Crazy is the New Normal

There was a time, not long ago, when most of my life was a lie.  I cloaked myself in corporate clothes, all buttoned up and acceptable.  I spoke only of tangible, earth bound matters and if anything came up that was slightly “out there”, I would comment with just the appropriate amount of disdain in my voice.

I had perfected my persona.  I was “Normal”.

Little did the people in my world know that I had a big secret.  I was nowhere near “Normal”.  In fact, I was crazy as a spoon, living in a closet of my own making, afraid to share my true self for fear of judgment.

Beneath my mild mannered exterior raged an awakening being.  Weird stuff was happening on a regular basis and while I found it all to be intriguing and life changing, I was afraid to tell anyone else about it.  What would they think if I just blurted stuff out?

“Hi, I’m Brenda.  I see dead people.”  Or “Hello, nice to meet you.  Did you know you have 3 Angels hovering around you and one is trying to unfold your wings?”  Or how about: “You were a Egyptian slave in a past life and are still working on releasing yourself from those blocks.”  No biggie.  I’ll just share my visions then pack a bag for my trip to the loony bin.

For a few years I kept most of the weird stuff to myself, quietly learning and growing with just a few people in the loop.  My American Husband, my best friend and my daughter to be specific.  I trusted them to love me, no matter what.  And of course, they did.

I took classes, learned to develop my skills.  I flew to New York to spend a week learning about Past Life Regression with Dr. Brian Weiss and told everyone I was going on a Yoga Retreat.  Liar Liar Pants On Fire.  That was me.

I finally began to share because I felt compelled to be myself.  But, true confessions:  the first few times sneaking out of the closet, I published and shared under another name.  Funny thing is that I got such a warm, heartfelt response, I actually got jealous of fake me and decided to let real me take over.

I published my first blog a few years back.  It was an account of my first past life experience.  I remember hitting the Publish button, then having a panic attack.  My American Husband talked me down, convincing me not to delete the whole thing, and from that moment on I began to inch my way out of the Spiritual Closet.

Now that I am out, I take huge delight in helping others to own their own brand of “crazy”.  With classes, workshops, blogs and facebook, we are finding each other, and as the community grows, we are becoming braver, sharing our visions and gifts.  Now it is rare to come upon anyone who doesn’t share something magical… some experience or belief… within the first few minutes of talking.  It’s as if by being authentic and letting it all hang out, others are given permission to do the same.

Crazy is the new normal.

Who would have guessed it?  And life is so much more fun since leaving the confines of the closet.  I highly recommend it.  Freeing myself to be who I am, authentically, and trusting that sharing my truth will open more doors than it closes, has changed my life on every level.  New friends, new experiences, a vaster understanding of the magic of life, plus never having to wear uncomfortable shoes… it’s all magnificent.

So bare your soles, and your souls.  Kick off the cloak of who you think you should be and become who you are.  We are all just waiting to welcome you to the fold.

 

Ah! I See You Have the Machine that goes ‘ping’.

There is a certain sense, somewhere between terror and exhilaration, that assails me each time I drive up to my brother’s cabin in Montana.  The cabin is nestled on rolling hills overlooking a lake, with an absolutely stunning view of Chief Mountain.  Arguably the nicest view in my world and certainly in my top 3 ‘happy places’.

So why the terror?  The exhilaration?  Quite simply because there is no cell service or wifi at the cabin.  None.  Nada.  The devices we bring with us, connecting us to our network of social goings on, become nothing more than clunky timepieces for the time we are there.

It’s exhilarating!  And it’s terrifying.  And I love it all the more because of that.

What started out as a convenience, being able to keep in contact with my family, has become somewhat of an addiction.  I carry my phone with me everywhere.  Any simple or silly question I have is instantly answered as I open google and thumb type my search.  My social network rarely goes more than a few hours without me jumping in to catch up.  And what is called a ‘phone’ is very rarely used as such.

It isn’t until I am in a place where the device I have grown addicted to is useless that I understand the depth of that dependency.  And I realize, during those blissful weekends at the cabin that the stress of being in constant contact is an underlying anxiety that has become a normal part of my day to day life.

A few days ago I talked about getting back on track, and the 3 C’s that will help me with that.  One of those 3 C’s was Cut the Crap.  The device that has become glued to my hand, drawing my attention away from everything (and everyone) else, has got to go.  Don’t get me wrong… I won’t be chucking it into the river like some scene in a movie, walking away with inspiring music playing in the background as I victoriously raise my fists in the air.  No.  I need to keep the phone, if only to maintain communication with my teenager.  She speaks fluent text, and I don’t want to miss out on that.

