My friends...I have a confession to make.
I think I'm mostly full of shit. Apologies, I may curse tonight. It happens. I don't say I'm full of it to be self-deprecating, far from it. Rather, the more I strip away, the more I let illusions fall...the need to think I know things in absolution also falls away. We're all on a journey in this life. We learn as we grow. Sometimes we feel lost and cling to things that help us make sense of the world we live in. Help us to belong to something. So we absorb that, I think. We trade one illusion for another, depending on what we feel we're lacking. Always searching for answers.
There is no resolute answer. For any of it. There is me. There is you. There is experience, understanding, belief, and action. And a great big wheel that keeps spinning us around and around. Keep learning...nope, you fucked that up. Try again. Nope, you still don't get it...here it is again.
As I write about a woman who is...awakening...I chase down countless rabbit holes of knowledge. Some esoteric. Some theoretical. Some academic and historical. I would follow down a path about higher consciousness, enlightenment, spirituality... only to land in a world of demiurges and alien lore. Not my thing. Or chakras and ascending, which says that our spirit bodies can leave us and go frolic around somewhere. Not my thing either. Whether that's Ana's thing remains to be seen. It sure is fun to write about though. But I'm talking about me now.
One theme I touch upon in the book I'm writing is the duality we perceive. Thinking that we are spiritual beings in mortal bodies, and this often lends itself to either being your "physical" self, or being your "spirit" self. Tuning out the physical to resonate with your higher self. A lot of it is fascinating, and I still don't quite get it, I'll be honest with you. I meditate, I find inner peace, I find inner strength...but I certainly don't vibrate in different colors and I don't feel the essence of chairs and I don't see the molecules of the air. I relax, I sort through my issues, I find perspective, I choose to see the best in everyone, including myself... and I get to work.
That's it. There's no floating or chanting or channeling going on. Perhaps in the stripping away, I'm becoming a bit of a realist. And that's okay. As lovely as it can be to muse and ponder and imagine our lives the way we'd like them to be...I believe we must take action. We must. I keep returning to Buddha and the middle way. Head in the clouds, but feet on the ground. I do believe in intuition. And serendipity. And everyday magic. But it can't all be ethereal and whimsical. We've got to kick our own asses and do the work. The inner work. The outer work.
Sometimes we can get lost in the clouds; wondering, dreaming, visualizing. But our lives creep by despite this.
I suppose my point is...balance. A healthy balance of inspiration and dreaming, and good old fashioned work. Get your hands dirty, dig in there. No one else will. No matter how you're "vibing."
I'm turning forty in a few days and I've been reflecting a lot about this stuff, as I get closer to the end of this project, which is in itself, quite a journey. And I'll tell you something...I still feel like a kid a lot of the time. The world always feels new, like there's more to learn. About myself, human nature, and all the big ideas I like to muse about.
And I do.
I could spend hours talking about the universe, or utopia, dystopia, war/peace, all the different religions and schools of thought. Philosophy. Science. Where they might overlap. I enjoy thinking and talking about those things.
But I think to attach to it...to give away your own power, your own strength, the amazing ability we have inside of us, to an esoteric idea that good things are coming if you just sit and wait...is bullshit. Sorry. Like attracts like, yes. But the universe respects ambition and action, I think.
That's me. Unplugged. Dream and imagine, practice gratitude, be kind and open, choose love over fear, have a healthy positive outlook, but fucking do the work. Get out of the ether and get real.
I think the funk I've been in today, the frustrations, have been about one thing: I'm allowed to have a shitty day. And if I spend my time smiling around it, not paying attention to what's going on inside of me, I'll get stuck there. I won't see the lesson. And every time that issue comes up, it will be shitty. Because I didn't do the work, I didn't face it. I didn't dig into myself to ask why I felt the way I did.
I don't believe that life sucks. I think we are here to have a wonderful experience, filled with beauty and joy and connection and everyday magic. I am an optimist. I do feel that we're all the same and connected, yet I feel that we are all individuals, with unique gifts and attributes to share with other. But it was important for me to see and accept that... sometimes, things are just hard. And it's okay to get smacked in the face with something like that, it happens. Things can be hard. But it's how we respond. How we interpret that information. How we choose to experience it. We can get stuck in the funk...or zoom out, learn something, and keep moving forward. Keep learning, keep growing.
But to prance around in la-la land where everything is just loverly, all the time, just doesn't jive with me anymore.
We are spiritual beings, yes. But we live in a physical, real world. We must honor both in our everyday lives. Balance. Merge the two. For me anyway. I enjoy a green juice, I do. But I also indulge in a good bolognese once in a while. Because it's delicious and aromatic and enjoyable. I try to be honest, humble, respectful, and kind. I am spiritual and I wouldn't call myself materialistic. But I won't denounce the comfort and ease of making a decent living. I've earned it. I won't apologize for it.
And I won't feel guilty if I earn even more money. I work my ass off; I see no issues or conflict in spirit in knowing your value and worth. Money is the currency and result of our hard work, dedication, sacrifice, ethic, and generosity. We give of ourselves in service, production, labor, or other efforts, and we should earn what we put out.
