The Garden Gate

The Secret Garden by Emla, Deviant Art
The Secret Garden by Emla, Deviant Art

“The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind.” Rumi

When it comes to motivation and following my purpose I have found that the biggest obstacle in my path had nearly always been Me.  Myself.  You’d think I’d be my best supporter, greatest cheerleader, biggest fan, but no.  I have been my loudest naysayer, setting up traps and making sure I trip, fall, or avoid the path completely.  What is up with Me?  Don’t I know that I will be the biggest benefactor if my dreams come true?  Sheesh, Self.  What is your problem?

Then, a few months back I saw Steven Pressfield on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah.  He was talking about his book The War Of Art and how resistance and self loathing are actually good things.

Wait… what?

“The dream arises in our psyche (even if we deny it, even if we fail to or refuse to recognize it) like a tree ascending into the sunshine. Simultaneously the dream’s shadow appears—i.e., Resistance—just as a physical tree casts a physical shadow.

That’s a law of nature.

Where there is a Dream, there is Resistance.

Thus: where we encounter Resistance, somewhere nearby is a Dream.” Steven Pressfield (very cool article.  You can read the rest of it here)

To consider that Resistance is actually a law of nature, like gravity, or attraction, was hugely liberating for me.  Suddenly I could see clearly all of the ways that Resistance insinuated itself into my life.  It was the same old song, ever time.

The Rise and Fall of the Beautiful Dream

Sudden inspiration leads to HUGE excitement, plan making, visions of euphoria.  That would typically last for a day, maybe two.  I would even get busy making lists and drawing up plans and telling my American Husband all about it.  “I have this amazing THING I am going to do!!” and he would get excited too.

But then.

This will never work.  How can I possibly find anyone to help with this?  And how can I afford it?  Besides, who would listen to me about anything?  I am a nobody.  What do I have to offer the world?  Who am I to set myself up as teacher/leader/guide in anything?

But hey, I’ve dealt with the nagging voice of my own self doubt for my whole incarnation, so I know how to muscle through.  So the next step is to soldier on despite the doubts.  Let’s say, for instance, the Dream is that I will write a book, perhaps about Past Lives for instance. Hypothetically speaking of course.

I decide I will sit down and write, despite the cacophony of self loathing that is singing in my head.  Here’s what happens next.

I sit down to write.  But wait, I have to pee.  So I get up to pee and on my way back I remember that I should take something out of the freezer for supper, so I grab a package of chicken and set it to thaw on the counter.  Hey, maybe I’ll make that yummy lemon chicken we had at Mom’s last month.  I better call her for the recipe.  Beep beep beep, dialing, “Hello Mom, how are you?…”  Twenty minutes later with recipe in hand I realize that we need a few ingredients, so I suit up and head over to the grocery store.  By the time I get back I see that it is lunchtime, so I make some soup, and while I am eating I figure I might as well catch up on my Downton Abbey viewing, so on goes the Netflix.  Part way through my 3rd episode I look down at the laptop, just sitting there on the table, mocking me.  I reach over and close it, trying to ignore the niggling guilt.  I can’t write now, I don’t have time, I justify to myself.  Finishing the episode I jump up and start prepping supper.  So I didn’t write today?  So what.  Nothing will ever come of it anyways.

Debbie Downer get out of my head.

When I watched Steven Pressfield talk about Resistance and describing it as a real, tangible thing, I had a great big Oprah A-HA moment.  If Resistance was a thing, then I could find away around it.  But how?

First I tried to identify how Resistance wages war on me.  I came up with the Big 3.  They are, in no particular order:

1.  Procrastination.  This weapon of mass destruction has lobbed it’s poison at me more than any other.  I will do it tomorrow, after this, once that happens, soon…. Putting my Beautiful Dream off forever into the unreachable future more times than I can count.

2.  Getting busy.  I am an expert at over-scheduling myself.  I fill my days and nights with so many tasks that I just never seem to have time to follow my Beautiful Dream. “Beware the barrenness of the busy life”, says Socrates.  I hear you, Bro.

3.  Self Loathing.  That inner bitch just keeps letting me know I am never going to be good enough, smart enough or gosh darn it, likeable enough. She has been trying to come between me and my Beautiful Dream my whole life.

To set up a viable defense against these three weapons of Resistance, I had to plan my counter-attack.  My line of defense is pretty simple, actually, and so far has worked miracles for me.

I began by making a concerted effort to recognize Resistance as it crept up in its many forms.  Once recognized I would say, “I see you, Resistance!” and then I would imagine that Resistance took the form of a giant bubble, blocking me from my Big Dream.  Huge and unwieldy I would see it there, as a tangible “thing”.  And then I would huff, and I would puff and I would blow it away.

