Update Post is Long Overdue!

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I wanted to provide you with a quick update.  The last 4 weeks of 52 changes went well, I just have to get around to posting about them.  One of my last changes is the reason why I have not been around on this site – I took a time out from the internet and have not managed to resurface again….yet.

One piece of GREAT news I will report now – the change from smoking to vaping continues.  I am going on almost 4 months of being smoke free!  Now THAT is a great change.

All is well and good and this life of change is a life worth living.   More to come….

~We are already there.

Weeks 45-48 Packing, Moving, Unpacking & NO SMOKING!

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This holiday season has been packed with non-stop change!  So much change in fact, that I have not had time to stop & write it all down.  Between work being in major over-load, and home changes it has been quite an experience.  We are adjusting to all the new change that comes with a move while quitting smoking during the process.  It has now been over a month since we quit smoking and switched to vaping.  We really adjusted well, and I think it is safe to say we are DONE SMOKING. I’m still sticking with the Tribeca flavor, for now.

As the year comes to an end, there is more change in store….settling in and getting into old and new routines is yet to come for weeks 49-52 of this year of change.

Here’s to change.  And some things staying the same!

What change have you experienced recently?  How has the process been for you?

We are already there

Week 44 – Switch from smoking to “vaping”

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This will be quick this week because we are in the middle of a huge demolition/remodel project and going full swing from sunrise to falling in bed exhausted each day. But this week, we made the switch to leave the smokes behind!

Now we “vape.”

Vaping utilizes a tank system process attached to a battery to heat up e-liquid in a flavor of your choice, with a nicotine concentration of your choice – or without nicotine. Vaping simulates smoking a cigarette but does not produce 2nd hand smoke, tar, etc.

The company I went with is Halo, and the flavor I chose is Tribeca, which has tones of vanilla & caramel.

More to come – but so far, this has been the easiest way to quit smoking so far.

Update: We are now entering week 2 of vaping…and are very happy with the switch from smoking.

Week 43 – Handle a Crisis: A stroke of good fortune

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I really do think that any deep crisis is an opportunity to make your life extraordinary in some way. ~Martha Beck

The Crisis

No sooner had I hit “publish” last week on my post “Lighten Up,” then I got a phone call from my Mom who is 900 miles away telling me there is something wrong with my Dad, Benny.  After listening to her recount the story of my Dad driving on the highway, losing his vision and running into barrels on the side of the highway, and not being able to speak, I told her to get my Dad to the hospital.

My Dad had a stroke.

You may not know this, but if you seek medical attention within a 4 1/2 hour window of experiencing the symptoms of a stroke, a medication called t-PA can be administered that may bring about a full recovery.  The odds are not fantastic, in fact 6% of people die from the administration of the medication; however, 36% make a full recovery.  My Mom & I had to decide within a 5 minute window whether or not to consent to this treatment.  We decided to gamble and hope to be in the 36%.

Because my parents live in a remote region of Northern Idaho, my Dad was flown by helicopter to the nearest Stroke Center, in Spokane, Washington.  He was on a breathing machine all night, and did not wake up.  We did not know the next day what condition he would be in, or if he would wake up at all.

The week was filled with decisions and it was difficult at times and scary.  For everyone involved, it was a testament to character, values and what is really important in life – love and devotion to family.

Recovery

My Dad is on the road to recovery.  He was one of the 36%.  And the silver lining of the clouds of uncertainty is that my Dad fought back with determination and belief in God that he could pull through this.  The transition from not being able to put a sentence together (aphasia) and not remembering how to operate his cell phone to now being able to administer his own medication has been nothing short of a miracle.

Seeing family and friends step-up was very moving.  The help that was provided for my brother, Mark, who himself requires care, while my Mom & I were with my Dad in the hospital was an example of the goodness that is the human spirit.

Handling a Crisis

Crisis situations come in phases.  The first phase is the “emergency” Figure1_crisis_cyclephase and how we respond to an emergency can determine the next steps of the phase which will hopefully be recovery and then prevention. With a lot of help, we quickly transitioned to the recovery phase, and are simultaneously working on the prevention phase.

When you are in the middle of the crisis, it is as if time stands still. Everything is in slow motion.  Sitting on the plane to fly to the hospital, I was hyper-aware of my surroundings.  Life was going on as normal all around me.  People having fun, and celebrating life.  Children laughing, and experiencing things for the first time – like using a bathroom on a plane!  Life went on as I sat there frozen in time, uncertain of the road ahead.  It was a strange paradox.  As so many times before, I had been the person sitting across the aisle from me, asking for a drink to toast to the adventure of travels that lay ahead.  The irony of life.

Last week’s change of “Lighten Up” was on my mind throughout the week.  I laughed at the irony when I learned what was happening to counteract the change I had chosen for last week.  ”Are you kidding me?” I asked myself.  As the week progressed, I had many opportunities to practice this change and to bring lighter perspective to an otherwise very serious situation.  We learned to laugh with my Dad about the struggles he was having, and instead of him feeling sorry for himself and accepting his disabilities, he took them head on and turned them around.  I could not believe it.

Crisis as opportunity

In the end, the crisis was an opportunity.  For all of us, it became an opportunity to set aside what is trivial and unimportant in the grand scheme of life, and take our love of life and each other to a higher level of gratitude and awareness of our immortality.

This week, by a stroke of good fortune, the crisis has been averted. Recovery is the current path.  Planning and prevention will bring about new inevitable changes for the future.

The present is all we have, but we can take steps in the present to prepare for the future.

Today, take nothing for granted.  Reach out, connect, and love.

Your turn

  1. What crisis have you experienced?
  2. How did you handle it?
  3. What good came out of the situation?

~We are already there.

Further reading

It is important to be able to recognize the symptoms of a stroke, because TIME IS BRAIN. Learn to recognize the warning signs and symptoms.  Your knowledge and response time may save a life.

 

Week 42 – Lighten up! On becoming Closer to Fine

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“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.” ~Lewis Carroll

What is Change?

“Change” can be a serious business: a process of an endless need to scrutinize, analyze, compartmentalize, idealize and realize.   What can happen during this process, is you can begin to take yourself too seriously and lose the benefits of the process of change.fork-in-the-road-2-paths

Change is inevitable, constant and dynamic.  What I have learned throughout my journey of change is that change consists of one path with two forks.  One fork of the path is the change you take on by choice – a challenge, something new you want to try, something old you want to shed, or something existing within you that you want to nourish and foster.  The other fork, is our unique path of life. This path is consists of a dynamic process of change that we undergo physically, mentally, emotionally, experientially, and spiritually.  This path we do not choose.  This path chooses us.

Change is inevitable, constant, and dynamic: change consists of one path, with two forks.

Parallel Paths of Life: navigating the journey

We navigate back and forth between these two paths throughout our lives.  We may choose to take on a new habit, like exercise,  a change in diet, learning something new, starting a new morning routine, etc. We often start off with enthusiasm and vigor – gung ho – for this chosen change.

And then…BAM!  POW! ZAP! bampowzap

Something happens and we are knocked onto the other path of change, which chooses us.  Our fragile new routine becomes disrupted and we discard this change because we have been detoured by life.