So. Forty. Bring it on. I feel younger than ever. I'm focused. I'm smart enough to know that I'm always learning. Humble enough to admit that I don't necessarily know what the hell I'm talking about, but I really just write for myself anyway. Secure enough to admit that I'm a big nerd, I like my glasses, I don't care that I don't "fit in." I rarely wear makeup; it feels like gloop. It's unnatural to me. And I still see myself as beautiful. Not because I'm arrogant, but because I'm grounded enough to know that we're all inherently beautiful and flawed. We're people, not statues. I'm not afraid to face fears. And you know what? I'm having a lot of fun. I've found passion again, for living, for the basic notion of being alive. I love my life. I embrace where I've been and I know where I'm going, and I'm enjoying and appreciating the ride. I have amazing, supportive, real, honest, nonjudgmental friends and family. And I include coworkers and colleagues as friends because that's just how I roll. I love 'em all.
Perhaps my forties will be the best years... forward, please. All ahead, full.
(Disclaimer: I had watched a past Steve Maraboli broadcast on FB today, which inspired me, in case there is overlap. Not plagiarism, just inspiration. Sometimes I reiterate ideas that resonate, they all mish-mosh in my head. But check him out. Brilliant. Real deal, no hocus-pocus, effortlessly relatable.)
An old essay I wrote years ago, in a spiral notebook. Decided to type it up here and see if I could glean anything new from it. Sometimes ideas from the past, from a different time, can come back around with new meaning and insight to use in the present.
Johnny wanted to be something special. He was hard-pressed for luck growing up, he didn't have much of anything. He swore up and down that one day, he would change the world; he would make something, sell something incredible. He would be wealthy beyond his wildest dreams, and show up all the doubters and bullies that put him down all his life.
He put his nose down and worked. He scrambled. He brainstormed. Finally, he had his idea. Through all of his struggles, he learned to motivate himself. He was great at it; because he was the only one who could do it. He...was all he had. He was a master at pushing himself, at persevering. So one day, he decided to motivate others. He figured his strategy worked for him, others would buy into it, for themselves.
He wrote a book about staying motivated. He began lecturing at businesses. Group meetings. Anywhere and everywhere he could, he let the bookings roll in. He saw that people were soaking it up and he thought..."I'll get rich in no time. People will pay to hear me motivate them." It's almost too easy, he thought. He sold his services all over the land, his name was popular, he had a reputation. He was doing it. He was making money. He decided to invest a bunch of that money, to earn even more money.
He spoke at a Women's Group. He spoke to a group of young entrepreneurs. He spoke to a college, at their commencement. He spoke at a work/life balance retreat.
Each group paid him a steep price for his appearance, and he showed up, told his story, and pumped them up with his message. "I did it, you can do it. No excuses. You are your only hope, it's up to you. Go out and make your own dreams happen."
Johnny made a mountain of money, quickly. He bought a large house on the water. A yacht. A baby grand piano that he couldn't play. He had the nicest suits, and clinked glasses with celebrities. He graced magazine covers. He had beautiful women on his arm, all the time. He was doing it. He was showing them all. Johnny was a success.
One day, his stock took a dive. He lost all the money that he invested. He was furious and depressed. He researched it, it was a good investment. He was heartbroken to lose all that money. He got some bad press, due to acting out in public. Meanwhile, he had spent a lot of money that he didn't have, on his extravagant new lifestyle. Soon enough, with no new books, no new material to share, Johnny fell on hard times, yet again. The money stopped coming in. "What a waste," he thought. All that work, all that time, everything was gone in a heartbeat. Johnny was lost. "I'm a complete failure. I'm a joke," he thought. "I was never meant to succeed at anything." Years went by and Johnny fell further and further from his dream.
One day he received a letter from a woman, who had fought through four rounds of chemo and kicked cancer's ass. She was gushing with praise and gratitude, thanking Johnny for inspiring her, for helping her to find the strength that she needed at such a pivotal time in her life. She enclosed a photo of herself, smiling widely. "Thank you, Johnny. You've changed my life." Johnny felt awkward inside, he didn't know what to make of it. He figured it was a fluke.
Another day, he was surfing the Web, and came across a revolutionary new home design that was changing the world. Affordable, stylish, and green, the design was sustaining precious resources and saving its consumers money. The very design of these pre-fabricated homes were helping to save the planet. On the home screen was a note, mentioning Johnny as a driving force in the inspiration and motivation to see the project through. Johnny let it sink in. He smiled, thinking, "at least someone benefitted from all that work. I sure didn't."
And yet another day, he found himself at a career fair, knowing he had to do something to pay the bills. He was no longer inspired to motivate people, he felt that he failed at it. But he had to do something. One of the students that heard a commencement speech that he gave now ran a Fortune 500 company. Many CEOs don't bother with recruiting, but this woman was different. She tackled her dreams with inspiration, with a desire to help others, to motivate others as she grew her own dream. She was inspired by Johnny, all those years ago. And saw that as he gave out and shared his message, he inspired so many people. And she wanted to do that too.
