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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

my kingdom for an odd duck

Have you seen the movie Happy Feet?

I'd been aware of it out of the corner of my eye for some time and had been meaning to watch it someday. That finally happened this past weekend.

Queue up adorable penguins, an environmental issue resolved in a powerful way, music to tap your feet to, Robin Williams doing his thing--what's not to like, right?

Cultural conditioning was all I could see, from beginning to end.

Granted, I am predisposed to this kind of filter, and I've been doing some reading in that arena lately (The Culture of Make Believe, by Derrick Jensen, to be specific), so there was probably no way around that influence on my film experience. But the degree to which the cultural messaging hit a nerve was fascinating.

Maybe it was the visual yumminess of the main character, the exquisitely detailed animation that expertly manipulated the intensity of emotion for me. Add to that the dominating "differentness" issue--this from an entity that brings no game whatsoever to the table in that regard--and I was primed for the gauntlet being thrown.

So I picked it up to see where it would take me.

First of all, I identified completely with Mumble, the yummy cuteness in question. He does not possess a certain quality that is perceived as vital to survival in his culture. From his tenuous birth, he cannot sing--not a note of his "heartsong" can he warble, as he demonstrates several times while valiantly trying to force this skill upon himself and thus to fit in.

I don't believe there is any one characteristic that can be pointed to in my case that made me the square peg in-a-round-hole-world that I happily continue to be, but there is one thing that sets my son apart from the rest of humanity, and that is Asperger's Syndrome.

The alternative giftedness that Mumble does manifest from birth, a killer ability to tap dance, took on the role of the value I see in diversity, which is what my son's way of being in the world represents to me, that is often regarded as ineffective and irrelevant, as Mumble's talent initially was.

Every single elder in his community save his mother demonstrates his/her capacity to be controlled by this fear of the previously unencountered, and eventually, after choreographing many disappointing attempts to "fix" him, Mumble is banished.

AS prevents my son from being able to currently articulate the flavor of his experience with this exclusionary phenomenon in his day-to-day life, but I can attest to the alienation I often feel as one endowed with many preferences and a personal cosmology that are under-represented out there in mainstream culture.

The starkness of the tundra environment in which Mumble's dilemma plays out bears a striking similarity to the way I perceive a world that doggedly endeavors to express itself in monochrome.

Quite frankly, vanilla is boring.

Of course, during Mumble's absence he sets off on the requisite warrior/seeker/outcast's adventure, and by the end of the story is embraced as a hero in the eyes of the community that originally spurned him.

I've been told that this seeming reverence of the nonconformist in media hype has a name--revolutionary chic. The irony of Mumble's abilities being what ultimately saves his culture's way of life just about made me want to throw the remote through the television screen.

Don't even get me started on the ironic and stereotypical portrayal of the Hispanic penguins.

Instead, I rolled my eyes and thanked my lucky stars that I have crafted out a way of being that celebrates who I am and that not merely allows me to survive but thrive in a social milieu that is practically tripping all over itself in its quest to find meaning in a white bread kind of world.

Even General Mills could see the value of converting to whole grains.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

If the shoe fits

Where there once was cacophony, there now is an eerie silence.

It's the sound of a tree falling in a forest when there's no one around, or the sound of one hand clapping.

I noticed it the other day while reading someone else's description of what it feels like waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I expected to feel some empathic response and have my body shift to take on that emotion, since I've lived that way for most of my life.

But it didn't.

I scoured the limits of my known universe, and I couldn't locate that nebulous nagging worry.

Holy crap.

What is up with that?!

I knew that my days lately have been filled with mostly sunshine and lollipops, but I hadn't noticed the demise of this particular trickster until now.

Among all of the baby step triumphs that one can accumulate on their way along The Path, this lose-the-shoe success is among the most satisfying self-restraints to shed that I've come across, so far.

That vague dread that follows you like a little black cloud all day long, its debilitation factor is ridiculously high. And with it missing in action, the flow of vitality that's unleashed is off the charts.

I don't know when my little cloud dissipated, and it really doesn't matter.

What matters is that I burn the sensation of its absence on my body-mind-spirit meld so that if it attempts to storm the gates again, its imprint won't be recognized at the hologram password-guarded entryway to my soul.

I also need to take a moment and acknowledge the gift of its presence, even if the gift didn't register as such until the contrast of its absence made it so.

Because now that the shoe is more securely on the other foot and there's little to no chance of it dropping, I can feel gratitude for what was, since it got me to where I am, right now.

Like they say, if the shoe fits, wear it.


Friday, September 28, 2007

boats get rocked

A friend of mine told me that I had been in a dream of hers.

We were in her studio, the one that she's outfitted and arranged in real life but hasn't quite christened yet with her creative impulses, and I was encouraging her to smear fingerpaint on the walls. Her daughter was showing her how easy it was, dancing to some inspired music while she expressed herself with the paint. I smiled knowingly at both of them, egging my friend on to join in.

That's exactly how I see myself, I said after the telling, someone who holds the space for others to step into who they really are.

But it wasn't always like this.

I used to think that the actions I might take in the direction of attaining a dream or the life I wanted would never accumulate to any noticeable critical mass.

I've since shown myself, over and over again, that that is faulty reasoning.

For decades, I had so successfully supressed my emotions that I didn't know what they were in any given moment, were you to ask me to identify them.

I've since reclaimed my feelings and the guidance they provide, to the point that they often register on my radar in very subtle but profound ways.

I used to think that the talents and gifts I was born with were of no value to anyone.

I've since discovered that there are people out there looking for what I have to offer, and the world would be a lesser place for everyone if I were to choose not to.

These realizations, and my friend's dream, are all uppermost in my mind because of a recent conversation in which awareness almost slapped me across the face.

Another person had been peppering the discussion with statements of entrenched self-deprecation, and with such conviction of their merit, that I was nearly wincing from her pain.

I remember looking across the restaurant table and being struck by how unattractively this person was coming across, both in the metaphysical sense and in the interpersonal, in spite of every shred of physical evidence to the contrary.

And I wondered how many people over the years had felt that way about what I might have said about myself out loud, for everyone and my psyche to hear.

I remarked upon this conversation a little later with another friend, and asked that he bring it to my attention when I indulge in what I understood now to be inaccurate descriptions about me.

"I can't think of a time I've ever heard you say something like that," was the response.

This stopped me in my tracks.

I was thrilled that this was so.

It was unsolicited, tangible proof of just how far I have come on my journey, and eventually prompted the list of attitudinal shifts with which this piece began.

While there are still many inaccurate perceptions I have of myself that need to be wrestled to the ground to say Uncle, I acknowledge and appreciate the work that I've done thus far.

I think again to the person in pain, the one whose estimation of her worthiness is currently dwelling in the underbelly of the emotional scale. I am holding the space for her return to herself, to reclaim who she really is.

The shedding of layers of personality that do not serve is challenging, I know from experience - risky business of the highest order. Apple carts overturn, status quo explodes, boats get rocked. Speaking truths that have been silenced for so long feels like breaking the rules.

And oh man, does that feel good.


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Archived Tidbits are here.

Enjoy

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I just can't shake it

It was a Tuesday.

There was a feeling in my gut that I couldn't shake.

Sifting through my thoughts as potential distractions, it still wouldn't budge.

No matter what I threw at it, it stubbornly held its ground and seemed
to enjoy the experience.

Knowing was in the house. Bliss, in as much as could be tolerated
in a corporate setting, was in the house. Contentment was in the house.

My body moved differently. My day was phenomenal. A perpetual smile was on my face.

I wondered what had gotten me here, and how do I repeat this
as often as possible?

I retraced my steps. For one thing, I had engaged in some very satisfying physical exercise
the day before - riding my bike with a good friend - at an intensity level in which I don't usually
partake. I was proud of the effort and the results.

Secondly, I had had some very pleasant conversations with a new friend over the course of
several days, during which I totally showed up as myself and was appreciated for same.

Thirdly, I had exchanged some focused feedback with a former boss who swears our
discussions are like therapy sessions.

Fourthly, I was wearing a new blouse, a solid, tawny, deep chestnut, henna perfection,
and my color vibe was singin'.

The joy-puller music I've been playing for weeks, and the thoughts
I've been coralling on purpose over there so I can focus on the ones over here,
all of that has parlayed into the total effect as well.

In my mind, it's no accident that I'm dwelling in this particular piece of real estate
at the moment, and I have to say, these here digs are mighty fine.

They are the perfect basecamp from which to poke my nose, to go out and discover,
to see what is around the corner, to revel in all of joy's various packages.

I almost didn't write this tidbit however. I almost didn't share this newsflash from euphoria.
I almost didn't broadcast what is oh-so-good.

I almost fell prey to the mentality of lack.

Who wants to listen to all this happiness stuff? Won't it just foster bad feelings
in people who aren't in the same place as me?

But hearing me gush about how great things are in my life is what
my part of where I touch the world needs.

Finding evidence of abundance and joy is exactly the ideal contribution.

There are others who are looking for these breadcrumbs to feeling
so good, you almost want to puke. They want to hear these words, so I wrote them
down for them.

For all you Hansels and Gretels of the new age, I salute you.

And isn't this dark chocolate windowsill fabulous?


Friday, June 22, 2007

Who am I NOT to be?

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson


This quote, the authoring of which is often
misattributed to Nelson Mandela, has been on my mind lately.

I've been thinking about it because dreams coming true
in my experience at an amazing rate during this last stretch
of sand through the hourglass requires that replacements be found.

The proverbial bucket is getting proverbially dry.

Well, that's not necessarily true. I don't NEED to replace my old
dreams with new ones.

Whatever.

And based on my beliefs about how the universe works,
any new dream that I conjure will have a pretty good
shot at attaining worldly form. So I am in hyper-awareness mode
as to just what these new dreams might be.

I want resumes on them. I want references. I want
background checks. Cuz people, I don't want just any
ol' dream on my team anymore.

Which brings me to Marianne's quote, the part about
being powerful beyond measure. That's freaking me out
a little bit right now, because my inner knowing tells
me that it's true.

And my puny-acting-on-its-own mortal persona knows it, too.
For example, at the moment I am being paid to write for a living and that
writing gets published to reach millions of people. Not exactly
in the manner in which I had envisioned, but that's not really
any of my concern.

