. It is written.

I’m an answer D’er. We have our own destiny, it’s already written and we’re here to fulfill it. The bigger question is, what is it? For some it’s obvious, for the rest of us, not so much.

Until this year I never really questioned my place and time in history, I was always just happy to be an American at a time that life in our first-world country was pretty okay. So I just went about my business trying to fulfill my unknown-but-written destiny.

Turns out our path to destiny comes with challenges we have try to work through, hopefully learning as we go. Doesn’t matter what they are – health, job, people, life – I was feeling pretty happy recently to have finally overcome (or so I thought,) years and years of rollercoaster challenges, thereby rocking my destiny.

Then things started getting tricky. Trump tricky. And all of a sudden some of those challenges I thought I was done with – bullies, narcissists, abusers, sociopaths, dangerous, angry humans – is happening on a massive, grandiose scale beyond what most people really imagined. Doesn’t matter what side you’re on, historical chaos ensues.

So the other day when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed by the state of national affairs, I asked myself, any idea why you are here at this particular point and time? Was this written? Did you pick this time to exist to experience this? Or are you just lucky? Because some might say experiencing hardship is good for the soul. Think about Moses and the Israelites. Or slaves. Or Jews in Nazi Germany. Syrian refugees. Was that good for them? Did they meet their destinies or their fates?

And now why, all of a sudden, do I feel like I need to re-examine my own destiny more closely? To dig deeper and lock it down? I thought I already did that. But thanks to our lifetime’s history-in-the-making, I get the opportunity to keep on keeping on my own path of destiny discovery.

Maybe that’s the whole point. Whether we are here to evolve, make a known impact, or simply turn to dust, wouldn’t we really like to know what on earth we’re doing here? I guess I shouldn’t work so hard at it. After all, I’m pretty sure it’s already written.

 

 

Coping With This Crazy World Takes Courage

I’m trying to ignore the world at large – as if that’s even possible. Sometimes a gal just needs to dive into her inner landscape and find a comfortable spot there, steering clear of external chaos. Honestly, I’m working hard at minding my own business, reaching for happy thoughts, figuring out how to jettison my fibromyalgia so I can get on with the daily task of living and enjoying life, but it’s not happening. Nowhere is safe, and “nowhere” is a pretty big territory.

Until now, chaos and drama lived behind my closed doors and I could escape it “outside.” Growing up it was the breathing life-force in the people around me, and I soaked up that thick air for far too long. It was out of my control as a child, then I stupidly married the very wrong man. When I wised up and corrected that giant error, I tripped into even more chaos with the love of my life’s ex, whose crippling horror was unmatched, until now. Thanks to a few million really naive voting people, the entire world is directly exposed to toxicity beyond measure with America’s new government. It almost feels like a sick, cruel joke-turned-worsening nightmare.

So how do you pay attention to the outside world and maintain your own sense of well-being?

It’s killing my journalist-husband – although he is sort-of out of the field, it’s in his blood because he feels like he’s been personally called-upon to help correct this huge political debacle, like our founding fathers.

But he can’t answer the question, plus he’s got a whopping case of PTSD from the chaos perpetuated by the contemptibles in our life. We’re both pretty tired. I literally just learned (after years of therapy, self-help books and a kick-ass shaman,) how to disengage from their debilitating chaos, and it feels better. Except not anymore, because everywhere we look/see/hear/listen in the real world is  c-r-a-z-y.

So how do you participate in life but disengage from it at the same time?

This is not one of the tools I acquired in my studies along the path to enlightenment. And I’m kind of desperate because we have a long road ahead of us if “we the people” can’t figure out a way to change the powers that be before our one indivisible nation isn’t shattered beyond recognition. Been there done that in my personal life, don’t really want to go through it anymore, and my shaman retired.

So that basically leaves one answer. No, not gratitude, although there’s value in everything and gratitude is key. I think the answer is courage. That’s it. Courage to rise to the occasion of life as one of my favorite gurus says. Courage to speak up, dream big, protect, love, lead, be creative. Do not be detained by the past, or afraid of the future. Courageously get on with the business of your life, despite the odds, and make plans to celebrate. 

Ok.

