Monday, August 23, 2010
— Guillaume Apollinaire
"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy."
The last few weeks have been a bit hectic.
My life is full and for that I am extremely grateful; there was a time, not too long ago, when that was not the case. Obsessing on all the things that might happen, caused me to play it way too safe in many areas of my life, while being reckless in others. I later understood that fear had held me captive, often disguised as perfectionism or procrastination. Thank goodness I have learned that perfection is a myth and procrastination robs me of precious time.
I spent time by the water this weekend, allowing myself the necessary luxury of being present. I was hypnotized by the ebb and flow of the waves, captivated by the way the gulls danced through the air, and savored the feeling of my feet buried in the soft, cool sand. I realized that my well being and peace of mind require regular doses of sitting in the sand, staring out over the water. There is just something about being near the water that soothes my soul.
What I have learned is that, unless I allow myself to hit the proverbial 'pause' button, I am incapable of being fully present for my life and the people in it; I run on auto-pilot. I once thought that the more I could squeeze into a day, the better. I was a big fan of the notion that 'whoever dies with the most toys, wins.'
That is no longer the case.
I have a new-found appreciation for the simpler things in life; those things that money cannot buy. Don't get me wrong, I get a little jolt of excitement from buying something new, just like everyone else...in fact, I can lose my mind (for a second) over a fabulous pair of new shoes! But I get a different kind of jolt from being fully present in my life...everything just seems to be magnified. Being fully present requires that I not be weighed down with extraneous "stuff" : outdated beliefs, negativity, resentments. All those things act as barriers that prohibit me from seeing the beauty that surrounds me and prevent me from being grateful.
Stop for a minute.
What are you grateful for?
Thursday, August 19, 2010
"It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before...to test your limits...to break through barriers.
And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to Blossom."
— Anais Nin
Years ago, I prided myself on being a tomboy, a wise a**, a tough chick. I would never let anyone see my weakness or my fears, including myself...yes, they were hidden that deep! I remember my mom once telling me I was "hard"; I didn't know what she meant then, but I certainly didn't take it as a compliment. Years later, I understood that all that bravado and mouthiness was my attempt to cover up a whole lot of fear. I had built a wall up around me for protection (from what exactly, I didn't know)...I thought it kept me safe, but what it did was kept me trapped.
The ironic thing was that even with that 5 foot thick invisible wall surrounding me, I got hurt. I trusted people I probably shouldn't have, I gave my heart to men I should have run from, I had lapses in judgement that stung...a lot. Life happens.
There are as many ways to construct a "wall" as there are people who think they need to do so. Some women won't let anyone see them without their "face" on, some people overeat to make themselves "invisible", some people can't throw away aluminum foil or magazines or newspapers or clothes that no longer fit (in case that day comes when they need _____), some people engage in compulsive behaviors (exercising, shopping or drinking too much or starving themselves or bingeing)... the list goes on.
Making the decision to take a peek over that wall is hard! Choosing to release the vise grip on our emotions is scary. Trusting that there is Someone or Something that loves us unconditionally is risky...but SO worth it. Believing that we will be taken care of (even if we don't know exactly what that looks like) can seem impossible...but it doesn't have to be.
Over the last decade I have worked hard to dismantle the wall I lived behind for most of my life...it was not always easy, but it was definitely worth the effort. Every once in awhile I need to catch my breath behind the little pile of bricks that remain, but today, I don't stay there. I no longer live my life behind that wall, and guess what? The most amazing things have happened and I experience grace.
Are you ready to take a chance? Come on...you can do it! Ease one tiny brick out of the wall...take a peek... what do you see?
Sunday, August 15, 2010
"Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be... a prudent insurance policy."
— Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
— Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
"Eat, Pray, Love" opened this weekend. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the book, it is the story of a woman's year long journey of self discovery which takes her through Italy, India, and Indonesia. Julia Roberts portrays the main character in the film. I have not seen the film yet, but the book had a profound impact on me when I read it several years ago.
I had just endured a particularly painful loss the year before and was at the point where I didn't think I could survive another tragic event and didn't much care whether or not I did. I had no words to accurately describe how beaten up I felt; it was as if I had emotionally checked out, unable to register any more pain. I was in shock, actually, but felt like I was sleepwalking, my body covered with nerve endings that were on hyper alert and overload.