If I objectively consider what it is about this job that jazzes me,
it's those qualities that the universe took upon itself to make manifest,
rather than the paltry wishlist I tenaciously held onto for decades, that
make it the dream job that it is.

So any dream successor candidate that floats across my
consciousness has some big jazzed-ness boots to
fill. And that deepest fear thing, I've been observing that mortal persona
part of me allowing it to cause some occasional hesitation in
recruiting the newest members of my dream team.

Analysis paralysis, delusions of grandeur,
perfectionist standards - these inner critics and censors
all have graced the judges' table for a moment or two. But
they've also politely been thanked for their services in the past and
relegated to the nosebleed seats.

There's a new sheriff in town doin' the choosin'. And
it's OK if it takes me awhile to assemble a new cast
of characters. Like so many other things in this
lifetime, it's not exactly the wait that was worth it,
it was the lessons learned along the way, that made
that thing waited for, that much sweeter when it
finally did arrive.

Changing one's mind based on new data, even in midstream, is good.
Refining, even on an hourly basis, what makes my heart sing is not fickle,
it's mandatory. Have you noticed how many options there are out there?

However, I have developed a new set of criteria that these new dreams
have to meet in order to make the cut after the interview:

1) Do you cause the curve of a smile to appear on my face
when I ponder you?
2) Do you make me giggle with glee when I picture you in My Life, The Movie?
3) Does thinking about you provide a slow, simmering accumulation
of anticipation, as opposed to an explosive sugar high?
4) How exactly will I feel awesome when you happen?

Because after all, who am I NOT to?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

the tentatively tenacious

Perhaps you're one of us.

The tentatively tenacious.

Despite all the seeming evidence to the contrary, we haven't given up on feeling good.

We've dieted, exercised, watched talk shows, created mission statements, visualized our life's purpose, talked to therapists, repeated affirmations - all of which may (or may not) have moved us up a few squares on the enjoyment board game of life.

But.

The feeling good part - we remain vigilant for that house guest to take up residence on a more permanent basis.

We're looking for relief from the fear, the doubt, the anxiety, the discouragement.

We understand on a cellular level that life is not supposed to be so difficult, although we may not be able to articulate exactly why.

There's a part of our psyches that doggedly scans the horizon for a glimpse of the reinforcements due to arrive at any moment that will finally, finally make things better.

Deep down we tell ourselves that the answer to the perennial question, "Is that all there is?" is negatory.

We would be correct.

The tentatively tenacious.

Monday, May 28, 2007

#44 - Choosable

I've been detoxing.

You may have bumped into the ten-day detox cleanse that's been zooming around the blogosphere and other places lately. Well, I was smitten when I first read about it, and a few weeks later was doing it myself. What sold me was the overwhelming consensus as to how good you can feel while doing this thing. I wanted some of that.

And I got it. The load that's taken off your body and your system by not chewing solid food is incredibly freeing - if you are allergic to certain foods and don't know it, you'll soon find out doing the cleanse. And no cooking for ten days! Woo hoo!

Another fringe benefit is the temporary weight loss - I don't own a scale so I'm not sure where I am in that department, but the way my clothes fit me lets me know that I'm lighter, in more ways than one.

What I didn't bargain for during the whole experience was the emotional angle. The accounts that I had read on other people's blogs included snapshots of whatever private hell or irritation they went through on particular days, but these women were dealing with some very specific and singular issues that don't apply to the public at large.

Emotions did come up for me, and since there was no distraction factor available from food, they were able to hang around the kitchen table and chat rather than be delegated to the cellar. My higher self showed up too, and helped me see that these feelings were powerless when I chose for them to be.

I got accustomed to observing them come up, and then diminish. They stood in puny relief compared to their original configuration, sort of like the Wicked Witch of the West meeting her demise.

Only with these buggers, I know they will never totally disappear. And that's OK. As long as I maintain the perspective that puts me in the alpha male position, we're good.

As a result, as I transition back into consuming the food that I choose, I am way into dropping stories that I've been telling myself for decades, about myself, and about other people. And replacing them with questions.

I'm a big fan of Byron Katie, and her set of questions to turn around a mindset are a great example of how to jump-start a shift. Take a situation that bugs you on whatever scale, and enjoy the investigation:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
3. How do you react when you think that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?

Then there is the Sedona method:

1. Could you allow this feeling to be here?
2. Could you welcome this feeling?
3. Could you let this feeling go?
4. Would you?
5. When?

Perhaps the best question of all I've run into lately is one a friend shared with me - apply liberally, "Why do I love my life so much?", and see where you are in a few weeks' time, on even the toughest of justified positions. 

I put a personal spin on this one, and came up with a question that resonated even more strongly for me. "How awesome is it, already being chosen?" I had a story going that I wasn't - choosable, that is. Digging around a little deeper, I discovered that this had so much more to do with my perception of any past  chooser than it ever did with me.

I'm already chosen by the universe - it has supplied me with ample proof that I have nothing to prove to anyone.

Especially me.

Which leaves me with another possible alternative.

I choose myself.

What a novel idea.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

what a ride

If you've hung around reach.dabble.shine for any length of time, you know that I'm big into resistance - at least the soul-whispering, taming and befriending aspects of it that eventually reduce it to a manageable gremlin who simply amuses rather than irritatingly exacerbates.

So it was with keen interest that I turned to a recently recommended book about the topic, entitled The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield.

Reading it has supplied me with many inspiring quotes, like this one: "Resistance knows that the more psychic energy we expend dredging and re-dredging the tired, boring injustices of our personal lives, the less juice we have to do our work."


And this one: "Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got."


But the whole war metaphor - it just wasn't resonating with me. When I read passages like, "Resistance's goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill...when we fight it, we are in a battle to the death," well, I wasn't having as much fun with this material as I wanted to be.

I sat with this discontent, fully realizing a few days later what the issue was when I noticed this quote, the signature in someone's email:


"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" - Anonymous


My Ah-ha! moment In my opinion, Mr. Pressfield's work is lacking in the woo-hoo department.


Granted, I have memories of portions of my life spent hopelessly lost in the firm clutches of resistance, it breathing down my neck and fouling my existence with its power.


I have enough old journal entries detailing the despair and helplessness I felt at the time to wallpaper a dungeon.


But no more. Somehow I stumbled upon this reach.dabble.shine mentality and simply did not take "No!" for an answer when my requests for resistance to leave me alone were unheeded.


It took many years and much soul-work but I am now in a place where I can honestly say I have some ease around the bugger.

My beef with resistance is waged on the battlefield, yes, but one strewn with humor and laughter, not bloodshed and carnage.


Another internet meme then graced my inbox moments later, one that further substantiated my woo-hoo theory, emitting such levels of synchronicity that I am thoroughly convinced of its virtue.


What better source for clarity and delight than the conjurer of practical whimsy himself, Mr. Brezsny:


"My friend and teacher, Vimala Nostradamus, echoes Case. "The best way to neutralize the devil is to laugh at him," she says. "Satan's most effective recruiting technique is to get people to take themselves too seriously." To exemplify her argument, she once told her daughter in my presence about a foolproof way to avoid being hassled if you're a woman walking by a crew of construction workers: "Pick your nose."


Do battle, certainly. Defy its power, of course. But, from the vast arsenal of defenses we have at our disposal, we can choose to employ those found to be so much more effective with resistance than the rest.


Deep down we all know this. Nothing dispels the influence of resistance quite like comedy. Whether it be the belly laugh of a three-year old in our own household or the well-written script of a movie, our response to it instantly sets us free until such time as we reinstate the perceived veracity of our troubles.


With a little practice, those brief glimpses of emancipation can become moments - moments, a majority of the time.


Come on, throw some humor on the situation and picture in your mind resistance shrieking like the Wicked Witch of the West, "I'm mel-l-l-l-lting!"


Made you laugh.

the occurence

My recollection of the first day of ninth grade is my first sense memory of The Occurrence.

I don't remember exactly if it was prompted by a previous reading of some rah-rah self-esteem article in Glamour or Seventeen magazine, the irony of which I can only roll my eyes at now, but I do recall deciding quite consciously that day, just hours before classes started, that THIS first day of school was going to be spectacular.

Cliques and teen-aged insecurities be damned, I was going to enjoy myself and have a great time.

And I did. Thirty years later I can still feel the wonder and the power of the decision I was able to make based on The Occurrence.

This phenomenon I describe as a thought that materializes from seemingly out of nowhere that brings with it a very palpable shift from the funk in which you might have found yourself, say, the night before, to a feeling in a more northwardly direction on the emotional scale the next morning.

It's almost as if one awakens in another country. I feel like I'm back on a balcony overlooking an Italian beach - the light is sharper, the air is sweeter, and the food is a hell of a lot better.

This has happened to me too many times for me to ignore or pass off as some random circumstance.

Its effect is especially striking in contrast to the aforementioned funk. The swiftness and the intensity with which it pervades and improves the overall condition my condition is in, well, quite simply knocks my socks off.

The energy it would take for me to pull something like this off by myself is staggering to contemplate, so I adorn The Occurrence with lofty uppercase letters and bold font to denote the true place of honor this phenomenon holds in my Way Cool Things the Universe Does Pantheon.

The fact that I can witness this happenstance in other people as well just adds to the deliciousness of the whole experience.

The fact that it doesn't happen to everyone, or that for some, their Occurrences are on the other end of the emotional spectrum, is just as fascinating.

So of course I wonder why.

Why do some people possess the innate ability to rescue themselves from the wreckage of modern life, time after time, prevailing against the odds by pulling this positive cherry picker out of their proverbial hat?

And why are some not able to do so?

I don't know, and after many years of pondering this question, I've concluded that pursuing this line of thinking is futile.

What I DO know is that my reserves of gratitude skyrocket during Occurrence occasions, and that there is some cause-and-effect thing going on there that makes the whole thing possible in the first place.

So what is it that allows these Occurrences in? And how do I capitalize on the emotional turbo-charger effect when they hit?

If they are as flexible and as omnipresent as I think they are, are they truly just on the other side of a thinly veiled membrane that I can't see but is there nonetheless? One that I could learn to tap into more often if I practiced enough?