"Mr. Johnny, such a pleasure. I've never forgotten your words, they changed my life," she said him. He frowned.
"I don't know why, I'm a nobody. I lost it all. Don't follow my lead, you'll only fail."
"Can I offer you some work, until you get back on top again?" The woman smiled at him warmly. Johnny didn't know what to say. But he needed the work.
"Sure, that's why I'm here. I need a job."
"Absolutely. Call me, here's my card. I'll get you in, we'll talk. I know you'll have a lot to offer..."
Johnny left scratching his head. He was beginning to wonder if maybe he wasn't a fraud and a failure after all. But he was definitely broke.
A friend convinced him to attend a yoga class with him one day. He was skeptical and swore that it wasn't his thing. But his friend insisted, she said that the instructor was wonderful. He agreed, not wanted to discuss it anymore.
The yoga instructor, too, was a student of Johnnys. After class, she spoke to Johnny and his friend.
"Mr. Johnny, I've always hoped I'd see you again. What a difference you made in my life. What are you up to these days? Are you well?"
"Are you blind? Don't you read the news? I lost everything years ago! I'm a failure!"
"What have you failed at, exactly?" The yoga instructor seemed confused.
"All I wanted was to prove them all wrong. To change the world, to conquer it. To make my own millions, to be totally independent, to not need anyone. I always did things on my own anyway. And I was doing it, until I made that stupid investment, and it all fell apart."
"Johnny, no. What about all the lives you've touched?"
"I never cared about that! I didn't do it for that! Motivate yourself, I'm not your hero...I was just earning my due, that's all! What I was due!" Johnny was getting angry. The yoga instructor sat with him and helped Jim to relax.
"Johnny. I was a corporate workaholic when I went to a retreat, where you spoke to us. I left the business world, purposely. It was depleting me, my soul was dying. I became a yoga teacher, and while I make less money, I have so much more. I am rich in so many ways. And you...maybe at the outset, you wanted to be rich. You found a niche and you wanted to exploit it. Why not? If people are gullible enough to pad your pockets, why not take it form them?"
Johnny thought about this and felt ashamed. The yoga instructor continued.
"But here is the truth. Regardless of why and how you started...you touched people. You made a difference in the lives of others. You reached out, you shared your story, and you inspired people to live their own dreams. Just by being you, by telling your story. Your truth. And it must have been authentic, because look at the impact you've made. Johnny, you have changed the world. By changing the lives of every person you've touched with your words. Each individual who has gone out to improve their own lives, have left a mark of the world. And they've changed it. Just as you have. It's easy to get lost in material pursuits, we all do at some point. But Johnny, if your dream was to reach people, change the world, have your name known...you've done it. You've conquered it. You can get back to public speaking in a blink, if you want to. And maybe if you did it...with the goal of inspiring and helping people...things might change for you. They did for me..."
Johnny thought about everything the woman said. His student became his teacher, and his outlook had changed. He thanked the woman and began imagining his new future, using his wisdom from the past, with a new found understanding and passion. Knowing that he didn't have to do it alone.
A musing day...
I woke this morning feeling electric and energized. As I blinked off the effects of a great, restful 8+ hours of sleep...I remembered the dream I had. I've always had very vivid dreams. And yes, in color.
I was at a park, lots of green grass, but the shore was near by. I was near water. I remember getting a phone call from a friend, and I invited him to the park. This is someone I don't really talk to on the telephone, but in the dream, we were cool friends. Cool.
Next, I remember sitting down, by myself, in the grass, to meditate. I felt the breeze come off the ocean. I heard seagulls. I could smell the salt in the air. I felt the living earth beneath my body. And other people showed up and sat next to me, one by one. Celebrities, old friends, old school teachers, people from all over, from all walks of life. The only criteria was to be alive and to be human. To be people. And as they came to sit, we seemed to form a circle. And the circle got bigger and bigger as more and more showed up. By the end of the dream, there were scores of us. Sitting, being, transcending, vibrating with peace. Acceptance. Love. All the beautiful things.
And the last scene before I woke up?
I was flying overhead, and looked down. The energy produced by all the people, swirled around, following the flow and shape of the circle. There was a tunnel, a vortex, of magical healing energy...produced by people. It was wild. And perfect.
Then I woke up. And I had hope. What an image. What a concept. I get group meditating, I get collective consciousness. Why the circle?
Any dream analysts out there? What a trip. Dreams are fun. :-)
While reading a board book about Boats with my toddler, I discovered that he learned the word "people." he was delighted.
Everywhere he saw them, he'd exclaim, "people!" Pointing with his tiny little finger. "People, I see, I see. People!" And he would point to himself, understanding that he, too...was a "people." He'd point at me, Mommy is also a "people." What a concept. He does the same thing when we walk outside. He gazes up in amazement..."sky!" "Birbies!" (Birdies.) Such joy and wonder; innocence.
