When I was evaluating grant proposals, one of the things we looked for was broad replicability – if this project succeeds, can we extend the value of it easily? Is it scalable? How quickly? What would be necessary? Are the processes in place?
The last few weeks have me applying this to my life.
My journey over the past decade has been intensely personal, and my measures quite intimate. I was not participating in culture at large and receiving reviews based on organizational objectives (which, in and of itself, incurred a crisis of determining individual worth in lieu of those objective measures – but I think I’ve written about that quite a bit already – and surely will again, because intrinsic, inherent worth of all of life is a pretty foundational belief in my cosmology). How my lifestyle choices impact my health is just about the most personal biosphere there is, and as I’ve gained competence in navigating that space, my life has improved. Let me tell you the biggest hurdle (as I can assess it right now): It wasn’t learning that cream or corn creates a flare up (that was pretty evident as soon as I started paying attention) it was changing my behavior. Often, even with that knowledge, I’d make a poor choice. Inevitably, I’d have to pay the piper. It took a surprisingly long time for the negative result to escalate enough to finally shift the behavior. How sick did I have to get? Usually ridiculously sick.
The decade wore on and little by little, I’d make the behavioral changes. Little by little, I required less dire results to do so. It wasn’t *just* listening to my body that I had to learn, it was also respecting what I heard, having it be more meaningful than my preconceived notions about what I “should” be able to do/eat/have. As I describe, at first I could hear my body and ignore it. Ignoring it never worked, and yet I persisted (in the name of defending my right to the “normal”). Over time and much error, my body’s signals became paramount and I valued what I felt over my own expectations (or anyone else’s). This was a quantum shift for me, and as I’ve developed the capacity and continue to tune in to my body, my body continues to reward me. I am pretty good at it now (although, sadly, I remain imperfect in my choices).
So, having my sea legs with presence and sensitivity and receptivity in my own physical structure, life said, “hey, let’s get back into the professional world.”
Immediately, all my mental habits regressed 15 years.
I’ve created a lovely little ecosphere between my little family, my relationship with my own body, and the lovely, conscious evolution-oriented micro-communitites I engage. Trying to figure out how to reconcile the “world-at-large” and my proclivities reduced me to the same patterns of predict and control (hahahaha, or “try to”) I’d left behind in all those other categories. Resumes, job boards, keyword searches – how can I apply deep listening, an open heart and surrender to this?
The anxiety of trying to decide what to do (do I revert back to entertainment marketing? What is my ‘humblest option’ since things that I used to be able to jump into just to break the seal are no longer available to me? how do I monetize what I actually love doing?) called forth that long battle of determining my value based on what I do. The powerlessness of submitting resumes to no response reminded me that all of my peace of mind does not pay the bills (it does, please note, reduce the bills – insofar as I’m not seeking peace through acquisition/consumption). My lack of network in SoCal (and my lack of keeping in touch with my larger network due to illness and parenting and things) contributes to the opportunity to feel hopeless.
Arthritis felt hopeless once, too. I felt powerless there, too. Every doctor told me my situation was hopeless and would only decline, just like the article I read that women my age reentering the workforce had exactly zero chance of online resumes landing a job.
By slowing down, unplugging from the ‘common wisdom’ and moving into my personal wisdom (and, finally, acting from that personal wisdom), I’ve moved into a relationship with my body and health that feels powerful and gentle, respectful and full of potential. I’ve defied the common wisdom and am significantly healthier and more capable than I was 10 years ago (when they told me things would only get worse). My current challenges help me sculpt a life that suits me – and they serve as a reminder that takes my “Gemini” mercurial, “Enneagram 7” pain avoidant, self right back into the present moment when my old patterns reemerge. I’m actually profoundly grateful.
I’m glad for the education in scalability that I got as a proposal evaluator and then as an entrepreneur. As I sit facing this new adventure, instead of feeling powerless, I get to choose to expand the circle of my personal success to include livelihood. I know the pitfalls. I know the opportunity. I know that the life that I truly want to live doesn’t come from jumping back into ‘the game’ (which is a shame, because I felt pretty good at it. much like i liked to eat cream sauces), but to carve out a life sourced in connection, deep listening, responsiveness, the consideration of the wellness and autonomy of all parties…
I have no idea what it might look like (if i did, would it be new?) and I know that these qualities can apply anywhere. I’m happy to know the path and the pitfalls, that it’s not a straight line nor does it need to be. That living the life unfolding through me is an enormoous privilege, and offering my gifts in each encounter is all I can ask of myself.
I’m happy to uncover this opportunity. I didn’t realize I had parts still stuck in old patterns – and remembering that awareness is the healing agent makes the process of upgrading those patterns far less daunting. Success in one area can contribute to success throughout the organism… now i’m babbling and way over time…