Easy as pie.  Bubbles have no defense against a good gust of air.

This simple tool has not ended the war with Resistance.  With each new day comes new weapons and tools aimed at stopping me from moving toward my Beautiful Dream, and each day I must be aware, fortify myself and blow those bubbles away.  At times I forget and end up stalling.  Sometimes I stall for months at a time, but eventually I remember.

Resistance I am done.   It’s not me, it’s you.  The beauty of my Dream is calling and I intend to heed her siren song.

bubble

“Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”   Steven Pressfield

Come, Come Whoever You Are

images7ZELHDON

Come, come, whoever you are.

Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.

It doesn’t matter.

Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.

Rumi

A few days ago my beautiful friend Erin, posted this blog on acceptance and non-judgment.  She embodies this.  Go find her words of wisdom at clumsygrace.com  The world is truly a better place because she is in it.

A New Page

001Xry3bzy6NlxqBZQcb0&690

“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” Rumi

Remember when you were a little kid, how you would get so excited about Christmas?  For weeks you would dream about that glorious day.  You imagined the lights and the presents and the food and SANTA and every other glorious thing about that day and the flutter of excitement in your belly would grow and grow until you just didn’t think you could stand it anymore.

Well nowadays I don’t feel that level of excitement for Christmas.  It’s a wonderful day and I really love the family time and all of the other stuff mentioned above, but that flicker of excitement just isn’t there anymore… for Christmas.

Nowadays I get that excitement and anticipation about New Years Day.  Now please don’t imagine that I am one to get all dressed up and head out to a fancy party on New Years Eve, dance and drink champagne etc., like the ending of When Harry Met Sally.  As a matter of fact I don’t remember the last time we went out to a party for New Years.  Last year we managed to hit pause on A Christmas Story in time to do the countdown, had a sip of champagne and a kiss, then went back to the movie. This year is bound to be very much the same story.

No, it’s not the New Years Eve thing that gets me all atwitter.  It is simply the New-ness of it all.  It is that fresh page, fresh start, NEW chance that I love.  For weeks I think about what will be my New Years intentions, and I ponder what I have been grateful for in the previous year.  On New Years Day, a new chapter starts.  Heck sometimes a whole new book begins and the possibilities are endless.  The best part is that I have finally realized that I get to write the stories in that fresh and shiny new book.  It’s like getting the keys to the magic kingdom!

Is it any wonder why I get so excited?

This year I have decided that one of the best ways that I can live in this new and shiny year is to try to treat each day as if it is the first day, all clean and sparkling with new possibilities.  2015, let the magic begin!

Knock, Knock, Knocking

heaven door

“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.” Rumi

Life is all about change.  In our day to day world it is easy to forget that fact.  We go about our days thinking the same thoughts, doing the same things, slight variations of a constant stream of sameness.  It brings comfort and lulls us into a false sense of security.  We nestle into our routines and create a nice, comfortable illusion for ourselves.

But then something happens and that illusion is shattered.

Which brings us to last week.  Message received from Mom:  Dad is in the hospital with multiple pulmonary embolisms (emboli?) and while she ensures that everything is fine, I decide to hop a flight anyways, to see for myself. What, me worry?

*SPOILER ALERT*

He is fine.  I am happy to report that through the magic of blood thinners and after a week in the hospital they sprang him and he is back to his former self, only better because now he can breathe.  Which is important.

But for a while there he was knock knock knocking on heaven’s door. He actually came close enough to the other side that he had a peek at it.  As he was laying in the hospital his first day in, he had a couple of visitors show up.  His parents.  They stood there in his room, smiling, dressed in their best going to town clothes and looking to be in their early thirties, which is cool because they’ve been dead for quite a long time.  Dad reported later that he had the thought that he must be passing over and that they had come to meet him.  He claimed to have no fear at all, just a sense of comforting recognition. And then Mom walked into the room and they disappeared.

Exit not taken, for which I am sincerely grateful. Back off Grandma and Grandpa… we are keeping him here.

Dad’s experience reminded me of a book I had read not long ago by David Kessler, called Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms.  David Kessler is a hospice expert and through many years of working with the dying came to realize that a very large portion of those in their end days had similar experiences.  Upon further inquiry with other healthcare professionals, David managed to compile accounts of the phenomena that people seem to experience at the end of their lives.  While each experience is unique to the individual there seem to be three distinct themes.