Being around small children is a constant reminder to us to slow down. Stop looking for answers. Stop judging. Stop fearing. Stop worrying and overthinking. We live in a beautiful, magical world. It should be common sense to most of us, in this age, that fear of the unknown is taught to us. We are indoctrinated with it, from young. Don't get me wrong, I know that fear has its place. It helps to keep us alive. But the issues within us arise when we go to that place of fear, when we aren't in any real danger. We perceive a threat of danger based on either: past experience, worst case scenarios, or gut instincts.
Absolutely, honor your gut feelings. If you know they are real and not created by societal confusion. Societal confusion? This is my term (although I'm sure it's used elsewhere, in some other context. I don't claim to "coin" the term) for the constant assault on our senses and psyches with mountains of information.
We live in the age of information now. If you look for it, you will find it. Whatever it is. If you think Paleo is the best diet in the world, you'll find something to confirm it. If you search for praise of the vegan lifestyle, you'll find that too. Coffee is great, coffee is bad. If you believe a celebrity is wonderful, you'll find wonderful things about the person. If you believe they are a fraud or a selfish jerk, you'll find that too. If you seek proof of aliens, you'll find it somewhere. If you seek proof that we are alone in the universe, you'll find that too. For every bit of truth you think you know, you will find its opposite. Why bring this up? Why at such a time in our human experience? Because it's happening everywhere, and it's all connected. It's all information. From coffee, to diet, to God, to extraterrestrials, to spirituality, to news coverage, to war and guns and violence and terror attacks.
We are saturated with too much information, all the time. On the news, the TV, the radio, the Internet (desktop, laptop, tablet, phone...), the constant chatter of voices around us. So much so, that as human beings, our senses can become dulled. And when we are desensitized and don't feel...we don't connect. We don't interpret and explore information, we accept it blindly without asking questions. We shut down a little, inside. We throw our hands up, and go with the flow. The majority says this, so they must be right. We think, who am I to question it? This is what they say. Go with the flow. Status quo.
Well, I don't feel it's worked for us.
I don't delve into aliens coming to save us, flying saucers underground, government coverups, secret weather experiements, hidden civilizations, and all the rest. These are just neutral ideas that don't really dig into me. The just bounce off. I don't believe or disbelieve these things, they aren't good or bad to me, they just aren't on my radar of thought. (Well...NOW they are...) But I won't feel one way or the other about them.
Because deep down, I think it's so simple. As a species, we've created a mess. Our home, our planet is hurting. Our resources are being depleted. We are cruel and violent toward each other all the time. Yet, so much so, we love and support and inspire each other. We do both. We have the capacity as a species to do amazing, beautiful, and creative things, and also to do heinous and unthinkable things.
I think the painful truth, and what we all need to understand, is that we've created the world we live in. There may not be a race of extraterrestrials hovering above us to save us, although they may exist. There may not be a God or savior waiting in the wings to lift us up and call do-over. Although, the energy of God, of Creator exists. We got here, and we need to unite as a species and get ourselves out. Not pushing that power, that we have, to outside and unseen forces...but to each other.
Seeing the creative and magnificent forces that are already inherent within us. Not looking outside, waiting for rescue. It's us. It's now. We, as a species, can choose to move forward and change the equilibrium of our home, of our peace/war paradigm, just as we can choose how to design our small and individual lives and relationships.
When many active voices and focused thoughts come together, change occurs.
What do we say, what do we choose? This is the message behind all the things you see flying around talking about love or fear. It doesn't mean quit your job and move to Costa Rica and live on green juice. Not for everyone, anyway, although some folks have done that and they are blissfully content and making great waves in the world. If that is what makes you happy, then yes. DO that. So that your joy will be infectious. But don't think that is the only way. There are many, many paths. Maybe your joy is in making gadgets or software that helps people. Crowdsource and market them, with integrity and joy and change the world in YOUR way. We are all different, although we are connected. Preach, make music, teach, heal, create art, write, or simply be the best at what it is that you love doing. There's no recipe that applies to all of us. But learn to know how YOU tick. Know yourself; find a skill, a passion, a group of supportive like-minded people, and develop it. Find your joy in it. Grow it and share it. A thriving world is built upon these ideas, that we all contribute to it. We are our world. Participate. You matter. If you're not living here, making your own choices, you're living someone else's ideas about who you are. There is no right or wrong. Find you and be you. And honor the goodness and light you see in others.
But many in the world are so lost, so disconnected, that the only way they see is destructive and violent. Because the way out of the hell the live in, is destruction. For all of us. So how, if we are loving, open, giving people, who sincerely want to move forward...how do we reconcile this? How do we face a facet of our humanity that is to us, seemingly so atrocious and hateful of our vision of peace and harmony? Struggles erupt, to be sure. Protect your own? Protect humanity? Keep them out, let them in? Be Hospitable and generous and trusting? Be cautious and solvent and strong? What is the answer?
How do we do it? I don't know. But if enough "people!" as my toddler says... if enough of us, sincerely come from a place of patience, love, growth, and peace...perhaps we can figure it out without destroying each other. Rather than acting on the fear, hatred, greed, paranoia, righteous rage, and negative thoughts that have been taught to us through this societal confusion that we've created.