I'm picturing a translucent, lightweight material like what might be used in skin grafting procedures. One that might hang like a mosquito curtain. One that I could conjure in my head to remind me that my first mortal impulse in a given situation might not be my most intelligent choice.

I feel another Resistance Toy coming on.

the chute

I started a new job today (well, three days ago now).


I started a new job that has been a long time coming, waiting patiently for me to get ready for it.


The right circumstances and events had to be orchestrated by the universe. Relationships had to be seeded and watered and nurtured over many years. Subsets of skills had to be acquired, one by one. Confidence had to be allowed and owned.


Then, and only then, the mother of all vortexes could open up to transfer a dream from my vibrational escrow account and place it on my doorstep.


How do I know these things? Because of how it felt. Effortless (mostly, when I got out of the way). Instinctual. The next logical step.


As a matter of fact, it reminds me of a time in my youth when a similar sort of situation lined up for me. You may have read about that adventure.

Remembering that period in my life gives me some excellent perspective from which to savor this latest round of delight even more.


What I didn't know back then:


1) This too shall pass. The momentary elation of landing a job, nailing interviews, knowing people are saying nice things about you - all that is great for a few minutes, then the hard work comes along fast and furious, during which you continue to build an artful life from moment to moment in addition to your identity in the job, and that is sweet;


2) Attaining a dream doesn't have to be a disorienting experience. Now that this one is out of the hopper, what other cool stuff is coming up behind it, now that there is room in the chute for more? Knowing what I know now, I have just as much enthusiasm around that element at this point as I do about what I'm learning about my new job;


3) Being true to my soul sister - that part of myself that holds the keys to everything I need to know and holds the space for me to finally pick them up and put them in the appropriate lock - is what brings the perfect fit, what makes the show go on, what this life is all about.


I let go of a relationship today.


I let go of a relationship that was right for many, many reasons, and wrong for very few.


This was a prime example of when two of the latter do not equal one of the former. It can't. It doesn't breathe that way.


While I do feel the loss and continue to process it all, these are the things that I know now:


1) Shedding fear and doubt and worry transforms your life, in ways you can't imagine, but that's the point;


2) Honesty rocks, even if only one person can muster the courage to stand in it;


3) Desires for what you want are born from what you don't want, and all the fun is in the fine-tuning.


Dreams meander, simmer, percolate, explode, shift and expire.


Say "Yes" to it all.

still small voice

It's 3:37 PM - do you know where you still small voice is?

I've been thinking a lot about mine lately - what it is, what it means, how it works, what its favorite color might be.

Over the past decade the little bugger's dimensions may have morphed at times to shrill and gargantuan, but I have to admit that it wouldn't have gotten my attention any other way.

No matter the proportions it takes on, it is mine and mine alone. No one else could tickle its fancy or could possibly identify with it.

And no one else is supposed to. That's the whole idea.

Unfortunately, many of us on the planet find ourselves born into families and raised in religious communities and immersed in cultural swimming pools that have a vested interest in drowning out that still small voice.

Of course, at some point along the way, most of theirs had been similarly smothered, so this saga takes on a chicken-or-the-egg quality. Eventually something has to just clear the barnyard.

In the meantime, those of us who manage to resurrect those voices and begin to listen to them again, I'm encouraging you to form your own dousing squads and practice those skills. You know, the ones that effectively put a damper on any detected attempts to mess with said voices, yours or anyone else's.

The trick here is to not get caught up in the very mindset out of which you've recently extracted yourself. Requiring someone else to view something the way you do, well, that's where the seeds of enmity are planted.

Give them enough time and attention and they will grow to embody the fate of the cast of Romeo and Juliet. Or the storyline of 911.

Instead, try diffusing those energy hooks early on with a psyche that's like Teflon on Velcro. Let me explain.

Recently I encountered two sources of information that might have provoked me to a certain level of indignation were I not leading intense training maneuvers with my own dousing squad.

One of these resources was a book written about several women through the ages whose place in the history books was either left out entirely or whose story may have been slightly maligned by misguided contemporaries.

I was enjoying the thinly veiled sarcasm and a more balanced account of the motives behind the various splendidly independent and adventuresome lives these ladies chose to lead, all of whom managed to find a way to listen to their still small voices in spite of required membership in clubs with extreme swimming pools to the contrary.

Until I got to the part where the author, a female, began to disparage modern females for, in her opinion, jumping into dangerous waters of another kind of wet:

"Instead of casting off the shackles of yore, we may have buckled on a second set of them; instead of flinging ourselves into endless possibility, we may have dug ourselves deeper into the cave. Those degrees and careers are time-eaters and demand ceaseless loyalty and attention...the higher we rise professionally, the deeper the shackles bite...when we manage a long weekend, we take the laptop along, and with the corner office finally in sight, who would buy a camel and vanish alone into the desert aboard it, or even lock herself in a bedroom for twenty years to write unpublished verse?"

Who indeed.

I could feel myself getting riled up with this person, with whom I had just spent 265 pages celebrating choices that had been made in spite of severe legal and societal pressures not to, and then out of nowhere launches this bombastic diatribe.

Apparently the only sanctioned place for endless possibility in her mind is in the harsh physical landscapes and exotic locales in which her heroines seemed to thrive.

So much for championing the still small voice.

The second such oracle was in a blog post referring to another blog post - you know the delicious labyrinths one can got lost in, clicking away happily in linkland. The vehemence of the original blogger's words practically took my breath away.

You can read them both here.

Underneath the bile and vitriol tip of such dismissive and disempowering words can only be an iceberg of pain constructed with layer upon layer of still small voice road kill. Somewhere along the line I'm guessing these women were not just cajoled into the numbing surf, as we all are; their heads were forcibly held under the surface.

What I know to be true is that pointing fingers and drawing attention to their presumed powers of divination will only spawn more of the same.

Pushing against pushing against only pushes against.

Enter the dousing brigade. Mustering compassion rather than reproach, I choose to focus on something else. Blessing them even though they can't hear me from my particular register on the emotional scale, I wish for them a way back to their still small voices.

There is enough endless possibility to go around.

snake oil

One person's snake oil is another person's godsend.

And vice versa.

But you've got to be clued into which is which, for you, to know the difference, for you.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? But most of us, I would contend, carry on with our lives from day to day in a not-so-blissful state of not-knowing.

I woke up to this fact recently, again, after realizing that a particular situation was, after all was said and done, not good enough for me.

Not "not good enough" as in, see that sofa over there? It needs to be champagne beige or I'm outta here. But "not good enough" as in, a little piece of "Me" dies with every moment that this person, place or thing continues to be what or who it is in all its glory. If that continues, pretty soon I won't exist.

And why, you may ask, does a little piece of you die?

Very good question. A little piece of us dies because the opposite isn't happening.

Interaction around someone or some thing isn't providing nurture, strength, encouragement, a lightness of being.

Instead we feel drained, fatigued, dragged down, lost.

Time spent where life is not breathing through you with excitement, with anticipation, with love, well, that just ain't livin'.

Our souls get sapped when there is a consistent withdrawal of energy rather than a consistent deposit of energy into what we are doing.

Over time, we get tired, figuratively and literally, because our tanks are empty, and worse than not refilling, we start eating away at ourselves on some level since we need something upon which to subsist.

There may be small subtle indications that things are amiss, but we ignore them because we want to believe otherwise.

We want to sustain an idea or goal or promise or feeling that made perfect sense to us at one time but no longer does, either consciously or unconsciously.

We cringe at the thought of changing our minds and acting on it, even though that is perfectly acceptable and people do it everyday.

But doesn't that reeks of selfishness?

Yup, sure does, and it's high time that the negative connotations to that word enjoy a cultural turnaround.

If participating in life's offerings on the basis of whether or not they please me, they make me feel good to be alive, they promote my well-being, they make it possible for me to have something to give to others, they propel my activity as a world citizen - if that's selfish, then sign me up for a lifetime membership to the club.

And please, I want as many of my fellow planet dwellers as possible on the roster too.

The more of us paying attention to how we feel and no longer willing to abide hanging out in the lower registers of the emotional scale, the better off we all are.

And the best part is, we all get to say what it is that makes us feel good, because no two people's happiness barometers are the same. No one can speak that truth for you.

No one's set of things-on-the-planet-that-get-me-jazzed can be taken away from you or manipulated or stymied, unless you allow it.

Hanging out and being happy.

To some this smacks of snake oil and hurting other people and having our brains stuck under the sand.

To me, it is a godsend.

And that is all that matters.

smarter, slower, deeper

It is mid-January as I write this – just about the time that many new year’s resolutions begin to crash and burn, I’ll wager. Personally, I don’t partake in that ritual anymore. The only memory that I can resuscitate on the matter involves me at age 9 pledging as of January 1 to no longer fight with my little brother.

Those sentiments of peace and good will probably lasted all of an hour before irritation exceeded tolerance levels.

If I’d known then what I know now, I would have sat myself down and said, “Listen. You and I both know that your brother is not going to be any less annoying in January than he is right now. He’s seven, he can’t help it. Let’s use our brains here and corral our energy around something -”

“Hey, who the heck are you?”

“I’m your Older but Wiser Self. Pleased to make your acquaintance again, I’m sure.”

“But my brother is such a dork – he’s always getting into my stuff, and he’s just stupid!”

“I know. Right now he’s not the easiest to get along with. But there will come a time when he is, trust me. Twenty years from now you will appreciate the man he has become.”

“Twenty years from now?”

“Right – hard to imagine, but it goes quickly. You still listen to music a lot?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Good. Don’t stop. It made such a difference, and I’m glad you did that.”



Not buying into the resolution industry's way of doing business doesn’t mean I don’t set goals for myself or ride the clean-slate vibe this time of year exudes. I just give myself more of a chance to succeed than the proverbial snowball in hell.

There is much power and much privilege involved with granting permission to myself to pursue a goal or a dream – and ultimately no one but me thwarts my progress.

Consider this: who chooses what sits on the tines of that fork as it glides through the air into my mouth? What alien entity keeps my body immobilized in front of the TV instead of engaged with my writing, bouncing on my rebounder, or listening to my Japanese language cds?

