Monthly Archives: December 2014

ON REMAINING LOYAL TO ONE’S SELF

December 21, 2014

ON REMAINING LOYAL TO ONE’S SELF

“Commitment means REMAINING LOYAL to what you said you were going to do long AFTER the MOOD you said it in has LEFT you.”

My friend shared this quote on a social media site I share with a Circle of women. It struck a chord in me that resonated for several days. Even now, returning to it, I feel the resonance sounding even deeper down.

We are rapidly approaching the close of the year, trailing its well-worn days behind us.  A brand new year of days stretches out ahead like a new journal or a fresh canvas with no mark upon its pages or spill of paint upon its surface.  Traditionally it is a time when, knowing it is one of those “fresh start” seasons–a time to change areas in our life that don’t serve us well–we make promises and resolutions and vows, mostly to ourselves. Typically, we soon lose sight of them, defaulting back into our comfortable ruts.

That’s where the quote at the beginning of this post comes in. What is it you wish to change in your life? What promises to yourself have you not kept? Why is it okay to break the vows we make to ourselves but not okay to break our promises to others–(even though we do that as well)?  Is it indeed because the mood we were in when we made the promise is gone? Ugh, I don’t feel like taking my walk or getting up to meditate or eating vegetables instead of bread or cooking instead of eating junk food or spending 30 minutes making my art today. I don’t feel like choosing the path of love and to check out my assumptions because my emotions are in cahoots with my Ego and I’m boiling over with defensive rage. I don’t feel like telling myself something as ridiculous as “I’m happy!” and smiling like an idiot when it feels like the entire grey, drizzly sky is sitting on my head.

I made a commitment to myself three years ago: to keep my feet on the path of Love and Joy. It has not been an easy path. Especially when changing means I have to confront my own twisted beliefs about myself and others. Old stuff rooted in another time and place but still radioactive. Stuff I have to let go of if I really want to change. Sometimes I just don’t want to scrabble around on that rutted, rocky, slippery trail. But as I have kept bringing myself back, the easier it has become to remain. The more old stuff I’ve released the smoother the trail has become. Gradually I have begun to see others and life and myself differently than I once did. I’m looking more often through lenses of love, joy and gratitude. It is a little like when I got my first pair of glasses when I was ten. Evidently I had been quite nearsighted for a long time without anyone realizing it. I remember being amazed at all the things that I could see that I had never been able to see before.

Five years ago I made a commitment to myself that I would finally honor my gift and calling to be a writer. It is a commitment I have struggled with–in part because some part of me barely dares to believe that I should be so blessed–me, a “real writer”? The other part is because it is damn hard work and I get stuck and yes, lose the mood. Lose my confidence, forget that I really do have the guts to make it through. But I keep returning. Little by little it has become easier.

Recently I renewed my commitment to meditate, journal and walk every day, seven days a week. I need to do this for my mental, emotional and physical well-being. I also made a vow to myself that I would do a 15 minute writing exercise every day for a year working only on description. I so admire author Terry Pratchett’s superb command of metaphor and simile and just plain old description–I want to be able to write like that! One day I was thinking this when I “heard” the man in my head. “Do you think I could always do this?” he asked. “I had to practice–for years! It takes work, my dear.” So, I wondered to myself, how would my ability to describe things improve if I worked on it a little everyday for a year? So, I made this vow to myself.

A few days later I broke it. I was busy and then I was too tired. The next day I was traveling. Then I forgot.

But I regrouped. I decided to honor myself and keep my commitment. A year stretches out too far…but I can do it a day at a time. So far I’ve made it 20 out of 26 days. And going…

I wrote in my journal, “Stay loyal to your Self–even when you’re not in the mood. Especially when you’re not in the mood!” The Sun never stops shining–alive and brilliant, giving light and energy and warmth to the Planets in his care. The clouds in our world can pile up and try to block the Light. They never totally succeed as even the darkest of stormy days will still have more Light in it than the dead of night. But, eventually the clouds dissipate, or we have the special thrill of rising above them in an airplane to find the brilliant azure sky and the blinding yellow Sun up above–still there.

I’m still here, too. I’m always creating my experience of life with my thoughts and my attitudes. Will I be faithful to shine, faithful to my vows and commitments even when the clouds come with their grey blankets, their drizzle and their storms, pressing down on me until sometimes I can barely breathe? The Sun is not hiding or on vacation. The Truth is still shining inside me: I am Love and Light and Joy. The ability to be happy–still shining inside me. I can keep my vows and commitments and I will be the happier for it. Healthier. More peaceful. More comfortable in my skin. More accessible to others. And when I break my promises to myself, I can forgive myself and get back up and back on track; much better than just giving up on myself.