Maybe we got injured from our newly adopted exercise or fitness routine.  Maybe we got stressed out at work or by an unforeseeable event, and then we slipped one too many times from the rigors of a new diet, or whatever new habit we have taken on, or old habit we have attempted to leave behind. Maybe something happened that we were not equipped to process at the time.  Maybe we caved in to cravings that took us away from our attempts to discard bad habits.  Or resorted back to old habits when times got tough.  Or maybe we were too busy, or we lost interest because something newer and shinier came along and caught our attention. Or maybe we just gave up, because it seemed too difficult.

For example, I have quit smoking so many times that I can no longer count the number of times.  I have made detailed plans to quit smoking and finally made the change, or I woke up one day and just quit “cold turkey.”  I have tried medication, hypnosis, meditation, forums, a failed public challenge, New Years Resolutions, and innumerable programs.  But something disrupting happens during this process of quitting smoking that makes me give up.  Sometimes it is only after one week, other times, months.  But something always happens and I cave under the change of life that is my path and fall back into this all-too-familiar habit.  And then, because of a realization of failing yet again, contemplation of the painful process of quitting again, and probably a subconscious fear of failing again, I postpone quitting.  This is where I am, now.

What happens as a result of failing to rise to the challenge of change?

When we fail at changes we choose, we do any number of things:  beat ourselves up, make excuses, blame others, give up, or try again. In my case, again…..and again.

Beating ourselves up is a real bummer, and serves no meaningful purpose. We are disappointed, and maybe this isn’t the first time we have failed at this, or something else. In taking on change, we set high expectations of ourselves, and when we fail we can turn on ourselves and withhold the internal support and nurturing that we need to move forward.  This does not help and can make us Public Enemy Number 1 against ourselves.  Not good.

Making excuses is no better.  We come up with as many reasons as to why now wasn’t the right time or why we failed as we do to why we chose the change in the first place.  Excuses serve no purpose and should be discarded, without a second thought.

Blaming others is a cousin of making excuses and often a “go to” response for many.  There are many “victims” of this process.  It wasn’t our fault….so and so did this or that, and they caused me to (insert excuse for blaming someone else, here).  Blaming others is no way to go through life.  Step up, take responsibility for your own actions.  Blame no one, including yourself.

Giving up may be an option, and dependent on the change you have chosen, maybe it is your best option.  We are not married to the change we choose and because of this, we are free to come and go as we please. We may decide this change wasn’t our particular cup of tea, not the right fit.  Change that is a choice is something we can choose to give up on.  But look at the reasons why you are giving up and make sure they are not for one of the two reasons above – making excuses, or blaming others.  Also, don’t run from change because it is just too darn difficult. Most things worth doing are not easy.  They take effort, determination, practice, and desire.  If it doesn’t reach out and grab your heart and soul, it may not be meaningful enough for you – at this point in time – to keep pushing forward.

Trying again is always an option, no matter what the reasons were for your perceived failure.  Take a step back, look at what you are attempting objectively and see if it is worth another shot.  It usually is. But like anything in life you choose, you must have a clear vision of what you are choosing to change, and why.  The “why” is always both the reason, and the meaning behind our choices.  Look at your “why” and see where this takes you.

Or you can be like Alice, and be uncertain where you want to go, and in this case, life will always choose your path for you.

Seeking Balance on the Parallel Paths of Life

We traverse the parallel paths of change throughout our journey on this earth.  Our purpose is to find balance between our choices and life’s challenges.  Ultimately, to make our choices complement and coincide with what life brings our way.  Our choice of change can be an external or internal change, or both.  I think that where we are on our life path at any given time can be directly impacted by our choice of changes we make.

Stop.  Take time to get into the gap of silence and listen to the calling of your life path – your journey.  What is LIFE saying to you right now? What is LIFE asking of you?  What have you yet to learn from this LIFE? How can you grow more in this LIFE?

Don’t Take Life or Yourself too Seriously

One thing that I have learned is that when we take life and ourselves too seriously we may end up missing the whole point and missing out on the joy of living.

I can be a very serious person, taking everything seriously. Unable to laugh at myself, or the current LIFE circumstances.  I can sometimes go through huge segments of time with blinders on, focussed solely on the task at hand and walk right past the roses on the side of the path quietly beckoning me to stop and smell them – to notice their beauty and presence.  I have been guilty of employing all the wrong reasons for failing at a chosen change – beating myself up, making excuses, and blaming others.

This is why the change I chose this week is to LIGHTEN UP!  I don’t mean this to be an excuse to give up on any particular change or to stop trying new change, but to ease up on the process itself.  To enjoy the journey, not the destination.  To be able to laugh at myself for my mistakes and learn from them.  To be able to help others lighten up their own perspective of the lessons of LIFE.  LIFE is not a joke to be taken lightly, but it is also not a yoke, to wear as a burden.

I have a lot on my plate in the next few weeks.  So much so that it will be a challenge to both select a new change, and find time to write about it in the remaining weeks of this year-long journey.

I could choose to make this time which is comprised of both chosen change and LIFE change something I want to just “get through,” “get over with” and “get past.”  But this is the serious side of me trying to prevail.  The side of me that sees these events as tasks to be checked off my To Do list.

LIFE is not a TO DO list.

I want to get through these next few weeks and enjoy the journey, the process and the change.  I want to be able to look back on this time and laugh about it, to laugh during it, and to feel light about it, not burdened by it.  In fact, to welcome it with open arms.

I will end this year with change, change, and more change!  I welcome the challenge and the process.

And the chance to fail.

In writing this post, a favorite song came to mind: “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls.  This has been a mantra song of mine for many years, and best sums up the purpose behind this post, and my life path, overall.  A line from the song that I would like to keep in mind this week as I take on the change of “lighten up”:

And the best thing you’ve ever done for me, is to help me take my life less seriously,it’s only life after all.

 Closer to Fine- by the Indigo Girls. This was also an inspirational source to the realization that “we are already there.” 

 

How about you? 

  1. What habit or change have you attempted, seemingly over and over, and not been able to yet make permanent?
  2. What have you been successful at changing in your life?  How did you achieve lasting change?
  3. What change would you like to make that you haven’t yet attempted?  What is holding you back?

~We are already there

Image Credit: 1, 2

Week 41 – Be Authentic: Shedding the Chameleon Skin

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This week’s change to Be Authentic goes hand-in-hand with Week 13: Being Vulnerable.

Bradypodion_pumilum_Cape_chameleon_female_IMG_1767_(cropped)What does it mean to Be Authentic?

 “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”— Brené Brown

 

Transformation from Authenticity to Conformity – when and how does this happen? 

We are born with authenticity.  We do not pretend to be anything other than what we are as children.  At some point, for many of us, this changes.

As a child, I didn’t think about being myself, or trying to “be authentic.”  I just was who I was with no thoughts about whether who I was, was acceptable to anyone else, or whether I was fitting into a mold of what children should be like.  I just was.  But I don’t think I remained authentic for long, in the sense that Brene Brown talks about.

In retrospect, I was an “odd” child, and I came from a very “odd” family.

My family has walked to a beat of a different drum for as long as I can remember.   I didn’t even know how strange we all were until much later in life.

