chey being

Seeing what's inside again.


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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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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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Embracing a Bad Day

I woke up yesterday morning not feeling the greatest.  I felt overwhelmed and underwhelmed with life all at the same time.  I am quite confident that anyone with a pulse has been there.  With so many projects in the works and not sure any of it is taking me anywhere, I felt stuck in the middle of a maze.  All of my passions seemed to have dwindled to a spark.  Everything felt very unimportant .  Is this it?  Does anything I’m doing mean anything?  Is this my life?  I was feeling pretty low.

Every time I think of writing about a “bad day,” I think twice and stop myself.  I don’t want to put that kind of energy out there.  I want my writing to have purpose, whether it is healing, thought-provoking, funny, or helpful in some way.  Often times, I will write when I am at my lowest of lows, but just for myself.  I get it out onto my computer and then I simply delete it.  It’s cathartic.  It gives me great comfort because I feel like I have unloaded my burden.  I  have learned the hard way that strong negative emotions are literally poison to my body.  I then feel clear-headed and can move on without all the exaggerated, heightened emotions and get back to reality…which is never that bad!

I think there is a fine line when putting myself out there.  These words we read on our glowing computer screens can often get lost in translation or completely misinterpreted.  They are without the inflection in my voice.  They are devoid of my enthusiasm or pain.  All I can do is hope I group a few of the right words in the right sequence to not only portray my thoughts but to give something.  Hope.  A smile.  A spark.  A knowing.  I want to give something other than the ramblings of my very bad day.

My life isn’t always pretty.  I’m not always pretty.  But I am too aware to get sucked in.  I will only allow myself to hang out at my pity party for so long before I must put on my big girl pants and bail.  Maybe I have to take another look at something from a different perspective.  Maybe I need to appreciate something at that moment that I have been neglecting.  Maybe I need to take action.  Maybe I need to do nothing but sit and find my peace.  Everything has purpose.  Everything has meaning.  I woke up with a self-defeating mind.  I sat around and did nothing.  I had no motivation and I felt really guilty about it.

Then I just embraced it.  I found my peace with all the things I didn’t want to feel and felt bad about feeling.  And when I did that…I actually felt better.

Oh, and today was a better day!  Have a fabulous weekend all!

 

 


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Being selfish gets a bad rap.

Are you selfish or selfless?

When I decided to divorce, I was called selfish more times than I can count.  Others thought I was putting myself first before my husband and children.  In fact, I was, but I did it just as much for myself as I did it for my children.  I was selfish and sadly, it took a long time to get to that point and be OK with it.  I did not want my children to grow up with my marriage as an example.  I could not be a present and happy mother in that marriage.  I had to love myself enough to know that I deserved a better life.

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So what’s so wrong with being selfish?  Would people have preferred that I lived a life of misery?  People would say that I didn’t try hard enough but how do they know how hard I tried?  I imagine it’s like trying to tell someone to choose not to be homosexual.  It’s not a choice, it just is and either one suffers in non-acceptance or they flourish in their truth.  I had to live my truth because living a lie was nothing more than a slow, painful death sentence.  To accept such a sentence is completely selfless because one is NOT at all thinking of themselves.  Feelings of shame, unworthiness, or thinking we are undeserving can rule our life and make us believe that we must accept our “punishment” or fate.

Everyone knows someone who is always helping others.  They are called selfless people all the time, but have you ever sat down and talked with one of these people?  Often, they are exhausted, unhappy and unfilled.  How can that be?  I believe many times, these people feel an obligation, a duty to always help others.  Coming from this place does not make the work fulfilling, it’s quite the opposite.  Ever notice they literally refuse to take time for themselves?  I feel it’s some sort of self-punishment.  Now recall the helpful person who feels extreme enjoyment from helping others.  That, to me, is selfish…and good.  They are doing what fulfills them, which is helping others.  And honestly, those they are helping can tell the difference.