But… I will be shutting it off.  A lot.  I realized recently that during the winter months, when the cabin is not accessible, I really miss those technology vacations.  It isn’t so much that the view at Duck Lake is spectacular (which it is).  It is that I am actually looking up and seeing something other than the dancing pixels on my iThing.  I wonder what wonders await if I try looking up in my day to day life.

Please believe me when I tell you in the next few months that I am not ignoring you, my phone is.  The important things in life are not ‘things’.  And my device is a ‘thing’ I intend to close the drawer on as often as possible.

The prospect is terrifying.

…..And exhilarating…

 

The Three C’s

One year ago yesterday I gave up. It was my birthday and I’d had it. Like pigpen’s ever expanding shroud of dust, I had so many bad habits trailing me through the years that I was ready to let go of all of it. And so I gave up. I gave up the stinking thinking that had kept me stuck. And I gave up the beliefs that I couldn’t re-create my life in such a way that would make me happy, fulfilled and living within my soul’s true purpose.

One year has passed and yesterday I took some time to contemplate where I am now, compared to where I was then. This time last year I was working at a job I truly disliked. I felt stuck and frustrated. Those feelings shaded all other parts of my existence so that I felt like life was dull and unexciting. I hadn’t shared much of my spiritual stuff with anyone, and knew that I was being asked to do more. But what? I was flummoxed. Confused. Frustrated.

So I gave up. And life has never been better.

One year later: I have left that job behind and began a soul based business offering services that felt in tune with my beliefs and gifts. My friend Erin and I started teaching soul classes on Tuesday nights at the coolest little Indie book store in the western world.  I jumped back into theatre, my first true passion, taking the leap into the Director’s chair and fulfilling a secret dream I’ve held since I was a tiny thespian. I stepped outside of my comfort zone and began reaching out to people, tentatively offering companionship, and now have a growing circle of beautiful souls I am honored to call friends.

Yes things are looking up. I am so happy with what has changed in the past year. The shadows of a half lived life are replaced by the full, technicolor glory of Living with a capital L.

And yet….

There is more to do. Like all organisms on this Earth school, even after times of huge growth and expansion, it is never okay to sit back and say: “Okay. I’m done. Now what’s on Netflix?” Resting is fine. Catching our breath is good. But wallowing, even in the successful stuff is never going to be okay. We are on a path of discovery. If we stop moving forward, we will stop discovering stuff.

Therefore, I am setting more intentions for myself for the coming year. I have 365 days until the next cake day, and I intend to LIVE LIFE. And here’s how… my three C’s for the coming year:

  1. Create.  Like the Universal All  -that-isness that created us, we are at our cores, creators. When we allow ourselves the freedom to be creative, we are truly expanding ourselves and the whole world. We make something from nothing. Our creation, whether it be a painting, a book, a sculpture, a sand castle, a song, an origami unicycle, or anything in between, offers the Universe another spark of who we are.  My creations this year will include several projects. A scarf that looks like a fox. One book finished and another started. A coloring book filled with magical mandalas. Discovered vegetarian cuisine created in my kitchen. A backyard turned into an urban farm. And so much more! As I create, it seems doors open and inspiration walks in, bringing more and more exciting ideas.

2. Cultivate Joy. I have come to understand in this spiritual quest of mine, that our one true purpose in this life is to find our joy. For years I attached a lot of conditions to feeling joy. I thought the accumulation of things (houses, cars, clothes, shoes, BOOKS) would bring joy along with them. And when I realized that wasn’t true, I thought that I could just destroy my pesky little ego and once that was done I would be living in supreme, unending joy.But here’s the thing. We are spiritual beings having a human experience, yes. But when we try to only live in that spiritual realm, we really miss out on the human stuff, which is what we are meant to experience. The duality of the human experience is that there are two sides to everything. Where there is shadow, there must be light. Where there is up there must be down. Where there is happy, there must be sad. And where there is good there has to be bad.

We attach judgment to our each experience. We feel so happy when the good stuff happens, and then so sad when the bad stuff happens. But it is in our perceiving and judgment that the “happy” and “sad” are created. What if we just allow each human experience to flow without attaching so much meaning to it?

Being thankful for the lessons, good, bad and ugly, can be challenging. But once we get the hang of it, the whole world begins to change. Our gratitude is the biggest and most important step in cultivating joy. We begin to understand that external circumstances no longer have the power to control us, and we are able to step off the rollercoaster ride of ups and downs and just bask in the perfection of the present moment.My first step in cultivating joy? Gratitude. I will endeavor to find reasons to be thankful for every moment of this life.