Everybody’s Got A Story, And We Sure Stick To It

Story of my life. Everybody’s got one. Anybody want a do-over? Like hitting stop on a Netflix movie and watching something else? Not so easy to do when it’s the story of our life.

It’s usually built on our past, made of memories, and what perplexes me is why people stick to it like glue. It’s our personal narrative that defines us. But why? Who says we have to live by our story like it’s written in stone? And why are we so invested in it, especially if we don’t like it?

everyones-storyI noticed this about my own life when a few years ago someone whispered in my ear that she was tired of hearing me moan and groan day in and day out. It was like I had my unhappy story on instant replay. I constantly focused on the same miserable theme over and over, no matter what was going on. I had a good reason for it, my friend didn’t deny that, but she told me if I didn’t start to re-think my story I would never feel better about my life.

I got what she was saying, intellectually. It’s the whole change your thoughts, change your life thing. But that’s huge. I mean how do you even do that? First of all most of us don’t even recognize it – we’re just living our life, doing the best we can. When she pointed it out to me I was a little defensive. It felt natural to just be me – however I was being.

never-too-lateNot to mention, it seemed impossible to just let go of my history, let go of the unhappy happenings and the situations that were part of my day-in and day-out existence. Was I just supposed to pretend that things were not as they seemed or appeared or felt, or in all actuality, were?

Well…yes. I don’t know if it’s habit or simply human nature to be invested in our story. We live it, sometimes in such a deep rhythm we actually get lost in it. Then we become a magnet for like-minded storytellers. And if it’s a sad story, we get caught up in that particular vortex. After all, misery loves company.

let-goI knew my friend was right, but I realized after losing most of my happy tribe from my drama and doom I knew I would have to change my thinking and as hard as it felt, invest in joy instead. I had to not only want it, but be willing to give up my story. It was definitely a major task.

I saw on the Today Show that genes determine 50 percent of our happiness and circumstances account for 10 percent, which leaves 40 percent up to us. Whether that’s true or not, what it comes down to is how badly we want to feel better. What we’re willing to give up in order to make gain. Whether we will opt to work with our situation as it is, not the way we wish it was.

Whether feeling joy is worth letting go of the pain.

No need to overthink it. It is.

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Click here for some facts and tips on how to feel the joy.

 

I Prefer My News On A Need-to-Know Basis But Then I Botched A Job

be-who-i-amIn spite of our world’s news, life goes on. Truth be told, I sort-of stopped watching the news a long time ago. It’s too much negative input for me and feels so unhappily intense. I don’t look at life through a peephole, but I choose where to comfortably focus. So when I was recently assigned a story to write about a devastating global crisis, I cringed. It was beyond my expertise.

I was no more than two sentences in on the story research when I became a daydreaming child. I looked out the window. Sang to myself. Jiggled in my chair. Thought about getting some food, or even a glass of wine, never mind it was barely past noon. This stuff wasn’t light reading.

While Frank Sinatra was piping out of Pandora in my living room, I couldn’t wrap my head around the horror of this worldwide situation and my first-world pinhole view. How do you reconcile the juxtaposition of those two realities?

The assignment also involved attending an event with high-level experts whose lives focus on world news. I dreaded going for two reasons. First, serious embarrassment as I talked to the high-profile players, and second, sadness about the intense topic. I had to exercise that old fake it till you make it although I just wanted to forget it.

courage

But I tried. I toiled. I went to the event then attempted to write an article that felt extremely hard for me – over my head, out of my realm, out of my knowledge range, out of my experience, out of my skill. So I spent the next several days beating myself up and feeling pretty low. This wasn’t something watching the news would fix. Just because I’m a writer doesn’t mean I can write about this. This was about expertise in a world I know nothing about.

Everybody has discomfort in their lives, their jobs, their relationships, their personal world. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had a task they couldn’t do. And I didn’t go into it trying to fail, but if we can’t bring ourself to the table before a task even begins, how do we do it? We can say we sort-of don’t care what people think, but in this case I actually did.

Nobody knew I botched it, some magic dust and a brilliant hand-holder saved the day. There’s a lot to be said for teamwork, we don’t always have to go rogue. I am grateful I had support and came across this quote that validated that.