I am an allegorical and visionary thinker, I love big ideas. The ones that connect deep inside, the ones that lead me to philosophize. The ones that remind me that we are all in this together. And friends...we are. Make no mistake. But I also live my days with my feet planted firmly in the soil. I expound and dream and imagine and wonder and explore my curiousities, to be sure. A common struggle these days, is the battle between the spiritual/creative self and the everyday, get-up-and-work self. It's all you. All of it. All the time. This duality is imagined. Sometimes we feel so separate, so disconnected. But it is all within us, all the time. Reconnect to yourself...and you might discover that you have everything that you need. It's already within you. I know it is, because I feel it in myself. So it has to be in you, as well. It just is. And we are the same, we are "people." Just people. Under one big sky.
Living in bliss and creating and wishing peace and love to others is nice. It makes us feel good, it makes others feel good. Absolutely. But it's not going to affect great change on its own. What it will do, over time, as we live in a higher state of being...is raise the climate of our own beingness. Raise our vibrations, our energy source. There are sources out there, of course, in the world of information...to show you what this means. How everything is made of energy and light and particles. And that our consciousness can have a measurable effect on how we resonate with our world. But sitting in a room, vibrating with yourself, so to speak...thinking good thoughts, might not be enough. If we all can reach a place of inner-peace, strength, positive ideaology, forward thinking, letting go of fear and anxiety and negative outcomes, and what if black holes...maybe a dialogue, a true idea on how to clean up our mess, can begin.
I will try to keep this short, but no promises.
A little backstory: I've always had an interest in native heritage of the Americas. Deep down I always struggled with what we were taught in school. I knew it wasn't that simple, I felt beneath those words that there was more to the story. But I clung to the beautiful and spiritual ceremonies and beliefs of these cultures through the years; what I could read about them. I clung to the idea of them, without experiencing them. And I always thought, somewhere in the world, they still do this. These ways are still revered and practiced.
In the course of researching for this novel, which in itself is a gift to me, in its very nature, by aiding in my awakening, I began to meditate on tribal customs and beliefs. Prophecies. Sacred sites. And I envisioned a character, a woman from the 1600s who had a vision of her own. And as I wrote it, and felt it, and imagined it, I felt the need to witness a ritual, a ceremony. And I searched. And searched. And researched. And then the truth hit me like a punch in the face, or worse. I thought to myself, "these are such beautiful ideas, of showing reverence for our Earth mother, the elements, gratitude, respect and dignity, living in peace..." I wanted to experience it somewhere. In my naïveté, I had hoped to find a place to go and talk with or listen to elders and see one of these ceremonies; sit in a sweat lodge. The truth hurts, when you allow yourself to feel it. Why can't we find these sacred sites and ceremonies? Because we, as a people, obliterated them, in our conquest of greed, dominion, industry, ownership, and so on. The glorious westward expansion we learned about in schools here. And I wept. I literally wept and felt my heartbreak for brothers and sisters that I'd never met and never would. I finally let it in. Many of us are taught to ignore these facts, these atrocities of humanity. Or we just choose not to let the reality in. We choose simple, robotic bliss...be part of the machine. Work, consume, vacation, and die. Day after day. The hamster wheel. So with this remembering of our truth, this part of our story, not oft-enough told, I was furious. Yet I felt a calling to continue awakening and to share this vision, that we still have a chance to hold on to some of these sacred sites. To reconnect to the sacred, in general. All hope is not lost, while the knowledge is still alive, while so many of us seek to breathe new life into these ideas.
And we feel it. I know, and you know, that so many feel it. This wave, this sweeping feeling of a higher consciousness. A connection beyond understanding in our minds. A growing commonality of intuition, acceptance of the unexplainable, reunions with spirit. The Self. The need to question, to investigate and make our own conclusions. Not to take things for granted, not to be a drone, solely informed by mainstream media and the like. But if we silence it all, look inside, listen inside, then we can see. Really see. We can remember what we are here to remember. And it's an important time to remember and to connect to yourself.
And what we, as a species, have done to our Earth is atrocious. This is part of waking up, for me anyway. Everyone has their own journey to take, their own purpose on this earth. I am not political and I am more spiritual than I am religious, to be sure. I like to have a broader view. My vision for humanity transcends politics and religion and I feel this in a lot of people I meet, as well. A sense of oneness that comes after introspection, realizations, letting go of past hurts, fears, and narrow views of the human experience.
I had a lovely dream last night, maybe fueled by the incessant narrative in my mind about native culture. Maybe not. But I was at an indigenous ceremony, and there were authentic elders who were fighting, in spirit and with all their hearts to spread the same message that I had written. Sure enough, as I do some digging on the Internet, I find Chief Arvol Looking Horse and World Peace and Prayer Day. I cried a little, as a wave of hope washed over me. I'm not alone, we're not alone, in this idea. I think it's an inherent and obvious truth in many of us, and it sounds so familiar... because it has to. Because it's time to come together. Because so many of us feel it, simultaneously, and with good reason.