When I’m clear that there are no outside forces responsible for making or breaking my newest self-improvement endeavor, this is obnoxiously good news. On the one hand it sucks that blaming my dream’s abysmal state of affairs on anything but me has been declared officially lame.

But, on the other hand, what better weapon could I possibly have in my arsenal than control over what’s really running the show – my thoughts and beliefs?



When I cross the line in my head from vague want to definite desire, I know that there are three things that may keep me from attaining that desire – Resistance, The Wiley One; Overwhelm, his first cousin; and Misinformation, a.k.a. I-Know-It-All-Already.

If my desire is, say, exercising for 20 minutes everyday before work on my rebounder, I know that the perceived pay-off has got to be greater than my perception that there is no heaven like that of staying in bed as long as possible. My resistance will budge a whole lot quicker when I deal with it on those terms, and the tenacity of my new habit will last a lot longer.

Misinformation is handled when I remind myself that my body only needs moderate aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week to realize the benefits I’m looking for. If I somehow make it to seven days a week in my new routine, great, but I don’t need to.

Overwhelm is really good at provoking folks into throwing in the towel before things get going long enough for them to become a new habit. Rather than allow him to call the shots, I can decide to break down all the elements that would need to be a part of a successful exercise venture, and find ways for them to exist one step at a time.

I could, and did, position my rebounder in a dedicated space where it could be left in a user-ready position. The next day, I selected music that would help put me in a good mood when I hop on and keep me there for as long as I want to jump, and cued it up on my cd player.

A few days later I found clothes at a thrift store that would complete my exercise ensemble and help lift my spirits when I put them on. Then, I laid those clothes out where I could easily get to them when stumbling around in an early morning stupor.

Knowing all of those things were in place gave me the time and space to get up early a few mornings after that and easily imprint the first fledgling synapses of a new habit in my body-mind. It’s been a week, and I actually enjoy dong it.

I have no idea if I’ll still be with it come August, but I know that the difference it already makes in how I feel is the pay-off that will keep me coming back a heck of a lot more than beating myself up for not sticking with it.

If you’re suffering from the self-inflected pain of once again not following through on a new year’s resolution, try giving yourself permission to regroup and strategize again, anticipating what havoc those ROM (Resistance, Overwhelm and Misinformation) rascals can wreak in your best laid plans, and lay them smarter, slower, and deeper this time around.

Heck, tomorrow’s a new year in my book.

secret

Have you seen the movie The Secret?

Already being a fan of several metaphysical gurus who are showcased in it, I didn't think I'd get much out of it, so I put off the experience for awhile.

(Rolling of eyes) Silly girl.

In my view, it's the personalized tour of consciousness that What The Bleep Do We Know? whet our appetites for.

The Secret's popularity spreading by word of mouth and getting out there in the mainstream is one point of deliciousness. That there are so many people from all over the globe, but especially in the good ol' US of A, who are practicing these principles that enrich their lives and are sharing them with others, is also very cool.

But the best, the very best part of the whole thing is the focus on how you feel and where that takes you in your life. It's not just the thoughts that you think. It's not just the goals you come up with for yourself. It's not just finding a framework for how the universe works that works for you.

It's about how you feel when you play all those metaphysical games with yourself that matters. That's what turned me inside out about this movie, since we're all about reaching for what resonates here at Reach Dabble Shine, and about hangin' out in a particular end of the emotional scale swimming pool.

We all know from personal experience that a concept, a relationship, a possibility can come along that makes perfect sense to our intellect, but if it isn't a gleam in our souls, then it ain't happenin'. Period.

And lifetimes may go by before you are ready to admit it to yourself. After you've become an attorney, all the while craving a social worker's domain. After marrying the wrong person. After parroting others' beliefs for so long, you don't recognize who stares back at you in the mirror.

That's where Joy Pullers(c) come in.

Joy Pullers are ATC cards that you print on cardstock (you'll need to have Adobe on your computer to open the PDF file - if you don't have it, download it for free here) and cut out in the privacy of your own home.

Then adorn them with the people, places and things that make your heart sing.

They can be big ideas or small ones; words, magazine pictures or your own art; as long as whatever is represented is a delight to You.

It's a fun way to disarm the resistance that comes up when you start to reclaim who you are.

The more you dabble with your Joy Pullers, the easier it is to identify new ones.

The template has enough blank cards for you to start your own small deck, and then add to it as you are so compelled.

Place them in your purse, backpack, diaper bag, briefcase, medicine chest, art supplies - anywhere you will come upon them is perfect.

Because they will remind you of who you are, and what direction you're headed.

As you acclimate to how it feels in your body when you are in the presence of a Joy Puller, you'll get better at trusting yourself to make decisions that are on-course.

And bounce back more quickly if you veer off-course.

If you need some examples to get you started, here are some of mine, old and new:

-the smell and taste of fresh basil
-my son as I watch him work his magic with markers and paper and scissors and tape
-currently the song Put Your Records On by Corrine Bailey Rae
-knobby, multi-colored yarn
-the smell of coffee brewing
-writing these newsletters
-laughter from the belly
-currently the color olive/lime green
-Andy Goldsworthy - his life is his art
-dark chocolate

You know you are on to something when the image of a two-year-old's face lighting up as she encounters something delightful for the first time pops into your head. That's a Joy Puller.

Invite a friend, whether next door or virtual, to do it with you.

But do it.

Do the world a favor.

Print out these cards, fill them with your soul's street map, look at them as often as you can, and feel the joy pulled through you in the process.

And someday, The Secret won't be much of a secret anymore.

safe harbor

Some days just suck.


Some days it appears that there are no options.


Some days the pain is so thick that you aren't able to see anything else.


Some days you think you're losing your mind.



Some days it feels like you're driving along and all of a sudden there it is, another cloudburst, that sudden torrential rain that hits every once in awhile.


And no matter how high you set your wipers, they can't keep up with the pace of the onslaught to your windshield.


It just keeps coming, you're blinded, you panic, and you wonder how long this torture will last.


Usually it shows up near a bump in the road of a relationship. Or there's always the detour sign of a health issue - that's a good one, isn't it?


Or the street that's closed for construction and the businesses on that street fail, costing you a job.


Stuff happens, you react like you always have and, you notice, you FEEL that way, too.

Until one day the downpour arrives yet again, and while you are casting about for something, anything, to make this pain go away, you discover from the corner of your eye that the source of the downpour isn't a terrestrial one - it's actually coming from the inside.


You pull over, depleted and not really able to comprehend.


The storm has an internal source? Is this a factory installation, or an after-market deal?


So. It would appear that your frantic efforts up to this point to dispel the tempest with mechanics and sheer will have obviously been futile.


Stunned by what you witnessed, your focus momentarily distracted, the storm in all its wiley timing begins to lift, and you pull slowly back onto the highway.


This magical squall will appear again, and again, and again, until such time as you are adequately distracted and fascinated by the possible source of this neighborly tidal wave.


Then things really get interesting.


Then, the travel metaphor shifts to a lakeside scene, where you are now manning your own rowboat. Naturally, a storm comes up and, of course, catches you out in mid-paddle.


Looking back over your shoulder, the dock, where you've always climbed aboard your vessel, beckons with familiarity and seemingly safe harbor.


The opposite shoreline looms ahead, shrouded in cloud and mist. It would only make sense for it to really be there, wouldn't it?

You pull on the oars in spite of the fear, in spite of every cell in your being screaming for you to go back, go back!


You paddle far enough into the grey for the sun to start breaking through. There is, in fact, a sandy beach, right over yonder, holding the space for your successful landfall.


The waters are calm here on this side of the storm. Placid. Serene, even. Of course, who's to say what new variety of wiley critter lies in wait for you once you start exploring this new neck of the woods.


Oh, what the hell - you've survived an indoor sprinkler system, what could be so bad?

red light, green light

These days I am quite taken with the marvel of stoplights.

At one regulated intersection recently where I complied with a red light's dictum, I observed there was not just one but two sets of traffic signals swinging from the cables above my head.

This is not the first time I've noticed this phenomenon, but it got me wondering how that whole replacement thing works. A few unfruitful Google searches later, I remain unenlightened.

Usually the new set just shows up one day - rarely have I ever witnessed the actual installation of the lights - dangling perpendicular to the ground near the old set until whoever gives the go-ahead to swap them out.

Why is the whole job not done in one fell swoop? Is there a waiting period til the new set gets acclimated to its surroundings, maybe avoiding a slight case of acrophobia? 

If I decide to pursue this mystery with local transportation authorities, I'll keep you informed of any resolution. In the meantime, there's an analogy inherent in that doubling, in terms of how change is incorporated into our lives, that I think is worth a gander.

The phrase, "Fake it til you make it," comes to mind as I see these look-alikes hovering side by side, the as-yet-to-be-engaged version acting as a sort of place holder for what's to come.

Those of us who proclaim verbal, written or thought-form intentions for a changed behavior or attitude might want to borrow this image as a totem for our self-improvement endeavors.

Picture that desired new aspect of ourselves standing quietly but resolutely by while we perform our due diligence to let go of the old one.

There might be a whole lotta stoppin' and startin' goin' on during this transitional time. If you're at all like me, the choppiness of a real game of Red Light, Green Light would aptly describe how the momentum can feel.

And, if you're like me, there might also be a certain amount of impatience with the discernible progress being made, impatience here being the front-line representative for Team Resistance.

Eventually though, days or weeks or months or years from now, we become aware that there indeed has been a shift in how we think and feel, a changing of the guard so subtle but so pervasive that our feelings are unmistakably hanging out in new territory.

Something that used to tie us up in knots of overwhelm as hefty as traffic light cable, now might provoke only mere annoyance the bulk of a common rubber band.

So the next time you find yourself stopped underneath a traffic signal, take a minute to observe whether the old guard is being put on notice with the presence of the new.

If you've got access to a rubber band to send flying, so much the better.

philosophy

Today I will forget
that I am a precious child.
Today I will disregard my birthright
to happiness and prosperity.
Today I will struggle against my being
exactly
where I am supposed to be,
doing exactly what I am supposed to do.

Today,
the people and situations
placed lovingly in my path
as opportunities for joy,
I will fail to see them as such.
Today I will believe in the illusions
of lack and scarcity.
Today I will doubt possibility.
Today I will resist reaching out for
healing.
Today I will compromise my integrity.
Today I will defy fulfilling my purpose here.
Today I will react from effect
instead of create from cause.
Today I will dignify nonsense.
Today I will live down
to the standards of the world.

