chey being

Seeing what's inside again.


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The Meaning of Relationships

As I embark on this next journey in my life, I can’t help but think about what it means, or what it should mean to be in a relationship. Marriage isn’t two souls becoming one. We are already one with everyone (That is my spiritual belief anyway). It isn’t about owning someone as in, I am yours and you are mine. It’s about experiencing yourself through another human. Whether it’s in a marriage, or between lovers, friends, family or even enemies, we are choosing them for a specific experience within ourselves. We should look at all our relationships and ask ourselves, “Is this who I want to be?”

Can you say, “I love who I am when I am with you?”

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Pitfalls of the Seeker

I am currently reading Deepak Chopra’s, “The Book of Secrets.”  This excerpt stuck out to me today:

Pitfalls of the Seeker:
1. Knowing where you are going.
2. Struggling to get there.
3. Using someone else’s map.
4. Working to improve yourself.
5. Setting a time table.
6. Waiting for a miracle.

This is exactly where I have been lately, in a state of letting go, aka surrendering.  Which is probably why this resonated with me so much, but I just didn’t realize how important it was.  I did not even realize the shift that has occurred within me until I read these words.  I have read many “spiritual” books and have never heard this message put quite like this before.  So, I am feeling the need to break it down; here we go…

1.  Knowing where you are going.

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First reaction, I laughed.  Well…check mark for me because I have no clue where I am going!  Second, Holy Shit! I’m OK with that!  Usually, I am the one with the plan.  I always know where I am going and what I am doing.  And if I don’t, I am really stressed out and will find any ole distraction to fill in the space until I feel empty inside again and start the whole vicious cycle over.  I was in shock at the realization that I have been allowing myself to simply be…guided.  Ahhh…what a relief it has been.

2.  Struggling to get there.

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My whole life I have had a deep seeded knowing that life is not meant to be a struggle.  Hard work sometimes, yes, but not a struggle.  Any time someone has told me, “Oh, that would be too hard,” or “That never happens,” I have felt the lie in those words.  It will be whatever I believe it to be.  We have the power to make things happen.  We have the incredible imagination to bring things to life.  We must allow the space for that to happen and most importantly, not be handcuffed to the outcome for it may not be exactly as we had expected, but it will be what we need.  It will be for the greater good of ourselves and others.  And in that is the lesson.  The lesson we need to move forward and grow.  If you believe life is a struggle, than that will be your life.

3. Using someone else’s map.

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This means a few things to me.  A.) We don’t even try because someone else failed or told us not to do something because they knew a guy who knew a guy, who said it was really hard.  Yes…this happens all the time but they never fail to tell us that they really don’t know these people or if it is even true! It’s just a belief they picked up somewhere and have so graciously passed it on to you.  B.)  We do what out parents think we should do.  They not-so-gently persuade us into a life they think is best for us or a life they wish they had created themselves but didn’t.  Thankful my parents didn’t care much for what I did do, but they sure had a whole basket full of ideas about what I couldn’t do.

4. Working to improve yourself.

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This one seems more a play on words to me.  We are always trying to become a better version of ourselves, are we not?  I think the meaning here is that we must first accept ourselves as we are, in all our imperfections and we must continually do so.  Each time we fail or stumble, we must accept ourselves and not judge the experience.  I read somewhere recently that if you want to lose weight, you must first accept and love yourself where you are, not wait to love yourself when you achieve your goal weight.  This is what this means to me.  To be honest, I am not really where I want to be.  I hope to achieve so much more, but I am happy where I am right now and I am excited for the future.  That is a big step for me, for I am usually fearful of the future because it is unknown (I have recently learned the insanity in being afraid of an outcome that hasn’t even happened!).

5. Setting a time table.

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Who needs that kind of pressure?  No thank you very much!  Maybe this makes me happy because it makes me feel off the hook as I progress into my forties and think on occasion, “What the hell have I done with my life?”  But really, I think it just reiterates all of the above, that we must let go of outcomes.  I think it is good to have goals and dreams, but I think it is then also good to release them.  Maybe there is even something greater than we could ever imagine in store for us and I don’t want to miss out on that!

6. Waiting for a miracle.

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To me this means, ignoring what is already in front of you.  There are miracles all around but we miss them.  We discount them.  We belittle them.  And then we say we never receive them or that we are unlucky.  Miracles come in all shapes and sizes and this something I am learning every day.  I simple reminder will pop in my head just when I need it, and I will recognize and give thanks for it.  I somehow avoid a major car accident and I give thanks for it.  These are miracles.  This is something, someone watching out for me.  I’m not waiting but I will tell you, I am expecting because I believe, I listen, and I watch more and more every day.