Growing up, I was very content with being by myself for long periods of time.  This was an adaptation I made from very early childhood, out of necessity.  I was alone a lot.  I had a vivid imagination and would spend hours in my creativity to entertain myself.  If I was doing chores, I was a host of my own imaginary T.V. show on How to Clean.  This was back in the early 70’s before there were such shows.  If I was in my room, I would be hosting an imaginary show on How to Do whatever I was doing – decorating my bulletin board, sewing, playing jacks, knitting, making crafts, playing music.  Whatever I was doing, I created an imaginary stage, and I was the star of my own show.  I also liked to write.  I kept journals, and wrote stories.  I loved to read, and would spend many Saturday’s at the Public Library to get new books to read.  I loved to read so much, that when it was time to go to bed, I would read under the covers with a flashlight because I didn’t want to stop reading.

I had a neighborhood of friends growing up that I played with: Sandy, Kevin, Punky, Reanna & her sister Ranessa, Alicia and her brother, Micah. I played different games with them, and my T.V. show was only at home when I was by myself.  I played whatever they wanted to play.  And with each of my friends, we played different games.  With Sandy, it was dolls, with Kevin it was military games and hide and seek, with Punky it was anything to do with cars, Elvis, or music, with Reanna & Ranessa it was mostly hide-and-seek, cards, or playing on their trampoline, with Alicia, we played music together, and with Micah, we played house, hung out doing nothing, or played sports.

I was a different person with each of my friends growing up.  I realize now that I have been a chameleon for a very long time, changing form and identity to conform with my surroundings, to be protected from attack.  I didn’t think of it as being fake, or not being authentic because I didn’t think about it at all, then.  But I see it now as wanting to fit in, wanting to play, and wanting people to like me.

I first noticed that I didn’t really “fit in” when I was bussed to an inner-city urban school in the 4th Grade.  I got my first taste of culture here where I was one of a few white kids in a school mixed with Asians, African-Americans, and Latinos.  My two best friends were Minnette from Puerto Rico, and Annette from Panama.  They were both very, very poor.  I wonder where they are now.  I wonder where any of my childhood friends are now.  I have no idea.  I had one privileged white friend.  I don’t remember her name, because we did not connect.  I wanted to.  I rode the bus over to her house in the rich neighborhood to play once, but I couldn’t relate to her at all.  The chameleon in me couldn’t adapt.  She seemed so normal and perfect.  I couldn’t relate, and I guess that is why I couldn’t conform to her world.

I have always been a student of music and the arts.   And this school focused on both of those aspects.  I was in music groups, and I took piano and harp lessons here. But I didn’t really feel like I fit into this world and I didn’t feel good enough to display my interests with confidence.  I was sensitive and insecure.  I still am.

Before all this, I remember being an attention hog for center stage.  I remember this, because I was told this as a child – I talked too much.  They called me “Chatterbox.”  I was told this by my family and by my teachers.  In fact, I missed so many recesses in 1st Grade because I talked all the time.  I would get my name “Susan” written on the chalkboard and I would have to stay in for recess.  But guess what the punishment was?!  READING.  I had to READ! BY MYSELF.  Suffice it to say, this was not a deterrent to keep me from talking! :)

I think this is why I moved to creating my own imaginary stage where no one was around to tell me to be quiet and quit talking so much.

Parents of my childhood friends didn’t like me.  They could smell my strangeness from a mile away.  They could also sense my lack of boundaries, and potential for trouble.  I was always in trouble for something as a child.  I spent more time grounded to my room than I can remember.  But I think the real reason they didn’t like me was because they saw the chameleon that I was.  They could see right through me wanting to fit in and be the child I was supposed to be.  I think the child they saw was Eddie Hascal, from Leave It To Beaver.   The one who acted the part of a good kid, but wasn’t really the part – it was an act.  I was always up to something.  Although most of the time I had no conscious idea of this.

The point to all this is that early on, I realized I didn’t fit in, but I think because of this realization, I rebelled against being authentic, and instead tried to conform to what I thought people wanted me to be.

What triggered the Chameleon? 

What made the change of being a free child with no smoke and mirror show to hiding my true thoughts, feelings and passions?  Can we really go back in time and pinpoint an event or trigger that changed us from one person to the next?  Are we just looking for an external event or person to blame for the realization we have now of what we became as a result of environmental programming or neglect?

The irony is that I came from a family that fought against conformity.  A family that went out of their way to be different.  Yet it was I who became the chameleon.  Adapting to whatever change was imposed upon me by family, circumstances, or environment.

 What does this mean today? 

I consider myself a work in progress.  I slowly and gradually wake up to realizations of who I am now and what has shaped me to become the person I am today.  A lot of it has to do with external factors, but much of it has to do with internal anxiety and fear.  Is this something that is nurtured, or is this nature?  I have no idea.  And it is probably a combination of both.

The topic of authenticity came up in a couple of conversations I had this past week.  Not in talking about myself, but in discussing others.  Because it is so painstakingly obvious when someone is not being authentic.  Not being real.  Hiding something.

I continued to reflect on these conversations.  I try to use experiences, perceptions, thoughts and reactions as mirrors to reflect internally on my own growth process.  In reflecting, I saw the chameleon in the mirror that I thought had disappeared.  The chameleon is still very much present.  Not in a sense that I am a fake and pretentious.  But in a way that I continue to hide or protect my thoughts and feelings instead of being open and honest about them.  Especially at work.  At work, I still feel the need to conform and “fit in.”  To act like an attorney.  Whatever that means.  I have no idea, really.

I realize the danger in perpetuating an existence of hiding who we really are.  It opens us up to being misunderstood, because we can be perceived as not trustworthy.  Because people can sense this.  And if you are paying attention, you can see it in their eyes when they know you are not being authentic.  If you are lucky, they may call you out on it.

Since Week 13 when I took on “Being Vulnerable” as a change, I have become more open about sharing with selected people who I am.  This has been a good first step toward being real.  But have I been consistently authentic?  I don’t think so. Because I am selective about who gets to see the more “real” me and hiding that person from people I don’t feel I can trust with “ME.”  I have been afraid too many times of not fitting in and being accepted that I have spent a lot of time trying to be invisible.

I think a lot of people are this way at work.  We have a work personality, a social personality, and a family personality.  People that can be the same person no matter the environment are not only authentic, but likely much more content with their lives.  I think there comes a certain peace with not having to adapt all the time to the environment. To not have to play a game of Darwinian Evolution in order to survive and be happy.

I have had a taste of this on a few occasions and that is why I am taking on this change this week.  I would like to strive to see the same person in the mirror, no matter what environment I find myself in.  I think there is a fine line between variations of authenticity.  I admire people who just don’t give a crap what people think of them and say what is on their mind no matter what.  I think this comes with age.  But at the same time, I think there is something to be said about being authentic with an air of compassion and empathy toward others.  I say this as a sensitive person that can easily get my feelings hurt by those that have no filter.  I know better than to let these people bother me, but it doesn’t make it not affect me.

I think many of us know when we are not being true to ourselves, for whatever reason.  We may have learned to bite our tongues because we didn’t develop communication skills to articulate disagreement in a peaceful manner.  We may have received rejection too many times for taking off the mask and being vulnerable.  Or, we may not have any awareness or thought about why we are the way we are because we choose not to examine ourselves.  Not everyone sees life as a path of growth and learning.  In fact, many don’t.