Tomorrow
I will give it another try.

~Debra Schanilec

permission granted

OK, I lied.

A few blog posts back, I proclaimed that I was taking a kinder, gentler approach to developing my latest stretch of spirituality real estate. Rather than launch an all-out assault, I would go for subtlety, hanging out with the Observer while abundance consciousness permeates the interior, taking its own good time.

Ha.

Two days later, I had bumped into several books and a 40-day prosperity program to jump into. Trouble is, participating in the latter requires getting up early, and the story I tell myself is that I just don't do that very well.

So I decided to do what makes the most sense to me when approaching uncharted bodies of knowledge or boxes of accumulated wisdom.

I sail the waters, unwrap the packages, take what works for me and leave the rest.
Which in this case means extract the juice, and leave the dead husk of wrapper behind.

The inspiration and effort that went into writing those books and choreographing those programs before they found their way to me will come alive again when I pull the ideas through my juicer, and add the twists that will make them my own.

The phrase "permission granted" popped into my head during this flurry of activity in my brain, and while I was certainly doing that for myself in this situation, it didn't seem to go far enough to describe what was really happening.

It felt like the hatch on another layer of existential mechanization had flipped open, and I was climbing out into new surroundings like an 18th century citizen transported to the present, wide-eyed, jaw-dropping.

Only the stint of time travel I was riding involved primal hunting grounds. For permission to be granted, I reasoned, there was another more basic tenet involved: indigenous release.

"Indigenous" meaning native, natural, original inhabitant, birthright by existence. By virtue of the fact that I was born on this planet, there are certain inalienable claims for me to make on my own behalf whose sole purpose is to help me continuously answer the question: Do you believe you have the right to have what you want?

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness, concerning all acts of initiative and creation." Sir Edmund Hillary. As long as I can't answer immediately with a resonating "Yes", then my answer remains a "No".

All the social gender conditioning to defer gratification to others, all the self-inflicted reinforcement of generalized unworthiness, all the cultural taboos about money acquired by osmosis -- all of that needs to be unclaimed, left on layaway for dust to gather, in order for the indigenous release to take.

Do you believe you have the right to have what you want?

What's your answer?

the way we know ourselves

“It’s impossible to be bitter and happy; bitterness is about taking a perverse delight in stroking our wounds, becoming so wrapped up in them that they become the way we know ourselves.”

-M.J. Ryan, The Happiness Makeover: How to Teach Yourself to Be Happy and Enjoy Every Day


“The way we know ourselves.” That phrase jumped out at me from the page while I was reading this book. How is it that I know myself? What habits of thought have I spun in my brain so often that that’s “just how I am”?

Do I want to know myself on those terms? If I could choose, would I keep them or trade them in?

During the time of my divorce and for several years afterward, there were reflexes so ingrained in my thinking on the subject of my ex that it was nearly impossible for me to respond to interactions with him in any other way than – well, let’s just say not very constructively.

There was a point at which it became obvious to me that the energy and time I was spending reacting was not only wasted – this emotional roller coaster ride amounted to large negative balances in my ledger of life. I just didn’t want to feel this way anymore.

With the help of a supportive coach, I was slowly able to train myself to step back from the oh-so-inviting thought-ruts in my brain and choose differently, one neuro pathway and one interaction at a time.

Periodically I wish I could pin down where that line is that I crossed in my head and dissect how I got there. All the books I’ve read and the tapes I’ve listened to and the thinking I’ve done over a lifetime prior to that moment contribute to the breadcrumb trail, to be sure.

The cumulative effect of those encounters with other’s motivating words is worth every individual deposit, no matter how many it seems to take to get from point A to point B.

I continue to practice this most challenging mindset. It requires diligence on my part, because those old ruts run deep. And choosing to be happy rather than to be right is not exactly what we see modeled in our culture and in our daily lives.

It’s so much easier to be right – or is it? That time and energy I referred to – it’s gone, forever. That person we are trying to change – well, I know you’ve noticed, but I will make it plain - it isn’t working.

That resentment that pervades your thinking, the only person it really punishes is you – and those innocent bystanders unfortunate enough to get in your way.

So if there were one endeavor I would recommend you NOT pursue with tenacity, it would be holding on to those old reactions to old dynamics.

Your bitterness may one day lose its luster, and you may consider applying that newly-available energy to feeling better - the way you WANT to know yourself.

one thing

Last week a friend of mine sent me a link to a website called 43 Things.

Go ahead - explore, and I'll be here when you get back :~)



So you've seen the list, the contributions that people from around the country and the world have made to the list, the responses, the categories of topics, and maybe you've gotten some great ideas for things you want to add to YOUR list of things to do before you die.

Well, hang on a second.

Before you create your new account to construct your own list on the website, before you pull out your journal, your Daytimer, before you email yourself to start compiling those dreams - stop.

Yes, it's true that there are life-changing, magical qualities associated with getting your dreams out of your head and onto a hard, possibly shiny surface of some kind. They have a much greater chance of actually happening that way.

And yes, brainstorming with others is a great technique to snap out of the day-to-day sleep state and allow yourself the necessity of dreaming big. I certainly endorse both of those methods for getting from Point A - cerebral dreams, to Point B - goals coming true in your own life.

I had a rather unexpected reaction to this number thing, though. Rather than be amused or enthused by it, my initial thought was, "No, I don't need to make a list of 43 things I want to do. I only need one thing."

One, I tell you. One thing is what my heart wants to open up to at this moment in time, and one thing is what my energy level says we are capable of handling right now, and one thing is what my enthusiasm meter will register.

Monitoring my environment for any and all sources of energy-sucking and heart-distorting is what this list of 43 things provoked in me.

I'm sure the creators of this site have very good intentions, and if this piece of social software achieves those intentions, then so be it. I however am opting out of accumulating to a predetermined number, and instead, standing firmly behind feeling.

Feeling?

Until rather recently, I understood intellectually that my body was a conductor of emotion and that there are certain sensations associated with certain feelings whooshing through the highways and byways of my inter cellular propulsion. However actually being able to physically discern and identify those sensory pairs as they are happening is a mere blip, a nanosecond on my evolutionary radar screen.

Having grown up female in this culture complete with emotion repression systems, at various points in my life I couldn't tell you what I was feeling if my life depended on it - very often metaphorically and literally it did, depend on it. So now, for whatever reason, after many years of self-imposed self-help boot camp, this feeling thing is starting to kick in. And the delight factor in this phenomenon almost, but not quite, parallels that of my email addiction.

My delight in recognizing joy - heart-splitting, consciousness-raising joy - in my existence, and what sorts of things and people make joy happen, well - that's the sort of list I'm interested in now. Sure, a trip to Europe might make me feel good for awhile, but is the trip to Europe really the thing that would trigger joy in me? Not so sure about that one. Not anymore.

I know because I've been there, I've lived there, I've gone back to visit, and the qualities about the trip to Europe that trigger the joy are in me, not the Tuscan sun-drenched walls or the plate of saltimbocca alla Romana - though they certainly don't detract from the experience :~).

When I live in such a way so that the noise of my everyday doesn't drown out the voice of the joy, then I can heed its call and live it at the same breath-taking level, as if that Tuscan sun were glowing across my living room floor right this minute.

More importantly, the ideas that come to me about what produces joy are likely not going to come from "out there," although that is certainly a starting point. The culture that implicitly instructed my feelings to disappear, not such a good source for what might resonate with me.

At least for now, the concept of living by a list of anyone else's making - 43 things, 100 books, 50 all-time greatest movies - is subjective at best, limiting and exclusionary at worst. I'm too busy mining the molecular clues of my life with my body and enjoying the emotional harvest to be distracted by offerings that really don't have anything to do with me.

Life indeed is too short not to propagate my preferences and allow my light to shine because of it - helping others find their way in the quagmire of sensory/consumer/activity overload.

If making that list of 43 things seems like the thing your joy source is telling you to do, by all means, do it. This heart-knowledge that I'm gaining on is hardly about supposing to know what anybody else's path is lined with. But I do know this - you have a path, it is uniquely yours, it wants you to rediscover it, stay on it, and thrive from it.

I can feel it.

nobody's business

Airports are not my favorite places. If it weren’t for the fact that they harbor transportation conveyances that get me somewhere that I want to be quicker than, say, anything else, I would not darken their doorsteps.

This past weekend was one of those unavoidable times, and I found myself doing that waiting game thing at the gate. At a certain point, an airline representative grabbed the intercom device and announced that a traveling companion on today’s manifest should come up to the podium for a quick second.

Then another, and another, and another, until I wondered why aren’t they calling me up there too? What special discussion is going on in which I am just not invited to participate?

My curiosity was piqued almost to the point of actually asking the woman next to me exactly that, when she returned from speaking with said airline representative. I observed her demeanor as closely as I could with my killer peripheral vision skills, but yet not appear stalkish. No clues were to be found.

It was then that "pre"-boarding began (what, passengers who sit in certain elite sections of the plane getting on before other, more thrifty passengers doesn’t count as "real" boarding?) and the mystery remained.

Until I finally got down the aisle of the plane myself far enough to see that those people who were called up to the podium for that special discussion were all the lucky individuals who sat in the exit rows, and needed to be asked if they really, really, really wanted to sit there.

Duh. If I flew more often than twice a year, I might remember that kind of thing, was the first thought that went through my mind.

And immediately after that was, I don’t need to care anymore about "special" discussions, or any other nonsense disguised as intrigue that distracts me from my own business. It just doesn’t pertain to me, and I’m giving myself permission to stop paying attention.

I already include most television and mainstream print media products in this clever distraction category, but I’m now expanding the definition to comprise any and all conversation that does not contribute to the advancement of investing my time and energy wisely.

I already delete cyber chain letters and thought-you-might-like-this’s forwarded from individuals whose sense of humor is not in the same galaxy as mine. It’s time to weed out the next layer of email that doesn’t serve me, the ones I answer out of habit and perceived obligation, rather than genuine relationship building.