So what does this list mean to me?  Surrender.  How am I surrendering at this very moment?  Well, normally I would re-read a post about 20 times before publishing.  Worrying about type-o’s, writing something stupid, and maybe even offending someone. Maybe even censoring myself in a way.  Well, I am not doing that today…me the perfectionist…is being not-so-perfect and I am really perfectly happy with that.

 


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Silence

I love being under water.  The weightlessness.  All sounds fade away.  My entire body is being touched all at once by the softness of the water.  It’s such a strange feeling because when you are fully submerged, you don’t feel wet.  It’s just comfort, like a warm cozy blanket.  The few seconds of time that I am able to hold my breath are magnified because I feel completely present, completely at peace.  All problems or cares cease to exist.  Even though I may fear what is in the water or that I may step on something unknown, the feeling of being within the water is enough for me to take my chances.  It is one of my favorite experiences.

This place reminds me of my childhood and the creek and lake that are in my old neighborhood.  I spent so many summers swimming in that lake.  I’ll never forget that I always had to keep moving or the fish would bite if I stood still for too long.  My mother called me a fish because I would stay underwater for what seemed like an impossible amount of time for my little lungs.  Like a ribbon in the wind, I would glide through the water just above the sand for as long as I could stand it.  This was my escape from all my fears, an escape into what felt like a dream world.  I could allow all my thoughts to come out in the silence.  No one could see me there under the greenish-brown water.

I remember traversing the creeks on the other side of the subdivision.  I always felt like it was undiscovered country.  I would fearlessly walk through the creeks to explore the other side.  It was so exciting and dangerous, or at least it felt like it at the time. When my mother and I hike in the mountains out West, I still feel that playfulness I had as a child.  The two of us encourage one another to overcome our fears and head into the unknown.  Decades later, it makes me happy to still carry those feelings and even more so when I let them out to play.

These were my thoughts as I walked along the wooden pathway.  The water here is frozen and covered in hard, crunchy snow, yet something made me think of summer and what it’s like to play in the water.  Everything is very still.  Unmoving.  Quiet.  And eerie in a way.  The dark tunnel only amplifies the eeriness.  It is a far cry from the splashes and squeals of summertime.  My footsteps on the cold bridge now sound off their echo.  The noise within the hollowness is a bit of a comfort now.  It’s funny how silence can be scary at times.  Like there is nothing to ground us, nothing to make us know that we exist.  Or maybe it is the fear of our mind being left to its own devices.  If there is no noise, no distractions, we may hear something we do not want to hear.  We may have to listen.  Listen to what we already know but thus far have been successful at tuning it out.

Yes, that is what I am feeling.  That is why this quietness frightens me.  I don’t want to be by myself.  I don’t want to listen with a clear head.  It will require action.  It will mean that I know and I can’t take that back.  My steps begin to slow down.  I do not want to come out into the open.  What was once spooky and dark has now become a safe haven.  I am hidden here.  It is like being under the water and no one can see me.  I stop.  It feels like a stand-off now.  Something out of the Wild West!  How did I come to this?  I was just thinking of happy childhood memories and now I am frozen in place.  I know I am only facing myself.  I know it is a more peaceful self.  A happier self.  Yet it is truly frightening.

I begin to pace now from side to side.  It is colder here in the shade and I feel the need to move.  There is an anxiety building in my chest and I am finding it hard to breathe.  I start to talk to myself.  I tell my self to calm down, that everything is OK.  I force myself to take some deep breaths.  Just then, as if whispered in my ear, I hear that I am safe.  I am safe.  These words come to me as a knowing.  I already know that.  I laugh a bit and smile.  Of course, I am always safe for it’s just me.  My soul, my guiding light that only ever wants what is best for me.  The one that wants me to stop and listen more often.  The one that tirelessly tries to show me and lead me towards my highest good.  The wave of fear has left me now.

I take a deep breath and walk into the light.  I will stand there and I will listen in the silence.

 

Photo courtesy of D. Campbell.