But I do.  And if you are reading this – still – then I think you do, too.

How do we regain an innate characteristic to Be Authentic?

As I said in the beginning, authenticity isn’t something we should have to learn because it is an innate characteristic that we are born with.  We come into this world with no awareness to be anything other than what we are.   But at some point, we forget who we are.

Is it like riding a bike?  How do we combine separate compartmentalized selves into one authentic being?  Can I be the person that I am at home with my family all the time?  Is this even “appropriate”?  How do we remove the chameleon skin to reveal the true depth of layers that lie underneath?

It may start with some of the other ideas I have explored, like letting go of expectations, fear of rejection, acceptance and being vulnerable.  It will likely take conscious awareness of when the chameleon skin tries to velcro back on to me.  For this week, I will watch myself interacting.  I will see when and where I feel the need to hide.  And ask myself why.

What about you?  

Where do you fall in along the spectrum of authenticity?  Share your own experiences, successes and struggles.  What do you do to walk in your own skin?

~We are already there

 Image Credit 

 

 

 

Week 40: Tech Time-Out

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It is all about the change

While continuing to ride the winds of change, it has been a slow, gradual evolution of change that is taking up residence in my life.

Life is full right now – in a challenging, but good way.  Change is good in that it brings us continued opportunities to grow and learn.  Although “life” is full, my rice bowl remains empty to continue to accept the lessons life brings my way.

Harnessing Energy

What I realize through all this change is that I don’t have time or energy for the endless flood of information, communication and time that technology requires. With my energy being pulled in so many different directions, it seems prudent to harness the energy and choose where I will focus it.

I choose this week to focus my energy off-line with my family and my work.  So the change I am taking on for this week is to take a “Tech Time-out.”

What this means

For this week, I will limit the time I spend online by eliminating social media, forums and internet browsing and will be responding only to personal email communication.

I am confident that whatever happens during this week can wait a week for me to find out about it.  Life goes on…with or without me knowing about it and commenting about it.  And thankfully, I have learned that the world does not revolve around me, so it won’t stop without me electronically involved in it.

Is it hypocritical for me to put up a post that relies on you reading it, while I myself will remove myself from this medium for a week?  Maybe. But with anything in life, it is all about balance, and moderation.  Both of which I struggle with continually!  So I am usually about the extremes.

Most people can probably already balance out their real-time lives with their e-lives.  But for me, it takes a lot of energy away from the here and now of the world I am actively part of: the off-line version that needs my focus, attention, and energy right now.  It is all too easy for me to be distracted from what is really important – the person right in front of me – the life that is calling me out to step up and help out.  So it is time for me to eliminate the distraction for a bit.

What am I going to do first after I post this and “unplug”? After having a cup of coffee with my husband,  I am going to put on some uplifting music, and clean up my house! :)  And then enjoy this gorgeous Fall day.

Your turn

How about you?  What do you do when your energy is pulled in many demanding directions?

Resources

Tech Timeout
Take a Break from the Internet
No Internet for One Year: Tech Writer Tries Life Offline
Would Ghandi use Social Media?

~We are already there….

Week 39 – Celebrate Life by remembering lost loved ones

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Writing in the past few weeks has been a challenge.  Especially rainbow sunsetbecause what I post on each week is change.   I have talked about how change has been challenging recently.  This week, it rose to another, more challenging level.

This is a post about death.  But it is also a post about celebrating life. Because we all experience death of a loved one differently, and I am not going to spend an entire post telling you how losing a loved one affected me, or how I feel or what I think is right or wrong.

We lost a loved one this week.

This was a change that we expected, just not “right now.”  But this is a natural part of life.  Life happens, and death happens and both often are comprised of unexpected events.

To me, this is ongoing proof that no matter how much control we think we may have over our life, we really have none.  The only “control” we have is how we react to it, and what we do to move forward.  We have control over how we feel, and how we remember.  We have control over how we celebrate life by respecting death as part of the process. Whether that death is sudden, accidental, tragic, or imminent, it is part of the equation of life.

And ultimately, death is a process of energy changing from one form to another.  But the energy does not dissolve, dissipate, and disappear.   The energy remains in a newly transmuted form to become new life, as a dying flower leaves behind seeds to bring forth new life.

Today, we begin the process of moving forward.  Today, we celebrate life that is all around us by remembering the love that was once a very special part of our lives but has now changed form.   I choose to believe that the changed form is now something beautiful, free, and eternal.

I greet this new day by celebrating the remaining days I have to walk this earth in my current form.  And to make this day matter.  To live, and to love.  But to not let death control life.

~We are already there

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Week 38 – Riding the winds of change & uncertainty

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“There may be a period of insecurity and uncertainty. What should IUncertaintyAhead
do? As the ego is no longer running your life, the psychological need for external security, which is illusory anyway, lessens. You are able to live with uncertainty, even enjoy it. When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life. It means fear is no longer a dominant factor in what you do and no longer prevents you from taking action to initiate change.” ~Eckhart Tolle

10 Months Into a Life of Change

Up until now, the change taken on each week has primarily been chosen change.  Change taken on as a result of life experiences, or new challenges to embrace.  But this week, the focus is on change that is outer-imposed, beyond our control, and tumultuous.

For the past month or so, I have been riding the winds of change that is permeating everything happening in my life.  It is not just one event, one change, but many.  Many things are happening all at once that are unexpected, and uncertain.  And I have struggled to adapt. And to accept.

I realized throughout this process that I want to control the change, to choose the change and feel like it is something that I brought into my life, not something I have to deal with and accept.

Uncertainty and Change

The feeling of uncertainty that this wind of change brings is something that I am still learning from, as the winds of change continue to carry me along.

It is as if I am in a storm on a tiny boat, lost at sea and the boat continues to ride an enormous storm swell, only to reach the top and see an endless number of even larger swells all around with no land, or break in the storm in sight.

I have felt a range of emotions as a result.  I have felt confidence that I can ride out this wave of innumerable changes and come out on the other end, stronger and more alive as a result.  I have felt doubt about the ability for everything to “work out,” and I have felt frustration and even anger in wondering “why is all this happening?”

I have also realized the irony in all this.  That this entire year has been devoted to “change” and I have gone with the flow, more or less, throughout this year of changes.  Even now, to some extent.  But I feel I am breaking down, like the straw on the camel’s back is itching to break, like Humpty Dumpty may not be put back together again.  I feel that too familiar urge from the past to want to escape and put my head in the sand until the storm blows over, until my feet are once again safely back on land.

Lessons of Change & Challenges of Uncertainty

What is the lesson in all of this change? The painful, the difficult, the challenging, and the unwelcome?  Did I manifest all this change as a result of my focus on change and seemingly embracing it?

I think the lesson is in reflecting and reviewing many of the other changes I have taken on this year:

It may seem easier to accept change when you choose it, less so when it chooses you.  But taken together as a sum of its parts, change is still a necessary part of growth, and life.

I know from past experience that eventually we can emerge from the storms of life better from the having the experiences and learning from the challenges.  And if I reflect on challenges of change from the past, it is easier to sit with the present moment and not question or become anxious over what is uncertain.  But to instead embrace the uncertainty, and ride the wave of change.  Instead of forcing or trying to control what happens to us, we can detach from any outcome and expectations.