3.  Cut the Crap. Some days I seem to hit the snooze button all day long. Yes I get up and get moving, but really I am still half asleep. I stare at my computer for a few hours, mindlessly scrolling through posts and pictures and stories. I eat. I turn on Netflix. I drool. And then I go back to bed, having never fully awakened.Days, weeks and even months have passed with me barely being aware. Oh sure I have my moments of awareness, but lately I have been coasting along without much purpose.And so, with 365 days ahead of me in my new year, I have pledged to cut the crap and get busy living a full, awakened life. I will turn off the devices and turn on my excitement. And I will fill my moments with simple being-ness, instead of compulsively shoving mind numbing pixels into my brain cells.

Life is for living. This year I intend to step things up a notch. No more sitting on the side lines for me. I will take this ordinary life, and make it as extraordinary as I can.

Who’s with me?

It Takes a Village

RodO
RodO… photo courtesy of Jasmine Osiowy

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Henry Brooks Adams

As originally published in e-Know:

Mount Baker Wild Theatre’s spring musical production of the Drowsy Chaperone played May 7th at the Keys City Theatre. For those who have enjoyed the amazing Baker productions for the past many years, they will know this play marked the close of an era. The youngest group of students who had the privilege of working with the late, great Rod Osiowy are getting ready to graduate.

Rod was a special teacher. He believed in expanding and opening the high school’s theatre productions to include the whole community. It was not uncommon to see the chorus or main characters being played by local business people, clergy, and other pillars of society. And Rod encouraged children from the local elementary and middle schools to join the casts. Rod called it stocking the farm team. He knew that the love of theatre, when instilled at a young age, would carry through into the teen years. By the time the children who began performing as young as 5 years old got to high school, they would be seasoned performers, ready for whatever challenge Rod might throw their way.

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RodO and Evan… Photo courtesy of Jasmine Osiowy

Grease, Beauty and the Beast, Jesus Christ Superstar, Anything Goes, Seussical and Les Miserables, just to name a few, Rod Osiowy along with his partner in crime, Musical Director Evan Bueckert managed to create theatrical experiences far exceeding the expectation for a high school production. But more than that, Rod taught each person who worked with him the importance of being a part of the team.

It was a grand tradition. Opening night of each show Rod gave the Village speech. It went something like this:

A high school production is like a village. All sorts of people are part of the village. You have the Mayor and Council members, who look after the townsfolk and make sure that things are fair for everyone. There are the law makers and the ones who enforce them. There are trades people and artisans, builders and business people. All of the townsfolk are vital, important and have their own unique purpose. And of course you have the lovable village idiot (and Rod would point to himself, causing great gales of laughter). The thing about a village is that every person is important and nobody matters more or less than anyone else. We work together for the success of the village and we remember that the energy we bring will affect everyone. Attitudes are contagious, so make sure yours is worth catching.

Important life lessons from Rod Osiowy.

Tessa Charlton who played Mrs. Tottendale in the Drowsy Chaperone recalls: “Rod had a way of making everyone feel special. I loved to be the center of attention but Rod helped facilitate that diva in me in a productive way. Towards the end of one of the rehearsals we had for Beauty and the Beast, Rod approached me and complimented my eye for the number we had just been working on and asked if I’d address the cast with my opinion on what we needed to work on. I felt like the most special kid in the world, even If I was just an 11 year old kid playing a dancing tea cup.”

And Eve Sperling remembers: “He always knew how to make us laugh and he was so easygoing but just strict enough to keep all us hooligan kids under control. He always had a smile on his face and a joke ready, and he remembered everyone’s names, even if they were a small chorus part that to anyone else would be ‘insignificant’.”

The Village metaphor is kept alive and well by the young people who worked with Rod, carrying on a legacy of inclusion and mentorship. Tyrel Hawke, who graduated several years ago, has returned to the area to work as an RN at the Cranbrook & District Hospital. Hawke volunteered as the vocal coach and pianist for the production.

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Tyrel Hawke… photo by Julian Bueckert

“Quite often I’m asked why I volunteer my time for this program, and my answer is pretty simple. During the awkward point of my life I call high school, Rod and Evan took hundreds of hours out of their lives to spend with kids like myself and help us create something amazing. This led to confidence and purpose for me during high school and careers and opportunities ever since. Rod had a way of making each one of us feel special and that we can always try harder to achieve something great. I am forever indebted to Rod, Evan, and the Baker arts program. I’m still stopped occasionally by people saying, ‘aren’t you that Jean Valjean boy?’ ten years after we did Les Mis. I do these shows for the spirit of Rod, my younger self, and these kids that have a lot more drive and dedication than many adults I know.”

Bethany Turcon is the new Drama Teacher at Mount Baker and was the Director of the Drowsy Chaperone. This was Turcon’s first experience as a director and she managed to create a production worthy of all that have come before. Along with Evan Bueckert and Stephanie Tichauer, and a host of other fine and dedicated designers, musicians, technicians and volunteers, Ms. Turcon created another Village, one that lived up to the legacy created by Rod Osiowy.