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When I think of the person I love (such as a spouse or boy/girlfriend), I think, why do I love them?  I love them because they make me happy and fulfill me in some way (We have children because they fulfill a need to have one!). That is selfish, right?  Of course, I give to the other for giving to me, but I have served myself first.  I then continue to be selfish because making the other person happy makes me happy.  I am giving out of a true place in my heart, not out of obligation.

We have all had our heart broken.  Remember thinking the other person was cruel and selfish?  In fact, we were the one’s being cruel in not allowing the other to be selfish.  We wanted that person to stay even though it did not make them happy.  Is it not cruel to wish unhappiness on a person we supposedly “love?”  If we served the greater good in our true self we would want the one’s we love to live their own life, whether we agree with it or not.  I have been on both sides of this scenario and I can say that I have never felt love from someone who was desperate to keep me at the expense of us both.

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Many years ago when I had my affair, I believe that was my most selfless moment.  I was not putting me or any one first.  I was hurting myself and therefore, hurting my family.  If I had thought higher of myself, had more confidence, but most importantly, had been a more aware human being, I would not have let my ego rule my life.  I fed my ego that wanted to feel needed, smart, and beautiful.   I allowed it to hurt me beyond anything I could have ever imagined.  If I had had love for my true self, I would not have went on a journey that led me to wanting to end my life.

images1For me, being selfish is putting myself first so that I can be the best I can be to others.  How can I be a present and loving mother if I never take time for what is important to me?   Being fulfilled in my own life, that is doing what makes me happy, also creates a higher self-awareness, makes me a better wife, more helpful to others, and more pleasant to be around.  It is why I sit here and write.  I want to help others because it fulfills my soul.

 


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How are you going to go out?

The Secret Of Life.

This short little video above is about life, but instead, it really made me think about death.  As a young child I had an abnormal fear of death.  I remember several occasions when I was very young, laying awake at night in a layer of sweat worrying about dying.  These episodes subsided as I grew up because like most people, I became quite adapt at shutting out topics I didn’t want to think about.

As the years have past, I am not sure if I have done well avoiding the topic or if it is simply something most of us think about but rarely talk about.  Each decade of my life that passes, I seem to think about it more.  It’s there looming of course, and becoming ever more a clearer reality.

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OK, I really am not wanting to write some depressing post…no, seriously!  In fact, this post is about letting go of the fear of death and the fear of LIFE.  In the video, there is a line, “The fear of death is completely obsurd because if you’re dead you got nothing to worry about, so you’ll be alright.”  It sounds stupid simple but it makes a good point.  When I really stop and think about it, I am more afraid of being in pain and/or suffering than not existing on this planet.  The whole non-existing thing well, depending on your beliefs, it just might be the most amazing thing ever.

I am grateful that I no longer have mini panic attacks over dying.  Maybe it comes with maturity, maybe it comes with being less fearful in life, or maybe it just comes when you’re plain worn out from life.  I am grateful for the fact that the older I get, the more I let go of fear, the more I want to do whatever the hell I want to do!  Amen to Bucket Lists!  I wish to God that I would have felt this way 20 years ago, but…no regrets.  Perhaps, this is exactly what I came here to experience.  Whatever the reason for my transformation, I now fear not living more than I fear death.
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What is important is only this very moment.  What are you going to do with this very moment?  Life isn’t about the drama, the temporary problems, or even that traffic jam that we overreact to (You know who you are!!).  Life is about that feeling you get when your child gives you the biggest hug for no reason, it’s about walking barefoot in the grass, it’s about making someone’s day, and it’s about whatever makes you STOP and feelhearsmell…or taste.

It’s so easy to romanticize, but it really does come down to a choice.  Your choice.  It’s not about “If that didn’t,” or “When that happens.”  It’s about right now, changing your focus, changing your perspective and letting go of the security blanket that is really having the opposite effect.  Sure, we all get down, make excuses ad nauseum, have bad days, or have bad things happen, but the difference is how long we stay in that bad place.  It’s like my writing right now, the longer I am “too busy” to write, the harder it is to get back to what I love.

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Now, how are you going to go out?