This is the lesson of change this week.  This is the lesson of life, an ongoing lesson.  Not always an easy one.

So despite the challenges of life, we can remember to welcome the challenge that change brings, no matter how painful it may seem in the moment.  No matter how frustrating or endless the wave can feel.

We can change our lens of perception and see these challenges as the wheels of the carriage of life, that continue to roll down our path of existence.  We are on the path, either way.  It is how we rise to the challenges and hold true to our core that define who we are as a result. Because as Eckhart points out, when we are comfortable and accept the uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.

What challenges are you facing now?  How are you handling the change?  What works for you? What doesn’t?

~We are already there.

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Week 37 – Pick One Word to energize the remainder of the year – ACT

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Act Now - Red Button“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” ~Thomas Jefferson

I am in a local MasterMind group and we meet monthly to hold ourselves and each other accountable for taking action on our goals, dreams and aspirations.

In our last meeting, we each picked one word that would define our path and set the tone for the remainder of the year.  The idea for this exercise was inspired from Jon Gordon’s blog and One Word book.

The word I picked was ACT.  I chose this word because I often get buried under the many ideas I have and a huge list of things I want to do and end up spreading my energy too thin and not getting much accomplished.

As a result, I set a goal to accomplish this month and have been busy taking the steps to ACT on this goal.

Goal

Improve my creative writing site, Give Me Five Words!

My ACTion plan

  • Find  resource  to help me learn how to tweak WordPress
  • Create a plan to implement the steps learned
    • the book has step-by-step tasks to complete
  • ACT on the plan
    • This week, I changed the theme, and created my own header
    • Next week, I will examine plug-ins, widgets and menus

There is a lot I learned from the book, and in Phase II, I will work on implementing the steps on this site to improve it as well.  But for now, I will stick with a simple plan to work on one site at a time, and ACT on it.

Pick One Word

What word will you pick to guide you through the remainder of the year? It can be any word that will help you move forward on your path.

Share your word below in the comments.

~we are already there

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Week 36 – No Doubt – The meaning behind “we are already there.”

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sunrise

We are already there – everything you seek is within you, now.

Have NO DOUBT that everything you are seeking to become, all that you are hoping to be, the wisdom that you search for, the connection to Spirit/God/Universe/Oneness/[insert your source of Higher Power] – all are within you already.

Recently, the changes I adopt each week are inspired from conversations.  That is the case again this week.

I was communicating with someone about “seeking” and finding our path – our “why” of purpose and meaning, and this person relayed to me a source of frustration for them that many of us now feel or have felt.  The frustration stems from what seems to be a never-ending cycle.  We stumble upon a truth or insight and have an “aha” moment of feeling like we have figured it out, and then we begin to doubt ourselves and the great aha fades away leaving us once again seeking and searching for the next, perhaps “right” realization.

We often may doubt the path we are on, our insight and knowledge, the value of our contribution, our ability to make a difference – anything along these lines that makes us doubt we are capable of greatness.  This doubt is what impedes our path from being all that we are capable of being.

You are that which you seek ~Michael Neil

What is the meaning of “we are already there”?

I use this line to sign off my posts as a reminder.  A reminder that because everything is energy and we are all connected in this energy – we are all One – that everything that exists is already within us.  It is not “out there” somewhere waiting for us to find it or to understand it.

It is such a simple concept.  So why then, do we complicate it?  Why do we ignore the Spirit guiding us within and doubt the message and meaning?

Because we do not believe.

We may have “faith” and we may believe that “someday” we will find true meaning and the “right” path, but we don’t believe it, really – deep down inside.  We don’t feel the connection that is our extension cord to infinite wisdom and capability.  We may sometimes feel it when we are in a moment of prayer, or meditation or something creative, but it then fades away when we go back to “life”.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  If you realize this one simple truth – that we are nothing but a mass of energy – that take our current form is just one aspect of this energy but we are not separate from it – maybe….you may begin to feel it and realize the simplicity of it all.

 Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another. ~Albert Einstein

Aspire to live a Life On Fire With Desire

If we accept that we are already that which we seek – that WE ARE ALREADY THERE, does this mean that we have arrived, and we can punch out on the time clock because our work is finished?

NO.

What it means is that if we understand that we are not waiting for the next great thing to come to us to get that big break we are looking for, or to reach that state of enlightenment that we seek, then we stop being so desperate.  We stop “seeking” and start being.  We allow the energy to flow through us and ignite that fire of wisdom, creativity and love that is already within us – that is the “us” that we are.  We take steps to actualize our dreams and grow because we aspire to be that greatness that we are a part of – we “grow up” and take responsibility for our role in all of creation.

We each have a part to play and are each unique in our contribution.  We have a responsibility in realizing this to not sit on our laurels and ride the wave of realization but to act on it and be the greatness that is within us.

We owe it to ourselves, and to each other, because we are all connected to each other and to everything that exists.

This week – have NO DOUBT.   Accept this and remember it.  And then remind yourself of this over and over and over and over.

Until you believe it and remember it.

Because when we remember, life is so much better. This week, I am remembering.  I have NO DOUBT that all that I seek is already within me, that we are already there.  We are energy, and we are all connected because of this.

Have no doubt:

“We live at the threshold of a universal recognition that the human being is not mere matter, but a potent, energetic field of consciousness. Modalities of the past millennium are quickly giving away to breakthrough technologies wherein we heal ourselves at the level of all true healing, which is spirit.”
Michael Beckwith

Additional resources:

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Week 35: F.L.Y. – 9 ways to First Love Yourself

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“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love & affection.” ~Buddha

 

love yourself

I had the wonderful opportunity to discuss 52 Changes with some readers recently.  I asked them what change would be good for this week and “love yourself” was suggested because it is something that many of us struggle with in our lives.

This week’s change is a reminder of the importance of self-love.

Because the truth is, it can be much easier to go through life taking care of others, loving others, helping others….But to stop and do the same for ourselves often gets pushed by the wayside.  We may not even be aware that we are neglecting ourselves. The result?  If we do not love ourselves first, we will not receive the love we want from others.  We get from others what we give to ourselves.

How does this work?  

It is a universal law.  We draw into our lives the energy we are sending out and this starts with how we treat ourselves, how we think about ourselves and how we love ourselves.  If we experience personal suffering whether it be mental or physical, we must stop and look at what energy we are putting out to the universe.

This is not to say that when bad things happen to us we “deserve” them.  Truly bad things happen to people and to say it is our fault because of negative energy we are sending out to the universe is impossible to swallow when it is something really tragic that we or others are a victim of.  This is a topic for another forum, not for here. But nonetheless, philosophical food for thought.

Energy is energy.  And love operates as a form of energy.  It seems natural and easy to say “I love you” to someone. But can we do the same for ourselves?  Can I?  Can I look in the mirror and say the same? Can I see myself, with all my internal and external flaws and honestly say to myself “I love you, Susi?”

Today, yes.  But this has not always been the case.  And not that long ago, this was not the case.

Can you look in the mirror right now and honestly say to yourself, “I love you”?  I hope so!  And thankfully, many of you can.  But some of you may not be able to.

Why can it be difficult to love ourselves?  