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A Season

She looks so cold.  The gray blue sky behind the squiggles of branches reminds me of something out of a horror movie.  Cold pale skin and blue veins.  Her arms reach out, extending her fingers, grasping for something.  Reaching.  Maybe it’s my mood that has turned this symbol of nature into a forlorn creature.  Maybe it’s the lack of sunshine, the long gray days of winter, and the temperatures so cold that every breath is made visible.  Maybe it is getting to us both.

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Even though she looks as if there is nothing left but a crooked body of wood and sticks, there is still life inside her.  She has had to retreat deep, deep within to protect herself from the biting and frigid winter.  I wonder if she is restful during this time, like a long winter’s sleep.  I imagine it would be peaceful to simply be still for so long, to simply observe.  I wonder if she is happy with the change of seasons or sad when all her hard work falls to the ground come autumn.  I believe she knows her precious leaves come back to her in the end.  Each year they nourish the ground at her feet and return infused within the new life, becoming a collection of memories.  They will always be a part of her story, for one chapter can not exist without the other.

I can envision her roots far beneath the frozen ground.  I imagine it is exhausting come spring to find the right amount of water and nourishment from the ground, always having to search deeper and deeper into the unknown.  I wonder how many obstacles have been in her path; a cement wall, another tree, or maybe a rock have all caused her to pause and redirect.  Yet she has never given up.  Her sheer size is a testament to her desire to keep on living, to keep experiencing all that surrounds her.  She knows her part.  She knows she is needed.  She knows her life and our lives are connected, but she fears we may have forgotten.  It is her only sadness.

I can find no rhyme or reason to her growth.  She appears undoubtedly erratic.  She moves from here to there.  She tries this way and that.  Maybe it breeds more life, maybe it doesn’t.  Her moves are fearless.  In this bare, uncovered state, it is easy to see her life, her choices, her successes, and her failures.  Here I can clearly see the newest of life was only birthed from the journey taken before it.  I can see her healed wounds and where she let go so the rest could live.  I can see the direction that makes her happiest, the direction in which she thrives.  I think she knows.  I think she knows as a whole, in her entirety, she is truly magnificent.

Every spring is a rebirth.  A chance to begin again.  A chance to grow and expand.  The more she dives deep into the ground, the more places her branches can reach.  There is so much she is needed for.  Every branch, every stem is waiting.  The very air around her is waiting.  They are waiting for her love and support.  But for now, it is her time.  Her time to rest after years and years of growth and survival.  I feel she is at peace.  I can feel her graceful stillness, her wisdom.  Her message from the summer’s breeze still rings hauntingly in the air.  Like a wind chime far, far away, I can almost hear the rustling of her leaves.  She wants us to grow and to make mistakes.  She wants us to thrive and to rest.  She wants us to remember to be still, to stop and listen, and to breathe.  To just breathe.

 

Photo courtesy of D. Campbell.

 


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The Invitation

A continuation from A Book Is All It Took.

I could not believe that my pithy email had been read by a real live person and that they were reaching out to me!  I called the woman back who had left the message.  She simply said that the author would like to have me on his radio show that evening and I could talk about anything I wanted.  I remember her being very kind with a great warmth in her voice.  Of course, I agreed with barely suppressed excitement.  I know when I hung up that I took a few deep breaths to allow the reality of it to register and then I skipped around the room doing a long forgotten happy dance.  I had no idea what to expect but I was so unbelievably desperate for help that this chance, this opportunity, had me jumping out of my skin with hope.  Pure hope.

It was time for a change.  Something had to change.

I remember telling James and hearing his lack of enthusiasm.  We never really agreed on spiritual or religious beliefs and I am pretty sure he thought this author was a whack job.  James was a non-practicing-but-for-holidays Jew and I was a church-soured ex-Christian.  Although his reaction was not surprising, it did hurt.  I am not sure if he was afraid that I would be led to leave him or what.  This and the proceeding events were something we were to never really discuss.  I did find out years later that he had listened to me on the radio.  He never told me that and I wish I knew why.  I have often wondered if he felt responsible for my pain and suffering and if it was easier for him to ignore it.  I wanted him to be happy for me but thankfully my own enthusiasm was enough not to care what he thought.

I wanted to make my scheduled call in private and uninterrupted, so I made up some lie to get out of the house where I could then call from my car.  I did not tell my husband at this point as I did not want him to hear anything; I needed to speak freely and openly.  I arrived at my intended destination, a parking lot, and waited.  I was so nervous that I began to think this wasn’t really going to happen, that it was all a hoax of some sort.  When I finally made the call and it was busy, my fears deepened.  This had to happen was all I could think.  After the second or third try I made it through.