Since I am the one who usually keeps in touch even after years may go by since the other person has dropped from the face of the earth, this may be a bit of a shock, but do it I must.

No more podium envy for me.

mundane

Mastering the art of living the mundane details - some days it seems like that's what life boils down to.

And not in a good way :~)

I came across this intriguing collection of the mundane that helped tweak me out of a recent tedium funk. Perhaps it will help you in your hour of need.

Tenacity can mean continuing to put one foot in front of the other in the direction you've chosen, even on those days when making it across the room is a major achievement.

have and have not

I saw the title in the "New Books" section in the library and picked it up. Enrique's Journey - The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with his Mother. I took it home and started reading.

The book chronicles one of the hidden demographics in our country - mothers from Central American countries who leave some or all of their children behind to be smuggled into the United States and find work that will support their families back home.

They trade the precious day-to-day, year-after-year connection with their kids in order to provide for them with American wages that they could never come close to earning in their native countries. The children stay with relatives or friends, and their education, clothes, food and occasional Western extras are paid for with wired funds that arrive from far away.

Thousands of families are torn apart by this cruel deal, cut for a better life. Mothers vacillate between guilt and grief, and children struggle with the effects of their abandonment.

The truly amazing part of all of this, however, is the children who decide to make the trek to the States to find their mothers. After usually many years of separation, they desperately want to see and touch their mothers, to find out if they are indeed loved and lovable, to fix a broken part of themselves.

The stamina and cleverness necessary to succeed in their quest is overwhelming - the odds are so stacked against them, it's incredible that any make it through. Shear physical distance, bandits, smugglers, corrupt law enforcement, and the trains - trains that dismember, maim and kill so many who try to get to the border of Mexico - are among the mighty obstacles that obstruct the journey.

The author, a journalist, herself an immigrant from a Central American country in the 70s, but under entirely different circumstances, recreates Enrique's odyssey by retracing some of his steps herself, risking personal safety in order to document his story authentically.

While I was lost in the narrative of this compelling story, a strange sensation came over me. It was one of intense gratitude for all that I have going for me, even in the midst of what may be construed as trying circumstances.

Relationship gone sour. Uprooting myself again. Starting over. These realities have been shadowing my experience lately.

Whatever temporary situation I may be facing compared to what these families live 24/7, well, it is nothing in comparison.

It is nothing and it is everything. America, for whatever maladies we as a culture propagate onto ourselves, we also hold dear the idea of prosperity on a cellular level, the consciousness that keeps our standard of living where it is and is such a beacon of thriving to current inhabitants as well as potential ones.

It may be an empty thriving for many, but for some, it is substantive and true.

It makes it possible for me, a single mom, to find a safe place to live and gainful employment, to pursue my interests in a manner that pleases me.

The expectation of those living standards keeps them where they are, and ever expanding.

There are peoples of the world who do not have access to that same mentality. Lack is a daily, hourly, moment-by-moment truth for them.

And entices them across continents to discover abundance.

I am so grateful that it's been growing in my own backyard, and that I choose again and again to nurture its presence, in spite of evidence to the contrary.

To all the Enrique's out there, I admire your spirit, your drive, your determination to actualize your goal, no matter how many times you are compelled to start over again. You inspire me to continue vigilantly with my own.

fuchsia

Fuchsia

Groundhog Day was on TV last night - I'd been thinking lately about watching this movie again for some ideas for my material, and there it was.

The synchronicity and serendipity at play here is quite pleasurable to contemplate since I rarely, OK, almost never watch the channel it was on.

For me to discover A), the teaser commercial for it, and B), that the movie would be on at a time when I could watch it, well, I was almost as tickled BEFORE the movie as I was during.

I'd like to recommend Groundhog Day as a mascot film for your lifestyle change efforts, whatever they may be. What better example of intractable persistence in looking for what feels better in the face of a perceived uphill battle?

Phil, the main character, tried every possible solution to change his situation - numbing out to varying degrees (including death), all manner of hedonistic and illegal pursuits, resisting and pushing people away.

What finally turned everything around was taking the focus off of "the problem", embracing the opportunities for joy in doing for others, and in the process, revealing parts of himself that attracted more joy into his life.

When I've been thinking clearly enough to do those things myself, amazing things happen. Closing the loop of thoughts that have me driving on the railroad tracks or seated before a bounty of not-so-good choices takes some reprogramming of old tapes, but it can be done.

Watching films like Groundhog Day helps. Distracting myself with inspiring books, ezines, quotes-of-the-day, etc, helps. Choosing to focus on what I can be thankful for in the moment helps. 

The philosophy on which these materials are based never fails to propel me at least into the blended area, if not toward the fuchsia in the Venn diagram below.

I've seen tenacity, and it is fuchsia.


Expectations

Expectations

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): You're being called on to meet a higher standard. You're being asked to boost your output or take on more responsibility or show you can handle greater expectations. While it's understandable if that's unnerving, I urge you to keep it all in perspective.

Remember what journeyman basketball player Jon Koncak said when assigned the task of replacing his team's departed all-star, Shaquille O'Neal. Reporters asked him if he felt a lot of pressure. "Not at all," he replied. "Pressure to me is being in an airplane and the pilot dies and they ask me to fly the plane." The challenge you face may be daunting, Taurus, but it's nothing like that.


Rob Brezsny's weekly astrology column appears in many metro area newspapers, as well as an email list you can subscribe to at his website.

I look forward to its arrival to my inbox each Wednesday morning and usually find that every sign in the zodiac "speaks" to me on some level.

The expectations you may have for yourself in relation to your weight, or any other lifestyle change you are attempting, can be daunting and unnerving, especially if you find yourself focusing on the disparity between where you are now and the desired end result.

Maybe it starts in preschool, where we discover that our adorable uniqueness doesn't seem to count for much anymore.

We're indoctrinated into accepting arbitrary standards that we have no say in, and we are judged by how well we adopt those alien standards as our own.

In my teaching days, I remember watching the bright, eager faces of the new freshmen class, in just a few weeks' time, glaze over with the resignation that made it possible for them to endure their high school curriculum.

It broke my spirit contributing to breaking theirs, so after a seventeen-year career, I moved on to other things.

The tenacious part of you - the "real" you wanting to get out, that has survived that and other cultural groupspeak - it knows on a deep level that it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks about your dreams, your ideas, your point of view.

It knows there's a balance to be brought back between what socialization currently "runs" you and what it really takes to make you feel good about yourself.

emotional eating

Emotional Eating

Whether we like to admit it or not, the force behind our putting a given food in our mouths at any given time has likely been generated by an emotional state rather than a physical need.

Discovering the origins that trigger that emotional state aren't as important as wanting to taking back the control panel of your feelings.

It probably was a long time ago when you learned what you believe today about the trinity - body image, weight loss and self worth.

You can start over every day as an adult with the ability to choose another line of thinking, one that doesn't leave you powerless.

"Each of us has a Higher Self. This part is mature, balanced & knowing. This part does not hide from the truth, no matter how painful. It embraces it, getting to know it intimately. The Higher Self understands that facing reality is the way to freedom from emotional eating. Connecting frequently through the practice of Interactive Self-Hypnosis or specially designed inner work allows one to self-examine & to manage the surrounding emotions."

This quote is taken from an article which can be accessed here:

I have no experience with any of the programs referenced, but there may be something of value in that material for you. If not there, then somewhere else.

No one else gets to choose the tools for your empowerment - only you, and you'll know one when you bump into it by how you feel.

You'll feel powerful, not powerless. Maybe just a glimmer at first, but there's great momentum in them thar hills.

After a few stumbles, a few falls, fumbling around in the dark.

Keep looking, keep trying, keep going for what feels better.

Power to the tenacious, man.

Dreams in Escrow

Dreams in Escrow

"VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): As public schools decline and private schools become more expensive, increasing numbers of parents are homeschooling their children. I predict that an analogous phenomenon will arise among religious groups. Called the "homechurch" movement by Christians, "homesynagogue" by Jews, and "hometemple" by other traditions, it will consist of people creating altars and conducting worship sessions in their own abodes. Seekers pursuing this approach will eliminate the middlemen and serve as their own priests, priestesses, and rabbis. If you have even the slightest attraction to this meme, Virgo, launch your own version of it. It's time to crank up your spiritual intentions. The Divine Wow wants to talk."

FREE WILL ASTROLOGY
Week beginning May 12
Copyright 2005 by Rob Brezsny


I couldn't agree more. I think it's time to create an alter to your dreams, the dreams that the universe holds for you in escrow, the ones that you may allow yourself to think about in fleeting moments but may not be aware are just around the corner from manifesting.

Gather around you the following items:

*a box that will serve as a diorama or stage, more of a rectangle than a square in its dimensions, about four to six inches deep
*a dowel or straw-like stick to act as a curtain rod inside the box
*scissors
*paper images or physical objects that represent your dreams
*sheer fabric for curtain material
*baubles to attach to the fabric
*white paper to line the box if it's not already white
*sticky substance of choice
*whatever else you are inspired to include

What To Do:

1. Measure and cut sections of white paper to line the inside of the box. Attach the paper with your sticky substance of choice.
2. Pierce holes in the upper sides of the box to accommodate the dowel so it hangs like a towel rack inside the box. Insert the dowel.
3. Arrange the paper images or physical objects in the box. Attach the paper images with your sticky substance of choice. If you like, anchor any physical objects in case of alter upset.
4. Cut two pieces of fabric that will hang from the dowel, like a pair of curtains. The fabric should be sheer-ish so the images inside are semi-visible.
5. Suspend the fabric from the dowel and attach. I used a stapler, but you could use a glue gun, needle and thread, or whatever you feel like.
6. Attach baubles to the curtain. I used two flying pig charms and several pastel rhinestones.
7. Print a label - "Dreams in Escrow" - in a font that you like in a large point size. Attach it where it looks best.


Once your alter is fully constructed, display it where you will see it often. Get fully acquainted with the proximity of those dreams via the view through the curtains.

Know that they are waiting in the wings, for you to allow them full presence in your life.

Become familiar with how your body feels when you focus on those dreams. That's how life is supposed to feel, all the time.

Then get ready for good stuff to start happening, Tenacious Ones. The Divine Wow wants to talk.