We can be our own worst critic and enemy.  We expect so much out of ourselves and we want to be perfect.  We have high aspirations and dreams.  This itself is not the problem.  The problem is that in wanting to be “better” or “perfect” we sometimes cannot accept ourselves as we are, now.   Because we don’t see ourselves as “better” or “perfect”, now.

As a result, we create misery and self-loathing because we think we are not where we want to be in life, or looking the way we want to look or receiving the love we feel we deserve.  If this is how we think, where is the love in that?  Where is the happiness in feeling and thinking this way?

Another scenario is that we are unaware that we do not love ourselves. We are numb to life.  We are going through the motions of life, doing everything we are “supposed” to do:  go to school, get a job, meet someone, start a family….And we accept this as the path we are on because this is what society has instilled upon us as The Way.  In going through the motions of life as a passenger, rather than the driver, we are on autopilot.  We are unaware.  We are literally like robots of the system.

There is nothing wrong with the actual steps on this path, but if you are unaware of each step you are taking and are just taking it because that is what you think you are supposed to do, then the unawareness of living your life this way will seep down into the core of your existence and you will feel empty and without love.   Without even realizing it.  Like a “Stepford wife.”

Without awareness, it is difficult for life to have meaning.  And love comes from an awareness of the meaning of life.  And loving and receiving love from others starts with first loving ourselves.  It can not be any other way.

Who is to blame for lack of love? 

We either blame ourselves, or we blame others.  Either way, we are blaming.  If we blame ourselves, we are victims of lack of love for ourselves.  If we blame others we are victims of blaming externally.   Either way we are victims.  And the “victim mentality” draws energy of victimization.

The blame game does not work. We are not to blame and neither is anyone else.  We may not be able to change how other people act or how they treat us, but we can change how we treat ourselves.  And in doing so, this will send the energy of love that we give to ourselves to the universe and the love that we give will come back to us.

My life is a disaster, what can I do right now to change it? 

If your life is a disaster, filled with negative energy and lack of love, then you must first acknowledge this.  Ask yourself, why am I drawing these circumstances into my life?  What is it that I am thinking that is creating this?

Secondly, you must protect yourself and those you love.  If the situation is really bad, seek help.  Do not stay in a situation that is endangering you or others.  Do not.  You can not help others until you first help yourself, and the only short-term solution may be to first remove yourself from the negative energy and harmful environment.

Even if the situation is not dangerous, why surround yourself with people who are not loving and empowering you to be the best you can be?

Like attracts like.  If you have attracted people into your life that do not treat you with love and respect, you must first look at how you are treating yourself.  Especially if this is a pattern for you and you see the same scenario playing over and over with each new relationship.  Life has a way of having us repeat the Life Lessons over and over until we finally learn them.

Learn to F.L.Y. 

  1. Awareness.  First Love Yourself. This post cannot give you all the answers you need to take these steps to loving yourself.  But maybe it can help you begin to think about it and to become aware of the importance of self-love. That is the first step you can take.  Become aware.
  2. Acceptance.  Accept yourself for who and what you are right now.  Of course we can aspire to be “better,” there is nothing wrong with that.  But you cannot postpone happiness now waiting for a future version of you to materialize.   Look in a mirror and say to yourself, “I love you!” You may not mean it right now, it may feel silly and awkward, or you may feel strong resistance.  But give it a try.  Better yet, go full-on super corny and give yourself a huge hug.
  3. Vision. Start to see yourself as love.
  4. Belief. Believe in yourself.  Believe that you deserve love.
  5. Nurture. Take care of yourself.  Nurture your body and your soul.
  6. Respect. Respect the life that has been given to you and love yourself for being alive.  For having this chance to live and to love.
  7. Gratitude.  Be grateful for all that you are and all that you have without feeling that you lack one thing right to be happy.  Focus on what is right and not what is wrong with your life.
  8. Growth.  Learn ways to continually improve your mind, body and spirit.  Never stop learning.  Never stop asking questions.  Never stop growing.
  9. Love.  In your quest for love, remember this mantra, “I am already there.”  You already are the love that you seek.  Be the love you want for yourself by giving that love to yourself, first.

~we are already there.

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Week 34 – Perception: Is it time for a new prescription?

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“There is no fixed physical reality, no single perception of the world, gates of perceptionjust numerous ways of interpreting world views as dictated by one’s nervous system and the specific environment of our planetary existence.” ~ Deepak Chopra

Continuing with last week’s change of working through A Course In Miracles, the focus for this week is on perception and being aware of our perception and what we perceive to be real in our environment and in our mind.

Think back on an experience that at the time, you thought was devastating.  Make it something universal, like a youthful romance that ended.   At the time, you may have thought this was the end of the world. Your perception was that there would be no other love for you.  Ever. Fast forward to the next relationship you had.  Did you have another one? Probably.  If so, your world did not end, as you perceived it would at the time.  In fact, you may be now with the love of your life because that earlier relationship ended.

Every moment of every day we are taking in our environment through our thoughts and our senses and interpreting it with our mind, according to our perception of our world at the time. And we are subsequently creating our world with our perception of what we perceive to be real.

Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.

I am not sure how many times I have written about this phrase, as popularized by Dr. Wayne Dyer, but it is a mantra worth repeating. Because it works. Because it is a simple truth.  Really.

ACIM takes us through a process of deconstructing our “reality.” By challenging the reality of our thoughts, we challenge our perception of our version of our world.  And in doing so, our world changes.

Changing our perception

This happens on the minute level of how we think we look at any given time, to how we feel about life in general. For example, I may have put on something to wear, not quite confident how I look, and then one person may compliment me and all of a sudden I feel like I look good. What I was wearing didn’t change. Nothing changed. Just how I felt as a result of something someone said. The converse could also be true, of course. I may have thought I put it all together in just the right way and then someone says something that tears that image apart in an instant. How messed up is that? Because nothing has changed. Only our perception of the situation.

It can also happen on a larger scale – with life in general. I went through quite a long slump of feeling like my life was taking a wrong turn. That who I was and what I was doing with my life wasn’t good enough, that I had somehow failed to be the great me that I believed I was meant to be. But with a small shift of mindset, and changing nothing in my life but my mind my perception changed and my life changed as a result. Without changing one actual thing in my outer world.

Deconstructing time

Time is another amazing concept that is altered by perception. I have gone through periods where time literally seemed to slip away from me and I never seemed to have enough time to accomplish what I want to get done. So much so, that I wrote about it a few weeks ago as a “change” I needed to get a grasp on. And now, with this shift, it is as if I am floating in time. Time is all around me. It is endless and has no meaning. I still go through daily rituals that involve obligations – like work – but without the same sense of lack of time. In fact, sometimes, the opposite occurs – I seem to be stuck in time! The clock stops!

I was talking to a friend about this yesterday – about time. I was running this idea by her for this post today. I told her that I didn’t know if I would be able to write about it because it still seems so crazy to me, that I don’t yet understand it!

But that is what change is all about – as another friend reminded me of in the past. The idea is not to be perfect at the chosen change, but to work through it – to experiment with it. Take it out for a spin and try it out. In focusing on perception for this week’s change, I don’t yet have a firm grasp yet on what this fully means to me to be experiencing this shift, and have this change altering my perception of my reality. But I am intrigued by it. Sort of like an onlooker observing.