The first is Visions.  Many people in their final hours or days will have visions of another place or of deceased friends or relatives popping in for a visit.  The visions while unique to each person all seem to have one thing in common. They are comforting, bringing a peaceful exit that seems devoid of fear.  Having that peek across to the other side and seeing the beauty and love that awaits takes the fear out of death for both the dying and the bereaved who are left behind.

The second phenomena is that the dying, in their final days, will often make reference to taking a trip.  They will talk about waiting for a bus or train or ship.  They will sense the need to prepare, get packed and ready to leave.  The metaphor of dying as a journey to another place is made manifest in these visions that many of the dying share.

The third shared experience common among the dying is the sense that the room becomes crowded.  Many of those at the end of their lives will talk about the crowds of people standing about.  When asked to identify the people in the crowd it seems that they are the deceased friends and relatives of the person getting ready to pass over.  Must be one heck of a party when the dying person finally joins all of them.

The medical and scientific communities have long sought to ignore these events, chalking them up to oxygen deprivation or hallucinations brought on my drugs or a dying mind, but there is a growing movement of researchers determined to bring these experiences into the light.  Latest studies put the frequency of visions and phenomena upwards of 90%.  That seems a mighty big coincidence, don’t you think?

It is comforting to realize that there is nothing to fear in dying. If anything these experiences make me understand that death is a sacred  part of life.  Taking fear out of death and dying helps to take the fear out of life and living.  At death the veil lifts and the dying see that they are surrounded by crowds of loving beings.  It makes me wonder.  Have they been there all along, walking with us through life, whispering , laughing, cajoling and comforting?  I think so.  Yes.

At Steven Jobs’ funeral his sister eulogized him.  She talked about his final words as he passed from life to death.  His words really do say it all:

“Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”

Ecstatic Motion

findingbliss

“Stop acting so small.  You are the Universe in ecstatic motion.”  Rumi

Confession of a Theatre Geek:

I listen to Broadway soundtracks while cleaning my house.  I blast them loud and proud, and Yep, I sing along, sometimes pausing in my scrubbing to act out certain parts.  It’s who I am.  It’s what I do.

My daughter, Em has known this about me her whole life, and for the most part is not too terribly embarrassed.  As a matter of fact, she quite often sings along.  The only difference is, she is actually good at it.

I have always believed that every person born into this world has a unique gift or talent, something they are the very best at, that they born to do.  Our purpose in life is to discover what that is and to share it with the world.  For some of us, myself included, it is a lifelong process.  We dabble, and explore, trying this and that until we find something that rings our bell.  For others, like my Em, they figure it out before they even know they have anything to figure out.

The year was 2000, a new century was upon us and without any of the Y2K drama we had been warned about.  Em was 3 years old, sitting in the living room playing with her pretty ponies.  I was in the kitchen, scrubbing something or other, belting along with the Phantom of the Opera, lost in the swells and passions of the music.  It was coming to the end of the song, and I stopped singing because even in my wildest dreams there is NO WAY IN GOD’S GREEN EARTH that I would attempt to hit that last high note that Christine hits.  You know the one I mean… where the Phantom is mesmerizing her to “sing my angel of music, SING FOR ME”.  And, man does she sing!

(I googled it.  The note is a high E natural.  For anyone out there with any singing experience, you know this is a super high nearly Minnie Riperton high note.)

So picture it.  I have stopped scrubbing and am standing listening.  The highest of the high note is about to be sung.  I wonder, fleetingly, if I should turn down the volume so that the wine glasses don’t shatter, when I hear this voice sing out, on perfect pitch just seconds before Sarah Brightman:  a perfect high E natural.

What the…?

I look around the corner, and there is Em, singing to her pretty ponies, effortlessly hitting that high frigging E.  3 years old and she nailed it.

So that is when I figured out that she has a Voice.  She is 17 now and singing is her passion, her purpose and her gift to the world.  She is still undecided about pursuing it as a career path, but there is no denying that her Voice is her Dharma.   What is it like, I wonder, to find your passion that early in life?  She seems pretty darn happy about it to me.  Lucky kid.

Here is a sample of her song stylings now, featuring mismatched socks and impromptu sing-a-long by our dog, Jojo.

Emily

Em Sings

My own journey has not been as simple, or as clear cut.  I have tried my hand at many creative pursuits over the years, from painting, to quilting, costuming to acting, and with each new venture I find a different part of myself.  With each new discovery I am putting the pieces of me together.  And now, as I write everyday, I lose myself in the creative process.  This thing, this writing, is as close as I have come to my soul’s purpose here this time around.  I believe I will see where this road leads.  Isn’t it true that to become more like God, a person needs to create?  For what is God but The Creator.

I am the open vessel through which my Divine Creation flows.