This Gift of Free Choice we’ve been given is at once the most precious and the most terrible of Gifts. It is a privilege and a curse. For as much as we love to shift the blame for all the misery in our lives and in the world to our mothers or our fathers or our exes or God or the devil or the liberals or the conservatives…the truth is that ultimately we are responsible for how we experience the world, and what we give to the world and what we take from Her. We alone are responsible for whether we remain loyal to ourselves long after the mood to do so has passed.

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ON TRUST

December 4, 2014

STEPPING OFF THE EDGE

Her heart beat like a panicked bird caught behind glass. She pocketed the promise and stretched out her arms–the full beautiful length of them. She uncurled her fingers to receive whatever help might come and stepped off the edge. She didn’t leap, or jump. She was crying a little. No tears of joy; hopefully that would come later. No, she just stepped. Courageously she picked up her foot and moved it forward and set it down beyond solid ground smelling of earthy, familiar things. Her body followed, flying and falling through the sky with a promise in her pocket.

It’s called The Leap of Faith, something each one of us faces periodically. Whether we arrive anxious or excited, we have all come to moments when we are challenged to step off the edge of what has been familiar and fall through the sky into the unknown with only a promise in our pocket. Or, maybe for some it is sailing across unchartered waters away from familiar shores. We are called forward, upward. We are called to shed the old skin of who we’ve been and how we’ve lived. All we hold is a promise: everything always works out; life is good.

It sounds like suicide. If feels like suicide. When we step off the edge, we have to leave behind our old habits of mind and being lest they snap us back again like a bungee cord that won’t let us go. The naysayers caution us against our foolhardy notion to venture forth into new ideas, new places, new spaces in the world within ourselves–such things might lead to new worlds outside of ourselves. They want to keep us safe, they say, as they clip the bungee cord to our belt.

There is a universal law: “intention precedes manifestation”. It means that what we focus our thinking upon will begin to gather energy and mass and eventually solidity and physicality and thus it is that we create our lives. We create the stories we live. Sometimes the only way out of one story is to take that leap of faith into a new one. Faith has been defined as the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. This is the promise we hold in our pocket as we take that leap without the bungee cord–sailing through air, through water, through testing and trials, all for the sake of realizing our dream: to find the Holy Grail of our lives, whatever that may be for each searching Soul. Stepping off the edge is to live fully with every cell into every moment of our lives.

That cliche, live life to the fullest used to bug me. What the hell did it mean? Once I dissected it with a dictionary in order to understand its meaning–fully. I believe it means to be aware and awake in the present moment I am living; aware of my surroundings, aware of what my senses are experiencing, aware of the choice I have in each moment. Sometimes these are small things in small moments, like appreciating the feel of warm water streaming over my body in the shower. As I stand there I become aware of the fact that I am privileged to have warm water that is safe for me to shower in right here in my home at just a turn of a knob.

Sometimes these are big things in big moments, like the moment when I receive a job offer, or sign the deed to my new house, or board the plane that will carry me to a new adventure.

Then there are the really big moments when I come to a crossroads in my life. These really big ones usually precede the plain old big ones because they involve making decisions that require I choose one path at the exclusion of another, altering my life forever. Usually one of those paths is familiar, a continuation of what I have been living while the other leads to unfamiliar, unexplored territory. Sometimes neither is familiar and to move forward requires a decision between two entirely different lives from my current one, both full of the Unknown, with my only alternative being to camp out at the crossroads which is sort of a metaphor for stagnation. But to move forward requires one of those suicidal leaps of faith. 

For those of us who choose to camp out for awhile, sometimes the authorities come and evict us and we have no choice but to head down one road or the other. Or die. And sometimes none of the choices are pleasant. Sometimes the material we have with which to create our life isn’t very beautiful and the roads we have to choose from are difficult; even dangerous. But, we still have choices. We get to choose whether to live fully conscious or numb ourselves into oblivion. We still have an internal garden we can cultivate, or allow it to be overrun with thorns and stinkweed. We can choose to make our life a work of art, a powerful poem, or abandon ourselves in the misery around us.

Living life fully: opening ourselves to full awareness of what we are experiencing in the present moments of our lives. Living life to the fullest: being intentional to fill the moments of our lives with as much life as we can possibly cram into them. Creating a life that is thriving and beautiful like a fertile garden or an amazing work of art, at least internally if not also in our external experiences, requires intentionality, presence, and quite possibly having to periodically step off the edge and free-fall into the unknown with only a promise in our pocket.