Try it out

Our perceptions can paralyze us – destroy us, even. But it is just a perception. It is not real.

Can you begin to believe this might be true?

Try it.

Try changing one thing that you currently perceive to be real about yourself, your life, or someone. For example, take someone that you don’t really care that much about. Maybe they rub you the wrong way. Instead of seeing that person as someone you don’t care for, take away the emotion that taints your perception of them. Step back and give them another chance. Be open to changing the way you see them.

Try it for a week. See if your idea about them changes. Maybe you will think they have changed. But nothing has changed but your perception.

Think about it. Get a new prescription to help you “see” better.

We are already there.

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Week 33 – Creating Miracles: how do you create miracles?

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“This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mmiraclesean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance.

The opposite of love is fear,
but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.
This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:

Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.” ~A Course In Miracles, Introduction

Have you heard of A Course In Miracles (ACIM)?  I have had this book since 2007, but I only recently picked it up to start working through it.

Something has shifted in me in the last few weeks – a change.  I have tried to put it into words to describe it, but I can’t.  It was a true shift that occurred as a result of something dramatic happening.  And now I see everything differently.  I am different.  Life is different.  It is better.

I have a belief that when I am in spirit, and asking the right questions, the resources I need to grow come to me.  This is what happened with ACIM.  I was reading an article on Facebook about the law and perspectives on changing the law to have lawyers become healers of conflict rather than creators and exacerbators of conflict.  A book was mentioned as a resource, Seeing Law Differently, by Alan Reid.

I am a lawyer, and I am very much interested in “seeing law differently” so I wanted to read the book.  I was able to find a used copy, because as far as I could tell, the book is no longer in print.   What I found when I started to read the book, is that the attorney’s perspective on changing the law came about as a result of going through ACIM!

So instead of continuing with the book, I went and dug up my copy of ACIM and started working through the text and the workbook.   And now, there has been an even greater shift.

In the initial shift, I had moved toward “letting things go” that bothered me, letting go of the need to control everything, including myself.  I began as I said in a recent post to get into the flow of the river and move with the current.   Now, as I work through the lessons in ACIM, I am starting to see the reason why this shift can be so effortless.  I have hit on aspects of this many times in the past in talking about the illusions of reality and that we make our own reality.  I have been close to understanding, but not quite there.  Or at least not understanding that I was there.

So what is this Course?  It sounds a little cultish, doesn’t it?  It also sounds a little like a strange religion, right?  Both may be true in some aspects, but both are not true, either.  The course is based on principles of spirituality, and uses Christianity as the medium to relate those principles, but the course is broader than one religion.  In fact, it is broader than religion, period.

It is about love.  And that miracles are an effortless result of our ability to recognize that perfect love within ourselves.  And that we are all capable of miracles.   This is what I know for now.  I have only just begun the course.

Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. ~ACIM

~we are already there

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Week 31 – Happiness: The reality of here & now, not the illusion of past or future

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~ “It is possible to live happily in the here and now. So many conditions of happiness are available—more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

 Photo credit:  a href="http://www.zenlifesolutions.com/happiness-101-define-happiness/">Melissa

Photo credit: Melissa

Happiness.  This is not so much a change for this week, as a reminder.   I find myself needing more and more reminders lately because I tend to overcomplicate things and forget the simple basics.

Do you ever have that moment when you feel like you are just on the edge of grasping a concept you have been struggling with?  A problem, an idea…and it feels like you can almost touch it, but then it slips away?  I have felt that way recently.  And it has made me step back and take a look at my path more closely.

We went away this past weekend on a short trip.  In that time, I forgot about everything going on in my normal, day-to-day life.  It was really great to push pause and get into the flow of a different life, if only for a couple of days.   I felt happy.

I used to get a little nervous breaking my routine with travel, because it meant upon return I would have difficulty getting back into my regular flow.  And this would make me unhappy.  I would feel like I was slipping.  But in thinking about this, it is like a river changing course over time.  Does the river become unhappy because it does not flow where it used to flow, but now touches new shores?  Of course not.  The river just flows.  The new shores welcome the change and both the river and the shores adapt.

Do you ever look back on times when you were really happy and ask yourself what you were doing at that time that made you feel that emotion?  Think of a time recently when you were full of joy, love, or happiness.  What were you doing?  Was it something really complicated, or something simple?  Is it something you can repeat, or a one-time experience?   Were you alone, or with others?

Like many emotions we experience – good and bad – happiness is a choice.  We control how we feel in any given moment and make a choice to see a situation as good, bad, or indifferently.   But many times, we can let our emotions control us and feel like we have no control over the situation, and instead of being happy, we needlessly suffer.

So many of us spend our time either in the past, or in the future, but rarely in this very moment.  We think that when we get the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect love life, then we will be happy.  Or when we are retired, or go on that next vacation, or when the weekend finally comes again.  We “get through” so many moments of here and now, trying to get to the future moments when we think we will be happy.  We are so busy thinking of some other moment in some other time, that we are not present in this moment, right now.

Like I said last week, we are made up of a lifetime of moments.  Each moment is here and now, and there is only this one moment right now.  And then it is gone.  The rest is an illusion – a future that doesn’t yet exist, a past that is no longer here.

What are you doing right now in this moment?  Is it making you feel happy?  If not, get up and go do something that does.  We control our emotions and we control our reactions to these moments.  No one is making us feel this way.  It is our choice.

What about when you are doing something you “have” to do, and are not happy about it?  This is what will usually cause us to mentally leave this moment to think of other, better ones.  Why not try to look at the situation differently?  Look at yourself differently.  What about it is so troubling?  Can you change one thing in this moment that would make it better for you?  Like maybe just put a smile on your face, right now?

We overcomplicate things.  And the reason this happens is because we resist what is happening in the here and now and we feel we have no control over it.  If you do have any control over any of what is causing you to suffer, do something about it right now. In this moment, not in a later moment.   If you feel out-of-control, take a deep breath (or two..or three…) and see the moment for what it is and detach from any negative feelings about it.   Make your decision to change what is happening from a space of peace and calmness.

But you can also try this: just let go, and go with the flow, like a river changing course. This is a very, very simple thing to do and is the path of least resistance.

We are already there.

 

Being Vulnerable (day 105): Rejection Therapy – can it help you overcome your fears?

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“I want to find a world where there will be no more fear of rejection.  What The_Screamwould that world be? I want to find out how many more dreams would be realized. How many more ideas would be fulfilled. And how many more love stories would be written.” ~Jia Jiang, author of the blog “100 Days of Rejection Therapy

I have mentioned a few times about an amazing Summit I attended earlier this month in Portland, called World Domination Summit (WDS).  I haven’t written the”post-experience” article on it yet, because I have found it very difficult to articulate this experience and convey it in a way that relays how much impact it had on me and how much meaning it brought to my life.  For now, I will say that it forever changed my life and (re)energized my passion, path and purpose.  And also that I immediately purchased tickets to return next year! :)

But I do plan to share some of the experience with you, by sharing the talks.