The people we surround ourselves with either raise or lower our standards. They either help us become the best version of ourselves or encourage us to become lesser versions of ourselves. No man or woman becomes great on their own. The people around them help them become great. We all need people in our lives who raise our standards, remind us of our essential purpose, and challenge us to become the best versions of ourselves. 

Thank you people. And while I won’t be watching the news, here’s to trying again.

kitty-climb

The Big Reveal: Love Yourself More

What do I miss besides my youthful glow, my grown-up children, and that phrase “you have your whole life ahead of you”? A lot of things actually. Like writing a blog every day. Or being able to eat spicy food. Sometimes I even miss little things about owning a house – mostly the ability to do what I want with the outside decor each season or on holidays, pumpkinswreaths, pumpkins, flowers, even answering the door to trick-or-treaters. Don’t get me wrong, the freedom of condo-living is awesome and I may never again want another piece of the American Pie.

It’s only recently that I’ve come to embrace a lot of things about midlife, and not just dwell on things I miss. All that stuff you hear about getting older is true, including gaining wisdom. But instead of sharing the to-do list of successful aging, or what to put on a bucket list, I’m just going to share the one piece of essential information I now have. It doesn’t cost anything, take any time, it even doesn’t require special skills, knowledge or training. It’s actually something everyone can do.

Love yourself more.

That’s right. That’s it. Love yourself more.

For many of us by the time we get to this midlife turning point we are tired – we feel bogged or beaten down, by life, by others, even by ourselves. We think we haven’t achieved enough, aren’t successful enough, don’t have enough money or the car we hoped for by now, the paid-off mortgage, the retirement fund, many of our dreams are starting to seem like vaporous clouds floating out of reach. Not to mention our body just isn’t what it used to be.

dont-worry-if-someone-doenst-like-youBut I’m here to tell you, nothing will change our past circumstances, and while there is always hope for the future, the most powerful thing we can do is love ourselves as we are in this very moment today, right now. Our health and well being depends on it. By the way, not loving ourselves proves what point and to whom?

It’s not easy. We are a society that focuses on youth, wealth, power, money and looks, and aging gracefully seems impossible. While we can’t fight that reality, we can learn to accept and appreciate ourselves just as we are, no matter what. That perception changes everything.

zuesSir Husband and I are paying attention to the midlife people around us who appear to have this “I Love Me” thing down. They seem happy, well-adjusted, and comfortable inside their own skin. We listen to what they say and watch how they move through life. Sometimes we even ask them what their secret is. Do they look in the mirror every day and say “You are awesome” in a Stuart Smalley affirmation way? Do they imagine themselves as the Greek god Zeus?

stuart-smalley

It’s easy to feel powerless when we’ve got a lot dragging at our feet, and isn’t always easy to shake off. I know a lot of miserable people, I used to be one of them. But what we noticed is that happy people keep their focus away from life’s sludge. They don’t let it invade their personal space, or their minds. Even if their situations are not the way they want them to be, they are ok with a different “different.” We have to see ourselves, and what we want, differently.

What do I really miss? Not realizing I’m worthy and deserving of my own love long before now. It’s truly the undercurrent of happiness.

 

deserve-love

Who Decides Whose Choice It Is? I Do!

good-dayIt’s a good thing I opted to blog weekly instead of daily – some days can certainly prove challenging. We get up, we go about our business, we’re thinking good or not so good depending on our point of reference, then boom. Something happens and our day can totally change.

While I was reveling in an all-good zone last week, I got an emergency call that my mother experienced a life-threatening blip with her serious health issues. Naturally our world came to a roaring halt. From the doctors and nurses on the ICU team, to her family and friends, the seriousness of her situation left a lot of people perplexed. Each person had their own choices to make about how to address her care, and there were plenty of opinions going on.

chill-its-only-chaosDealing with all that entailed wasn’t a choice, but it highlighted the concept of choice itself. I started to wonder if everything in life is a choice. Everything – from choosing how to save a life, to who we vote for in this election, to whether we get cable TV, to where we live, what we wear, drive, eat, focus on, do, work, go, watch, use, think…is everything a choice? Do we really have control over our choices?

Although at different ages we think differently about our ability to choose, I recently realized that I grew up believing my choices were dictated by the world around me, and were out of some kind of obligation to others before self. For my millennial kids of course the reverse is true. Historically, choices were not always a matter of choice, but in each generation the concept of choice seems to subtly shift.