I had packed a box with all the items that I couldn't bear to get rid of, for various reasons: the memories, the hint of cologne, the last effects that the hospital staff packed up for me. I put them all in a cardboard box and sealed it with packing tape. I placed the box in a closet. Just knowing it was there was comforting; it was like a security blanket...sort of.
Last year, I opened the box. I arrived at the decision to do so over the course of a few months, and one day, I got out the box cutter and sliced open the packing tape seal. Before I raised the flaps, I was transported momentarily to the day when I had placed the last item in and sealed the box; it seemed like another lifetime. I realized then that I was not the same woman...I had changed...I had survived.
I gently removed each item until the box was empty, pausing to inhale the scent that had once lingered on a few of the pieces of clothing; it was gone. All the significance that each item once held for me had moved into my heart...the items themselves were just things: sweaters, a pillow, a bathrobe. I had been holding onto them because I thought I needed them, thought they gave me strength...or something. I held onto them...just in case.
That day I could see them for what they actually were...just stuff that once belonged to someone I loved. Holding onto them would not bring him back...I needed to let them go.
Holding onto the past keeps us stuck there. Hanging onto possessions that no longer serve us leaves us unable to be open to receive the gifts of the present. Imagine walking through life with your hands clenched into fists all the time...how could you give or receive anything but the tiny amount that you clung to so tightly? Sometimes you have to release your grip and let go...and trust that there is someone/thing to catch you.
I remember a game we used to play when we were kids...I forget the name.
You stood with your back to another person and, when you were ready, let yourself fall backwards into their arms. The scariest, but also the most fun scenario was when the other person would catch you at the last minute, just before you thought you were going to hit the ground.
Still holding on to something...just in case?
Monday, August 9, 2010
Hope you all had a fantastic weekend! I finally saw "Inception"...and it deserves all the hype it's been getting! RUN, don't walk to see this movie....
OK...that's my two cent movie plug...on to the latest post!
So, I've been thinking a lot this week about taking chances and pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I started my own business this year-- a personal home and office organization service called Edited Space. Many well meaning friends cautioned me to think carefully about leaving my safe, perfectly good job (steady salary, health benefits, 2 weeks paid vacation...you get the idea) to branch out on my own...especially in this economy.
Normally, I think I am about as much of a risk taker as the next person, so this was a BIG DEAL even for me! I relied on the knowledge that I am really good at what I do as well as the faith that I would be taken care of...whatever the outcome. I also knew...in my gut...that it was time for me to take a leap of faith. I didn't have a clear picture of what this new adventure looked like, but I did know what the situation I was in did...and I didn't like it. It didn't feel good anymore; it was no longer a good fit...for me. I felt as if I was on auto-pilot and I woke up one day and knew that I couldn't live my life like that anymore.
And so I held my breath...and...I...jumped!
I'm thrilled to report that business is steady and I feel good about the work that I'm doing. I know I'm helping people and being of service, and it feels pretty amazing. I look forward to what the future holds.
My meditation teacher was in town last week and he shared something that I think is fitting here:
He discussed the nature of paradox and how sometimes what we think is normal, actually isn't.
He reminded us of the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results) and said that playing it safe is actually the more risky choice.
It reminds me of watching a dog chase his tail: he just goes round and round and doesn't actually go anywhere. Choosing to venture into the unknown is actually the wiser choice because taking chances allows us to spread our wings and prove that we can fly!
What will you choose?
Monday, August 2, 2010
"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling." (Inception)
OK....I just LOVE this quote! I found it yesterday and immediately posted it to my Facebook page. It's a great reminder that anything is possible.
Not too long ago (several years, actually), I lived my life worried about all the things that could go wrong. I over-analyzed every possible decision and in the end, talked myself out of doing a lot of things I wanted to do. All the things I was worried about never happened because I didn't risk anything.
A few years ago, my world got turned upside down...and you know what? I survived.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it was easy, because it wasn't. To paraphrase John Lennon, I got by with a LOT of help from my friends. But I learned that 'life' happens whether you're out there living your life or you're hiding in your house trying to play it safe. Stuff just happens....and we go on.
Since then, I have learned how to take chances...not reckless ones, but ones that push me out of my comfort zone. For me, that's what makes life fun...doing things that challenge me. If things don't work out, I dust myself off and get back in the game, sometimes with a few scrapes, but nothing that won't heal. I've also learned that the more I remain open, the more opportunities become available...or maybe I can see them because I'm open.
Funny how that happens...
So, open up... take a chance, make some room, and dream BIG!
Then put on your seatbelt...and hold on!