The first of the speaker’s talks was recently uploaded and I rewatched it today.  The talk was by Jia Jiang, author of the blog “100 Days of Rejection Therapy.”  This is an incredibly inspiring talk about facing your fears head-on.  Jia had a wake-up call one day when  he realized he had put his dreams aside and saw himself going down a path full of regret for not having pursued his passion.  He realized he had done this because he had settled for security and safety.

Many of us settle for safety, security, schedules, routines and structure. This is what everyone else is doing, right?  So this seems “normal.”  And is accepted.

We give in, blend in, get by, and then die.  Perhaps, with some regret.  I don’t want to be one of the “many” that live their life this way.  Do you?

But it is much easier to keep doing what is safe and socially acceptable, rather than put ourselves out there by sharing our thoughts, dreams, talents, and passions because we fear being rejected, ridiculed, or being told we are unrealistic in what we are dreaming of doing or becoming. Or worse yet, we fear that nobody will understand, or care about what we share.  Or that they will reject it, and thus reject us.

Jia challenges us to take these particular fears of rejection on and see them for what they really are – just someone else’s opinion.  They don’t define us, they don’t even have any basis in reality, aside from being what someone else thinks.

There will be others that have a different opinion.

He uses the example of one of his favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia.  C.S. Lewis got rejected over 800 times before someone finally published his writing.  800 times.  What if he had given up?  What if he had let his self-worth be defined by 800 publishers and put his manuscript away in a drawer to be forgotten?  Reading this series changed my life in many ways and I can’t imagine not having these wonderful, enlightening stories as part of my literary background.

To live life on fire with desire means to look at your fears and instead of running away from them, run into them.  Take them on and tear them apart until they are nothing but a distant memory that you laugh about because you can’t believe you used to have these “fears.”

Don’t be afraid of your fears, embrace them.

I invite you to watch Jia Jiang’s talk on Rejection Therapy and see how he approaches life with humor, passion, love and understanding that rejection does not define who we are.  It makes us stronger because we keep asking for what we want instead of living a life of regret for giving up and giving in to fear.

Jia Jiang from Chris Guillebeau on Vimeo.

We are already there.

Some of my favorite WDS posts:

Mindfulness: Day 7 – No mud, no lotus – reconciling the paradox

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Lotus in the mud

“…Without mud, you cannot have a lotus flower. Without suffering, you have no ways in order to learn how to be understanding and compassionate…. Happiness is the lotus flower, and the suffering is the mud. So the practice is how to make use of the suffering, make use of the mud, to create the flower, the happiness, and this is possible.”  ~Thich Nhat Hanh

If you have been following this blog for the past couple months, you may be aware I have been on sort of an existential journey to reconcile the paradox of accepting who we are, and striving for change.  (Thoughts on habit & change, Reflections on the duality of human nature, Don’t forget the other halfTrial & Error, Aftermath of Boston Marathon,  Presence: Day 3)

I have literally spent my entire conscious life – since I was seven –  trying to reconcile this paradox within myself.  The paradox exists through consumption of endless resources to learn how to be the best version of myself while continually struggling and striving to be a “better” person, versus wanting to just be ignorantly blissful and happy and not care about all my imperfections.  To not even think about my endless list of imperfections.   Because of this ongoing struggle, I will spend months  being the buddha girl, only to turn around and rebel against the difficulty to then spend months being the pagan girl.

The problem is that I am painfully aware of the dormant version of myself the entire time, waiting for this version to come back.  Like if I am being “good” in my practice, I keep looking over my shoulder for the “bad habit” girl to bludgeon me out of existence and return, knowing full well, she will be back.  Similarly, when I am enjoying the life of pure earthly pleasure, there is always the tiny voice in the back of my head keeping me from fully enjoying the moment of mindlessness.

But this is not a post about how this drags me down continually, and makes me depressed.  It is a post about reconciliation.  It is a post about mindfulness.

This most recent revelation comes from a validating moment of clarity I found through Leo Babauta’s course I am taking – Zen of Work.   Yesterday, while working through the course, I listened to a talk by Susan O’Connell, Zen Priest and President of San Francisco Zen Center, called, Practicing in the Mud.

Listening to her talk, it was as though all of what I have been thinking about recently was being articulated out loud by another voice. The same struggle, the same journey, the same unanswered questions.   There is some sense of peace in not being alone with my crazy tangential thoughts.  To know that someone who is a life-long practitioner even now struggles with this paradox.   In her talk, Susan’s working definition of freedom from this paradox is, “freedom from having to think about freedom.”

In this sentence, I found a moment of clarity.

I realized that despite the struggles I have with reconciliation, I am so very happy to be a “lotus in the mud.”

It is through all the pain, awareness, and struggles that I have had – and still have – that I have begun to blossom into who I am now.

My name, Susan, literally means “lotus.”  I shortened it to “Susi” many years ago, because I did not identify with “Susan.”  Which I find interesting.  In reflecting on the duality of human nature and more specifically, on the duality of my own lifelong existence, the clarity I am finding is that I like living in the mud, and it is more likely that if I managed to successfully extract myself from the lessons of the mud, I would no longer exist.

So. Mindfulness includes the freedom to no longer view this path as a struggle of pain, failure, and constant imperfection and is finally within grasp.  It is through this awareness, acceptance and welcoming of our imperfections, pain, and struggles that brings growth and the beautiful lotus flower to our existence.

It isn’t necessarily a paradox after all.   The two do not have to be mutually exclusive. Perhaps they can exist in perfect harmony.  As a lotus in the mud.

Your turn:

Do you have an experience or comment to share about your own life journey of growth?

Note: I would like to thank Jonathan Rhys Meyers for linking to this post from his fansite page.  I welcome readers from his site to check out some of my other posts along this journey of 52 Changes, and comment here.

Week 11 – Gratitude: each day is your first & your last

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“You think this is just another day in your life. It is not just another Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnailday. It is the one day that is given to you…today. It’s given to you, it is a gift. It is the only gift that you have right now.  And the only appropriate response is gratefulness….Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you.  And then, it will really be a good day.” ~Brother David Steindl-Rast

 

This week’s change of gratitude is inspired by  travels abroad to Jordan and Italy. The time was spent in awe and wonder of all that the world is outside the confines of my small existence.   To travel is to step outside of the tiny box that we have created for ourselves, and step into the realm of what is possible.

Included here is a short Tedx video by Louie Schwartzberg, a life-long time-lapse photographer of flowers, and nature.  It is a very moving video that is a meditation of on beauty, and gratitude.   May your day be filled with joy and wonder.  May you be grateful for all that is.  And may you become part of the solution that seeks to shed light on darkness.

We have so much to be grateful for.  Gratitude is a choice. It is a blessing to be alive, to breathe, to love.  Why spend one more minute in sadness, or feeling lack in your life?  You can make the choice today, now, in this moment to breathe in the love and energy of the universe that connects everything to Oneness.

When you wake up each day, before you get out of bed spend a moment thinking of what you are grateful for.  Start the day with a feeling of gratitude, of wonder and joy.  Treat the day as a brand new opportunity to experience life for the first time.

When you go to bed at night, spend a moment contemplating the day’s activities.  Think about what went right.  And be grateful for the opportunities you had to give love.  If there is anything you may have done differently to make this day better, set an intention for the next day to have the opportunity to right what you may have wronged.

You can be the change you wish to see in the world.

Why?  Because you are already there.