There have been waves of counterculture and the like before. Perhaps we can call it Hippie 2.0, but it's so much deeper than that. Today, in this time, we have the ideals and vision of these leaders from a generation ago, with the lightning fast speed of the Internet. And the waves have begun. We are waking up. Disasters and atrocities around the world continue, and we are becoming more sensitive to them, more aware. We can't keep our heads in the sand anymore.
A change is coming. Participate. In your own way, whatever that is. That's for you to discover as you dig deeper.
Love and blessings XO
So here's authentic for you:
The truth is...I am not a yoga teacher, although I might be, someday.
I'm not into Reiki. Although I might be, someday.
I'm not a spiritual teacher, or guru, or divine priestess of sacred wisdom. I don't think. Although...I might be. Who knows.
Here's what I am, though:
A great, loving Mom, who is always learning. (As it should be, I think.)
Today, I had a day off and got to spend the whole day with my toddler, as opposed to working while he was at daycare. We had a yummy breakfast, scrambled eggs, some fruit later, some milk. I had a latte. Or two. We went to Target, bought fun craft supplies, rode the kiddie cars, and had lunch at Panera. Out in the parking lot, a giant SUV backed in to the spot next to me, in a crooked fashion. The driver left me with a narrow, awkward triangle within which to contort my body, in order to put my son safely into his car seat. All went well, until I contorted myself back out, and OUCH. Pulled a muscle in my lower back. Fantastic. I sucked it up, walked slowly, applying the counter pressure I learned painstakingly through the end of my pregnancy. (I'm not just whining, I promise there is a point). The point is? We got to the house and we painted, we stamped, we laughed, we smiled. I took some anti-inflammatories and slathered some Biofreeze all over my back. My son and I got covered in the colors of the rainbow down to our fingernails. When I would slow down, I'd think that the pain meds weren't doing a thing. But then, on to the next thing... We sang, we danced, we raced, we napped, we ate, we played basketball (indoor, plastic hoop). And on and on, as it goes. A full day of activities and reading and repeating new words. While rocking and singing him to sleep, with the energetic part of the day behind us, I remembered how much pain I was in earlier, and how it seemed to dissipate. And I observed that, for a minute.
Here's is something simple to know: when you are wrapped up in pain, negative thoughts, worry, confusion...you will continue to perpetuate the cycle of your own misery, if you sit there and think about it. Call it Law of Attraction, call it common sense, call it Elvis for all I care. It's the truth. The takeaway? When you are hurting...physically, mentally, emotionally...give out. Give and share what you can. You time, your love, your guidance. Why? Because you stop focusing on yourself and your complaints, and you give the chance for them to leave you. My son, the two year old, taught me a lesson today. What a blessing to have him to focus on, to love, to care for. My stupid back pain became nonexistent.
I am a writer.
I wrote a novel, once. I finished it in 2005. I was a different person when I wrote it, to be sure. But here's the kicker, it got stuck in my old laptop as the fan died, and I never repaired it. So it's been in there, sleeping, all 360+ words. They never saw the light of day. And I'm okay with that. Because the story I told then would bore me today.
I went to library school and I got to dig into my love for history and ephemera. While working at a historical society, I researched a school teacher who lived through times that were much tougher on women than they are today. I was able to locate and name an old nineteenth-century school in my hometown, previously unknown. I wrote all about it. It was too long, repetitive, had no flow, and was cluttered...but I loved researching and writing it. And my writing skills grew as did my passion for it.
I tried again, as the muse flew back around, a few years ago. I got about five chapters into a novel about inter-family dynamics and relationships. It wasn't bad, it had some great characterization, some funny scenes, some poignant ones, but I got bored with it, and put it away. That one lives in "the cloud," and on my hard drive. But I have grown, I have evolved, I am in so many ways different. And I wouldn't know how to approach those old words if I resurrected them. So I let them go. When the fire was reborn in me, earlier this year, as so many other things changed, I began to write again. Writing is the one thing that has continuously returned to me, over and over, waiting for it to be the right time, for me to dig in and really commit myself to it. This new work, the story of Ana, started as a lusty romance novel powered by a silly frustration. I wanted to write some bestselling smut. Make a million dollars. Get a movie option. But in the beginning drafts, this book was powered by the external, by the ego, and that too...started to bore me. Every time I sat down to write, I felt there was more. There was something else, something deeper. Inside? Out there? I didn't know, but I kept writing through it, waiting for something to break through, to touch me, to shake me up. To wake me up. And one day, one serendipitous day, something did. The walls of pretense and superficiality fell, at a very inopportune moment. It was a literal, physical and spiritual experience, jolting me from my old ways of seeing, thinking, and understanding the world I live in. And nothing has been the same since. I touch on the experience in the book I'm writing. What that means? I don't know, except to say that I am awake. Alive. Connected to my passion in a way that I never have been before. The more I learn, the less I will admit that I know. Because I am constantly learning and growing, as all of us are.