Portrait of a Dreamer

Portrait of a Dreamer

One of my favorite authors in the self-help domain is Barbara Sher. Her material on resistance and following your dreams is, in part, responsible for your reading this Tidbit at the moment.

But as another who has benefited from her writing says:

"Now if I were to be a proper self-help zealot, I would say, I owe it all to Barbara and Please sign up for the tapes and lectures in the lobby after this meeting. The truth is that I do not owe it all to Barbara. I want to thank Barbara for her catalytic role in my personal renewal, but she would be the first to admit that life change is very personal and comes from listening to your inner voice. Follow your passion."

How you feel and how your body moves through the world are barometers of the relationship between you and your inner voice. When you are tuned in to that voice, magical things happen.

Well, not magical really - just how things are supposed to be - heaven on earth.

Tenaciously seek out your catalysts.

commit

Commit

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

--William H. Murray, "Notes on the Scottish Himalayan Expedition"


The body-mind connection needs physical and emotional tending-to. Commit to the search for your way to well-being.

If the particular lifestyle change that I'm sharing with you doesn't ring true at the moment, another one will. Decide that, eventually, you will find it, and keep on the look-out for when it to shows up.

Among the zillions of books out there, self-help to inspirational to Raising Tree Frogs, is the perfect progression of ideas to nudge you gently but firmly on the path of feeling better about yourself and the life you want to live.

Watch for books to jump out at you on the shelf the next time you're in a bookstore or library.

Expect to stumble upon great wisdom on the Internet.

Anticipate the conversation you'll overhear in the grocery store that will open up a whole new world to you.

Climbing the Himalayas has nothing over the spectacular resilience to your journey.

Own it. Love it. Begin it.

chutes and ladders

Chutes and Ladders

I am always on the prowl for tweaks to my personal cosmology. An “Under Construction” sign is perpetually hung on the framework that helps me make sense of how the universe works, and how best I work within it.

I take what resonates with me from any theory or dogma, and leave the rest. What makes the cut, assimilates itself into the melting pot of My Spiritual Beliefs.

The stock that has accumulated so far is quite delicious, and suits me. Does yours?

I have a theory, too, that there are a certain number of basic spiritual concepts - I don't know, maybe ten or twelve - and that certain percentages of the global population are attracted to each of these concepts, just as there are a certain number of personality types, temperament quadrants, astrological signs, etc.

And no matter where you are on the earth, there is a way of viewing phenomenon that you likely fit into, or that likely fits you, even if it's celebrated in a culture entirely different from the one into which you were born.

I believe that if you keep looking, you'll find those ideas that make sense to you. It's a matter of not giving up.

The other day my son and I played the board game Chutes and Ladders together. He was able to make it all the way to Square 100 with ease, while I was stuck in some sort of Bermuda Triangle between the chute of 48 and the ladder of 26.

As he scampered off to engage in something else when the game was over, the spinner we had been using caught my attention.

The small board looked to be a perfect microcosm of the belief systems that hold that resources are limited - only the few, finite possibilities suggested are available.

Forces beyond our control decide who in the game of life moves forward and who does not, and nothing an individual can do will change that.

Then my thoughts shifted to some writing I’d done recently on synchronicity. a retelling of a period in my life when people and events were conspiring to fulfill dreams that I had incubated for years.



That time was simply glorious, and I reveled in those dreams coming true.

But then, slowly, the revelry began to fade. At the tender age of 24, I remember wondering, is this all there is? Have a dream, fulfill it; have a dream, fulfill it; have a dream, fulfill it – I’d demonstrated to myself that I was capable of that – but so what?

The stock in the melting pot of my personal cosmology was missing some crucial ingredients at that time in order for me to understand for myself where all of that creating came from and what it was for.

The next few decades were pretty dark and dim, struggling through many, many rounds of spinning an arbitrary spinner, embodying the drawings on the game board of children engaging in activities that didn’t serve them: continuing to look outside myself for indications of my worth.

It’s exhausting, all that energy put into playing by someone else’s rules. At some point, I got tired enough of feeling drained by the process that I finally got serious about reclaiming the cosmology inside, the one that would feel like home when I rediscovered it.

What a different universe I see now. Resources and possibilities are limited only by my thinking them to be so, and since I have control over what I think and feel, there is much I can do to change my life and how I live it.

Synchronicity is back too – well, it never really was gone, just producing events that didn’t add to the melting pot.

When how you live lines up with who you are, all those games you were playing become visible for what they are – someone else’s idea that literally has nothing to do with you.

And then you can get back to the business of creating your dreams. Because they’re waiting. They never give up on you, have you noticed?

When you get back on that Chutes and Ladders grid of your own making, watch out for Square 81– it’s a doozey.

choice

Choice

"The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it."

-- Charles Swindoll


On a good day, when everything is falling into place and life is grand, it's easy to agree with those percentages.

On a bad day, when it appears everything and everybody is conspiring to make us miserable, those numbers seem to be in the wrong order.

Swindell's philosophy is one version of a world view that is expressed a thousand different ways around the globe - we are the creators of our own reality.

If that's true, and I believe it is, then the studio where that creation takes place may need a bit of tidying up.

It may be suffering from neglect - supplies unorganized, unfinished projects covering every surface, burned out light bulbs not replaced. Creating from this space produces uninspired and unfocused living.

Taking the time to reconnect with the passion that studio was set up with in the first place will go a long way toward finding the energy to put things right again.

How are things in your studio today? Are you operating from the 10/90 or 90/10 ratio? Of course there's always Woody Allen's, "80% of life is just showing up."

Wherever your numbers are at this moment, reach for the proportion that feels better.

Take a break, have a cup of your favorite something, and make a choice from that vibe.

You can do more than just show up.

Be tenacious about your reaching.

change

Change

If we do not change direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.

-- Chinese proverb


Consider the ancient Chinese secret above.

Maintain the status quo in terms of what you feed yourself and how you think about your day-to-day life, and you are likely to continue in an unwanted trajectory.

Being open to a new idea may direct you to a whole new place you weren't even aware was on the map.

What you'll learn about yourself in the process is priceless.

Here's another favorite quote from China: "There is chaos under the heavens and the situation is excellent."

One step at a time ...

culture of caffeine

Culture of Caffeine

A few years ago I read the section that follows from a book about the history of caffeine. It instantly was added to my quiver of knowledge of how culture defines us as individuals, often for reasons of convenience and advantage for a very few.

I liken it to the fact that organized schooling didn't exist in this country until our industrialist-minded Founding Fathers and their cohorts realized they needed a docile, compliant work force to fuel their future factories.

After a visit to Prussia, whose new industries were thriving, the Fathers exported their concept of compulsive schooling, regulated by bells and a strict timetable, attendance required by law.

Enough years of bending the will and spirit to this kind of scheduling and a graduate of the public schools would be a willing participant in the factory culture, already conditioned to someone else's arbitrary demands.

Citizens didn't take to this idea very kindly and put up a fight to preserve their rights as parents to choose their child's method and timing of education.

Where there is money to be made, however, it seems laws get pushed through, and eventually, municipality by municipality, truancy from your local neighborhood school became punishable by law.

Going to school has become one of the common denominators in our culture - everyone's lives have been touched by it, and as of this generation, we collectively don't remember anything different.

Of course, there were those tenacious types who fought for the right to educate their children as they see fit, and more and more families home school and unschool their kids today in response to the less-than-desirable encounters their families have with compulsive schooling.

As you’ll see below, caffeine and the minute hand on the clock are major contributors in part to the 40-hour workweek being a common denominator in our culture.

Knowing the origins of a system that doesn’t allow for individual difference, body clock and ability is a great argument in my mind for telecommuting, 4-day weekends, and flex-scheduling.

Productivity and talent would soar if we gave ourselves permission to do the work we love in the manner and at the rate we do it best.

Power to the tenacious.




"To people alive today it may seem incredible that the classical and medieval world did not have any stimulant drug, and, even more incredible that they seem to have managed happily without one. Since the seventeenth century, however, Europeans have relied on caffeine to help them keep to their work schedules by waking them up when they are sleepy and keeping them going when they are tired, and the have done so to such an extent that it is difficult to imagine what modern life would be like without it."

The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug by Bennett Alan Weinberg

body image

Body Image

During a visit to a museum store awhile ago, I purchased a postcard of a lovely, ample, Renoir female nude. I put the postcard in a place I would see it often, to remind myself how bodies look in the real world.

I also avoided women's magazines for several months - the reading of them, or even looking at the covers in the checkout lane. By choosing to prevent those unrealistic images from further contaminating my brain, over time I felt less compelled to compare myself to them.

Through my self-imposed moratorium on print media, accepting the contours of my body came easier too. Now, the few times I AM in a conventional checkout lane and have occasion to see those magazine covers, I notice the airbrushing, the exaggerated posing, the fan-enhanced hair.

I notice the facade, and appreciate having extricated myself from that torture.

The next time you are confronted with a media image of what it is to be female, very matter-of-factly say to it, "You're not real."

Take a break from the barrage of consumerism and be-someone-else messages in most women's magazines. Spend some time reading those books you've ordered from interlibrary loan.

Find your own realistic image online of feminine radiance in a Renoir or a Rubens portrait. Put it somewhere you'll see it often.

Notice any subtle differences in your perception of yourself, or the culture at large.

And love that body of yours.

Tenaciously.

big guns

The Big Guns

Ever get a kick in the behind in the form of a physical ailment that lets you know in no uncertain terms that the jig is up?


Well, my body relayed that message to me recently, and consequently I am forced to listen.

Well, that's not true. I could continue along my merry clueless way and make things worse. But I'm not going to do that.


I am hereby taking responsibility for what I know to be true.


I've entertained thoughts of gifting myself with turning in early in the evenings in order to regift myself with exercising and meditation in the mornings before dashing off to my day job.

For months now my body clock has been awakening me early enough to accomplish those things, but being less than enthusiastic about getting out of a perfectly good, warm bed, I've stalled those plans equally as long.


Now this physical issue rears its pretty head and says, "Listen. We've given you chance after chance to pursue this lifestyle change with merely subtle encouragement. Now we pull out the big guns. Gonna take the hint?"

OK, OK. I'm listening.