The trend now is toward each of us having authority over our own life, taking care of ourselves. The “put your oxygen mask on first” rule on airplanes now also applies on the take-care-of-yourselfground. We have to help ourselves before we can help anyone else. But I have always been so selfless, I usually run out of air.

Self-care first was a foreign concept to me until this recent universal shift – memes popping up, wisdom gurus all over the Internet and TV, books, conventions, society opening the door for transformation on the concept of choices. From the food we put in our mouths to the way we think – apparently we can make decisions that impact all aspects of our life.

The problem is the emotions that go with choices are complicated and the choice isn’t always clear. We can make any decision we want but then decisions can be laden with guilt or frustration, worry, wonder or fear. Not to mention consequences. If we can learn to manage the emotions, we may be better able to choose.

Interestingly my mother either in spite of or because of her health issues, has nailed the ability to confidently make choices that are best for her. And she miraculously did it again last week when she pulled through her latest blip.

I still haven’t learned where to draw the line when it comes to who comes first. But maybe I’m overthinking it, because the choice I’ve learned is mine.

 

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Fall Is Back, It’s Time To Look Forward

fall-dayI’m a few days behind on my autumnal equinox recognition, but like its meaning, it gave me time to reflect on the past season’s abundance, of which there was plenty. Traditionally this changing of the season from summer to fall was celebrated as the second harvest, extolling gratitude for our blessings before the stillness of winter…horns of plenty and all that jazz.

Astrologically this is the time of balance – between light and dark, space and time, ego and soul – a time to remove old limiting patterns and Divinely renew intentions and desires for manifestations. Or simply put, work on our dreams coming true.

victoryFunny thing is, we don’t often realize a dream has come true until hindsight reveals it as such. Sure we have those jump-up-and-down moments when we get some acknowledgment we’re on our way, or validation that we’re on the right path. Those celebratory moments feel good – like baby dreams coming true.

dream-is-realBut if you’re anything like me you dream big – real big. And you start out on the path ready to face and embrace the miracles as they occur. And you have no doubt that there will be miracles because you believe in them. Even in those doubting moments you still keep the faith, keeping the dream alive.

Whether we use vision boards or gratitude lists or just share our dreams out loud, sometimes in the back of our minds we wonder, will this dream ever come true? So we plug away, invested, determined, focused, trying to execute whatever we think will help us reach our heartfelt goal. Every day we try to “get there,” on that road to success. Or we think it’s the road to success.

change-your-thoughtsWhile thoughts become things according to Universal Law, we don’t always know if what we’re thinking is right, let alone what we’re doing, when we don’t see tangible results. Are we on the right path? Or do we need to make a U-turn, better yet get on a new road?

Those answers may or may not clearly come. Ultimately we’re getting somewhere, this is just life. But we have to pay attention to the invisible-visible signs. When the confirmation is confusing, our dreams can take a detour, and we can feel quite off-balance.

still-growingAlthough we may be on our yellow brick road, it’s hard not to depend on others to help lay the bricks. That’s when we get into trouble of course – pinning our hopes on others. But in some cases it’s the actions of others that help make our dreams come true. Like writing a successful blog – it takes readers to excel. I’m nearly 950 posts in, but its growth is going slow.

I invest a lot of time and energy, but is a daily post too much? I get deep satisfaction from doing my soul’s work – I know I came here to write, and it feels completely good. But the perfect recipe or secret of success? I just have no idea.

keep-goingMaybe I’m missing the point. While I’m waiting for the miracle, I’ll look to the end-result…the big picture.

“You can’t expect to see the miracles during the journey,” Mike Dooley says. “You don’t see them until after you arrive.”

We have arrived at the autumnal equinox and I’m grateful for so much. But as the seasons change, so must we. Maybe my focus needs to shift toward fulfilling another dream of writing a book. I’ve thought about this since I was young and who knows if it will fly. But I guess while we’re here, all we can do is try.

horn-of-plentyI’ll still post at least once a week and please weigh in anytime ~ any thoughts, suggestions and ideas are welcome. Thanks to all of you who read, from the bottom of my heart. Abundant blessings to you all, and while I mention it, welcome fall.

 

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