And so I embarked on this journey of the Self, And I found my writing changed completely. Instead of staring at the ceiling, searching for ideas, trying to craft a story out of thin air, I learned to listen. To the story that is all around me and inside of me. It's in the people I meet, the dramas I get caught up in, the experiences I have, the lessons I learn. It's also in the silence. Somehow, and I am so grateful for this, I can tune out all the noise and busy-ness of life and just listen...and the words pour out. Like they've been in there all along, waiting. Or like they're just flowing through me from somewhere else, some place magical, and I'm merely a conductor. That's how it feels, anyway. So, that's what I mean when I say that this is the first book I want to fully give birth to and send out into the world. While it echoes of real life and everyday situations, it is inspired and created within. Something in my normal routine may make a small step toward a vivid imagining that occurs later. I soak up and absorb my life; not the particular people, per se, but the feeling. The essence. Contradictions, surprises, hurt, joy, and questions, always questions. Writing is a medicine, and I have to use it daily. Many writers, once they really start to write, will say the same thing. And on the other side of this project, I get to see how my little creation does out in the world. It's terrifying and exhilarating. And I can't wait to set it free and start a new one.
I am a public servant. I am a great librarian and researcher.
I was reminded recently why I love my field so much. Sometimes I get caught up in the mundane details, the busy-work. The ordering, to to-dos, the nuts and bolts, so to speak. Many people become librarians because they read incessantly. I am not one of those. I write more than I read. I read enough, and know how to suggest titles for people, but I don't pour through novels. So, what I love about it, really? Helping people. Maybe it's not the job I love, maybe it's the people I work with. Maybe it's the community I serve and get to know, and spend my time with to help them find what they're looking for. It's the connections. Those beautiful moments when someone reaches out with a question, with a need, and you can extend your patience, your listening, your time, your skill set, to get them where they're going. It's helping people. It's knowing people. It's fostering a welcoming space, where anyone can walk in the door, find what they're looking for (or something darn close), and with no money spent...they can sit and improve themselves. A library...is community. A supportive environment where its public can leave changed for the better, or more educated, or entertained, if they so choose. The potential is there. There are countless stories of self-made success stories, and many of them started their journeys with a library card. Why would I not be grateful to be a part of that? It's an incredible place to be.
So at this point in my journey, this trip-fantastic inside of myself, into the universe available to me...I find I am at a weigh station, of sorts. It's been fight, regroup, obstacle, learn, fall, get up, regroup, challenge, observe, grow, and on and on. A constant back and forth, learning more about myself with each stumble or step ahead. But I find myself at a place now, where the drama is fading. Some things (ideas, people, self-help books, and so on) I would cling to and strive for feel differently to me now. Like throwing off training wheels. Those things have served me well, and I'm grateful for all of them, but I find myself releasing them. Some things have great significance in our lives, but are significant for a short time. Guideposts. Or at least they should be. No one should seek validation and direction constantly from a source outside of themselves. These things are tools to help us dig in and do the work inside of ourselves, to keep moving forward. The books can sit on the bookshelf, in case I need a refresher. The people aren't dismissed, they just morph as my journey does. Some have their own work to do, some become friends.
So when the noise and drama and excitement and newness wears off, I come to a place where I see a few areas of true value in life, and they are all connected:
Health - an ongoing journey in itself, but one I am committed to, day by day.
Happiness/passion - being honest with yourself and what and how you feel, can lead you to your happiness. Know, love, trust yourself. Decide to be happy, and make the choices to support that, based on what you know and love about yourself. Now, at this place, it seems simple. Although it never seems that way when you're in it. That's why it's a journey that requires faith. Because you can't possibly see through the storm, you have to walk through it, to the other side. Let it change you.
Balance/harmony - Life balance is key. Just as we make time for our passions, we should make time for family and friends. Anyone who holds us up when we fall, can hear us when we're silent, can see us when we're hiding. Make time to laugh, travel, be spontaneous, enjoy each other. Share your blessings and watch them magnify in your own life.
Humility - When I don't intentionally practice humility and grace, I come off like a sarcastic jackass or like a goody-two-shoes trying to impress people. Both versions of me are simply layers I wear, I suppose. Although the jackass is probably closer, in reality. As much as I love to write in sweeping prose and grandiose metaphor, I can be full of wit and banter and sass. I have a bite. I am learning how to balance being spiritual and a philosopher and a lover and student of humanity, with being a smartass who loves to make people laugh, sometimes at themselves, sometimes at me, some times at life, and watch old movies. But I am making a conscious effort now, to remember humility. And it helps to keep me grounded and moving forward. Sometimes. It's a process.
Spirit/everyday magic - Whether you believe in God, the power of the Universe, or just human morality and scruples...believe in something. Let it take an undercurrent in your life, let it whisper in the dark, let it propel you into the light. Tune in to it. Connect with a higher vision of yourself, a more enlightened version of yourself. And notice things. Live in your moments. Pay attention, be aware. Listen to people. Make eye contact. Do things mindfully. Eating, walking, loving, playing, working. Do it on purpose, with purpose, alive in each moment of it, not lost in outer space living in the future or reliving the past. Be here. Participate. It's your life. You're supposed to be paying attention, and learning a few things as you go. We're not meant to trudge through it, or run in a wheel until the time is up. Find your silence; connect to your Self, your spirit, the Universe and let it guide you. Because it IS you.
I am grateful to be awake.