And I have to say I am more than a little intrigued as to what exactly is going to show up when I do get into the groove of that exercise and meditation over time.


If the universe went to such lengths to arrange it, there must be something fabulous on its way.

Hopefully just like in the movie Schultze Gets the Blues.


This is the blurb on the dvd case that convinced me to take it home with me from the library:

"A smash hit in Germany and winner of numerous film festival awards around the globe, Schultze Gets the Blues is a funny, touching peek into the world of a recently retired miner who, like his father before him, entertains polka audiences with his accordion."

When he discovers the fiery energy of Zydeco music on the radio, the rigid monotony of his daily routine takes a spicy turn. Schultze learns to play his accordion with a new snap and style. His new-found fascination ultimately leads him on a life-changing, liberating journey to the Louisiana delta."


Rigid monotony is an understatement. The director of this film captures our tendency toward the mundane and rut-lined, and exaggerates them to such a degree that it's absolutely hilarious. 
Once you recover from the shrewd poke in the ribs.


This gentle, sweet man's entire life opens up for him one night with the flick of a radio dial, and he is forever changed.

Well, that and the fact that he meets Frau Lorant, the feisty red-haired woman who inhabits the same old folks' home as his mother.


She has the best line in the movie: "You must go to the casino with me. Strengthen your nerves. Once you've really blown some cash, you'll see things in a different light."

Whatever form Frau Lorant and Zydeco take in your life, I wish for you the adventure of meeting up with them in no uncertain terms, and embracing wherever they may take you.


Before the universe pulls out the big guns.

Bates Motel

Bates Motel



On occasion, more often than I care to admit, Anxiety sets up shop in my stomach. Just saunters on in, brushing past the ineffective bouncer at the door and takes a seat where it darn well pleases.

Most days I manage to quell its merciless influence on my adrenal glands, implementing a repertoire of relaxation techniques that stem the tsunami of cortisol flooding my system.

The theory goes that at some point in my past, the ever-ready fight-or-flight reflex served me well in some capacity as a coping mechanism.

At this point in my adult life however I am more than eager to bid it a fond farewell, along with a few of its step-siblings - Guilt, Lack, and, the ever-popular, Approval.

Over the past five years, there have been numerous shining moments when a particularly potent tool in that repertoire of mine has so completely distracted me from the mafioso's grip that I've remembered what stress-free living feels like.

And it's pretty darn agreeable, let me tell you.

So agreeable, in fact, that the contrast of NOT living like that on a regular basis fuels my determination to do so come hell or high water.

Another one of these mafia-busting experiences came over me again recently, and you can bet that once I realized what was going on that I initiated hyper-observation mode.

What clued me in was the slow recognition of a strange sensation in my stomach - nothing. No tension, no hunger, not the need for a rest area - nothing.

Huh. This is interesting, I thought. Granted, I was on my way home from a lovely weekend of R-and-R out in the country with my sweetie, but recovering from some upper-respiratory crud hadn't exactly set the stage for enlightenment.

A few minutes went by, and still, nothing. But at the same time, something - there was a contentment and calm that permeated the compound as if a squeeze-bottle of chocolate sauce were slowly coating the nooks and crannies of my gastro-intestinal tract.

Wondering just what the depths of this encounter might be, I rooted around, seeing if I could stir anything up.

"Going back to my day job tomorrow."

Nope.

"There's that endless list of things that I should be doing for my website."

Nada.

Well now. This was new. Intentional distraction couldn't even budge this state of grace.

My mind started to wander then while I was driving, and the image of a pet rodent running in its exercise wheel abruptly filled my head, that classic symbol of anxiety.

Ohhhhhhhhhh no, you don't. The fledgling bliss-monger in me was not inclined to accommodate a surprise attack into the proceedings.

The next image that floated across my brain's movie screen was the steel girders that moor a public building solidly in the ground.

I want steel girders for my campaign, I thought. Something as immovable and all-knowing as those girders.

Then the most perfect, most excellent scene flashed across my inner eye - a nine-inch knitting needle, appropriately adorned with the embellishments of vaudevillian magic, rammed through one side of the metal slats in the rodent wheel and out the other, planting itself firmly in the progress of any further anxiety maneuvers (no animals were harmed in this fantasy).

I replayed that skillful movement a few times in my head ala Norman Bates - eee, eee, eee, eee, eee.

Talk about a Tawanda moment. You remember Tawanda, from Fried Green Tomatoes? The warrior priestess who avenged the shameful capture of her rightful parking place?

When I got home, I Googled "gerbil wheel" and got the true sense of the mechanism. Interestingly, it is not an enclosed contraption. One is able to hop off when one is so inclined.

I did go out and buy a pair of nine-inch bamboo knitting needles. I plan to create a prototype and add the finished product to the line-up of Resistance Toys - stay tuned.

And someday, with enough practice, we can all rebuff a chance encounter with Anxiety with the nonchalance of a child savoring a popsicle on a summer afternoon.

As his travels in the sun bring him to a playground, he instinctively climbs atop a teeter-totter, straddling it in dead center.

After a moment or two, he lunges to one side of the plank, pushing it firmly to the ground and hops off. He's got places to go, dirt to play in, trees to climb.

Say it with me - "Stop the teeter-totter, I want to get off."

Banana Peels and Other Cosmic Jokes

Banana Peels and Other Cosmic Jokes

A blond was walking down the street, when up ahead she spotted a banana peel right in her path. Rolling her eyes skyward, and then, with a resigned shrug of her shoulders, she said, "Here we go again."

I'm not a fan of dumb-blond jokes, or any fill-in-the-blank-with-whatever-demographic jokes. They make me cringe, and depending on who is telling them, that person makes me cringe, unless I know they roast their own demographics in the same manner.


In this case however, I was instantly taken with the whole image, replacing the joke's scapegoat with "poor misinformed human".


I identified with those of us on the planet who perceive our daily existence just as preordained and unavoidable as being compelled to make a beeline for that banana peel.


Emotional reactions to the present continue to be triggered by some unresolved drama from the past for which we keep renewing our subscriptions, voluntarily pulling out our checkbooks during a seemingly on-going membership drive.


I have to include myself in that august group. There are feelings that well up in me on occasion that are not pleasant and are not welcome and are anchored in my adult awareness only because of some unmet need in childhood playing itself out over and over again, for years.

However, for whatever reason, the intent I carry around with me is to wrestle those feelings to the ground and extinguish them, and this intent is so strong that I am able to persevere, despite great odds not in my favor.


It's just so much more convenient and easier in this culture to drown the pain, and the power to heal it, in all sorts of delectable but equally heart-numbing addictions.


It's so much easier to ignore the observer persona in my personality toolbox, to disregard the awareness map we could be charting together of the triggering going on.


It's so much easier to close down the whole emotional factory altogether, and withdraw from the notion of relationship with other people, for good.


It's so much easier to get caught up in the blame game and not take responsibility for my feelings.

Except, it isn't.


It seems that way at the time, but none of those strategies is easier, at least for me, and I have tried all of them.


In fact, they have all proved over decades' worth of experimentation to be more difficult to stomach, to endure, to abide, than to finally submit to my intent.


Not everyone is built that way, but I think that the sheer numbers that find and support the work of Abraham-Hicks, Byron Katie, the material explored in the film What the Bleep Do We Know and in The Secret - the examples are endless, really - this attests to the fact that there ARE enough of us out there who ARE built that way.


The tribe grows, and we extend and tighten the fabric of connection among humanity as each new member surfaces.


Which makes it possible for me to conceive of the day when this poor deluded human joke actually gets told, related in tones of bemused compassion for the stuck beings we individually and collectively were, for however long.


Care to join me in dunking those bananas in chocolate, while properly disposing of the peels?

ally, ally oxen free

Six weeks ago, I moved.

Not the farthest move I've ever had to make, or the most stuff I've ever transported across county lines, but a substantial move nonetheless.

The only things to go missing in action so far are the book I was reading the day before I vacated the premises, a telephone, and a cardboard box full of light bulbs. I may have to accept that they fell victim to the mighty garage troll upon whose domain they intruded for awhile before they disappeared.

Most items have been brought in to the house, with a few still considering where they might best come to rest. I'm sure they'll be letting me know any time now where that will be.

Many culminations are at work here - dreams that I've had for some time forming a vortex of change and challenge. Good change and good challenge, but equally good resistance toys are also in order.

I've written about another instance in my life when huge dreams came true - escaping small-town myopia, and finding a way to live overseas - based on what I believe was the focus I maintained with all my fantasy energies for several years on what it was that made my heart sing.

And did it ever. But there came a point when I remember thinking, is this it? I got my dream - why doesn't it feel super-stupendous-fantabulous-happily-ever-after, all excitement/all the time?

My shadow side was operating at full capacity, a force with which my tender twenty-three-year-old self just wasn't ready to deal. It would require another seventeen years of hitting my head against a brick wall before allowing my demon-slaying status to kick in.

Not being the least bit interested in repeating said head-bashing, I am instead looking forward to building an everyday existence that satisfies and nurtures this time around, one that is thoughtfully entertained rather than left to happenstance.

Because that truism, "If I'd known then what I know now", well, it's true, and there's accountability in them thar hills. I DO know more now, and I owe it to myself to apply what I've learned.

Such as:

1) Ancestral baggage stops here. Options and choices are available. Believing I have no power to change my circumstances just doesn't cut it anymore.

2) I am not operating in a vacuum. There are people on this earth whose purpose it is, among other things, to help me out when I need it. Blows my mind.

3) The good stuff just keeps coming. Really. Granted, it may arrive in costume, disguised as something or someone intent on ruining my day, but the crafty little buggers actually have dual passports, summering in Gift-Giving as well.

4) LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. It knows, and is always trying to communicate with you. Whether or not you are paying attention is another matter altogether.

5) Permission is granted. The only person I'm fooling about being happy is myself, when I assume I need to earn it somehow.

6) Dark chocolate is key for nutritional balance.

New surroundings, new routines, not so new lessons. It just feels like that way when yet another opportunity to finally get it comes along.

And they'll keep coming, until we do.

Never-Ending Dodge Ball, or Red Rover, Red Rover, send a certain-to-get-your-attention-life-crisis right over?

Personally, I prefer Ally, Ally Oxen Free.