Everyone should have a teacher as great as Rod Osiowy. Thankfully his legacy lives on in the fine work and dedication of the students and colleagues who carry on in the village he created.

Enjoying the Contrast?

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Your Halo-Scopes for the Week of May 3 – 9, 2015 as originally posted on e-Know

At the Heart of this week’s reading:

3 of Michael

There is a saying that time wounds all heals… er… I mean time heals all wounds. This week we are guided to release judgment about the past and let go of any resentments or bitterness we may be holding onto. Remember that we are all human and we all make mistakes. What’s done is done and it is time to stop berating people (ourselves included) for events gone by. Let bygones be bygone. We are learning life’s important lessons and when we know better we do better.

Helping us is:

4 of Michael

Forgive me for what I said when I was hungry and tired. When life is busy and small stresses show up it is so much easier to handle them when we have had enough to eat and are rested. Taking care of ourselves is going to be essential during this emotional week. Old hurts show up to taunt us and we need to fortify ourselves so that our buttons can’t be pushed. It is so much easier not to sweat the small stuff when we’ve had a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast. Bonus points for taking the time to meditate. (And keep in mind: it’s all small stuff).

And our Challenger comes to us as:

6 of Gabriel:

We are doing the best that we can. During challenging times we can tend to beat ourselves up. Take a moment to remember that we are really 50 shades of awesome and that a few little hiccups should have no power over us. We must be kind and gentle with ourselves and with others, celebrate all of the steps we’ve taken and lessons we’ve learned, and be happy for all of the crazy ups and downs in life. Contrast is part of this earth school and learning to enjoy the contrast is just another lesson we are here to learn.

This week’s Halo-Scopes were inspired by the Archangel Power Tarot Deck by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine.

PLEASE come on over to my Facebook Page and give me a Like… I’d LOVE to have you join me.

5 Great Reasons to Smile

Em 'n' Me
Em ‘n’ Me

I used to have this pet peeve. It drove me a bit nuts, actually. I’d be walking along, not really thinking about anything good or bad. I assumed my face was set to neutral, when some well-meaning passerby would tell me to “Smile!” For a very long time, if that happened I would allow it to ruin my whole day. Mostly because as soon as they would command it of me, I would find myself smiling at them like some sort of trained monkey.

And then I would walk away, scowling. Don’t tell me to smile. I’ll smile when I want to smile, not when you tell me to smile.

And then I would get paranoid. Was I scowling? Did I look so wretched that a perfect stranger was compelled to tell me to change what I thought was a pleasantly neutral expression into a more socially acceptable one?

And then I would get righteous. Why should I change my expression for your amusement? I was not put on this earth to please you!!!

And then, finally, I would just get frustrated with myself for spending so much time and energy chasing around an insignificant and unimportant pet peeve.

Times have changed and I don`t let little things like that push my buttons nearly as often as they used to. Of course I am not opposed to smiling, but until recently I have not put much effort into smiling more than I`ve felt moved to.

But then I did some research. Thanks Google!

Did you know that smiling, whether you mean it or not, is an important part of maintaining good health?   Even when you fake it, the physiological benefits can`t be denied. In recent studies it has been shown that:

  1. Smiling reduces stress. The simple act of plastering a smile on your face is enough to stop that overactive amygdala from juicing up the fight or flight response. Smiling wide so that it reaches your eyes has the effect of triggering a calming response in the autonomic nervous system.
  2. Smiling helps to lower blood pressure. Makes sense I suppose. If you are lowering stress, then the blood pressure is likely to follow. Many studies have shown that biorhythmic feedback and mindfulness meditation are both excellent at lowering blood pressure to more healthful levels, and now we can add smiling to that non-pharmaceutical bunch.
  3. Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin in the brain. You know those feel-good chemicals that bring on things like the rumored `runner`s high`? These chemicals, when released in our brains, bring us a feeling of wellness and overall happiness. Couldn`t we all use a little more of that?
  4. Smiling gives our immune system a boost. So during cold and flu season don`t just wash your hands and take your Vitamins… get your smile on.
  5. Smiling is one of the leading causes of mood improvement. Not only will it elevate your own mood, it is contagious, spreading good moodiness to those you bestow your pearly whites upon. Smile and the whole world smiles with you? True Science Fact.

So the next time somebody tells me to `Smile` I will do that very thing, thanking them for caring enough about my good health and wellness to give me such sound advice. And better still, I will make a practice of wearing the wide eyed grin as often as possible. By smiling for no good reason, those same `helpful` people might stop wondering what is making me glum and start worrying what I am up to instead.

And that really will give me reason to smile.

 

 

“I never smile if I can help it. Showing one’s teeth is a submission signal in primates. When someone smiles at me, all I see is a chimpanzee begging for its life.”  Dwight Shrute

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