The author told me that he had two guests in his studio that would be joining us.  He then asked me what was on my mind and well, I just blurted it all out without any reservations or fear.  I said that I had been having a long-term affair…It was killing me…I hated living a lie…I was having unexplainable pain…I was in constant fear of being horribly sick.  I said them as if they were two separate issues.  1.  I don’t know how to leave my lover and 2. Somebody heal me because I’m going to kill myself!  In my mind, at this point, they were two separate issues.  Even though I knew the stress of the affair was taking a toll on me, it did not occur to me to address the issue causing the stress.  I only thought to deal with the symptoms.  In fact, my health issues were all I had mentioned in my email.  I honestly had a mental block with my relationships because I did not know what to do.  I was in some sick, twisted state of limbo.  I couldn’t leave James no matter how many times I tried and I couldn’t leave my husband, so I did nothing.  As hard as it is to believe, even to myself now, neither of my options were remotely fathomable to me at this time.

The author asked the guests to respond first.  My first thoughts were that I couldn’t believe how nice and understanding they all were.  Internally, I felt like such a low-life for admitting my affair that I suppose I expected to be shamed and judged in some way, but it was quite the opposite.  They truly only had love and compassion in their voices.   After a brief back and forth, one of the guests asked me to sit quietly and go within.  What?!?  I slowly began to freak out.  I could feel my heart rate skyrocketing.  I was so wound up with expectations that there was no way I was going to have some calm, zen-like internal moment with myself.  All I could think was that this was not helping me and that my big chance of getting any help was diminishing by the second.  She asked me how I was feeling after a few moments and I told her that I wasn’t feeling anything.  I think the author sensed the sheer panic arising in my voice.  He told me that I needed to deal with these issues before I gave myself a real disease.  He said he was having a week long retreat in the next month and asked if I would like to come; he wanted to speak with me further.  All I had to do was get myself there and he would take care of the rest.

Oh…my…God!

The author told me off air that he would have someone give me a phone number to call later that evening to make the arrangements.  I could not believe my good fortune.  I had gone from panic to elation in a matter of minutes.  We hung up and I sat in my car and cried.  I wept uncontrollably because I could not believe that someone cared enough about me to offer help like that.  I didn’t feel deserving.  I was the woman who walked around with the big scarlet letter on her chest.  I deserved to be stoned at the altar.  I deserved all the sideways glances.  I deserved the venom of judgement.  But not this night.  This night I was greeted with love and compassion.  I was offered a hand to bring me out of the darkness and I was ready.  I was ready for anything.

Up next:  The Retreat

You can find my story from the beginning under the category, My Conscious Journey To Divorce.


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Attachments

On Monday I wrote a post entitled, “Letting Go.”  The focus was on letting go of destructive behavioral patterns more than attachments to physical things.  However, later that day as I was driving in my car, I was listening to the book on CD, You Are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh and none to my surprise, he began speaking about letting go.  He began with a version of this story:

Releasing the Cows

One day the Buddha was sitting in the wood with thirty or forty monks. They had an excellent lunch and they were enjoying the company of each other. There was a farmer passing by and the farmer was very unhappy. He asked the Buddha and the monks whether they had seen his cows passing by. The Buddha said they had not seen any cows passing by.

The farmer said, “Monks, I’m so unhappy. I have twelve cows and I don’t know why they all ran away. I have also a few acres of a sesame seed plantation and the insects have eaten up everything. I suffer so much I think I am going to kill myself.

The Buddha said, “My friend, we have not seen any cows passing by here. You might like to look for them in the other direction.”

So the farmer thanked him and ran away, and the Buddha turned to his monks and said, “My dear friends, you are the happiest people in the world. You don’t have any cows to lose. If you have too many cows to take care of, you will be very busy.

“That is why, in order to be happy, you have to learn the art of cow releasing (laughter). You release the cows one by one. In the beginning you thought that those cows were essential to your happiness, and you tried to get more and more cows. But now you realize that cows are not really conditions for your happiness; they constitute an obstacle for your happiness. That is why you are determined to release your cows.”