I am grateful to be learning.
I intend to keep learning and to keep growing.
I am blessed with amazing and caring friends and family.
I am a Mommy. I am a writer. I am a public servant.
I am exhausted, but full-up. A day well spent, a day lived fully.
I am an oversharer...but the best writers are. And now, good night. I am...going to sleep very well. :-)
So apparently, sometimes what people mistake as plagiarism, can be simultaneous invention. This is a term that tries to describe what happens when two or more remote individuals come up with the same idea, and simultaneously take credit for it. It's happened in science, in mathematics, in business...and on and on. Why not in literature? Surely, it must exist. But in social media, I feel it's rampant. I think that we all more or less borrow from each other.
I've noticed here and there, that I will meditate, feel inspired and filled up with some new insight, some blessed way of seeing the world and our place in it. And so I write out that thought; this miracle (or so it feels in that tingling moment), that came through my soul to my mind. Later, I may see or hear the same thought or insight, nearly verbatim, come from another person, in a social media feed, in a podcast, whatever. And I wonder if they read my words and chose to emulate them? Or were they inspired by the same source at the same time? Were we both plugged into a universal knowledge, and we both chose to share it? And I wonder if it's ever the reverse. If someone, somewhere, has the experience that I do, and later finds their precious thoughts and/or creations come up somewhere else, and they think...how did she do that, those are my words! And would they think I was a thief?
When writing magical realism (turns out there IS a genre for my book...) and inspirational snippets, so to speak, I often wonder if those who are tuned in and spiritual, awakened...perhaps are communicating with each other. All connected, sharing the same building blocks of knowledge, on a different level.
So, I wondered today as I read about simultaneous inventions on the grand scale, if such an event happens on the literary scale. I have no answers...just the question. Just an observation.
But I am an odd one... I see the re-arrangement of something I wrote show up somewhere else, and I think, wow! Great! Because either A.) I inspired someone to put it out there again... or B.) we were inspired simultaneously, and how cool is that? How amazing is our universe of energy and spirit and joy and love that thoughts can grow in such a way in disparate beings?
Perhaps, if I were a published, public figure of some sort, I might feel more greedy about my words. I might feel more inclined to protect them. But as of now? I make no money with this. I write a blog, because it helps me on my journey, and as a side-effect, maybe someone else. I write up inspirational quotes for the same reason. I write this novel for the same reason, although I also aim to sustain myself with writing once I breakthough to the other side. So eventually? Sure, I will plan to earn some income from it. But as of now... I write because I can, because I must. And I hope I don't inadvertently reiterate someone else's genius in a way that hurts them. I only write what I see and hear inside of myself, and I create it. But if it looks familiar? Simultaneous invention may be at play...
Gray, rainy days make for great musing. I love it when my mind wanders like a roving dog, out into the lush grass of my consciousness and fetches me something different to chew on for a while.
Like Simultaneous invention.
I heard a story today. A friend was out for a walk with another friend of hers, at a public park. This is a large park, nestled between some major highways, but from within you can hardly tell. You can barely hear the cars driving past, just outside the perimeter.
They set out to walk, circling the outside of the park, a wooded trail. They made it around in about a half-hour; the weather was unseasonably beautiful and warm, and they decided to loop around again. At one point, my friend noticed that they had passed the same tree two or three times, and still hadn't found the entrance back into the park, where the car was parked. Around and around they walked. The other friend said, "don't listen to me, whatever direction I say to go , do the opposite." They tried every which way, back and forth, and still couldn't find their way off the path they were on. Finally, they saw a fence with an opening, and managed to squeeze through, arriving on one of the highways. Once there, they continued to walk, still not knowing which way they were headed.
Confusion, fatigue, and darkness set in.
Still they walked. They approached a traffic light, and my friend approached a vehicle.
"Excuse me, can you just tell me where we are?" He did, they weren't that far off course, and they eventually got there, facing more problems, like the park being closed. They found the car but the gates were locked.
Serendipitously, a park ranger, driving around with his headlights on, spotted them. He opened the gate. They both got home safely.
I couldn't help but notice, while hearing this story, that it is yet another microcosm of life. These are the moments, I feel, where we get to dig in and see how we really tick.
The next time you find yourself lost or fatigued and frustrated, whether it's on a road trip, out for a hike, or just in the daily course of this adventure we call life:
Dig deeper, take a breath, check in with yourself.
Who are you walking with?
Do you trust their judgement?
Do you trust your own?
Are you listening to yourself?
Do you know where you are going?
If you were stranded for a reason, what might it be?
Is there anything to see, learn, observe?
Whom would you ask for help: a stranger, would you pray, would you wait for a sign?
When would you stop looking?
I think we are blessed with so many moments like this, and as we dig deeper inside ourselves, as we expand and grow, we see them more and more. Tiny, everyday trials to help us search inside ourselves. And to remember, it is all a journey.
What a gift to be able to recognize those moments and grow with them. This is why I use the term "zoom out" so often. When you have a narrow focus, you can only see what's in your field of view. If you zoom out, you can see so much more that might help you see and decide what comes next.