The author went on to encourage the reader to name his own “cows.”  So, I began to try and think of things, physical things, that I had great attachment to.  I found this difficult at first.  Other things came to mind such as health, because I know I tend to get very unhappy when I feel physical pain and not sure of the cause.  I thought of my children.  I did think of my car (I love my car!).  Honestly though, I could not think of too many material things.  Prior to my grandmother passing, I had strong feelings and connections to material items; I saved everything!  When she passed and none of us knew what to do with all her belongings, I realized that none of these things mattered.  It was an eye-opening experience to see someone’s life memories laid out in front of you; as harsh as it sounds, it just looks like a bunch of junk.  It truly had an effect on me and I quickly began to emotionally detach from my belongings.

Even after pondering on all these things, I felt I was missing something.  I know I have strong attachments somewhere!  I still have yet to put my finger on it.  I know I am still working on my attachment to outcomes, to orderliness, and to perfection.  Oh that evil word, perfection!  Maybe that’s it.  Maybe these are the things I need to continue to work on.

It is always a beautiful reminder that our happiness should not be dependent upon that new pair of shoes, or our partner loving us the way we deserved to be loved, or our children getting straight A’s in school.  There is always something to think about or to look at and simply be happy.  Today for the first time, I sat and ate my lunch without the TV on.  I thought about what I was eating.  I tasted what I was eating.  I was grateful for my food and it nourishing my body.  Nothing else existed but me and that food.  No worries.  No distractions.  I set my attachment to the TV, to being in a rush, and to thinking about what was next on the agenda all aside.  It was so simple, so mundane, but guess what?  It made me really happy.

So what are the names of your cows?

 


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Letting Go

As I begin a new chapter of sorts in my life, the following three words have been on my mind:

Attachments

Control

Distractions

I am slowly learning that I can have a preference for the way I would like things to happen, but I must avoid an attachment to it.  What I want and what my soul needs can often be two very different things.  This has been a tough concept for me to accept.  It takes surrendering to the universe.  It takes faith and trust.  Three things that do not come easy for me.

Why does surrendering, faith and trust not come easy for me?  It requires letting go of control. Or rather, the illusion of control because we are never really in control of anything.  Why do I want to control?  Fear.  I often live in a place of fear.  You name it and I fear it.  (Except death.  Oddly, that used to be my greatest fear and now it is my least!)  I fear disappointing people.  I fear not doing something well….anything well.  I fear not living to my potential.  I fear never becoming anything more than what I am.  I fear pain.  I fear never being at peace.  I fear never being truly loved.  I can not control any of these things so I try to find other things I can control such as, keeping my house clean.  Doesn’t that sound insane?  I am laughing at myself just thinking about it.  Honestly, who would guess that my obsession with cleanliness came from fear of life?

Another form of control is using distractions.  If I don’t know what to do with an emotion, or I am trying to write and nothing is coming out, or I simply want to run from what I know I should be doing, I will find a distraction.  Usually, it involves cleaning (again), or running errands.  Again, I find myself laughing at the ridiculousness of it all!  I will make up “To Do Lists” to distract me from the real “To Do List!”

These are things I am learning to recognize in myself.  Now the trick is that once I recognize what I am doing that I STOP doing it!

As I begin to peel back layers of myself, I am finding a lot of deep seeded issues.  Feelings and thought patterns that have been ruling my life.  I want to zip myself back up and not deal with it because I am not sure how.  There are times when I feel I do not have the tools or support to take on my own self.  But I do.  I do.  Everything I need is already inside me.  I have to learn to trust it.  I have to learn to have faith.

I also have to learn to let others help me.  This is something I have recently discovered about myself…I find it almost impossible to accept help from others!  I think this comes from four things, 1. I am often let down by others so if I don’t rely on any one, they can’t let me down, 2. I don’t have to put expectations of myself that could lead to failure, 3.  I was brought up in a family that taught me that to ask for help was placing a burden on others and we simply did not do that, 4.  I don’t feel worthy of any one’s help.  When I think about all of these together, the thick brick wall I put up makes so much sense when others offer me help!

I think the first one is the toughest for me to overcome and that goes back to not having attachments, but there is a huge part of me that wants to believe in someone.  Believe they really care and will do as they say.  I have to believe that there are people out there that are true to their word.  I desperately want to believe that but I sense that I need to let go of that desire as well.  Am I wanting these things for the wrong reason?  Am I just wanting to be taken care of?  Am I wanting an escape from what I should do myself?  Do I place too high of expectations on others?  These are questions I don’t have the answers to yet.

After writing through that, I now think number four is the toughest…I don’t feel worthy.  If I don’t think I am worthy, no one else will.  Hmm…that might be a good place to start.

I am worthy.